I will continue updating my blog Culture Spoon, but in the meantime, check out a new blog I've begun called I Fall Walking Upstairs. I am determined to write in one way or another, even if that is not food writing; this blog will focus on different types of writing I find interesting, particularly comedy. I'm not sure if it will lead to anything, but I'm determined to see it through. Thanks for all your support, readers!
I fight the urge to roll my eyes whenever a person tells me they have "Wanderlust." Anyone who has read travel and culture magazines in the last five years knows the word belongs on a list of words and phrases to retire- it's up there with "nestled" and "rolling hills" and "picturesque." The only thing that annoys me more than "wanderlust," is the fact that I haven't found a word that better describes my own compulsion to wander, travel and move constantly. I have kept busy with work in San Antonio since August, and I admit I have scattered my professional energies since October trying to incorporate travel in my work in 2014. I am excited to be traveling throughout Belgium, France, Spain, and possibly Asia in the coming months, and I hope travel is something I can incorporate in my career and assignments more in the future.
I am trying to stay mindful of which people and things are around me at this moment in my life; I have grown so much in my professional and personal life because of them, and I know this moment in my life will pass. I am proud to be working in San Antonio in a time where the city's creative communities are beginning to come into their own, particularly in the food community. Recent writing and photo assignments have reminded me that travel will always be part of my life, even if I can't find a better word than "wanderlust" to describe it. We are always moving even when we are standing still, and I am traveling even when I simply bake souffles in the family kitchen.
People often tell me I was born in the wrong decade. If I had graduated 30 years ago, I would have easily found my place as a successful news writer and photographer. I try not to think about these comments too often, mostly because I wasn't born earlier so the comments don't mean much. I prefer face-to-face interviews, I still write all my notes by hand (though I'm beginning to digitize them), and my favorite work still involves walking, listening, and exploring streets with my old 35 mm. I have a journalism/photojournalism background that stretches back to my high school newspaper days, and I use that specialized training and resentment to this day.
I always ask established photographers and writers, "If you were a new writer or photographer, in today's market, what would you do?" Many of them tell me they simply wouldn't be a writer or photographer- they wouldn't make it today. I'm sure this would apply to a few individuals, but I think true writers and photographers always find a way. I would define "true" photographers and writers as the people who work in the industry not just because they love it, or because they're particularly good at it, but because they have to do this. I've tried to envision what some of my photo and writing heroes would do if they were entering the market today, and I think many of them would still find a way to create meaningful work.
I can see Margaret Bourke-White tweeting updates from her travel assignments, but she would put the phone away to make beautiful and intelligent photographs. If Joan Didion did create a Tumblr, I would actually spend time on Tumblr, but I don't think it would detract from her writing for Vogue or The New Yorker. M.F.K. Fisher would Instagram all her food adventures, but I would still read and respect anything she published or blogged. If individuals like Nora Ephron and Elisabeth Eaves and can do it, why can't I?
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Do all writers and photographers find their niche path by working? Social media certainly confuses the path today. I increasingly find that just because I can do something well, doesn't mean I should do it. This is why I will never be a social media associate or a traditional metro news reporter, and I've learned to be okay with that.
Finding my niche has been a difficult process, but it's beginning to make more sense. My current job title: Freelance food news writer and photographer/ commercial food photographer. I used to worry that news and commercial were incompatible, but I find that multimedia skills are necessary for a new generation of writers and photographers to remain relevant and credible (and well fed). I hope to add other credentials to this title within the year, and for the first time, I'm not worried about compromising my ethics or work quality.
What would Margaret Bourke-White say to that? I think she'd agree I was on my way, and remind me to keep backing up my work in multiple locations.
Sorry for the hiatus readers! I spent most of October moving into a new house and prepping for upcoming commercial photo shoots. I may have missed out on Halloween festivities, but I plan on celebrating Dia de los Muertos right. Tonight you can catch Grupo Fantasma and DJ Steven Lee Moya playing at Sam's Burger Joint. Bonus points if you can dance while eating a burger. Be sure to buy tickets here.
The Meatopia Festival also kicks off this weekend at the Pearl Brewery! You can still purchase Sunday tickets here. The festival, headed by food writer Josh Ozersky, will feature 32 of the best chefs in the country, and celebrate meat the way it is meant to be enjoyed- in large amounts, cooked over wood fires. I'm dreaming of BBQ already.
Keep the weekend classy with NAO at the Pearl Brewery, and make sure to try their delicious Dia de los Muertos cocktail. I've included the recipe below!
