Austin Foodie Bits: Week of January 11
It looks like we all survived the first full week of 2010 relatively intact. With the BCS Championship (Hook ‘Em!) and the cold weather, things in the food and drink world seem to still be taking their time getting going again, for which I continue to be grateful. It’s hard to stick with New Year’s resolutions when there are amazing events at every turn. To quote a good friend of mine “I have to get off of the chuck wagon”. This week continues to be a great opportunity for learning something new, whether it is in a formal cooking class or at a local wine or beer tasting. We also have the Bad to the Bone Celebrity Chef Competition coming up this week, which promises to be all kinds of fun. The first Slow Food Austin farm tour is this Saturday as well, giving all of us a chance to meet some of our regional farmers and taste their wares.
And while things are a little bit slow, I would encourage everyone who hopes to take their sweetheart out on Valentine’s Day to make dinner reservations sooner rather than later. The prime times at the best restaurants will be going quickly, and because Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday, late night reservations are even less attractive than usual. I know the big day is several weeks away, but if you wait much longer you’ll be surprised at how hard it will be to get a great reservation. So if you plan to go out, you’d best step on your reservation making. And just because I know where the path paved with good intentions really leads all of us, I’m going to keep a Valentine’s Day themed logo on this post for the next couple of weeks as a friendly reminder. You can thank me later when you’ve had a great night with your significant other.
Be Spontaneous: This Week’s Events
- January 12: The Artful Cuisine of Asti – Two of my favorite foodie fun sources – ASTI and Central Market – are joining forces for a cooking class this week which promises to be tasty and educational. Executive Chef Jason Donoho and Chef/Owner Emmett Fox are hosting this class in celebration of the Veronese exhibition at the Blanton and will share classic regional dishes like Warm Escarole, Radicchio & Fontina Salad, Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank Osso Buco with Saffron Risotto, and Panna Cotta with Caramel. Along with great food and company, each student will receive a ticket for admission to the exhibit. $70/person. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm. Reserve online, space is limited.
- January 13: Mollusks, Mudbugs, & Mardi Gras with Terry Conolan – If you think that Mardi Gras food is all about over-indulgence, think again. Chef Terry Conolan from the Lake Austin Spa will teach you how to throw a great Louisiana-style party while staying healthy. Sample a French Crayfish Boil, Oysters Mosca, Beef Tenderloin, and more. $60/person. 6:30 – 9:00 pm. Reserve online, space is limited.
- [FREE] [NEW] January 15: Chilean Wine Tastings – The folks at Twin Liquors offer tastings of different wines every Friday at select stores around town. This is a great opportunity to expand your horizons and learn about new wines. 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm. See the Twin Liquors website for specific locations.
- [DO GOOD] January 15: Bad to the Bone Celebrity Chef Competition – Stubbs Bar-B-Q is taking culinary competitions to a higher level by combining star chefs, audience text voting, and live music. Their Bad to the Bone even series launches with a competition featuring three of Texas’ youngest and most acclaimed chefs: David Bull, of Bolla at the Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas, who was named as one of Food & Wine magazine’s Top Ten Best New Chefs in 2003; Shawn Cirkiel, executive chef of Austin’s Parkside Restaurant, recently named by Bon Appetit magazine as one of the “Hot 10 New American Taverns”; and Paul Petersen, star of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters, author of Keeper of the Flame Interactive Cookbook, and former executive chef of Café Cenzio at the Gage Hotel. They will battle it out, each choosing a preferred ingredient to stump their competitors’ culinary prowess. Audience participants and a panel of noted culinary experts will sample the dishes and use live text voting to determine the winning chef. Ticket sales will benefit the Sustainable Food Center which helps more than 20,000 Central Texans access healthy, affordable and locally grown food annually. 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm.$35/person. Purchase tickets online.
- January 16: Slow Food Austin Farm Foraging Tour at Yonderway Farm – Slow Food Austin is going to help you learn more about local food sources by taking you directly to them on a series of farm tours. On this first tour you’ll visit a farm in Brenham, Texas that raises pastured pork, beef, poultry and eggs, and the entire fee for the tour will go toward samples and tastings. You won’t walk away with an empty stomach or mind. This is a great way to learn more about local farmers and enjoy a day with friends and family. 11 am – 2 pm. $25/person or $40 family. Carpool will leave from a location TBD.
- January 16: Breakfast Breads – Skip the visit to the bakery and learn how to make your own special pastries. The lesson plan includes Buttermilk Biscuits with Chambord Butter, Lemon-Glazed Chocolate Cherry Scones, Irish Soda Bread with Orange Cream Cheese Whip, and Almond Biscotti. You’ll be baking in the morning in no time. 10 am – 12:30 pm. $65/person. Reserve online.
- [FREE] [NEW] January 16: St Arnold’s Brewery Tasting – Take a taste or two of the latest offerings from one of Texas’ award-winning breweries. You’ll be able to sample St Arnold’s Winter Stout, Amber Ale, and Fancy Lawnmower brews at either (or both) the Hill Country Galleria and Hancock Center locations. 2pm – 4 pm at the Galleria, 5pm – 7pm at Hancock Center.
- [FREE] January 16: Wine 101 at the Whole Foods’ Wine Kiosk
– During this informal session in which you’ll compare and taste wines of different grape varietals, learn about specific characteristics to look for in each variety, and how to pair with foods. Ask questions and learn from Whole F1od’s wine experts. Whole Foods, Lamar. 10:30 am – 11:30 am.
- [FREE] January 16: Beer 101 at the Whole Foods’ Beer Kiosk — Beer styles and flavors are just as varied as wine and cheese. Do you know the difference between a Pilsner and a Porter, or an American Pale Ale and an India Pale Ale? This informal session is perfect for the beer-curious. 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm.
Plan Ahead: Events in the Next 3 Weeks [1/18 – 2/7]
- January 22: Couples Cook Chinese New Year Dinner (Cooking Class)
- January 23: International Wine and Food – Burgundy (Cooking Class)
- January 16: Austin Farmer’s Market moves to Republic Square Park
- [FREE] January 23: Healthy Cooking 101
- [NEW] January 25: Bobby Burns Scotch Dinners
- January 26: Kitchen Fundamentals: Classic French Sauces (Cooking Class)
- January 30: Valentine’s Cookie Decorating (Cooking Class)
- January 30: Chocolate Lover’s Workshop (Cooking Class)
- February 5-7: Wine Lover’s Trail