Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Austin Food and Wine Festival 2013


We had an awesome time this weekend at the Austin Food and Wine Festival. They really addressed a lot of the problems we had last year and this year was fantastic. The weather was cloudy and humid, but not too warm on Saturday and the rain held off till the evening. Sunday was a warm, sunny day, but not nearly as hot as last year. I enjoyed it.
We drove up Friday evening with mom and dad and checked into the Hyatt on Lady Bird Lake. We had happy hour in the room and then we drove to Uchiko for dinner. We all did the omakase ten course tasting menu and it was mind blowingly good. It was the best food we ate all weekend. I loved the raw diver scallop on apple, the vinegar soaked, charred peppers in sriracha dipping sauce, the shredded, fried brussel sprouts, the sashimi with roasted tomato and basil and the roasted eggplant sushi. All of it, totally and completely delicious. That may have been the best meal of my life.
Saturday we had a light breakfast and then met mom and dad in the lobby to walk to the festival. The walk was easy and we only had to wait in line for a few minutes before we came in and grabbed our swag bag filled with a guide and a plastic wine glass. We went straight to the Hickory tent to see Susan Feniger. She was charming and fun to watch and we learned so many tips. After that we walked around the festival, creating our own chocolate bar and having it shipped to the house, tasting new juices, sipping prosecco and trying new wines. We bought Susan's cookbook and went over to have it autographed. She was so nice.
A while later we made our way to the Oak tent to hear Bill Norris talk about drinking vinegars and shrubs. This was so interesting! I knew nothing about shrubs and now I'm very excited to try making one. They are excellent with or without alcohol. I think that will be my christmas gift for everybody this year.
When that presentation was over, we made our way to the grand tasting tent. There was a lot more food than last year and every thing had a better layout. We had some wonderful bites including a fabulous beet taco from Hickory Street of all places. When we had eaten our fill, we made our way to the Chasing Ernest Hemmingway lecture by Tony About-Ganim. We drank lots of daiquiri and that's all I remember.
We ended our day at Barton Seaver's Everything's Wild in Alaska. This was a smaller demo and he talked about sustainability. I enjoyed it, but was a bit cross eyed by this point.
This was the end of the day, so we walked back to our hotel, rested, showered and then Michael and I decided to drive up to Alamo Drafthouse and see Oz. Mom and Dad stayed in, but we drove up to the movies and had dinner and really enjoyed Oz. I was home and in bed by 8:45 and after one episode of Vampire Diaries, I was asleep.
Sunday Michael and I got up early and went for a four mile run around Lady Bird Lake. It was a beautiful morning and it was so fun to run around the lake. We had a late breakfast with mom and dad in the hotel and then walked back over to the festival.
We watched a demo by Tony Mantuano and his wife called Party From the Pantry where we learned some quick meals we can make out of the pantry when people come over unexpectedly. They were fun to watch and we really enjoyed this one. When it was over, we went straight over to the Mesquite Tent to watch Marcus Samuelsson teach us to make Ramen. He handed out bourbon to begin with and then filled the tent with energy as he raced around creating food for us to taste. I tried his ramen and liked it, but mom thought it a bit too fishy. I just loved getting to see him. I had read his biography, "Yes, Chef", earlier this year and LOVED it. We went straight from that demo to a wine tasting with Anthony Giglio on Sicilian wines. They were all red, so I barely sipped them, but Michael, Mom and Dad all really enjoyed this tasting and I think we all learned some things about wine from Sicily.
This was our last demo of the festival. When we finished our wines, we walked into the grand tasting tent and spent about 45 minutes sampling. I had some more delicious bites and tried a wonderful cocktail with ruby red grapefruit Deep Eddy vodka and club soda. This may become my summer of 2013 official cocktail.
We walked back to the hotel and packed the car and drove home in the late afternoon. It was a wonderful weekend and I am so glad Mom and Dad went with us. We are glad we got the taste passes instead of the savor. We will definitely go again next year if we can.

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