An IPNC Interlude — please pause for wine

Grand Dames Dinner IPNC 2014

Iberico de Bellota pork cheeks, served with polenta, thyme and blackberries. Chef Holly Smith of Cafe Juanita. IPNC 2014. Grand Dames Dinner.

If it’s seemed a little quiet over here recently, there’s good reason. I spent Friday night at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon for the International Pinot Noir Conference. Yes, I stayed on campus — in the dorms even — with three co-workers.

It always seems like one night shouldn’t be so exhausting, but somehow, every year, IPNC knocks me out of commission for a while.

Maybe it’s due to eating super rich food all day (foie gras, Iberico pork, veal sausage and more foie gras) or because we drink wine from 3pm till 3am 8am. (Yes, we partied like true college freshmen this year. I saw the sun rise and everything.)

Here are a few pictures from this year’s Grand Dames Dinner, which is set in the middle of the Linfield College campus. Four chefs (all women this year which I thought was awesome) put out an amazing dinner for around 500 people. There’s a reason this is one of my favorite events to “work.”

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Street art with a side of street food in Austin, Texas

"Never give up" -- seen while kayaking on the Colorado River, Austin, TX

“Never give up” — seen while kayaking on the Colorado River, Austin, TX

As soon as I spotted this Pac-Man on the side of a bridge in Austin, I had a wave of inspiration.

I’ve been trying to cook a recipe from a favorite blog of mine each month as a kind of homage, but with this vacation and the crazy weeks leading up to it, I didn’t have time to get my culinary act together. But when I took this photo, I knew immediately what blog I wanted to mention this month — Waterfalls and Caribous.

Waterfalls and Caribous is a blog that I happen to come across long ago — I honestly can’t when I discovered it — but I was hooked immediately. While they post frequently about food, the main focus is their adventures while traveling, and seriously, they travel. I have followed them through India, Korea and into China. Their adventures can be as simple (and hilarious) as trying to find a great cup of coffee in Xi’an or as crazy as visiting the Haesindang (penis) Park in South Korea.

But I also really love that they love street art.

I’ve always enjoyed graffiti — when it’s done well — perhaps because I can’t draw at all. It’s really impressive what talented people can do with the side of a building (or bridge!) as their canvas.

So here’s some of the fun art I saw while wandering around in Austin last week:

Who doesn't love beer?

Who doesn’t love beer?

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Rainey Street Bar Crawl — how we started our vacation!

Beer Sampler, Craft Pride

Our first day in Austin was a doozy. My husband and I hit up 5 bars, 2 food trucks and had a run in with a very ambitious squirrel before getting back to our hotel around 1am. I was pretty impressed with us considering we had left our house in Portland at 4 am to catch our first flight.

We like to start our vacations with a bang!

We decided to hit up the Rainey Street district, a fairly small but bustling street (think bar after bar after bar). Our first stop was a place I have been dying to go since I first heard about it: Craft Pride. A bar that has 54 beers on tap (most of them local), a big patio and one of the best food trucks in the area, Via 313, makers of Detroit-style pizza.

While many of the options sounded great, we ordered the Rocket. Lots of sopressata, very cheesy and topped with spicy arugula. It was fantastic. Like crazy good. Half of this pie was enough to fill me up.

Rocket pizza, Via 313.

Rocket pizza, Via 313.

I immediately ordered an IPA from one of Austin’s most well-known breweries, 512. It was delicious. I followed that with a tasting tray, figuring it was the easiest way to try many things at once.

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Waiting in line at Franklin BBQ (doing what has to be done)

Fatty brisket, ribs and sausage at Franklin's BBQ

Fatty brisket, ribs and sausage at Franklin’s BBQ

Franklin BBQ is legendary. It is supposed to be the best barbecue in the country. Aaron Franklin started his company as a food truck back in 2009 and moved into a brick and mortar building in 2011. Every day, without fail, he sells out of his amazing brisket.

Franklin's BBQ

The doors open at 11am…the line starts as early as 6 am! People bring chairs, books, coolers and make waiting for 3-6 hours as much fun as possible.

This was on our list as the one “must do” thing in Austin so we bought an inflatable cooler, a 6-pack of local beer and woke up at 7am yesterday to brave the line.

The line already forming!

The line already forming!

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Halfway through my trip to Texas…and I’m so full!

Don’t worry — I haven’t vanished! I’m just on vacation mode (and I had a bit of camera drama) so I haven’t posted since arriving in Texas on Sunday. My husband and I have been busy enjoying Austin and its surrounding areas so expected some fun pictures soon. Here’s a few to tide you over — and make you hungry!

Fried chicken sandwich, biscuit, red eye gravy and lemon jam. Foreign and Domestic, Austin.

Fried chicken sandwich, biscuit, red eye gravy and lemon jam. Foreign and Domestic, Austin.

Smoked meats, Kreuz Market, Lockhart, TX

Pork chops, brisket and sausage from Kreuz Market in Lockhart — the BBQ capitol of Texas!

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Meaty pictures to make up for a brief absence…

To make up for having spent some time away from WordPress (reading and writing), I am going to woo you with some fabulous food porn from my recent business trip to Seattle. Luckily for me, my business is meat and so my five days up north involved a lot foie gras, salami, wine and a bit of tequila…followed by more wine. It was quite the trip…

I’ll get a bit more in-depth later, but here are some tasty teasers for you:

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