Mary Beth’s elimination was tough. I liked her so much! Her food may have been unremarkable (and I do understand that’s kind of the point), but her personality was sparkly. I think I was most taken with her genuineness — every word out of her ...
Ireland, Greece, even Romania – I’ve been there. Maine, Alaska, the islands of Hawaii? Yes, I’ve been to those spots, too. From Detroit to New Orleans – well look, you get the picture – I’ve traveled. But surprisingly (to myself anyway), up until last Thursday when my plane touched down here, I had never been to the biggest state the lower 48 has to offer. I’m talking about the home of J.R. and Sue Ellen – the state that Chuck Norris works for on that popular Ranger show. Yes, you know where I’m referring to. Where else? I’m talking about Texas, people. TEXAS.
Several of my Food Network coworkers and I have traveled to Austin to take part in the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference held in the capital city. We’re here attending panels, seeing what’s new in the world of social and digital media, and it’s great – we’re taking it all in and my hand is tired from feverishly taking notes. However, what am I most taken with since arriving in Austin, Texas? Austin, Texas, itself.
I love how the Texas star is on everything here. Everything. As I sit in my hotel room, I’m noticing that the star is on every piece of furniture. Let me step inside the bedroom and see – yes, it’s there. The star is even on the headboard of the bed. I’m pretty sure the “lone star” represents Texans’ solidarity in declaring independence from Mexico. They’re proud of the symbol here – I’m certain of that much.
On Friday, coworkers and I ate at Bess Bistro. I can never remember the name, so I have just been calling it “The Sandra Bullock Restaurant.” She owns it. I thoroughly enjoyed my Friday night special – the fish and chips dinner. I would have enjoyed it more had I seen Sandra. Other than the missing Ms. Bullock, the atmosphere was fantastic.
Today as I was leaving one of the tech conferences, I checked out the capitol building. I’m going to be honest. Until I saw his picture hanging in the beautiful corridor, I had completely forgotten that Former President George W. Bush is also Former Texas Governor George W. Bush. You know, now that I think about it, my hotel is very close to the governor’s mansion. I wonder if Governor Perry is there this weekend? Perhaps I’ll stop by and compliment him on his welcoming city (and state).
Because this is a Food Network blog post, I should talk a bit more about food. The previous food mention was really just to get in Sandra Bullock’s name. I’m a big fan of hers.
Tonight’s dinner was meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and sauteed carrots. I’m usually more of a fan of the ketchup-based meatloaf, but I have to admit, this was pretty tasty. I wish I could thank the fellow SXSW attendee who pointed me in the direction of this restaurant. I didn’t catch his name, though. And, even more, I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant where I ate. In my defense, a full day of listening to geeks talk about technology will tire the brain a bit. Trust me on this.
These are my brief, matter-of-fact thoughts on Texas so far. I’ve just been here a few days, but I really like it here. Who knows what else I’ll discover tomorrow about Austin and Texas. A friend emailed that Willie Nelson lives in Austin. Is that true? And if so, does he own a restaurant? I’ll investigate.
Don’t pretend that you’re above it – none of us are immune. Even though we’re mature adults working in the real world, there is still that potential to have a “big man on campus” or experience “cheerleader envy” with coworkers. Is there someone winning the popularity contest at your workplace? I like to think I’m winning at Food Network’s offices.
Now, with that mindset, let’s look at the chefs competing this season in The Next Iron Chef. Who do you want to win this thing? I don’t want you to vote based on who has the better credentials and who can best give Bobby and Morimoto a run for their money – that’s what Michael, Donatella and Simon are there for. I want you to go back to your high school days when nothing else mattered but who was the coolest, who had the best personality and hair, and OK, for this particular vote, maybe who poses best holding a knife. (Oh, I’ve just noticed Chef Forgione has no knife in his picture. But still, he has a mohawk and that alone is enough to get my vote.)
Vote now, then tell me who you voted for below (and the silly reason why you chose your chef).
When it comes to comfort food, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, casseroles and pot pies will always hold a special place in this Georgia boy’s heart, but right up there are my step-mother’s amazing Mexican classics – homemade salsa, enchiladas, chalupas, and so much more. (Refried beans and mashed potatoes hold the same level of adoration in my heart.)
Marcela Valladolid is a fairly new talent at Food Network but has become the face of Mexican food around here. I find her show, Mexican Made Easy, (and recipes) enjoyable and very tasty. I appreciate Marcela’s different take on Mexican. She actually offers healthy, easy-to-make dishes. And, honestly, I didn’t think that was possible. A lot of the authentic Mexican I’ve seen prepared is an all out chore and lengthy process (if my step-mom is reading this, you know it’s true)! And healthy? Goodness, I don’t think that “health” was ever considered growing up. Marcela is truly busting down Mexican food stereotypes.
Recently, I made Marcela’s Mexican Shrimp Burger. When I first heard of this dish, I was a bit skeptical and thought “Come again?” But the ingredients sounded delicious and then I read the comments from those who tried it: “Maravilloso!” one posted. I couldn’t have agreed more. It was phenomenal, different, easy and the avocado aioli could make you cry it’s so flavorful. I also went to a barbecue this summer where a friend served Marcela’s Watermelon and Mint “Agua Fresca.” I thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing beverage, and since it’s non-alcoholic the kids at the party loved it, too.
What’s your favorite Mexican dish? For more of Marcela’s, check out her recipes. Try some and post what you think. You can watch Mexican Made Easy Saturdays at 9:30am/8:30c.
I do love ‘em! Nuclear ones? For sure. Barbecue sauced? Oh yes. Super messy? Um, is there any other way?! I don’t think there’s a single type of chicken wing that I do not enjoy.
I’m not exactly sure when and where my love for the wing developed, but since my college days they have been a staple of my dining out experience. I, on occasion, attempt to fight my natural urge and order something else – but, I usually fail and find myself saying to the server, “So, tell me about your wings.”
I sort of feel bad for my friends and family who eat with me. They have the unfortunate view of barbecue sauce smeared from my upper cheek to my lower chin. For a while I think the spectacle embarrassed certain ones, but now they overlook it. I, mean, honestly, they may as well. How do you even eat a wing neatly? Is it possible?! And besides, I think the messiness adds to their charm (and mine).
So, I’m dying to hear from you – what’s your take on chicken wings? And, can you eat them without getting dirty? If so, tell me your secret!
Do you know what Sunday night is? Come on, we’ve been promoting it like crazy! In case you’ve been living inside a bubble, Sunday night at 9pm/8c is the two-hour season premiere of the best competition show on television – the one, the only – The Next Food Network Star. No, I’m not just saying that because I work for FN, I honestly feel it’s the best. Where else does a foodie have the opportunity to become a national celebrity, have access to build their own brand and all the while do what they love – cook? The concept of the show is amazing!
The peeps who have made it to this season’s competition have a passion for food. And, of course, we dig that! Now, sure, not all of them have the defined culinary skills, point of view or TV presence to win a show on the network, but our judges (Bobby, Susie and Bob) would never question their passion for food itself. The judges just need to find that one person with a little “sparkle” to go along with that passion (i.e., Guy Fieri).
Have you checked out who the 12 finalists are this season? Have you read their bios, watched their videos? Seriously, you must! You need to see what true characters these people are. Char-ac-ters, I say! Once you read and watch, let us know what you think! Write us here, tell us on Facebook, or chat with us – yes, chat!
On Sunday (and every week after that), we will be hosting a live chat during the Star broadcast. So before you settle in on the sofa to watch the show, grab your laptop! We’ll be starting at 9pm/8c at FoodNetwork.com/Star. It will be a weekly date, so don’t stand us up.