Here’s a pro tip from a veteran attendee of Austin’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival: Go to the venues where there’s food.

That’s because while SXSW is, in many ways a land of plenty (diversions, party, and alcohol), it is not such a land when it comes to solid, quality, food (though food is the thing with which most people seem to be concerned.) The brands, startups, and/or media conglomerates offering free eats often offer those eats only to a select, guest-listed few or those willing to suffer through very long lines.

That’s why I was especially excited to enter the Cooking Channel party at Easy Tiger over the weekend. I knew I was in store for a quality meal. The Food Network’s popular sister channel opted not to just ply party goers with alcohol, but ply party goers with alcohol paired with delicious edibles.

“We want to show how much we love food and beer, so we’re doing the food and beer pairings,” said Kristin Filipovits, a marketing manager for the Food Channel during the popular event. “Hopefully people will love them and go watch our channel!”

The menu consisted of five beverages from the Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden’s menu combined with five foodstuffs created by Cooking Channel talent. After that talent made the menu, Easy Tiger created the beer pairings. As a lover of food and (especially) beer, it was a party that was difficult to leave.

Here were some of the highlights:

  • Baked Mac ‘N Cheese paired with Avery White Rascal
  • Blue Corn Mushroom & Cheese Quesadillas paired with Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Coffee Rubbed Pastrami Sandwich paired with Real Ale Full Moon Rye

There are great happy hours and parties at SXSW, but few kept attendees for hours on end. The Cooking Channel knew how to throw a fun party that made attendees forget about the hustle and bustle of the festival, the constant rain and epic shuttle delays. It’s amazing how successful a party can be by feeding tired, hungry and hungover badge holders. Now to go watch some Everyday Italian while I work on my website powered by Squarespace.

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