Pasta Paisanos Support Lilith Fund, Texas French Bread Bakes Back Better, Desert Door Gets WILD Again, There’s Deep-Fried Charcuterie at the Texas State Fair, and More

All the news that’s fit to get your taste buds quivering

Here's some of what's happening in Austin's culinary scene, as wrangled from numerous PR releases, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings.

Yes, citizen, it’s your “Food News Buffet” for the third week of August, wherein the final days of voting for the Best of Austin: Restaurants are upon us. Who, we wonder, are your favorites?

L’Oca d’Oro owners Fiore Tedesco and Adam Orman are launching a dinner series called Pasta Paisanos to benefit nonprofit Lilith Fund. “When [Senate Bill] 8 passed in the fall of 2021 and increased Texas' restrictions on abortion access, L'Oca d'Oro was in the beginning stages of reopening from the pandemic,” say the two culinary paladins. “We were frustrated that we couldn't have a more aggressive response and that the business community in Texas stayed largely silent. This year is different. We're inviting our Pasta Paisanos from near and far to cook with us every month to support reproductive rights.” Pasta Paisanos will be hosted on the first Tuesday of each month beginning in September, with at least 50% of sales from each dinner benefiting Lilith Fund. The first dinner (Tue., Sept. 6) will feature New Waterloo’s acclaimed Amanda Rockman as guest chef…

Texas French Bread is back in both Texas Farmers’ Market locations (2006 Philomena in Mueller and 11200 Lakeline Mall in Cedar Park), as Murph Willcott and his bready champions recover – slowly, loaf by loaf and pastry by pastry – from the fire that destroyed their longtime building on the Drag this past January. They’re currently working out of the Prep ATX ghost kitchen and plan to open a food truck at 2900 Rio Grande this fall…

Desert Door Texas Sotol (currently finishing up their hard-fought margarita competition) has announced this year’s WILD outdoor dining experience at Spoke Hollow Ranch out in Wimberley. This wildernessy soiree (Fri.-Sat., Sept. 23-24), will feature a hunter/gatherer feast curated by Lynn Miller & Mike Diaz of Oseyo and Finn Walter of the Nicolett – as well as mixologists Kate House of Emmer & Rye, Caitlin Miller of the Nicolett, and more – and there’ll be guided astronomy tours, campfire stories, and other activities under the stars to celebrate the fall equinox. It’s gorgeous out there as the sun sets, and of course the eats will be as delicious as the sotol itself, and tickets – which support the nonprofit Wild Spirit Wild Places initiative – are going fast

And Naomi Seifter’s Picnik, another local restaurant known for seasonal produce and ethically sourced meats, has opened their third location (1600 S. First #110), a colorful all-day space for presenting their eclectic, made-from-scratch menu. That whole stretch of South First, with Maaribu and 1417 French Bistro and Elizabeth Street Cafe – to say nothing of Fresa’s, Lenoir, La Pâtisserie, Bouldin Creek Cafe, and all the rest farther along – it’s perfect for a sort of daylong foodie crawl, isn’t it? Especially when the weather’s a little less harsh…

Yes, there's deep-fried charcuterie from Nevins Concessions at the State Fair of Texas this year

Locals who are enchanted with the charcuterie boards from, say, Antonelli’s, Casero, Cultured Grazing Co., et al., will be either thrilled or horrified (or maybe horrillified) to know that the State Fair of Texas (Sept. 30-Oct. 23) will have a fried charcuterie option (by Tami Nevins-Mayes & Josey Mayes) among its many, ah, delights this year. That’s mozzarella, salami, and green apples wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried, then topped with goat cheese and hot honey. Whoa, daaaamn. And, yes, citizen – we know you call these particular edible displays shark coochie; it might be time to stop.

OK, the happy hours at Opal Divine’s (2200 S. I-35) can’t possibly be the city’s best happy hours, can they? With all the fierce competition for every Austinite’s boozin’-and-relaxin’ buck going on, relentlessly, night after night, in this money-riddled metrop? We can neither confirm nor deny that rumor, but, because the popular place that Michael Parker built is offering half-off full pours of single malt whiskeys, Mon.-Fri., 3-4pm; and half-price appetizers (that you can nom while sipping at $5 house margaritas), Mon.-Fri., 4-7pm; and hosting Craft Beer Nights every Tuesday (wherein all pints usually $7 or less are just $4), open to close – well, our mouths are too happily full to comment further…

Now here’s a company called Tivity, which is “about connecting chefs with people who want good food; who want to entertain; and who don’t have time to make it all happen. At the core, Tivity is an outlet for chefs to create one-of-a-kind menus, cook delicious food, be hospitable, and earn income.” And, especially since they’ve name-dropped Suerte and Uchi by way of establishing legitimacy – that’s pretty impressive, right? – we figured to give our readers a heads-up

Shuckfest at Hotel Vegas this Friday night

Ah, let’s see, what else? Austin Oyster Co. is staging a sumptuous spectacle called Shuckfest at Hotel Vegas this Friday… chef Dante Hill at Swoop House is like, “Never mind the official nonsense, we’re gonna celebrate International Bacon Day two weeks early”… Emmer & Rye’s Yasss Queen Ice Cream Social will, as if paradoxically, make this Sunday less and more of a drag… this Monday, Good Work Austin and Black Star Co-op are hosting a discussion on the future of the local service industry… and let’s note once more that the annual Quesoff is on its way

WUXTRY! Remember that cocktail showdown at Hotel Zaza (400 Lavaca) a couple of weeks ago? Where seven bartenders from all over town competed to see who could make the best Tiki-style cocktail? The winner was ZaZa’s own Demetrius Thomas, who conjured up the aptly named Heat Wave, based on Bombay Sapphire gin. Note: While our own favorite was the refreshalicious Three Hour Tour that Clive Bar’s Jake Finley built with Santa Teresa 1796, we thoroughly enjoyed that Heat Wave and will swear on a stack of Mr. Bostons that the boozy poolside brawl wasn’t rigged in favor of the hosting venue. See right here for the full (complicated af) Heat Wave recipe

Now eat as well as you can, tip like it’s going out of style, and please stay h-y-d-r-a-t-e-d.

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