I have a few rules about eating. Almost all of which I broke in Austin. For one: I try to avoid seafood when I’m far from the ocean. Once you’ve lived on a coast, it’s easy to get spoiled by price and proximity. However, when I spotted this cute little trailer in a food truck park, I was drawn in like a cat following a piece of string.
A few members of the Food Network team hightailed it to Austin, Texas this week for the South by Southwest media conference. I’m happy to report Austin is an excellent food town, so while we’re learning ways to make your experiences on our site even cooler, we’re also going to be reporting on what we eat.
Austin is a food truck and trailer town, and Downtown Burger was (wisely) dishing out burgers, french fries and beer across the street from the convention center. A line of hungry hipsters extended to the sidewalk.
After attending a few panels, I headed over to Whole Foods corporate headquarters for a wine and cheese tasting with the Techmunch team. The tasting featured wines from the Bordeaux region, and all of the featured bottles were under $20 and selected by Doug Bell and Jeff Ryan, Whole Foods global wine buyers. If you are near a Whole Foods, I’d recommend the Chateau La Fleur Dallon Cotes de Bordeaux Rouge, a well-balanced medium-bodied red.
Still hungry, a few of us walked over to Sandra Bullock’s well-known restaurant, Bess Bistro. I’m a huge fan of her acting, but none of us where sure what to expect. It was a delight. We shared a dished of perfectly fried artichokes along with fried green tomatoes over fresh crab meat. My meal was two lamb sausage patties that had that perfect lamb richness. The restaurant is in the lower floor of an old house, and was cozy with brick-lined walls and charming waitstaff. We polished off our meal with beignets dipped in hot fudge, which is how I would like to finish all meals really.
I don’t clearly remember the first time I had macaroni and cheese. It’s just always been there. The first time I made mac ‘n’ cheese, my friends and I made it out of a box and we added Bac-O’s for flavor. It wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t bad either. Lesson learned: even bad mac ‘n’ cheese can be delicious.
It wasn’t until I was an adult and eating in restaurants that I realized how good a real baked shells and cheese could be. I became obsessed with finding down-home cheesy perfection.
Chat ‘N’ Chew, a downtown NYC staple, has one of my favorite basic baked versions. It’s not fancy, but you get a lot of it, and it hits that perfect blend of crispy topping, warm cheese and noodle-y goodness.
When I’m craving a taste of my Bac-O’s disaster, I indulge in Tipsy Parson‘s Mac ‘N’ Cheese with slab bacon. The smoky flavor perfectly slices through the sharp Vermont cheddar and delivers an extra protein punch.
More recently, the newly opened Little Cheese Pub has set my obsession on its head with rotating versions of the comfort classic. The Dutch Kas Mac has all the traditional elements, but the cheese is Gouda and it’s topped with beer pretzels. It’s exactly what mac ‘n’ cheese should taste like, but somehow better. They also have versions with Manchego and mozzarella cheese. It’s practically criminal.
Hungry yet? Try one of our chefs’ versions at home or tell us where the best mac ‘n’ cheese is in your town.
Last night, Barneys New York kept the doors open late to celebrate the unveiling of their annual holiday windows. Barneys creative director Simon Doonan and team created delicious displays overflowing with inspiration from foodie culture.
Window themes included caricatures of many Food Network favorites, including Mario Batali and Bobby Flay in the the “Bad Boys” window. Rachael Ray, Paula Deen and Sandra Lee were rendered larger than life in the “Gals” window. A vibrant “Revolutionary Stew” window displayed Julia Child and Jamie Oliver.
This year’s New York City Wine and Food Festival’s burger battle was a massive face-off featuring over 20 chefs in an old warehouse in Brooklyn, with Bobby Flay’s nacho-style burger taking the people’s choice award. (If you’re inspired, browse our collection of Bobby’s best burger recipes.)
On Saturday night of the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, I was lucky to attend a truly special event. A private wine tasting dinner with chef Marcus Samuelsson with wine selections by Michael Green at the Foundation Room in the House of Blues.
I’m not one to gush, but this dinner was one for the books. It was a very small event, with a few casino guests, executives and myself.
I arrived a bit early and snuck back into the kitchen to see what Chef Samuelsson was whipping up for us.
Chef was very busy preparing the meal. It was a treat to watch a master in action.
On my second day at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, I wanted to do my best to sample a little bit of everything and get reports from my fellow festival goers.
Food expert Ted Allen hosted a morning dim sum brunch at the atmospheric Buddakan (you may remember the NYC outpost from Sex and the City), which is known for huge family style portions. Chef and food writer Jessica Hulett spent most of her brunch gabbing with Ted and felt “the ribs and pork dumplings were real standouts, as was the sparkling sake.”
I stopped by the Grand Market at Bally’s, which featured over 200 vendors sampling wine, beer and food, as well as giving cooking demonstrations. It was mobbed with my favorite kind of people – food people! I sampled some delicious peanut brittle and one of the strangest things I’ve ever eaten – a corned beef Reuben spring roll.
On my way to Caesar’s Palace to see Guy Fieri’s live cooking demonstration, I ran into the infamous Cooking Channel ice cream truck parked on the boardwalk. Free ice cream on a beautiful summer afternoon? Yes, please.
We try to keep it classy at the Food Network. We really do.
MTV’s Jersey Shore is one of the exceptions. The season two premiere was the talk of the office this morning, particularly Snooki and JWoww’s Southern fried pickle experience while en route to Miami.
We’re pretty much always all about the food, and fried pickles are a favorite here. If you haven’t tried deep frying pickles, we have some easy recipes you can whip up in time for next week’s episode. Trust us, even if you’re not a Shore fan, you’ll love these variations on a mid-century Southern classic.