Austin Foodie Bits: September 14, 2009

AsparagusInNewsWow! This week is chock full of amazing foodie activities, from the start of Austin Restaurant Week to not one but two great events benefiting AIDS Services of Austin, great cooking classes, tea, wine tasting, and more. I’m going to keep this intro short so you can get right to the goodness. But first, a bit of adminstrivia.

Austin Foodie Bits: Now with Tagging

Thanks so much to everyone who has sent along kind words and useful comments about my weekly posts. I put this information together to be of service to the community so I appreciate any and all feedback. Some of the items listed can be as many as four posts if I find out about them early enough, which means there is often repetitive information from week to week as things move from the “Plan Ahead” section to the “Be Spontaneous” section. To help make it easier to work with the information each week, I’ve added a new feature: flags.

  • [NEW] The event is a new addition to the list.
  • [UPDATED] The event information has been updated since last week’s posting.
  • [DO GOOD] The event was far enough out to be previously listed in the “Eat Well, Do Good” section but is happening soon enough that it can be moved up into one of the top two sections. These are important events and we don’t want to lose track of them, so they’ll get their own special tag.

These little gems will let you know if or if I’ve updated the information about an existing item since last week’s posting. Eventually I’ll enlist one of my designer friends to make these nifty little graphics, but for now, use these nifty text-based tags as guideposts as you use the list to plan your foodie fun for the next month.

Be Spontaneous: This Week’s Events

  • [DO GOOD] 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?
  • [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 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.
  • [NEW] [DO GOOD] September 15: Corks for Cancer Wine Tasting for the Cure at Moonshine – This event will support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, myloma and Hodgkin’s disease from taking more lives. For a mere $15 (although you can donate more), you’ll sample wines from around the world and partake in some of Moonshine’s great food offerings. There will be a door prize drawing and a silent auction, so grab a group of friends for this event and support a good cause along the way. 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
  • [NEW] September 15: Wines of Portugal Tasting at Sampaio’s Restaurant – Learn more about the wines of Portugal and sample Brazilian cuisine from Sampaio’s all in one evening. This event will feature a discussion of Portuguese wines, a tasting, and paired food samples. This event is an excellent way to get to know the region’s food and wine. $20. 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm.
  • [NEW] September 15 and 17: Popeye’s Guide to Olive Oil Cooking Class
    – Olive Oil is a key ingredient in both cooking and entertaining, but not all olive oils are created equal. In this class you’ll learn about how terroir, style, and other factors impact how the oil tastes and its complexity. You’ll also learn how to choose an oil to cook with and one to drizzle with, along with how to invest in quality oil. The class will include wine pairings as well, making for an even more fun event. $30. 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm.
  • [NEW] September 18: d’Arenberg Winemaker Dinner at Mirabelle – Central Market, Mirabelle, and d’Arenberg winery from Australia are teaming up for a wine dinner that will feature six different win pairings as well as a display of the different cartoon art commissioned by the winery to depict each wine’s unique personality. You’ll also indulge in Mirabelle’s excellent cuisine and enjoy the company of others who appreciated good food and wine. $75. 7:00 pm.
  • [NEW] September 18: Sunset Supper & Cinema – NeverEnding Story – This week’s open-air movie at Whole Foods on Lamar is one of my childhood favorites: NeverEnding Story. The movie is free and you can purchase dinner from the extensive offerings at the market or purchase a three course themed dinner for $15. Fun for the whole family. 7:30 pm.
  • [NEW] September 18: Forgotten Gateway Series II Greek Cooking Class – The Georgantonis sisters are three of the funniest women you’ll ever meet, and they can cook up a storm. In this class celebrating Texas’ immigrant history, you’ll learn how to make keftedes, pork and chicken souvlaki, tzatziki sauce, and more, all while the sisters tell great stories about growing up in a Greek household. $55. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm.
  • [DO GOOD] 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 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 – Its 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.
  • [NEW] September 19: Risotto Workshop – Risotto is one of those dishes that everyone thinks is delicate and complex but that really isn’t. Once you’ve made a good risotto once, you can do it time and again with almost endless flavor profiles. If you’d like a bit of guidance as you tackle your first risotto, this hands-on class is a great place to start. Learn the basics then make five different risottos for a true feel for how to make the most of the blank-slate dish. $65. 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm.
  • 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.

