Best Austin Desserts 2015

Gluten-free Flourless Chocolate Cake from Noble Sandwich Co.
Gluten-free Flourless Chocolate Cake from Noble Sandwich Co.

http://austinfoodbloggers.org/2015-city-guide-best-places-to-eat-in-austin/

Dessert in Austin used to be a boys club. There used to be very few pastry chefs. Many restaurants got their desserts off the Sysco truck and the few that did make desserts in house were led by men. But the times they are a-changin’.  As more and more restaurants open and expand to new locations, women are becoming the new face of pastry in town.

Pastry case at Noble Sandwich Co.
Pastry case at Noble Sandwich Co.

 

Noble Sandwich Co. has grown from a tiny location in far north Austin to two much larger shops now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. As much as I love their fabulous sandwiches, I have always been a fan of the eclectic pastry case. In addition to the standard bacon caramel corn and rotating cookie varieties, there is always something interesting like chocolate pate or dried fruit and nut-studded nougat. These creations are the brainchild of Lindsay O’Rourke.

Desserts from Noble Sandwich Co.
Desserts from Noble Sandwich Co.

O’Rourke graduated from culinary school here in Austin and went to post-Katrina New Orleans to hone her skills. After returning to Austin she worked at a few different places until an all-too-familiar chef story happened to her. She knew a chef who knew the chefs at Noble. Like many places, Austin has an incestuous yet friendly and supportive culinary community.

Brioche buns, bacon bread, white and rye. All made in-house at Noble Sandwich Co.
Brioche buns, bacon bread, white and rye. All made in-house at Noble Sandwich Co.

Noble was looking for someone to take over making the bread for their tasty sandwiches as well as make some cookies and other desserts. When O’Rourke got tired of making the same old chocolate chip, a batch of her triple chocolate marshmallow convinced the guys to expand their offerings. Now every trip finds something new and exciting in the pastry case.

Chocolate turtle delice macaron, huckleberry from la V
Chocolate turtle delice
macaron, huckleberry from La V

One of the hottest new restaurants in town is la V. Ladies rule the roost from management to sommelier to chef. Their highly pedigreed pastry chef is Janina O’Leary. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute she worked in New York with such legendary chefs as Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Pichet Ong. She came to Austin to be closer to family and soon became the Executive Pastry Chef at Trace at the W. O’Leary was lured away by a longing to work more with local ingredients including those grown in La V’s own gardens.

Beautiful brioche at La V.
Beautiful brioche at La V.

O’Leary’s other joy is the bread program. As restaurants are going back to having in-house pastry chef’s they are discovering one of the perks is better quality bread. Instead of the same one or two bakeries supplying all of the restaurants in town with mediocre bread, pastry teams are coming up with supple brioche, crusty rolls and hearty wheat breads to fill the bread baskets. In addition, O’Leary also offers an assortment of doughnuts, scones and hand-rolled croissants for brunch.

Goat Cheese and Red Velvet Cheesecake in a Pistachio Crust from olive and june
Goat Cheese and Red Velvet Cheesecake in a Pistachio Crust from olive and june

Erica Waksmunski has worked literally from coast to coast. From Tennessee to Chicago to San Francisco. She came to Austin via the chef’s network- she met someone who used to work for David Bull. Before she knew it she was relocating once again to be the pastry chef at Congress. Like many pastry chefs, survival means versatility and Waksmunski does savory as well as sweet. She opened a food trailer Red Star Southern famous for its hot chicken and social media personality Ol’ Shitter Jim.

Rustic loaves at olive and june.
Rustic loaves at olive and june.

But sweet came knocking on the door once again. This time as Executive Pastry Chef for parkside projects, Shawn Cirkiel’s family of restaurants that include parkside, olive and june, and coming soon- Bullfight, a tapas restaurant slated to open in the Spring. Waksmunski spends her days bouncing between restaurants supervising a team that helps her execute desserts, breads as well as handmade pastas. Evenings are back to the trailer to relieve her partner at Red Star Southern. And she could not be happier.

Handmade ravioli at olive and june.
Handmade ravioli at olive and june.

As the culinary scene changes and expands here in Austin it has been fascinating to watch the pastry scene grow. I am so glad for the fresh faces and innovative desserts. Do not forget to save room next time you go out. You will not be disappointed. And check out my fellow food bloggers posts in our 2015 AFBA City Guide.

2015 AFBA City Guide
2015 AFBA City Guide

St. Philip

DSCN2301Philip Speer, Culinary Director of the Uchi group heads up one of the hottest new ventures in town at St. Philip. I need to go back to do a more thorough review as my 1 trip so far was pre-opening. But I thought I should post my highlights as it is topping many best of lists for the year.

