It’s January 22nd and here in Austin we’re ramping up for the kick-off of festival season here in Austin, TX which starts in March with ever famous SXSW, however, being a cook, food and travel writer, Austin Food & Wine Festival is one of my favorite festivals and we’re coming into the festivals 3rd year here in Austin.
Tuesday I was honored to attend the Media Lunch which was held at Andrew Wiseheart’s restaurant Contingo. Getting me to go to Contingo takes no arm twisting at all, it’s one of my favorite spots in Austin. Great food, great service, great atmosphere and it’s centrally located and tucked away in a quiet residential neighborhood. So to top it off Austin Food & Wine was holding their preview event there – Yes Please!
It was a casual get together and the ever jovial host Tim Love was on hand to provide entertainment, laughs and a blindfolded shot challenge – I will get to that later. The line up of chefs and artisan food purveyors was impressive, nothing less would be expected for an Austin Food & Wine Festival event. As you walked toward the restaurant, you could smell the grill smoke and all things pork being roasted. Yes despite my recent foray into a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, I will never ever stop eating roasted and bbq pork as I am just not willing to give it up in its entirety as I enjoy it way too much.
Of course all the dishes were amazing that goes without question, as the team at #AFWFest always bring the best chefs and artisan food producers and I would expect nothing less. My favorite bites from the media lunch were:
- Chef Tim Love’s Carrot “HomeFries” – I’ve never had roasted carrots such as these and I could have lopped up a whole plate of these for lunch (Tim can I get the recipe?)
- Chef Mike Lata’s Main Lobster “Minute” Ceviche, Jalapeno, Satsuma dish sent me into such a feverish pitch I instantly decided my next vacation will be to South Carolina just to eat at his restaurants Fig & The Ordinary Oyster Hall. Yes I helped myself to seconds as the dish was perfectly balanced with lobster so delicate and light it melted as soon as it hit my tongue.
- Chef Andrew Wiseheart lovingly prepared pig on a spit, along with fire roasted brussel sprouts and kale (not on the menu) with a salsa verde.
- Haven’t heard of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams – Let me introduce you! Clearly with having Celiac Disease many desserts are off-limits and with changing up my eating (no dairy) I thought surely this would be off-limits – Oh hell no it wasn’t! Giant macaroon ice-cream sandwiches that are gluten-free (I opted in on the dairy as who could resist). I was delighted with both the Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich & Salty Caramel With Smoked Almond Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich and will be visiting my local Royal Blue Grocery to pick up a few of these to keep in the freezer for a treat!
I was remiss at not having tried Chef Chris Shepherd’s Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings but Natanya Peterson of Fete & Feast/Austin Food Lovers’ Companion said it “this is really good & really spicy” (this is one of those times I despise having Celiac Disease).
The champagne was flowing, the crowd was enjoying the food and there was even a champagne sabering with Master Sommelier Craig Collins, who shared a great tip for preparing a champagne bottle to be sabered – Craig you gave me confidence but I will still not use my i-Pad!
Oh yes let me not forget the blindfolded shot challenge – Had I not had to returned to work I surely would have participated! Picture this – challengers lined up blindfolded and either you’re served up a shot of tequila or olive oil. Challengers tilted their heads back and one lucky gal walked away with a booty of Austin Food & Wine Festival goodies!
2014’s Austin Food & Wine Festival is set to be even better than last year. Chef Tim Love shared with us that “this year we’ll have two fire pits” which means more meat and shorter lines. Excited to see which chefs will be at the helm of these two pits, as last year Chef Rene Ortiz and the father-son chef duo of Jack & Bryce Gilmore were pumping out mad amounts of smoked goodness to feed the masses.
This year the festival has added the “Feast Under the Stars” event (tickets are almost sold out so get yours now here). Austin Food & Wine Festival describes this event as “Thursday night prelude to a one-of-a-kind dining experience offering a locally sourced, 5-course meal ¬â€ each prepared by five award-winning chefs from the festival.” The featured chefs for Thursday nights Feast Under the Stars include:
- Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi/Uchiko (Austin)
- Chef Chris Shepard of Underbelly (Houston)
- Chef Tim Love of Lonesome Dove/Love Shack/Queenies Steakhouse (Ft. Worth)
- Chef Kent Rathburn of Abacus (Dallas)
- Chef Jodi Elliott of Bribery and Foreign & Domestic (Austin)
Feast Under the Stars will surely be a dining experience to remember with such great chefs coming together for this “first-ever collaboration” set under the stars in downtown Austin’s Butler Park.
Want more Austin Food & Wine Festival? If you live here in Austin or are traveling from afar get it here:
- Talent – Impressive line up include many Austin and Texas Chef’s
- Music of the Festival
- Blog & Contests – Last years Instagram Contest #localeats #afwfest was so fun!
Stay tuned as I will be sharing highlights from last years festival here on the website leading up to the kick-off of the 2014 Austin Food & Wine Festival here and over on The Daily Meal, as well as across my other social channels:
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