Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 – A Recap, Merit + Fork

Today’s guest post is by our friend and constant House of Gainz Friday night guest, Nicole from Merit + Fork. During the lead up to Paleo F(x), Nicole told us she wanted to go, but didn’t really want to go alone, so we insisted she fly along with us, stay with us, and party with us! She’s the best traveling partner we could have asked for, and the benefit to you is that she’s sharing her whole experience on the blog!  So take a read through to find out what it’s like at Paleo F(x) while hanging with us for four days.

♥♥♥

Paleof(x) 2015 recap! aka the dopest paleo gathering ever. All of your favorite bloggers in one place for one common cause. The energy in there? AMAZING.

Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Day 1 – Thursday: Stacy & Matt pick me up and into the sunset we ride… Actually, it was like 4:30am – sunset had long passed, sunrise was still far from upon us, and Stacy & Matt had to revive me with matcha latte collagen bites aka CREAMY COCONUT MILK + MATCHA GREEN TEA GUMMIES. YUM. It’s usually quite difficult for me to even think about solid food before 6am, much less actually consume it, but, these creamy matcha gummies we’re SO delicious. {Get the recipe HERE!} They were perfectly light & slightly chewy with just the right amount of sweetness – great for those, like me, who are extremely fickle about textures in the wee hours of the morning. (I’ve never been able to enjoy yogurt for breakfast for this reason. *cringe* *shudder* *cringe again*)

Commence Baltimore-Washington airport arrival, where Matt & I grab Chipotle-breakfast-salads (and Stacy makes a failed attempt at Jamba Juice), which we consequently scarf down in t-minus 2 minutes to takeoff. Sidenote: I have an altitude sickness issue – all I could think was “this Chipotle salad would be horrific to throw up at 6am.” Luckily, take-off was smooth & painless and during the flight we all shared the plethora of paleo airplane snacks I had packed – mad Sustainapaks + cassava & plantain chips {all available at OneStopPaleoShop HERE}.
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

What can I say, I like to be prepared! Hunger waits for no (wo)man!

When we finally land in Austin, we’re: 1. In awe of the beautifully clean airport & unusually-friendly human folk (We’re from DC, yo! Friendly strangers do not exist!) and 2. Hungry. Again. We immediately make plans to pick up Russ, aka The Domestic Man, and find some noms ASAP. Stacy & I also try to sway Matt [to no avail] into making an unnecessary rental car upgrade. We just wanted to RIDE DIRTY/LOOK COOL in a brand new black-on-black soft top Jeep. Of course, we made the right decision and went with Matt’s environmentally-and-fiscally-friendly conscience Prius! 😉
Upon picking up our sweet baby Russell (aka Russ Crandall! The Domestic Man!), we were in hot pursuit of Austin’s best BBQ – FRANKLIN’S. Anyone who does their Austin research knows that Franklin’s is the ONE BBQ place you simply HAVE to go – and you HAVE to get there early (it was Stacy’s FOURTH time trying to get their BBQ). It was only 11:30ish, so, off we went, thinking we had plenty of time. We gladly hop into the 2-3 hour line when 5 minutes later, they tell the couple only four people ahead of us that they would be the last ones served. *cue somber ballad*
Luckily, sadness doesn’t ever last too long in Austin. The paleo food scene is CRAZY HUGE and not only is there a ridiculous amount of specifically-paleo-friendly restaurants, but, almost every other restaurant you come across has grain & gluten-free options. Little did we know the great 1990s philosopher, Tupac, was right… We were livin’ in a gangstershipsters paradise.
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

#ICOULDEATCHARCUTERIEBOARDSALLDAY

 After making a secondary lunch stop at Salt and Time Butchery (delicious cured meats, pastured lard, local eggs, homemade stocks and jams, and guys-with-beards-and-sleeve-tattoos galore!), we made a Whole Foods grocery run. I guess everyone & their mama arrived on that Thursday afternoon, because it seemed like we ran into every single Paleof(x) attendee while shopping.
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Our lil’ cutesiepie enjoying her Salt & Time.

