Daily Food
Sunday Fair
The final event of the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival is a shebang called "Sunday Fair", which takes place on the last day of the Festival. Last year it was staged at a big, shady park in Georgetown; this year it was held at the Vineyard at The Salt Lick in Spicewood. I think it always MUST be held outside of Austin, because it must be held in a big field where multiple enormous tents can be put up, and there has to be ample parking for thousands. I went to Sunday Fair with fellow food writer Ann Guidry and her baby Sam. The weather was PERFECT: In the low seventies and breezy and sunny. So perfect, in fact, that I believe attendance was greater than anticipated. The event was MOBBED! The Vineyard at the Salt Lick was not as nice as the park in Georgetown; there was no shade at all, and one could not sit on the ground because it had recently rained and the ground was muddy. (So muddy that hay had to be distributed to prevent some areas from becoming enormous mires.) There was a prohibition on bringing in collapsible chairs, so essentially, once you got there you were sentenced to be on your feet for the duration.

1:03PM Thu. May 7, 2009, Kate Thornberry Read More | Comment »

The Taste of Parkside
Chef Shawn Cirkiel at Parkside invited the Blogitariat down to his place for a Food Blogger Happy Hour to showcase an 8-course tasting menu. I have read about Parkside (particularly M.M. Pack’s Review, which interested me greatly) and I knew it’s general location, but I have never been. Based on the tastes of their menu I enjoyed tonight, Parkside completely lives up to the hype; this place is a real contender. The concept of the restaurant is one of simplicity: like a white plate, the bare-bones decor and airy basic-ness of the rooms serves to put the emphasis on the food itself. Even the descriptions of the “tastes” (”fluke, lemon, almonds”) were so simple that I wasn’t sure whether I was going to taste one thing, or three. I gather that the regular menu is also strangely plain in style. But, on to the tastes! First we sampled “Fluke, lemon, almonds”. It came in a little ceramic spoon, and it was very mild, simple, and delicious. Next, Crab Balls. These were served with fresh herbs, Greek oregano and tarragon, and a remoulade sauce. I very much liked the Crab Balls, mainly because they had an interesting texture: the outer fried shell was chewy, and the inside rather airy, which made a delightful contrast.

10:47PM Thu. Apr. 23, 2009, Kate Thornberry Read More | Comment »

Stonehouse Vineyard Luncheon
Every year as part of the Texas Hill Country Food and Wine Festival, area vineyards host Luncheons that feature local celebrity chefs and Texas wines. So far, I would have to say that the Vineyard Luncheons are the most enjoyable part of the Food and WIne Festival; the food is incredible (chefs like to cook for an appreciative crowd, I think) and the settings are spectacular (Hill Country Vineyards in April, at the height of the wildflower season). The price for these luncheons is absurdly low in my opinion ($65); you would pay more for just the wine in a restaurant setting. I chose this year to go to the Stonehouse Vineyard Luncheon, largely because I really like Angela Moench, the lady who owns the vineyard, and I adore their Scheming Beagle Port. Angela won my everlasting admiration the day I met her, at a wine tasting event, when she informed me with a basilisk eye that other vineyards might try to salvage a bad year's grapes by fortifying the juice with added sugar and making "port" out of it, but that Stonehouse Vineyard's Port was made PROPERLY. I am the World's biggest Proponent of making things PROPERLY. My enthusiasm for doing things PROPERLY has no bounds. I knew immediately that despite our obvious differences, Angela and I were sisters under the skin.

12:09AM Wed. Apr. 22, 2009, Kate Thornberry Read More | Comment »

Weekend Market Visit Makes Me Even More Grateful For Rain This Week
A huge crowd showed up for Toyota's Taste of the Market event at the Downtown Farmers' Market on a blustery Saturday morning. Shoppers (and dog walkers) were amply rewarded with tasty tidbits while they strolled. An impressive line-up of local chefs was paired with area farmers and livestock producers in order to provide samples of delicious locally-sourced food items to the enthusiastic crowd. I was only there a couple of hours and I managed to sample FINO's rustic Spanish Tortilla topped with a slice of pork sausage from Peach Creek Farm, La Condesa's fish tacos with grouper from San Miguel Seafood, an earthy rabbit and bacon terrine from Dai Due made with rabbit from Countryside Farm and pork from Richardson Farms,a dainty square of Fete Accompli's Mediterranean Fritatta made with vegetables from Milagro Farm, and Lambert's spicy grilled pizza topped with Loncito's Lamb.

Toyota developed the Taste of the Market promotion that debuted in Austin last weekend as a venue to introduce consumers to the new Venza. They did plenty of advance promotion, paid chefs and growers to participate, and made a $5,000 donation to the Sustainable Food Center that runs the market. The successful event moves on to two popular farmers' markets in California this coming weekend. Toyota does seem to be everywhere just now - they also signed on as a sponsor for Bravo's Top Chef and awarded free Venzas to a semi-finalist in each of the last two seasons. I'm not suggesting we all rush out and buy a new Toyota, but I do find it very interesting that a major automobile manufacturer has identified enlightened foodies as a segment of the consumer market worth cultivating, and I'm always glad to see area farmers and food producers get the support they so richly deserve. Oh, and I am very grateful that we all got some rain.

