Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trailers Leading the Way

With so many food trucks in Austin, it’s hard to make the rounds and get a sampling from all over the city… or is it? Not when it’s Gypsy Picnic weekend! For the second straight year, my husband Morgan and I got there when it opened to have first dibs on all the trailers. However, unlike last year’s approach to try something from every single trailer (at which we failed miserably when trailers ran out of food and lines were hours long), this year’s approach involved sampling food from trailers we haven’t yet tried. Gordough’s, you were so tempting, but rules are rules.

Right off the bat, we tried some deliciously spicy vegetarian eats from Conscious Cravings and then downed a hot and crispy slice from Spartan Pizza. As a native Chicagoan, I’ve been on a quest for great thin crust pizza here in Austin and this was a shining light of hope – I’ll definitely be headed back to Spartan soon. We walked around a little more, found one trailer that was already hopelessly struggling to keep up 15 minutes after opening and wondered if there would be a repeat of last year, with hungry attendees hopelessly wandering in search of anything to eat. But with the festival more spread out this year, Gypsy Picnic seemed to avoid many of the problems it faced in its inaugural year, and many happy GP-goers got plenty to eat.

Other highlights? Crispy, straight-out-of-the-fryer eggs rolls from Fresh Off The Truck were one of my favorites while Morgan enjoyed deep fried steak mac n’ cheese from Trey’s Cuisine. It was most definitely as sinful as it sounds. To make up for it, I had a bright, fresh, and delicious mini O.G. from Blenders and Bowls. What’s that, you ask? Blended acai topped with fresh fruit, hemp granola, and Round Rock honey. That’s healthy, right? With some other less memorable stops in between, we wrapped up our gorging with Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches. Dirty Mint Chip sandwiched between Chocolate cookies and Salted Caramel between Chocolate Chip Cookies – it’s hard to go wrong. I even checked out their website and saw a Brown Butter with Candied Bacon ice cream – yes, please!

This year’s Gypsy Picnic was certainly an improvement over last year and I was happy to find some new trailers to frequent. Ready for Gypsy Picnic 2012? You bet I am!

Written by Becka Brown, Community Relations Director

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chef's Under Fire Finals

We were very excited about the opportunity to volunteer at Chefs Under Fire 2011 Finals, that occurred this past weekend at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center. Created by Diane Dixon of the Keeper Collection, this event has quickly become a foodie favorite in Austin. We welcomed guests to this great event, helped register them and sent them on their way into the pre-tasting. There, they could watch the chefs prepare dishes, try various wines, and sample some outstanding lobster bisque and pork belly created by Executive Chef Josh Watkins of The Carillon. Yum! 

Chefs had a limited time to prepare a dish including potatoes, beets, green onion, and Longhorn beef. Each chef introduced his dish to the celebrity judges, who included Chef David Bull, Chef Tyson Cole, and Chef Kent Rathbun. Also in attendance to talk about the wines was Devon Broglie, Master Sommelier and Global Buyer at Whole Foods Market.

Guests were seated in the large ballroom after the testing, and were presented with the three different dishes. The event was incredibly interactive as guests were able to vote for their Fan Favorite via Twitter, and appear on a live Twitter feed. The Judge’s pick was Chef Harold Wong, but Chef Daniel Valenzuela pleased our palettes with his dish, and won Fan Favorite. Between the cook-off, the delectable dishes, and various wines and cheeses, the event was fun for all!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Wine & Food Foundation team were very excited to see the chef-off between Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside and Paul Peterson of Vivo Lake Creek, hosted by Top Chef judge Gail Simmons! Sponsored by Target on a parking lot at 4th and Congress streets, the event was a fun way to enjoy the weather and see some great cooking with fresh ingredients.

Chef Cirkiel cooked up a halibut with a carrot sauce that smelled fabulous, while Chef Peterson made pork accompanied by a guacamole with tomato and pineapple. With the help of an audience member, the chefs had 20 minutes to create their dishes. Meanwhile, Simmons talked about some of her foodie faves. In the end, Simmons appreciated Chef Peterson’s Tex-Mex flare, and announced him winner of the chef-off.

After the event, our Community Relations Director Becka Brown took a photo with Simmons and spoke about the Foundation. Hopefully we will be seeing her at an event soon! It was wonderful to watch both chefs compete, create incredible food, and we can’t wait to see more of these types of creations at Big Reds & Bubbles on November 17, 2011.

Written by Lauren Brandewie, Foundation Intern

Friday, October 14, 2011

Holiday Preview

We attended Glazer’s Holiday Tasting event at the Long Center this week, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting distributors, vineyards, and trying some delightful drinks. We spoke with the Lange Twins family winery (who will be at Big Reds & Bubbles!) and particularly enjoyed their 2010 Petite Sirah Petite Verdot. Texas Hills Vineyard featured their Kick Butt Cabernet Sauvignon. On a lighter side, Pacific Rim winemakers from Oregon brought sparkling Rieslings that were perfectly light and sweet. The tasting event had tons more to offer, from whiskey to tequila, to 100-calorie margaritas, there will be many drinks to toast to this holiday season!

Written by Lauren Brandewie, Foundation intern