St Philips occupies part of the space that used to be Cannoli Joe’s which was an all-you-can-eat Italianish food. Although better than many buffet places, the pizza there was flabby and greasy. So the beautiful pies that Speer’s crew are turning out are truly tasty. We had the Wild Mushroom with Ricotta, Baby Kale, and Umami Sauce ($14) Not sure what was in the umami sauce but it is my new favorite condiment. I think it would easily make catsup its bitch.

DSCN2305Forget Chicken and Waffles and try the Churros and Chicken. I don’t think this is still on the menu but I really liked the spicy and creamy dipping sauces with the boneless chicken breast and mini churros. The menu updates often with seasonal items and the creative whims of the chef. Had to mention this one though with churros coming up as a new hot item, I really liked the creativity of the savory sweet pairing.

DSCN2294The restaurant seems small but that is most likely due to the eager anticipation that still packs the place on a nightly basis. Tables are close but great for people watching. There is also a huge bar with a long list of Texas beers and wines on tap. Yes, even many of the wines are on tap. There is also a nice porch area outside for the inevitable wait if you try to pop in. Service is friendly and attentive, even bringing us cold ice water outside on a warm day while we had a brief wait on our table.

DSCN2311Speer is still one of my favorite pastry chefs in town. Although he may not be baking on a day to day basis, you can bet he is training and guiding the crew filling the huge pastry case that has its own dedicated area. One of the main reasons I need to return is because there were only slim pickings left on our visit but we did enjoy a rootbeer snickerdoodle, a soft oatmeal cookie, and a puckery sweet lemon chess pie.

So for Uchi dining standards but with wholly new flavors check out St. Philips and see what’s new.

 

Hightower

DSCN2399I was pleased to be offered an opportunity to try the new lunch menu at the Hightower on East 7th. I always get anxious about finding parking downtown but things were off to a great start to pull up to a reasonably sized parking lot. The inside is full of warm wood and soft lighting. There is a huge, gorgeous bar and a tiny postage stamp sized kitchen. But the chef is working his magic despite the petite work area.
DSCN2374

The chicken liver pate is rich and complex. It comes with quince jam and candied peanuts for salty sweet fix that ain’t your mama’s pb&j. ($7)

DSCN2388The gnocchi with house made ricotta, Brussels sprouts greens, butternut squash puree, turnip confit, almonds and sorghum was my favorite dish of the day. The pillow soft gnocchi on the warm winter puree with bitter greens and slightly sour turnips would be especially comforting on a chilly winter day. ($12)

DSCN2391

The fried oysters with sriracha aioli, flying fish roe, sunflower sprouts and avocado oil was interesting. It is served as an open face sandwich with practically a full salad on top as well as on the side. The thin crispy bread gave a needed textural contrast to the plump oysters and pop of the fish roe but made for an extremely messy sandwich. Forge ahead as best you can with a knife and fork. It’s worth it. Owner said they were looking for a new bread source, so it might change to more traditional looking. ($12)

DSCN2414As a pastry chef, I always have to try dessert and appreciate ones that are made in house and not your typical pie-cake-ice cream. And the tiny kitchen did not disappoint with a twist on the classic buttermilk pie. A thin layer of custard is baked sans shell in a wide bowl which gave an especially chewy/crunchy texture to the edge of the “filling”. The bits sprinkled on top are toasted meringue with a pretzel crust crumble for the crunchy, salty bits you usually get from a crust. It also has a chiffonade of mint which took me a bit to decide if I liked. A personal pastry prejudice is mint on top of desserts. Less often now but frequently in the past, desserts were topped with a sprig of mint more for a pop of color than for the flavor profile. But in this case, I decided I liked the fresh green mint with the sour-sweet custard. ($5)

DSCN2393So if you are looking for a reasonably priced lunch downtown with parking (and maybe a tasty beverage or 2) check out the Hightower. They also do brunch both Saturday and Sunday with similar offerings. And thanks to the Hightower for having me in. I’ll be back with friends soon!

 

 

 

 

Snow Monster

DSCN2221Since this is Texas, we go from sweaters to shorts on a weekly basis. So frozen treats are good on warmer days or even on cold ones to reinforce the short chill. Snow Monster near Braker and North Lamar specializes in bubble teas and snow ice topped with fresh fruits, tapioca pearls, and custards.

DSCN2228Choose your ice flavor, toppings, and syrup for a unique treat that is unlike any ice cream sundae. The texture is more like fluffy snow and the flavors have an Asian twist with interesting textures. My favorite is the taro which is kind of like a purple tuber similar to sweet potato.

DSCN2218DSCN2222The shop is clean and bright with free wifi and both high and low tables for comfortable seating. A single is big enough to share but delicious enough to not.

