Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cupcake Smackdown 3.0 Wrap up post

The party may be over, and from the looks of the photos, Cupcake Smackdown 3.0 was a blast (pun intended!).  The estimated attendance this year was 1,500 humans and 30 canines who gathered to enjoy cupcakes, local craft beer, bbq, shooting green pigs, and the photo booth.  Hungry Todd Rungy also broke a record of eating 6 sugar free cupcake in under 59.2 seconds to raise awareness for diabetes.  While the goal of Cupcake Smackdown(s) is to provide a community event to promote local businesses, the event also serves as a case study in social media.  For the last three years, Cupcake Smackdown was organized and promoted via social media only.  While we have received our fair share of earned traditional media (radio and television news), zero advertising dollars were spent on the event.  It can be done.   

A giant thanks to all of our sponsors (listed below) for making this event happen.  And a special thanks for all the breweries for providing delicious local craft beers at our parties.  I encourage everyone to check them out and to keep supporting our local breweries.  If you don't see them our your favorite bar, a little gentle coaxing can sometimes get more craft beers on the menu.  

There isn't enough space to post all the Cupcake Smackdown photos taken by Annie Ray, but here's the link to them.  I had a serious problem of trying to pick the cutest ones to include in this post. 


Photo by John M.P. Knox (@hopsafari)

There's me. Dressed like a pig.  Being shot with cupcakes.  Oink, Oink! Photo courtesy of @AndreaSchulle

Here's a list of blog posts, videos, and radio links about Cupcake Smackdown (to add yours, email or tweet me):!/1queenofspoons/statuses/76285094138093568

And a GIANT thank you to all of our sponsors:

A special thank you to @ChevyTexan for sponsoring the official #cupcakeriot vehicle.  I was completely spoiled by this fully loaded GMC Denali.  I did not want to give it back. 

The Denali had one of those cool windshield displays.  Pretty awesome. 

Photo by John M. P. Knox (@hopsafari)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

#IACP Austin 2011 - Great food, New Connections, and Entertaining Seminars

You might have seem the blur.  The blur of a bunch of chef coats running through town a few weeks ago.  That was the International Association of Culinary Professionals.  While the conference has come and gone, the effect that some of the speakers have still stay with us.  I didn't get to attend many of the sessions as I was on the host committee, but here's a few of my highlights from the conference.

1. Photos from Three Hot Chefs.  I think I don't need words to describe this. 

Beautifully vibrant dishes.

Look at that color!

Tyson Cole and staff do some plating.

Chef Brad from Public NY.

Chef Philly and Chef Paul from Uchiko

2. Denise Vivaldo's late night session on food styling was absolutely hilarious.  My goodness, that woman was hilarious.  Her presentation of information kept the crowd roaring well past midnight.  Also, she brought her attendees milk and Oreo cookies.  My favorite line from her was "that showing the ends of pasta was a scandal." 

3. Penny De Los Santos and Daniel Klein gave a wonderful morning session on how to craft a story.  The take away message was to be transparent and get to know your subject.  Be vulnerable and authentic.  And once you really fall in love with your subject, the photos or videos will come.  Penny had a room full of attendees crying at 9 am when she told her story about following a woman make barbacoa. Yes, the story was that good.  And I can't retell it because I'll just butcher it. 

4. Kathy Kasey's "It's Better to be Bitter" inspired me to think more about bitters in my cooking.  I know 10000x more about bitters now, and I'm pretty excited that we had vodka and bourbon at 10 am.  My favorite bitters concoction was ginger ale, ice, bourbon, and two types (I used the chocolate mole bitters).  Two really important things I learned about cocktails were 1. how to properly smell bitters and 2. how to flame an orange peel.  To properly smell a bitter, put a few drops in your hands, clap, and then inhale your hands.  To flame an orange peel, the make sure you warm the orange with the flame first, and then spritz the oil (squeeze the peel) over the flame.  Rub the peel around the rim of the glass. 

Ya know, for research.

My favorite bitters of the day.

Setting things (orange peels) on fire is always fun. 