Hope to see you at the Pearl this weekend. Happy Dia de los Muertos, and Happy Eating!
I recently wrote a story on One Lucky Duck, a new juice bar and raw food establishment located in the Historical Pearl Brewery in San Antonio, Texas. Here are few more photographs from my time spent at One Lucky Duck. You can read the story as printed here in the SA Current: One Lucky Duck , or check out One Lucky Duck Texas menu. Happy Eating!
Today Culture Spoon celebrates International Coffee Day with a new “Coffee Talk” interview series. Each month, Culture Spoon will feature an individual who has pursued their passions in work and life, and how they’ve used that passion to better their local and global communities. In our first Coffee Talk, Culture Spoon sat with Rebecca Anne Ruiz, a powerful advocate for the Fair Trade Movement. Ruiz works as a Chief Storyteller for Ten Thousand Villages, is the co-founder of the Tender Heart Foundation, and recently traveled as a Fair Trade Ambassador to Oaxaca, Mexico. In this interview, Ruiz explains her passion for fair trade, and proves that great things can happen when you follow your passion.
For most San Antonians, Sunday is still a day reserved for rest. Whether we are recovering from Saturday night, or preparing for a new week, we look for opportunities to unwind and enjoy ourselves. My favorite antidote for a stressful, busy week? Brunch.
If you're in need of a truly great brunch experience, head over to The Arcade Midtown Kitchen, located in the Pearl Brewery. Last weekend, Arcade Chef/Owner, Jesse Perez, unveiled a new brunch menu sure to delight locals and visitors alike.
Perez grew up in San Antonio, but spent the last decade as a chef in some of the best restaurants in the country before returning in February 2013 to open The Arcade. The well-traveled chef brings a fresh perspective to classic dishes; Perez has helped introduce new flavors and dining experiences to the San Antonio culinary community.
The Arcade's Bar Manager, Christopher Ware, pays homage to brunch with a great selection of delicious drinks. Savor and enjoy a delicious bloody Mary or a refreshing, bubbly mimosa.
Even on the laziest of Sundays, you have to admit this brunch looks way better than staying in bed.
In "El Rancho" you see evidence of Chef Perez's San Antonio roots and Latin training.
I'm not ashamed to say I tried to sneak this dish away from my brunch companions. The eggs were beautiful, the chorizo was perfect, and the salsa verde surprised me with complex, subtle flavors.
Make sure to try the piping hot,fresh California coffee, delivered daily from City Bean Coffee in Los Angeles. Perez worked as an executive hotel chef in LA for several years,where he first discovered a respect for fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Bacon enthusiasts will rejoice in Chef Perez's Chicago-inspired bacon plate.
"I take my bacon seriously," Chef Perez said. Rather than the usual bacon strips, Perez serves perfectly cooked bacon slabs.
In'THE' Chicken meets the Waffle, Perez recognizes his time spent as a chef in Atlanta. Fans of the chicken and waffles trend will appreciate the Chicken Milanese style (no bones!) served with a Pioneer Flour Waffle, and an endless supply of Maple Syrup.
Check out other Arcade brunch menu items here: [gallery columns="4" ids="931,933,934,932"]
The Arcade serves brunch to a full house on Sundays, between 10:30 am- 2 pm. I'd recommend calling (210) 369-9664 or clicking here to reserve a table.
As my 25th birthday approaches, I've felt the need to examine my life goals and accomplishments to date. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJrSgg9wGH4]
Marilyn Monroe's quarter life crisis in Some Like it Hot
I am pleased with my current place in life. Within the last month, I left a safe, unchallenging job to pursue my dream of becoming a professional food writer and photographer.
I have never experienced this kind of exhaustion before.
My schedule is filled with assignments as a freelance writer, photographer and photo assistant.
I've also declared a google visibility war with actress Lea Thompson. Hopefully we will find some sort of compromise.
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Full time freelance life has been terrifying and exciting, but it has also effectively catalyzed personal and professional developments. My goals for my 25th year include building and strengthening my relationships with family, friends and communities.
I am confident and happy to tell people I am a food & culture writer and photographer. I’ve gotten a few laughs and puzzled looks,but there’s an increasing number of people who light up and want to discuss recent stories or cultural events.
I have resolved to make travel an part of my life again, and I am excited to begin new assignments that require traveling.
I am beyond grateful to the individuals who have supported me during the first quarter of my life. I have a good feeling about the next quarter.
Photography may not preserve absolute truth, but it reminds us of the places we have been, the people we were or felt we were, and helps illustrate transitions too difficult to explain with words alone.
