Austin Foodie Bits: Week of November 16, 2009

dishola_ad_square3Turkey day is almost here. Are you read? Or are you in denial and ready to find some way to keep distracting yourself in lieu of planning for the big day? If distraction is what you’re looking for, you’ll find plenty of options in this week’s food and wine events. Cooking classes, a Gourmet magazine memorial feast, and cupcake and wine tasting are all on tap to grab your attention.

Before I jump into the list for this week, I’d like to let you know about a really great way to do something good for someone in need without even leaving your chair. If you’ve had a great, good, or even not so great dish at a restaurant in the last few months or so, and you’re willing to write a few words about your experience between now and November 30, Dishola will donate a dish of food to Meals on Wheels and More in your honor. For just a few minutes of your time spent reviewing a single dish (not even a complete meal) you can help be sure the elderly, working poor, and children are better fed this holiday season.

I am a HUGE fan of Dishola and post all of my restaurant-related reviews on their site. I like the focus on a single dish because I’m often on the hunt for a specific dish when selecting a restaurant, or when I dine, one dish really stands out out for me. It’s also much easier to write a review of a single dish than an entire dining experience. I’m so excited to know that the collection of reviews I’ve built up over the last few months to submit will help feed those in need. So please, take just a few minutes to share your experience with a particular dish at any restaurant in any town, so we can help them donate 1,000 meals. And while you’re on the site, look me up and become my tablemate. The more the merrier!

And now, on to the list.

Be Spontaneous: This Week’s Events

  • [NEW] [VALUE] November 15 – 18: FLAVORS of Austin at Get Sum Dim Sum – Get Sum Dim Sum is a cool little spot on North Lamar near 45th street that occupies an old Panda Chinese fast-food location, and they have improved on the previous offering one thousand fold. The menu includes all sorts of nibbles and bites that you can mix and match to your heart’s desire. And while the food isn’t necessarily authentic Sunday afternoon dim sum, it’s still a nice change of pace, and frankly, lots of fun. This week they are participating in FLAVORS of Austin so you can stop into try their fare. The menu includes small and large bento boxes that will give you a nice survey of their menu, while still keeping the tab under $20.
  • [UPDATED] November 17: Gnocchi Workshop – Gnocchi are a great alternative to pasta and they also boast the benefits of being inexpensive and easy to prepare at home (with a little practice). You can infuse them with all sorts of savory flavors and top them with just about any sauce. In this class at the Whole Foods culinary center you’ll learn the ins and outs of making your own gnocchi from potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, and ricotta so you’ll be well-prepared to devise your own gnocchi creations at home. 6:30 pm – 9pm. $65. Reserve online.
  • [UPDATED] November 17: Wines for Turkey – Not sure how to pair wine with your Thanksgiving meal? You can wait for my post on the subject later this week or even better, read my post and take this class so you’ll be fully-armed with the information you need to select the right wines for your table. Central Market Westgate. 7:00 pm. $30. Reserve online.
  • [NEW] November 18: FINO Chef’s Table Gourmet Magazine Memorial Feast
    – The great and venerable Gourmet magazine is no more. In celebration and remembrance of a publication that has contributed so much to America’s culinary culture, join Owner Emmett Fox, Chefs Jason Donoho, Andrew MacArthur & Andrea Bearce as they share stories, recipes and inspirations from Gourmet Magazine. $65 with an optional $25 wine pairing. 6:30 pm. Call 474-2905 to reserve.
  • [UPDATED] November 19 and 20: Alaskan King Crab Fest – It’s Alaskan King Crab season and what better time to learn how to prepare this fantastic food so you truly do it justice. Scott Loranc is a seafood expert, fantastic chef, and great teacher, and he brings all of those traits to the classroom to make you more confident in the kitchen. The class is offered on two different nights to fit your schedule. If you are a connoisseur of King Crab and want to know how to cook it at home, this class is for you. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm. $70. Reserve online.
  • [UPDATED] November 19: Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner Cooking Class – If you are sharing Thanksgiving with a vegan or are a vegan contemplating your Thanksgiving menu, this class at Whole Foods is a good place to start. You’ll learn how to craft a menu from seasonal flavors that you can recreate at home on the big day. 6:30 – 9:00 pm. $65. Reserve online.
  • [NEW] [GREAT VALUE] [DO GOOD] November 21: Cupcakes and Wine Benefiting Capital Area Food Bank – House Wine and the Cupcake Bar are at it again: pairing cupcakes and wine for a new taste experience that also benefits a local charity. At this tasting you can try three different fall cupcakes featuring flavors like sweet potato, cranberry-vanilla, and chocolate-pecan. Pair them with your choice of wine from a collection that includes Bogle 2007 Chardonnay, Louis Perdrier Sparkling Rose, and 2008 Wrongo Dongo Monastrell. Proceeds benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. 8pm – 10 pm. $13 or $10 + 3 canned goods. RSVP to the eVite.
  • [UPDATED] November 23: Holiday Appetizers to Go Cooking Class – This Whole Foods cooking class offers an almost irresistible opportunity: learn to cook four great appetizers and make enough to have on hand to serve before your big Thanksgiving meal. You’ll make pecan and goat cheese marbles, camembert and caraway spread with pita points, spicy crab dip with rice crackers, and phyllo-wrapped Moroccan-spiced lamb to amaze your guests and break away from the same ol’, same ol’.

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.
  • 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.
  • [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.
  • [NEW] [VALUE] November 23: Movember Benefit at Parkside – Mosaic wine group and Parkside restaurant are teaming up to support the Movemeber movement, a month-long project that raises money to fight prostate and testicular cancer. Movember participants spend the whole month growing mustaches and soliciting support from friends and family for their efforts. At this event, you can enjoy wine from Mosaic, Parkside’s most excellent food, and live music, all for $25 per person. Even if you can’t attend the benefit, consider donating money to the cause as it is an important one. 7pm – 10 pm. Buy tickets online.
  • 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. Hey, thanks for mentioning the events benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank!
    Readers may also want to know about the FIRST-EVER Austin Empty Bowl Project Preview Party this Saturday:

    Austin Empty Bowl Preview Party
    Saturday, November 21
    6 – 9 p.m.
    Mexican American Cultural Center
    600 River St., Austin, TX
    All you expect from Austin Empty Bowl Project, except the lines!

    Hors d’oeuvres, gourmet bread
    Sample five gourmet soups
    Beer, wine, desserts
    Select your very own empty bowl!
    Live music by Susan Gibson
    Door prizes
    Silent auction

    Tickets: $75
    Purchase tickets at

    Thanks again!
    Kerri Qunell
    VP, Communications
    Capital Area Food Bank