FeastPDX Day 3: Now We're Cooking!

WAIT!!! Did you read about Day 1 and Day 2? Oh good. Glad we're all caught up.

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Rarely do I put up the Do Not Disturb sign on my door. I like coming back to a bed that's made, a sink that's been wiped down, and fresh towels. It's like a visit from the Clean Fairy.  But when I wake up late and have to make a mad dash out of my room, leaving my tech gear and clothes all over the bed, I put the sign out. I looked back at the mess on my way out and thought, "Good thing I'm not bringing anyone back to my room!" 

This guarantees that you most definitely WILL bring people back to your room. 

But more on that later. 

On to the awesome events of FeastPDX Day 3 :

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I rushed over to the main stage at Director's Park for the event I'd been looking forward to: Whole Foods Best Butcher and Fish Monger Face Off.  I saw some people signing in at table and walked over to see if this was where I needed to be. When I gave my name, this absolute sweetheart named James complimented me on my blog, to which I answered, "Oh no... I think you have the wrong Sugar." Then he said, "Sugar Jones... Sugar in the Raw, right?"

And I died. 

Bloggers: You know... I mean, you KNOW what it's like to write and write and write and then wonder what people think. I mean, you have analytics that tell you people are reading, or at least showing up, but unless there is a random giveaway or a spammer from Bangladesh, comments are very rare any more. So when we get to meet people that validate you with kind words... bloggers... you know what I'm talking about. 

*sniff*

Okay, back to the Butchers and Fish Mongers. 

After James and "The Little Picklers" signed me in, I walked into a VIP viewing area off to the side of the tent where the contests would be taking place.

I met up with the other bloggers that I had made friends with (thanks to my on-line-now-IRL-friend, Brandie Kajino of Spoon and Saucer) and had the most interesting Bloody Marys ever. The Bloody Mary toppings bar was filled with foods that I thought were munchies. When I asked where the plates were, the bartenders said, "Oh those aren't to eat off a plate. You skewer them for your drink." Having never put meatballs, ribs, artichokes, or mussels in a drink before, the whole exercise made me go outside of my comfort zone with food.

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After three Bloody Marys and watching the first part of the fish mongering contest, I ran over to Le Cordon Bleu (which, if you're ever there for a cooking class, it's in the same building as Target downtown) to take my classes on condiments and salt block cooking.

Andrea Slonecker (author of Pretzel Making at Home) was the instructor for our class, Homemade Condiments, Sweet and Savory. Altogether, we made three condiments (tomato paste, mustard cream, and parsley butter with horseradish), a salty caramel sauce, and our very own pretzels. I enjoyed the class so much, I had to buy her book.

We used a special vanilla-infused salt in our caramel from a specialty salt store, The Meadow. Turns out, the proprietor of that store is the country's leading salt expert AND the instructor of my salt block cooking class. 

Mark Bitterman is as enthusiastic about salt as anyone I've ever met. He will tell you, unequivocally, NOT to use Koshier salt. I don't know why... just DON'T DO IT! In this class, we used beautiful Himalayan sea salt blocks. A natural chemical reaction occurs when you place food on salt blocks, causing the foods to absorb the flavors of these salt blocks. 

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We sliced cucumbers 1/8" thick and placed them all over a block to sit for 20 minutes, then flip for another 20. I thought I might cut the time by 5 minutes on each side because those cucumber slices were a wee bit too salty for my liking, but as we talked about it, I thought about how good they would taste diced and tossed into a ceviche. 

While the cucumbers were absorbing the salt of one block, we worked on chopping a beautiful piece of Kobe beef into teeny tiny bits for Steak Tartare to eventually top on the cucumber slices, we grilled scallops on a block heated to 500 degrees, and then watched as Mark melted chocolate into a fondue in a salt bowl. We washed all that down with a mint julep served in a -- you guessed it -- salt cup. It was all amazing and I fully plan to add a salt block (and Mark's book on Salt Block Cooking) to my kitchen.

I made it to one last Speaker Series that left me wishing I still lived on my 1/2 acre with my chickens and fruit trees. The panelists of Beat the Devil: Create an Awesome Food Business Without Selling Your Soul were all business owners who found success simply doing things thoughtfully and ethically. 

