The fall festival season began full throttle over the weekend, undaunted by a muggy start followed by much needed rain. Saturday's inaugural AustOberFest – benefiting Foodways Texas – was a huge success, selling 500 tickets in advance, and getting plenty of walk-up business. The event showcased sausages and condiments from many Central Texas vendors complemented by German breads from Easy Tiger Bake Shop and German beers. There was bluegrass on the outdoor stage and polka music in the hall (with the Chicken Dance), and conviviality throughout. We're told expansion next year could include a craft beer component, which would be a perfect addition. Held at Saengerrunde Hall and Scholz Biergarten, the oldest food and drink venues in the city, this event demonstrated Austin hospitality history in action and is a definite keeper.
A couple of weeks back, we made it out to the Dripping With Taste Wine, Food, & Arts Festival in its new venue at Dripping Springs Ranch Park Event Center. The new spot should be a good home for the fast-growing event, especially once the parking lot and exteriors are finished. The number of wine and craft beer vendors had increased this year, but the food was still lagging behind a bit. However, organizers need to instruct most of the food vendors about the concept of food that is appropriate for a sip-and-stroll event, aka "hoof food," that can easily be eaten by folks who are walking and carrying a plate in one hand and a wine or beer in the other. A bowl of mussels or a huge chunk of chocolate cake may be your signature item, but a walk-around tasting is not the place to show it off.
Now for a lightning round of local restaurant news: Chef Kristine Kittrell advises us that her new Weather Up (1808 E. Cesar Chavez) kitchen has escaped the city permit process and is fully operational Tuesdays through Sundays from 5-11pm, offering an inviting assortment of what she calls "posh snacks"... Business is so good at the original far-Northwest Austin location of the Noble Sandwich Company (11815 RR 620 N. #4) that they have just signed a lease on a bigger space up the road at 12233 RR 620 N. The remodel of a section of the former Vivo restaurant should begin soon, and the owners hope to be settled in the new space by the beginning of 2014. Meanwhile, work continues on the midcity second outlet at 4805 Burnet Road, where they'd like to open during the holiday season... Inspired by histories of the first residents at what was formerly known as the Mansion at Judges' Hill, new owners of the campus-area boutique hotel have rechristened it the Hotel Ella (1900 Rio Grande) and expect to open the dining and drinking outlet, Goodall's Kitchen & Bar, sometime this month. Can't wait to see it.
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