Sip and Stroll at Central Market November 6, 2014

cmholidayguideGRAB SOME WINE AT CENTRAL MARKET’S FESTIVE “STROLL”

Preview the coming season’s offerings Nov. 6

To get in the holiday spirit, Central Market is hosting a storewide Holiday Stroll. The event serves to highlight Central Market’s holiday items and provides a generous sampling of the foods and beverages CM will be offering this holiday season.

Guests in attendance will receive a stroll bag containing a holiday guide, coupons, store map of the stroll and a unique holiday wine glass. Feast your way through sweets such as the bakery’s honey balsamic blueberry pie and sample wines from all around the world.

WHO:              Central Market North Lamar and Central Market Westgate

WHAT:            An in-store stroll featuring sampling of new and unique items of the upcoming holiday season.  Cost is $10 per person—registration information below.

WHEN:            Thursday, Nov. 6, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

WHERE:         Central Market, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78756

Central Market, 4477 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78745

Reservations:

For complete information and to register for the stroll, go to http://centralmarket.turnstilesystems.com/ProgramDetail.aspx/CHEERSTOGOODTASTETheCentralMarketHolidayStrollANL1162014

Among the treats to be offered are:

COFFEE/BEVERAGES

Almond pumpkin spiced latte

Cow Cow hot chocolate

Apple cider

SWEETS

Yves Thuries macarons

Sucre marshmallows

 

GELATO

Pumpkin spice gelato

CHEF PREPARED FOODS

Chef’s selection of roasted turkey

House made pork sausage

Kale dressing

Butternut squash and apple dressing

DELI/CHEESE

DiBruno Bros. handmade cheese spreads

Holiday Brie en croutes

WINE

Domaine des Carteresses Tavel Rose

Bosio Gavi

Numerous wine pairings at food stations

BAKERY

Honey balsamic blueberry pie

Gougeres

Pumpkin spice cookies

PRODUCE

Holiday red grapes—CM’s best of the year!

Clementines

Big Reds and Bubbles

bigredsbubbles2014If you are looking for a fancy, dress-up event to kick off the holidays, The Wine and Food Foundation throw a mean party at the Driskill every year. Some of the best restaurants in town provide tasty bites. And you get to sample dozens of the best red wines and champagne in the world. I love sitting on the porch at the Driskill, sipping on a $200 bottle of wine, looking over downtown Austin and contemplating the coming Christmas season. Cheers, ya’ll.

 

Get Carried Away

12th Annual Big Reds & Bubbles | Thursday, November 6th | The Driskill Hotel | 6:30pm

Big Reds & Bubbles features a dazzling array of some of the world’s finest champagnes, sparkling wines and “big reds.” One of the most popular Foundation events, over a dozen of Austin’s finest chefs participate, pulling out all culinary stops. Set in the historic Driskill hotel ballroom, guests will enjoy an extraordinary evening complete with live music, and an outstanding charitable raffle.

$20 of each ticket sold is tax-deductible and will be donated directly to our 2014 beneficiaries including Austin Food For Life, Sustainable Food Center, The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Viticultural Fruit Lab, and the Texas Sommelier Association. Read more about these beneficiaries.

Tickets are Now Available

Member Ticket: $100

Members- Only VIP Ticket: SOLD OUT

VIP ticket holders can enjoy exclusive wines, bites by Chef Sonya Cote of Eden East and Chef Nicole Patel of Delysia Chocolatier and lush seating throughout the evening in our Big Reds & Bubbles VIP lounge.

General Admission Ticket: $125

 

 

 

 

2014 Big Reds & Bubbles’ Wine Provided By:

Alamos Seleccion | Angelo Sassetti | Banfi | Beautiful Vineyards | Bellavista | Bersano | Bodegas Beronia | Bodegas Caro | Bodegas Cruz de Alba | Bodegas Ramón Bilbao | Bogle Winery | Brancaia | The Calling | Cascina Bruni | Cliffhanger | Condado de Haza | David Bruce | De Toren | DMZ | Domaine Baron Rothschild | Donati Family Vineyard | Emiliana Coyam |Enza | Gallo Signature Series |Gary Farrell Winery | Girard Winery | Glenelly | Gloria Ferrer | Goldschmidt Vineyards | Hahn Winery | Laetitia Vineyards | LaMarca | Le XI Terre | Los Vascos | Louis M Martini | Lucien Albrecht | Lucienne Smith | Luigi Bosca | Luigi Righetti | Lungarotti | MacMurray Estate Vineyards | Maschio dei Cavalieri | Mont Marcal | Montesel “Riva dei Fiori” Conegliano | Nadia | Numanthia | Pedernales Cellars | Petra Estate Vineyard | Pol Roger | Rombauer Vineyards | Rotari | Rudi Shultz | Ruinart | Santi | Segura Viudas | Smith & Hook | Sterling Vineyards | Tenuta Rapitala | Terra Valentine | Thelema Mountain Vineyard | Torre Migliori | Twenty Rows| Valdo | Veuve Clicquot | Wattle Creek | William Hill Estate | Zonin