10:32AM Thu. Mar. 12, 2009, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

Another On-Site Sales Bill for Brewers
Another bill has been filed at the Texas Legislature that would allow breweries to sell their product on-site, as wineries are already allowed to do. This one is by Houston State Rep. Jessica Farrar; it appears to be more limited than Lon Burnam's bill. Read it about it on my personal blog.

7:05PM Wed. Mar. 11, 2009, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Win a Kegerator From Saint Arnold!
Do you have a camera? Can you operate it while buzzed? Then our favorite Houston brewery, Saint Arnold, has a challenge for Austinites: Join their Austin Scavenger Hunt Pub Crawl and you might win a kegerator! Participants must bounce from one Austin tavern to another, snapping pics of yourself with objects designated in the rules. Click on the link for full instructions. And get on it – the deadline to submit your pictures is Feb. 22.

4:15PM Fri. Feb. 13, 2009, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

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Last Minute Valentine's suggestions
This time last year, I was up to my eyeballs in delicious local chocolates and suffering serious sugar shock while our photographer John Anderson and foodstylist MM Pack set up all the mouthwatering photos. This year, I received a few tasty Valentine's treats and plenty of information about local offerings that are worth sharing. If you still haven't made those Valentine's Day reservations or purchased just the right gift for your Sweet Baboo - here are some ideas that might just help you avert romantic disaster this weekend.

* My favorite candy treats this year are the Chocolate Caramel Hearts from the candy island at Whole Foods Markets. Little caramels dipped in milk and dark chocolate - very yummy.

* Those wacky guys at Mangia Pizza have been selling heart-shaped pizzas for twenty years now and this is their busiest week of the year. Don't let that stop you - a heart-shaped deep dish Mangia pizza, some salads, and a browine could be the perfect way to say "I Love You."

* A romantic movie feast could be just the answer for your Valentine's date. All three Alamo Drafthouse theaters still have seats available for wonderful films with enticing multi-course feasts designed to complement them.
Alamo at the Ritz: Casablanca Feast see the full menu at www.originalalamo.com/Show.aspx?id=6098
Alamo Village: Romeo + Juliet Feast www.originalalammo.com/Show.aspx?id=6097
Alamo South Lamar: Annie Hall Feast - Two screenings with Lobsters!!! www.originalalamo.com/Show.aspx?id=6096

* What about a scoop of Paciugo gelato for your beloved? The little shop at West 2nd and Lavaca features the following special flavors for Valentine's Day: Strawberry Rose, Rose Chocolate Chip, Amarena Black Cherry Swirl, and Berry White - white chocolate gelato with an intense raspberry swirl.

* Impress your significant other with a great meal at home without getting the kitchen dirty or breaking a sweat. Drop by Lee's Meat Market(1601 W. 38th, 467-6700) and choose from one of four prepared meals in the price range of $22.95- $29.95 per person. Take it home, heat it up, and get lucky!

* Need a new way to express your feelings this year? The talented young ladies at Sweet Tempered (4301 W. Wm. Cannon, 892-9100;www.sweettemperedaustin.com) have a line of decorated heart-shaped sugar cookies with snappy messages for $2 each.

* Celebrate Valentine's Day with tea and chocolate at the Tea Embassy (900 Rio Grande, 330-9991;www.teatreasures.com) where they're offering free tea and chocolate tastings this weekend. Friday and Saturday, February 13th & 14th, 10am-6pm

Keep an eye on this space for more ideas tomorrow!

12:02PM Wed. Feb. 11, 2009, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

I Am So Grateful for Rain!
After months of debilitating, extraordinary drought, we've finally seen some rain in Austin this week. And true to my statement at the first of the year - I am very grateful and saying so to anyone who will listen, several times a day. Say it with me now, "We are so grateful for rain and would love some more!"

11:49AM Wed. Feb. 11, 2009, Virginia B. Wood Read More | Comment »

Where's the Summer Sausage Blimp?!
I won't lie, while the Arizona Cardinals make history against the Pittsburgh Steelers this weekend, I'll be going a little crazy. Everybody knows about the annual License to Crunk on Super Bowl Sunday. While for some it's whiskey and pharmaceuticals, for me it's about a midmorning nosedive off the wagon for the junk-in-the-trunk nosh I've been deprived of all year. CPR may happen at my house, but it won't involve the cops. I'll be laying the foundations for this clearly American innovation early Saturday, so that Sunday morning I can get that Bacon Explosion on before the corn syrup, carageenan, guar gum, refined sugar, and fatty carbs disable my grilling skills. Those aren't sausage girders you see there, but don't worry, the Twinkie walls are strung with bacon to keep the Doritos from littering the field. Don't even talk to me about Monday morning.

3:20AM Fri. Jan. 30, 2009, Anne Harris Read More | Comment »

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