With the weekend upon us, Stacy & I went to get our nails done by one of Austin’s hottest nail artists – Michele @ Instagram.com/itsasetup. (She was SO cool and honestly made us feel quite lame & nerdy.)
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

(Please disregard my Vienna sausage fingers.)

Afterwards, with NAILS ON FLEEK, Russ & I were able to witness Stacy & Matt live in action at their Austin, TX Costco book signing. It was super cool to see inspired readers & super-fan followers swooning, along with complete sooo-not-paleo strangers buying their cookbooks JUST BECAUSE!
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Look at our lovely Paleo Parents spreading the health gospel! 🙂 This man had no idea what “paleo” was, but, figured since he was buying a rack of ribs, he might as well buy a copy of Beyond Bacon! Amazing!

Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents
That night, post-signing, was when the real fun began, though… We had dinner at Uchiko. They call it a “Japanese Farmhouse Dining & Sushi Restaurant”… I call it “That ModernAsianHipsterFarmhouseChic Place.” Joshua Weissman aka Slim Palate joined us along with The Amazing Jen Sinkler. [Her husband, David Dellanave was there and is a super cool fitness expert, too – sorry, bro… your nails aren’t Rihanna-on-fleek-status, though.] The food was AMAZING and the company all around was even more amazing.
Day 2 – Friday, The Start of Paleof(x):
Everybody fended for themselves at breakfast and rushed off to the Palmer convention center to get name-tags and accompanying Paleof(x) swag bags. There were talks to be had, workshops to be worked, cooking demos to be demo’d, and books to be signed. The energy in the Palmer Center was BUZZING and it seemed as if every single person was just as excited to be there as I was. Stacy & Matt can vouch from previous years – Paleof(x) only gets bigger & better with each coming year. I can’t even imagine it being much larger! The walls were lined with ridiculously-recognizable vendors and almost all of the natural/paleo brands we all know & love. I could start naming a few of my favorites, but, honestly I’m not sure if I could ever stop. Every single person I met, I absolutely LOVED, which actually really surprised me considering I left for Austin with these subtle incantations running through my mind: “I’m antisocial”, “this may be uncomfortable”, “smile, be friendly”, “no resting bleep face”, “just get through the weekend”, “fake it til you make it”, “step outside of your comfort zone”. What the frack was I hesitant about?! Stacy’s recurring phrase after every person I met was: “You love everyone.” Which was just SO TRUE!!! I was on Cloud 9 all weekend and if I met you, I truly loved you!
{Just a little factoid: a booth at Paleof(x) is quite pricey, so, I feel it’s only right to mention that there were several smaller, still-growing paleo brands that WEREN’T there, whom I totally wished were. That’s the beauty of the paleo community, though – next year, those small companies WILL probably be there, and I can’t wait to see them when they are!}
We had plans to watch Nom Nom Paleo & Top Chef Gregory Gourdet talk about Using Umami Flavors in Cooking, and also sat in on the Epic Bar guys butchering half a hog. Since Stacy & Matt are basically pork experts after writing Beyond Bacon, they were given microphones to chime in & aid the speaking portion of the butchering presentation. All of their vast swine knowledge finally put to good use. 😉
After popping in to see Simone Miller aka Zen Belly & Jennifer Robbins aka Predominantly Paleo cook some Yiddish nommies, we all headed over to Picnik Austin for lunch!
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Of course, I had to get a photo of these Shiksa’s with their microphones!

Anyone who follows the paleo movement on Instagram has probably seen posts from Picnik Austin. It’s one of the country’s top paleo food trucks, though, I dare to even call it a food truck. It’s permanently positioned in the heart of Austin and quite literally has a VERY picnic-y feel.
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

And here we all are, squeezed buttcheek-to-buttcheek, enjoying our Picnik lunch with Naomi, the amazingly sweet owner. Her cheek muscles must hurt from all the smiling she does – I’ve never met a nicer human being!