2014 Big Reds & Bubbles’ Restaurants:

aRoma Italian Kitchen | Bess Bistro | Blackbird & Henry | Cafe Josie | Casa Brasil Coffee | Chavez | Con Olio | Delysia Chocolates | Dolce Neve | Driskill Grill + Café 1886 | Due Forni | Eden East + Hillside Farmacy | Finn & Porter | Jack Allen’s Kitchen | Lick Honest Ice Creams | Little Barrel and Brown | Luke River Walk | Max’s Wine Dive | Moonshine | Noble Sandwich | The Bonneville | The Scarlet Rabbit | Truluck’s | VOX Table

 

Cochon is coming, Cochon is coming!

cochonSo much going on this weekend! Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance first bloggers conference, Byte of Texas,  a fabulous sounding fundraiser for local Springdale Farms, my birthday :-) And Cochon 555 is coming to Austin. If you have not heard, Cochon 555 is an epic traveling pork battle featuring local chefs in a competition using heritage breeds of pork. Here are the deets, hope to see you there!

Heritage BBQ presented by Goose Island Beer Co. is bringing its flavor-packed, star-studded five city global BBQ tour to Austin on Sunday, September 28th. The local-food focused BBQ tour started by Brady Lowe, Founder of Cochon 555, invites five notable chefs to put their love of globally-influenced whole pig BBQ to the test in a friendly but fierce competition to promote the consumption of heritage breed pigs raised by local family farms.

This year’s competing chefs include Daniel Olivella of Barlata, Ned Elliott of Foreign & Domestic, Dustin Harvey and Paul Qui of East Side King, Justin Yu of Oxheart (Houston), and Mat Clouser & Zack Northcutt of Swift’s Attic. Each chef will be given a 200 pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. Host Executive Chef Thomas Riordan of W Austin will lead the panel of 20 respected judges in selecting Austin’s “BBQ King.”

 

In addition to the five-chef competition, the event will feature a lineup of notable Texas chefs participating in our “BBQ Traditions” series, where each chef prepares one dish from their favorite global BBQ culture. This year will kick off in a Texas-style BBQ with Felix Flores of Black Hill Meats and Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ, presented byAnakota Wines. Additionally, Heritage BBQ partner Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau is proud to sponsor Houston chef Ronnie Killen of Killen’s BBQ, who will prepare Texas-style beef ribs. Additional Houston chefs include Phillipe Gaston of Kata Robata, who will provide Japanese BBQ bites, and Jordan Asher of Dosi Restaurant + Soju Bar, who will cook up Korean-style. Guests will also enjoy Satay from James Zoller and Vietnamese-style BBQ from James Watson of TRACE, an Argentinian dish from Josh Jones of Salt & Time, a take on Lexington BBQ from Harold Marmulstein of Salty Sow and “Welcome Ribs” from Shane Stiles of Stiles Switchprovided by Berkwood Farms Berkshire Pork. To access an online directory of BBQ Traditions from around the world, click here.

Heritage BBQ is an edible education on the finest social tradition in human history. Together with local food producers, craft brewers, winemakers and prestigious distillers, the Heritage BBQ tour motivates grilling communities worldwide to support local food producers, and to break ground on a new hyper-local, globally-themed BBQ culture while celebrating National Bourbon Month.


The 450 person event features 1,400+ pounds of heritage pig. In addition to the 35+ chef-prepared global BBQ dishes, guests will also experience:

•           The Goose nest, an area featuring Goose Island Beer Co.’s beers

•           A Pop-Up Butcher Shop featuring Bryan Butler of Salt & Time, benefiting Le Cordon Bleu with the support of Williams-Sonoma

•           Special “Summer Citrus” cocktail from Four Roses Bourbon

•           Spotlight chefs from Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau including competing chef Justin Yu of Oxheart, andBBQ Traditions with Ronnie Killen of Killen’s BBQ, Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ and Felix Flores of Black Hill Meats

•           Special chef pairing with “BBQ Traditions” presented by Anakota Wines, a collection of single vineyard, single varietal, Knights Valley appellation wines from rural Sonoma County

•           Welcome Reception from W Hotel for arrivals featuring Berkwood Farms Berkshire Pork Ribs and libations featuring amazing punches

•           “Perfect Manhattan” Bourbon Bar to celebrate National Bourbon Month, featuring Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Breckenridge Bourbon, Templeton Rye, Four Roses, Glenrothes and Luxardo

•            BBQ Short-rib Bar featuring Creekstone Farms and an artisan cheese bar featuring Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese

•            Rappahannock River Oysters served raw and BBQ’d over fire with owner Travis Croxton

•           Portfolio tasting of Crispin Ciders – Official Cider of the US Tour, amazing wines and a Mezcal & Tequila Bar featuringFidencio, Mezcales de Leyenda and Dulce Vida Organic Vodka.

