Well I survived another SXSW (mostly) unscathed! Dare I say that SXSW 2016 was the best year yet?? I dare.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of SXSW and my 7th time experiencing it! I think each year just gets better and better (and better). You can check out my recaps from SXSW 2015, SXSW 2014 and SXSW 2013 if you like. If you aren’t familiar, SXSW is a 10 day music, film and interactive festival/conference that takes over our fine city every March. It’s the bees knees. Or something. Over 70,000 (!) people descend upon Austin for the event, and literally every bar, restaurant, parking lot and Whole Foods (no joke) is taken over by a brand, talk, party or concert. It’s hard to describe, you just have to live it. (Boozy popsicles, courtesy of Spredfast.) And my runway.
As I get older (and hopefully wiser) my going out routine typically includes accidentally having too many mimosas at brunch, and being in bed by 6pm. Or going out for happy hour and accidentally staying out until 3am dancing, and then turning off my phone and hiding the rest of the weekend. Yet somehow, during SXSW, this youthful tiger emerges and attending sessions during the day and parties at night for nearly two weeks seems like the only option. Hey, I’m networking! And look at all this cool swag! And FOMO!
Smile now, cry later. The unofficial SXSW motto. I started things off with Shabbat! Like the good Jew that I am. The Schusterman Foundation put on an amazing Shabbat feast at the Allan House. So pretty, right?
I hosted a table with my friend Jonathan where we talked about food, of course! It was pretty awesome.
Last year I was a speaker, but this year I was lucky enough to have a media pass! They have a whole track on food, so obviously I attended as many of those talks as I could. But the beauty of SX is that there are so many interesting sessions going on, so I try to go to some related to my work, and some crazy ones like what’s new in 3D printing (a lot!), or how to be happy (live in the moment!)
And there was a ferris wheel downtown! A total circus. Wheee! Anyhoo some standout sessions were on embracing the past to move food forward (hello!), food trends, the evolution of fast casual dining (above) and more.
Taking a little break from learning. I’m networking, Mom, I swear!
A real treat was listened to a convo with Chef Andrew Zimmern and Josh Tetrick, CEO of Hampton Creek. They talked about what would happen if healthy food was affordable? Food for thought, literally. A takeaway: “You can do good through the power of business.” I love that. You can be profitable and still help the world.
Chef AZ also remarked that food “is about stories that connect us.” As a Jewish food lover, that spoke to me, you guys. Food is more than just eating, it’s the smell of matzah ball soup, the touch of challah that connects us to the past and the future.
Meeting up with some of my new favorite power ladies!
I saw a real unicorn!
And Elijah Wood played DJ at WeWork. There is SXSW in a nutshell: Learning with Chef Zimmern, unicorn, Elijah Wood on the turntables. And scene. The next morning, Favor hosted a brunch with much needed Bloody Marys.
And then, one of the coolest events of the week. The Infatuation and BravoTV hosted an Off the Menu restaurant tour to celebrate the launch of Bravo’s new appropriately titled digital show, Off the Menu. This show goes behind the scenes to show you underground food and drink adventures in LA. I can’t wait to watch!
A bunch of bloggers, writers and Instagrammers (like Hayden and Jackie and Rayna and Kristy!) party bussed to Peche, Odd Duck, Ramen Tatsu-Ya and Jacoby’s for off the menu bites, beverages and general merriment. This Grilled Wagyu Ribeye with Beet Tots from Odd Duck was a highlight.
And Brisket Ramen from Ramen Tatsu-Ya was also amazing!! Runny egg yasss.
Later that night we went to the Spredfast Chomeo concert at ACL Live (so good!) Spredfast puts on a heck of a show every year and their lounge is one of my favorite spots. I’m just sad I didn’t have time for Paco the Taco nail art like at SXSW 2015!
After that night, I was barely on time for lunch with Anthony Bourdain but I made it!! Totally amazing. It’s always nice to be reminded just to do what you love and not give a hoot (probably not the word AB used) about what others think: “I’m having a lot of fun and I think we are doing good work so screw ’em.” Yes. He also said that books are not going away, that he loves the feel of them (good news for my cookbook!) And that you are always learning something as a beginner, and that he is inspired by people who collaborate, especially in an unexpected way.
