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

Monday, November 19, 2012

2012 Great American Beer Festival Kicks up the Food

In my previous post, I talked about how food was really important to beer now.  I think the food this year was vastly improved on all fronts.  The food at the media lunch was excellent, and the word was that the food at the concession stands during the sessions was also improved.  Additionally, the food at the Farm to Table Pavilion was really good this year too.  See for yourself!

Why thank you, Viking!  I love the range.  Just kidding.  I only wish I could take it home. 

This fabulous panna cotta with a deep fried hop flower was really tasty.  Bitter and floral hops with sweet, creamy panna cotta was amazing. 

Here's a shout out to some local breweries.  Jester King's Weasel Rodeo was paired with a dark chocolate cake. 

And another Jester King Noble King paired with fatty meats and sundried tomato. 

This was a very tasty grilled Hawaiian ahi paired with Acradia Sky High Rye. 

This is a classic pairing.  Fatty, I mean flavorful sausage paired with Smuttynose IPA. 

And another classic pairing. sweet chocolate paired with Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale. 

I can't really claim that these are a tasty pair, but aren't they good looking pair?  Rumor is that Firestone Walker is coming to Texas soon!

This was an intriguing brittle.  Crispy pork skin brittle.  Ohhhhhhhhh yes...........!

The chefs didn't play around this year.  Not at all. 

Portion sizes were nothing to snicker at either!

I'm pretty much in love with this dish.  Salmon skin.  You had me at salmon skin. 
And a really BIG piece!

There's Sebbie from Rogue Ales.  I love that woman!

The Cheese Society made sure that everyone got their fill of cheese this year. 

The cheese tasting line was about 90 minutes deep.  We really, really love our beer and cheese!
Congrats to the production team that pulled off a fantastic beer and food experience this year!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Digital Scrapbook of the #Austin Food Community

I’ve been lingering over this blog post for something close to 18 months or so.  I started collecting links and rolling the idea around in my head.  I feel like now is a perfect time to publish this.  The goal of this post was to serve as a piece that illustrates what Austinites mean by the “Austin Food Community.”

It isn’t always easy for visitors to truly understand the Austin culture with a few blog posts or by mentioning our vibrant restaurant scene; so I decided to make a collection of posts that describe the food community.  I’ve split the blog posts up into a few different sections, and these lists will grow over time.  Do check back often, and please do submit posts that you think really highlight the Austin Food Community.  

The AFBA board at Cupcakes and Cocktails. Photo by Bill Bartz Photography.

The community (beer included) is super supportive in ways that are unimaginable.  The barrier to entry in the food community is pretty low.  If you really boil it down, you could just like food.  Surprisingly, the homogeneity of the attitudes were still pretty consistent, which contradicts statistical theory.  Higher numbers almost always mean higher statistical variance, with exceptions of course.  99.999999% of the community was awesome blossom.  

Looking back over the years, this community wasn’t like a wild weed, growing with velocity and strength.  Rather, looking back,  it seemed like carefully and thoughtfully planned chaos.  The good kind of chaos of course.

Mat Clouser, Zack Northcutt, and Callie Speer of Swift's Attic has a fun sense of humor.  The chefs here aren't just about food. They're also about the pumperknuckle sammiches. Photo courtesy of Mat Clouser.

Several critical factors in the very beginning shaped this community.  We had awesome bloggers -to try to name everyone would only result in a 50,000 page blogpost.  Here’s a few examples though: Addie Broyles didn’t just do the bare minimum of her job; she pushed the envelope of her professional role and became involved with the food community on local and national levels.  I’m inspired and grateful that our community had someone like her to lead Austin.  I get all mushy when I watch her interact with national food leaders on stage or tell the story of the Austin Food Community.  

Grapes + Addie + Annie Ray Photography = fun times.

Natanya Anderson is another that leaves no stone unturned in the food x social media world.  Even prior to her role at Whole Foods Austin, Natanya was a fierce leader, recruiter, and futurist of our community.  She still is if you’re wondering.  Kathryn Hutchinson wrangled an amazing Austin Bakes for Japan and Bastrop.  Carla Crownover seems to be a helping hand and supportive heart at every single food event within a 100 mile radius of Austin.  Of course, close to Carla, you'll almost always find Christian and Jamie of Bola Pizza.  Their hugs are almost as warm as their pizza oven; that's over 700+ degrees!  And those are just the bloggers.  There are so many, many more people in the Austin Food Community that play an influential role.

