blogger blind date #1: Mary Parsamyan

Though I officially entered the blogging community back in 2005 when I briefly wrote for the Austinist, it was only more recently (March of 2012) that I started my own blog and became a part of the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance. Being a part of this online community can be really funny sometimes. You follow people's blogs (something I've admittedly been a bit behind on!) and you get a glimpse into their lives...and then it's not until you meet face to face at an event that you realize you've never actually met this person. And yet you almost feel like you know them. It's really a strange phenomenon. A bit voyeuristic, in fact.

So I've been meaning to start this Blogger Blind Date column for a while now. I'll be dining/drinking/cooking and chatting with various local bloggers-- face to face!-- and then, well...blogging about it. Because that's what we do!

Mary Parsamyan, of Sweet Tidbits, is my first subject! Mary reached out to me and we met for coffee to chat about all things blogging and journalistic. (So yes, you caught me, this documentation wasn't truly our first "blind date"...!) When I told her about my Blogger Blind Date idea, she kindly invited me over for lunch one day and spoiled me with a generous serving of mozzarella, tomato, and black olive pasta.

"I'm never cheap with the cheese!" she said matter-of-factly

Mary's blog was formerly called Gotham Street Diaries (it's still the same site- just a different name) and, besides the many home-cooked meals she documents, she also interviews a great deal of small business owners and entrepreneurs in the community. In my opinion, that gives her blog a bit of a journalistic edge and makes it stand out among others. (And I do a ton of interviews for various articles, so I know how time consuming it can be: the travel, plus the face time, plus the transcribing afterward!)

mozzarella, tomato, and black olive pasta

To give you a bit of background on Mary, she was born in Armenia and lived in Connecticut and then Los Angeles, where she was involved in the fashion industry. She's lived in Austin for the past ten years and graduated from UT with a sociology/rhetoric and writing degree. She worked for Hoover's Inc, where she used to write the company newsletter, but decided to quit her job last year to focus on her blog and see where life takes her next. We share a lot of the same interests and talked about PR, journalism, and advertising. And, of course, food. "Food is the real deal!" Mary said. "Everyone has to eat!"

The dish she made was her own spin on Giada's Fusilli alla Caprese, except Mary's version had a ton of garlic (which I can never get enough of), a hefty helping of melty fresh mozzarella, and a slight brininess from the addition of black olives. Overall, a simply delicious and filling meal which can be whipped up on any weeknight and eaten for lunch through the week too. (But check out her much prettier post on this dish!) She also made fresh lemonade with orange slices to go along with it, which was perfectly quenching on this warm summer day!

..but that wasn't all! She generously scooped out chocolate and vanilla Blue Bell, stuck two hazelnut wafers on top, and garnished with a sprig of mint. (How on earth did she know my weakness for Pirouettes??)

We're already in talks about cooking Armenian food together sometime, so stayed tuned for that!