Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Austin Food Keeps Going After the Festival: Chef Angela Majko on CHOPPED tonight

It is the Tuesday after the Austin Food and Wine Festival, and it was a pretty amazing weekend.  I'm still sailing by on the endorphin and adrenaline rushes facilitated by the camaraderie of the Austin food community and newly forged friendships with chefs and food lovers from other cities. While that is over, tonight is still a very special for another local chef, Angela Majko.  Angela is a sushi chef at Uchiko, and she'll be on CHOPPED tonight!  If you're available, swing by the viewing party at Draught House, 9:00 pm tonight, Tuesday, April 30th, 2013.   Food trailer Oyama by alumni of Uchiko will be on site serving Japanese/Mexican fusion cuisine.  The episode will be projected on a big screen and Chef Majko will be in attendance. Draught House is located at 4115 Medical Parkway, Austin, TX 78756.

Below are some fun panorama photos from this past week.  More blog posts to follow. 

My view as a #CityWide86d judge at Uchiko Austin.  I felt like a zoo animal.  Everyone kept watching me and taking photos of my plate.  Chef Jeremy is to my right. 

This was my view at the start of the Taste of Texas evening event of the Austin Food and Wine Festival

The grills at the Tim Love meaty love event.  It really isn't called meaty love, but I like the name.

The growing crowd waiting to come into Chef Paul Qui's demonstration at the Austin Food and Wine Festival

Friday, April 26, 2013

Meat Porn from the Austin Food and Wine Alliance 2013 LIVE FIRE

Last night was Austin Food and Wine Alliance's LIVE FIRE!  I'm just going to say that pictures are worth 1000 words.

Jungle Curry from Sway

Desserts from Sway

Venison from Homegrown Revival

From Whole Foods

Dai Due Tacos in the front

Meat in the back

Tacos in the front of El Chile

Meat in the back at Mulberry

Aaron in the front of Franklin's

Jason Dady's dish

Beef Tongue and Soft Egg Ramen from Ramen Tastu-ya

The yolks were amazing!

Firestone and Robertson from Fort Worth

The tops were made with shoe leather scraps

Dessert from Trace

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Make your Own Wine or Beer Sling for Festivals

I'm a self-proclaimed food festival veteran now.  After attending food events day in and day out, I've learned a few things that I'd like to share.

1. Wear comfortable shoes.
2. Bring a portable charger for your phone or other electronic equipment.
3. Sunblock.
4. Baby wipes.
5. Bring your own silverware.  Most people know by now that I carry a set of chopsticks, fork, and spoon on my persons.
6. Sunblock, yes, again.
My Wine Sling.  Or Beer Holder.  The name is not important. 

Another big design issue at festivals is that most human have two hands.  When you add a plate, glass, and silverware (not to mention camera), your hands get a little full.  Humans would be more efficient if we had several extra hands.

An item that can alleviate is the glass sling, appropriate for beer or wine events.  I already have a smaller beer sling for the Great American Beer Festival, but I didn't have a larger one for LIVE FIRE or the Austin Food and Wine Festival this weekend.  Here's instructions on how to make one in less than 30 seconds with items you probably have in your house.

1. Koozie.  Any kind.  I have dozens of these left over from previous events.
2. A lanyard.  The kind with two clips are more stable, however, a single connection point is fine as well. I had tons of these from previous festivals and conferences. 
3. Sharp scissors.

1. Flatten out the koozie so that it is fairly flat.
2. Use scissors to cut a slit about 3/4 to 1 inch from the top end of the koozie on one side.  If you have a laynard with two clips (two connection points), repeat this process on the other side. 
3. Pop open your koozie, and attach the lanyard by clipping or threading through the slits.
4. Insert wine or beer glass. TADA!

*If you dislike the look of your koozie (the one in this picture was ugly), turn it inside out.

