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

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 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

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

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 is a self-proclaimed food geek, local food curator, advocate, and founder of 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 is a writer, recipe developer, and photographer. Her work has been featured on Simple Bites, Food Fanatic,, 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.

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.

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 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, the community for social media leaders at the world’s greatest brands, and, a free site that teaches word of mouth marketing.

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

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

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 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 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 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 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 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 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, 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 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 has spent almost a third of her life blogging – both professionally and for her own enjoyment. In addition to her personal lifestyle blogs at, 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 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.

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 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 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

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 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 and served as editor for “The Austin Food Blogger Alliance Cookbook.”

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 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 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 is currently the Social Marketing Manager at 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 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.

Menu for the Big Chill

big chill logo (1)


Menu is in for the Big Chill on June 26. Tickets still available here.



Chameleon Cold-Brew   The Dude- Orange White Russian


Good Pop   “Pop”tails featuring Strawberry Lemonade and Hibiscus Mint



The Carillon   Chilled Cucumber-Avocado Soup with Jumbo Lump Crab, Crisp Wonton and Yuzu-Koshu


Celtic Seafare   Irish Soda Bread with Traditional Smoked Salmon, Dill Butter and Pickled Mustard Seed


Dolce Neve   Fromage Blanc and Peaches Gelato


Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts   Shrimp Ceviche with Coconut Lime


Finn & Porter   Basil Parmesan Cannoli


NadaMoo!   Bananas for PB & Chocolate and Vanilla Cha-Cha-Chai


Noble Sandwich Co.   Bierchiken- German style sausage with ground beef, pork and studded with chunks of ham


No Va Kitchen & Bar   Grilled & Chilled Watermelon Salad with lemon, pistachios, and basil


Pleasant Storage Room   Snapper Ceviche with Lime Mayo and Tostones


The Soup Peddler Real Food & Juice Bar   Green Gazpacho with Local Cucumbers


St. Philip   Savory-  Cherry Tomato Salad – yogurt, cucumber, herb dressing, lavash

 Sweet-   S’mores Chocolate mousse, torched meringue, graham cracker


Swift’s Attic   Silver Fox Snowcone- Caramelized white chocolate, almond granita, vanilla bean sherbet, and caramelized peaches


Thai Fresh   Green Curry w/ Bastrop Cattle Company Grassfed Beef and Thai Eggplants (Simmons Family Farm)


Trace   Coffee Custard Mandarin Creme with Streusel Crunch

 Nutty Passion Fruit Cake

 Citrus and Berry Mousse Shot

So which restaurant are you most excited to try??

The Big Chill


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It’s the coolest event in the hot Texas summer: the Big Chill! Join the Austin Food Blogger Alliance for a night to remember.

Dress up and cool down with chilly bites from some of Austin’s top restaurants in the beautiful Bullock Texas State History Museum. Chefs from top Austin restaurants—including The Carillon, No Va, St. Philip, Dolce Neve, Celtic Seafare, Nada Moo, Soup Peddler, Pleasant Storage Room, Swift’s Attic, Thai Fresh, Trace at the W, and Noble Sandwich Co.—will be creating special menu items for the event, with drink stations sponsored by Good Pop and Chameleon Coffee.

Auction items from Greenling, Tecolote Farms, Finn & Porter, Twin Liquors and more!

Buy tickets here or click the logo above.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Meals on Wheels and More, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. Meals on Wheels and More has served the Austin area for 42 years, nourishing and enriching the lives of people in need through meal delivery and other programs that promote independent living.

Event information:

Buy tickets here:

Thursday, June 26 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Bullock Texas State History Museum

1800 N. Congress Ave. 
Austin, TX 78701


Must be over 21 to attend the event.

Follow along on Twitter and Instagram: #AFBABigChill


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Live Fire 2014

It’s that time of year again! Since the more intimate Austin Wine and Food Fest has gone “Hollywood” or more accurately “New York” the only smaller Austin-centric event is Live Fire. Usually it is held the Thursday before the festival but this year it will be the week before on April 17. So come out to see the city’s best heat things up.


Trader Joe’s

2014-01-14 15.28.13I hate lines. Seems like every time something new opens in Austin, the whole city goes at once. So now like Pavlov’s dogs we believe if it is really cool, we have to stand in line for it. Deep dark secret, I have never stood in the usual 9am line for Franklin’s. The first time I went was before the lines started and I’m probably one of the damn bloggers that talked about it so much you soon had to queue for the ‘cue. I apologize. I’ve had it a dozen times since then but either at a special event where lines are much shorter or one time I sent an intern. He was always sexting with his girlfriend instead of working anyway. Might as well do it while picking me up some meatopia!

