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

Monday, February 27, 2012

SXSW Post: New Bars for Hopping

Austin's food and drink scene is every changing.  With the rise of microbreweries and the craft cocktail movement booming in Austin, be glad that there are new bars popping up to quench your thirst.  I haven't been to all these bars so I can't attest to their menus.  These new bars were opened in the last 12 months.  Happy SXSW New Bar Hopping!

400 Rabbits Bar  5701 W Slaughter Lane  Austin, TX 78739  (512) 861-7069

Bar IIegal   609 Davis St  Behind Clive Bar  Austin, TX 78701   (512) 494-4120

Beer Exchange 706 West 6th Street Austin, TX

Corner Bar 1901 S Lamar Blvd Austin, TX 78704

Dive Bar and Lounge  1703 Guadalupe St  Austin, TX 78701  (512) 482-3483
Draft Pick  1620 East Riverside Drive  Austin, TX 78741  (512) 444-7425

Drink.Well   207 E 53rd St  Austin, TX 78751   (512) 614-6683

Easy Tiger  709 East 6th Street Austin, TX  512-614-4972

The Frontier Bar  2421 Webberville E  Austin, TX 78702  (512) 243-7153

Grackle  1700 E 6th St  Austin, TX 78702  (512) 520-8148

Hopfields  3110 Guadalupe St. Austin, Texas 78705  512-537-0467

Midnight Cowboy  313 E 6th St  Austin, TX 78701  (512) 843-2715

The Rattle Inn  610 Nueces St  Austin, TX 78701  (512) 373-8306
SquareRut Kava Bar  6000 S Congress Ave  Ste 106   Austin, TX 78745   (512) 382-9293

Violet Crown  1111 E 6th St  Austin, TX 78702   (512) 614-4461
White Horse  500 Comal St  Austin, TX 78702

SXSW Post: Restaurants with a Great Beer Menu

With great beer, one also also needs some grub.  Here's a list of restaurants with a good beer selection to satisfy both your thirst and your hunger.  While the restaurants different in styles of food, rest assured that the beer menu is sure to please.

Barley Swine  2024 South Lamar Blvd  (512) 394-8150 - While it may not seem so given the neighborhood, this establishment is on the swanky side.  Prepare for shareable small plates and communal dining as you indulge in a well-crafted beer selection.

Black Sheep Lodge 2108 South Lamar Boulevard  (512) 707-2744 - If you're looking for all American burgers, this is the place to go.  Try the sweet potato fries.  They'll make everyone alright. 

Black Star Co-op  7020 Easy Wind Drive  (512) 452-2337 - This place was a legend in the making.  Blackstar is the first cooperatively owned brew pub.  Not only that, they have an upscale yet casual menu. 

Contigo 2027 Anchor Lane (512) 614 - 2260 - Ranch style dining in Austin style.  Good beer, good beer, and good times await.

Easy Tiger  709 East 6th Street - 512-614-4972  - This brand new bakery and bar pays tribute to the fermentation that makes bread and beer possible. Hop on down there and have a brat, pretzel, and beer. 

Foreign and Domestic 306 East 53rd Street (512) 459-1010 - The patio at Foreign and Domestic is quite nice and quite a gem.  Come here with open minds, open mouths, and ingredient combinations that make you feel like Andrew Zimmerman.

Frank 4th and Colorado 512-494-6916 - Hot Dogs. Cold Beer.  Need I say more?  Well, yes.  Also, cocktails. 

Hopfields  3110 Guadalupe St.  512-537-0467- This new bar in town is cozy, sweet, and all sorts of fun.  As the name implies, the beer menu is well-crated and hopping. 

Opal's Divine three locations- Opal's is now an Austin landmark.  With three locations in Austin, huge patios, free wifi, it is the perfect spot to grab some grub, a beer (or scotch), and a few hours to catch up on emails between  parties. 

Uncle Billy's 1530 Barton Springs Road  (512) 476-0100, also at Lake Travis- One of Austin's first brewpubs, Uncle Billy's beer menu features award winning brews along with local beers.  Put on some boots, have some beer and bbq, and you'll be an honorary Texan.  For a few hours at least. 