If the few picnic tables are filled with hungry patrons like us, you’ll find the huge, lush, green lawn that precedes the restaurant, packed with beautiful mommies in sundresses, sweet babies on blankets, and small doggies off leashes. Check out this photo from our dear friend Katrina from We Are Primal Two, enjoying some tummy time with her newborn pandababy, Noelani, at the Picnik Austin Paleo f(x) Happy Hour. Perfection! <3
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents
Day 2 – Friday Night: It was time to work out and lift all the heavy things with Ashley Beaver aka Livin Paleo and Everett aka Paleo Fat Kid. To be honest, this was the very first time I brought some form of workout clothes with me [which were really just pajamas and running shoes] and ACTUALLY used them on vacation. Clearly, I need to vacay with paleo people more often!?!
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents
After googling some Austin gyms, we settled on Hyde Park – an old school lifting gym. No TV’s, no nonsense – just heavy things to lift. There was NO intimidation factor and we all went on our separate ways to do our prescribed WODs. Ashley pushed herself to near-tears (have you seen this girl go?! INSANE!), Everett helped coach some über-ripped people, Stacy went hard [as usual] with Kristin aka The Girl With The Butter, while Samantha & I squatted and took advantage of all the fun equipment.
Post-workout noms were thoroughly enjoyed at Diner 24 – an Austin favorite. (Just assume that every restaurant we went had paleo-friendly options. It was never difficult to find clean meals.) Check out Diner24’s gluten-free menu! I was so hungry, I didn’t even mind that my hot n’ steamy, sweaty thighs (appetizing, no?) became instantly plastered to the booth – there was sweet potato hash, bacon, eggs, and shared-milkshakes to be had. We deserved it after that workout, okay! 😉
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Obviously chocolate milkshakes + Ashley’s ripped bicep warranted a ray of [fluorescent] light from God himself.

 Cut to: Back at home. Tequila shots. Lime. Salt. Recording a drunken podcast (that ultimately failed to record, haha. #toodrunktoproperlyrecordthepodcast). Everyone was there, everyone was drinking, and it was a straight-up good time. Then, cut to: Sleep.
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS!

Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

A rare shot of ‘The Domestic Man’ as his alter ego: ‘The Party Boy’. 😉

Day 3 – Saturday: This was Stacy & Matt’s “big day” along with Russ’s & Sarah’s, as well. They all had book signings and cooking demonstrations galore. I’ll give you one guess as to what Matt made during their demo: STACY’S SOUP!
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Stacy & Matt at their cooking demo, making one of their most-asked-about meals!

Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Stacy & Matt signing books for their fans. (So heartwarming to see such diehard fans!)

After the demo and signings, Stacy & I took part in a fun little workshop, called “Getting Under the Bar”, which taught us a bit more about clean, jerk, and snatch techniques.
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

daaaaaaang, girl! Go HAM!

Saturday Night: We all parted ways. The speakers went to the speakers dinner, some went to the Tin Star Foods BBQ and the rest of us explored Austin! Ashley, Everett, Sam & I walked to Whole Foods for some last-minute Sunday Brunch ingredients where we were able to check out some of the city at sunset. On top of the perfectly warm weather, the amazing food, the eccentrically weird people, it was truly beautiful to see on foot – AUSTIN, PLEASE ADOPT ME. Ashley & Everett eventually went to a fundraising dinner while Sam & I went for dinner at a cool, modern, mexican-fusion restaurant called Chavez. (SO. GOOD.)
As I’m slurping down my last bluepoint oyster, Stacy texts us to go to Lick – one of Austin’s best ice cream joints with awesomely unique [and some allergen-friendly] flavors – which the long line definitely signifies. We Uber’ed out of Chavez as fast as we could and told our driver “LICK!!!! STAT!!!!!” Even Mickey Trescott aka Autoimmune-Paleo {aka The AIP Princess} was there to enjoy a Lick! 😉 (OH SO PUNNY!!!) I got the Honey Goat Cheese flavor (or something like that) and honestly have no idea what anyone else got – I was too ensconced in my own sweet-goat-cheese-ice-cream-world to give a flying flip.
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents
Day 4 – Sunday, Last Day at Paleof(x): AKA EPIC BRUNCH TIME!!!!!
I was told several times over that the last Sunday of Paleof(x) is always commenced with S&M hosting an annual epic-paleo-blogger-potluck-brunch. I was super excited for this particular morning because Chef Nabil aka Grass Fed Chef told us he was coming over to make poached eggs with hollandaise… and, boy, did he NOT disappoint. There was so much food, I can’t even begin to list it all… Just peep the photo and trust that there was SO MUCH FOOD and SO MANY PEOPLE – everyone brought something delicious. I’ve never even seen such a huge paleo-friendly spread!
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Thanks to Russ, The Domestic Man, for risking life, limb, and iPhone, to get this table shot. And it still barely captures the epicness of this enormous brunch!

