Reserve your copy now and attend a VIP launch party on March 1 at 7:30pm at Uchiko 4200 N. Lamar Blvd.
Last year I made Bacon Pecan Toffee. This year, the TECHmunch conference has been extended for 3 full days, so I am not sure if I will have the time/energy to participate but I am experimenting with a new porky dessert. I made bacon sticky buns last weekend but they were not up to the high standards of last years competition. I will update with more information as I get it.
Spring is coming! How do I know? The schedule is up for the THCW&FF! (I love a long acronym.) Lots of great events, my favorite is always the grand Stars Across at the Long Center. The Sunday Fair wasat the beautiful grounds at the Salt Lick in Spicewood but has also been plagued with mud the last couple of years. This year should be interesting at the stunning new Mexican American Cultural Center in downtown Austin.
The schedule is up! What a coup for Austin snagging the 2011 IACP conference. Culinary luminaries include Diana Kennedy, Jacques Pepin, Amanda Hesser, Dorie Greenspan, John Besh, Stephen Pyles, Tom Perini, as well as plenty of our own stars from central Texas like Tyson Cole. I cannot wait!
Now this sounds like fun. How I wish there had been a culinary program at my high school. There actually is a great program at my old alma mater, Travis High (Go Rebels )There is also a new program at Connally High which is headed up by an old high school buddy of mine Chef Mike Erickson. He has put together this amazing contest complete with celebrity judges and terrific prizes for the students. The first round is this Saturday January 29, 2011 at Connally High 13212 N Lamar Bl. from 12-2. Chef Mike will also be at Taste of Austin pimping cupcakes. Save me some chocolate/chocolate!
One of my favorite foodie events in Austin is back at the Palmer Events Center on 1/27. Use discount code “EBTOA” for 20% off early bird tickets. General admission tickets (regularly $25) are available for $20
and reserved seating tickets (regularly $35) are currently available for $28
on their website at www.tasteofaustin.org.
Next stop on the cocktail train was a mixology class sponsored by Hendricks gin. It was all very mysterious. I saw an add online for a Hendricks class at a secret location. I submitted my info and within 24 hours, I got the invite and the location was revealed to be Kenichi on 4th and Colorado. I had heard about the great happy hour at Kenichi, so I headed straight over from work to try some of the offerings before class began. There is a huge assortment of rolls, appetizers, and even main courses discounted from 5-7. The crowd of trendy downtowners and better than average sushi are definitely a draw. The place was packed by 7pm. I tried the wild boar potstickers as well as a couple of the rolls. If you do not mind crowds or parking hassles, it really is a good deal on the happy hour.
After we sampled some drinks made with Hendricks gin at the bar, we convened in a backroom outfitted with a full bartenders set up at each of our seats. The entertaining presentation included details of how Hendricks is made in small batches in two different kinds of stills for a gin that has a pleasant hint of cucumber and roses. We also learned to make 3 kinds of gimmlets. As you can imagine, we were a pretty rowdy bunch by the end. I stuck around afterwards to try some of the passed appetizers including a lovely little lamb chop.
Final cocktail party was at the Wine and Food Foundation’s Big Reds and Bubbles at the Driskill. I received an invitation to pour a couple of days prior. I think my blood was probably about 60 proof after the week long festivities I had been indulging in but I knew I had to attend this and I was so glad I did. I ended up pouring for the distributor that carries Penfolds and they brought out the big dogs. The RWT shiraz received the following review from Wine Spectator- 93 points ”Rich, ripe and focused, with a lovely purity to the blackberry, dark plum and sweet spice flavors, playing against bittersweet chocolate notes on the long, expressive finish. Best from 2010 through 2020.” And the fabled Grange, also from Wine Spectator- 98 points Wine Spectator: “Smooth and seductive, this delivers a full-throated chorus of currant, plum, blackberry and spice flavors, hinting at coffee and cardamom as the finish floats and sails easily over a bed of polished, refined tannins. A touch of black olive balances nicely against it all. Beautifully structured, expressive and very long. Best from 2012 through 2025.” The RWT retails around $100 a bottle and the Grange goes for $500.
This is officially the most expensive bottle of wine I have ever had. It was at the same time complex and smooth. Peppery, like you would expect from a shiraz but with a beautiful background of dark fruit and a finish that I am still tasting. I ended the evening with a gorgeous plate of petit fours from Tony Sansalone, pastry chef at the Driskill, and a small glass of the Grange sitting on the balcony overlooking 6th street. What a magical Austin moment.
So dive into cocktail season in Austin. You will not regret it!
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, will be in Austin next week for Edible Austin’s Eat Local Week. Click to purchase tickets for what is sure to be a wonderful evening on December 10. Or RSVP herefor a free taping Saturday morning December 11 at KLRU studios taping of Overheard with Pollan and Evan Smith.