*For more stability with wine glasses, pull the stem through the bottom of the koozie.  Standard koozie sizes fit most wine glasses fairly snug.  It would take quite a bit of force for your wine glass to fall out the bottom. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

2013 Austin Food and Wine Alliance LIVE FIRE

It is hard to believe that we're just a few days away from the Austin Food and Wine Festival.  It is obvious that the food scene in Austin has changed very much in the last decade.  Just a few decades ago, there were just a handful of places that you could call a dining experience, and a variety of experiences if you will. 

I'm not sure what came first, the demand or the supply.  It seems that in a matter of a few years, consumers in Austin changed or they were more vocal.  A larger collective voice of consumers who were interested in where their food was sourced, how creative new cooking techniques were being used in restaurants, and how the dining experience should be grew.  It was vocalized and realized of demand for more farmers markets, beats in publications, blogs, and food related organizations. 

The photos on this post are a blast from the past.  Now that the food landscape (no pun intended) in Austin has dramatically changed into something much more diverse, creative, authentic, and sophisticated, it is time to look back at where Austin previously.  The upcoming festival has morphed into something different over the last few years. 

There's the sexy Sandra Spalding of Twin Liquors strutting her stuff at the 2011 Star Power. 

"After 26 years as the The Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, held in Austin each spring and considered one of the premier epicurean celebrations in the Southern United States, we’ve now become the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering awareness and innovation in the Central Texas food, wine and spirits community through grants, educational programming and events.
The Alliance is the non-profit partner of the new Austin FOOD & WINE Festival in Austin, Texas. As the beneficiaries of the new festival, we’re excited to further support the amazing food and wine talent and happenings in Central Texas and with our new non-profit status, will be able to give back to the culinary community through a vibrant grant program to fund projects focused on culinary innovation."
While there two separate organizations hosting spring time food and wine events in Texas, it only goes to show that Austin's food scene is still changing.  Where Austin will be in 10 years is up in the air, but for now, enjoy the upcoming events.
Chef Philly looking intense with the plating.
Before we kick off the weekend, the Austin Food and Wine Alliance has a great event called LIVE FIRE!  I attended this event in 2011, the first time it was held and the last year it was officially known as The Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival.  This was the event that sealed my long-term marriage to Franklin BBQ.  I'm still loyal to the Franklin's.
Chefs in the kitchen at the 2011 Star Power Dinner. 
There are still a few tickets (just a few) left for this year's LIVE FIRE! at the Salt Lick Vineyards.  I'd highly recommend going, and having a good time.  Remember to bring your stomach empty as the line up of chefs looks amazing.   Here's the menu:
Chefs this year include:
Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue (Austin)
Named the best barbecue in the U.S. by Bon Appétit Magazine, Franklin will make his third appearance at Live Fire! and attendees will be treated to his award-winning brisket.
Rene Ortiz of Sway (Austin)
Finalist for 2013 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest, Ortiz will serve Jungle Curry made with Texas Beef, Red Chili & Coconut Cream.
Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club & Butcher Shop (Austin)
Winner of Edible Communities 2012 Local Hero/Food Artisan Award and 2013 James Beard book award nominee for single-subject with Afield: A Chef¹s Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish, Griffiths will prepare Flatiron Tacos with Carrot Top Salsa.
Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurants (San Antonio)
Finalist for 2012 James Beard Award for Best Restaurateur: Southwest, Dady makes his third appearance at Live Fire! and will prepare Tongue and Cheek utilizing beef tongue, cheek and ribs.
Laura Sawicki of Sway (Austin)
Finalist for 2013 James Beard nominee for Outstanding Pastry Chef and 2013 CultureMap¹s Tastemaker Award winner for Best Pastry Chef, Sawicki will offer a sweet take on fire-kissed dessert with Smoked Hazelnut and Chocolate S'Mores.
Ned Elliott of Foreign & Domestic (Austin)
Finalist of Food & Wine magazine¹s The People's Best New Chef: 2012 Southwest, Elliott will prepare a Roasted Culotte of Beef with Pickled Strawberries and Ramp Consomme.
Josh Watkins of The Carillon (Austin)
2012 Star Chef Austin-San Antonio Rising Star Winner, Watkins will create Beef Chuck Ribs from Richardson Farms.
Randy Rucker of Briar and Bramble (Houston)
2011 Houston Rising Star Chef, Rucker will make his debut appearance at Live Fire! and will serve Corned & Smoked Beef Rib with Fermented Wild Onions.
Kristine Kittrell of Mulberry (Austin)
Formerly of Jeffrey¹s Restaurant, Kittrell will prepare Coconut Beef with Blistered Beans.
Sonya Cote & Tink Pinkard of Homegrown Revival (Austin)
Winner of Edible Austin¹s Local Hero Award and named among the Top 10 Badass Women Chefs by Daily Meal, Cote¹s Live Fire! dish will be Flank Steak Roulade with Sweet Onion & Arugula.
Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen (San Antonio)
One of San Antonio¹s most acclaimed chefs, Perez will serve Matambre With Rice & Chorizo.
Eric Lucas of Whole Foods Market (Austin)
Lucas will create three beef dishes - Argentinian style.
Scott Roberts of Salt Lick Bar-B-Que (Driftwood)
Cookbook author and famed owner of the Salt Lick, Roberts will share his celebrated Brisket with Stuffed Mushrooms and Sliced Brisket on a Homemade Tortilla, each paired with a local craft brew.
Tatsu Aikawa of Ramen Tatsu-Ya (Austin)
Celebrated ramen maker who brought Austin¹s first authentic ramen house, Aikawa will present Oxtail Ramen with Beef Tongue Chashu.
Jeff Martinez of El Chile Café y Cantina (Austin)
From Austin¹s favorite El Chile, Martinez will prepare Lengua de Res.
Janina O'Leary of Trace (Austin)
After having worked in some of the country¹s most prestigious kitchens including Michelin three-star restaurants Daniel and Per Se in New York City, celebrated pastry chef O¹Leary will prepare Meyer Lemon Budino and Chocolate Bourbon Smores.

