Austin Foodie Bits: Week of February 22

How exactly is it the end of February with March, and South by Southwest, looming upon us? It was a beautiful weekend, with the weather reminding us all why we live in beautiful Austin, Texas. But, as another reminder of the reality of living in Texas, there’s a threat of snow on Tuesday. Wait, what?

As SXSW and Spring Break find their way onto our month-at-a-glance calendars, food and wine events continue to ramp up. From fantastic regional tastings to cooking classes and the Chef Showdown, there’s much foodie fun to be had. Before you dive into the smorgasbord of events, I’d like to throw in two shameless plugs for projects of my own:

  • The upcoming re-launch of Fete & Feast: As I mentioned in my Bad to the Bone giveaway post, I’m hard at work redesigning my blog and creating a new space devoted entirely to Austin Food and Wine. Look for the new site and section next Monday, March 1, and between now and then, send me your best vibes as I work through the myriad details associated with relocating and redesigning my blog.
  • The Food Bloggers’ Guide to Austin: I’ve asked a handful of my fellow food bloggers to join me in the creation of a unique guide to good eats and drinks on Austin. As bloggers we spend a lot of time investigating food and wine in Austin, and I’d like to harness our combined experiences to bring you a unique view of eating and drinking here in Austin. We’ll have the guide ready just in time for SXSW and would appreciate your support in spreading the word about it once it’s live.
  • TECHMuch Food Blogger event at SXSW: I’ve been lucky enough to assist and in the creation of a first-ever food blogger workshop created for food bloggers by food bloggers. The goal of this half-day event is to gather food bloggers together for shared learning and idea exchange. If you are an Austin-based food blogger or a food blogger who will be visiting during SXSW, please consider joining us for this fun and enriching event.

And now, on with the events. Almost everything this week is new, so take a few extra minutes to see what great things are in store for all Austin food lovers this week.

Be Spontaneous: This Week’s Events

  • [VALUE] February 23: Tour Through the Rhone Valley Featuring the 2007 Vintage – Join Chris Thomas of Vineyard Brands on a tasting tour of the 2007 vintage from the Rhone Valley. You’ll enjoy six different wines and experience this acclaimed vintage year. Heavy appetizers by the Trading Post. 6:30 – 8:00 pm. $20/person or $30/couple. Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria. Buy tickets online.
  • [FREE] February 23: Healthy Cooking 101 – Wondering how to cook all those vegetables, whole grains, and other healthy foods that you know you should be eating? Join Mary, the Whole Foods Healthy Eating Specialist for a special mobile class on how to easily choose and prepare the most nutrient-rich and health-supportive foods. 10 am. Whole Foods Flagship Store. Meet at the Healthy Eating desk in produce.
  • February 24: Lemoncello and Wine Dinner at Siena – Enjoy a five course Tuscan dinner paired with offerings and favorites from Paula’s Texas Orange and Paula’s Texas Lemon at the lovely Siena. 7:00 pm. $65/person. Call 349-7667 to reserve.
  • [VALUE] February 25: South Africa Evening – Elizabeth Bray, Cape Classics representative and connoisseur of all things South African wine, will present an evening of South African wine. Learn all about this amazing region from Elizabeth who has an uncanny knack for bringing it to life. You’ll taste six wines representative of the region and most likely fall in love with it just like I did a few years ago when Elizabeth first introduced me to it. 6:30 – 8:00 pm. $25/person or $40/couple. Twin Liquors Marketplace at Hancock Center. Buy tickets online.
  • February 26: International Wine and Food Bordeaux – Paul and Robert are at it again, bringing you a whirlwind tour of the food and wine of a specific region, in this case Bordeaux. Enjoy Robert’s culinary stylings paired with wines expertly selected by Paul. You’ll feel like you’ve been to France and back for a mere $60. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm. Reserve online.
  • [GREAT VALUE] February 27 – 28: Capital Confectioner’s Cake and Sugar Art Show and Competition – Austin’s annual cake and sugar show promises to be a fun and informative event. Check out beautiful and edible creations entered into the competition, enjoy demonstrations from confectionary professionals, and shop for hard-to-find tools. If you enjoy decorating desserts or just want to enjoy the works of those who do, this event is a great place to start. The Crockett Center. $8/day.
  • [FREE] February 27: Parm Cracking – The scene is set: three tables, three Whole Foods Team Members, three wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s the ultimate cheese smackdown! Join Whole Foods in their Specialty Department to watch as their cheesemongers go head-to-head to see who has the best time in hand cracking a giant wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano in the traditional way. When the wheels are cracked, you’ll get a chance to taste some of this delectable cheese! 2:30 pm. Whole Foods Flagship Store.
  • [DO GOOD] February 27: 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. $35/person. Purchase tickets online.
  • [VALUE] February 28 – March 3: Austin Restaurant Week – It’s time again to sample the best of Austin’s dining establishments. Try a new spot (or two or three) or visit and old favorite for a new take on their menu. Either way, with menus in the ~$30 range, it’s a deal you can’t really afford to pass up. I’m not wholly sure where I’ll be going yet, but make your reservations soon before the good spots and times are full.

Eat Well, Do Good

  • February 27: Art Night Austin – Venture alongside fellow culture enthusiasts through Austin’s in-the-know spaces on this art and culinary trek. Experience and acquire never before seen works and taste complimentary chef-prepared bites paired with select wines. Featured local restaurants include Café Josie, La Condesa, and Kenichi. Wines from wonderful vintners including Liberty School, Treana, and Camelot. Begin at any participating space and hop on and off continuous chauffeured transportation. 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm with an afterparty to follow. $75/person for the main event. $25 for the afterparty. Purchase tickets online.

Plan Ahead: Events in the Next 3 Weeks