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

Monday, June 9, 2014

Unsung Heros of the Food World

There's many articles about chefs doing this that and the other in the food world.  However, there are unsung heroes in the food and beverage that need some time in the limelight.  Doing the right thing in the food world is always popular or praised.  And it is time that we step up the awards and talk about some unsung heroes.
Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewer - Garrett Oliver is the man that every man in beer wants to be and the man that women want to be with over a pint of beer at least.  Not only did Garrett publish one of the best books on food and beer pairing, The Brewermaster's Table, help push forward the Slow Food Movement, and recently win a James Bear Award, he is one of the most respectable beverage professionals on the face of the Earth.  I'm not saying just saying that he can handle his booze.  What I'm saying is that he is always clean, polished, well-spoken, and well-dressed.  Even after a hours of presenting at a beer pairing dinner, he is still answering questions with like answers so thoughtfully crafted and thorough that you would have thought T. S. Eliot was feeding him his lines. 

Austin, you need to look at Garrett, seriously take a look at this man.  He can enjoy his beverages of choice, responsibly.  That, Austin, is attractive. 

Some Austin heroes who are also in the category of responsible beverage professionals:
June Rodil - This pint-size, cute as a button sommelier has an ever growing list of awards and a resume to match.  June is always fashionable, knowledgeable, and always super sharp.  
Tim Schwartz - You'll recognize this Tim's face at many beer events.  He's probably the guy giving you a schooling on beer.  Like Garrett, he's educational, courteous, and likeable when he's enjoying is beverages. 

Jamie Zelko - I had the opportunity to interview Jamie at the Austin Food and Wine Festival in 2013, and I gotta say, she is one sharp knife.  Not only is Jamie incredibly talented, she and Dalia Zelko founded of the Heights Honeybee Project.  With the colony collapse disorder affecting crop pollination, Jamie and Dalia recognized the looming food supply problem.  The HHoneyBee-Project was founded to educate and create sustainable bee colonies.  Colonies that would be exterminated are re-locate them into hives where they might live happily ever after. All proceeds go back into the HHoneyBee, so that they can take on more hives, maintain them responsibly, ethically and continue to support the Wild Bee population. 
Austin Hero: Charles Bloemsma, the executive chef at Green Pastures in South Austin, raises his own bees and makes his own honey.  He shared a bottle with me several years ago, and it was delicious with a floral aroma.  Also, if you get a chance, check out his brunch at Green Pastures.  Charles + any bread product = magical. 

Graham Elliot lost 150 lbs in one year.  When I saw Graham, I nearly fell over in awe.  That is an amazing achievement, and it isn't easy to do when you're surrounded by fantastic food all the time.  Wowzers.  He's an inspiration.  Being in food doesn't you must always indulge to the max.  A healthy lifestyle is responsible and something to be proud of doing.  
Austin Heros: Philly Speer, David Bull, Shawn Cirkiel, and Emmett Fox have started to leave more healthy lifestyles, or at least they share via social media they do.  Cheers to them for balancing great food with great workouts. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Taste of San Antonio's Food Scene: Culinaria

You know what's just down the road that doesn't get enough love?  San Antonio.  Just an hour or so drive away is an entirely different and bigger city with much to offer.  Probably like the majority of Austinites, I had really had a chance to visit San Antonio like one should.  I've been there for conferences, dogs shows, business related events, but I haven't actually had the chance to experience San Antonio as a city. I mostly drove in, did my assigned task, and drove home promptly. 
Lucky for me, I was able to attend Culinaria San Antonio this year - a week of food festivities with the purpose of giving back to the community.  They provide culinary scholarships and aid for personal hardships.  A summary of my experience:
  • There are some kickbutt chefs in San Antonio. I don't know them that well yet, but they brought it to the table. Like a pot of foie gras to the table.
  • The Pearl Brewery is a beautiful location for a festival.  I attended the first Meatopia there, and the charming venue has many historical nooks and crannies to explore.
  • The venue for the Grand Tasting at the Gonzales Convention Center was beautifully done.
  • There's something to be said about having a dress code at an event.  It gave the event a special feel - like you were actually going out to an event. I do love Austin's laid back lifestyle, but wearing flip flops and shorts to every outdoor food event leads it to feel less curated. 
  • I want to be at every after party Jason Dady throws.  Hands down one of the best after parties ever. 

This delicious morsel of polenta, blood sausage, and mustard was from Gwendolyn.  A resturant with some serious history. San Antonio is lucky to have preserved restaurants that give insight to its history.  Historic places in Austin have now become condos.  RIP, original Gingerman and Paggi House.

Jason Dady's Umai Mi's offering of an Asian style tostada.  Chef did not disappoint me. 

And no evening is ever complete without dance with a winemaker.  Frederick from Perdernales does me the honor of spinning around the Riverwalk.

This picture is evidence of San Antonio chefs bringing their A game.  They do not play around with grills.  This was Arcade Midtown's set up. 

Chef Johnny Russ offered up many things at the Sunday Burgers and Beer event.  One of which was grilled artichokes, first boiled in crawfish boil, then grilled!

Here is the deliciously spicy artichokes and crawfish. 

After that, Chef Johnny boiled chicken wings in the crawfish boil, smothered them with pepper jelly, and then grilled those tasty babies.  They were some of the best wings ever.  Better than traditional wings by far.  Also, if you didn't know, Chef Johnny Ross is a one Olympic lifting chef.  I witnessed him grabbing the ends of a hot spit with a giant roasted pig and power clean that thing off the grill and walked it over to a table.  Don't mess with Chef.  

Just to make things interesting, someone brought a giant pot of foie mousse.  This is how they do it. 

Esquire Tavern had lamb burgers.  Very tasty lamb burgers that I didn't take a picture of because I was too distracted with the lamb.

And their honey badger.

This was one of the pictures of burgers that I actually captured on camera.  Sorry, I ate the rest. This was from Q at the Hyatt on the Riverwalk.