I did. And imma gonna tell you about it.
It was kind of was what I expected it to be in most ways. I’m glad it wasn’t a huge, sprawling conference and glad there was ample, ample time for networking with newbies, friends, brands, big-time food bloggers and others. Maybe it was my inexperience navigating the conference, but I felt it was a little light on the learning opportunities. I wanted more sessions!
I got to Austin the day before the conference and after settling into The Bubble, I headed over to the Tasty Kitchen party. It was a relaxing room full of awesome women who noshed on delicious food and sipped from an open bar. In fact, the hostess fetched me a drink just as soon as I walked in the door.
There was a catch. Ahem.
I talked to Rebecca from Foodie with Family for a good long while (a blessed, recurring theme throughout the weekend) and after a couple of delicious and not-too-sweet margaritas, I sauntered over to the buffet for a snack. Looking around the room of confident women bloggers is a special kind of hell for me. See…they all seem to know each other well. Like old friends. They are old friends. I’m still a pretty new kid on this go round of writing on the Internet. There were no natural empty seats with people and I wanted to meet these ladies. I also wanted to eat. I inhaled the delicious scent of sauteed spinach and simmered black beans and reminded myself, “Comparison is the thief of joy. Just go eat alone. One thing at a time.”
I found a corner with two large, empty sofas and sat down. As I tucked into my deliciousness, a nice lady walked up and asked if I minded if she sat. Perfect! We chatted one on one for 20 minutes or so and remembering that I was supposed to be networking, I fished a business card from my purse. She looked at it strangely, paused, and said, “I think I followed you on Twitter today.”
— Sheri Guyse (@MyJRNY) June 6, 2013
Yep, Merry from The Merry Gourmet and I had chatted each other up for a good, long while before discovering we’d already met briefly on The Twitters, thanks to Vivian. And, eventually, once my blood sugar raised and my inhibitions lowered, I chatted with lots more people. Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes and her beau, Diane from Momo Fali, Meseidy from The Noshery, and a bunch of other women whose names I almost immediately forgot because…open bar.
After several more appetizers, a few hours and a bunch of water, I snuck out of the party and raced across town to catch the last 1/3 of Matt the Electrician at Strange Brew. I almost blew it off, but so glad I didn’t.
The next morning I headed to breakfast and then my first session, Principals of Storytelling. Almost immediately my table began exchanging business cards and I panicked. I wasn’t going to have enough to last through Day 1, much less Day 2.
::Activate MacGyver Mode::
I searched for “business cards in downtown Austin” and came up with Paper Source. Perfect! A cab ride later I bought blanks and a nice felt-tipped pen, tweeted a pic of my cashier to The Pioneer Woman (I overheard her being a superfan) and strolled over to 24 Diner for workspace and glass of cava. Then I walked back a mile to the convention center. It was then I decided that Day 2 would not include my camera equipment and laptop. (ouch) To answer your question, I really don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I thought I’d be able to hail a cab on the way? Stop. I can hear you laughing.
The rest of the day was a bust, content-wise, but the evening brought foodie excursions out in Austin.
If you want more detail, feel free to meander over to Twitter or Instagram and search the hashtag #austinprogeats. I won’t spoil the whole story but I will tell you that Whip In is a Indian-fusion Gastropub and Gourdoughs sold me a donut topped with peanut butter icing, grilled bananas and bacon. It’s amazing I even came home.
Saturday was more conferencing, though this day’s sessions spoke to me far more than Friday’s did. My favorite session was called Blog on the Run and taught by Mallory Dash. Later in the evening I made my first pilgramage to Stubb’s BBQ for BBQ (duh) and a party hosted by Ree, Jaden and Elise. Ree told bad jokes. There was much merriment. I line danced and wore a pretty dress. Most of the bloggers from my last trip to The Ranch were in attendance and it was nice to catch up with them. So, I guess I maybe DID know some folks after all.
The day still wasn’t over! While at the party I got a call from my cutie neighbor with the invite to come see the new restaurant he was helping to open. So glad I did.
Turns out it is called Eden East. It is on a farm. In Austin. Hyperlocal dining at its best.
I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t even eat and I didn’t want to leave. Then I woke up the next morning, didn’t want to leave, went to 24 Diner to eat a waffle, didn’t want to leave… then drove home.