2014-01-14 15.30.03Anyway, the lines a month ago were outside the new Trader Joe’s. As the city gets ready to focus its queue-mania on the new Whole Foods opening at the Domain tomorrow, I took it as an opportunity to check out the much-less-busy but still-very-shiny Trader Joe’s. My one visit prior to today was at a location in Chicago. I was already late to a conference but had to stop in to see the fabled store for myself as well as pick up a couple of bottles of the 2 buck chuck when I ran across it on the way to the hotel.

2014-01-14 15.30.21In case you are not familiar with Trader Joe’s, it is a chain of grocery stores that started in the late 60’s in California. They started dressing the employees in Hawaiian shirts and leis when Tiki fever had gripped the nation and it stuck as the Trader Joe laid back style. They are most famous for high quality, organic and fresh, especially with their in-house brand of products. Many of the Trader Joe’s brand are manufactured under super-secret contract in the same factories where the more expensive, well-known brand name goods are made. Many of the creations are their own and they are not the generic crap. The list of the top 25 Trader Joe’s products is a much anticipated list for those looking for the hottest trend to join in or copy. The Triple Ginger Snaps that tops this years list edged out the fabled Speculoos Cookie Butter that has ruled for several years. Other exotic sounding top products include the Cranberry Goat Cheese Log and the Rosemary Marcona Almonds.

2014-01-14 15.40.58Always popular on the list are the Charles Shaw line of wines launched in 2002. Its easy drinking reputation and $2 price tag soon earned it the nickname 2 Buck Chuck. While it is not a wine you will ever see aging in the cellar of your favorite wine snob, for the ridiculously low price, originally $1.99 now $2.99, you get a not-too-terrible table wine in your favorite hue. It is worth having on hand just for the next time friends drop by that might not appreciate that bottle of Northstar you have been saving for a special occasion.

2014-01-14 15.42.17As you can see from my cart, I picked up goods from each of the food groups: Fruit, Wine, Chocolate, Cheese and Butter. That is what I get for going with no list just to look around. I couldn’t help it. Everything in my basket except the bananas was a house brand at shockingly low prices. It is like shopping at Whole Foods with HEB prices. They also carry a large selection of excellent produce, meats and check out the wall of cheeses!

2014-01-14 15.33.10The current Rollingwood location is on the opposite side of Austin from me but fortunately 2 more possibly bigger stores should be opening downtown and in the Arboretum area sometime in 2014. So while I am waiting on stores to open and the lines to die down at the oyster bar at the new Whole Foods, I guess I will try to figure out which wine goes with cookie butter. I’m guessing the answer is any.

Austin Food and Wine Alliance Grant Recipients

afwalogoI was pleased to attend the AFWA grant awards ceremony at the ATT Executive Conference Center. It is a pleasure to be involved with an organization that raises money through fantastic events like Wine and Swine to invest back into our culinary community. Here are the results from the evening.

Four Local Winners Capture $25,000 in Grants for Culinary Innovation & Community Giveback Projects

Austin Food & Wine Alliance Realizes a Second Year of Success with First-of-its-Kind Grant Program, Celebrated Foodie Events & Unequaled Community Support


AUSTIN, TX (December 11, 2013) – Fueled by $25,000 in grants given today by the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, four Austin-area culinary innovators will receive funding to help realize their dreams and further propel the city’s already skyrocketing culinary scene.

The 2013 Austin Food & Wine Grant Award Winners will be announced at a ceremony tonight at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center. The grant winners areConfituras for $10,000; and $5,000 grants each for Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria, Blacklands Malt, and Skinny Lane Farm

The grants will help fund a unique food preservation project that includes oral histories and the creation of a mobile kitchen and traveling canning museum (Confituras); the first USDA-inspected salumi producer in Texas (Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria);the first locally grown and malted barley in the state, which will support craft beer production (Blacklands Malt); and an on-the-farm cooking program, the first in the Elgin area (Skinny Lane Farm).

The Alliance’s grant program is the first in the nation to provide funding to support culinary innovation that contributes to the local community and isintended tosupport chefs; farmers; wine, beer and spirit makers; artisan producers; and food-focused nonprofits based on culinary innovation and community giveback. The grants align with the AFWA’smission tofoster education, awareness and innovation in the Central Texas food and wine community.