•           Pre-awards “Ice Cream Social” with James Beard Award Winner, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

•           An after party at TRACE featuring $5.55 food specials, Eagle Rare inspired cocktails, led by W Austin libationist, Dustin Courtright

“This is the new Q that celebrates hundreds of grilling – and smoking – traditions from around the world. We are on a mission to redefine BBQ as social eating, the act of gathering around fire, making friends and eating responsibly-raised animals. Together we work around the clock to preserve timeless family traditions from all over the globe. The bottom line is to host an event that develops the conversation of local food and heritage pigs, thus creating long-term growth, jobs on farms and better food choices for the future,” explains Brady Lowe. “We are passionate about promoting food sources that support a more natural, sustainable food system, and for the first time we are excited to announce Goose Island Beer Co. as a presenting sponsor of the Heritage BBQ series.”

“We are really excited to host Cochon 555 here at W Austin as the event is very much in line with our core food philosophies. Not only is our onsite restaurant TRACE, named for its traceability of ingredients, known for its dedication to serving food that is consciously sourced, we are also proud to be a part of the Austin food community which is rich with culinary prowess,” remarked W Austin Executive Chef Thomas Riordan. “We are thrilled to have a handful of Texas’ best chefs join us for the event and we can’t wait to taste their BBQ”

Tickets for general admission start at $100, and VIP tickets for early admission are $200. To purchase tickets, visit the website http://cochon555.com/2014-tour/austin/.

Where:                        W Austin – Official Host Venue

200 Lavaca St.

Austin, TX 78701

When:              Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014

                        4 p.m. – 8 p.m.

                        8 p.m. – 11 p.m. TRACE after party

Byte of Texas Speakers

bot_logoI am so excited about the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance first ever conference called Byte of Texas. On September 27-28 here in Austin we will be hosting bloggers from far and wide to come learn, discuss and grow ourselves and our blogs. Hope to see you there!

Here’s a description of the event:

Byte of Texas is a two-day conference dedicated to celebrating, documenting, and further developing the rich food history of Texas. Its programming is focused on three tracks: Food & Culture, Digital Communications, and Photography. Attendees will hear nationally recognized keynote speakers, enjoy meals together, connect with brands, and get hands-on experience in a variety of topics. Select conference events will be open to the public, including our lead keynote and a culinary book fair. Check out the agenda and buy tickets.

Byte of Texas is presented by the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (AFBA). AFBA seeks to support a local membership of food bloggers and the community through educational initiatives, social events, philanthropic endeavors, and by upholding a commonly shared code of ethics. For more information, visit AFBA’s website.

And here are the fabulous speakers!!

LISA FAIN
Lisa Fain is a seventh-generation Texan who currently resides in New York City. When not on the hunt for chile peppers, she writes and photographs the award-winning food blog Homesick Texan. She is also the author of The Homesick Texan Cookbook, an IACP Award finalist, and The Homesick Texan’s Family Table. Fain’s writing has appeared in Saveur and Edible Austin and on the site Serious Eats, and her photographs have been exhibited worldwide, with two in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress. An active member of Foodways Texas and the Southern Foodways Alliance, Fain is also a certified barbecue judge. Visit her at www.homesicktexan.com.

MELISSA SKORPIL
Melissa Skorpil is a commercial photographer specializing in food photography. She was the photography editor for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook, and her clients include Austin Restaurant Week, Fleishman-Hillard, Texas Olive Oil Council, and Blue Avocado. She teaches a series of popular food photography courses through Precision Camera University in Austin. Check out her work at www.skorpilphotography.com.

JEANINE DONOFRIO
Jeanine Donofrio, the voice behind Love & Lemons, loves to cook and is inspired by seasonal produce—the more colorful, the better. Since she began writing the blog in 2011, she has created all the mostly-vegetarian recipes, her husband Jack helps taste-test, and they photograph the finished products together in their South Austin kitchen. Jeanine’s goal is to inspire her readers to get creative with vegetables, whether they’re vegan, gluten-free or just love good food. In addition to writing her blog, Jeanine also writes for sites such as Food 52, Refinery29 and SELF Magazine. Love & Lemons was also named the 2014 Best Cooking Blog by Saveur Magazine.

ELIZABETH VAN HUFFEL
Elizabeth Van Huffel is a self-proclaimed food geek, local food curator, advocate, and founder of LocalSavour.com. With over 20 years of restaurant experience, working with some of the finest chefs in North America, a background in restaurant public relations, and owning a small catering company mixed with an extensive knowledge of food and wine, she is more than passionate about food.

RACHEL LAUDAN
Rachel Laudan is author of the prize-winning Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History (2013). She holds a doctorate in history and philosophy of science from University College London and lives in Austin, Texas.

