Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bits and Bites: Austin Food News

-- Browne Family Vineyards four-course wine pairing dinner at Olive + June, Thursday, October 29th, $96/person.

-- Pop-up bakery from I Knead That at Metier (1805 S. First) on Saturday, October 31st, 10 am.

-- Throughout November, Noble Sandwich will "swap" sandwiches with four other national restaurants in the inaugural Signature Sandwich Swap; proceeds benefit Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry.
-- Still some tickets left for the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest, this Sunday at the Long Center, $80/person.

-- Texas French Bread hosts a Boggy Creek Farm harvest dinner, Sunday November 1st, $60/person.

-- The Blind Cafe, a socially conscious dinner in the dark will be in Austin November 3 - 5; see my blog post for more information on this unique event!

-- Tuesday, November 3rd is National Sandwich Day, and ice cream sandwich shop Moojo celebrates with a $1 off their Superhero sandwich.

-- Eat East, happening the first Tuesday of each month (coming up: November 3rd) where a number of centrally located east Austin restaurants offer a special on that day.

-- Shake Shack is partnering with Hops + Grain to bring live music the first Tuesday of each month; on November 3rd at the Domain location, Supernomadic will play from 6- 8 pm, and Hops + Grain beers will be half off.

-- Six-course Kaltern Winery pairing dinner at Dine, $65/person, November 5th.

-- The annual Wurstfest, November 6 - 15.  #sausageonastick

-- Tickets for Wine and Swine on Sunday, November 8th are still available, and the full lineup of chefs/dishes/hog heaven has been announced. (I'll be volunteering at registration, come say hi!)

-- The Brooklyn Brewery #AustinMASH tour begins November 8th; see their site for all the events; this is the largest traveling international beer and arts festival.

-- All locations of Wienerschnitzel will offer a free hot dog and small drink to veterans with valid military ID, proof of service or by wearing a military uniform on November 11th in appreciation for their service.

-- Startup Food Weekend, November 13-15, is a food tech conference looking for ways to impact the global food system. From their site: We're looking for passionate foodies, students, entrepreneurs, developers, chefs and designers who want to innovate new systems and products related to food. Come learn the basics of founding and launching a successful startup while solving real problems we face in our food system. 20% off registration via this link.

-- Swoop House presents East Austin Supper Club with a dinner with guest chef Egil Valentin, November 13th, $85/person.

-- Austin Bakes is back on November 14th. This city-wide bake sale has raised thousands of dollars in the past for various relief efforts. Be a volunteer baker or a generous shopper, more details on their site.

-- Johnson's Backyard Garden postponed their Fall Potluck and Harvest Hustle event to November 14th.

-- November 15th will be the 10th bi-annual Sustainable Food Center Chef Series dinner at La Condesa; ticket are $150/person.

-- The Salt Lick BBQ is teaming with Jester King Brewery on Wednesday, November 18th for their first pairing dinner, $75/person.

-- Pinthouse Pizza has just opened at 4236 South Lamar, next to Bombay Bistro and Pei Wei.

-- Two much anticipated Italian spots have opened on the east side: osteria-inspired Al Fico opened at 1700 E. 2nd Street and modern Italian Juniper at 2400 E. Cesar Chavez.

-- Kerbey Lane's fall pumpkin menu will be available October 28th. Austin Monthly is holding a $50 gift card drawing.

-- Harvest restaurant delivery has just launched.

-- Gourmet By Numbers now has desserts available on their menus.

-- Wheatsville Co-op has partnered with Instacart; new users can get a $10 discount and free delivery with the code wheatsville10.

-- Baby Greens, the former South Austin salad drive through, will reopen in 2016 on Anderson Lane.

-- Happy hour at Texas French Bread, Monday - Saturday, 3 - 5:30 pm, with drink and food specials
-- Gardner has a new fall a la carte menu featuring seasonal items.

-- The Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort and Spa in Boerne just completed a $3 million renovation. Their on site restaurant, La Cascada Table + Bar, has live music on Friday and Saturday nights, and features local Texas fare from a host of regional dairies, farms, and ranches. From breakfast Vaquero Huevos Rancheros to Poteet Farms produce to Bandera quail, you will not go hungry though you're at a spa!

-- New fast-casual chain Blaze Pizza will open in December in Lakeline Commons (14009 North Research Blvd., #103), close to the Lakeline Mall.

-- Artisanal snow trailer SnoLabs begins their winter break November 1st.

-- Amy's Ice Cream on South Congress closed, as the landlord doubled the rent. Booo.

Order Up!
-- The holidays are coming, so start thinking about your meals. (Yes, already!)

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Blind Cafe: Coming to Austin November 3 - 5

I've always heard about those dinners held in a completely dark room and thought they sounded like a fun experiment. Now, coming to Austin November 3-5, is The Blind Cafe, where diners will  experience their meal in total darkness and will be served by legally blind people. This event is meant to make patrons more socially aware and to lose the self-consciousness that can arise in social settings. No light. No cell phones. No need to wipe the crumbs from around your mouth as you eat, as no one can see you.

The Blind Cafe has three main components:
  • To engage in a social dinner experience with vegan and gluten free foods, sourced locally as much as possible.
  • To have a discussion via a Q + A session with legally blind speakers (who double as your servers), as they share their experiences of being blind.
  • To participate in an active listening opportunity by really tuning in to live music being performed at dinner.
All of these together are intended to heighten your senses and to be fully immersed in the environment. Organizers do note that their aim is not to make patrons experience the evening as if they were blind, but rather "designed to change the way you 'see' the world." From their website: "The Blind Cafe does not try to perfectly recreate blindness. Instead, it allows people to interact, trust each other, and experience community in an entirely new way. In the dark, there are no uncomfortable glances, no self-consciousness about what you’re wearing or what you weigh, no distinction between the sighted and blind."

The Blind Cafe will be held November 3 - 5, with two seatings per night at 6 pm and 8:30 pm, at the American Legion, 404 Atlanta Street (just south of Mopac and Lake Austin Blvd., near Deep Eddy pool). Suggested ticket price is $85/person, but sliding scale options are available.

* This is a sponsored post; I have been given two tickets to the dinner in exchange for coverage of the event.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Gus's Fried Chicken

Here's all you need to know about Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken:


Best fried chicken in town, with Ms. P's Electric Cock a close second.

The fried green tomatoes had a great cornmeal crust, no grease, and a decent ranch sauce.  There were three of us splitting them, and I think the appetizer normally comes with five pieces, but our waiter brought us six so we didn't have to fight. And it wasn't Hidden Valley Ranch, so that made me happy.
Gus's Fried Chicken -- fried green tomatoes
The chicken was hot, juicy, crusty, and delicious.  The cole slaw was on the sweeter side, which didn't bother me, but it might not be to everyone's liking. The beans were fine, but not memorable. But for real, you're not going for the sides, you're going for THE CHICKEN! I got the three piece plate, and took one piece home for lunch the next day.  Gus's uses only the finest in styrofoam dishware. No fuss, no muss.
Gus's Fried Chicken
Pies were okay, though they were served straight from the refrigerator where as they should be room temperature. Chocolate, pecan, and buttermilk. Nothing spectacular.
Gus's Fried Chicken -- pies
Located downtown at 117 San Jacinto, Gus's is one and a half blocks east of Congress Avenue, and a block from the Convention Center. They are a Memphis transplant, and clearly they know how to whip up a batch of chicken. There were lots of people picking up take out orders, but I wonder if the fried goodness suffers a bit when left to steam in a styrofoam container. So just figure out where to park and go eat it there. Don't know what took me so long to get to Gus's, but I can't wait to go back!