Auntie Carla Crownover holds @VestaTheDog at 10 weeks old.

Now that I look back over the last few blissful years, I feel like my role has changed drastically in the community.  I started as a consumer who loved to cook and eat.  I put on the Cupcake Smackdown for three years, and over the last two years, I’ve worked on a personal and professional level with many amazing chefs in Austin.  I’ve invited them to play at TEDxAustin, and they’ve invited me to work behind the scenes.  

The fun doesn't end when the food is gone.  Philly Speer, Josh Watkins, Cash Watkins, and I playing with liquid nitrogen at Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis.  That's completely normal for us.

In a few short months, I’ll also be transitioning my current role of education chair of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance to Kristin Sheppard.  I feel like even though my “official” role in the Austin Food Blogger Alliance is changing, my role in the larger community is still continuing to grow.  Every community (and company for that matter) experiences growing pains, and the Austin Food Community is no different.  I hope that not only will this post serve as snapshot of the community, but also as a guide of how to cultivate new members and nurture the supportive community.  

As a steward of the community, I look forward to the bright future of Austin’s Food Community as the national spotlight shines on us.  Enjoy and Happy Eating!  

*Please do keep sending me links that you think is an appropriate piece to showcase our community.  

Community Events
Friends Getting Together
Helping Others
Community Initiatives and Support