The black and white film photographs were taken 2 years ago, when I was a photo student living in Austin. I wanted to document my environment and how surreal the relationships between buildings, art and people. felt to me.
The second set of photographs were taken earlier this week, on a roadtrip to Austin with my siblings. The only relationship between the two sets of photographs is the physical spaces. I enjoy documenting the changes in cities, and I enjoy documenting my changing relationships with cities. Revisiting places and planning trips for new, unfamiliar cities is at times frightening, but overall, an exciting process.
Photographs help me to create narratives that better explain why I am in my current city, who I've been in the past, who I am at this moment, and I search for clues as to who I will become.
SAN ANTONIO, TX- Meatopia, a food festival often described as a "Woodstock of edible animals" will celebrate great Texas meats Nov. 2-3 at the Pearl Brewery. Although it was originally founded by food writer Josh Ozersky as a New York City food event, Meatopia will celebrate its tenth year in the Lonestar state. "This will be the greatest meat event that Texas has ever seen," Ozersky said.
On Saturday night, the festival opens with Beefsteak, a tribute to food traditions and excesses of the Gilded Age. On Sunday, Meatopia will feature 33 of the best chefs in the country and their culinary creations. Carnivorous attendees can expect great beef, as well as "pork, veal, chicken, duck, quail, bison, and many other animals,from snout to tail."
All the meat will be "cruelty-free, hormone free, and anti-biotic free," Ozersky said. "Meatopia focuses on the relationship between the (meat) producers and chefs.
Meatopia will showcase the greatest meat collaborations in the country, including San Antonio's Jesse Perez of Arcade, Andrew Weissman of Il Sogno, Tim Rattray of The Granary, Geronimo Lopez of NAO, Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria, and Jason Dady of Two Bros BBQ.
Chefs representing Austin include: Top Chef winner Paul Qui, culinary team Laura Sawicki and Rene Ortiz, Foreign and Domestic's Ned Elliott, and Bryan Butler and Ben Runkle of Salt & Time.
Meatopia offers general admission tickets at $75, VIP tickets at $125, and a bundled VIP package for both Meatopia and Beefsteak for $195. Single event tickets for Beefsteak run at $195. You can buy your tickets here.
The Granary and Salt & Time collaborated to serve delicious snacks including mouth-watering pastrami, samples of porkbelly with jicama, salami, and sausages.
San Antonio has become a mecca for fine dining and culinary innovation. Culinaria's Restaurant Week celebrates local food culture, and makes fine dining experiences accessible to the community. Between August 17-24, participating restaurants, food trucks, and pop-ups will offer 3 course, prix-fixe lunch menus for $15, and dinner specials for $35. Click here for a list of participating restaurants. On Tuesday, the Restaurant Week on the Move Event at Travis Park featured eight local food trucks, each offering special 3 course lunches.
I selected delicious DUK tacos from DUK TRUCK, a food venture owned by local Chef Jason Dady. The duck was cooked to perfection, and the pineapple chunks made the tacos a perfect combination of sweet and savory. I will be on the hunt for the bright yellow truck again soon.
Another great reason to dine out during Culinaria's Restaurant Week? Some of the event's proceeds will be used for community based projects, including Culinaria's new Garden Project. During the Travis Park event, I spoke with Culinaria President Suzanne Taranto Etheredge, who was excited for the garden to promote healthy living and education in San Antonio. To learn how you can contribute to the Culinaria Garden Project, email: info (at) culinariasa.org
Check Culture Spoon throughout Restaurant Week; More food news and event updates coming soon! Happy Eating!
Most people don't feel inspired when they reach for a can of black beans or sliced carrots, but non-profit group CANstruction proves that each can become a work of art. CANstruction's work illustrates that overwhelming, somber issues like world hunger can inspire beauty and creative solutions.
Since 1992, CANstruction has helped increase canned donations to local food banks across the country, and throughout the world. Each year, CANstruction hosts regional and international canned food sculpture competitions for architects, designers, students to increase food donations while engaging local communities.
Some interesting numbers to consider:
- Between 2011-2012, Canstruction exhibits and competitions collected over 3.4 million pounds of food for local food banks throughout the world.
