Having been a fan of Jester King’s high-end craft beers since they hit the market a few years ago, visiting the brewery has been on my Austin bucket list for sometime now. Jester King specializes in making food-friendly, farmhouse ales in large format bottles. Their brewing process is inspired by techniques commonly used at small, rustic breweries found throughout southern Belgium and northern France. (Read more about their unique process here.)
With a number of highly anticipated restaurants in the works, 2014 is forecasted to be quite the year for eating out in Austin. Right off the bar, the first of these buzzworthy spots, the modern Southwestern-inspired Chavez, set the bar high with the opening of its downtown doors last week.
Located in the former TGIFriday’s at the Downtown Radisson, Chavez is part of the hotel’s larger top-to-bottom overhaul. To spearhead the restaurant’s new direction, the management team tapped Parkside, Backspace & Olive & June chef Shawn Cirkiel, and, based on first impressions, it’s a partnership off to a great start.
Smoked Cherry Habenero Margarita
The gorgeous space might just be designer extraordinaire Michael Hsu’s best project yet. To capitalize on the hotel’s exceptional location, floor to ceiling windows overlook Lady Bird Lake and a glamorously redesigned pool area. Clearly a collaborative effort between chef and designer, Hsu made Cirkiel’s modern Southwestern concept come to life down to the smallest detail.
Grilled Shrimp al Mojo de Ajo (lunch) – $15
But what I found most appealing about the space was how well they incorporated different seating options throughout the bar and main dining area. From semi-private large tables to the open dining room, Chavez is the type of place you can take a client, and yet at the same time, it is a great spot for a laidback group dinner, which is somewhat of a rarity in downtown Austin. Continue reading First Look: Chavez
If found longing for a way to escape the city limits without playing an expensive game of planes, trains and automobiles, then its time to take advantage of one of several local escapes just a mere daytrip away. First on that list should be a venture to Argus Cidery’s tasting room, located a mere hop, skip and a jump from the heart of downtown.
With its ability to appeal to both wine and beer drinkers, cider is largely expected to be the next big craft beverage trend. As the first 100% Texan hard cider maker, Argus Cidery is on the forefront of this movement. Each one of their ciders is created from different apple varieties sourced from Texas growers. This commitment to keeping it local combined with the outstanding quality of their product helped Argus Cidery secure one of the Austin Food and Wine Alliance’s inaugural grants, which will be used to develop onsite orchards.
Earlier this year Argus Cidery opened a new tasting room in an open air barn next door to its production facilities. Every Saturday Argus Cidery invites folks to visit the adorably decorated tasting room for cider tastings and a daily picnic basket inspired by a favorite cookbook.
My kind of picnic basket!
During a recent visit, we couldn’t get enough of Argus Cidery’s new summer release, Idalou Brut, created from Panhandle apples. It has the easy drinkability of beer but with a complexity of flavor like wine. Dry and crisp, it’s perfect for sipping in the summer heat. In addition to cider, we enjoyed outstanding samplings from Tartine such as tuna nicoise sandwiches and kale Caesar salads. For those with smaller appetites, there are also a number of dips and spreads available as well.
Today’s dish of the day is none other than the famed Fletcher’s Corn Dog from the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. After learning Austin City Limits and the Texas/OU Red River Shootout would overlap this year, there was only a moment’s pause in in my decision to forgo Dallas in lieu of staying in Austin. Though I wish I could pretend my hesitation was regarding missing the football matchup, it was completely and 100% based on missing out on this glorious golden fried treat captured below. The famed Texas State Fair (aka the fried food capital of Texas) . . . → Read More: Dish of the Day, Red River Shoot Out Edition
Time now to introduce a new weekly post highlighting a local favorite foodie product I’ve recently discovered. During a trip to California a few years back I picked up a few versions of grey salt from Chef Michael Chiarello’s NapaStyle Shop. This seemingly wonderful idea to buy large packetsof salt certainly made airport security interesting. TSA hassles aside, my new purchasespurred a new affinity for experimenting with different types of salt in mycooking.
While eating at Houston’s extraordinary Underbelly restaurant,I asked our waiter about the salt used to season a beef Carpaccio dish. To my surprise it turns out the salt in question was none other than Jurassic Galveston County Salt. It’s only natural using indigenous salts would be the next obvious locavore choice, and our proximity to the Texas Gulf areas makes this next step easy.
Today’s Band of the Day, The Eastern Sea, is inspired by my weekend plans to attend Free Press Summer Fest this weekend in Houston. Free Press Summer Fest Music Festival returns to Eleanor Tinsley Park Saturday and Sunday with an all-star line-up anchored by big name acts such as The Avett Brothers, Snoop Dogg, The Flaming Lips, and Willie Nelson. Similar to Fun Fun Fun Fest, Summer Fest features a diverse line-up of musical acts spanning almost every genre. Like FFF, Summer Fest also highlights up and comers alongside headliners, including several local Austin bands. If headed East this weekend, be sure to show some hometown love to the local Austin bands showcased throughout the weekend. Looking for last minute plans? Tickets are still available for the two-day festival happening Saturday and Sunday this weekend in Houston. More information here.
Here are a few of my top Austin band picks to catch at Free Press Summer Fest this weekend, including today’s Band of the Day, The Eastern Sea!
The Eastern Sea – The Snow
The Eastern Sea – 1:30 PM on Stage 7; Lo-fi pop band The Eastern Sea’s gentle, beautiful melodies is simply music to smile about. Be sure to catch this gem of a band during the fest.
Suite 709 – 12:30 PM on Stage 5; Led by bluesman Jerod Greene, Suite 709 is a top act to catch on Sunday. The band’s high energy beats should be a perfect way to kick off the second day of Summer Fest.
Quiet Company – 1:30 PM on Stage 5; There is nothing quiet about the buzz Austin’s resident favorite band. After a solid 2012 SXSW, including sweeping the Austin Music Awards, Quiet Company appears to be poised for mainstage success very soon.
A projected forecast of near perfect days predicted for the remainder of April means ample opportunity to spend time enjoying Austin’s great outdoors. Thankfully, Austin has plenty of ways to spend time enjoying this perfect spring weather before the summer heat rolls to town. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or outdoorsy in that you like porch drinks, Ginny’s Austin will begin a new April series of posts detailing where to spend your days.
Hit the sticks by visiting the Austin Museum of Art (AMOA) for the ‘Art on the Green’ exhibit, ongoing until May 20. The interactive outdoor art installation features a nine hole put-put course with each hole designed by a local artist. The creative holes range from modern to humorous and are as much fun to look at as play. Set on the grounds of the stunning Laguna Gloria, one doesn’t have to be Bubba Watson to enjoy this golfing excursion.
The family-friendly course is open Tuesdays from 12-8pm, Wednesdays from 12-4pm, and Thursdays-Sundays 10am-4pm.
Non-Members: $8; 12 and under $4 Members $4; 12 and under $2 50% off Twilight Tuesdays 4–8pm
California and Washington have long cornered the domestic wine country market, but in recent years, their little neighbor-that-could Oregon has quickly become one of the best kept secrets among insiders. Known for its smaller wineries, most wine makers in Oregon value a more classic approach over modern technologies in creating their wines, resulting in wines that are both unique and approachable. Further, the region is well-known for its commitment to producing sustainable and eco-friendly wines. This reputation makes Oregon wines a natural fit for farm to table style restaurants, especially since most tend to be both food-friendly and affordable.