Once upon a time, I worked at the Madison Square Mall. Over the years it became a bleak, shell of what it was and the powers that be made the decision to tear it down. They built a new utopian place filled with food and entertainment. One of the first places to arrive was The Camp. The Camp is a multi-faceted place thas supports a coffee shop, seating, a stage, a bar and several food trucks including FEED Fried Chicken. So to kick off Resturant Week 2019, us food ‘influencers’ (That feels ridiculous to say)… local food lovers got together for the Huntsville Visitor’s Center to try out what FEED had to offer. It was pretty warm outside, so we killed all the waters kindly provided to us by the Huntsville Visitor’s Bureau. And we also partook in the yummy adult drinks from The Camp.FEED serves an Atlanta take on a Nashville specialty Hot Chicken. They also provide delicious southern sides and desserts. The banana pudding is made with roasted bananas and it definitely takes the dessert to the next level. So pop on over to The Camp and FEED to enjoy this tasty meal.
Have you been to Clyde’s Barbeque yet? Madison’s newest barbeque restaurant offers a wide variety of smoked meats, decadent sides, and sweet southern treats! Sorry vegan’s this one isn’t for you. If you’re a fan of pork, turkey, beef, lamb Cylde’s has you covered. They smoke their meats with actually wood, something that isn’t often found. The bbq joint is named after a stray (well former stray) dog-Clyde. Owner Stan Stinson was out barbequing, when a scruffy mutt smelled the smoking meats and came trotting up. And he came back the next day and the day after that and the day after that. Soon Stan took the pup in and when it was time to name the restaurant he knew who his mascot would be. That have delicious sides and a massive stuffed baked potato with lamb bacon and all the fix-ins. They support local food purveyors such as Pablo’s Pickles and The Dessert Fork. I love foodies supporting foodies! And for dessert make sure you get one of their smoked cookies. My photo does not do it justice. Southern style, Clyde’s has a revolving menu, offering different dishes on different days, including smoked meatloaf. The savory hand-pies are especially popular.
This past weekend I got the opportunity to go to the International Associate of Culinary Professional’s (IACP) annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky. (I drank SO much bourbon!). The conference is a great opportunity for people in all sectors of the culinary field to come together, learn some things, network, meet your culinary idols and of course, eat lots of amazing food. Oh yeah, and the bourbon. Of course, being at a conference with some of the world’s top food photographers/stylists/writers I wanted to be able to put a good foot forward and have some nice images of the conference, but this was not to be the case. I’m not really the most responsible of adults and last year I broke the camera on my phone. I’m not really sure how it happened, but I have a general idea. My husband couldn’t believe that such an expensive phone could break so easily, but when I went to pull my phone out of my purse and accidentally flung it 9 feet across the parking lot he pondered no more.
I did not want to lug my real camera to the conference and the selfie mode of my phone still works, so I just figured I could take lots of selfies to illustrate my experience. This let to a whole slew of really shitty photographs. I’ve been following the other conference attendee’s beautiful imagery and I’ve got to say it is pretty humbling to present you with this ugly pics. Enjoy! Yikes! That’s super rough. It is seriously hard to take a photo of food when you:
A. Can’t see the image on the screen
B. Can’t zoom in
C. And are shooting with a 1.2 mp camera that does terrible in low light and is clearly meant for portrait mode. These were the very best images. Yes, seriously. There are actually images much worse than this crap. These are not as bad, to be clear they are not good, but not as bad. You should have seen the confused looks while I was trying to take a photo with my phone facing the wrong way, while hanging over the top and putting fun shadows all over the place. People would ask why I did and when I said I was a food photographer the response was ‘Oh wow.. really?’
The conference itself was excellent. I saw a free friends, met a lot of new people and learned a lot. It was my first trip to Louisville and I throughly enjoyed it. My husband and I are already making plans to revisit. I especially want to visit Dinosaur World and the Patton Museum. They weren’t in Louisville city limits, but not far from it. Also the KFC Museum, how can that be anything less than awesome.
The other awesome thing about the conference was the swag! I’m actually not a huge fan of swag, but there was some primo stuff a this thing. Such as packages of California figs and fig BBQ sauce.I also picked up a potato doll called a Spuddy Buddy! Hilarious! Also, sad that I have the fashion sense of a potato.
I picked it up from my friend’s children, but then I realized the Spud and I had the same shoes! I might keep him now. I mean we have the same shoes! I also got an Anolon frying pan, a yogurt carrier, a cute back of chips, a nice wine opener.. There were also lots of snacks. My favorite were the kiwi berries, which are essentially mini hairless kiwis. I enjoyed the Hillshire small plates while watching Knocked Up at midnight. I party hard. I stayed at two different hotels over the 4 days there, and they were great, but my view was less than picturesque. It could be a postcard couldn’t it! Who needs a mountain view when you have a construction site or parking garage?They did make my towel into a swan, so that made up for the view.. a bit.
My husband didn’t get to come with me, so I spent much of the weekend sending him photos of the fun times I was having. On Saturday I was looking so pulled together with my scarf, make-up and Starbucks so I sent him a photo of it.
