Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm Full... and Tired!

It's been over three months since I last shared a story of food with you, so for that I do apologize. My life has been a little crazy lately, in the best way possible, and I just haven't been able to find the time. In the past three months, a LOT has happened. I attended South by Southwest in Austin where I had an incredible time and was lucky enough to eat at both the famous Franklin BBQ and at Top Chef Paul Qui's Uchiko.

[Franklin BBQ is the REAL DEAL!]

I know my dining companions from Uchiko would like for me to recount our meal, so I will share what I remember of it. The company was great, the wine was crisp, the service was impeccable (shout-out to Bobby Bookout!) and the food was absolutely outstanding. We had eight diners and the table was split into four and four, so each group of us ordered a different tasting menu.

The stand-out dishes were the Brussels sprouts, the Yokai Berry Atlantic Salmon, the Loup Crudo and the several different varities of sushi we ordered.

Bobby even taught us that when eating nigiri (sliced raw fish over a pat of rice), you're meant to flip the fish over with your fingers as you place it into your mouth so the fish hits your tongue first and the rice second. I assumed he knew what he was talking about and tried it out, and I couldn't believe the difference it made! I highly recommend you try it.

We also ate at the always-amazing Second Bar + Kitchen where my friend Ethan is the Chef de Cuisine. That man knows how to make some food! Another one of the highlights of the trip was the Bravo party where I got to hang with my main man Tom Colicchio.

In the past three months I also visited Florida for Food Blog Forum Orlando where I spoke on a panel about PR, brands and bloggers and I caught up with some of my favorite bloggers.

[Nikki of Pennies on a Platter, Krissy of Krissy's Creations, Julie of Table for Two Blog (and my soulmate), Jenny of Picky Palate, Angie of Bakerella and me]

[I love the turkey legs in Disney World!]

[Jaden Hare & Scott Hare of Steamy Kitchen, Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen, me, Diane Cu & Todd Porter of The White on Rice Couple]

I have been traveling frequently to Chicago and Michigan for team meetings (always good to see everyone) and went to Seattle earlier this month for BlogHer Food. It was a great time, a great city and again many of my favorite bloggers were there!

[Alex Thomopoulos of Against the Grain, me and Todd Porter of The White on Rice Couple]

[Here I am with the KitchenAid girls, Katie Lee & Tandy!]

[Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean, Joy Wilson of Joy the Baker, Alex Thomopoulos of Against the Grain, me and Catherine McCord of Weelicious]

[Here I am with Jaden of  Steamy Kitchen]

Most recently, I attended the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. As a foodie, the Classic is the ultimate event. It is something I have wanted to attend for as long as I've known of its existence. What it looked like, to me, was the most epic food experience possible. The chefs I love making the food I love to eat in a setting that looked like a dream.

When I took my job last summer, I had no idea it meant I might have a chance to go to this event. I could have only hoped. When my attendance was finally confirmed, it felt like I was dreaming. I counted down the days and this past Thursday, my boss and I boarded a plane for Colorado. The adventure began.

Over the past five days, I have had one of the best times of my life.

While I was there to work, and work I did, I couldn't help but indulge in some fun. As part of my job, I attended cooking demonstrations, snapped photos of celebrity chefs, posted content to Facebook, met and mingled with influencers, found "tweetable" moments and generally just took it all in so I could properly share it with my brand's social media community. You will never really hear me complain about my job, I absolutely love it.

When I wasn't working, it was time to play, and play I did. During the Publisher's Party on top of the mountain (which we arrived to via gondola), I was introduced to some industry people my age (some of whom also live and work in NYC), and they became my partners in partying for the weekend. We danced our faces off at Gail Simmons' Dessert Party, rode a moose (see below), sipped Belvedere cocktails at the 30th Anniversary Party while listening to the sweet sounds of Elvis Costello, again danced our faces off at the Spazmatics concert, after-partied until the sun came up, gorged on delicious porky goodness at the Grand Cohocon Party, hopped aboard a bicycle built for 10 to ride around the streets of Aspen and, most significantly for me, successfully met New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. All in the midst of some of the most gorgeous views of nature I have ever seen in my entire life. Yes, I am a lucky girl.

I know this is a food blog so I also need to tell you about the food which was absolutely epic. At the Grand Tasting, the short rib dish from Food & Wine Best New Chef Bryant Ng was flavorful, spicy and unique with tongue, jasmine coconut rice and peanuts while the Chocolate Chunk cookies from Jacques Torres were a welcome familiar flavor. The Grand Cochon brought several exciting dishes, like the sweet & sour pork bones from Jamie Bissonnette that were fall-off-the-bone tender and the pork tortellini in pork broth from Chef Marc Forgione that was other-worldly. Even with all the options at the event, and even considering how full I was from all the porky goodness I had consumed, I went back for seconds on both dishes. Forgione also offered a very limited supply of ribs with ramps and black truffles, and I was lucky enough to get one! (see below)

Other major highlights for me were, without a doubt, the Simmons/Colicchio "Sweet & Savory" demonstration, the annual cook-off between Michael Symon/Bobby Flay and Jacques Pepin/Jean Claude Szurdak (Pepin and Szurdak were victors), the views from the top of the mountain during the Publisher's Party, getting called out by Johnny Iuzzini for being "trouble" after our mutual antics at the Dessert Party and the realization that while I was having one of the best weekends of my entire life, I was technically "working."

Some photos of the Aspen Classic are below for your enjoyment.

[Jacques Pepin is so adorable!]

[Wes Welker is a whole different kind of adorable... GO PATRIOTS!]

[Good times with Johnny Iuzzini]

[New friends]

[Obviously my favorite demo! Love Tom & Gail]

[INCREDIBLE Pork Rib with Black Truffles and Pickled Ramps from Chef Marc Forgione]

More photos from the Classic:

I also promise, promise, promise, my next post will come sooner than three months from now. Until then...

Let's Eat!
-The Fabulous Foodie


  1. Rachel this is an amazing post and I am tired just looking at your travel schedule..but also so happy :) Everyone from Tom Colicchio & Gail to just about every blogger I've ever wanted to hang out with...all in one post. I hope you're doing well & life is good (sure looks that way!)


  2. Thanks for reading, Averie! It's been a wild ride so far :)


  3. This. Is. Amazing. I've never been to a blogger conference. Would love to go sometime.

    Didn't realize you had a blog. Adding it to my list of "to reads".

    As I'm wearing my Red Sox hat right now, I have to throw in a "Go Sox". :) (Yes, I'm a dork. OK with that. :))