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Monday, May 11, 2015

2015 Austin Food + Wine Festival: Sunday

Sunday (4/25)

We showed up a little later this time. And it seems like the other attendees had the same idea. People trickled in throughout the day and there was definitely less people. It was a little cooler that day. Thank goodness!

Easy Tiger - Rye Tartlets (with Duck Romesco). The duck was great. The rye was too dry and fell apart when you bit into it. 
Cardamom Toasts (with rum syrup and brioche). So pretty. Didn't care for the bottom toast part, but the top was really good.

Bufalina - Sage Burrata (with red wine poached strawberries and brown butter crisped sage). I freaking love burrata.

The Maple Syrup Lady - Maple Pecan Baklava, Maple Candy

Tiny Pies - Mini Pecan Pies. Cute! And very good. Apparently later in the day they had key lime, which I didn't get to try... booo. :(

Corner - Avocado Cheesecake (with prickly pear jelly and pistachio crumble). They get the award for the most interesting dish. The presentation is amazing first of all. The colors are so beautiful. And I got to see them plate these... :) You can totally taste the avocado, it was so smooth but light. Not too sweet and just enough.

Knob Creek - Blackberry Peach Tea Lemonade (with Knob Creek bourbon). My fiance liked it. Too strong for me!

Fork & Vine - Asparagus Salad. It was nice to get some veggies. A little too much sauce but otherwise another great dish. It's no scallops though. haha.

Bess Bistro - Pig Face Rillette (with kimchi bbq sauce, mung bean cilantro salad, pickled strawberry vinaigrette, on a lavash cracker). Didn't care for the lavash... too hard. But the pig face... SPOT ON. So good.

Little City - Cold Brew Coffee. I thought it was cool that it comes in bottles!

Finn & Porter - Grilled Octopus. One of the favorites of the day. The octopus was amazingly tender. Grilled to perfection and was complimented so well by the fennel/radish salad on the bottom. I wish I had more stomach space to go back for more.

La Barbecue - Brisket (on a plantain chip). I've heard great things about La Barbecue for a long time now but we've never had time to check them out in Austin. Brisket... amazing. That char is awesome. I bit mine in half and then the other half fell into the grass. I was devastated... Almost applied the 5 second rule but talked myself out of it. haha. 

Wu Chow - Cold Noodles (with shredded chicken, in Peanut Sauce). 
Anise cookie (topped with Chinese BBQ Pork and Grapefruit zest). 
Definitely the best decorated stand. The fruit carving was the center of attention for all the pictures that day. It's beautifully done. The anise cookie was so interesting. You get sweet and savory and the anise flavor. The noodles were pretty standard.

Baked by Amy's - S'mores and Brown Sugar Homemade Pop Tarts. No macarons today. Darn... These were cute too. But was just ok. Needed more filling, otherwise the crust is a tad dry. 

La Condesa - Chicharrones. Mini Paletas (pineapple, tequila). They had two of the most interesting looking dishes. The paletas were in dry ice so you can see the cold air flying off of them. (check the Facebook page for a video) The Chicharrones had these hot sauce droppers stuck in there. Totally cool. But wasn't so tasty. 

Cafe Mueller - Brisket Taco. Good, but after La Barbecue, the brisket didn't compare.

Odd Duck - Fire Roasted Calf (with oven-baked bread). Roasted calf was good, the bread was tough to bite through. Their line was super long too...

Pass & Provisions - Corned Beef Leg with Cabbage and Rye. My favorite dish of the day by far! First of all, it's huge!! The rye "tortilla" had a bunch of seasoning in it and I loved the texture. But the star is definitely the corned beef leg. I mean... the cooking process is insane. Loved the giant leg just hanging there. I also saw them cooking it on the fire. But it was soooo freaking tender. Melt in your mouth and went so well with the slaw. I was already so full when I got to them so I thought I'd just eat a bite or two. I ended up eating about 2/3rds of it... hehe.

Here are some other items where I either don't know the description of the dish and/or the vendor:
Braised Pork over Sticky Rice (topped with pickled onions and watermelon radish)

Black and Bleu Crustini (beef tenderloin, caramelized onions, gorgonzola)

Shrimp (honey glazed?) - these went so fast... my fiance had to wait for them to put out more. But delicious!

