Austin Food & Wine Event Spotlight: Passport to Spain at Central Market

Central Market's Passport Spain BannerI’d love to trot about the glob on the hunt for interesting food and culinary experiences. Imagine the fun to be had discovering new ingredients, chatting with local chefs, and immersing one’s self in the local culinary culture. Heck, I’d even be willing to take it on as a day job. The title “world cuisine explorer” sounds pretty darn fun. Alas, unless someone out there is hiring for this job, it is simply not to be (at least not this year.)

As a side note, my food blogger friends Rachel and Logan of Boots in the Oven are touring the globe right at this very moment and sharing all of their adventures on their blog. Like me, you can live vicariously through them and their exceptional taste buds. Who knows, you might even find your next vacation destination through their writings.

While I may not be packing my bags for exotic destinations any time soon, with the help of the fine folks at Central Market, I can get a taste for the flavors and traditions of foreign lands right here at home in Austin, Texas. Building on last year’s wildly successful Passport Argentina, Central Market is in the midst of bringing Spain to Texas with Passport Spain. Running through May 24, this event highlights all of the epicurean delights Spain has to offer, from unique ingredients like seafood, citrus, artisan cheeses, and Jamon made from Iberico pigs to craft beers and Spanish vino like Rioja red wines and cava sparklers. Events and cooking classes show you how to make the most of these delights and offer a unique opportunity to interact with artisans and chefs from Spain.

For a first-hand look at the fun Central Market is already having in their stores with Passport Spain, browse their Facebook photo album.

While there’s something tasty and fun happening every day at both the North Lamar and Westgate Central Market locations, these few stood out to me as some of the most interesting:

  • Ongoing: Daily Tapas Bar (Westgate)
    Explore tapas, the traditional small bites of Spain, along with Spanish artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, all served with Spanish wine and beer selections. Paella will be served nightly from 6:00 – 8:00 and winemakers from around Spain will stop by to share their knowledge and passions. What a great way to spend a lunch hour or evening and break out of your same ol’ routine. Open daily from noon to 9:00 pm.
  • Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22: Spanish Street Food Tent (Westgate)
    The Westgate store is turning their front patio in to an outdoor celebration of Spanish music, dancing, wine, and food. From 6-8 watch chefs prepare paella live and then wander over to the tapas bar for nibbles and sips. Noon to 9:00 pm.
  • Saturday, May 21: Traditional and Modern Spanish Cuisine Cooking Class (North Lamar)
    I think this class will offer a true survey of the Spanish food and its influence on American cuisine that would be hard to experience in just about any other setting. The menu includes rabbit, a terrine of pig’s feet, and roasted chicken and each course will be paired with Spanish wines. I had New Year’s Eve dinner at Chef Dianiel Olivella’s B44 in San Francisco and it was truly a memorable meal. I expect his contributions to this class will be well-matched by his companion chefs. 6:30 – 9:00 pm. $75.

Of course you can expect displays and tastings all around both stores, so be sure you stop by before the event is over – I’m sure you’ll discover a new ingredient, technique, or wine to expand your culinary horizons.

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