Austin Foodie Bits: Week of August 17, 2009

French fries in packetIt’s not officially the end of summer for yet another month or so, and lord knows it’s too hot to be even thinking about fall, but with school starting around town in just a week, it seems like we’re saying good-bye to summer much to quickly. But, before summer goes, there’s time to celebrate the great Hatch Chile and watch a few more outdoor movies. There are wine events a plenty, ranging from beginner classes to region-focused events. As we continue to struggle with the heat, I’m happy to report that many of these events are inside where we can all keep cool as we enjoy our epicurean delights.

Be Spontaneous: This Week’s Events

  • August 17: Top Ten Costal Tapas Cooking Class – Terry Conlan from the Lake Austin Spa is a master at making healthy food taste amazing. He’s also a great teacher and his cooking classes are a treat for the taste buds as well as the mind. In this class at the Central Market Cooking School Terry will show you how to make 10 tasty tapas that you’ll never guess are really good for you. There are few better ways to spend a Monday night. $70. Reservations required online.
  • August 18: Texas Wine Tasting at House Wine – House Wine is a literally a house where you can have wine, and it’s truly a lovely little place just off the beaten path behind P. Terry’s off of South Lamar. The owners have converted a house into a wine bar and you can enjoy a glass or a bottle of wine in one of the house’s three rooms. This week they are having tasting of Texas wines for a mere $10. You’ll taste six wines and have some cheese and cracker nibbles along the way. If you’re not sure where to start with Texas wines, are looking to taste some Texas wines, or just want to have a bit of fun with some friends early on a Tuesday evening, this is a good bet. 7:30 pm.
  • August 19: FINO Chef’s Table Suckling Pig Dinner – FINO picks back up with their chef’s table series in August and September, starting with a pig dinner paired with Basque Txakoli wine. Sit around the inimate communal table in the relaxed environs of FINO and enjoy chef Jason Donaho’s excellent cooking while making some new friends. $45. Call 474-2905 for reservations and more information.
  • August 19: Wine 101 at Twin Liquors – If you’ve always wanted to have a bit of formal training in wine appreciation, the nice and very knowledgeable folks at Twin Liquors can help you out. During this free class you’ll learn about major wine styles and how to find your favorite, as well as some tips on how to purchase wine for different occasions. RSVP to reservations@twinliquors.com to secure your spot in the class.
  • August 19: Chocolate Cupcakes and Wine Tasting – Cupcakes are a pretty big deal around town these days, and the same House Wine that is offering a $10 Texas tasting on Tuesday, will help you find the perfect wine pairings for chocolate cupcakes for just $3 more ($13). Try three cupcakes paired with three wines and learn how to pair unexpected foods like chocolate cupcakes with wine. You may find a combination you can serve at your next party. 6 pm – 8 pm.
  • August 20: Central Market Hatch Chile Recipe Contest Deadline – As part of the Hatch fever that crops up in Texas this time of year, Central Market is hosting its 3rd Annual No-Holds Barred Hatch Chile Pepper Recipe Contest. The deadline for submissions is noon (CST) on August 20, so cook up your favorite Hatch chile recipe and enter it for a chance to win a $100 gift card and a year’s supply of chiles. I have a couple of recipes up my sleeve, what about you?
  • August 21: Va Piano Wine Dinner at TRIO – Mark Sayr, TRIO’s Sommelier extraordinaire, will be introducing his private label wine, created in partnership with Va Piano’s winemaker Justin Wiley, at this special wine dinner. Be one of the first to taste Mark’s new wine paired with Chef Todd’s incredible food, and learn more about all of the wines from Mark and Justin. I’ll be there and I’d love you to join me. $95, 6:30pm. Call 685-8300 to make reservations.
  • August 21-23 and 28-30: Central Market’s Hatch Chile Festival – Texans are crazy for chiles from a little tiny town in New Mexico called Hatch. Having grown up close to Hatch and experienced the joy of picking, roasting, and eating their chiles, I completely understand the craze. Hatch chiles are spicy yet sweet and bring a warmth and distinct flavor to just about any type of dish, from burgers to risotto to apple cobbler. Central Market goes all out to celebrate the Hatch harvest with tastings, recipes, and a cook-off. Make some time in the next couple of weeks to stop by Central Market to get your Hatch on.
  • August 21: Whole Foods Sunset Supper and Cinema Dirty Dancing – Watch this fun summer movie on the roof-top of the Lamar Whole Foods with friends and family while enjoying some of their most excellent food and wine. The movie is free and you can opt to purchase a three-course menu for $15 or purchase your own combination of food and beverages from their usual collection of great fare.
  • August 22: Whole Foods Back to School Bash – As the kids get ready to go back to school, the subject of school lunches comes back to the forefront for many parents. It’s quite the conundrum: how to create healthy lunches that keep during the day that the kids will actually eat. Take a break from shopping during the tax-free weekend to get ideas for how to re-think your school lunch options. Bring the kids along too. The more they are involved in the process, the better the chance that they will not only eat what’s in their lunch, but make healthy choices throughout the school year. All day. Free.
  • August 22 and 29: Fall Creek Vineyards 20th Annual Grape Stomp & Harvest Festival – Ed and Susan Auler, the proprietors of Fall Creek Vineyards, are just good people, and it shows in everything they do. If you’ve never been to Fall Creek and want to visit, or you’re a big fan just longing for a reason to go back, the harvest festival is the perfect time to make your way out to Tow, Texas. You’ll enjoy winery tours, great food from local chefs, live music, and the chance to stomp your own grapes! Ticket prices vary by event, so be sure to visit the event information page to find the event that is right for you.
  • August 23: Sushi 101 Cooking Class – Tim Thomas from Origami Sushi teaches hands-on classes at Central Market at least once a month and having taken his classes twice, I can personally recommend them. Tim is a great teacher and very funny. He makes sushi completely accessible and teaches you everything you need to know to roll your own at home. There are only a few seats left, so reserve your spot today. $70. 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm.

