Earth Day 2014: #AustinGive5

Earth Day 2014: #AustinGive5

Happy Earth Day! Whether you are an outdoor adventure nut or just like to drink on patios, Austinites have many reasons why we should be thankful to Mother Earth. Be like Marky Mark (see below) and do your part to give back today by visiting one of several local businesses participating in the 45th Annual ‘Give 5% to Mother Earth Day.’ Visit one of the local businesses (listed here) and 5% of your purchase will be donated to several local charities on a mission to protect what our momma gave us.

Don’t forget to let your Internet friends know about your good deeds by using the hashtag #AustinGive5!

Proceeds will benefit:
Clean Water Fund
Friends of Barton Springs
Hill Country Conservancy
Texas Campaign for the Environment Fund
Texas Land Conservancy
TreeFolks
Urban Roots

Marky Mark Does His Part…

April Happenings, Part II: Urban Farm Tour + Crawfish Boils Galore

Here is Round #2 of Austin’s top events happening around town. Check out my previous picks here!

Located just a hop, skip and a jump away from some of Austin’s best restaurants, these farms help to give new meaning to the phrase ‘locally sourced.’ On Sunday, April 13, you are invited to celebrate our local growers during the 5th Annual East Austin Urban Farm Tour.

From 1-5pm, tour four of Austin’s premier urban farms while enjoying small bites created by favorite local chefs and food purveyors using seasonal ingredients grown in the gardens around you. In the spirit of Sunday Funday, there will also be plenty of local beer, wine and craft cocktails served at each stop along the way. Tickets (available here) to Sunday’s Urban Farm Tour are $50/per person with proceeds benefiting the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance.

April Happenings, Part II: Urban Farm Tour + Crawfish Boils Galore

Participating Farms include:
Boggy Creek Farm
HausBar Farms
Rain Lily Farm
Springdale Farm

Check out the amazing lineup of food artisans, restaurants, & beer, wine and spirits distributers participating in Sunday’s event here!

 

‘Tis the season for crawfish! It’s a well known, scientifically proven* fact the best springtime parties always include a ‘boil. Get your Cajun on at one of these seasonal celebrations:

Saturday, April 12

The Stuffed Cajun Meat Market presents the Louisana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival on Saturday afternoon. Hosted by Roadway Events, the bash includes 7,000 pounds of crawfish boiled to perfection. Head to the Statesman’s parking lot (305 S. Congress) for a beginning at 11am for a full day of crawfish, cold beer and music. Tickets are $20/per person. More details can be found here. 

The Buzz Mill will host a crawfish boil on Saturday from 3-8pm. In addition to mudbugs, there will be live music and cold beer. More details can be found here. The Buzz Mill, 1505 Town Creek Drive, 78741. Continue reading April Happenings, Part II: Urban Farm Tour + Crawfish Boils Galore

Drinks and Eats: Whisler’s Austin + Dumpling Happiness

Opened by Lustre Pearl, Clive, et al vet Scranton Twohey, the East Sixth bar Whisler’s quickly became a favorite since opening last spring. Housed in the former home of the historic East Side dive bar Rabbit’s, the space was given a complete overhaul of the old stone building’s interior prior to opening.  Save for its faded logo on the building’s façade, there is little reminder of the space’s former tenant in the revamped space, thanks largely to a glamorous and stately new bar. At the same time, Twohey was certain to create a space that felt at home in the neighborhood as well as played homage to its predecessor. The result is a bar that lacks the pretention one expects from a typical East Side upscale cocktail joint.

Drinks and Eats: Whisler’s Austin + Dumpling Happiness

Whisler’s Austin

As for the cocktail program, Whisler’s offers a number of seasonal offerings as well as a nightly punch option. Don’t see something you like? Whisler’s bartenders are more than happy to spend some extra time discussing something that may strike your fancy. Thanks to this friendly staff and outstanding craft cocktails – combined with its casual atmosphere – Whisler’s is the type of place you can convince even the most strangely east side adverse friend to meet for a drink.

Continue reading Drinks and Eats: Whisler’s Austin + Dumpling Happiness

April Happenings, Part I: Pop-ups, Picnics, Spring Dinners and More

April in Austin is always my favorite time of year: the weather is patio drinking perfect, the post-SXSW concert lineup is stacked with great shows, and it’s the birthmonth (yes month) of yours truly.  Considering the number of events on the calendar over the next few weeks, it seems I’m not the only with an affinity for April in ATX. Though my April has started off with a little bug not even ramen could cure, the wonders of modern medicine should have me back on track and ready to enjoy some of this month’s top happenings listed below.

April Happenings, Part I: Pop ups, Picnics, Spring Dinners and More

Don’t Miss the Waller Creek Picnic 4/12!