At some point I realized I hadn’t eaten in 24 hours (worst food blogger ever) and stopped by South Bites- a collection of food trucks from around the country!
This Buffalo Reuben from Nomad Street Cuisine hit the spot.
I was totally going to stay in on Tuesday and recover and rest up for the music portion of SXSW, but then Kat invited me to an event Richard Blais was hosting and I couldn’t say no! The FOMO is real. I threw my hair in a braid and off we went!
Turned out to be worth getting my tush off the couch and heading to Bangers.
Not only did I get to meet Chef Blais (fun fact: Blais loves matzah ball soup, especially with extra dill!), but Kat and I went to dinner with him and his Juniper and Ivy Chef de Cuisine Anthony Wells after!
The asked me to pick a restaurant (talk about pressure) and we enjoyed fried pickles and flatbread and lots of laughs and a little gossip at Second Bar & Kitchen. Richie (we are now on a nickname basis) is one of the nicest people ever and I can’t wait to try his restaurant when I’m in San Diego. At one point, we were discussing our favorite greens of the moment (how cliche, right? Mine is arugula, Richie is really into collard greens) and I was pretty sure we had to be on some secret reality show.
So I took Wednesday off for real (and ate broccoli and worked out), and then it was time for St. Paddy’s Day and SXSW Music!
First up, was a VIP Media Preview Hour with another Top Chef alum and MOT Spike Mendelsohn with Peter Pan® Simply Ground! Simply Ground is the perfect mix of creamy and crunchy, all natural, and most importantly tastes really good. I may or may not have eaten some right off the spoon (okay I definitely did).
Chef Spike showed us some recipes, like this killer banana bread. Fun fact: Chef Spike used to own a Jewish Deli food truck in DC!
I personally am going to try this Peanut Butter Hummus real soon because hummus:
- 1 can (15 oz each) garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed
- 2 tablespoons Peter Pan® Simply Ground Peanut Butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Place all ingredients, except oil, in food processor bowl. Pulse until smooth, scraping down side as needed.
- Turn food processor on; add oil in steady stream until completely combined.
In between bites of peanut butter, Jane got her first (temporary) tattoo!
After filling up on Peanut Butter, we sampled Blue Moon with founder Keith Villa! Including the new Belgian Table Pils. Keith is super nice and answered all of our pressing beer questions. He has a Ph.D. in brewing from the University of Brussels in Belgium (how’s that for higher education?) Did you know Blue Moon was the original kosher craft beer and the first to make a pumpkin ale? Now you do!
This is Blue Moon’s 21st anniversary- finally old enough to drink! Ha!
And for dessert, boozy milkshakes with NadaMoo!
We got to try new flavors like pistachio of this delicious kosher dairy-free ice cream. The ice cream is still kosher dairy until they can move to parve equipment. Hopefully one day soon!Back at Banger’s for more music and ‘Merica.
And then took in a little culture with a 2 Chainz concert. 2 Chains or Jew Chains??
And ended the night with Kosha Dillz! And then for the grand finale of SXSW 2016- Rachael Ray’s Feedback Party at Stubb’s! The Blue Moon was free, but I brought the rugelach (hey, I needed the nourishment.)
RR always has the best line-up, and this year was no different! Naughty by Nature, Jenny Lewis, George Clinton and more. I realized I wore almost the same outfit last year to RR. Oops. At least I was easy to spot in the crowd!
In fact, I ran into Lisa!
Well now I want a pot leaf fringe leisure suit like Jenny Lewis. I want to be RR when I grow up.She and her hubby-musician John really know how to have fun!
Only RR would have the foresight to have the hindsight to book Naughty by Nature for their very first SX. She does it again- they were so good!!Rachael’s hubby taking a photo of me taking a photo of him. How meta, right?
“Pour one out for Rachael Ray, pour one out for Tupac.”
And back at the after-party. I ran into Rachael! I swear, we were both having more fun than it looks. And, she even said she spotted me in the crowd at Stubb’s. Flower crown does it again! The end.
Woo hoo you made it to the end! I attended SXSW Interactive with a media pass, and partnered with Rachael Ray Feedback House, Peter Pan Simply Ground and Blue Moon to attend Rachael Ray Feedback.