Flavors of April
Friday-Sunday, April 27-29 – Auditorium Shores and Republic Square Park
www.austinfoodandwinefestival.com (Weekender two-day general admission, $250;
VIP customized schedule w/opening event and special parking, $850)
Having been involved with the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food festival for many years, I'm very curious to see how the new Austin Food & Wine Festival shapes up. I'm especially excited about the Texas-centric kickoff event Friday night at Republic Square, featuring Austin favorites like David Bull, Paul Qui, Tyson Cole, and Bryce Gilmore, as well as outstanding chefs such as Monica Pope (T'afia, Houston); Jason Dady (Jason Dady Restaurants, San Antonio); Tim Bryes (Smoke, Dallas); and Andrew Weissman (Sandbar, Il Sogno Osteria, San Antonio). Alas, this is a VIP event, and unless you dish out the $850 for the VIP ticket, you'll miss out on what looks to me like the best event of the weekend (aside from Thursday's Live Fire).
Saturday and Sunday will feature a grand tasting in two blocks of 1 hr., 45 mins. each, alternating with a Food Network-heavy lineup of celebrities and key local talent presenting a variety of seminars. Unfortunately, some of the most appealing are happening concurrently, requiring tough choices to be made. On Saturday at 10am, I'll likely watch Morimoto's sushi demo; at 2pm it's either Tyson Cole representing Austin with a hands-on sushi roll demo, Marcus Samuelsson cooking soul food and Ethiopian chicken recipes, or easy-on-the-eyes Mark Oldman extolling the joys of Rosé. At 3:30, it's either Global Street Foods with Andrew Zimmern (Moroccan goat kidney kabobs, anyone?) or a tequila mixology talk with Jim Meehan and Nate Wales. Sunday at 11am is tough: Josh Wesson's "Come to Cheeses" wine and beer pairing, a sommelier panel on Texas wines, or Hair of the Dog cocktails with Jim Meehan? I'll finish the festival with Jonathan Waxman cooking fish at 12:30pm. I am very much looking forward to the weekend's festivities.