The Austin Food & Wine Alliance held their second annual Wine & Swine event on the pastoral grounds of Pioneer Farms last Sunday. The charming rural setting of the living history museum that depicts 1880's farm life in Central Texas fit the event like a vintage pig-skin glove.
Some of the 18 participating chefs spent Saturday night out on the farm, tending carefully constructed fire pits with whole hogs splayed out over glowing coals. They served up perfectly roasted pork once the mid-day crowd began to arrive. It wasn't all whole hog, of course. The prolific pork spread included: pulled pork and pork ribs; charcuterie plates with slices of homemade pork sausage, dabs of rich pate, and creamy rillettes; pork tacos and a couple of pork sandwiches on Easy Tiger breads; plus fall pork stew and porky pozole. There were even tiny cones of bacon ice cream and decadent chocolate bacon truffles. Other than side dishes of slaws, grits, and fall vegetables medleys, Royer's Pies were the only non-pork item I ran into, and they were delicious, as usual. The only non-food pig at the party was Lucchese, a life-sized hog statue that Pastry Queen Rebecca Rather brought to promote this week's opening of her new bakery/cafe, The Pink Pig (6266 Hwy 290 West, Fredericksburg).
Strategically situated among the food booths, vendors were pouring fine wines while local brewers Thirsty Planet, Hops & Grain, and Jester King dispensed craft beer and representatives from distillers Dulce Vida Tequila, Tito's Vodka, White Hat Rum, and Deep Eddy Vodka handed out custom cocktails. Live music wafted out over the grounds from a stage set up on the front porch of the General Store, providing a Roots music soundtrack for sipping, strolling, or taking hayrides around the farm property.
Greenling sponsored a People's Choice award, encouraging guests to text a vote for their favorite dishes of the afternoon. They awarded a $1,000 check to the Carillon's Josh Watkins for his glazed pork ribs paired with Cuban pork and black beans. Jason Dady of Binn555 and Two Bros. BBQ Market in San Antonio took second place with his Maple-Bourbon-glazed whole pig with Jim Beam Black and the crispy skin from the jowl of that particular pig was the best bite I had all day - truly spectacular. (Chef Dady was pleased about the award but he was thrilled to share the news that the mouthwatering barbeque photograph gracing the cover of Daniel Vaughn's The Prophets of Smoked Meats was taken at Two Bros. BBQ Market.) Third place went to Contigo chef/co-owner Andrew Wiseheart for his pork with smoked tomato and arugula.
Considering the number of participating restaurants and the lay-out of the event, food lines were never prohibitively long and there was more than enough to eat and drink. Sterling Affairs is the new event coordinator for Pioneer Farms and they deserve high praise for smoothly running the show. Some of the revenue generated by their event coordinator agreement has already been put to good use at the farm property with landscaping and infrastructure improvements. A 4,000sq foot vintage country dance hall has recently been moved to the farm for restoration. It will eventually include a bandstand and and large outdoor patio. Pioneer Farms and Sterling Affairs are also in negotiations to bring an old church to the property which should enhance its appeal as a distinctive wedding venue. For a gallery of photos from Wine & Swine shot by Chronicle contributor Kenny Pailes, look here.
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