Plan Ahead: Events in the Next 3 Weeks

  • August 25: The Art of Wine and Food Pairing – The Texas Wine and Food Foundation is offering a course in conjunction with III Forks and sommeliers Devon Broglie and Craig Collins with the express goal of demystifying the task of pairing food and wine. If you’ve often wondered how to be sure you pick just the right wine for the menu you’ve worked so hard to prepare, or even how to prepare a menu to go with your favorite wine, this class looks to be a great way to get the knowledge you need. The menu for the class sports crab, duck, steak, and boar, so you know the food will be great. At $45 for the food, wine, and education, this is a great deal. RSVP required online.
  • August 26 and September 9: Grapevine University Northern Italy and Bordeaux – Grapevine Market is one of Austin’s best kept secrets. They regularly hold “Grapevine University” sessions that help students get to know a particularly wine region a little better. The next two classes focus on two of the more complex regions – Northern Italy and Bordeaux – and are a great resource for anyone looking to increase their regional wine knowledge. At $15 each, these are steal. 7 pm – 8 pm. Register online.
  • August 28: Date Night Spain Cooking Class – Looking for a new way to spend a date night that isn’t the same ol’ dinner and a show? How about taking a couples cooking class at Whole Foods. You’ll still get dinner, but the show will be your teamwork as you prepare a tasty meal inspired by Spain. Fry up some olives, stuff some dates, rub a steak, and whip up some pudding. When you’re done, who knows what kind of romantic mood you’ll have sparked. $145 per couple. 6:30 – 9:00 pm.
  • August 29: Sugar Mama’s 1st Birthday Celebration – Sugar Mama’s is my absolute favorite cupcake spot in town and I discovered at a recent foodie event that the owner Olivia and I are kindred spirits which makes me love her cupcakes even more. I’m very excited that she’ll be celebrating her first anniversary with all sorts of free food, drinks and fun activities for kids of every age. Stop by to wish this Austin gem a happy birthday and sample the various goodies. 3 pm – 7 pm.
  • August 29: Revealing Your True Iron Chef Cooking Class – Okay, this just sounds like all kinds of fun and I’d be there in a heartbeat if I didn’t have tickets to Wicked already. In this class you’ll work with a team of your classmates to plan and cook a menu based on a secret ingredient. You’ll have the help of a Whole Foods culinary center instructor and your work will be judged at the end of the night. The class ends with a much-deserved glass of wine and a tasting of all the food made by both teams. Come on, channel your inner Iron Chef – you know you want to. $65. 6 pm – 9 pm.
  • August 30: Austin Hot Sauce Festival – There’s just something about hot sauce that screams “Texas”. I’m sure there are other states that can say the same, but I but they can’t say it as loud as we can. What better way to celebrate one of our most important cultural elements than to get together with about fifteen thousand other Texans (plus assorted guests and visitors) and taste some of the spicy stuff. Individuals, restaurants, and commercial producers will all battle for the title of best sauce. There will be live entertainment and lots of activities, so plan to join the fun. If you’re so inclined, you can even enter the contest yourself (see the website for more details). This event benefits the Capitol Area Foodbank of Texas and admission is free with a donation of three non-perishable items. 11am-5:30pm. Waterloo Park.
  • September 2: FINO Chef’s Table Paella – The FINO chef’s table series continues with a focus on paella. You’ll taste a collection of paella recipes found around Spain and to get a good understanding of the different executions of the dish. $55. Call 474-2905 for reservations and more information.
  • September 7: Dessert University Cooking Class – Roland Mesnier was the pastry chef at the White House for 25 years and during this Central Market cooking class you’ll get a chance to learn from him. I’ve taken a class with him previously and highly recommend him, not only because he has some great stories to tell, but because he’s an excellent instructor who knows how to make his White House-caliber recipes work for home cook. His class is a real treat. $70. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm.
  • September 12: Dripping with Taste Wine and Food Festival – Take a short jaunt out to Dripping Springs to taste wines from a collection of Texas vineyards including Becker, Bell Mountain, Driftwood, and Fall Creek along with nibbles from some of Texas’ best food purveyors. With the Texas harvest season in full swing, this is the perfect time to celebrate the goodness of our local wine industry. Advance tickets are $25 which includes entrance to the fair, tastes of four wines, food demonstrations, and more. You can also buy additional wine tastes for $1 each but be sure to bring your designated driver along as well. 12 pm – 7 pm.