When he saw the photo he said it didn’t look a thing like me. Jeez! Why do I even bother. Later that night I sent a ‘regular’ photo with Spuddy Buddies on my head.
On the last day of the conference I went to The Palace for an awards ceremony. Swank!It was really nice and I got to finally hang out with some friends I’d been missing for most of the conference. Then I packed up all my stuff, grabbed a banana for a road snack and too one last shitty photo of myself before heading back to Alabama. I hope you enjoyed the noisy, blurry, badly cropped awful images.
Okay, so I have been a bad blogger for over 3 months! Ouf, that is a long time and pretty much everything you are not supposed to do if you have a blog. In retrospect I wish that I’d written short easy posts just to maintain consistency, but I didn’t.
So, here come the excuses. There’s so much good television! The Man in the High Castle, Stranger Things, I just started watching Legion.. so good! But that’s not really why I’ve been a slacker. The real reason is because I was writing my first book! A history book about beer no less.
And I know this sounds very naive of me, but I had no idea how much work it was to write a book. The book took thirteen months to write, but the last three months were insanely intense and nearly did me in.
SO many papers!! Everywhere.. for months!!
Book writing led to me to be very neglectful to my blogging, but if it makes you feel better I was neglectful to everything and everyone. My friends were ignored, my house was like an episode of Hoarders and the laundry situation was bleak to say the least. It also took a personal toll. I’ve always been fascinated by the photographs of presidents over time so I did a mini version of myself during the book writing process. I took photos of myself at different points. As you can see I start out so happy and then degrade until a ball of stress and then back to tired but happy at the end. To see the different within 24 hours the photo on the left is the day before the book is due and the photo of the right is 10 minutes after I mailed the transcript to my publisher. Happily survived and my book North Alabama Beer: An Intoxicating History comes out in August.
Going forward I swear I’ll be blogging more and when I write book number two I’ll be more prepared for the workload.
Thank-you and I am sorry. Foodie posts will be on their way.
Last weekend I participated in my 4th food blog tour to celebrate a Restaurant Week. They are always fun and interesting, so I thought I’d give an inside look of this year’s tour.
The tours actually start out kind of awkward, especially if you don’t know anyone. You’re just eating with a bunch of strangers and though you’ve read their profiles you don’t really know much them. I’m always worried that I’ll do something stupid, because I usually do, this year I misplaced my shoes and may or may not have accidentally mooned someone when a gust of wind caught my skirt. I was fulling immersed in photographing a beautifully plated dish and didn’t pay attention to how windy it was getting. To that person walking by on the sidewalk I’m sorry.. or you’re welcome.
But in the end the bloggers all become fast friends, because we are brought together by food and the experience of eating 3 meals together. In the beginning we are so polite and proper, but by end we are sharing food off each other dishes, recommending places to get good photographs, and laughing and joking with each other.
And it always nice to read each other’s experiences on the blogs afterwards and I recommend you do the same.
Katherine photographing some amazing sides at the Toybox Bistro. Photo on the left courtesy of KatieActually.com
We also risk life and limb to get a shot. As a photographer you get yourself worked up about ‘finding the right light’ and ‘making sure you captured the ambiance of a place’. You know that friend that is SO annoying Instagraming every piece of food that goes in their mouth, and then your food, and then the food of the people at the table next to you, well that is child’s play when it comes to a food blogger. I come to a restaurant with a full camera bag, I shoot with a reflector and sometimes a tripod. I climb up on chairs to ‘get the shot’. So obnoxious. The nice things is I am not alone on a food blog tour!
Jennifer photographing at Beignet Cafe. She’s a shorty like me so Charles kindly steadied her chair so she didn’t die. Worth it though! Her photo is on the left courtesy of SweetTMakesThree.com.
It is also nice because you have people who help aka egg you on to do something crazy.
Stephenie Walker: http://www.rocketcitymom.comDid I get the shot? Yes I did! Thank-you to Charles from TheSaltedTable.com for making sure I didn’t break my neck or really embarrass myself by getting stuck in a chair and having to have firefighters cut me out or some nonsense like that.
‘Tis the season to pick strawberries. Last week I went headed to New Market with my friend and her almost three-year old to have a berry picking adventure. We went to North Alabama icon Brown’s Farm and it lived up to my high expectations. It had a restroom, very important when traveling with a toddler. That was our first stop. Our second stop was a cute, little cabin to buy jams, honey and to get our strawberry picking buckets. Buckets in hand and hats on head we headed to the fields and started eating… I mean gathering strawberries. Some of us were a bit better at collecting strawberries than others, but there was a particular member of our picking party that ate far more than he put in the bucket.Please note the very emptiness of his bucket! Eventually he realized that strawberry picking was very similar to Easter Egg hunting and got onboard. The fields were nice, accessible and the attendant pointed us the best section to pick berries.After buying store-bought berries I sometimes I forget how strawberries are supposed to taste: sweet and juicy with a hint of tartness at the very end. In other words perfection. We picked for about an hour and had three very full buckets of nature’s candy, but as it approach noon it got hot and we started to wither. We didn’t bring lunch with us, but the farm had a lovely covered picnic area.I fully planned to come up with a recipe for the strawberries but we ate them all before I had a chance. Sometimes it’s just best to eat them as is.