5. The Opening reception event was pretty amazing.  Even if I did get bitten by a monkey.  Literally.  No joke.  Picture of the evil critter below. It was someone's pet.  It was not part of the IACP

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Win tix to MIXAustin: Cool your haute bodies with Summer cocktails

Austinites have to face the truth.  We're in the heat of Summer now, and the @ChevyTexan Denali I had for the week registered the temperature at 105 degrees (June 5th).  My own car doesn't have a temperature read out for the weather, but I'm going to hazard to guess that the rest of the Summer will be able the same - Texas Hot.  Some cocktails might change your tune though.  

Google Places is presenting MIX: Celebrate Texas Cocktails on Friday, June 17th, and I am a fan.  I've been dabbing in the cocktail culture for several years now, and it is apparent that Austin is blazing through as the "hot and haute" cocktail mecca.  The MIX: Celebrate Texas Cocktails  celebrates Texas spirits at the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs.  Custom-made libations from the crafty hands of local mixologists and fresh ingredients from Whole Foods will be served from 9 pm until midnight. Cocktails will served with yummy freshly baked mmmpanadas, sandwiches from Sugar Shack BBQ, and gastro pub fare from J. Black's. JWG Photography will be capturing the fun! 

Tickets are currently on sale for $50 until noon on Friday, June 17 or $60 at the door; price includes drinks and food for the evening. Purchase tickets at

To WIN a pair of tickets to the festivities: you can enter by posting the names of three of my favorite cocktail bars in Austin. It isn't difficult to find which ones are my favorites! @Mousethedog will pick a winner on Tuesday the 14th at noon. 

Photo by Cory Ryan courtesy of POM PR.

Date: Friday, June 17th, 9pm until Midnight.
Location: Texas Federation of Women's Clubs, 2312 San Gabriel, Austin, TX 78705.
For more information, please visit:
Twitter: #MIXtexas

A portion of MIX proceeds will benefit Austin Involved, Austin's newest volunteer movement. Members of Austin Involved have the opportunity to learn about local nonprofits, vote for their choice of inspiring organizations, and give a small donation of time and money as cohesive group in order to make a larger impact.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My love for @MeetatTexas becomes personal.

You might have noticed that I have a strong and deep love for @MeetatTexas and @CarillonAustin.  The food I've eaten there has been off the charts fantastic.  The experiences I've had are some of the best over the last year.  Chemistry Kitchen, Star Power at the Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, and various other events (on-site and off-site) have been outstanding.  One thing that has been consistent throughout the events is Daniel Curtis running by in a suit with a big smile on his face.  If you're lucky, you can steal a hug from him before he's off putting out fires (not literal ones).  

 At the Austin Food Blogger Alliance Educational Event tonight, I didn't see Daniel.  And oddly, I didn't see him the week before at the IACP gala.  It was only after I got on Facebook tonight that I learned that Daniel had a serious accident on May 30th.  I feel like a big jerk for not being more attentive on Facebook.  

Click thumbnail to donate

Daniel is recovering now, but it won't be quick or easy.  If you want to see Daniel's smiling face at the AT&T Executive Education Center sooner rather than later, you can help by donating to the medical expenses.  The goal is to raise $45,000, and he's just over $8,000 now.  I'm donating in small increments, in the amounts that I would have spent on food events.  I started off with $100, the the cost of a Spanish wine dinner.  Spanish wine, though tasty, isn't as important to me as Daniel's recovery and well-being. 

If you've had a enjoyed events at the AT&T Executive Education Center before, I'm proposing that you think about donating to Daniel Curtis.  You might not know him personally, but if you've ever had a good time at the center or at the Carillon, then you know his work.  For me, this is personal.  I don't just have a business relationship with the AT&T Executive Education Center, I have a personal relationship with the people who make it awesome. 


If you do want to attend a Spanish Wine dinner at the Carillon, Executive Chef Josh Watkins and Chef de Cuisine Chris Andrews, will host “Taste Of Spanish Wine” on Thursday, June 16th from 7 pm - 10 pm. Cava cocktails will begin at 6:30 pm with a five-course dinner following at 7 pm.  The wine tasting dinner features Spanish wines from Vinaio Imports, an import group that focuses solely on Spanish and Portuguese wines. Cesar Chavez,a person and not the street, will regale guests with stories behind the wine and help to explore the distinct terroir and styles of the featured wine.  Tickets are $100 per person.  Email or call 512.404.3655 for reservations.