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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Last Day of the @AustinFoodWine w/ @Chef_Morimoto songs

Today was the final day of the Austin Food and Wine Festival, and it did not end with any less than a bang.  The morning started off with a Tim Love grilling demo.  A small army of grillers armed with cooking utensils, steaks, and charcoal grills were gleefully entertained for two hours.  I didn't take part in the grilling, but I did hear that it was a huge hit. Reportedly, 660 lbs of charcoal was used each day for a total of 1,320 lbs of charcoal.  Now that's a grilling good time!
I did manage to catch a few sessions today, including Christina Tosi of Momofuko Milk Bar.  Even with her vast accomplishments behind her, Christina was so down-to-Earth you never would have guessed. 

There's something just right about a Christina Tosi next to a magenta KitchenAid Blender.  It matches her headband and her book!

And here's she is answering questions for the crowd.  I think I have a girl crush on her.

I stopped by the Andrew Zimmern presentation just in time to tell us about a certain fermented animal part.  I'm not sure if I should be intrigued or disgusted.  Either way, it was interesting. 

The next stop for me was Chef Morimoto, who led a fantastically entertaining demonstration.  Between every few thoughts, he yelled "TEXAS!" followed by "is very hot."  Everyone started cheering at VERY HOT! Talk about a crowd energizer!

Morimoto is chopping something. It looks like radishes.

Chef Morimoto skinning a diakon radish into a long paper thin roll. 

The bottom left hand side, you can see the sashimi presentation coming together. 

Morimoto claims that the green plant decor all came from the nearby foliage along the lake.  I'm not sure if he was joking, but it was pretty funny.  Through out the demonstration, he sang to us.  He meowed at us!  See below (I didn't capture the meowing though).  It was an incredible experience.

I wish I got a better shot of the tray with a view from above, but this was as close as I got.  Not close enough though.

Here's how Morimoto transports his nori. 

Some of the pieces from the demo.  Aren't they gorgeous?

And then I ate it!  I ate food prepared by Morimoto two days in a row!

Here's some other things I didn't get to mention from the grand tasting.  Dude, Sweet Chocolate is based out of Fort Worth, and they have a vast array of chocolate concoctions.  During the festival, they were serving chocolate skulls paired with the Breckenridge Distillery Bourbon.  Woowee!  That was some pairing.  You can purchase some of their products online, including Albatross (chocolate, blue cheese, salted fudge), Tequila infused chocolate sauce, and Tub of Love (Italian Hazelnut spread). 

A quick trip to the VIP area netted some tasty dishes from Barley Swine and Jack Allen's Kitchen.  There was shrimp, shrimp, and a roasted and pulled javelina slider!

GourmetFury and Jack were not shy about gnawing on the javelina snout.  Unfortunately for me, I was much too full eat another bite.

The festival this year was certainly different from previous years.  This year's line-up provided an opportunity for attendees to really see the personalities chefs come to life during the demos.  The hands-on events were definitely a crowd pleaser, and I thought the Meyer's hand washing station was just genius.  A giant thank you goes out to C3 Presents and FOOD and WINE Magazine for inviting me out to enjoy the event.  Also, a big thank you to KitchenAid for sponsoring my photographer's pass. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rock Your Taco at @AustinFoodWine

The Saturday night event was the Rock Your Taco Celebrity event.  Eight chefs made tacos for the masses, that were judged by a panel consisting of Gail Simmons, Andrew Zimmern, and FOOD & WINE Magazine publisher Christina Grdovic.  The Rock Your Taco Champion of 2012 was Uchiko Austin as chosen by the panel.  However, there were some other really tasty tacos.  It would have been difficult to chose a favorite!  I think for this post, pictures are worth 1000 words. 

We arrived on the scene to see Chef Rene Ortiz giving Chef Tim Love a helping hand with meat roasting. 

Chef Morimoto was one HARD working chef.  I barely saw him leave the station behind the tent during service. 

And here's the Morimoto taco. 

And another shot of the Morimoto taco. 

And Morimoto signed my badge.  *sigh*

Michelle Berstein's sweet bread tacos were quite tasty I must say. 

Marcus Samuelsson's curry tacos with pate was really flavorful and inspiring.  I'm thinking more about Indian/Middle Eastern and Mexican food fusion after this one.

Chef Sarah Grueneberg flambes her shrimp tacos with Ouzo! Those are indeed flames.  I did find the shrimp tacos to be intensely and wonderfully spicy.  I like things really, really spicy.

Here's the winning Uchiko taco. 

Marcus Samuelsson's taco on the left and Tim Love's taco on the right. 

