@ACFood dragged kicking and screaming into social media century

As my Chronicle colleagues and anyone else who knows me will attest, I've had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century world of social media. Over the past year, I finally got a smartphone, learned how to text, and began to make use of a Twitter handle. The Food staff has also greatly increased the content and traffic on our On the Range blog. My mantra for 2013 is "embrace the blog," and one aspect of that was to attend and speak on a panel at Sun­day's TECHmunch Conference at Whole Foods Mar­ket. Social media entrepreneur Babette Pepaj of hosts TECHmunch conferences around the country, and this is her second visit to Austin concurrent with SXSW Interact­ive. Thanks to Addie Broyles of the Austin American-Statesman and the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance for hooking me up with Babette. The local food blogger group was well represented in the room, and it was great to finally put faces with names and meet some of the people I'd been following on Twitter. When it was time for my panel "Marketing Your Blog to the Media," I was able to use Amy Kritzer of as a prime example of someone who now provides occasional content for our blog as well as the print edition. Amy's blog features a well-informed and engaging voice covering a subject – a modern take on traditional Jewish cooking – that reaches out to an underserved readership in Austin, and I'm glad to have her on board.

Spending the afternoon at the blogger conference, I also picked up some tidbits of local food news. Steve Williams of Chameleon Cold-Brew was there pouring samples of his two new cold-brewed coffee toddy flavors, Earthy Coffee and Wilder Coffee, made from South Ameri­can and African coffee beans, respectively. As an iced coffee fan, I drank too much and was wide awake until the wee hours. Award-winning local pastry maven Tracy Claros of the Sticky Tof­fee Pudding Company was also on hand with new product samples, sharing bites of three new bars she plans to enter in the pastry competition category at the Fancy Food Show later this year: Millionaire's Shortbread is a crisp, sandy crust topped with thick, buttery caramel and a layer of dark chocolate; Toffee Flapjack is a chewy, golden oatmeal bar topped with sesame brittle and a drizzle of dark chocolate; and the Chocolate Fruit and Nut Tiffin Bar is studded with sliced almonds and glacéed cherries. Looks to me like she's got more winners on her hands ... The news from WayOutWestAustin is that longtime Austin restaurateur Reed Clemons is opening the Grove in the stunning restaurant space at 3001 RR 620 S. that was originally Mizu Prime Steak & Sushi... Foodways Texas Executive Director Marvin Bendele was there, and we discussed desserts for the upcoming symposium, Our Barbecue, Ourselves, which takes place at various locations around Austin, April 4-6. The event will focus on the past, present, and future of smoked foods in Texas culinary culture and it's still not sold out; go to for tickets and join us... For more local food news and recaps of SXSW food events, check out our On the Range blog.

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