Monday, November 5, 2012

#Austin Ethnic Food Round Up - The Secret List

These aren't necessarily a list.  Rather these restaurants don't typically have a big web presence or a team of public relationships professions getting the word out.  *Secret list subject to change.  *List isn't a secret anymore.  In bigger cities like San Francisco, Houston, and New York City, there's a wealth of traditional ethnic foods in breath and depth.  Ethnic food in Austin is not always easy to find.  However, in the last decade or so, the ethnic food landscape in Austin has improved drastically.  Unfortunately, marketing and public relations for some of these ethnic restaurant isn't always a priority.  I put together this list of restaurants that either I like or have been recommended to me.  None of these restaurants have a fancy marketing plan or even a website. So here I am, giving you list of current ethnic foods in Austin. 
  • Asia Cafe  8650 Spicewood Springs Rd #115  Austin, TX 78759   (512) 331-5788
    • This restaurant has been around for a while, so you might have heard about it.
    • I have noticed lately that the level of spiciness has dropped significantly.
    • This restaurant is also BYOB. 
    • My favorite is the 759. Salt and Pepper Eggplant with Pork filling.
    • I also like 699, the Seafood Combination pot. 
  • Asiana Indian Cuisine 801 East William Cannon Dr. Austin, TX 78745
    • This restaurant isn't "pretty," but I assure you that this is one of the best Indian buffets in Austin.  The flavors are really interesting and distinct.  Weekend lunch buffet for an adult was $11.
    • The saag paneer is incredibly creamy, and the naan is perfect with it.
    • The lentil donut is fantastic.  It is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  Dip these little babies into the tandoori sauce for some fun.   Do beware of the whole peppercorns though.
    • The mango cream is also really tasty.  I only had three servings. 
  • A+A Chinese Sichuan Garden  13376 N Hwy 183 Ste 100  Austin, TX 78750   (512) 258-5445
    • I haven't eaten here yet, though a friend has recommended it many times.  She recommends mapo tofu, spicy fish fillet, the eggplant and ground beef with brown sauce stuff, and twice cooked pork.
    • Supposedly, the previous chef from Asia Cafe opened this restaurant.  The menu is pretty similar to Asia Cafe.
  • Coco's Cafe  8557 Research Boulevard  512-833-6588 and 1910 Guadalupe Street  512-236-9398
    • I used to love Coco's, but the food has been pretty inconsistent lately.  I still get the shaved ice. 
  • Curry in a Hurry  2121 W Parmer Ln  Austin, TX 78727  (512) 821-0000
    •  Two words: Thali Special.  Get it.  Thank me later.
    •  All menu items are vegetarian. You won't miss the meat.
  • Ho Ho Chinese BBQ  13000 N IH-35  Bldg 6  Austin, TX 78753  (512) 339-9088
    • My parents like this place, so it has to be passable to their high standards. 
    • I've only been here a few times, and I thought it was pretty good.  It isn't quite like Houston Chinese restaurants, but quite tasty. 
  • Michi Ramen (location pending)
    • Before they closed the trailer in hopes of a brick and mortar location, this was rumored to be amazing, authentic ramen. 
    • I had it once, and it was quite tasty, though I'm not a ramen connoisseur.  
    • Let's hope they open up another location. 
  • Milano Cafe  4601 Southwest Pkwy  Austin, TX 78735  (512) 428-6076
    • I cannot say that I'm a connoisseur of Italian food, but dang, do I love this restaurant.
    • The owners lived all over Europe, and the menu is a mash up of different European styles.
    • Get dessert.  Talk to Sami.  Tell them I sent you. 
  • Pakwan Indian Restaurant 3601 W. William Cannon Dr., Austin TX 78749 (512) 366-5204
    • I tried this restaurant twice with some friends, and I liked it.
    • I can't vouch for its authenticity.  It is a little bit more mainstream. 
    • The lunch buffet (occasional coupon on their website) is a steal at $10.  It does have a large meat selection, and the dishes are well-executed.  I would eat the lunch buffet everyday, but then I would start to waddle around. 
  • Ramen Tatsu-Ya 8557 Research Blvd. #126  Austin, TX 78758
    • I thought much about whether or not this restaurant should be put on here.  They have gained quite a bit of attention, and I was trying to focus on restaurants that didn't have a big media following. 
    • I haven't tried it yet, but many people really like their ramen.  I'll update this once I try it. 
  • Rice Bowl Cafe  (pic below) 11220 N Lamar St   Austin, TX 78758 (512) 835-8888
    • This place was recommended to me by Peter Tsai and Michelle Cheng.
    • I love the mapo tofu and the spicy fish and green onion pie here.  The Hunan chicken and Sichuan chicken are also fantastic. 
    • A knockout dish here is the three cup chicken.  It makes me glad that I'm FOB. 
  • Sichuan Garden  110 N Interstate 35 #240, Round Rock, TX (512) 238-0098
    • Michael Chu recommended this place to me.  Here's what he's recommend. 
    • E1 - House Special Crispy Chicken
      G13 - Boiled Fillet with Spicy Sauce (shuizhu yu)
      B1 - Sliced Beef & Mow with Szechuan Style (fuqi feipian)
      H2 - Lamb with Hot Cumin
    • I've only been there once for a pick up order, so I haven't really solidified my recommendations yet.
  • Swad   9515 N Lamar Blvd   Austin, TX 78753   (512) 997-7923
    • I love the samosas and the masala rice here. 
    • The menu is vegetarian, just in case you were wondering where's the meat.
    • The Thali here is great too.  I'd get it if you like to try a little bit of everything. 
  • Taste of Ethiopia   1100 Grand Ave Pkwy  Pflugerville, TX 78613  (512) 251-4053
    • This restaurant is a little gem way out in Pville. 
    • Woinee, the owner, is incredible kind and generous.  She is a wealth of knowledge, and you'll love her as much as you love the food.
    • If you like coffee, try the coffee ceremony (not just a cup of coffee).  It is about $30 for groups, and it takes about 25 minutes.  Woinee roasts the green coffee beans on the stove for this ceremony!
    • A group of friends and I went to Taste of Ethiopia for lunch on New Years Eve.  Check out the photos below. 
  • Texas Bakery 10901 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, Located in the MT Market Shopping center on the north corner. (pic below)
    • This is not really a "Texas Bakery."  There are no kolaches.  There are no giant cheesecakes.  This is really an Asian bakery in Austin, TX.
    • Asian desserts are much less sweet and less rich as compared to American style dessert.  However, the breads tend to contain eggs, and they tend to be more like a brioche. 
    • Some of the items are not as tender as I like, but they are fairly new.
    • Please keep this place open so I can enjoy my comfort food.

  • Rice Bowl Cafe

    Texas Bakery

Taste of Ethiopia

Taste of Ethiopia

More Taste of Ethiopia as the last 2011 meal.

The before.

And the after.

Green coffee beans, prior to roasting.

After roasting the beans.

Traditional coffee ceremony.

Pouring of the coffee.

Post coffee mess.