Each panelist was asked about their early experiences in their respective businesses. Here were snippets of each of their responses:

Piper Davis (Grand Central Baker): "There was no plan other than to get up and do a job that we wanted to do ever day." She also added a bit of advice to "adjust your expectations about money when in a sustainable business."

Chuck Eggert (Pacific Foods): Their early goal was simply "to become the most respected brand in natural products. "We've never done anything to apologize for." 

 A.C. Gallo (Whole Foods Market): A.C. grew up in a family that had a market in NY. He read Chemical Feast when he was in college and decided to become a vegetarian. He left school to work at alternative bulk whole natural food market, which lost many of its providers when California passed a stricter "organic" law. His guiding principle then became integrity and always asks himself, "What is the right thing to do?"

Kim Maleck (Salt & Straw):  This panelist left the biggest impression on me. I don't have a direct quote (probably because I was enthralled by what she was saying), but the gist of what Kim was saying was that she just wanted a place where people come to hang out and get to know their neighbors while enjoying a little something in her shop.

Kim's professional career started at Starbucks when there were only 30 stores and eventually enjoyed a string of awesome jobs, including a project she worked with Bono on. She had a secret dream to open an ice cream shop, but ran away from it for years. Thankfully, her boyfriend and her cousin helped her make that dream come true and now she has a popular community ice cream shop that serves  

Steve Smith (Smith Tea Maker):  Didn't know anything about tea or blending when he started. Learned while working. Took time off in Europe. Saw how the artisans were doing it. Goals were not to open hundreds of locations, but to serve an artisan product. His goal was to "have a unique product and to rise above the noise in a crowded market."

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That afternoon, I met up with some more on-line friends for the first time. I might have snuck them into the media lounge for some wine tasting and then might have asked them back to my room at the former gay bath house. Just as I walked up to the door of my room, I saw the Do Not Disturb sign and remembered the mess I left inside.

Damn that Murphy and his laws!!!!

Thankfully, we were all tipsy. I went through the bags of stuff we got from our visit to Feast and gave them as much stuff as I could so that I could fit the remaining items into ONE box of wine (and other tasty treats)  to get them on to my flight under Alaska Airlines' new Wine Flies Free program. So if I ever invite you to my messy room, just know that there will be food and drinks involved, so just ignore the towels on the floor, okay?

The last event I attended was High Comfort. I'd tell you all about it, but Irvin did such a great job of that over at my new obsession, Eat the Love. Go check it out! 

OH! One last thing... 

Do you know what else I learned while at Feast PDX? I learned to rely on Evernote. I used this amazing app on my Samsung Galaxy S4 and Samsung Galaxy Camera from Verizon to collect my thoughts in several notebooks, attaching images taken with my devices right into the notes. And while I was connected, the notes synced with my Evernote account in the cloud and eventually back onto my desktop. It was like a lightbulb moment when I finally made myself use it. With as many gadgets as we have available, it's the ability to be connected anywhere on those devices that make life that much easier.

Whew... I'm hungry. I'm gonna go make something to eat... 

The Search is On for Univision San Diego's Despierta Tech Host

Verizon Despierta Tech Audition San Diego

If only I spoke Spanish faster... I would TOTALLY audition for this gig. I mean, it's PERFECT for me! Except for the whole speaking-Spanish-faster thing. 

Univision San Diego and Verizon are looking for a tech expert to host the show, Despierta Tech, and Saturday, October 5th is the final day to audition!

Verizon will be training the winner on the latest tech that they offer, so a super deep knowledge of tech is not necessary. Besides all that amazing training, winners will receive a tablet, smart phone, and $2,500!! That's dollars, my friends. NOT pesos. ;) To register for an audition time, go to the Verizon Insider Despierta Tech page.

Verizon San Diego is located at: 5770 Ruffin Rd., San Diego, CA 92123

For those of you that habla, here's more information.

 

Harder Than I Thought... Easier Than Expected

Good LORD, moving sucked!!! We're still among boxes, unloading forgotten items as a random need arises. All necessary items have been unpacked. Everything else will be unpacked if (and only if) a spoon, a screwdriver, toilet paper, or Vicks cannot handle whatever it is that needs handling.

The dog misses his 1/2 acre yard and tearing through his one story carpeted hacienda, and so he punishes us for the three stories of tile and wood flooring move by peeing and pooping on the tiled patio right next to the barbecue island. At least it's always in the same spot. He does enjoy the walks on the beach, though. 