Tekeen - Wine Cocktail

Chef Richard Blais Demo "For Goodness Steak". Top Chef contestant and Top Chef All-Stars winner. Love this guy! Known for using interesting cooking methods. His demo had liquid nitrogen and a handheld smoker.

Chef Tyson Cole Demo - Uchi/Uchiko - Yellowtail Handroll. Uchi has been on my list forever, but still haven't made it there. It's quite expensive. Chef Cole was the only chef demo that made food for everyone in the audience. :)

It was a fun weekend. Lots of delicious food, and I got to see some of my favorite chefs! Got several autographs on my CHOMP! shirt!! :) Tony Mantuano, Graham Elliot, Antonia Lofaso, Richard Blais, and Jamie Bissonnette. I'd say it was a success!!

I do wish that both of us drank more. I felt like there were at least the same amount of alcohol vendors than food, if not more. We kind of missed out on that part of the festival... So maybe we didn't fully get our money's worth. Oh well. This was on my bucket list. And now I can check it off! Next time... the Aspen Food + Wine Festival!! :D


Monday, May 4, 2015

2015 Austin Food + Wine Festival: Saturday

Last weekend my fiance and I went down to Austin to attend our first ever Austin Food + Wine Festival held at Auditorium Shores! I've always wanted to do a FW Festival and I've heard great things about this one. It's close to us and his sister lives there! We got to crash with them so we saved some money there. Thanks!! The festival isn't cheap you know... We got the Weekender Pass ($250 a person) which allows you admission into the day festival on Saturday and Sunday. There you can sample as much food and alcohol as you want for the duration of the event. There are also chef demos you can sit in on as well as music and various vendors.

Saturday (4/24). 
We arrived as soon as the gates opened at 11AM. There was a pretty long line but it moved quickly. While standing in line, we saw a food truck for Thomas' English Muffins. They were passing out Thomas' English Muffin Sandwiches. Recipe created by Tim Love. Bacon, fried egg, American cheese, citrus aioli, butter lettuce, tomato, on a Thomas' English Muffin. You can find this recipe at This was nice starter before we event went through the front gate. I was able to get one straight off the griddle. Nice and hot, soooo yummy!

Upon entering, they handed everyone a bag with some goodies, including a Food + Wine Festival cup that you can use to get drinks. :)

Michelle - Rosecato. I don't particularly like wine. The only ones I drink are Moscatos... they're like juice! :)

We wasted no time at all and started going around the Grand Tasting Tents. Rows and rows of food/wine/liquor stands and crowds of people trying to get some samples. I tried my best to take note of the name of the vendor as well as what they were serving, but sometimes it was difficult not eating it immediately because they all looked so yummy! I've included as much info as I know. :)

Paul Qui & Jorge Hernandez - Filipino Fruit Stand (grilled and glazed tropical fruit, fermented shrimp toffee, shaved ice, shiso) It had mango so I couldn't try it. Fiance said it was aight.

Farmhouse Delivery - Watermelon Radishes (topped with feta, yogurt, pickled shallots, mint). Very refreshing. And the watermelon radish is so beautiful

Finn & Porter - Braised Lamb Shank (breaded and fried, served on a spring pea puree). I don't like lamb but I tried it anyways. There was no gamey-ness! It was a nice little bite, and I loved the presentation!

Celtic Seafare - Smoked Salmon (on rye with dill, and chive butter). Usually not a fan of smoked salmon. This was buttery and delicious.

Walton's Fancy & Staple - Strawberry Goat Cheese Macarons. Chocolate Cream Puffs. The macarons surprisingly did not taste like goat cheese, which was a relief. haha. Usually not a fan. The cream puffs suffered from the heat and were too dry.

Daily Greens - I've realized I do not like to drink my veggies. haha. Guess I can't jump on that juicing bandwagon... Haven't had a "green" drink that I've liked yet. My fiance, on the other hand, loves them.

Fork & Vine - Scallop Ceviche (with fire roasted scallops, elote-style corn, tortilla chip, and cilantro). One of the best bites by far on Saturday. Full of plump scallops and the flavors and textures were amazing. We kept going back for more. And towards the end of the day, they kept filling those cups fuller and fuller. haha. I think we got 5-6 samples there. That alone maybe covered part of the cost of our tickets. :P

Jacoby's Mercantile - House Pork Sausage (topped with celery marmalade and cornbread crumble). This was my favorite of the day. The pork was so tender and balanced so well by the mini salad on top. The addition of the cornbread crumble was pretty genius. They ran out before the day was over.

