Welcome to another installment of Dishin’ It Up – March 2017 Edition! Where I share my favorite books, music, food and fun from the past month!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and/or information resulting from paid partnerships or complimentary events, but all opinions are my own. See full disclosure below.
I say this every month and by now you are probably sick of it, but it seems like every month goes by faster and faster; and to be honest, I just can’t seem to fathom how I seemed to have so much time years ago and now days I can barely keep up with things. But even though things are hectic, I am grateful and feel so blessed for so many opportunities and try my best to live in every moment.
Anyways…. Because March was a whirlwind, and April started busy too, I’m JUST now getting around to sharing some highlights from the month. Oh well, I guess better late than never! At this rate I might as well just do April’s Dishin’ It Up post too.
So here is what I’ve been up to the last few weeks.
The Avocado Grapefruit Salad I was trying to demo at The FeedFeed’s SXSW Food Photography Panel, but forgot half of the ingredients, so…
What I’ve been up to:
March was busy with SXSW (a HUGE International music, film and technology festival in Austin, Texas), the rodeo and several friends’ birthdays and lots of good eats! March was also filled with visits from friends and family and spontaneous Sunday afternoon road trips to see the Texas wildflowers including the bluebonnets.
Besides hanging out with various friends and family who came to visit during the month of March, SXSW took up a lot of time during the month of March. I’ve been to SXSW for years, but this year was quite a bit different than normal. In the past, I’ve gone to a handful of the free events, from music to special Game of Throne exhibits, to blogging events and special invite only dinners. But this year started with me presenting on The FeedFeed’s SXSW food photography panel. The FeedFeed streamed it live on their Instagram stories, and I shared several cooking and food styling tips and hacks for great food photos. Tips like misting salad with olive oil or vinegar to look like it has dressing on it without making the salad look wilted or “weighed down” by the actual dressing. I also shared how I use flooring and counter top samples as easy and cheap photo backdrops.
Even though I teach cooking classes on a regular basis, it was a fun challenge (even a bit nerve-wracking) and great experience to teach about my food photography hacks at a world-renowned technology conference and have my class streamed live for thousands of people around the world!
The Tex-Mex Brisket Sandwich
I was also invited by Schlotzsky’s to attend their SXSW Brisket Launch Party. This fun event was to premiere their new Texas inspired brisket sandwiches. Not only was there samplings of their new brisket sandwiches (available in three varieties) and cocktails, there was live music and comedians too (read more about this fun event here)!
And after more than a week of SXSW fun, we ended the week with a bang by attending the special Garth Brooks SXSW concert put on by Amazon. This really was a highlight of not only the week but the month, since because of E’s job, we got to be special guests of Garth. Yup, for this Texas girl, who grew up attending the rodeo, dressing up in my best “go western” gear and having fun with my friends and sisters at slumber parties by watching the music videos for our favorite country artists (Reba, Faith, Tim, Trisha and, yes, Garth) and belting out our favorite songs; watching Garth perform and hanging out with him and his peeps back stage was a major highlight to say the least. And yes, in case you are wondering, he is the nicest guy and puts on one heck of a show (believe me, I could barely speak afterwards)!
Dang Kitchen’s buffalo chicken sliders
What I’ve Been Eating:
March also consisted of lots of delicious eats! I was invited to try Dang Kitchen’s (located in Austin, Texas) new Asian fusion cuisine with a touch of Southern flare, created by Dang Kitchen’s new chef, Michael Lerner, co-founder of Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ and Bold Spoon. The new menu offerings include a mix of tacos, salads, noodle bowls and sandwiches. We tried several menu items and we loved the vegetarian “pulled pork” and pork belly tacos, the crispy fried Brussels sprouts (I could eat a whole bowl of this by myself), and the buffalo chicken sliders (served with house made buffalo sauce on steamed buns). We thought that the Miso braised pot roast on the horn sandwich was tender and flavorful, but was hard to actually eat on the sandwich and thought that it would be better served in a rice bowl. Another disappointment was the Fluffer Nutters – roasted marshmallow and peanut butter served on a grilled steam bun – that they offer for the kid’s menu and for dessert. When we were ordering, they told us these were like a s’more, and as a self-proclaimed s’mores addict, I was eager to try these but was disappointed because they were not like a s’more at all. I’m not saying they were bad, roasted marshmallows covered in warm peanut butter is pure comfort food, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.
