Northern Comfort

It comes down to this: Portlanders eat a lot of macaroni and cheese.

There are so many stories to share about TequilaCon, but for some reason, I just keep coming back to the macaroni and cheese. Why is that, I wonder? I mean, why is it that they eat so much macaroni and cheese, not why do I keep coming back to that? No matter where we went, we couldn’t escape it. Fancy restaurants, dives, street vendors – they all served macaroni and cheese. Puzzling.

Is there something about the grey climate that makes people yearn for comfort? Does the smell of evergreen and hemp trigger some innate need for carbohydrate induced happiness?
I don’t really have the explanation, but I do know that comfort was an important theme throughout the TequilaCon weekend.

It all began when Brandon met up with me on Friday night before the main event. We went to a bar not far from my hotel while we awaited the arrival of Jill, Jessica, and my friend Dee-Dee. I stuck with beer, while Brandon sipped his gin martini. Eventually, he opted for something he considered to be less potent, and ordered a shot of Southern Comfort. As soon as the bartender poured the drink, my mouth began to water, but not in a good way.

“Oh god, the smell! It just brings back so many bad memories,” I winced.

“Me too,” said the bartender, as she shoved the drink in front of Brandon. He moved over a stool and quietly sipped his drink.

bar reflection

Once everyone arrived, we headed out to dinner at a restaurant called Mother’s Bistro. Before any of us had picked out our entrees, Dee decided to order an appetizer.


“Can we get the macaroni and cheese as an appetizer?”

“Of course,” the waitress replied, as though it were a common request. And perhaps it was. Either way, it was the most amazing macaroni and cheese we had ever eaten. We used the bread to wipe up the last remnants of cheese from the plate.

Our entrees consisted of the ultimate comfort food: chicken and dumplings, meatloaf and gravy, pierogi, and crab cakes, topped off with a plate of cream puffs for dessert. As I reached down to unbutton the top button of my pants, I was sorely disappointed to realize that I had already unbuttoned them after the macaroni and cheese.

After finishing the last of our wine, we then moved on to the site of TequilaCon – the Kennedy School. There, we met up with more bloggers and got our first look at Dave’s amazing handiwork – the lanyards and buttons. Although he pretends to be hard core on his site, Dave is really a softie, and wanted to make sure everyone would be comfortable walking up to bloggers they’d never met before, hence the lanyards:


Brandon, on the other hand, pretends to be a softie on his site, but is really hard core, and wanted to make sure everyone would be comfortable walking up to bloggers they’d never met before, hence his closet:

brandon's liquor closet

I was certain that Brandon had purchased enough alcohol to supply not only this year’s TequilaCon, but well into next year’s. However, after about one hour, both the entire bottle of Jameson’s and half the bottle of tequila were gone, so clearly he had researched the TequilaConner demographic more thoroughly than I had.

The next morning, I joined the pilgrimage to Powell’s Books, where about a dozen of us got lost among floor upon floor of glorious used and new books. My friend Dee has been clocked as one of the fastest readers in North America, and therefore had already read 90% of the books in the entire store, but she was still able to find a vampire story written from the perspective of Renfield that caught her fancy.

Once we’d reached the limit of books that would fit in our luggage, Jess, Dee-Dee and I decided to make a pilgrimage of another sort – shoe shopping. Jill’s eyes lit up when we mentioned our plans, so she happily joined us on our quest. There was much squabbling over who would get to purchase the last remaining pair of red tapestry Converse low top Chucks, and after both Dee and I each walked around with one shoe on and tried to convince ourselves that it fit, it was ultimately Jessica who ended up as the true Cinderella. I, on the other hand, came home with the most comfortable pair of boots I’ve ever owned.

All of this, of course, was simply the prelude to the main event later that night. I promised Brandon I would help him assemble the gift bags he brought for everyone, but I got an urgent call as I was eating an early dinner with Dee, Jill and Jessica.

“Hey, Jenny –it’s Brandon. It’s an emergency! I’m out of bread!”

“Out of bread?”

“For the sandwiches! The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I’m putting into all the gift bags. I miscalculated and now I’m out of bread!”

“Half sandwiches.”


“Just cut them in half.”

“But what if people want a whole sandwich?”

“I just won’t eat mine then.”

And it turned out to be a good thing that I didn’t eat mine, because Dustin ate approximately nine half sandwiches. But he’s a growing boy with naturally curly hair, and having curly hair makes you hungry. I should know.

pb&j #4

[The ridiculously adorable Vahid and Dustin]

Once at the Kennedy School, our fellow bloggers began arriving in droves to pick up their lanyards and begin the festivities. There was a steady stream of activity all night long, and more stories than I could begin to share.

There were gift bags:
king of the gift bags

[Brandon surveys his handiwork]

and tattoos:
sibyl is a badass

[Sibyl unleashes her inner badass]

and toasts:

[Robert and Jill break into their gift bags]

and feats of strength:
he's not heavy, he's my brother

[I prove I can carry Vahid]

and the airing of grievances:
heated debate

[Dave2 and I almost come to blows]

But most of all, there were so many smiles and laughs:

[Jill, me, Brandon, Dustin]

I didn’t think we would be able to compete with TequilaCon ’06 in New York, but between the gift bags and the lanyards and the uber-cool city of Portland, TequilaCon ’07 was an amazing event and an absolute blast. Thanks so much to everyone who came out and made it a total success, and a special thanks to Brandon and Dave2 for all their amazing efforts that raised the bar to a whole new level.

I can’t wait to see everyone at the next one! Next year it will be held wherever we can find the best macaroni and cheese.

