A little recap from SXSW 2015! AKA that time we followed Rachael Ray around Austin for the third year in a row.
Helllllo! This post is long, picture heavy, and not really about food. Soooo I totally understand if you skip it, or at least skim it. (But I will totally judge you.) If you aren’t familiar with SXSW, it’s a 10 day music, film and interactive festival/conference that takes over Austin every year. And it just seems to get bigger and bigger. (You can read my recap from 2014 here and my recap from 2013 here!) It’s equally amazing and terrifying. Over 70,000 people descend upon Austin for the event, and literally every bar, restaurant and parking lot is taken over by a brand, party or concert. For example, here is a bar (that used to be a house) on Rainey Street that Dailymotion took over. We saw Questlove there and danced with the CTO of Amazon to a remix of “Africa” by Toto. True story.
In my old(er) age, I can usually not even go out two nights in a row, and tend to opt for day drinking so I can be in bed by 10pm. It’s just smart. Somehow, during SXSW this inner 22 year old animal comes out and going out 10 days and nights in a row seems not only totally feasible but actually a necessity. Plus, everything is free! Food! Booze! Swag! (Must get all the koozies.) This year, my bro Andrew (affectionately known as Andypooh) joined us for the festivities.
Gin and Jews. Pass it on.
Totally unrelated, but Escalade let me borrow a car for a week. Whaaaat?? Challah Back.
Anyhoo, some people asked me my favorite thing about the week(s), and I can say without question it was getting a Paco the Taco nail from the Pedi Godmother at the Spredfast Lounge. I mean adorable, right? I kept that sucker on until a few days ago, thanks to not washing my hands (kidding, I swear, but Paco sure was persistent!) I pretty much lived at the Spredfast Lounge because free coffee, happy hour and massages and friendly people. What more could you want??
Okay and a close second to Paco, I attended a mimosa brunch with The Fat Jewish. He told us about the craziest 10 things that happened to him because of Instagram. The stories were things like being paid to jump in a giant bowl of chili, and having strippers sprinkle him with cheese and onions. It was hysterical and terrifying.
I also saw a session with the founders of The Infatuation, Chris and Andrew. The gave some solid Instagram tips about creating a community, taking the best photos (daylight is best, so literally pick up your bagel and move the food to the light, and when in doubt, overhead shots never fail. See way below), and some of their favorite accounts (Like Food52.) Chris and Andrew were funny and adorable. I may have a bit of a crush.
After the Infatuation session, I ran over to a French Bistro Press Tasting over at the French Legation Museum. I missed lunch, but made it in time for dessert and wine. Not complaining.
That night we saw Future Islands and The Flaming Lips at ACL Live with Spredfast. I was completely sober, but felt like I was on every drug ever created. I mean there were dancing mushrooms and rainbows and balloons and smoke and glitter! Fun fact: Spredfast employees were in the rainbow costume. Now I know what I’m going to be for Halloween next year!
I mean, what? Another fun fact: Miley Cyrus was supposed to be the special guest at the show, but got drunk and passed out in the greenroom. That’s almost better than if she actually played I think! Sooo Miley.
We moved to the balcony just in time to see the singer crowd surf the audience in a giant ball. Duh.
But it wasn’t all fun and games. I also spoke on a panel on nostalgia and food with some fellow bloggers: Kay from ATX Food News, Sahar from Tart Queen’s Kitchen and moderated by Annette of Revel Insight. Austin Food Magazine and The Austinot both have a nice recap if you missed it!
People loved our panel so much, we were rewarded an Emmy! JK, this belongs to the Spredfast folks. I told you, I stalked them.
Oh look, food! Celebrity Chef Deborah Benaim brought her cooking chops to Austin to run the Kosher Carne arepas food truck sponsored by the JNF! They schlepped the truck all the way from Miami. A true life Chef. We tried plantains and carne and chicken arepas. They were awesome!
I ran into my Internet (and now real life) friend Dani from Yeah That’s Kosher at the truck! And by ran into, I mean we planned to meet. Potato, potahto.
The next day was the end of Interactive (the nerdy conference part) and the start of music and also St. Paddy’s day! No rest for the weary. There is a distinct moment when you can see the classy interactive sessions end in the morning, and the belligerence of the music start in the eve (as a speaker, I had an interactive/film badge but I didn’t see any movies this year!) We started the day with an Oculus demo. It was super nerdy and super cool! Basically, a virtual 3D world. I believe I’m looking at a dinosaur here.
And then immediately got festive for St. Paddy’s!
Can you have a St. Paddy’s without green beer? Probably, but it doesn’t make for as good of a photo opp.
Later that night was the closing party for Interactive. I went back to my ATL roots with an epic performance from Ludacris (he played every hit, if you were wondering, including “Area Codes”) and TV on the Radio.
Boom! The next few days are a little blur of wristbands, bands and high fives.
Red, white and Jew with fellow MOT Shawn.
The 90’s kid in me was pretty stoked to see Chad from Dispatch performing!
Me and Andypooh at the Rachael Ray Feedback House! For eight years, R.Ray has thrown pretty much the best parties at SXSW. Which makes them pretty much the best parties ever. She has the main show at Stubb’s, and then the after-party (and pre-party) at a smaller location.
This year, Blue Moon was and King’s Hawaiian Rolls were two of the main sponsors. Both kosher- yahtzee! We were lucky enough to try some some exclusive beer and food pairings with Blue Moon Brewmaster himself John Legnard! We tried Blue Moon Belgian White, Summer Honey Wheat, Cinnamon Horchata Ale and White IPA.
As RR always says, yum-o! Blue Moon is celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year (the July 31st celebration will literally be on a blue moon! Love that), and are launching White IPA on April 1. (That’s soon!) John told us that their beers have always been kosher, just because they felt like that was the right way to make their beer. Cool.
I especially loved the Cinnamon Horchata Ale. It had a subtle spice but wasn’t too sweet. Kind of perfect.
I have an announcement to make. We are starting a band. “Jensen & The Jews”- I’m on the triangle.
Parlour Tricks killed it. Like a white Destiny’s Child!
I gave myself a Tattly sleeve.
The next day, it was off to Stubb’s for Rachael’s main event. Delta Spirit, The Districts, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros and more!
You know if RR is tweeting about you, you made it. Do you see me? (Look for the flower crown!)
Besides Blue Moon to drink, there was food! These elotes (street corn) were the best. (Here are all the recipes from RR herself! They aren’t all kosher, but are adaptable and delicious.)
Brewmaster John and RR introduced Rawkwon! So cool. (The photo below is by Reagan Hackleman.)
We were a little further back. Cheers!
A little rain didn’t stop the fun! But it did stop my Jewfro from being manageable.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros definitely put on the best show of the whole week. The lead singer (whose name is Alex, not Edward. Fool me twice) is a crazy SOB, but in the best way possible. It was kind of a mixture of being scared what he was going to do next and not being able to look away. Examples include grabbing a fan’s cell phone and videotaping himself, and bringing another fan on stage to dance with him and play tambourine.
The end! RR loves you!
I think here she was saying, “you get a car!”
We collected just a few wristbands.
Annnnd just when I thought the event was over and I could go back to normal sleep patterns and a diet that doesn’t consist of tacos and beer, I got to meet Kosha Dillz! He even rapped for me!!
The end for real. Thanks for getting to this part! You’re my favorite. Have y’all ever been to SXSW??? Tell me a story!