The nonprofit received 22 grant applications and announced in September that it had reached its fundraising goals to be able to offer $25,000 in grants this year due to strong community partnerships and successful fundraising events. The AFWA annually hosts some of Austin’s most popular and successful charity culinary events including last month’s3rd Annual Wine & Swine Pig Roast and Live Fire!, a beef-centric, chef-driven tasting extravaganza held each spring as a kickoff to the Austin Food & Wine Festival. Both events routinely sell out and win praise by attendees and participating chefs.

Austin Food & Wine Alliance, formed just two years ago, now has awarded $45,000 in grants to the Central Texas culinary community with 2012 winners receiving $20,000 in grants to include funding for the first Texas apple orchard using organic practices (Argus Cidery); a program to humanely raise endangered heritage breed hogs and an initiative to provide local and organically grown CSAs to low income families (Tecolote Farms); and a documentary to teach more than 20,000 high school students about the process of raising beef in Texas from pasture to plate (Connally High School).

“We were delighted and impressed by the number and quality of applicants for the grants, and the committee had a difficult choice in selecting the four grant winners,” said Mariam Parker, the Alliance’s executive director. “We’re so appreciative of the community support we’ve received this year and that has allowed us to exceed our expectations at every turn.”

The grant recipients were chosen by the AFWA 2013 Grant Selection Committee, a private panel composed of prominent culinary and community-minded professionals. In addition to the four grant winners the selection committee specifically called out, three additional innovative projects were named as “honorable mentions” – worthy initiatives deserving recognition.

“The winning grant projects clearly demonstrate innovation and value to the community,” said Paul Barnes, Alliance president. “We are so fortunate to have the ingenuity, talent and commitment of these individuals and organizations focused on the advancement of food, wine and spirits in our community. It’s an extraordinary honor to be able to help these projects come to fruition.”

AFWA 2013 Grant Winners

    •  Confituras (Austin) – Since 2010, Stephanie McClenny’s mission has been to create the most delicious, locally sourced and responsibly produced preserves available. After numerous awards and national recognition, Stephanie will take her mission a step further and use the grant funds for a new focus for her company to incorporate the Preserving Austin Project. Her goal is to change the way Central Texas thinks about preserving; the project will preserve the local history of canning in Central Texas through education and community involvement. This will include company rebranding, oral histories, and creation of a mobile kitchen and traveling canning museum.
  •  Salt & Time Butcher Shop & Salumeria (Austin) – Opening this year in its first brick and mortar location, Salt & Time is Austin’s first whole animal butcher shop. The grant funds will be used towards gaining federal certification for Salt & Time to become the first USDA-inspected salumi producer in Texas. This certification will allow Salt & Time to expand its cured meat operation and provide wholesale, Texas-made salumi to chefs and restaurants. Salt & Time was recognized as an honorable mention for the 2012 AFWA Grant Awards.
  • Blacklands Malt, LLC (Leander) – Founder Brandon Ade is providing the first locally grown and malted barley in Texas to support the meteoric rise in craft beer production. A century ago, every brewery malted its own locally sourced grains. The drive to maximize profits and increase yields has resulted in grain producing conglomerates replacing local production. In September 2013, Blacklands Malt began the initial batch of the first locally malted barley in Texas. They will use grant funds to expand onsite storage capacity, source additional barley and hopefully bring one more regional farmer onboard as a producer. With Blacklands’ efforts, beer will soon be available made from 100% Texas grown malted barley.
  • Skinny Lane Farm (Elgin) – A boutique, family-owned vegetable farm started in Spring 2011 by Bekki Callaway and Michael Moser, Skinny Lane Farm will use grant funds to create an ‘On-the-Farm’ cooking program, the first in the Elgin area. The farm will build a teaching kitchen to prepare just-harvested produce and host educational events that encourage local food production and healthy lifestyles. Skinny Lane Farm was recognized as an honorable mention for the 2012 AFWA Grant Awards.

 AFWA 2013 Honorable Mentions

  • Dewberry Hills Farm (Lexington) – Owners Jane and Terry Levan are widely recognized for providing “really good chicken” at local farmers markets and to chefs and restaurants. Their mission is to provide Central Texas with humanely raised, antibiotic-free, pasture chickens at an affordable price. Committed to good stewardship and environmental responsibility, the Levans hope to gain funding to install a rainwater collection system that will ultimately allow them to reduce stress on their local aquifer and expand their operations while maintaining lower costs for their chickens.
  • Jester King Brewery (Austin) – An authentic farmhouse brewery committed to making artisan ales of great depth and character, Jester King Brewery fully embraces local terroir in brewing to give their beers a true sense of place. The brewery is the first in Texas and among the few on Earth to make spontaneously fermented beer. Founder/Brewer Jeffrey Stuffings hopes to gain funding to grow Jester King’s spontaneous fermentation program, which will be extremely unique and a first for the Texas Hill Country.
  • Fresh Chefs Society (Austin) – An Austin nonprofit just over a year old, Fresh Chefs Society empowers youth transitioning out of foster care to take charge of their eating lifestyles and connecting those who are interested in a career in the culinary field. Through a series of unique “iCook” cooking classes, Fresh Chefs Society provides hands-on cooking experiences and basic knowledge needed to cook independently and healthily. The organization seeks funding to expand and strengthen culinary experiences of foster youth in Texas and better meet the true need of our community.

