Austin Foodie Bits: Labor Day 2009 Special Edition

French fries in packetI’m in shock – the highs this week are forecast to NOT be triple digits. It’s a miracle! Fall might be somewhere in sight.



We’ll see.

In celebration of the approach of fall, even if it’s still several more weeks before its sweater and boots weather, take a gander at the various festivals and outdoor events coming up. And, for those stubborn days that want to remind us it’s still hotter than blue blazes out there and we really live in Texas, stay indoors with a cooking class, a spot of tea, or a wine tasting. As we celebrate Labor Day, leave summer behind and endure the cooler weather tease that is September, there’s foodie fun for everyone (hey look – that rhymes).

Be Spontaneous: This Week’s Events

  • August 24 – September 13: Chuy’s Green Chile Festival – By now you may be a bit tired of hearing about green chiles, but, well, that’s just too bad. Although many of the Hatch-related festivities are over, Chuy’s keeps us celebrating through mid-September with special dishes like Green Chile Stew, Green Chile BBQ Chicken, and Southwestern Enchiladas. Come on, you know you wanna’ go.
  • September 1 – 30: Flemings Steak House Month of Discovery – I know, I know, Flemings is a “chain”, but they still make a darned good steak and have one of the by-the-glass lists around (100 wines to be exact), so they are worth the occasional mention. This month they are offering a host of interesting events including a revamped wine list, a new happy hour menu, and a special trio of Filet Mignon preparations with a side and dessert for $45. They are also rolling out a prime burger bar that goes beyond your basic burger to include burgers made of Filet Mignon, ahi tuna, lump crab, and Portobello mushroom. I’ve found the food and service at the Austin Flemings to be excellent, and this month is a great time to get to know them.
  • September 4: Mozzarella Cheese Demo and Wine Tasting in Georgetown – Watch the wonder that is mozzarella making and taste some lovely win from Twin Liquors. Chef Jerry Pizzitola from Kitchen Duty will share cheese knowledge and tastes while making you laugh (he was previously a stand –up comic). What could be more fun? Free. 3-6pm at the Georgetown location only.
  • September 7: Time for Lunch Potluck Eat-In with Slow Food Austin – As part of a national event to support improving the food kids eat in school, Slow Food Austin will be hosting a community potluck at Rain Lilly Farms. Bring your favorite dish to share, along with plates and utensils. As a group we can send a clear message to Congress that our national approach to school food can and must change for our children’s sake. Free. 11:00 am – 12:30 pm. RSVP to
  • 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.
  • September 13-16 and 20-23: Austin Restaurant Week – Restaurant week is the best possible way to experience some of Austin’s finest dining without breaking the bank. For $25-$35 per person you can sample the culinary talents of Austin’s best chefs and support the Sustainable Food Center and AIDS Services of Austin. Forklore on Austin 360 has a nice intro to the event if you’ve never participated and want to know more about it. Which great Austin restaurant will you try first?
  • September 13: Z’Tejas 20th Anniversary Party – The original Z’Tejas location on 6th street opened 20 years ago and they are having a big ol’ party to celebrate. For $65 you can enjoy a dinner buffet, drinks music from Ray Benson and members of Asleep at the Wheel, and a silent auction benefitting the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Call 866.598.3527 to purchase tickets.

Plan Ahead: Events in the Next 3 Weeks

  • September 15: Parkside Dining Cooking Class – Chef Shawn Cirkiel will be teaching his first (but hopefully not last) class at the Central Market Cooking School on North Lamar. He will showcase a menu that combines sophistication and accessibility with dishes like sweet potato soup with bacon marshmallow and pork jowls with polenta. I sat behind Chef Cirkiel as he participated in a class by another chef to really get the feel for what it’s like to be a student. After speaking with him, and tasting his food at Parkside, I think this will one of the best classes this month. $65. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm.
  • September 19: Tea Brunch and Afternoon Tea – A formal tea is truly a treat and is a great way for friends to take some time to slow down and reconnect, so grab a friend or two for the Tea Embassy Tea Brunch or Afternoon Tea catered by Austin Catering. $35. Seatings at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm. Call (512) 330-9991 for reservations.
  • September 19: Tailgate Wines Grand Tasting Tour – It’s football time! Whether you’re tailgating at a Longhorn game or watching the NFL with friends, there are perfect wines to pair with your grilled goodies. This extensive tasting will include 20 different wines so you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy at your next pigskin gathering. Free. 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm at the Hancock Center location.
  • September 19: 34th Street Café lounge 34 – The team behind 34th Street Café, Santa Rita Tex Mex Cantina, and Blue Star Cafeteria (one of my favorite brunch places) will host “lounge 34”, an evening of music and lovely food. The pr-fixe menu is only $24, and includes snacks, passed hors d’oeuvres, and wine cocktails. This will be an intimate yet casual affair and would be fun to attend with friends. RSVP by e-mail to or call 323.2000 for more information. 10:00 pm to midnight.
  • October 2-4: Oktoberfest in Fredericksburg – Food and drink, arts and crafts, shopping, and more, all in celebration of German culture and Fall. Take a day trip out to Fredericksburg to enjoy this annual event with friends and family. $6 for adults, $1 for children, or buy a two-day pass for $10 or a three-day pass for $15. Hours vary by day.

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 18 – 19: Austin Chocolate Festival – The event name says it all: chocolate + festival = great fun to be had by all. And, to make things better, this event benefits the Susan G. Komen For the Cure. Enjoy chocolate tastings, an amazing opening night event with cocktails by David Allen of Tipsy Texan and beer by Saint Arnold Brewing Company, roller girls, and more. Ticket prices vary per event, so visit the Web site, look around, and buy a ticket. Chocolate and good deeds are both good for the soul!
  • September 20: El Chile Café y Cantina Brunch Benefiting AIDS Services of Austin – Hot on the heels of Dining for Life is another opportunity to support ASA. El Chile will be celebrating their new downtown location with a special brunch featuring entertainment by Austin Cabaret Theatre’s Stuart Moulton. Enjoy a plentiful assortment of brunch favorites with drinks including cantaloupe margaritas, mimosas, and bloody marys. $45 for bunch and drinks or $75 for brunch, drinks, and a jar of award-wining salsa. 100% of the proceeds benefit ASA. 11:00am – 3:00 pm, 918 Congress Avenue. Purchase tickets online.
  • 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.

1 Comment

  1. tastytouring /

    Love the Austin Foodie Bits. Thank you so much for taking the time to compile, Natanya!