Diez y Seis kicks off a season of food and wine fiestas


The fall festival and charity event season is already unfolding: a nonstop whirlwind of food and wine events from now until the holidays. Here are the highlights on my personal calendar:

The El Grito de la Independencia speech will ring out at Fiesta Gardens during Austin's 34th annual Diez y Seis celebration, when the Fiestas Patrias organization commemorates the 202nd anniversary of Mexico's overthrow of Spanish rule. Guests will enjoy a lineup of great Tejano and Conjunto bands, colorful folk-dancing presentations from Ballet Folklorico, plus plenty of festival food, family-friendly activities, and craft booths this Saturday-Sunday, Sept. 15-16.

The St. Elias Mediterranean Festival is Austin's longest established ethnic food and music festival. Church families have been busy for weeks preparing food for the sumptuous banquet of Mediterranean culinary specialties that will be for sale at the party, alongside beer and wine, kids' activities, and an Orthodox bazaar. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes, because folk dancing to live music is a must at this venerable event. Now in its 80th year, the festival takes place Sept. 28-29, 6-11pm on Friday and – new this year – noon-11pm on Saturday, with free admission noon-4pm.

The Texas Craft Brewers Festival returns to Fiesta Gardens on Saturday, Oct. 6, as more than 30 Texas craft breweries present around 100 of their finest brews. Local food and nonalcoholic beverages will be available, as well as beer appreciation and beer and food pairing seminars. Thinking about all that beer reminds me that we need to find a new beer blogger since our Lee Nichols will soon be totally absorbed by work at the approaching Texas legislative session. If you're qualified, email me at

The lakeside grounds at Laguna Gloria make one of the loveliest venues for outdoor sip-and-stroll parties. This year's La Dolce Vita fundraiser for AMOA will create a Lago di Como experience with excellent food, wine, and big band music under the stars, Thursday, Oct. 11.

Central Texas communities from Walburg to Fredericksburg and beyond celebrate their German heritage with Oktoberfest events. Around Austin, we can expect great parties at North by Northwest Restaurant & Brewery, the Ginger Man, and the Draught House Pub, among others.

The annual Austin Film Festival commences with the gala Film & Food Party in the historic Driskill Hotel, showcasing Austin's appreciation for innovative filmmaking and creative cuisine. Homegrown auteur Robert Rodriguez is chairman of the party this year, which raises money for AFF's Young Filmmakers Program on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Although Dia de los Muertos falls after Halloween, Mexic-Arte Museum's Viva la Vida celebration takes place on Oct. 20, with special art exhibits at the museum enhanced by a street party complete with a parade, costumes, street food booths, and live music.

Spending a beautiful fall Saturday in the cookbook tent at last year's Texas Book Festival was a milestone for me; it was my first public outing after months of frightening health problems, and it renewed my spirit for covering our local food scene. This year, I'm planning to cheer on Texas chefs Jesse Griffiths and Hugo Ortega as they present their first cookbooks at the fest. And yes, I'm still determined to appear at the festival with a book of my own in the next few years!

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Diez y Seis, St. Elias Mediterranean Festival, Texas Craft Brewers Festival, La Dolce Vita, Austin Film Festival, Viva la Vida, Texas Book Festival, beer blog, Lee Nichols, Robert Rodriguez, AFF Young Filmmakers Program, Mexic-Arte, Jesse Griffiths, Hugo Ortega, Fiesta Gardens, AMOA, Texas Book Festival 2012

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