HOT TIME IN AUSTIN!
Now, I know what it feels like to be a cookie in an oven. I’ve just returned from the 100 plus degree heat in Austin. I was attending my first IACP conference in the comforts of a nice chilly comfortable modern hotel. Love the Yin and Yang of this. I met lots of new interesting people,learned more things that I have room in my brain for, ate good food, and also got to hear a remarkable person speak.
Jim Hightower delivered the opening keynote speech. I’ve got a little crush on the fellow as anyone who opens his talk with an Oscar Wilde quote, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”, well he had me right there. All flirting aside, this is a serious man for the people and about the people. Go sign up for his newsletter @ Hightower Lowdown. He’s telling a truth, few others dare to speak.
IACP is an annual event where food lovers and professionals intersect with culinary writers. I skipped the cooking demos to immerse myself in talks about food writing. I ran into people who knew of me and me of them.
Jessie Price of Eating Well magazine, the famed French cuisine author, Dorie Greenspan, who by the way is as adorable as she looks on her book covers to Amelia Saltsman who is from my ‘hood’ having penned The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market Cookbook. On the first night at the cocktail party at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum I introduced myself to Catherine Walthers who was attending with her husband and twelve year old son, James. We were talking when all of the sudden James blurted out, “I know you, I’ve seen you on TV.” A smile came to my face and I asked if he watched cooking shows on The Dish Network and he said, “Yes, that’s where I saw you.” Well, my heart opened and I felt great knowing that people in the northeast are watching Naturally Delicious on Veria.
The next night was the awards and gala reception and ceremony. The highlight of this evening was hanging out with all the gals from my book publishing company, Andrew McMeel. Kristy, Jean and the Ms. Tammie Barker along with their authors, Rebecca Lang and Amy McCoy who respectively wrote Quick-Fix Southern and Poor Girl Gourmet. I got both these gals to autograph and inscribe their books to my sister who is a single mom. These great cookbooks will appeal to her sensibilities. Just so you know, it turns out, my sister also has a knack at cooking too. Well, I guess it runs in the family.
Speaking of food! For a conference deeply rooted in food there was plenty of eating going on. The meal I enjoyed the most was the lunch sponsored by the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council. Dare say, I’d never heard of them, but really happy to know they exist. After two days of meat centered offerings which of course, I did not eat, a buffet table filled with an attractive array of roasted vegetables, a chunky hummus and a light cucumber and lentil salad was deliciously satisfying. Nothing was more pleasurable than going to lunch off premises with the three, yes, count us on one hand vegetarians or vegans. I can’t imagine there weren’t other vegetarians in a group of 700 attendees. We are calling you to come out next year!
Robin Asbell, Jill Nussinow, and Ellen Kanner and I walked to a local Korean joint that offered plant-based options to the traditional dishes on the menu. We entered through a back door off a porch (well, after all this is South) where there was a hand painted sign on the wall. See the attached photo and read what motivated the lady who opened the place. We sat outside in the heat and enjoyed good food and good talk. Robin and I originally met by phone when she interviewed me for an article in Veg News and Ellen reminded me that she picked my brain about knives for a piece she wrote for Vegetarian Times years ago.
On my last night, I saw old friends who left the glitz and traffic of LA and moved to South Austin. I wanted to go to Casa Del Luz as I’ve been hearing about this gem of a place for years. It lived up to its reputation. I was so nourished I skipped out of IACP early to go back for a second meal before I flew home. Only bummer was I missed sitting in on Shauna James Ahern’s session. I really wanted to support her as she talked about gluten free cooking. Oh, well gluten free girl, glad to have met briefly in the hallway. Looking forward to connecting next time.