- Between 2011-2012, Dallas, Texas ranked as the number one participating city in food contributions. They collected 85, 302 pounds of food, which roughly amounts to 86, 175 meals
Click on your city below to learn more about the free Texas CANstruction art exhibits available to the public
Dallas, Tx (10/05/2013- 10/20/2013)
Fort Worth , Tx (10/05/2013- 10/13/2013)
Austin, Tx (11/09/2013- 11/17/2013)
Houston, Tx (11/18/2013- 11/23/2013)
To learn more about participating in the CANstruction competitions, visit http://canstruction.org/content/host-competition
Bright green, smooth and symmetrical- these are qualities to look for in a great hatch chile pepper. Hatch chiles may have originated in New Mexico, but Texas has adopted them as a favorite spicy ingredient in summer dishes, particularly in salsa. I used what was available in my family's garden, but you can find hatch peppers in season at most grocery distributors. Enjoy! Warning: You want the beauty of the salsa, not burning chiles to bring tears to your eyes- always wear gloves when handling peppers!
Ingredients: 4 Hatch chiles 2 tbs Garlic 3 Roma Tomatoes Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Total time: about 20 minutes Serves: 4
Pre-heat oven to 350. Brush hatch peppers with olive oil and place on baking sheet. Roast peppers ten minutes, or until the skin blackens and blisters. Wearing gloves, add roasted hatch peppers to food processor.
I added 1/2 of a Habanero pepper, but if this is out of your spice range (slice off a sliver to test), try substituting with more hatch or a combo of red onion and cilantro for some kick.
Dice tomatoes and garlic before adding to food processor.
I rarely make salsa the same way twice; I think it's more fun to experiment and see what works. Instead of tortilla chips, my family tried the salsa on veggies (like zucchini), quinoa and salads. Have fun!
Although the Pearl Brewery closed its doors in 2001, the site remains a source of culinary innovation through its ever-expanding farmer's market and diverse restaurants. NAO, a restaurant headed by Chef Geronimo Lopez, breathes new life into familiar Latin American dishes. Lopez and CIA student chefs observe cultural traditions while using local and seasonal ingredients to create delicious new plates.
NAO has introduced several new "traditions", which are sure to please locals and visitors alike.
Fire & Ice at NAO is a new happy hour special on Fridays and Saturdays, 5-7, featuring drinks and tapas.
On Saturdays, head over to the plaza for spit-roasted pork breakfast tacos, prepared by NAO and CIA students. (9:30 am- 1pm) Best menu deal: 2 tacos and any beverage for $5!
Note: Saturdays at the Pearl Brewery are busy with culinary events, so the earlier you arrive, the better! Happy eating!
Any good cook or chef will tell you- Kitchen experiences often translate to life realizations. My pastry arts background taught me to follow the recipes, keep mis en place, and expect consistently delicious results. Recent kitchen experiences with chef friends have showed me intelligent collaboration is a necessary ingredient for growth.
It's okay to deviate from your plans, and it's okay to deviate from the recipe. You can substitute cherries when the recipe calls for plums. If you have almond meal, don't waste time grinding almonds yourself. Decide what a "pinch" of salt means to you. At the end of the day, life is whatever works. I've found this applies to baking friands as well. It's much more satisfying to share.
It's no secret Texas makes the world of barbecue go round. Texans don't need a reason to celebrate great ribs, brisket or potato salad. The BBQ belt extends across Texas into cities such as Lockhart, Dallas, and Austin- and each one has its own style and distinct flavors. Within the last decade, Texas barbecue has become a major attraction for both locals and tourists. The best advice I can give to a visiting BBQ lover? Show up early. Expect to wait in lines that often extend out the door, and down the block. And finally:Every chef, cook and pit master tells a different story through Texas barbecue. You won't understand the story from one restaurant or a single visit. Eat. Pace Yourself. Enjoy! The BBQ plate that stole my heart.
I shot photographs during Austin BBQ week (Yes, a whole week of Austin restaurants competing to create the best plates) for Austin Foodstyle Magazine, and it proved to be one of my most satisfying and savory assignments yet.
La Barbecue Cuisine Texicana is a small food trailer with incredible taste. Located on South 1st, the trailer would be easy to miss if it weren't for the long lines of customers weaving throughout the parking lot.
John Lewis worked in the pits at Franklin's Barbecue before he became pit master at La Barbecue in 2013. Lewis may seem young in comparison to his contemporaries, but the man is a barbecue genius. He altered the BBQ pits himself to create the smoky flavors and textures he wanted. On this particular day, the special was a beautiful duck confit, browned and fried to perfection, served with a side delicious kimchi. I tried just about everything, and I couldn't note one fault in the menu.