Dang Kitchen’s Vegetarian “Pulled Pork” Tacos
Besides the crispy Brussels sprouts, my favorite menu item was the vegetarian “pulled pork” tacos made with jackfruit, avocado, caramelized onion, BBQ sauce, cilantro, cotija cheese, pickled onion, and chimichurri. I couldn’t believe there was no meat in these tacos as they were packed with flavors that I love and the texture of the jackfruit was very similar to shredded pork.
The Park’s Sirloin Sliders
The Park’s Frozen Mojito
In addition to checking out Dang Kitchen, we were invited to try The Park’s new happy hour menu. The Park is a more upscale sports bar/restaurant that has two Austin, Texas locations (South Lamar and The Domain) and I was super pleased to discover the south location has an awesome large covered patio (with TV’s and a bar), perfect for spring happy hours! Since we are always trying to be budget savvy, I am always on the hunt for great happy hour specials, not just for drinks, but food as well. The Park’s new happy hour menu has an assortment of appetizers ranging from $5-$7 and has beer and cocktail specials ($1 off beers, $2.50 Lone Star’s and $5 select wine and cocktails). We really enjoyed the Sirloin Sliders (3 juicy sliders topped with caramelized onions) and the Brisket Quesadillas (which had tender flavorful smoked meat, tangy melted cheese and a crispy flour tortilla). The Park’s beer menu offers some local beers and I enjoyed the Perfect-Figure Margarita (which was light, tart and refreshing and WAY, WAY better than most places’ margaritas that use that thick bottled margarita mix) and the Frozen mojito which was also perfect for a spring day!
And speaking of happy hours, for March’s Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s monthly happy we were hosted by Wheatsville Co-op (a local Austin grocery co-op) and tried a selection of their house made sandwiches, salads and desserts. I was super impressed with their crispy popcorn tofu sandwiches (I have never been a tofu fan and these tasted just like crispy chicken bites!!) and I have always been pleased with the assortment of dairy free, gluten free, etc. homemade baked goods Wheatsville has to offer (seriously, their vegan donuts are some of my favorite donuts in town) and everything on this dessert tray was sweet and delicious with my favorite being the sticky, crunchy carmelitas!
What I’ve been reading:
I finally (FINALLY!) finished the Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell! I had started it last summer but then misplaced it and didn’t read it for months but picked back up and finished it last month. I know this book has been around for a while and even has a movie, but I just finally read it and being a chef and food blogger, of course I loved it! In case you don’t know, this book is a kind of memoir and follows the year long journey of food blogger Julie Powell (way back when blogging was brand new and you didn’t even need photos) and her crazy adventure to cook every single recipe (something like 500+ recipes) in Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in 365 days. Whether you’re an aspiring cook or fellow food blogger, this book is funny and will inspire anyone to step outside their comfort zone and try new things and/or learn new skills.
Well that’s it for now! What have you been up to lately? Share in the comments below!
For more up to the minute peeks into my favorite eats and fun, follow Kitchen Concoctions on Instagram!
Disclosure: While I was in a paid partnership with Schlotzsky’s and was invited by Dang Kitchen, The Park and Wheatsville Co-op to try complementary tastings of select menu items, I was not obligated to write this blog post and did not receive any additional compensation to do so. I just love sharing what I’ve been up to and some of my favorite things as part of my Dishin’ It Up series! All thoughts and opinions are my own. To read more about my disclosure polices, click here.