Now for a different perspective, check out the other attendees’ sites:

brandon, jill, dave2, adena, asia, chad, chantel, colleen, dan, dustin, hilly, jessica, karl, kimberly, lewis, michelle, neil, robert, sass, shari, sherri, sibyl, sizzle, vahid, william

And for a visual tour of TequilaCon, check out the flickr group.

26 Responses to “Northern Comfort”

  1. Hilly Says:

    Again, thank you for organizing the whole thing. I never even knew it existed but am so glad I found out and was able to come and meet all of you fabulous people. I blame DeeDee for all of the books I have now, btw ;).
    It amazes me that Brandon and I had the same closet yet mine did not look so fun!

  2. brandon Says:

    HOLY. GOD.
    when you read my re-cap (once Vahid posts it), you will realize that you and i are in fact twin brother/sister. no, really. we even use the same hyperbole.
    yes, dave is soft in real life. especially that inner part of his upper thigh where no hair grows.
    i will now download every single city guide from schmap dot com and find out the top 3 cities with the best mac and cheese. off the top of my head, atlanta, minneapolis and san antonio come to mind.

  3. jenny Says:

    hilly: i am SO glad you found out about it and were able to join! you are a riot! and that dee-dee is a B.A.D. influence, that much i know.
    brandon: ha! i kept checking to see if you had posted yet, because i was afraid mine would be similar to yours. i’m proud to be your slightly older twin sister. and i’m so glad that you’re already researching macaroni and cheese cities… let me know when we need to fly out for taste tests! :)

  4. adena Says:

    It was so good to meet you all, too!

  5. Jessica Says:

    LOVE the hardcore/softie comparison – SO TRUE!
    Had so much fun, Jen – thanks again for everything YOU did.

  6. sizzle Says:

    for the record? jenny is an awesome hugger!
    next year i am sticking to you like glue- i didn’t get to talk to you enough. :)

  7. Dave2 Says:

    For the last time, I just don’t think that Baghdad is the best place to hold TequilaCon 2008!

  8. Karl Says:

    You rock the freaking casbah.

  9. egan Says:

    I love the recap Jen. I’m so lame and apologize for the no-show. I really don’t have a great excuse considering I was in town, but way out in the burbs. I had hoped to stay just a few blocks away, but that didn’t happen. I did get a cool green shirt for doing the Shamrock Run Sunday morning.
    It looks like you had a good time and I love reading about your impression of Portland. I never really thought about the macaroni thing, but I suppose it’s true.

  10. Strode Says:

    Sure wish I could have been there. Maybe next year.

  11. kat Says:

    but for some reason, I just keep coming back to the macaroni and cheese. Why is that, I wonder?
    it’s because macaroni and cheese is delicious.

  12. shari Says:

    Too much fun! I wish I had been available for the pre-activities — I need a special events planner for my life. And you are clearly the best one EVER, so… you wanna job? This was an awesome party!

  13. jenny Says:

    adena: what a great crowd we had – hope to see you next year!
    jessica: yeah, those boys are something else. :)
    sizz: right back at ya, doll! and we totally didn’t get to hang out enough. i was too busy running the illegal tattoo parlor out of brandon’s bathroom, and based on the photos and recaps, i’d say that you, hilly and karl were too busy getting into all sorts of good trouble… ;)
    dave2: but, think of all the frequent flyer miles we would rack up!
    karl: thanks! and i’ll say it again – i think you came away with some of the absolute best stories of the night. locked out of your room in your underwear? priceless.
    egan: oh no – you were actually in portland? i saw a bunch of runners go past my hotel on sunday – maybe you were there.
    strode: i hope you can make it, too!
    kat: it really is the perfect food. just bummed you weren’t there to fight over it with us.
    shari: my first act as your official events planner will be to organize a trip to chicago for you. i will take you through revolving doors, we’ll eat deep dish pizza, and sip the finest scotch this side of the mississippi!

  14. kapgar Says:

    Mac and Cheese?!?! Time to move there!
    Is that a sock on Sibyl’s arm?

  15. Postmodern Sass Says:

    Never mind the mac & cheese, I want the recipe for those PB&J sandwiches!

  16. egan Says:

    Jen, sadly you probably did see me. I was really wiped out after dinner Saturday night and couldn’t muster the drive. I am extremely lame for not giving it my all.

  17. Churlita Says:

    Thank you for giving me an excuse. I’m always hungry because I have curly hair.

  18. Mad WIlliam Says:

    Your highlights make me feel like I missed it and I was there. Not to mention that I think I missed about half of the attendees. Ok, next year I spend less time hiding in the corner and more time groping.
    You put together a great shindig.

  19. Jill Says:

    And I missed macaroni and cheese, too?
    The only thing that comes close to approximating the joy of ice cream and chocolate in my life is macaroni and cheese. Now I’m going to have to make some.
    Wish I could have been there.

  20. Don Says:

    Looked like so much fun. Some day I hope to go to something like this, hopefully one with the very funnest people such as yourself.

  21. Jessica Says:

    Hey, Jenny……happy birthday!

  22. sandra Says:

    I’m so in again next year!!

  23. diane Says:

    The Mac & Cheese at The Daily Grill here in Chitown is easily the best I’ve ever had.
    Just sayin’. ;)

  24. dee-dee Says:

    wasn’t it weird when the paparazzi showed up…oh wait that was us.

  25. Strode Says:

    Another TequilaCon missed. I am so bummed. It looks like it was a great time. I am still hoping to get there someday.

  26. The OE Says:

    I ate fish. No one told me about the mac and cheese…

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