Austin Foodie Bits ~ February 25, 2011 Edition

An outdoor table set with plates and red wine2011 is trucking right along. As we emerge from a particularly chilly February our typically beautiful spring weather appears to be establishing a firm foothold. With it comes the promise of several glorious weeks just perfect for patio dining and outdoor events. If the coming seven days are any indication, it’s going to be a busy spring for events. Tastings, shows, educational opportunities, and dinners fill the calendar in the coming week, and they are just a taste of what’s to come.

It’s not surprising that as we move into early February, SXSW and Spring Break impact the city’s food and wine events, which is why you won’t find any events listed past the next seven days. Don’t despair! The events don’t stop; they are just a bit different. Look for a special SXSW edition of Foodie Bits coming in the next week or so for the scoop on foodie-related goings on during the festival.

In the Spotlight

Both of the events listed in this week’s spotlight are scheduled a bit beyond the seven day window I usually focus on here, but both are interesting enough that I think you’ll want to mark your calendars for them now and buy tickets in advance.

  • While many wine tastings cove a broad spectrum of styles and varietals, the Zinfandel Tasting on March 6 at the AT&T Conference center is focused on Zinfandel alone. It will be a great opportunity to investigate the many expressions of this varietal and the regions in which it is produced. You’ll also enjoy nibbles from favorite restaurants around town including Paggi House, The Carillon, and strEAT. $60/person. 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Buy tickets online.
  • Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival LogoThis year’s Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival is taking a fresh approach to celebrating food and drink in Austin and promises to be an amazing experience! I’ve been lucky enough to chat one-on-one with the event organizers and they have truly thought differently about how to create a collection of experiences everyone in town can enjoy. If you’ve never attended the festival or skipped it the last couple of years, I encourage you to take a new look at it because it’s really going to be something special this year. Some of the events I’m most looking forward to are:
    • Josh Ozersky’s Burger & Beef Seminar. This in-depth seminar from a James Beard winning expert will teach you everything you want to know (and more) about beef and burgers. Your summer grilling won’t ever be the same again.
    • Live Fire! This celebration of all things cow will feature chefs cooking every part of the animal, paired wines from the world’s premier beef and wine regions, and an experience like no other.
    • Champions of Walla Walla. Take a unique look at Washington’s premier wine region as reflected in its flagship and acclaimed wine, Uriah.
    • Star Power: An Evening with Kyle MacLachlan & Animal Restaurant. This unmatched event will pair local chef favorites David Bull and Josh Watkins with the chefs from Animal, one of the hottest restaurants in the country to create an intimate dinner featuring wines poured by actor and winemaker Kyle MacLachlan. At $150 this is a splurge and will be worth every cent.
    • Stars Across Texas Classic. The festival wouldn’t be the festival with this event. Taste food from the region’s best restaurants as you sip specially selected wines and stroll around the Long Center.

Be Spontaneous – Events in the Next Seven Days

  • February 25 -27: Meet the Winemaker Tasting @ Bar Lamar – Bar Lamar is Whole Foods’ newest in-store eatery. Featuring wine and beer on tap, it’s a bar in a grocery store –how fun is that? This weekend they are featuring three different winemakers for special tastings: Dan Fitzgerald of Brack Mountain Wine Company in Sonoma, Dave Reilly from locally owned Duchman Family Winery, and Kim McPherson of McPherson Cellars in Lubbock. Each meet and greet will include four wine tastings and four paired cheeses. $15/person. 5:00 – 6:30 (Fri. & Sat), 4:00 – 5:30 (Sun.) Call 512.542.2258 to RSVP.
  • February 26-27: That Takes the Cake Sugar Art Show – If you love the cake and sugar competitions on Food Network then you won’t want to miss our local cake show and sugar art competition. Attend demonstrations, take a tour of competition cakes, and connect with fellow cake fans. $10/day or $17/weekend. North Austin Event Center. Purchase tickets online.
  • February 26: Willamette Valley Wine Tasting – Taste a collection of varietals from the J. Christopher winery in Washington at the Saturday afternoon tasting. Free. 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Austin Wine Merchant.
  • February 26: Supper Friends Dinner at Wild Onion Ranch – Venture out to the beautiful Wild Onion Ranch for an evening of great food and company. The menu includes fried panela cheese, pork carnitas, chicken stuffed with Eligin sausage, and Texas toast bread pudding. This is a BYOB event so you can pair your favorite beverage with the menu. $55/person. 7:15 pm. Call 512.467.6600 to reserve.
  • February 26: Off the Vine Wine Tasting – Put on your cowboy boots and head out to The Oasis to taste some of the best wines Texas and the rest of the country have to offer, all the while supporting the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo. The weather will be absolutely perfect for strolling around the Oasis with a glass of good wine to sip. $75/person or $130/couple. 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Purchase tickets online.
  • February 27: Olympic Gold Medalist Cooks Freestyle – Garrett Webber-Gale is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, a world traveler, amazing cook, and an all around great guy with one of the brightest passions for food I’ve ever seen. He also has high blood pressure and has spent the last several years learning how to manage it from his kitchen. In this cooking class he’ll show you how to create food you’ll truly enjoy that will provide fuel for your body without the added salt. After five minutes you’ll come to love him as much as our local food blogger community has. $45/person. 11:00 am – 1:30 pm. Reserve online.
  • February 27: Fall Creek Vineyards Wine Dinner – Take a Sunday drive through the Hill Country to Fredericksburg and acclaimed Hill Top Café for a wine dinner featuring the best wines Fall Creek Winery has to offer. Enjoy gulf crab and asparagus bisque, phyllo-wrapped jump shrimp, bacon-wrapped Angus filet, and a blackberry tart paired with selected wines from the vineyard. $65/person. 5:30 pm. Call 830.997.8922 to reserve.
  • March 2: Ultimate Brunch Class – Brunch is such a versatile meal because you can include dishes from across the spectrum, from savory casseroles to sweet breads. And with Easter and Mother’s Day on the horizon, having some additional brunch-making skills might not be a bad thing. Join Chef Mike Thompson at Faraday’s Kitchen Store in Lakeway to learn the secrets of a great brunch. $45/person. Call 512.266.5666 to reserve.
  • March 2: Compass Box Scotch Tasting – The Austin Wine Merchant and Haddingtons are teaming up for this special tasting featuring Robin Robinson. Enjoy complimentary tastes of Compass Box Scotch along with snacks and cocktails. Free. 5:00 pm -7:00 pm. Call 512.992.0204 to reserve.
  • March 2: Ommegang Beer Dinner – New York brewery Ommegang is coming to town and 24 Diner is pairing their beer with a special five-course tasting perfect for the food and beer lover. Enjoy lamb meatballs, halibut, coffee-crusted pastrami, goat cheese panna cotta, and a cheese plate, each accompanied by an Ommegang beer. $55/person. 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Call 512.472.5400 to reserve.
  • March 2: Republic of Texas Tequila Celebration –March 2 is Texas Independence Day and Santa Rita Tex Mex Cantina is hosting a party Featuring Republic of Texas with their signature, limited-time drink -Republic Paloma. Enjoy live music, tequila tastings, complementary queso, wings and nachos and even a few prizes for added fun. Prices vary by drink. 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm. No RSVP required.

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