Plan Ahead: Events in the Next 3 Weeks

  • [NEW] September 22: Shop the Season Cooking Class – Alex Duran, Malaga’s Executive Chef, takes you on whirlwind tour of shopping for seasonal ingredients and putting together an entire menu based on them. I’ve taken this class in the past and it’s not only fun, it’s chock full of useful information and techniques. Because the class is hands on you’ll making your own dinner according to recipes Chef Duran devises on the spot, and you’ll have a chance to learn a collection of techniques from him right there in the kitchen. Seating is limited so reserve now if you’re interested. $65. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm.
  • [NEW] September 25: TRIO Wine Dinner – A wine dinner at TRIO is an event every lover of food and wine should experience at least once. This latest dinner features bouillabaisse, ham and eggs, Niman Ranch pintade, Dorper lamb, and an amazing dessert that involves dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and raspberries. All of Chef Todd Duplechane’s amazing food will be expertly paired with wines selected by sommelier Mark Sayre. Seating is limited, so reserve now. Call 685-8300 for reservations. $95.
  • [NEW] September 30: Royal Fig Supper Club at Caffe Medici –Local caterer Royal Fig is hosting another great supper club, this time at Caffe Medici. The menu includes scallops with a truffled quail egg, squid ink ravioli, roast pork loin with turnip greens, and espresso panna cotta. Each course will be paired with gourmet coffees, a new twist on the art of food and drink pairing. This is upscale fall comfort food at its best. $75. 7:00 pm.
  • 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

  • [UPDATED] 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. My good friend Jodi at Tasty Touring just put together a preview of some of the Central Texas menus for this event – take gander and mark your calendar.
  • [NEW] October 8: Parkside 1st Annual Pink Party – Parkside is one of Austin’s best restaurants and they are supporting the community by hosting a fund raiser in support of the Susan G. Komen foundation. They will have pink bubbles and cockatils, lovely nibbles from Chef Shawn Cirkiel, music, and schwag bags. This event screams “Girls Night Out!” if ever one has – although I bet the guys would have a blast too. Either way, grab a group of friends and plan to support this important cause.
  • [NEW] October 21: Slow Food Austin Fund RaiserSlow Food Austin is hosting their first fund raiser and it promises to be a fun and tasty event. Learn all about raw milk cheeses from Whole Foods’ Global Cheese Buyer Cathy Strange. You’ll get to taste complimentary beers from Austin’s (512) Brewery and honey from Round Rock Honey. The lovely Barr Mansion is hosting the event, so it will be a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. For only $50 ($40 for members) you’ll learn a lot, taste some great food, and support an important cause. 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.
  • [NEW] October 21: 7th Annual Film & Food – The Austin Film Festival is hosting its yearly fundraiser in support of the Young Filmmakers Program designed to help kids ages 9-18 explore creativity and build literacy skills via filmmaking and screenwriting. A host of local restaurants including the Blemont, Eddie V’s, Jezebel, Roaring Fork, and Ranch 616 will provide great food while attendees enjoy music and bid on items in a silent auction. The Driskill is a beautiful venue and the cause is a great one, so get out your fancy clothes and come out for a fun and tasty evening. $85. 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm.


  1. Natanya — It is totally a service to the community that you compile these foodie bits every week and I know I’m not alone in looking forward to it! Thanks so much 🙂

  2. As always, thanks for all of the information! I have a calendar of your calendar on my computer now. New event: September 17th MAX’s is having an art opening show at MAX’s underground for Tra Slaughter…really cool artist from Houston.