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Austin Food + Wine Fest is 86’d, what now?

Posted by on April 21, 2016
Photo credit: Christopher Michel

Photo credit: Christopher Michel

It’s an understatement to say yesterday’s announcement canceling the Austin Food + Wine Festival was huge news. With a festival of this size, involving not only local chefs, but those traveling from elsewhere in the state and nation, numerous in and out-of-town food and beverage vendors, and other industry insiders, the decision was not undertaken lightly.  Refunds are being issued for all but two indoor events.  Visitors and locals alike are now left with an empty weekend looming, but there is a plethora of food and beverage events ongoing.

If you’re truly downhearted about Austin’s Food + Wine Festival canceling, save the date for Culinaria, San Antonio’s food and wine festival. The even runs May 19-22, and includes underground dinners, a bubbly soiree that should be on any sparkling wine lover’s hit list, the ever-popular Grand Tasting, a family-friendly “Burgers, BBQ & Beer” event, a day-long session of panels, tastings, demos, and so much more. Tickets to Culinaria are sold both by the event and for the weekend, allowing attendees who can’t devote as much time to the fest to pick and choose among their favorites. San Antonio has experienced huge growth in their food and beverage industry, and my last few trips have included fantastic and memorable meals. If you haven’t visited lately, go, and taste for yourself how the city has grown beyond it’s Tex Mex roots (but make sure you leave room for puffy tacos).

There’s still plenty of fun to be found around town. It’s the perfect weekend for a craft brewery tour. My go-to favorite is (512) Brewing’s Pecan Porter, which you can sample on their tour. Many local breweries now have tap rooms in addition to tours.  Hops & Grain‘s tour & tap room is always fun, and with a bit of planning and being mindful to eat as well as drink, you can make a day of it.

Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse is on their last few days of celebrating their 10th anniversary. Tonight, as part of the #WeSmokeTheGoodStuff #10YearsOfBeer events is Honky Tonk Happy Hour featuring $4.50 pints and music from Joe Greer. Tomorrow is the Barton Springs Full Moon Swim where you pregame at the brewpub/quepub, then return later for food and libations. Saturday from 10am to 3pm is their Puppy Porter Palooza, where well-behaved dogs will reap rewards for their owners to the tune of a complimentary four-pack of Gypsy Dubbel Coffee Porter.

Prelog’s is hosting a James Bond Cocktail class Saturday, and attendees will make (and drink) three cocktails, enjoy delicious munchies and take home their glass as a souvenir and reminder to test your new-found skills at home.

There’s an abundance of crawfish boils going on, the largest being the Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival on Saturday, held on the Statesman’s parking lot. Tickets are $20 cash at gate or buy online, and kids 8 and under are free. Your entry includes free boiled crawfish, one plate per person at a time, until all 7,000 pounds are gone. There will be other Cajun and creole food vendors, arts and crafts, activities for the kids, and live music, including great zydeco.  If you want to avoid a large crowd, Sawyer & Co is boiling up crawfish on Saturday starting at 4pm ($5.95/lb). Waterloo Ice House on N. Capital of Texas kicks off the Austin chain’s Crawfish Crawl Saturday beginning at noon. Crawfish are $15 for all-you-can-eat, which sounds like a personal challenge to me. There will be crawfish races and facepainting for the kids, specials on Lone Star and Tito’s Vodka for the adults. Other Waterloo locations will host Crawfish Crawls on upcoming weekends, check the restaurants’ website for details.

Photo credit: Kay Marley-Dilworth

Photo credit: Kay Marley-Dilworth

If you want to get away from it all, why not a road trip to the Texas Hill County wineries? I recently visited Wedding Oak Winery, located at Wildseed Farms, and enjoyed several very lovely glasses of wine. I brought home an albariño and a rosé, to enjoy another time. Grab a designated driver and use the Texas Hill Country wineries site to plan your trip. Make sure you stop at Lox, Box & Barrel in far Southwest Austin just before Dripping Springs, and purchase salads and sandwiches from their deli. Perfect munchies for a winery road trip!

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