[This post is sponsored by the Food Wine Conference! I got a discount on the 2017 conference for posting honestly about my experiences and tweeting for Intensity Academy, below. All words and opinions are mine :)]
The long Memorial Day weekend is coming! All hail summer! I’ve done great copycat-but-better Five guys Bacon Cheese Hot Dogs for your grilling out. But first, let me tell you about my first blogging conference!
Like most conferences, it was a whirlwind. Here are a few things that stuck out:
- The FOOD. It really should have occurred to me that food blogger conferences would prioritize good food. That, combined with the sponsors, meant we had tons of great wine, local strawberries, amazing cuts of beef… My favorite dish was an indulgent shrimp over cheesy grits. Mmmmmm. That’s going on the to-learn list.
- It was jam-packed with sessions. Holy cow. The first day had what I would call more inspirational sessions; the second day was stuffed with very practical ones. On the second day, I took several pages of notes on blogging-as-business, got to briefly practice phone photography, and chose cheese based on fruit. (I’m really proud of that one.)
- Ina Pinkney, one of our keynotes: she had a famous breakfast restaurant in Chicago. She’s the daughter of Russian Jews, she married a black man in the ’70s, and started a restaurant in a time when women didn’t run businesses; the absolute definition of chutzpah.
- I met a few people! Namely Liz of Books’n’Cooks and Heather of Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks (the fact that I met two people with very similar blog names is pure coincidence). They (and Heather’s husband Frank) gave me some tips, as well as people to hang out with.
- The #hashed contest. This was a Chopped-style thing where we grouped together to do make–and Instagram–cocktails. We didn’t win but it looked pretty great.
For my Brand Ambassador-ship, I got to work with an awesome lady named Michele, who owns and operates Intensity Academy Gourmet & Hot Sauce. Her tag on social media is @saucyqueen, and that’s exactly what she is. She gave me a bottle of Garlic Goodness hot sauce, which I’m planning to use for something special. I’ll bring it around for you once it’s perfect!
The conference was a really good experience. It was also, to be honest, a bit overwhelming. I’m an introvert (derives energy from being alone), so being around a couple hundred people all the time was draining. I also run a very small, very young blog, so much of what was discussed isn’t yet applicable for me (increase your Facebook following from 1.1 million likes to 1.8 million! Sure thing, right after I break 200). And if you’ve ever done anything entrepreneurial, or even just run a big project on your own, then you know that there’s an overwhelming amount of things clamoring to be the first priority. My next step is to decide what to focus on next!
Memorial Day Bacon Cheese Hot Dogs
These are inspired by a menu item at Five Guys. Can anyone make a decent bacon cheese hot dog? Sure. But can you take a little extra care and make a particularly fabulous bacon cheese hot dog? Oh yes.
The secret: the hot dog is split down the middle and seared on both sides, giving an extra crispy crunch. The bun is also toasted for flavor and so that it holds up to the hot dog and all the toppings you pile on. I added sauteed onions to mine, but you could also do pickles, BBQ sauce, grilled mushrooms, or whatever else your grilling heart desires.
You will notice that mine don’t have grill marks: I did them in a skillet. This is because I don’t have a grill, but also because Five Guys uses a flat cooktop, so this is a more authentic method. Also great if your grill gets rained out. We don’t like to talk about those days, but they happen. Of course if you do use a grill, you can cook everything at once while you drink the ice cold beverage of your choice.
National Wine Day: Summer Wines
I can’t let this post go without mentioning National Wine Day! (This is different from National Drink Wine Day, which is celebrated in February. Not to mention International Cabernet Day, and Champagne-and-Other-Sparkling-Wine Day, and…) What wines will we be sipping this long weekend?
Rosé! These are wines made of the juice of red varietals (the fancy word for “types”) but minimal contact with the skins, which is what gives reds their color. Most rosés are lovely shades of pink. They’re light, mildly fruity, crisp, and excellent chilled–perfect for relaxing outside with friends and family.
Robby recommends: Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir (about $14). Alternatively, try any rosé from the Provence region of France.
8 bun-length hot dogs
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, or 8 Cheddar cheese slices
8 strips bacon
Optional toppings: Grilled onions or mushrooms, relish, fresh jalapeno slices
Split the buns and butter the insides. In a large skillet, toast the buttered sides (it's okay if they come apart). Set aside.
Turn the heat up slightly and cook the bacon. Set aside. Drain most of the grease and set that aside too.
Turn the heat up to medium. Slice each hot dog down the middle, cutting most but not all of the way through. Saute butterflied hot dogs, insides first, until deliciously seared on both sides. Place hot dogs on toasted buns and top immediately with cheese.
Top hot dogs with bacon, onions, and whatever else your heart desires. Eat with fresh watermelon and ice cold drinks!
If using a charcoal grill, cook bacon on the grate on the cool side. If using a charcoal grill, place bacon on a roasting pan placed on the grate.
Slice each hot dog down the middle, cutting most but not all of the way through. Lay on the grill, cut sides down. Flip to brown the other side, laying the cheese on top so it melts right in.
Split buns and butter the insides. Grill.
Pile ingredients together and devour!