Monthly Archives: May 2013

Several months ago I heard about this new place that had opened up in my hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina called “Crafted-The Art of the Taco.” Seriously. They made a whole restaurant out of nothing but tacos. It was like they put a needle in my arm and drew out the marrow from my bones, and created a little restaurant out of the Essence of Erika. And ya’ll, these tacos are FOR REALS. I can’t even believe a place like this exists…… you’ll just have to visit their website to check it out. They claim, “Not a Mexican restaurant, just a taco joint.”

I got to go there last week (could it have really been only four days ago???), and this is the story (which will live in my heart for a really long time, until I can get home again.)

The menu is short and sweet: pretty much anything I’d ever want to eat in my whole life, and nothing more and nothing less. Appetizers included the Stuffed Avocado which was amazing. Literally half a soft avocado topped with chorizo, queso, pico, and fresh fried tortilla chips. FULL STOP.

Also, the “Mason of Bacon” was like some kind of triumphant blaze of glory. I could hardly believe it. Although the BEST pieces were the ones that were really, really, well done. Otherwise the salted caramel got extremely chewy and stuck in your teeth. But still!!!  Bacon, salted caramel, black pepper, and a spicy chocolate dip! Slap your grannie kind of stuff.

My official entree was the traditional tacos with braised beef: with shaved radish, cilantro, avocado spread, and onions with lime wedges. Truly, truly authentic and special. Totally reminded me of the gorgeous traditional tacos at El Rincon.


crafted the art of the taco

Well, the whole thing kinda brought a tear to my eye.  Amazing menu, swoony artisanal, authentic kind of food, and decor like they were IN MY HEAD: corrugated metal, avocado green walls, chalkboards…… sigh. I will be back as soon as I can!!

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  • Kristen - I need to remember NOT to read your blog posts when hungry…… this post and your love letter to this place. Can I come with you next time?ReplyCancel

I’m happy to share some photos that I recently took at a wedding where I was second shooting for Expose the Moment. Thank you as always to Gary Harfield for allowing me to share my images. I’m always happy to tag along and assist however I can. More experience and practice as a second shooter means a better outcome and product for my own couples who book me as their photographer! And really, as a wedding photographer, when do you EVER get to a point where you stop learning and growing? Never. Win win for everyone.

We started out at the bride’s parents’ home in Enfield, NH where we took some getting-ready photos.  Shortly afterwards, we headed to Mt. Sunapee Resort for the big event!

Something old, something new….. this vintage hankie was sentimental to the bride and her mom, alongside a new sparkly bracelet.

Buttoning the gown, slipping on the bracelet and the garter…

Mom assisted with the bride’s veil, and in fact the dresser and mirror were the exact ones that Mom stood in front of, and put her own veil on years ago.

mount sunapee wedding reception

Photography: Expose the Moment
Ceremony & Reception, Catering: Mount Sunapee Resort, Newbury, NH
DJ: Aaron Denny Productions

I love second shooting!  To see a couple more weddings that I second shot for Expose the Moment, feel free to check out: Kerry and Greg, and Sue and Nate, and Dana and Matt.

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There can often be a sense of dread when a someone is going to take your picture, and they say “Ok, just go stand over there.” And you’re like, okkkkaaaaay, but what do I DO?  Here I’ll be explaining to you a couple of really simple tricks that can help you feel more confident in front of the camera.

Within 1 second you can go from a frumpy-dumpy grainsack (left) to actually elongating your body and visually erasing pounds.  My husband took these photos of me and instantly I could see the difference when I used some more flattering poses.

simple posing tips for women

1. Never stand squarely facing the camera.
Try to stand (and by stand, I mean your hips especially) at 45  to as much as 90 degrees as this will narrow your hips and waist instantly.  Even though I was standing at 45ish degrees in both of these photos, you can see that it did not help in the 1st photo. We still need some adjusting.

2. Your weight goes on the foot furthest from the camera.  
For women especially, you should never stand there with your weight equally on both feet because that’s just inviting gravity to pull everything downward. As we women know, gravity is NOT your friend. I always like for women to have one foot planted (the one in the back), and the weight will push your hip out away from the camera, which leaves your front leg more elongated. The  leg closest to the camera should be bent and the weight on that foot kept lightly touching the ground in some way.

3. What do I do with my hands?
This is a very common source of awkwardness because people just don’t know where to put their hands. For women, a great thing is just to place one hand lightly on your hip. This conveys a feeling of confidence, and it makes a nice line away from your torso that emphasizes your waist. You can let a hand gently rest on something close to you, as my hand was on the post of this arbor. Note on the left, I had a heavy grip on it, which just adds to a feeling of weight, but on the right, my hand was placed very gently and looks more lightweight. Hands should always look light and relaxed, never heavy or gripped. Finally, there is nothing wrong with just letting one hand hang down by your side.  Just one hand, though, not both hanging limply at your side.

I hope these really simple tips can help you next time you find yourself in a quick snapshot. Feel free to share or  “like” this post,  or pin to Pinterest if you think it might help someone else too!

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10 tips for hippo de mayo

As a three-year veteran of the Taco Tour, and also a self-proclaimed Taco Ambassador, I have learned the ins and outs of this awesome yearly event. I truly, truly love the taco challenge, and it’s one of those things that if I didn’t already live here I’d probably travel to it. The World’s Largest Taco Tour–in Manchester New Hampshire? It’s not the most likely combination that comes to mind but it’s definitely unique and lots of fun.

10 Tips for Attending the Hippo de Mayo Taco Challenge

I’ve put together a list of the Top 10 Taco Tour Tips you’ll need for having the best experience. Whether this is your first time going, or maybe you want to improve on the efficiency of previous years, here we go…..