Saturday, April 5th

The Scrumptious Chef presents the Art of Charcuterie Pop-Up Dinner – 7pm
In what might be his best theme yet, The Scrumptious Chef ‘s RL Reeves, Jr. is hosting an ‘Art of Charcuterie’ pop-up dinner on Saturday. Held at Tamale House East, the menu includes some of the finest cured meats such as Benton’s country ham, a favorite of Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry restaurant. Non-meat dishes include jalapeno cheddar grits and Poteet strawberry cobbler – all of which are created from locally sourced ingredients.

The feast will be served beginning at 7pm. Full details and menu can be found here.

Sunday, April 6th
Henri’s Cheese & Wine turns two this weekend, and to celebrate, the shop is hosting a cheese and wine tasting on Sunday evening. Head to Henri’s from 7-9pm to celebrate with food, drink specials, and other festivities. More details can be found here. Henri’s is located at 2026 South Lamar, Austin, TX 78704.

Saturday, April 12th

2nd Annual Waller Creek Conservancy Picnic & Benefit – Palm Park at 6:30pm
The 2nd Annual Waller Creek Conservancy Picnic & Benefit returns on Saturday, April 12. Once again, several of Austin’s best restaurants are pitching in by offering gourmet picnic baskets available for prepurchase. Make it the fanciest picnic around by choosing a basket from the likes of Jeffery’s or LaV, or keep it casual with Home Slice or Counter Culture; either way, don’t wait too long to order because these baskets will get snapped up quick. If you can’t decide what to order, you are always free to bring your own spread. In addition, Easy Tiger and Antonelli’s have teamed up to offer a limited number of baskets available for purchase on site.

Each basket includes a full meal for two and will be available for pick up beginning at 6:30pm at the event. Prices range from $30-$150; full details, including a link to each basket’s menu, can be found here.

Apothecary Cafe & Wine Bar Spring Wine Tasting – 2-4pm
Apothecary Cafe & Wine Bar is hosting a spring wine menu tasting from 2:00 to 4:00pm. During the event, guests will test drive their new spring wine list paired with small bites from their new spring dinner menu. Tickets for the event are $25 per person and include all food and wine. Email info@apothecaryaustin.com to snag a spot. Apothecary Wine Bar, 4800 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78756 Continue reading April Happenings, Part I: Pop-ups, Picnics, Spring Dinners and More

AFWF 2014 Preview: Talking Wine w/Craig Collins

What better way to continue our countdown to the 2014 Austin FOOD & WINE Festival than checking in with a person who has been instrumental player in the Texas wine industry for over a decade? Master Sommelier Craig Collins first discovered his love for all things wine while working at a Texas winery during his college days.
AFWF 2014 Preview: Talking Wine w/Craig Collins

While most his classmates were more than likely drinking cheap beer and boxed wine, Collins followed his newfound passion with a semester abroad in Italy in order to deepen his understanding in the wine industry. Following graduation, he began a successful career as a wine consultant while working tirelessly towards gaining his prestigious Master Sommelier certification.

Meanwhile, former college roommate Andrew Curren was busy building his own successful culinary career while working in some of the best kitchens in New York. After relocating back to Texas, Chef Curren joined the Elm Restaurant Group in opening Austin favorites 24 Diner and Easy Tiger.

When it came time for the group to open their third spot, Arro, it was only natural Curren & Co. would tap Collins to help curate the upscale French eatery’s wine list. Together with friend and fellow Master Sommelier Devon Broglie, Collins created a top-notch, exclusively French wine list that is approachable, well priced, and unexpected.

A partnership years in the making, Collins officially joined the Elm Restaurant Group at the end of last year. In his role as Beverage Director, he not only oversees Arro’s wine list, but he is also busy curating Easy Tiger’s craft beer selection and its expanding list of reserve whiskeys. At 24 Diner, Collins matches Curren’s elevated diner food with fantastic wines from some of the best boutique wineries in California and Washington State.

For the Elm Restaurant Group’s forth concept, an Italian wine bar to open Summer 2014, Collins will have the opportunity to revisit his formative semester abroad as he puts together what will certainly be one of the best wine lists in town.

Join Master Sommeliers Craig Collins and Devon Broglie for their California Enlightenment discussion on Sunday, April 27 in Oak Tent. Based on his description below, it will not be one you want to miss!

AFWF 2014 Preview: Talking Wine w/Craig Collins

Image via Arro Austin

 

At this year’s Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, you will be discussing the next wave of California wines. How has the region evolved as of late?

There are several winemakers crafting wines that are stylistically different than what we have seen from California vineyards in the past. Some are harvesting the grapes earlier (which creates lower-alcohol wines), while others are making amazing wines from non-traditional grapes such as Arneis and Ribolla Gialla.

Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay will always be king and queen of the region, but even some of these wines are receiving less oak treatment and less extraction. Each of these evolutions creates wines that are more approachable and food friendly. I am currently showcasing several of these innovative wines on the list at 24 Diner.

Besides California, which regions or varietals are you currently excited about? Continue reading AFWF 2014 Preview: Talking Wine w/Craig Collins

Austin Food & Wine Festival 2014 Preview: Interview with La V’a Vilma Mazaite

The 2014 Austin Food and Wine Festival is less than a month away, and what better way tostart the official countdown by talking wine with festival panelist Vilma Mazaite, the driving force behind one of Austin’s most impressive wine programs.

Lithuanian-born Advanced Sommelier Vilma Mazaite is currently the resident wine expert atlaV, a newly opened restaurant in East Austin. With a wine list boasting over 1,200 labels, including several rare vintages sourced from private collections and world-renowned wineries, laV is truly a wine lover’s dream.

Before she moved to Austin, Mazaite cut her teeth curating wine lists alongside some of the best in the business. Under the mentorship ofrenowned sommelier Rajat Paar, Mazaite helped to build the wine programs at several top Las Vegas restaurants before joining the team at Mario Batali’s famed Babbo restaurant in Manhattan. Mazaite next found her way to the prestigious five-star resort The Little Nell, located in Aspen, CO.

It was at The Little Nell where Mazaite fortuitously crossed paths with future La V Executive Chef Allison Jenkins, then leading the kitchen at one of the resort’s acclaimed restaurants. The duo, along with James Beard-nominated Pastry Chef Janina O’Leary, now comprise the restaurant’s all-women culinary team.

Like much of the culinary world, the wine industry has long been something of an old boy’s club, but thanks to emerging talent like Vilma, this won’t always be the case. During this year’s Austin Food and Wine Festival, Mazaite will lead a discussion highlighting some of the most innovative female leaders in the winemaking industry today.

Austin Food & Wine Festival 2014 Preview: Interview with La Va Vilma Mazaite

 

Join Vilma Mazaite for her Tour de Femme panel
Saturday, 4/26
1:00-1:45PM (Oak Tent)

 

Prior to moving to Austin, both you and laV’s Executive Chef Allison Jenkins worked together at The Little Nell in Aspen. What about this opportunity prompted the decision to relocate?

I really love Aspen and had a wonderful time working at The Little Nell. However, as wonderful as Aspen was, the opportunity to open a brand new restaurant and be able to put my mark on it simply doesn’t happen that often. Neither Allison nor I had any second thoughts about laV. Of course it was a scary transition and having opened just two weeks ago, we are really just getting our feet wet in Austin. But anyone who knows me would agree that I am not the type of person to look back. Without risk there’s little reward. I’ve taken a big leap but am excited about the possibilities.

Continue reading Austin Food & Wine Festival 2014 Preview: Interview with La V’a Vilma Mazaite

First Look: Licha’s Cantina

One of the most disappointing, though not entirely unsurprising, closures of last year was East Austin Mexican restaurant Papi Tino’s. Its former location, situated in the heart of East Austin, is now home to the promising Licha’s Cantina. After brightening up the space and opening the back patio, owner Daniel Brooks quietly opened the new restaurant just prior to SXSW, drawing on his Mexico roots in developing the cantina concept.

First Look: Lichas Cantina

Licha’s Cantina

First Look: Lichas Cantina

Roasted Duck Tacos – $12

Having earned his stripes as the GM at Austin’s Vespaio, it should have come as no surprise to find the service at Licha’s Cantina to be exceptional. The gracious and friendly staff helps create a welcoming atmosphere one can’t wait to return to again and again. Our server was also well versed on the components of each dish and extremely helpful making recommendations. Continue reading First Look: Licha’s Cantina

Tamale House East

Since opening a couple years back, Tamale House East has continually ranked high on my list of favorite Mexican food eats. Known for its tried and true Tex-Mex style, Tamale House East delivers with dishes that are easy on the wallet but big on flavor. The atmosphere at the family owned and operated Tamale House East is always one of casual familiarity, which makes it an ideal weekend lunch spot, especially following a late evening.

Tamale House East

Chicken Verde Enchilada – $7.95

It’s hard to go wrong ordering, but when in doubt, the enchiladas are always a safe bet. In particular, the chicken verde enchiladas are a favorite go-to of mine, thanks largely to a citrusy housemade tomatillo salsa. While waiting for entrées, however, it’s never a bad idea to start with a couple of tamales.

Tamale House East

Pork Tamale w/Mole & Cheese – $2.75

On this visit, the bean and cheese tamale was excellent; the masa was thin, and the filling was flavorful with just a little kick of heat. While the pork tamale’s masa would have generally been too dense for my liking, the thickness actually worked in its favor, as it was weighty enough to hold up under the rich, well-developed red mole sauce.

Continue reading Tamale House East