After our epic-paleo-potluck-brunch, Stacy & I had a lifting date with one fiiiine female: Jen Sinkler. Jen + her hubby David were teaching a workshop that demonstrated how you can use biofeedback to increase performance. Although I was slightly reluctant to go (I just wanted to lounge around sloth-style, eat more brunch food and really just BE A SLOTH instead of workout), but, I was sooo glad Stacy forced me to go. It was, hands down, one of the coolest parts of this trip. As strange as it sounds, I was in complete awe of this “biofeedback” workshop and only wish I could explain it here better. I didn’t even know what ‘biofeedback’ was beforehand, but, I highly encourage you to look into it + Jen/David’s training method, if you’re interested in increasing all-around strength-training performance in the most natural way possible. The biofeedback testing Jen & David teach CAN and WILL help improve every single movement you do, all at your body’s own pace.
Guest Post: Paleo f(x) 2015 - A Recap, Merit + Fork as seen on Paleo Parents

Stacy & I intently listening to the beautiful Jen Sinkler!

After that eye-opening Jen Sinkler workshop, Stacy went off to see Sarah Ballantyne aka The Paleo Mom, in action, at a speaking panel and I began making my final rounds around the convention center, picking up paleo swag wherever I could, getting souvenir t-shirts, and leaving business cards with anyone I hadn’t met, yet. I said my goodbyes to my absolute favorite vendors & people: PaleoPlan, OneStopPaleoShop, BarefootProvisions, VictoryBelt, Kasandrinos, LoveBean, Taza, YouFreshNaturals, PureIndianFoods, VitalProteins, Pure7, Omghee, SimpleMills, EpicBar, PrimalPacs, Cappellos… and soooo many more.
I truly didn’t think I’d be as sad as I was to go, but, it was really hard to leave the convention center that Sunday. There were so many bloggers & Instagrammers whom I knew were there, and wanted to make plans to meet with, but, simply didn’t have the time or opportunity to. I just wanted to stay forever and make friends with everyone I possibly could! All the awkwardness I thought I would experience was non-existent and I actually enjoyed the constant presence of other humans all weekend. WHO’DATHUNKIT!?!
At the Austin airport before Stacy, Matt, and I head home to DC, I make an extremely ill-thought-out decision to stop at a Salt Lick Taco Bar for lunch. The pulled pork with green chile sauce was DELISH, but, I should’ve known the mouth-breather in line directly behind me was a sign to GTFO!!! We board, we take off, and before the seat belt sign lights can even turn off, I’m rushing to the lavatory to expel said taco… about 20 times over. Did I mention I have altitude sickness issues? Luckily it was nothing a little Sustainapak Sriracha beef jerky couldn’t settle. 😉 (Just kidding.)
All in all, I truly never expected to have such a wonderful time at Paleof(x). I knew it would be fun, but, it was an off-the-charts-awesome first experience. Especially considering I’m about 70% recluse and 30% social butterfly. The people, the city, the food, the experience, the opportunities, THE HOSTS [Matt & Stacy]… all absolutely amazing. Paleof(x) Austin, you’ve got me hooked. ‘Til we meet again next year… (#pfx16, homie!!!!!) xo Nicole
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://paleoparents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Nicole-hazel-bio-page.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Nicole is half of the duo behind Merit + Fork, a blog that inspires readers to live their best lives through clean eating, creativity and healthy living. Nicole is the “resident foodie” with a passion for developing new and unique paleo/primal/raw/vegan recipes using ordinary and accessible ingredients. Connect with Merit + Fork: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram[/author_info] [/author]

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