Hot dogs, beer, and live music – It was an affair I’d have all over again. Yup, that’s how I spent my SXSW in Austin this year – Attending Rachael Ray’s annual Event, with this year to include a Park’s Finest & Blue Moon pairing tasting. What American doesn’t love beer and hot dogs?
I haven’t attended SXSW the last few years, and I live in Austin! I know, I know, shame on me. Thank goodness for my invite to the Rachael Ray Feedback Event this year! It was the only event I had attended, which left me feeling happy that I went. Conveniently located just a short few blocks from the Saltillo Austin Metrorail stop, was the venue where the event took place, the CTC Garden. It was very Austin-y with it being an outdoor, open roof event, music stage to the right, chairs and chill spots to the left. We proceeded towards the back to a very-blue cottage where the Park’s Finest tasting had commenced. To my surprise, we were all greeted by the famous Chef Jill Houk (Renouned recipe maker and chef) and Keith Villa (CEO and Head Brewmaster of Blue Moon Brewing Company)! These fabulous two, guided us through our tasting and were so gracious to chat with us while we stuffed our faces with hot dogs, washed down with cold beer! These delicious Franks are new on the market and I’m not sure when they’ll hit the shelves, so sit back and taste this sneak-peek with me if you’re a hot dog fan!
- We began with the Park’s Finest Signature Season dog topped with a raspberry mustard, paired with the Belgian White Blue Moon. The fruit in the mustard really brought out the orange in the beer, without letting the seasoning of the dog become overwhelming, if it was paired with another sauce or beer. This was my favorite pairing, and also my favorite flavor of hot dog choices. It’s seasoned flavor was just right, and the subtlety of the fruits in the sauce and beer made for a perfect medley. Beer Tip: You don’t necessarily have to squeeze the juice of the orange garnish in the Belgian White, since the flavor and oranges are already brewed in the beer. The garnish is typically used for aromatherapy. I remember Keith also mentioning that his specific choice of picking Valencia Orange peel for the Belgian White, was because of the sweetness of that orange complimenting the other ingredients well.
- Moving on to Park’s Finest Slow-Smoked Hickory dog topped with a mild white cheese, paired with the Summer Honey Wheat Blue Moon. The mildly-sweet cheese brought out the smoky flavored dog, while the crisp and refreshing Summer brew swept the flavor over all my little taste buds – they were happy. This brew was my favorite, as it didn’t make me feel bloated, yet still was delightfully bubbly and perfectly filling. The sweetness of the honey and orange peel of the beer was a very nice finish to the bold flavors of the hot dog. Beer Fact: Blue Moon uses Kosher ingredients, drinkable for anyone on a Kosher diet!
- The last, Park’s Finest Cracked Dijon Mustard dog topped with caramelized onions, paired with the Pine in the Neck IPA from Blue Moon. This was my least favorite, only because I am not a fan of Dijon mustard – Everyone else raved about it! The caramelized onions sweetness balanced out the bold flavors of the Dijon very well…enough for me to be a little less apprehensive towards the mustard flavor! Chef Jill and I got to talking about IPA’s. She loved em’, me? not so much. Typically they’re too bitter for me, but this Pine in the Neck really hit the spot. With a toasty caramel flavor, not too much hops or bitterness, Chef Jill and I agreed on this for sure…we loved this IPA! Hats off to ya, Keith!
Although I wasn’t able to attend the Feedback Party the following day, Rachael Ray, please have me out next year for SXSW, I will definitely come out again…it was the most fun I’ve had in Downtown Austin in a long a while! Check out my photos of the event, along with some shots of the famous CeeLo Green & Blondie rocking it out on stage!
Disclosure: All views and opinions with regard to the product or company itself, are my own, and not influenced, nor reviewed, by the company, prior to this posting.