AMY C. EVANS
Amy C. Evans is the lead oral historian for the Southern Foodways Alliance. Since 2002, she has documented the foodways of our region and manages an archive of more than 800 oral histories. Amy holds an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She lives in Houston, appreciates a good meringue, and can never eat too many oysters.

CHRIS PEREZ
Chris Perez is a versatile lifestyle photographer with experience shooting interiors, portraits, food and architecture for various outlets such as Apartment Therapy, The Kitchen, Refinery 29, Apartment 34, Madesmith and more. Chris is also the Founding Editor and Lead Photographer for Citygram Austin magazine – a popular mobile magazine app that connects visitors and locals to the best of Austin through its restaurant features and event guide.

MARGARET DORNBUSCH
Margaret Dornbusch is an Austin technical writer who, on the side, writes for two blogs and manages two more. She has blogged using WordPress since the days when blogs were called weblogs. Her current main blog is MadSweetWorld.

AMBER BRACEGIRDLE
Amber Bracegirdle is managing editor of Food Fanatic, and also blogs at Bluebonnets & Brownies. She started B&B as a way to connect to her Texas roots and pay homage to her grandmother, Nanny. She’s traveled all over with her Brit husband, James, and now lives in NJ with him, their baby boy, Evan, and their two giant Maine Coons, Milo and Connor. Tex-Mex is a way of life, as far as she’s concerned. Favorite foods include refried beans, breakfast tacos, and migas.

ERIC HOCHBERGER
Eric Hochberger has been doing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) since the beginning of the World Wide Web his high school internship in 1998, back when all it took was keyword stuffing to win over Altavista. Now his company, Mediavine, owns and operates sites that get over 10 million unique visitors a month thanks to SEO.

CORRIN FOSTER
Corrin Foster is an Austin-based lifestyle blogger with over 10 years experience partnering with major brands such as Electrolux, GAP, Green Giant, Spotify, and Planters and working with ad networks including Clever Girls Collective, Federated Media, and Mode Media. Her spirit animal is the gummi bear and her dog has his own hashtag. She blogs at Oh Hey What’s Up.

MEGAN MYERS
Megan Myers is a writer, recipe developer, and photographer. Her work has been featured on Simple Bites, Food Fanatic, Recipe.com, Whole Foods Market – Whole Story Blog, in Edible Austin, and Hobby Farms magazine. She is currently vice-president of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. Megan blogs at Stetted.

RACHELLE KING
At the crossroads of food & conversation, people connect, and this is where, Rachelle King, the voice behind Blinded by the Bite!™ navigates her way through a gluten-free lifestyle, sharing her experiences, recipes, failures and lessons learned along the way, hoping to make the road easier traveled for those who are new or old hat to living a gluten-free lifestyle. Rachelle writes for KitchenAid, The Daily Meal, and The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, as well as working with other brands. Rachelle is one of the original founding members of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance.

LINDSAY ROBISON
is a public relations expert and food blogger based in Austin, Texas. She works on the marketing team at Whole Foods Market, and runs the @WholeFoodsPR Twitter account.

ANDY SERNOVITZ
Andy Sernovitz teaches word of mouth marketing and social media and is the New York Times bestselling author of Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. He is CEO of SocialMedia.org, the community for social media leaders at the world’s greatest brands, and WordofMouth.org, a free site that teaches word of mouth marketing.

MEREDITH BETHUNE
is an Austin based food and travel writer who got her start as a blogger. Along the way, she has also worked as a cheesemonger, farmers’ market coordinator, and youth gardening instructor in New Orleans and New York City. She has written for Gastronomica, BUST, Bon Appetit, The Local Palate, Fodor’s, Serious Eats, Modern Farmer, and numerous Austin publications. Follow her on Twitter @meredithbethune or visit her website at meredithbethune.com.

VERONICA MEEWES
Veronica Meewes graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she studied writing, art, and sociology. She works for a local non-profit by day and moonlights as a freelance writer, specializing in food, beverage, and travel. She currently writes most regularly for Forbes Travel Guide, The Today Show, Serious Eats, Austin Monthly, Austin-American Statesman, Texas Highways, CultureMap Austin, Citygram and Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @wellfedlife and visit her blog at www.mywellfedlife.com.

ROBYN METCALFE
Robyn Metcalfe is a Visiting Scholar/Lecturer in the School of Human Ecology in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. She is also the Director of The Food Lab, an innovative project that explores the future of our food system and author of Meat, Commerce and the City: The London Food Market, 1800-1855, published in 2012.

