Austin Foodie Bits: Week of November 9, 2009

Harvest Wine 2I feel like Thanksgiving is lurking just around the corner, waiting to pounce. With just 2 and a half weeks to go until turkey day, it probably is. And, as a good excuse to keep my attention away from menu planning and bird purchases, the food and wine events just keep rolling in. This week’s list of even includes special dinners, cooking classes, a free fennel fest, and a grand opening for a restaurant that specializes in raw food. If you’re starting to worry that the events are going to keep coming at this fast and furious pace, my crystal ball tells me that things will slow down a bit as we get closer to the holidays. Given that, I’ll be supplementing the Foodie Bits with other Austin food-related information including the scoop on options for buying your Thanksgiving dinner pre-made and ways to treat yourself this holiday season at local favorite spots like the Four Seasons.

Speaking of looking forward to the holiday season, as you start to me plans for special dinners out this holiday season, the Austin 360 2009 Dining Guide will be indispensable. Chock-full of information about local restaurants, it can be a valuable resource as you look for a new place to try or look for a location to host the perfect holiday event. Although we live in smaller market than say Houston, New York, or LA, we’re lucky to not only have great restaurants but a newspaper staff dedicated to helping us find and enjoy them.

Be Spontaneous: This Week’s Events

  • [NEW] [DO GOOD] November 8- 11: FLAVORS of Austin at Bess Bistro – If you haven’t been to Bess Bistro yet, this week is a great opportunity to give them a try. The space in the bottom of a historic building is just beautiful and the food is all kinds of tasty. The $30 prix fixe menu includes an herb salad and soup, three different meat dishes including Neiman Ranch pork loin, and a tasty-sounding rosemary goat cheese cheesecake for dessert. Before you’re inundated with turkey-related food, grab a friend (or a few) and head over to Bess. Remember, FLAVORS is a fund-raising activity as well, with proceeds benefiting the Sustainable Food Center. Call 477-BESS to reserve your table.
  • [DO GOOD] November 4- 20: Les Dames d’Escoffier Food Fight Online Charity Auction – I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that professional women leaders in food, fine beverage, and hospitality have a world-wide philanthropic organization. Eating well and doing good just go so naturally together. The local Austin chapter of this organization will be hosting their first online event –a Food Fight — that will feature auctions of all sorts of interesting food experiences, including a VIP evening at Stubbs, a customized Oscar Party, an artisan cheese getaway for two in Oregon, and a holiday cookie party. The event promises to be a fun way to support this organization while bidding on unique experiences you can’t otherwise purchase.
  • [UPDATED] November 9: Quintessa Wine Dinner at Perry’s – Perry’s is located in an old bank building on 7th street and their food is as fantastic as their space. This week they will be hosting Jim Sweeny from Quintessa Vineyards for a wine dinner created to showcase his wines and Perry’s great food. The five course dinner includes slow poached shrimp, wild boar ravioli, beef short ribs with a truffled risotto cake, bone-in ribeye, and foie gras with pear. It is sure to be an amazing dining experience with wine paired with every course. While it’s not inexpensive ($135/person), if you’re going to splurge on a special occasion sometime soon, this would be a great splurge. 7 pm – 10 pm. Call 474-6300 to reserve.
  • [UPDATED] November 10: Café Josie Wine Me Dine Me – Austin’s beloved Café Josie is hosting another wine dinner, this time in celebration of the Island Flavors of Fall. Enjoy lobster, salmon, tuna, as well as both beef and pork tenderloin. The menu rounds out with bread pudding – and who doesn’t love bread pudding? $65/person. 6 pm – 9 pm. Call 322-9226 or e-mail to reserve your spot.
  • [UPDATED] [VALUE] November 11-14: Gluten Free Week at Whole Foods Downtown – If you or someone you know eats gluten-free for any reason, you’ll want to spend some time with the folks at Whole Foods downtown this week. They are hosting a collection of events and classes, some free others at low cost, to help you find ways to enjoy eating and avoid the gluten. Take a tour of the store with gluten-free cooking in mind, enjoy a gluten-free food and wine pairing class, and take a cooking class to jump-start your next level of gluten-free cooking. Times and costs vary – see the store events page for more information.
  • [NEW] [DO GOOD] [VALUE] November 12: United Way Benefit Wine and Cocktail Tasting – The Hyatt Austin and Republic National Distribution are teaming up to give you an affordable opportunity to taste some lovely food and wine, as well as start the season of giving off right with support of the United Way. As you start to think about what libations to serve at holiday events, or even which to give as gifts, this event is an efficient way to sample a variety of options. 6 pm. $35/person at the door. RSVP to the Evite online.
  • [UPDATED] November 13: Cape Classics South African Wine Dinner with Vineyard Founder Andre Shearer – I know I’ve waxed poetic in the past about South African wines, and I’m happy to have a chance to do so again. South African wines are just amazing. You’ll experience great wine that is still available at a great price point because South Africa is still an emerging wine region. To help introduce you to South African wine, or reacquaint you if you’re a fan like me, Mirabelle is hosting a wine dinner with Andre Shearer, the founder Cape Classics, a major distributor of South African Wine. The menu includes goodness like bacon-wrapped scallops, baked snapper, veal saltimbocca, and filet mignon. You’ll taste wines from the likes of Indaba, Rustenberg, and Mulderbosch for a whirl-wind tour the terroir of South Africa. $75/person (includes tax and tip). Call 346-7900 to reserve your spot.
  • [UPDATED] November 13: The New Thanksgiving Table Cooking Class – If you’re terrified of putting a Thanksgiving dinner together, or you just want to make the whole experience a little less-hectic and more fun for the chef, Diane Morgan’s cooking class is a good place to start. In addition to sharing recipes for tasty dishes like buttermilk-brined turkey, iron-skillet succotash, and Framboise cranberry sauce, she’ll help you create a game plan for the big day that makes it an event you’ll look forward to instead of one you dread. $65. Reserve online.
  • [UPDATED] November 14: Dai Due Whole Hog Class – There’s more to a hog than just a loin and some chops, and the talented team from Dai Due will prove it to you. This class covers basic butchery, charcuterie, sausage-making, stocks, braises, curing, roasting and brining, as well as sources for humanely-raised meats, recipes, equipment and other gear for the home cook. You’ll walk away with a full stomach and head, along with suggested reading lists and nutritional information. The class is $225, but that includes a 5.5 hour event with lunch, drinks, recipes, and a seat the whole hog dinner ($75 value) the next afternoon. This is a once-a-year event and only 9 students are allowed, so if you’re interested, send e-mail to to reserve your spot.
  • [UPDATED] November 15: Dai Due Whole Hog Boucherie Dinner – If you’re not up for butchering the whole hog, but do want to enjoy the fruits of said hog, you can gather round the table at Springdale Farm to taste the bounty of the Whole Hog class. Enjoy a charcuterie board, grilled sausage, molasses-brined pork loin, white wine-braised pork belly, vegetables from the farm, and great company. BYOB. 4 pm. $75/person. E-mail to reserve your spot.
  • [UPDATED] [FREE] November 14: Beets Café Grand Opening – Beets Café is a new restaurant in Austin that focuses exclusively on raw food. Their goal is to offer an upscale dining experience combined with the benefits of raw food. They are also committed to supporting local farmers and sustainable farming practices. If you are curious about raw food, their grand opening will be a great opportunity to learn more about this approach to food preparation and to sample some of their cuisine. 10am – close.