Jodi Elliott of Foreign & Domestic (Austin)
Just named winner of 2013 Food & Wine magazine¹s The People¹s Best New Pastry Chef, Elliott will prepare one of her in-house made desserts to complement the Live Fire! beef fest.
The dessert by Philip Speer of Uchiko was Kaffir Lime, Avocado, Honeydew, and Cucumber at the 2011 Star Power Dinner.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Texan in Toscana - Sienna Ristrorante Toscana

Here's a new find for me, but not a new Austin Restaurant.  I was invited to a media tasting at Sienna Ristorante Toscana located close to the 2222 and 360 intersection.  The physical restaurant is beautiful, rich with architectural stories embedded into the walls.  Chef Harvey Harris is full of stories and surprises.  He invited me to hunt wild boar.  He gets a gold star for fun!

The dinner started off our usual fun - whipping out the camera. Here's the lovely Michelle Cheng

This was one of my favorite appetizers.  Bacon wrapped scallop and grilled figs!!! My heart skipped a beat. 

This next dish is brasato di cinghiale - otherwise known as braised wild boar.  It was juicy and hearty, perfect for a Winter evening. 

Pan-fried cheese with marinara - like an uber fancy fried cheese. 

Lovely ravioli with tangy sauce. 

This was one of my favorite - Tagliatelle alla Bolognese.  If you haven't tried homemade pasta, it is a different experience.  Subtle, but noticeable.  I can only describe it as being more pliable.  It is also definitely different from packaged "fresh" pasta. 

And the evening ended with dessert: tiramisu, goat cheese panna cotta, and a flourless chocolate cake.  A big thanks to Chef Harvey for inviting us our for a lovely evening in Toscana.  This is definitely a restaurant to visit again.