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Monday, March 18, 2013

Savor Dallas 2013 - International Grand Tasting

Saturday night we made our way to the Irving Convention Center for Savor Dallas' International Grand Tasting and it was well worth the trip.

I had never been out to Irving really and was surprised at how groovy looking the Convention Center actually is. And it wasn't nearly as far as I had expected.

This year's event seemed to have more alcohol than food. But that may have just been an optical illusion. Either way, that doesn't mean that there wasn't plenty of food. Not at all.

There was a ridiculous amount of bites and tastes and treats to be had. Some of our favorites included the ahi tuna tacos from Del Frisco's Grille; the avocado soup from Parigi's, and the pizza from Urban Crust.

One of this year's themes appeared to be pork belly, which was being served in various and sundry ways. And you won't hear any complaints from me on that. Another theme seemed to be tacos. Being as they are one of the world's most perfect finger foods, tacos are ideal for an event like this.

The portions were way to big, as always.  But I was very happy to be handed one of those handy dandy food trays that have a holder for your wine glass, an accessory that is nearly impossible to do without at one of these events.

I was disappointed not to see any highboys where one could balance one's goodies while taking a bite or a sip. The trays were great. But sometimes a girl needs a table too.

We were able to get our wine glasses etched with our names by the incomparable Ken Brown at the vent. That was a really nice surprise. And we added to our growing collection of Stella Artois and Hoegaarden glasses, something we need to reign in before it gets scary...

Savor Dallas is definitely something we will attend again next year. Even if the event didn't have such an incredible selection of food and libations, it would be well worth the trip for the people watching alone. We saw it all.

Next year though, I think we might finally make it out to some of the other Savor happenings which we never seem to get to. If you have gone to some of those in the past, I would love to hear your thoughts on which events are not to be missed.

Pillow Bar - Can the right pillow help you sleep?

I had no idea how much I didn't know when it came to pillows until I met Pillow Bar founder Merrimac Dillon. I'm kind of a lousy sleeper. So I've been on the prowl to find out why. Turns out part of my problem might be my pillow. I went to talk to Dillon, to inquire if that really could be part of my problem. Turns out it was a huge part of it.

First lesson I learned was about down itself. Much of what is passed off as down is actually just feathers, or mostly feathers anyway. Those things that poke out of your pillow or coat are actually feathers, not down. The pillows from Pillow Bar are 100% Hungarian goose down and you can tell as soon as you feel it. If it's 100% down it's 100% soft and fluffy from the breast of the bird, with nothing to poke you. "Feathers are like the breadcrumbs in meatballs," Dillon explains.

Lesson two - size and shape and fill matter. When it comes to pillows, size and shape and fill are not at all equal. Everybody needs a different size, shape, and fill when it comes to a pillow. What you need for a good night's sleep is based on how you sleep combined with what your build is.

A side sleeper needs the Dr. Mary, which is L-shaped. Someone with a smaller build needs less volume in the pillow. An athlete would require a more dense pillow. You get the idea. And Pillow Bar makes all of their pillows custom, right down to the protector and cases which are made from 300-thread count sateen. And the protector can be personalized with a monogram or saying of your choice, like "Sweet Dreams" or "I love you."

Dillon started Pillow Bar because she couldn't find a pillow that afforded her the night's sleep that she craved. So, she invented a machine that would create precisely what she was looking for and then sourced all of the highest quality materials with which to make the pillows. The secret to the machines is that the down is sucked up into the case instead of shoved down into the case. The result is the softest, fluffiest, most luxurious pillow I've ever laid my head on. Dillon calls it, "Luxury with a purpose."

The pillows contain a little sachet of lavender too to help bring on the sweet dreams. Dillon, naturally, imports the best possible lavender she can get her hands on and has the sachets made in Dallas where the Pillow Bar studio is located.

Aside from the standard sizes, Dillon's pillows also come in travel versions (which come in grey cases so you don't leave them behind lost in a hotel's white linens), as well as smaller shapes and sizes.

Dillon's machines are located in a number of high-end linen stores where customers can walk in and have their pillows made by someone that Dillon and her staff personally trained. If you venture into a location looking to buy one for someone other than yourself, a back sleeper with medium fill is generally a safe bet. But the more info you can give the pillow maker the better. You can also buy the pillows online. Each one will then be custom made and sent out within 48 hours.

Dillon tells me that Pillow Bar has a number of celeb fans, including Whoopi Goldberg who is quoted as saying about the Dr. Mary, "If you're a side sleeper this is the pillow for you, baby" and named it one of her favorite things. 

I had the chance to test out the Dr. Mary pillow myself. I'm both a side sleeper and a back sleeper. So it was tricky to determine what would work best for me. It took me a few nights to adjust to sleeping on an L-shaped pillow. But, once I did, I was amazed at how much happier my back and neck were.

The pillow is so soft and so perfectly filled that I don't find myself punching or pounding or squishing it to make it behave. Of course, I guess that's also because I am - finally - asleep.