1. Walking Shoes
This is a walking event, so wear proper footwear! You gotta be comfortable. Lots of walking and standing in line can mean blisters if you’re not prepared, so treat it like you’ll be pounding the pavement for at least a couple of miles, because you will!

2. Empty Stomach
Personally I have breakfast, and a very light lunch, and then nothing else the rest of the day in preparation for this Gastro-Event! You’ll be stuffing yourself silly so don’t waste valuable calories or stomach space on things like, you know….. lunch… or anything crazy like that.  My hydration plan goes like this: bring some water but leave it in the car. Don’t drink too much before you go, because you know…. finding a bathroom could be less than a huge priority, depending on how hard you want to look for one. But you will likely get thirsty with all that eating and walking, and purchasing beverages takes up valuable time! I just leave it in the car and drink when I get back. Ha!

3. Cash
Many most, if not all, stations are cash-only, so bring tons of cash and small bills if you can. All tacos are $2 each. You’ll want to plan ahead and bring it with you, as there are not many ATMs downtown for some reason. One of the pitfalls of the early years was that people were trying to pay with cards and that held up the lines SOOOOO long. No bueno! Bring your cash with you.

4. Have a Plan 
The Hippo publishes a map of downtown, along with all the participating restaurants with descriptions of their tacos, the week before the event. The Hippo comes out on Thursdays (but you can often find it by Wednesday afternoons in some spots). Get you a paper and study it! This is your STRATEGY. I go through and circle all my “Must-Haves” based on the tacos I know I definitely want to eat, and start planning a route accordingly. Normally we start on Elm Street in the vicinity of Republic and work our way down Elm St, with little loops back to Firefly, Consuelo’s, etc (all those that are just slightly off of Elm St) and walk the whole way, ending at El Rincon and heading back up.  But you need to always START with the one that you want the most. Tacos do not last all night!

taco photos at Hippo de Mayo

5. Start Early
The taco tour is from 5pm-9pm but that does NOT mean that there will be tacos available for that whole period of time. Many of the popular spots run out within an hour. Avoid disappointment and be in line AT 5:00. For us, we know that Republic often sells out of their falafel tacos very early, so we have our hineys in line at 4:57. Also, you can hit many more spots in a short amount of time when you start early, because people aren’t even off of work yet. The crowds don’t hit their peak until about 6:30-7:00.  This year, for example, we were at Finesse Pastries by 5:34 and had already eaten SIX tacos by then. The lesson here is: hit it hard, and hit it fast so you don’t risk getting stuck in long lines while the tacos are selling out.

republic | 2012 Hippo de Mayo Taco Challenge

6. Parking
The cool thing about arriving by 5:00 is that there is plenty of on-street parking (bring money for the meters which require a ticket on your dash until 8pm). Downtown employees are leaving, and the masses of taco tourists have not yet arrived. If you can’t find parking on the street, a really good parking garage option is the Victory Park garage which is in a good location for hitting up Elm Street restaurants, as is the parking lot right behind City Hall. See also Manchester’s Parking Division maps for more options.

7. Stay Informed
For those of you who are plugged in to your phones all the time, a great way to keep up with real-time updates is to follow Hippo de Mayo on Facebook, and also @hippotaco on Twitter. Communication varies from year to year–sometimes there are frequent updates and sometimes there are very few. But many times you will at least hear from other folks where the tacos have sold out, the length of the lines, etc. Hey, it’s just like DisneyWorld!

8. Walk & Drive
Not all of the downtown restaurants are on the Elm Street “strip.” Many great restaurants with wonderful taco offerings are elsewhere downtown and you will probably need to drive to them. Down in the Millyard you’ll find Cotton and Fratello’s, and 900 Degrees. Likewise, on the other end past Granite Street you ‘ll find a great cluster of places like the Hilton, Murphy’s Taproom, and various clubs that often change names from year to year.  Take note: when you visit restaurants that do not get the heavy foot traffic from the taco tourists, they will many times not have a station set up to crank out the tacos. Some of them will actually create an order for the tacos, punch it in to the computer, go back to the kitchen to prepare it,  box it up for you, etc. My husband and I do not wait for this kind of thing. If we arrive at a restaurant and they don’t have the tacos out and ready to hand off immediately, we keep going. Ain’t nobody got time for that!  The Hilton, however does have exceptional tacos, so a couple of times we have ended our evening there when we were full and tired, and willing to sit at a table and wait for the tacos to come out. But that is definitely an exception and not the rule.

9. Tag Team
Maximize your efficiency by having multiple people stand in lines at neighboring restaurants! My husband and I do this all the time. He’ll stand in one line while I go next door and wait in the other line, and we meet back up and eat our tacos. Double the tacos in half the time!

10. Vote!
Finally, in keeping with the charity spirit of the Taco Tour, make sure you vote for your favorite taco so that the winner can secure $1000 for their charity of choice. Voting takes place via text messages, and the voting codes can be found on the Hippo’s Taco Map. I almost always vote for whoever is competing for the Manchester Animal Shelter. You get 10 votes per phone number.

As you can see, if you’re really serious about making the most of the Taco Challenge, some advance planning and strategy is needed and will go a long way towards ensuring that you can hit the maximum number of restaurants in the shortest and most efficient period of time.  Using this plan,  the hubs and I average 9-11 tacos per year and have rarely encountered places that sell out, because we’re DONE by 7-7:30.


I hope you enjoyed this post! If you found it helpful, please feel free to click “Like” or share it on your Facebook wall so that others can benefit too!  Do you have any tips of your own to add? Leave it in the comments!

Photos from the Taco Challenge in Past Years:  2013  | 2012  | 2011


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