 

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Converting prices at the store has been interesting. So has living without data at all times. I've adjusted to pesos, but not to life without on-demand digital discussions. It feels like quitting a habit like smoking. Now, rather than jumping onto Twitter or Facebook ever time I wanted to share a random thought or see what buzz was going on in the world, I'm reaching for my phone to use my new favorite app: the calculator. If I'm not dividing peso prices by the exchange rate in the middle of the grocery aisle, I'm converting gallons to liters and figuring out the peso to dollar to make sure that I'm getting the right amount of gas. It's just as fun as it sounds. I don't know why I decided against the Global Data Plan from Verizon. That's a mistake I'm rectifying today.

My morning coffee habit is suffering. My regular Grande Vanilla Americano has become an irregular tasting concoction. I figured out right away that I need to say "Espresso Americano", but I figured I could just leave the rest to the baristas. Nope. Each time, I get different levels of sweetness or bitterness. Once, the vanilla was so overpowering, I thought I was going to go into a sugar coma. The next time, I asked for three "pompas" instead of four. I doubt "pompas" is the correct word for "pumps," but they got the gist. The next time I asked for the same thing, I watched them add it in, but then the espresso itself was super bitter. It didn't even taste like the same one from the day before. So now I'm just getting used to chai lattes. They know how to make those really well.

Wah. Wah. Wah. 

You'd think I was having a miserable time. The truth is, I love that we made the move. Every morning, I wake up and sit in our Sunset Room (aka: chill out zone) and watch the waves crash just beyond the sand dunes.  A little while later I'll walk the dog and one of the kids or the husband down the bay a mile and back. Last Sunday, we walked over to the beach with a day's worth of water and lunch and hung out for the afternoon, taking in the warm sun, the smells of the ocean, and the sounds of the food and snack cart vendors ringing their bells and announcing their menu. We decided that this weekend, we would go with water, but rather than pack a lunch, bring a handful of pesos to munch on whatever looks good.

We've had to come back to San Diego more often than we expected over the last couple of weeks. Still tying up some appointments and picking up random packages. It's getting to be a drag having to make the drive and also having to leave our new home behind, even for a day.  I find myself wanting to just be there... to soak up more smells and sounds... to figure out the best way to get mosquitos to stop biting... to taste more foods from my childhood... to watch my kids eyes light up as they begin to understand the words that were so foreign to them just one month ago. That's been the easy part. Getting back to being in Baja. The first home I ever knew. The place where my cousins and aunts and uncles are. Where there's a party every weekend and no one calls first, they just pop in to say hi. I hate that in the U.S., but I really love it in Baja. It seems so normal and natural.

Like squeezing lime on everything. Except ice cream.

 

Juice Up with Mophie + Giveaway

Remember in the old days when you had to stay plugged in to the wall and you had to choose between going out into the sun or working? Our mobile lives are second nature to us. We don't think twice about being able to work from the road with all the devices at our disposal.

Until, of course, we run out of juice. 

Suddenly, we're panicking, looking for an outlet as feverishly as Jesse looking to score on Breaking Bad.  You can hear your snarky friends saying "ABC... Always be charging!" You think about every opportunity you had to plug in but didn't because you're invincible and that extends to your devices and that arrogance just lead to that very moment where you are standing in the middle of nowhere, waiting for a train at a deserted location between a lumber yard and a grove of trees, and not being able to finish a post that you are half way through. (Okay, maybe that was ME, but you get it, right?)

Well, no need to get the sweaty face of junkie Jesse... Mophie is here to save your mobile behind!

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Because Mophie loves you. And truth be told, I love my Mophie Juice Pack Power Station right back! So does my husband and my friends who were recently saved by the juicy goodness of the power station.

 

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And since Mophie probably loves all of you guys, too, I'm going to give you all a chance to win one! Just leave me a comment below and share this post on at least one of your favorite social channels. Winner will be chosen on Friday, June 21st. 

If you don't win or if you aren't patient enough to wait for the announcement next Friday, you can pick up your own Mophie Juice Pack Power Station. BONUS: They're on sale right now! Save $10 when you buy a Mophie Juice Pack Power Station during the month of June at your local Verizon store or order on-line

Good Luck!