Eat Well, Do Good

  • September 14 – 15: AIDS Services of Austin Dining for Life – In mid-September, restaurants around Austin will be donating portions of their proceeds to AIDS Services of Austin. The fund raising goal this year is $30,000, and all you have to do to help is go out to eat at one of the participating restaurants. Yep, it’s that easy. Enjoy a great dinner at one of Austin’s best restaurants and you’ll be supporting a very important local charity. You can also donate directly to the program, or even volunteer to be a Dinner Captain and get as many of your friends as possible to join you for a meal. I know, what a terribly difficult thing to do.
  • September 28 – October 2: GO TEXAN Restaurant Round-Up – Texas restaurants bring to the dining table a vast array of culinary styles and flavor profiles. You can stay within the bounds of the state, and very often your county, and have myriad dining experiences that celebrate the talents and harvests of our great state. This fall, Texas will celebrate those restaurants that are committed to serving great local ingredients and pouring Texas wines during the Restaurant Round-Up. When you dine at a participating restaurants around the state you’ll not only have an opportunity to taste the best of Texas, but in many cases you’ll be supporting local food banks like Austin’s own Capital Area Food Bank. And, as if dining on great food from our great state to support critical charities isn’t enough, the event includes a whole passel of giveaways you can register to win by completing a very short survey that will help the GO TEXAN staff better serve the interests of our state’s diners an restaurants.

Recent Good Eats

The very nice folks at Gumbo’s hosted the local food bloggers last week to taste some of the best items on their menu paired with some adult beverages. I particularly enjoyed the crab cake with chipotle aioli and jicama slaw. The cake was full of sweet crab with just enough binder to hold it together. The slightly spicy aioli is a nice contrast to the sweet crab and the crunch of the jicama compliments the creamy cake. The Redfish Francine was a fantastic fish execution. The blackened fish was perfectly spiced and the creamy tarragon sauce with crawfish tails brought a nice balance to the entire dish. We ended the evening with a South Louisiana Bread Pudding in a whiskey sauce accompanied by vanilla ice cream. While I’d call this dish more of a spice cake than a traditional bread pudding, it was still very tasty and was a lovely finish for the evening. I plan to put full reviews of my dishes up on Dishola in the coming week or so. You can also read more about the event and other food bloggers’ take on Gumbos over on Eating in a Box, Tasty Touring, and Maggie’s Austin. We had our tasting at the downtown Gumbo’s location but they will be opening another location in Westlake this fall.

3 Comments

  1. Kathy Warren /

    Looking forward to that wine dinner at Trio! Love the new brand your building post-relaunch of your blog.
    xoxo kw

  2. Alex (of Powered) organized some folks to go that Coastal Tapas class. I would’ve liked to gone, but I have volleyball commitments on Mondays. Jade is representing my household though, so I’ll be sure to make her to teach me anything she learns. :-)

  3. Have I told you yet how much I love this feature you’re doing? It’s such a great roundup – and I know it’s a ton of work!