Grant funding was generated through direct support from the Austin Food & Wine Festival,Whole Foods Market®, Becker Vineyards, FreshPoint, ABC Bank and the CultureMap Tastemaker Awards.

The Alliance is the designated beneficiary of the  Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, a three-day tribute to world-renown chefs and winemakers April 25 – 27, 2014.

For more information about the AFWA, visit, call 512.348.6847 or email Stay up to date with Austin Food & Wine Alliance happenings on Facebook and Twitter

Austin Cookie Takedown 2013

austin-cookie-2013WEBMy buddy Matt Timms is back in town this weekend and bringing us Christmas joy with a cookie takedown! For $15 come sample cookies from some of Austin’s best bakers or if you feel like baking several dozen cookies this weekend, he could probably fit in another contestant or 2. I can tell you from experience that Matt gives out killer prizes.

Here are the deets:

Austin Cookie Takedown! The Power and the Cookies!!!!!

Austin!  The 3rd leg of the Holiday Cookie Takedown tour!!!

Email Matt Timms to compete at !!!

Hey you guys because wow!  CALLING ALL COOKIE COOKS!  Make a big batch of cookies and bring it to Shangri La, December 15 2-4PM, and show Austin about how your cookies are the filthiest example of Holiday Cheer in the whole wide world!!!! Win prizes (seriously the prizes are huge- just look below at prize sponsors) and drink and fun!

EMAIL MATT TIMMS at to sign up!  I’ll send you the detes, which are simple (make a lot of cookies!)

ATTENDEES! TICKETS UP HERE!!!!!! Want to eat a bajillon cookies?  Just $15 to do exactly that and drink the finest holiday cocktailz!!!  (21+)



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Edible Austin’s Eat Local Week 2013

webbannerMarla Camp, editor of Edible Austin, is one of my favorite foodies in town. In addition to putting out an award winning food publication customized to the Austin scene, she is a fervent promoter of all things local. For the past several years, Edible Austin has hosted a week long celebration of local food artisans and farms with their Eat Local Week. Here is a highlight of the signature events this year.

Edible Austin Presents the 7th Annual Eat Drink Local Week
Benefitting Sustainable Food Center and Urban Roots
AUSTIN, TX – December 2, 2013 – This year Edible Austin’s Eat Drink Local Week will begin on Saturday, December 7 with events all week through Saturday, December 14th. We are challenging the community not only to continue to support locally sourcing restaurants but also to cook meals throughout the week made entirely from local ingredients.

Edible Austin will be at farmers markets across the city throughout the week to encourage home cooking with farm fresh seasonal ingredients. We will also be launching an online mapped guide to locally sourcing restaurants in and around Austin. We hope that introducing this guide to the community as well as to visitors in town will help support these restaurants beyond Eat Drink Local Week.

We will also present three signature events throughout Eat Drink Local Week:
An Evening with Will Allen
Sunday, December 8, 7:30 PM at Stateside at the Paramount
An inspiring talk reinforcing the value of urban farming. Following the talk will be a panel moderated by Texas Tribune’s Evan Smith and a farmers market in the theater lobby. Tickets: $35 admission, $100 VIP including a reception featuring chef-prepared tastings and beverages.
–Presented by the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, the Paramount Theatre and The Texas Tribune.
A Winter Harvest Dinner Party
Tuesday, December 10, 6:30 PM at Palm Door
A family-style dinner with live music to celebrate seasonal ingredients and encourage community gatherings around local food. Tickets: $65 includes entry and 8 course meal. Cash bar.
–Presented by Bread & Circus Supper Club and Pink Avocado.

An Advanced Screening of Farm-City, State
Thursday, December 12, 7 PM at the Blanton Museum of Art Auditorium
A film about how what a city would look like if its entire population could be fed by healthy, organic food from local farmers. Director David Barrow will lead an audience Q&A with a panel of guests after the film. Free w/ RSVP.
–Presented by Wheatsville Co-op and the Blanton Museum of Art

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