Apparently when you go to a conference full of women who blog about food in Austin, you are quite unlikely to find yourself a cowboy.
I just thought we should get that out of the way, you know, in case you were thinking about doing that yourself.
The truth is, I have suffered from some serious conference envy for a while. When I first started blogging and following some lovely people on twitter, I discovered this magic-sounding event. A bunch of food bloggers (mostly women) gathered for a weekend of learning, networking and bonding.
They posted pictures of picnics in the park and tweeted nonstop about their awesome experience. They told stories of new friends, virtual friends and friends as old as time.
I knew then that I wanted to be in the in-crowd food-blogger crowd. And I wanted to meet the people who I “knew” from their blogs and twitter. This year, I was finally able to make that happen.
So, I packed my business cards in the box from my copy of Laudrée Sucreé (only because it was the right size and not because it would make me cooler, although it totally means that my business cards travelled first class). I tossed some gluten-free goodies into my purse and laptop bag, hopped on an airplane and headed for Austin.
To kick of my stay, I traded dinner for a ride from the airport with a cousin who I hadn’t seen since Christmas.
[Top: Irvin & myself, Second: Sabrina & myself, Third: Sabrina, Margaret, Jane, me and Shannon, Fourth: Me, Sarah, Angela, Marissa, Kim and two people I don’t know…]
It started with breakfast on Friday when David Leite, Elise Bauer and Kate McDermott crashed my solo breakfast table and it didn’t slow down until I climbed into my own bed on Sunday night. It was an intense weekend of friend making and learning. Ok, and there was eating. Lots and lots of eating. The meal schedule would have made a hobbit squeal with joy.
Sure, I learned the ins & outs of pinterest, google+ and instagram. I watched a presentation about the process of making this video in awe. I learned about writing a cookbook proposal and pitching an agent.
But that wasn’t the best part. Not by a long shot.
The best part was meeting so very many people who love doing what I do. Every where I turned there was someone who I had at least one thing in common with. I met Steph by chance when I was sitting and charging up my phone at the very end of the conference. It’s funny how you meet people, and it is always those people you meet when you are plopped down and relaxed that you make friends. (Rather than the over-eager exchange of cards that happens every other time you pause to chat with someone).
I got to meet Irvin for the first time in person, I was really disappointed that we were unable to connect when I was in San Francisco so this weekend totally made up for that. His co-presenter Sabrina and I had met briefly in San Fran and have been twitter buddies for a while. I cannot begin to explain how lovely it was to spend some actual time chatting and hanging out.
There were so many lovely people that there really is no way I can talk about them all.
But what you really want to know about is the food. And let me tell you, Austin does food right.
It started with a mojito-like cocktail that was made with gin, basil and grapefruit rather than rum, mint and lime and a fabulous roast chicken.
There was a hotdog at Frank (although “Chicago Sauce” should never be a thing) on an Udi’s gluten-free bun. Someone even found me cotton candy.
I got to eat an incredibly decadent dinner at Second Bar + Kitchen thanks to Udi’s and then moved on to Swift’s Attic for a spicy margarita and some dessert from Go Veggie Cheese and Rudi’s Gluten-Free.
Then someone took me to a food truck.
I think they might have been tickled by my excitement. You see, we don’t have food trucks in Chicago. At least not in any sort of numbers because of the crazy rules we have here. But, I digress.
We happened upon this particular truck by accident as the truck we were looking for has multiple locations and we picked the one without the gluten-free menu. But we were lucky, just across the lot was Wholly Kabob. Tasty kabobs and mexican coke at 1am.
Best tweet of that night? “Best question asked to @frannycakesblog so far, “How do you like American food so far?” bc Texas is more awesome than everywhere.” (@Iliveinmylab)
And they do TexMex right
When the conference lunch excursion failed to meet our needs for allergy-friendly food, we headed back to the hotel and searched through Find Me Gluten Free for a restaurant that was not a chain and that was both a walkable distance and open. We found Pelon’s (across the street from Stubb’s as luck would have it) and couldn’t have been happier.
Thanks for a great weekend, Austin. I sure hope you let me come back soon!