STEPHANIE MCCLENNY
Stephanie McClenny shares her love of preserving with her small-batch jam company, Confituras. Confituras was awarded the 2011 and 2014 Local Hero Awards by the readers of Edible Austin and was also recognized nationally, winning Good Food Awards in 2011 and 2012, and 2014. Confituras offers intensive canning classes at their commercial kitchen space as well as at urban farms and shops around town and provides free demonstrations at farmers’ markets and non-profit organizations. They currently operate at 3 weekly farmers’ markets and are available at 18 locally-owned shops, farm stands, and local food delivery services across the state of Texas. Stephanie lives in beautiful South Austin with her husband and a menagerie of animals picked up along the way.

MICHELE HARAM
Michele Haram is a lifetime cheese enthusiast and American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. She is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and has been working with cheese for over 10 years as a retailer, educator, and representative. She recently joined Vermont Creamery, a B-Corp Certified producer of fine cow’s milk and goat’s milk cheeses. She pinches herself every day because her job is to travel the country extolling the virtues of artisan cheese, the value of knowing your producer, and of course, the cuteness of baby goats.

TIFFANY CUNNINGHAM
Tiffany Cunningham is currently the Administrative Assistant to the Global Cheese Buyer and Global Wine and Beer buyer at Whole Foods Market. She has worked at Whole Foods for over 7 years and has grown her passion and knowledge for all things beer, wine and cheese. She is a Certified Cheese Professional, a Level 1 Wine Sommelier and an avid beer fan.

RACHEL CHOU
Rachel Chou is the Senior Manager, Consumer Communications for the Texas Beef Council. She has worked in the public relations field for more than a decade with a diverse list of public relations experience. At the Texas Beef Council, Chou manages consumer public relations efforts including online communications, media relations and event public relations.

ADAM SALOMONE
Adam Salomone is the Associate Publisher of The Harvard Common Press, a Boston-based independent cookbook publisher. Adam oversees the company’s digital strategy across individual book/author brands, and is also involved in acquisitions, marketing and ebook development. He is a Board Member for the International Association of Culinary Professionals, a co-organizer of the first-ever conference on the present and future state of cookbook and recipe publishing, and a frequent speaker on topics of branding, marketing and cookbook development.

KATHRYN HUTCHISON
Kathryn Hutchison is the writer and photographer behind The Austin Gastronomist, an Austin-based food blog about home cooking and the Austin food community. The Austin Gastronomist has been featured on TasteSpotting, Foodpress.com and the Food News Journal’s “Best of Blogs.” Since 2011, Kathryn has led “Austin Bakes” bake sales, which have raised over $25,000 for natural disaster relief. She is also the President of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance and has served on the board of that group since 2011. An advocate for sustainable food, Kathryn works in digital strategy with a focus on increasing demand and infrastructure for local food systems.

KRISTIN SHEPPARD
Kristin Sheppard is the owner and creative director of Giant Squid Media, where she implements digital marketing, branding, SEO, and creates content for authors, small companies, and startups. Her blog Mad Betty provides a fun take on pop culture and Austin trends. A former board member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, and a SXSW and WordCamp participant, Kristin is passionate about the community that celebrates food writing, culture, and tech. She was a speaker at the inaugural Greenleaf Author Summit. Her writing has appeared in Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Austin Food Magazine, The Digital Texan, SheKnows, Small Business Digest, Advanced Ocular Care, Ostomy Wound Management, and other medical journals.

MARY HELEN LEONARD
Mary Helen Leonard has spent almost a third of her life blogging – both professionally and for her own enjoyment. In addition to her personal lifestyle blogs at MaryMakesGood.com, Mary Helen has a day job authoring the popular DIY beauty blog titled The Natural Beauty Workshop. She’s currently working on her first book, a guide to replacing commercial beauty products with simple, handmade formulations. When she’s not writing, you can find Mary Helen either in the kitchen, behind her sewing machine, or cuddling her son, Charlie.

MAGGIE PERKINS
Maggie Perkins is a writer, personal chef, and Jill-of-all-trades in support of the local culinary community. Marketing coordinator for Texas Farmers Markets and office manager for Austin Eats Food Tours, you can also find her teaching market-goers quick and healthy seasonal recipes as a monthly visiting chef at the Cedar Park and Mueller Farmers Markets in the Austin area. Maggie is a contributing writer for The Chronicle and shares her food adventures and more, with warmth and humor on her popular blog Notes From Maggie’s Farm. Stay tuned for her newest blogging adventure as she moves within, as well as beyond the food world with camera in hand, for Through the Lens of a Late Bloomer.

MICHAEL BARNES
A native Texan, Michael Barnes came to Austin in 1984 to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Texas. Since 1989, he has written about Austin’s people, places, culture and history for the American-Stateman. He served three terms as chairman on the American Theatre Critics Association and two terms on the Pulitzer Prize jury for criticism. He co-founded the Ausitn Critics Table and, in 2013, was inducted into the Austin Arts Hall of Fame. He has conducted numerous workshops and classes at Central Texas universities and won several regional and national journalism awards, including the top writing prize from the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. His column and blog are called Out & About and, most nights, that’s where you’ll find him.

