Austin to Boston Food SwapOct 25th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: blog
It’s cliche to say that food brings people together… but c’mon, we know it’s true; there’s no use fighting it.
To prove the point, for the second year Austin, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts food bloggers took part in a food swap. It’s where each city shares the creative gustatory delights of their local and regional foods (that travel well via ground mail) with their counterparts in their sister food cities.
The bloggers from both communities self-select to be part of the fun, and then organizers on both sides pair an Austin blogger with a Boston blogger.The organizers this year were Josh Kimbell of Austin who curates the blog The Avocado Apex, and Rachel Leah Blumenthal who does restaurant reviews for the CBS TV affiliate in Boston.
Once everyone’s been paired, organizers introduce the bloggers by email and then the bloggers start communicating with one another to determine food likes, dislikes and allergies.
I was paired with the charming Emily Chilton who curates the blog The Three Bite Rule. Emily is a 20-something Boston suburbanite who loves to eat, cook, wine, and dine. She is married, to Mr. J, who also serves as her webmaster, and together they are the proud parents of a black lab named Windsor.
The name of her blog comes from a philosophy about eating that seems very reasonable. From Emily’s blog: “One of my favorite families to ever babysit had an important motto at the dinner table: the 1st bite is to try something, the 2nd bite is to decide, and the 3rd bite is to be sure.” See what I mean? Next time the kids quibble about something on their plate, invoke the three bite rule.
Anyway, Emily and I communicated via email a few times to determine likes and dislikes (no red meat or peas for Emily, thank you very much), and then we set to the business of finding a few representative goodies from our respective locales (keeping it under $30.00) to send to our new friend.
Emily’s box of goodies arrived before I even had mine sent. In fact I ended up using the box she sent her goodies in to sent mine back to her.
It was like Christmas opening the box from Boston.
As most of the foods were regional, Emily attached maps to the items to indicate where each originated. I found that quite clever and very thoughtful. Included in the box: Marshmallow Fluff, which is a regional treat, and celebrated yearly with a festival. B&M Brown Bread in a can; Hi-Rise Bread Company Maple Cranberry Granola (which I am embarrassed to say is gone — it was THAT good); Ward’s Berry Farm Red Pepper Jelly (from her favorite farm); a wonderful little jug of McLure’s Maple Syrup (score!); a package of herbed cashews from Q’s Nuts that tasted like Thanksgiving (yeah, ate ‘em); and a loaf of bread from When Pigs Fly Bakery. Sadly, the bread did not survive. The duration of the trip combined with the moisture in the loaf, and sitting in the hot postal warehouse for a couple of days until I could collect my package created conditions whereby mold took over. So Sad.
I felt nervous about selecting items to send to Emily. I wanted to represent Austin and the area well, and also send her items that she and her husband would enjoy. She’d told me what she liked, but when I went shopping for items to fit the bill, my mind blanked. D’oh! I did remember her saying she liked to snack and liked “surprise” ingredients. The Caldwell Country Chili mix sitting on the top of everything in the box did not make it into the box before I sealed it up. I decided it was too much heat for New Englanders.
Following is the list of food items and non-food items I sent to Emily (actual letter I sent):
Austin Slow Burn Green Chile Jam. Jill Lewis and her husband Kevin are the master minds behind this product. Their product line is award winning and really delicious. This jam is terrific as a glaze on chicken.
Austin Slow Burn Salsa Verde: Again From Jill & Kevin and tasty as a dip of mixed into other items.
Cornucopia Texas Blend: Cornucopia is a local popcorn shop near the University of Texas campus. This blend is the Texas Chili and the Caramel. I had them do them in layers in case you do not like one of the flavors. However, I find they are terrific mixed together. You be the judge.
Beanitos: This is made in Austin by serious snackers who were done with corn and all its GMO-ness – and wanted their snacks to be healthy, non-GMO and with a low glycemic index. Voila: Beanitos. My favorite is the black bean (which I got for you), but they also have other flavors, like cheddar and chipotle.
Confituras: In the box you will find a small jar of pickled blueberries by award-winning jams and preserves maker, Stephanie McClenny. She’s won top honors at the national Good Food Awards two years in a row. These sound strange at first but are addictive. They are a great accompaniment to a cheese plate.
Fredericksburg Farms: Their Orange Chipotle Grilling Glaze is not too hot and is great on chicken and fish.
Groovy Dog Bakery: I included a couple of doggie treats for your pup. An armadillo and a couple of little Texas treats. They looked good enough to eat (I almost took a nibble).
Non-food items for which I did not spend any money:
Return of the Native: This is a box of blank cards designed by a friend of mine. Inside are 12 blank cards featuring three native Texas critters: the Armadillo, the Horned Lizard (horny toad), and the state bird – the Mockingbord. The card stock is 100% recycled.
Uchi – The Cookbook: This is a gorgeous cookbook by Austin chef and restaurateur Tyson Cole, and writer Jessica Dupuy, sent to me by the publisher. Tyson has two sushi restaurants in Austin: Uchi and Uchiko, and has recently opened another in Houston. His food is amazing, beautiful, picture perfect. He admits that most home cooks will not be able to pull off many of the recipes, but I say it is worth a try.
Buttons: My friend Suzanna Cole, who works at Central Market, gave me a handful of funny “Cheese buttons” that they’ve been giving out at the store because it is cheese month there. Thought you might have fun with them.