Whip-In  1950 S Interstate 35  (512) 442-5337 - Can we say classic Austin Gem?  This little convenience stores turned craft beer mecca crossed with spicy Indian influenced deliciousness.  It is the perfect spot for the food and beer lover in you. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

French Inspired in the 78704: @Lenoir_Austin

What's up on South First Street?  Activity.  Tons of activity.  One of my favorite chef teams recently opened their own French-inspired restaurant that is turning heads left and right.  Todd Duplechan (formerly of Trio at the Four Seasons) and Jessica Maher (formerly of Dishalicious and Dai Due) brought upscale dining with warm ambience to my neck of the woods.  Todd is truly a master of execution.  He can take any run of the mill recipe and execute it so well that it makes you wonder what kind of magic he's doing in the back.  Add that to Jessica's expert ways with butter, flour, and sugar; and life is good in the 78704.  The restaurant is called Lenoir, pronounced like Len- waaaaaaaaa.  Follow them on Twitter @Lenoir_Austin.

I tried some new editing techniques on my photos.  I absolutely love the feel of Lenoir

Pretty flowers adorn each table. Dinner at Lenoir is exceptionally affordable, at $35 for a three course meal.  While the food is fine, Lenoir is not uptight or super formal.  You'd be alright showing up in a tee-shirt and boots.  If you can't decide which courses you want, you can always add another course for $10.  Jump at it.  I said, "Jump, Jump!" 

I visited Lenoir's soft opening with a fabulous girlfriend of mine, and we were stuffed without adding any additional courses.  First up: chickpea panisse / oyster mushrooms / wilted winter greens / poached egg.  Todd knows his way around eggs.  The yolk was simply fantastic.  Rich, gelatinous, and oh, so creamy.    Todd and Jessica recently participated in the TEDxAustin 2012 XLunch Experience.  They were given locally sourced ingredients via Whole Foods from Vital Farms, JB Organic, and Texmati rice to feed a group of 80 diners.  Todd came up with a fantastic and perfect for the cold weather soup called "The Chicken or the Egg."  It was a chicken pot-au-fue, or French Style chicken soup with egg yolk ravioli.  The egg yolks were poached, and then dropped into the hot soup for service.  Diners at TEDxAustin called it "The Best Soup Ever!" and "Incredible Lunch!"  I agree.

This dish was the axis venison / spiced broth / haikurei turnips / sunflower sprouts / daikon.  It isn't a traditional pho by any stretch.  It was a fantastic take on a pho with exceptionally tender venison.

This is a very creative take on coasters.  These were made out of cork flooring that was left over from another project.  It looks beautiful.  Who would have known it was just left over materials. 

Jessica's dessert: rosetta cookies / warm spiced chocolate.  I was pretty inspired by the cookies.  They are light, airy, with a perfect amount of crunch and structure in the delicate cookies.  Jessica explained that she received the molds from her grandmother, and you would dip the molds into batter, and then into hot oil for frying.  I know a dessert is good when I leave wondering how I could recreate them at home.  I did look up a bunch of rosetta cookie molds if that's any indication.  The warm chocolate had a hint of spice that reminded me of a cross between Christmas and Indian cooking.  I'd have to eat it again to tell you the exact spice profile.  Darn.  What a difficult task, but I'll do it.  Again, and again, and again.  Lenoir can be pretty busy, so call ahead.  Congrats to Todd and Jessica!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beyond Measure, Beyond Words: A peek behind the scenes of @TEDxAustin2012

I just finished an amazing 6 month long experience.  I after it was all said and done, I spent about 175 hours over the 6 months working on the experience called TEDxAustin.  I was the xLunch producer, and I produced every aspect of the food experience. I did not get to partake in the full experience, but working on the experience was just as amazing.  I can say that I'm even more rich.

Photo by John M. P. Knox @windaddict

I did hear bits and pieces of the talks.  I heard a quote from @JCourt about preemptive love, " Violence unmakes the world. Preemptive love remakes the world." I was overwhelmed with the feeling of preemptive love.  My friends who participated in the lunch concept preemptively showed me love.  They dedicated their time and their craft to something I was doing without question. Thank you, friends. Thank you for showing me that preemptive love.