MIKE SUTTER
Mike Sutter is the food journalist behind Fed Man Walking, a site featuring reviews, profiles and best-of lists covering hundreds of trailers, white-tablecoth bistros, burger joints and barbecue places in Austin. Before that, Mike was the restaurant critic for the Austin American-Statesman. His work has appeared in Austin guides for the Guardian UK, British Airways, Fiji Water and Localeur.com. Fed Man Walking has been nominated by USA Today’s “10Best” and twice by Saveur magazine as the nation’s best food travel site. Find his work at www.fedmanwalking.com.

NATANYA ANDERSON
Natanya Anderson is the Director of Social Media and Digital Strategy at Whole Foods Market. She has been working with social and new media for over a decade with a focus on both strategy and execution, helping organizations change the way they engage with their constituents. At Whole Foods she is concentrating on how an extensive local digital footprint merges with a strong brand presence to create a unique customer experience that differentiates a brand, drives loyalty, and supports the retail experience. Additionally she is leading a team that enables more than 1500 team members working on more than 800 social channels to be empowered local stewards of that shared customer experience. She blogs about loving food, drink, and living in Austin Texas at the Austin Food Lovers’ Companion. Follow her on twitter at @natanyap.

ADDIE BROYLES
Addie Broyles is the food writer for the Austin American-Statesman and co-founder of the Austin Food Blog Alliance. She writes about everything from cookbooks and recipes to farmers markets, food trends, business and culture in the Wednesday food section, where she has a weekly column and blog called Relish Austin. At home, when she’s not chasing after her two young sons, the Ozarks native and University of Missouri graduate writes about women and food at TheFeministKitchen.com and served as editor for “The Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook.”

MEGHAN MCCARRON
Meghan McCarron is the editor of Eater Austin, and her interviews and essays have appeared on Eater National, Buzzfeed, Autostraddle and Gigantic. She has also published over a dozen short stories and received a $30,000 grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation for her novel in progress.

SPIKE JONES
Spike Jones is a thought-provoking, status quo challenging communications professional specializing in word of mouth marketing. He is currently currently SVP, Managing Director for the SW Region at Edelman Digital. Spike’s background includes contributing strategic development – from insight to creative execution – of online and offline word of mouth programs for companies including: BMW, USAA, AT&T, General Motors, Chevrolet, Dagger Kayaks, Fiskars Brands, Gatorade and Best Buy.

TONI TIPTON-MARTIN
Toni Tipton-Martin is a culinary journalist and community activist who has been invited twice by First Lady Michelle Obama to the White House for her outreach to build a healthier community. Toni is the curator of a traveling exhibit, blog and upcoming book that celebrates the important legacy of African American cooks and their cookbooks entitled, The Jemima Code.

MICHELLE STINSON ROSS
Michelle Stinson Ross is currently the Social Marketing Manager at Offers.com. Not only is she the co-host of #SocialChat every Monday evening on Twitter, but Michelle is also a contributing writer for Search Engine Watch. She has been a guest blogger Social Times, aimClear, and Search Marketing Wisdom, to name a few. Her passion for social media marketing makes her a favorite conference speaker at events like Socialize Toronto, Search Marketing Expo, and Search Engine Strategies Conference. She has also been a featured guest on Webmaster Radio and several industry Hangouts on Air. In her free time she enjoys traveling, salsa dancing, and reading great books.

HILAH JOHNSON
Hilah Johnson is the host and co-producer of the online cooking show, HilahCooking, a series which aims to teach proper technique while making cooking approachable. She has also written and self-published five cookbooks in various formats that she sells through her website and through Amazon.

Cooking Planit Slide Show

I am testing a new slider for the Cooking Planit Blog. Check out some of our great recipes.

  • Mexican Beef CasseroleYour favorite flavors and textures of a Mexican meal are all built into one satisfying and delicious recipe.
  • Creamy Mac and CheeseThis recipe is rich and creamy, just what everyone loves about mac and cheese. I'd love some right now, in fact!
  • Fried ChickenCrispy and flavorful, this fried chicken recipe will not disappoint. It does take some effort to turn out unforgettable fried chicken, so enjoy the process and know the reward is worth it.
  • Chipotle Honey WingsSlightly sweet, slightly smoky, these wings are finger-licking good. Best of all, baking them makes for a more healthful version than frying.
  • ChilaquilesOh my goodness, I love this recipe. It has a lot of ingredients, but the resulting chili sauce is rich and robust, and it is so delicious served over crispy tortillas with creamy queso blanco and lime cream. Mmmmm.
Mexican Beef Casserole1 Creamy Mac and Cheese2 Fried Chicken3 Chipotle Honey Wings4 Chilaquiles5
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