Looks like tomatoes on top of a mini nacho but that is watermelon. Slow cooked pork on top of goat cheese with pepitas and a spicy piquant watermelon sauce was Gariddo’s little bite at Taste of Austin last night. It was crunchy and creamy with a touch of heat and the slightly sweet notes from the watermelon. I was all set to name this the best bite of the night. http://www.garridosaustin.com/menu/
And then I tried this. Green chile mac from Moonshine. Grilled chicken, corn relish, and a green chile cream. Warm, spicy, creamy comfort in a cup with a sweet crunch of corn. I loved them both and declare a tie. http://www.moonshinegrill.com/menus.php
I had a great time at Taste of Austin last night at the Palmer Events Center last night. Around 50 restaurants participated in this scholarship fundraiser. It is a fun way to try both new restaurants and old favorites in one location as well as socializing with your fellow foodies.
I have been debating since last night if I should also post the worst bites at the event. There was a crunchy risotto, bland bangers and mash, and a cold, mushy stuffed mushroom from a place that was advertising their catering services. Serving from a small booth at a tasting event is a far different animal than serving from your own kitchen so I am inclined to cut some slack to those that showed poorly but if you are there to plug your catering services, you need to figure out how to serve a hot hors douvres. I have decided to hold my tongue for now. A restaurant deserves a fair review over several visits, especially if you are going to publish something negative. But please, veal osso bucco should not taste like it has barbecue sauce on it. You know who you are.
Back to the good! One of my favorite cookie places in town is Kevin’s Cookies. http://www.kevinscookies.com/ Trey and his adorable wife Jen run this little operation. They now only have a location south, so I don’t make it over there much but Trey sends out a great newsletter that makes me feel like part of the family. Last night they had half a dozen different varieties of their delicious cookies. Crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle, and full of chips, nuts, etc. My favorite last night was probably the white chocolate chip. And I hate white “chocolate”. I believe the darker the chocolate, the better. But these gems were delicious.
Spec’s had a booth and I <3 Spec’s! http://www.specsonline.com/ Very knowledgeable wine staff, great prices on wine and liquor, and a decent assortment of gourmet goodies. Some of the stores have a bigger selection than others. I frequent the one at Arbor Walk which also has a deli case but I hadn’t gotten around to trying it yet. I am pretty picky about my sandwiches, so when I got the sample from them, I thought, “Turkey on white, just another sandwich.” But it was really good. Fresh bread with very flavorful turkey. If they do that well on a little sample for the masses, I will be trying them in store soon.
I recently had Craigo’s pizza for the first time and was impressed. http://www.craigospizzaandpasta.com/ Last night they were serving pasta. There was an ok lasagna that had a little too much fennel for my tastes but they also had a spinach ziti that I believe was vegetarian and it was yummy.
One of the most exotic offerings came from Frank, the “purveyor of artisan sausage” at Fourth and Colorado. http://www.hotdogscoldbeer.com/ That is tony talk for $7 hot dog. Last night they were offering the Jackelope- antelope and rabbit sausage with a huckleberry compote, siracha aioli, and applewood smoked cheese. Good, different, innovative- yes. Worth $7 a hot dog? Not so sure but I was intrigued enough to want to at least check out the happy hour sometime soon.
There was a classmate of mine from culinary school passing out little bundt cakes from franchise outfit Nothing Bundt Cakes. http://www.nothingbundtcakes.com/index.php For something ever so slightly different from a cupcake, these cute little cakes were moist and rich with a bit of cream cheesy icing.
There were a few places I did not get to try because the lines were way too long. I tasted the sushi from Piranha Killer Sushi at La Dolce Vita this year and really liked it but the line only got longer last night as the evening wore on. What is really frustrating is when you see a full tray of food at the head of the line and people obliviously standing there and grazing like there aren’t 50 people behind them in line. Move it, people!!!!!
Taste of Austin is usually my first big foodie event of the year. It signals the beginning of my favorite time in Austin, spring means festival season! Before you know it, Austin Restaurant Week http://restaurantweekaustin.com/ will be here. Then my personal favorite, Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Fest! http://www.texaswineandfood.org/ You can buy discounted tickets for the Sunday Fair now for $25 (reg $45) through this link. http://twff.frontgatesolutions.com/choose.php?b=1&lid=39935&eid=46543 Price good only till February 1.