As the weather gets colder, Austin turns from the outdoor festival mecca to the indoor cocktail soiree. I kicked the season off with a bang last week doing 4 parties in 1 week. That may seem like a long weekend to some but it was a wonderfully exhausting tour of some of the best in town for me.
First up was the Amuse Bouche party at the Carillon. Josh Watkins and his team came up with 8 delicious bites paired with matching wines. The guests were free to nibble and socialize between the stations and revisit their favorites as often as they liked. My favorite was the lobster rillette with caviar and curry aioli but other bites included duck confit ravioli with duck consomme, grilled bronzino with chorizo, charred tomato and corn, and hamachi with foie gras mousse, citrus riesling chutney, and currant reduction.
The service was impeccable with each station attendant giving not only great descriptions of the food but also the wines and why they were chosen to pair. Unsightly dirty plates were quickly whisked away and fresh real silver readied for the next bite. The best and the brightest stars in the Austin food scene were there as well making for a delightful evening of food related chatter. The regular tables were all full as well as a private party going on upstairs but the kitchen cranked out small batches continually ensuring a fresh taste. I hope they put on another show like this soon!
Next up was a fundraiser for the Sustainable Food Center which is a marvelous organization that promotes eating locally and runs one of the biggest farmers markets in the area. When I saw the chefs list for the dinner, I immediately bought a ticket. Seven of the best in town in one meal! The dinner was held at La Condesa with a pre-dinner cocktail party upstairs at Malverde. We even had mixologist rock stars including local legend Bill Norris.
Hors d’oeuvres from Zack Northcutt at Mulberry included Richardson’s farm pork sausage wrapped around quail eggs for a delicious scotch egg and foie gras hot dogs with chutney. The spices used for the hot dog masked any of the delicate flavor of the foie but I appreciated the creative effort.
After munchies and cocktails upstairs, we were seated downstairs in a family style setting. I was seated at a booth with a couple of very interesting ladies that I enjoyed getting to know as the best in local produce and meats were showcased for us by the finest chefs in town. First up was Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club. Get on Griffiths’ mailing list for dinners as well as charcuterie offerings at the farmers market. The catfish terrine he made for the dinner that night came from fish so local that they probably had relatives swimming just blocks from us. The fish was neither muddy tasting nor overpowering in this creamy concoction. Fresh herbs and crunchy flatbread dressed up the common catfish.
Todd Duplechan from Trio was up next with gulf shrimp served on top of bear boudin. Cajun boudin is basically a sausage casing stuffed with a rice dressing similar to dirty rice. Crawfish, alligator, and pork are more traditionally used as the protein in a boudin, so the bear meat was a nice riff on the classic. The taste of bear meat depends on age, size, and even what his diet consisted of but most closely tastes to me like a cross between venison and pork.
Rene Ortiz, our host at La Condesa, did not disappoint with one of the best bites in a stellar night with caramelized pork hock and belly, beetroot and chili marmelade, and watermelon radish and basil salad. The pork was a meltingly tender blend of meat and fat encased in the thinnest crackle of a perfectly caramelized shell. A spicy marmelade on top played off the sweet sauce beneath to strike a harmonic chord on the tongue.
James Holmes from Olivia served an absolute work of art with crispy braised lamb topped with bison bresaola with mustard tuile. Bresaola is an air dried salty meat, so gourmet jerky bits on top of chicken fried lamb. Delicious! Somehow I have not found my way to Olivia yet. But I will very, very soon. Holmes even joined us at our table after his course and we chatted about his use of offal and other cuts of meat not commonly used like his famous lamb’s tongue.
Paul Qui from Uchiko has to be the hottest thing in town with the very successful launch of Uchiko in July as well as his wildly popular trailer East Side Kings located behind Liberty Bar. He is kind of Austin’s version of David Chang taking Asian flavors and street food to a new level. Tonight we had quail with fuyu persimmons, fried cashew miso, and marigold. The delicate quail was cooked to perfection, only a shade past pink so it was still moist and tender. Sweet persimmon on top with the crunchy fried cashew miso beneath blend to create contrast of taste and texture.
Shawn Cirkiel from parkside served a salad course with the best produce he could find at the farmers market. There were ribbons of roots, veggie chips, table pickles, relishes, as well as fresh herbs and greens all arranged in an abstract canvas. So much more than a simple salad, this veggie plate was an absolute showcase of produce all grown within fifty miles of Austin.
Dessert came from La Condesa’s Laura Sawicki with goat’s milk cremeux, apple and quince confit, and sherry gastrique. Cremeux translates literally as “creamy”. It is a cross between a mousse and a custard, very light. The tart quince contrasted nicely with the apples giving a taste of fall to the barely set cream beneath.
Whew! I’m worn out just reliving the festivities. Next up is part two with a mixology class and a $500 bottle of wine.
Hope to see all my fellow foodies on Saturday!