Olive & June - White Chocolate Gazpacho (with almond milk and almond crumbles). Some sort of sausage...

Barritt's Ginger Beer. This was a savior during the 90+ degrees that day. Ginger beer on ice, so refreshing. We definitely were not drinking enough liquids. Not as good as Maine Root, but was just what we needed that day.

St. Philip - Carrots (glazed with miso, beef fat, and topped with spices). Carrots... my most hated vegetable.. this was not appealing to me whatsoever, but my fiance loves them. He said it was amazing! Didn't taste like carrots at all. I do have to say it was one of the more interesting looking dishes of the day.

Cafe Mueller - Pork Ribs with Purple Cabbage Slaw. Ribs were good, slaw was too vinegary.

Stiles Switch BBQ - prime rib, brisket, turkey, jalapeno cheddar sausage, corn pudding. They gave so much food. Every tray they passed out had a piece of everything. The winners... the brisket which is literally fork tender and the corn pudding. Everything else was good too. The sausage was actually spicy! A little salty though.

Frank Hot Dogs - Kangaroo and Pork Sausage (topped with goat Gouda and jalapeno-peach chutney). Spicy!! Yum! Creole Gator (alligator sausage topped with slaw and creole remoulade)

Lonesome Dove - Chef Tim Love. Lamb Lollipops. One of the most popular dishes of the day. The line was always super long. I heard it's pretty amazing.

Hernan - Mole Poblano (with pineapple and jicama). I love mole. I've had better.

Barilla - Mac n Cheese. I love Barilla... I buy them from the store all the time. It was cooked perfectly al dente. And the spoon/fork/knife tool was so cool!

There were definitely no shortage of Desserts! Quite a few ice cream/gelato vendors which is perfect for the hot day.

Lick Ice Cream - Lemon Lavender Ice cream (with strawberry sauce). My fiance loved this... kept going back for more. Unfortunately I'm allergic to lavender so I have to take his word. I have been to Lick though. Pretty yummy!

Dolce Neve - Organic Pistachio Gelato. And Chamomile Infusion with Pistachio Crumble Gelato. Never heard of this place, but it's totally on my radar now. The pistachio gelato is one of the best I've ever had. Their other flavors were also delicious.

Baked by Amy's - Macarons (Mexican Vanilla (pink), Lemon Basil (blue), Salted Caramel (brown). Another highlight of the day. Freaking best macarons I've ever had. No joke. And I've been to Paris. They are bigger and totally comparable in texture to LaDuree. My fiance was addicted. I think he went back to them the most. I think about 7 or 8 times... hahaha. I told them they were the best and they gave me 2 coupons for free pastries! I will post those pictures later! :)

SocialIce - Wine Infused Ice Pops - Strawberry Daiquiri, Mimosa Orange. Refreshing but tasted watered down.

Here are some other items where I either don't know the description of the dish and/or the vendor:
Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce. It was super hot that day and I don't think the spring rolls held up well. It was quite mushy. But I did like the peanut sauce. 

Noble Sandwich Co. 

Hendricks - Cocktails. This is my favorite gin of all time. Their setup was really cool too.

Pig Ear Slider. My fiance grabbed this while I was talking to some friends, then we kind of lost each other for a sec and he ate it before I could try. He said the pig ear was too chewy.

Shrimp & Guac on a Cracker

Black Rice Risotto (with shrimp and jalapeno)

Pure Leaf - cocktail. Their teas are awesome. And they had the best tent/display at the festival.

The most exciting part of Saturday was the showdown between Andrew Zimmern (Bizarre Foods) and Graham Elliot (Master Chef) for their "Mystery Challenge". They showed up as a WWE Wrestler (Elliot - Hulk Hogan) and a Lucha Libre Wrestler (Zimmern) and had a cook off. 
It was mostly a show but they still each produced a dish at the end of the short 30 minutes. There was a lot of heckling, food throwing, singing, and dancing. haha. At one point, they even flung a whole eel over the shoulder of an audience member. :P Ew. hahaha. 
The entire thing was nothing short of EPIC! Check out my CHOMP! Facebook page to see some video clips.