Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eating My Way Through Austin: Days 1 & 2

How unusual for me, two travel posts in a row! I really don't travel very much but this spring has found me in several interesting locations with great food so NYC will have to wait! Plus, when I'm in New York my life is so crazy that I've rarely had time to write (tragic!). I'm currently in Austin, TX for the International Association of Culinary Professionals National Conference hanging with fellow foodies and bloggers. This is my third day here and I've already had quite a few adventures.

I traveled down with Kristen Hess, the Artful Gourmet and we met Marie Asselin at the airport. Marie's food blog is Food Nouveau. I met both of these lovely ladies at the Regional IACP Conference in New York this past winter and we all decided to travel down here to Austin for the National Conference. Marie and I were going to be roommates for the trip to Austin and I was so excited! Another friend who came down for the conference is Rev who you all know better as Burger Conquest. So many great people are down in Austin this week!

We all got in just before 11pm on Tuesday night and decided to go out on 6th Street for a few drinks after checking in at our hotel. Little did we know that our night would end with Pickle Back Shots! In general, the bars on 6th Street were pretty dead for what Kristen & I are used to in NYC, but the drinks were super cheap ($6 for Ketel Soda?!) and it was fun catching up with the girls. When I asked them if they'd ever heard of Pickle Back shots and they hadn't, I knew I had to get us some. I asked the bartender at the bar we were at where I could get some, and she directed us to a bar just up the street. We walked a few blocks to the bar she recommended and asked that bartender for Pickle Backs. What we found out was that this bartender LOVED the shots and usually had them on hand, but since they are so rarely ordered, he stopped keeping pickle juice. "Do you ladies want me to run to the corner store and grab some pickles?" he asked. "How long will that take?" we asked him. "Only one minute!" he replied. And off he went in search of pickles.

He came back after I pointed out that something like this would NEVER happen in NYC and poured us some lovely pickle back shots.4 to be exact, including one for him. And do you know how much they were? $14! 4 shots for $14? Insanely cheap. We went to bed after 2am feeling wonderful and excited about the days to come in Austin.

We woke up the next morning and went to check-in for the conference. Here I am with my official IACP badge!After we were done with the registration we decided to get breakfast at a spot called Juan in a Million. A few people had recommended their breakfast tacos, so I suggested we try it. We met up with another fellow IACP member, Nikki Gardner, whose food blog is Art and Lemons, to go get some grub. We took a quick cab ride there and the place was so adorable!We got a table for 4 and began to look over the huge menu. I knew I wanted tacos so I ordered the Chorizo with Egg Breakfast Taco, the "Don Juan" taco (A secret combination of potato, egg, bacon and cheese in a deliciously hot tortilla, according to the menu) and a side of guacamole. Little did I know I had just ordered enough food for all 4 of us on my own!

I just read that Man vs. Food's Adam Richman visited Juan in a Million for the Don Juan taco challenge in which he had EIGHT of the massive tacos. I couldn't even finish one!This was one massive taco and even though it was truly delicious, I barely made a dent in it.

The Egg & Chorizo taco was also really good, thankfully much smaller than the Don Juan taco, and I was actually able to finish it.I (of course) asked to have cheese added and I enjoyed that the chorizo was ground up to maximize the flavor.

The guacamole was also a huge portion and needed a little something to make it great, namely a few squeezes of a lime.I enjoyed putting it all over my breakfast and scooping it up with some crunchy tortilla chips.

After breakfast we were lucky enough to meet Juan himself, a sweet man with a clear passion for his restaurant.Thanks for everything Juan, our breakfast was great!

Without realizing it, I skipped lunch that day because I was so full from my huge breakfast. I had a few interesting panels that day, including The Craft of Food Writing. That night, there was an opening reception party held at a museum in Austin with food and drinks from a bunch of local restaurants. My favorite dishes of the night were:

1. The Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates from FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar (with a lovely mix of veggies on the plate as well)I went back about 5 times for just the dates, they were absolutely incredible.

2. The Beef Short Ribs with Shishito Pepper Jam and Burrata Cheese from Second Bar + Kitchen (and I was lucky enough to have dinner the next night with the chef, Ethan Holmes, but more on that later)
3. The Japanese Hamachi and Big-Eye Tuna from Eddie V's Prime Seafood
4. The Green Chile Pork Tacos from Roaring Fork (also owned by Eddie V's)
5. Honorable Mention to the Fried Quail Egg Benedict from Catering by Rosemary because while I didn't love the way it tasted, it was by far the most beautiful, colorful dish at the party.
I went to sleep that night VERY full, and looking forward to the many more eating adventures to come in Austin.

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie

PS- One non-food thing I forgot to mention is that I got to hold a baby armadillo and pose with a bull! The armadillo's name was Matt Dillo and he was AWESOME. I don't know what the bull's name was, but I was really scared of his sharp horns!I love animals and it was so fun to play with them!


  1. Hi Rachel,

    Fantastic to meet you today! I now realize I didn't eat enough in Austin for IACP's incredible conference, but I can recommend a restaurant I tried last night: 616 Nueces. Yummy. Just amazing.


  2. I bet it was a great time! :)

  3. Hi Rachel,

    The bull's name is BEVO (the 14th I believe). He is the mascot of the University of Texas at Austin, the longhorns.

    Austin sounds like a blast. Hope you enjoyed some of the live music as well.

    - Kristen-

  4. It was great to see you again in Austin. Can't wait for NYC next year and to visit your favorite haunts.