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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We didn’t just stuff our faces in Texas (and evidence to prove it)

Austin Motel

In case you couldn’t tell, when my husband and I travel, our trips revolve around food. When we each made our lists of “what to do” in Austin, my husband’s list was fine-dining focused (Qui, Uchi, Barley Swine) while my list was mainly beer (Craft Pride, Hops & Grain) and food carts. But at the very bottom of my list was a separate (tiny) category called “Things that don’t involve eating.”

On that list, there were three items: visit the Barton Springs Pool, walk down 6th Street and hike around Lady Bird Lake.

I am happy to say we did all of those things and more — which is kind of shocking considering how much time we spent eating!

We checked out the Texas Capitol Building, which sprawls across the metro area.

Everything really is bigger here in Texas and the Texas Capitol Building in downtown Austin is no exception!

Everything is bigger here in Texas and the Capitol Building in downtown Austin is no exception!

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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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Business trips are better when your business is meat!

Beef Tartare, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

Beef Tartare, Rain Shadow Meats Squared (Pioneer Sq)

I posted a teaser last week about my business trip to Seattle in which I promised more pictures would be coming. I have finally gotten my act together so here’s how I spent my 5 days “working” in the Emerald City! (As a side note — working in the meat industry really has its perks — we ate constantly.)

On the drive to Seattle from Portland, we stopped in Olympia to get dinner at the Water Street Cafe. The food was pretty fabulous and the pasta special was super good. I’m going to ignore the sprinkling of dried parsley on the rim.

Stinging Nettle Raviolis with Fiddlehead Ferns

The next day, my friend and co-worker Breezy and I embarked on day-long trip around Seattle doing sales calls.

We started in Ballard:

Watching our lunch cook

Watching our lunch cook at Stoneburner

Roasted cauliflower with agro dolce sauce, and an incredible pizza with sausage, olives and mozzarella.

Roasted cauliflower with agro dolce and an incredible pizza with sausage, olives and mozzarella. Oh yeah, and a bottle of rosé.

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Hop worship & throwing the best beer-day party ever!

This is how I roll when it's my birthday...

This is how I roll when it’s my birthday…

If you read Wednesday’s post, you’ll know I’m in the middle of series about throwing the best damned B-day party ever — where the B stands for beer, glorious beer! In this post I’m getting down and dirty with the specifics on how I went about this extravaganza.

I spent the month prior to the party relentlessly planning it. Some things I figured out with relative ease, like the beer-infused party favors and the beer shaped cake (thank you Pastrygirl for making my beer-filled dream come true!).

Hell, even finding super fun beer-shaped candles was a surprisingly easy feat (at least for my friend DB who scored them at a local cake decorating place).

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