Eat Well, Do Good

  • November 18: A Slow Taste of Tuscany Benefiting Urban Roots – You are invited to be part of a celebration across North America of Slow Food and Douglas Gayeton’s new book Slow: Life in a Tuscan Town. Join Slow Food Austin and Edible Austin in honoring the simple and superb pleasures of local, fresh food that has been prepared slowly and locally at Austin’s own Primizie Osteria. Tickets are $85 and include not only a four-course feast highlighting local ingredients, but an autographed copy of the book ($50 value), and a contribution to Urban Roots. Gratuity and taxes are separate. Reserve online at Open Table for November 18 and note “Tuscan Dinner” in the comments box. Seating is limited.
  • [NEW] November 19: Seventh Annual Big Reds and Bubbles –The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas is ringing in the holiday season with their seventh annual Big Reds & Bubbles wine and cuisine showcase at the lovely Driskill hotel. This event will feature over 50 champagnes and fine wines, plus nibbles from 20 of Austin’s top chefs. You can also participate in a unique silent auction, the perfect way to get a head start on some of your holiday shopping. Proceeds from the event will support the foundation’s many charitable activities. $90/per person ($75 for members). 6:30 pm to 9 pm.
  • [NEW] [Great Value] November 22: Austin Empty Bowl Project – As cool charity events go, the Austin Empty Bowl Project is one of the coolest. You buy a pretty and fun bowl for just $15, fill it with soup from fantastic local restaurants, and enjoy it even more knowing your money is going to support the Capital Area Food Bank’s very important Kids Café program. Imagine what it’s like to not know if you’ll be having dinner each night. The Kids Café program is trying to be sure that feeling isn’t a part of the lives of Austin children and for just $15 you can help. 11 am – 3 pm. Mexican American Cultural Center.
  • December 5-12: Eat Local Week –Eat Local Week, Edible Austin’s winter fundraiser event, is an invitation to Central Texans to explore and celebrate the abundance of local food and to raise money for Urban Roots. Eat Local Week will kick off on December 5 at the Austin Farmers’ Market with the City of Austin’s proclamation and with support from GO TEXAN and other Central Texas communities. Dine out and shop locally, attend featured events, throw a dinner or cocktail party or simply make a home-cooked meal using local foods and beverages.

Plan Ahead: Events in the Next 3 Weeks

1 Comment

  1. elizabeth bray /

    Wow!! Thank you so very much for the beautiful and enthusiastic write up.

    I know that it is a busy time of year, so we’ve selected some extra special treats for the dinner including one wine that won Editors Choice from the Wine Enthusiast, and one that hit 92 points in the Wine Spectator making it a solid 10 years in a row of 90+.

    Hopefully you will join us for this special treat on Friday!

    Thank you again for the very kind write up. It is so appreciated!

    Elizabeth Bray