Austin Foodie Bits ~ Food and Wine Events for the Week of August 2

Glass of wine by the lakeAs I write this post on a lovely Texas summer morning, it’s already 90 degrees outside and the weather forecast calls for our whole week of 100+ degree temps. Welcome to Texas in August. Given that we all mostly want to stay indoors with our trusted air conditioning or hang out at the lake or by the pool, I’m not really surprised that the food events around town have calmed down just a bit. I think it’s our August siesta as we gear up for what I’m sure will be a busy fall. Even so, we aren’t totally bereft of opportunities for foodie fun. This week’s calendar features a Spanish wine dinner, some fun cooking classes, wine and tequila tastings, and more. Happily, all of these events are inside, so you don’t have to choose between staying cool and feeding your food lover soul.

I’d like to offer my first weekly reminder that the Fall 2010 edition of Austin Restaurant Week is coming up in a few weeks. During September 19 – 22 and September 26 – October 1 you’ll be able to taste some of the city’s best fare at budget-friendly prices so be sure to mark your calendars. As of this writing, the updated list of participating restaurants and their menus still isn’t up, but I’ll keep an eye out and let you know when you can start making your reservations.

And now, on with the events.

Be Spontaneous – This Week’s Events

  • August 2: Sketches of Spain Wine Dinner at Olivia – Chef James Holmes and the crew at Oliva are celebrating all things Spanish with this six course meal paired with six select Spanish wines. Enjoy tapas with Cava, grilled octopus with Sauvignon Blanc, braised rabbit with Chardonnay, and more. They are dedicating the entire restaurant to this event, so it’s sure to be a great time. $80/person. Call 512.804.2700 to reserve.
  • August 2: Beer and Brats – Whole Foods will help you turn the Monday frown upside down with $2 beers and $3 brat. For just $5 (or maybe $10 if you’re really thirsty and hungry) you can have a nice dinner to finish off your day. Bring a few friends and make it a party that everyone can afford. Whole Foods Flagship Store, North Lamar. 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm.
  • August 3: Swanson Wine Dinner with Winemaker Chris Phelps at Mirabelle – Swanson Vineyard is a Merlot-based Napa winery that was named Wine & Spirits 2010 winery of the year. They trust their grapes to Chris Phelps, a winemaker who has worked at Dominus and Caymus and partnered with Austin Food Lovers’ Companion favorite winemaker Austin Hope of Paso Robles fame. During this wine dinner at Mirabelle, you’ll not only taste a variety of offerings from Swanson, but meet Chris himself and learn about his winemaking approach. The wines will be specially paired with dishes designed to complement and enhance them. $65/person. 7:00 pm. Call 512.346.7900 to reserve.
  • August 4: Knife Skills 101 cooking class – Good knife skills are critical to kitchen safety, and they make prep work go a whole lot faster too. In this hands-on class you’ll learn some new skills and shore up others so you’ll be ready to take on just about any basic kitchen preparation task. $65/person. 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Whole Foods Culinary Center, North Lamar. Reserve online.
  • August 4: Wine 101 – Enjoying wine should be fun, not intimidating or scary. In this free class at Twin Liquors you’ll learn the basics of wine and the lingo you need to have confidence when you select wines to drink or to buy. 6:30 – 8:00 pm. Twin Liquors Hancock. E-mail to reserve.
  • August 5 and 6: Date Night Mediterranean Hands On cooking class – If you’re looking for a unique date night experience, try taking a cooking class together with your companion. You’ll share the fun of learning new skills and enjoy a lovely dinner together as well. In this particular class you’ll make phyllo cups, artichoke salad, grilled fish, and lemon panna cotta. What a great way to spend an evening whether it’s a first date or a 100th. $145/couple. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm. Whole Foods Culinary Center, North Lamar. Reserve online.
  • August 5: Music in the Kitchen with Bob Livingston – Bob Livingston, Austin’s International Music Ambassador and Chef Vance Ely of the Central Market Cooking School are stirring up some fun in this class that mixes music and food, two things Austin is known for. Enjoy migas, enchiladas, chocolate chip cookies, and more, along with a few of Bob’s favorite songs. $50/person. 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm. Central Market Cooking School, North Lamar. Reserve online.
  • August 7: Tequila Tasting with Ambhar Tequila – Ambhar is the only five-time-distilled, 100% blue agave tequila on the market and I was lucky enough to get to taste it earlier this summer. And while I’m in no way a tequila expert, I can tell you it makes a mean and smooth cocktail. Get a taste yourself of this new tequila, for free, at the Twin Liquors Marketplace at the Galleria. 2:00pm – 5:00 pm. No reservation required.

Eat Well, Do Good

  • August 5: Ballet Austin Presents The Red Shoes at Alamo DrafthouseThe Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has partnered with Ballet Austin to present this unique opportunity to see the first public screening of the The Red Shoes, one of Martin Scorsese’s all-time favorite films that has been recently treated to a full 4K digital frame by frame restoration. Executive chef Trish Eichelberger will be serving a four course themed meal with wine pairings during the film. Afterwards, join the after-party cocktail reception at the Highball. All proceeds from this special screening will benefit Ballet Austin. Put on your best dress or suit for this special event. $75/person. Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. 7:00 pm. Purchase tickets online.
  • August 8: Parkside and The Alamo Present GHOSTBUSTERS – 6ixth Street Austin is a non-profit organization that strives to make the E. Sixth Street Historic District a source of pride to the Austin community by advocating for the preservation and enhancement of the district’s unique historic character. On this upcoming summer evening in August, The Alamo and Parkside are joining forces to support 6ixth Street Austin with a screening of the beloved movie Ghostbusters complete with food and beverages to make it even more fun. Chef Shawn Cirkeil of Parkside will provide a menu of upscale street food, cocktails and beer including Three Olives Vodka Grape Snowcones and Smores, as a tribute to the Ghostbuster character, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man whose demise caused molton marshmallow to rain all over the streets of New York City in the movie. Admission is free but a $5 donation is suggested, and really, I’d hope you could at least toss in $10 per person. It’s a great cause and a great event. Gates open at 7:30, the screening starts at 9:00.
  • Roaring Fork’s Cocktails for a Cause – The Roaring Fork at Stonelake Blvd is teaming up with KGSR-FM for this special summer promotion designed to raise awareness and funds for three local charities: Capitol Area Food Bank in June, Lone Star Paralysis Foundation in July and Breast Cancer Resource Center in August. Each month Roaring Fork will feature a signature cocktail and everyone who enjoys said cocktail will have the opportunity to enter a raffle for a grand prize given away at the end of each month. The August cocktail is a Guava Strawberry Margarita – tequila, jumex guava nectar, lime juice, and strawberries. Cocktail prices are $8 and $6 during the nightly 4-7 pm happy hour. The donation is part of the purchase and entitles recipients to one raffle entry. The grand prizes include A VIP pass to Blues on the Green, concert tickets and a Roaring Fork gift card.

Plan Ahead – Events in the Next Three Weeks