I did sit down for Penny's talk. I met Penny about 4 years ago at a food blogger's pot luck at her house.  I absolutely love her, and the idea of that we should live I'm the moment.  Our lives are made up of all these small moments.  See them. Live in them. Cherish them.  I got to meet Penny's father, and I stole a hug.

Penny's talk was thoughtfully placed right before lunch.  This year's lunch showcased some of the top chefs in Austin with deep roots in the food community.  There were several goals for the lunch 1. Create an interactive food experience to drive engagements 2. Serve fantastically creative dishes 3. Highlight the leaders in our food community and 4. showcase locally sourced foods.

Paper dress. photo by John M. P. Knox @windaddict

I was told that it would be a difficult task, but nonetheless, I took it on.  I won't go into the logistics of pulling off this feat. From table settings to sourcing the food locally, this was nothing short of a miracle. I tweeted earlier that week that I was in the car with 100 chickens.  I didn't tweet that they were all being delivered to the restaurants and were already dead.

TEDxAustin cake balls by Austin Cake Ball.

I had several people say that I did the impossible.  And they are right.  I did what was impossible to do on my own. With the preemptive love, it was very possible.

I must tip my hat to Rebecca Scofield at Whole Foods for putting in so much time into this endeavor.  She is nothing short of amazing by bringing in Johnson's Backyard and Vital Farms.  My  chefs wowed me with their creativity and presented a fantastic menu.  David Norman of Easy Tiger started the day with showing people how to knead dough during breakfast, which tied into breaking bread over lunch with friends.  The Natural Epicurean  brought an A team staff to support our event.  The staff was sharper than their knives.

A big thank you to the restaurants and chefs:
And our food partners:

Photo by John M. P. Knox @windaddict.  This was a view from inside the black box.  I loved the design that Jeff Sharpe and Chris Czichos made.  I want them to do that to my house.
In case you were wondering about the menus:

BC Tavern/Wink  -  Broccoli, Bleu cheese mac / Braised chicken (cachatorrie style)/ roasted carrots and spinach
Carillon   - Chicken Roulades, Bacon, Espellete, sherry emulsion / Texmati rice,dried apricots, almonds, celery, black pepper syrup / Carrots, caraway, molasses, pork jus gastrique
Fino/Asti   - Smoked Vital Farms Chicken & Spinach Morcilla Blanca / Carrot Purée / Broccoli Slaw & Egg Yolk Bottarga
Lenoir  -  The Chicken or the Egg - Chicken pot-au-feu with egg ravoili
Swift's Attic  -  Roasted Chicken Bahn Mi / Broccoli Kimchee Spinach / Quick pickle salad
Uchi/Uchiko  - Vital farms chicken, sweet short grain rice, candied pork belly, crispy garlic / Pickled carrots, pickled broccoli /s pinach oshitaki

It must also be mentioned that just a few weeks ago, Chef Scott Kaplan of Fino was attacked and seriously injured.  While I am sad to see something like that happen, I was thrilled to see that he decided to come out to play at TEDxAustin. You can view Chef Scott's fundraiser here
The speakers and sponsors dinner.

Working as the xLunch producer, I got to meet some other incredible people, in very unexpected places.  The staff at the Austin Music Hall,  Pascal's catering, and Premiere Party were fantastic to work with.  They went over and beyond with helping with the set up and loading.  We also had group of volunteers from Accenture who were amazing. I couldn't believe how focused they were. I'd love to have them at any event.

The TEDxAustin 2012 copywriting, design, and production logistics were handled by an extraordinary team.  A big thanks goes to Kristin Bender, Leah Kaminsky, and Lisa Cogliati.  Also, Jeff Sharpe and Chris Czichos did all of the design, layout, and building to create the stunning environment at TEDxAustin 2012.  It was drop dead gorgeous.
Close up of the panels. 

And lastly, I had the experience of working closely with Shawna Butler.  I must have called or texted her at least once a day during the last few weeks of production.  This woman is insightful, efficient, focused, and I'm guessing that the final singing experience was her doing.  Craig Hella Johnson lead a choir in being.  We announced our being by singing.  We sang to announce our being.  And our being was Beyond Measure.