I may not be Daniel Vaughn, but I have to say La Barbecue is the best barbecue I've eaten yet, particularly the brisket. I searched the area for knives, then resigned myself to cutting with a fork. However, the brisket was so tender that it fell apart once the fork touched it. I knew what this meant: I'm coming back for seconds.
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Today is the day when everybody's mom becomes "the best mom ever," but I wanted to take this time to reflect on the wonderful person that my own mom is. She has been a great parent, but she has also become someone I am proud to know and have in my life. My mom and I have always bonded while watching classic films and TV. I wanted to highlight some of the great women (and mothers) that influenced my mom (and me) over the years. I am so grateful that she looked to Lynda Carter as a role model growing up.I won't embarrass her by listing all her accomplishments, but how many women could create successful careers as a nurse, professional pastry chef, a mother of three, and win The Price is Right showcase within one lifetime? From the impeccable hair to the amazing feats of strength, I have become convinced that my mother is secretly Superwoman.
[youtube=http://youtu.be/ZKdcYnlkhx8] Barbara Stanwyck, one of her favorite actresses, was known for being tough on and off the screen. I know my mom has looked up to her because she always managed to stand her ground and stay true to her ideals. This is one of the reasons I admire my mom's character, and love watching any film starring Stanwyck.
Diana Rigg, as Mrs. Emma Peel in The Avengers was a complete badass. Somehow she managed to look beautiful while fighting crime as a secret agent. I imagine this is what life was like for my mom during her flying years.
Say what you will about Martha Stewart-unless you're against her, because our house is "Team Martha". I grew up watching her decorate giant gingerbread houses, talk to chefs, and I have read every entertaining book she's written to date. I admire how resourceful and resilient she is; jail time couldn't stop this lady from expanding her multi-media empire. Fortunately my mom has avoided crime, but like Martha, she brings grace, elegance and quality work to everything she does.
I am so proud of you as a mother and friend. Happy Mother's Day!!!
I am learning to let go of the need for things to happen immediately. Although I've heard the phrase"it's not where you end up, it's the journey"- I am finding the journey tedious these days. Over the last 12 months, I've pushed myself on every level to accomplish my dreams. I believe that true beauty, strength and understanding can be found in great food, stories and art. They are an important part of the human experience, and I hope to make those experiences accessible through my work and the way I live my life. I have learned to ask for help and advice from peers, mentors, and professionals who have successfully created a career for themselves... Strangely enough, everyone I've spoken with has the same response: Sounds like you're on the right track and I'm excited to see what you do next!
At first, I figured this response was a polite way of brushing me off. But after 12 similar responses I've decided they believe I am doing everything I should be. I've done just about all I can. I've neglected blogging, friends, family, dating and myself for a job that doesn't exist yet.
Just about any college graduate can tell you the job market is a frightening and frustrating place, filled with "false starts". Over the past year, I have had so many "false starts"- getting to the second round of interviews, but not getting the job I wanted. I've received generous offers for full-time social media content positions, only to realize they don't allow me to create content that I am passionate about- food, culture, and the arts.
The "false starts" have taught me that my passions and interests are more of a lifestyle-the career is incidental. Although I have always struggled with doubts that my work may not be "good enough," I have resolved to overcome this by publishing my work more than ever before. I have to do what frightens me until the activity becomes routine. I am trying to release expectations and enjoy where the journey is taking me at this moment.
I need a true start. In the meantime, I will be making some cookies and writing new stories.
Yesterday marked the beginning of my training in the store's floral department, which was a nice,fragrant break from my usual cashier job. Training was simple enough. Clip, trim, turn and position flowers. Tie a bow around the bouquet, price and then place for sale. The repetition allowed my mind to wander. Still and Still Moving. The idea that we should remain present while actively moving forward in life.
The florist informs me she read a recent article written somewhere about my generation. Children live with their parents longer than they used to, the job market is scarier than ever, and people never want to make up their minds and settle down these days. This is why three of her four children moved back home to save money and "take some time" to "figure things out".
I am suddenly filled with gratitude for my own parents. I've found that doing what scares you makes you braver. Well within reason that is. I can avoid skydiving, large insects, and jeggings but I can't avoid growing up.
After completing a few arrangements, the florist seemed satisfied with my work and left me for a coffee break.
I began creating different variations of the dozen roses bouquet, and continued to think about "still and still moving"
I am still here. But I have just booked my first "real" food photography shoot.
I am still living in a ugly apartment, but it is my ugly apartment. And everything in it is mine.
I am applying for real jobs that I want, and feel confident that I will soon have one I love.
Still and Still moving.