CultureMap Austin -- Many of Austin’s food fans are looking forward to a flavorful weekend as the 2nd Annual Austin Food and Wine Festival pitches a park full of tents, fires up a wave of grills, and pours a steady flow of wine and beer over the next few days.
Some would say last year’s event was a trial by fire that wound up with a few kinks to straighten out — dusty grounds, confusing lines, a dearth of actual food to taste — but event organizers have taken the past year to evaluate feedback and measure topics of interest to offer up a more robust and savor-centric program for this year’s festival.
The main event has been moved from the dustier patches of Auditorium Shores to the grassy expanse of Butler Park, which will hopefully allay anyone’s concern about an added sprinkle of dust to their food or wine. (See official website for info on location and parking.) Beyond that, the official festival schedule features a wider range of offerings for guests during the day with tastings, demos and interactive seminars, and food lovers can also find other delectable events to take advantage of on the side.
Kicking things off
The weekend will kick off with Thursday evening’s Live Fire! event from the Austin Food and Wine Alliance at The Salt Lick Pavilion in Driftwood featuring more than a dozen Texas chefs and a wide range of wines and beers to enjoy along the serene Hill Country banks of Onion Creek.
Friday night will include a reprise of last year’s Taste of Texas event at Republic Square Park and is open to VIP (Savor) ticket holders as well as general (Taste) pass holders who opted to spring for an extra $150 ticket to attend. Leading up to performances from Delta Spirit and Whiskey Shivers, the evening will showcase a wide variety of Texas-inspired bites from some of the state’s most celebrated chefs including Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ, David Bull of Congress and Andrew Wiseheart of Contigo.
"I'm looking forward to cooking next to great local chefs and chefs from out of town on Friday night,” says Wiseheart. He adds that during the festival weekend he’ll “definitely hit up Marcus Samuelsson. I've seen him speak before and I really enjoyed it. I'm also looking forward to checking out the Fire Pit action on Saturday and Sunday."
The main event
The event really kicks into gear on Saturday, and there is a maze of seminars and tastings to navigate. A quick glance at the schedule may seem a bit overwhelming. Not only are there a wider variety of events to choose from, but there’s also a number of “side” events staged throughout the weekend affair.
Our top picks include Saturday’s "It’s Tailgate Time in Texas" with chef Tim Love, "Classic Desserts In A Modern Kitchen" with Austin’s own Philip Speer of Uchi/Uchiko and "Drinking Vinegars & Shrubs" with Bill Norris of Alamo Drafthouse.
"I really want to check out Charles Smith's ‘Charles and Charles Project' and Tony Abou Ganim's ‘Chasing Hemingway’ seminars on Saturday. They're both great personalities who know their stuff cold,” says Norris. And following his Sunday seminar on beer, he’ll be stopping in to Jonathan Waxman's "Lotta Lobster" seminar. “Who doesn't love lobster?"
On Sunday, we’re most looking forward to learning about French underdog wines with Food & Wine contributor Anthony Giglio as well as Marcus Samuelsson’s take on ramen and Andrew Zimmern’s session on cooking wild birds.
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