Laura Sawicki's desserts.  I only ate three. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Most awesome @Chef_Morimoto photo & Saturday demos at @AustinFoodWine Festival 2012

The first day time event of the Austin Food and Wine Festival started with possibly the most awesome photo ever.  I mean ever.  I must admit that I am little bit biased since I was photographed it.  Gifted with a media pass, I was able to get into the grand tasting earlier to spot Morimoto.  I started watching the Japanese Iron Chef somewhere in 1999 or 2000, and needless to say, I was a little in awe (kinda sorta, ya know). 

Morimoto is one of those magical legends of celebrity chefs, and he was doing a book signing.  As I waited for him to do his signing, the personality started to come through.  He gave me the Hook'em!  And then a double Hook'em!  See below.

If you want to know, I'll give you my six cents on how to prepare for the festival.

1. Wear comfortable shoes.  You'll be walking from where you parked to the festival, and all over the festival.  The terrain is quite sandy and dirty, so best be prepared by wearing shoes with traction.
2. Sunblock.  Sunblock.  Sunblock.  And sunblock.
3. Unless you have a VIP pass, it might be wise to wait until the last hour of the grand tasting.  During the VIP period, it was pretty tame.  However, during general admission, it could get a little squishy.  If you wait until after most of the crowd had eaten their fill, the tents started to clear out.
4. Neti-pot (with distilled or boiled water) when you get home.  It was quite dusty, and your sinus will thank you.
5. If you must wear a dress or a skirt, make sure it has some structure and substance so it doesn't get blow around.  The wind was causing some free peep shows.  
6. Arrive very early to the cooking demos.  The lines can start as far as an hour in advance. 

Here's some photos from the grand tasting.  It seems like pie is big this year, so do make sure you hit up all the pie vendors. We got to check in with our friends from Columbus Salame (San Fran, CA) pictured below along with many other Austin Favorites. 

 HEB had a really neat center piece of bamboo stalks. 

I was happy to see that Alaska Brewing was represented well.

Kitchen Aid put on a display that would make any baker wet his/her pants!

After eating a great deal of super tasty treats and drinks, I headed down to check out the Tyson Cole hands on demo.  I didn't get to participate, but I did get to take some photos. 

Chefs Tyson Cole and Paul Qui stop for a second to give us a smile. 

The hands on demo area.

Busy chefs preparing for the demonstration.

This guy made a hilarious face, and yes, he was having a great time. 

The final product from some of the attendees. 

More happy sushi students.

This woman did a great job with her display, and she seems quite pleased with herself. 

Taste of Texas @AustinFoodWine 2012

This year is different.  This year is the first year that FOOD & WINE and C3 are presenting what used to be the Hill Country Wine and Food Festival.  In addition to a different structure to the festival this year, there are some unfamiliar faces coming to play.  Thursday night kicked off with the Live Fire event by the Austin Food and Wine Alliance.  It was a pretty awesome event last year, complete with wildlife.  It was also the first time I had ever put the heavenly Franklin's barbeque in my mouth.  I was sad to miss it this year due to that day job, which happened to have evening hours this semester.  A big thanks to the festival for inviting me as a media guest, and a big thanks to KitchenaidUSA and Whirlpool for providing a pass for my photographer.

The first event of the Austin Food and Wine Festival was the Friday night Taste of Texas event.  Special guests chefs this years included:

Just prior to the festival, Josh Ozersky had a Colonel Sanders and the American Dream book signing at Lucy's Fried Chicken. A big thanks to UT Press, Lucy's Fried Chicken and Austin Beer Works for the crunchy chicken afternoon. 

This was on one of the tables at the festival.  I thought it was pretty darn interesting. 

This festival also marked the anniversary of when I first had Franklin BBQ.  Happy Franklin BBQ Anniversary to me! 

As you can see, the Barbecue Jesus draws a line of disciplines where ever he goes. 

@TimBrynes brought an amazing show of three whole porkers.  This is just one of the babies. 

Here's Laura Sawicki's dessert.  That woman is a genius, and her pastry chef of the year honor is well deserved.  If you see her, give her a hug and eat her dessert!

@ChefSarahJayne Grueneberg brought mackerel on grilled pumpernickel toast with black almond tapenade.  Salty + crunchy = win!

And here's the lovely chef!

Here's Chef @MonicaPope and Chef Stephen Cash.  I loved her offering of mushroom dumplings!

And what's a wine festival without Devon Brogile (@dbrogues) of Whole Foods?  Nothing, I say. Nothing.

This was a really interesting and entertaining station.  Chef Gabe Thompson of @Lartusi cooks up pork belly on a griddle using bricks as a makeshift stove.  That's so Texas.  That's also so awesome!