Austin Food & Wine Festival – Day 2: Worthy Sips & Tasty Bites
by Dawn Garcia
The humidity is pushing down on us with happy fury, the heat is coming from the grills, the people, the happy smiles, the eager crowds, and once in a while you spot a well known Chef (Like Philip Speer, Tyson Cole, Marcus Samuelsson) who’s just wandering, tasting, being among the rest of us. It’s Day 2 of the Austin Food & Wine Festival. As I arrive I see Andrew Zimmern leading a grilling class – at least a hundred people, 50 grills, and instructions about to be delivered. After my one-on-one with him and his spectacular wife, Rishia last night at the Trailer Park & Eatery Austin, I have a newfound adoration for them as human beings, a couple, and of course the many culinary adventure they take. He’s encouraging an awaiting crowd standing in front of both beef tongue and cheek waiting for the order of how to prep and grill. It’s on. The grills fired, the scent of options wafting through the air and beckoning us all to devour, the afternoon is well under way. I walk past the grill challenge on to the Fire pit. I stop by to say hello to Chefs Jason Dady and Josh Watkins, situated in the center of it all. After the Live Fire Challenge, it feels like we’re all old friends.
I stroll past the grills and crowd, the Pecan Tent, the Fire Pit, and on through the aisles of the wines and spirits all gathered in rows of threes in the Grand Tasting Area. The tastings beckon even the most discerning palates with wines from Italy, France, California, Chile, Oregon, to Texas’ very own, and more. Rather than over-indulge I chose two tents to stop at. Austin Hope and Santa Rita. Austin Hope is from Paso Robles, CA and Santa Rita hales from Chile:
Austin Hope – Grenache is a true blend aged in 100% of French Oak, uncompromising.
Both wines are distinct in flavor, complexity, boldness, and signature blends. If I had to choose, on this particular day I would choose the Grenache. It’s unique and somehow soothing on this insanely sticky, hot day.
Arriving late in the afternoon, it’s already time to start thinking about the evening’s events being put on by the Austin Food & Wine Festival – The Rock Your Taco Event with celebrity chefs competing to win the title of Best Taco (Winner in 2012 was Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi | Uchiko). Before I leave I pass the Chef Cook-Off table and Chef John Bates of Noble Sandwich Company is placing out some of the most perfect cuts of roast beef I’ve ever had. Really. An incredibly nice guy with a passion for cooking, his experience stems from being Executive Chef at Asti and Sous Chef of WINK! Austin, it’s no wonder he won this cook-off: it is a succulent piece of meat, the aioli/compote sauce on the side is powerful in flavor and the ideal compliment to the french bread it has harbored itself atop! The Food & Wine Festival begins winding down as the sun eases ever so slightly and the threat of storm clouds prance in. I sneak off to the Media Tent to plug in, recharge and write for a while. I do love that they had that available. It was thanks to Sarah Abell that this was possible.
The Food & Wine Festival closes, wine is flowing rather heavily through those attendees now clamoring their way out into the streets and into their cars (a bit of a frightening situation) and I walk, computer bag, purse in hand – and heels (oh yes, I wore heels) – and I head back to the comfort of Lee and Lauren’s home but not before I stop by the W Austin Hotel to pick up tickets to the Parisian Soiree. Austin’s own Chef Lawrence Kocurek comes down to say a quick hello and hand delivers the tickets to his shindig at 9pm following the Austin Food & Wine Festival’s Rock Your Taco Event happening at 7pm later. It must be said that Chef Kocurek is a true gentleman and it was an honor learning more about what he does. Next trip to this City of “Weird”, I will be back to stay at The Heywood Hotel and the W Austin and I will do a proper tasting. (But it must be said, this night I got a fair taste of what he is capable of as a Chef and let me just say, my foie desires were cured! Thank you Chef!) This was the end of Day 2 of the Food & Wine Fest
My wardrobe provided by PinUp Girl Clothing.