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Austin Food & Wine Fest – Must Do’s!

Posted by on April 20, 2017


Disclosure: I’m attending this year’s Austin Food & Wine festival as a member of media.

I’m one of those people who like to plan out their festival experience. Much like I do with ACL on the years I attend, ahead of time I’ll look at the Austin Food & Wine Festival lineup, and figure out which things I consider a “Don’t Miss” and prioritize from there. If I had an All-In ticket, I’d build my schedule around my assigned time for Tim Love’s Hands-On Grilling, which is singularly the most popular event at the festival, and available only to All-In ticket holders. Here’s my 2017 #AFWFest schedule based on the Weekender ticket:

Saturday, April 29th
11am – Stop for bubbly to kick off event, and head immediately to the Toyota Center Plate stage where Brian Pounds is playing. Customize a grilling spatula or make a dry rub.  Get my bearings on the layout, including the ever-important (air conditioned) mobile restroom trailers. If possible, dash over to Krug Wine Tasting at 11:30.
Noon – Fire Pit stop to see what’s grilling from Bryce Gilmore (Barley Swine; Odd Duck), Blaine Staniford (Grace; Little Red Wasp in Ft. Worth), and Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo Austin). Make first foray for food either in Grand Taste or around the park. Must stop by Barilla Pasta to see their giant pasta tossing pot. Find Château D’Esclans and celebrate 10 years of Rosé all Day with Whispering Angel. Because Rosé. Drink water.
12:45pm – Attend Craig Collins‘ seminar on the Rhône varieties of Paso Robles AVA. I don’t know much about these, and Craig is one of my favorite somms. He started the #lambruscorevolution in Austin. Drink water.
1:15pm – Make my way through the Grand Taste pavilion, including Chef’s Showcase. Eat, drink, be merry.
2:30pm – Best Butcher in Texas finals! After, make my way to the 90+ Club (wines rated at the highest end of spectrum), Cooper & Thief (wine aged in bourbon barrels, hell yes!), and Glenfiddich Experimental Dome. Drink water.
Between things, after things, before fest closes for day – Reapply sunscreen. Visit Tito’s Stillhouse Lounge. Make sure to buy that cool Austin food map tee shirt before it sells out. Say hi to High Brew, Delysia Chocolatier, and Infinite Monkey Theorem in Grand Taste pavilion.

Sunday, April 30th
11am – More bubbly! Why not? Ease into the day at “Sunday Gravy and Mimosas” demo.
11:30am – Stop by Hendricks Gin: A Most Curious & Peculiar Cocktail Academy, or if no seats, make a beeline for their The World’s Most Utterly Inefficient Cocktail Bar.
Noon – Beat a path to the Toyota Center Plate stage to catch Amanda Freitag, in case her later demo is full. Check in on Fire Pit action and eat deliciousness from Shawn Cirkiel (Parkside; The Backspace; Olive & June, Bullfight; jugo), Sonya Coté (Eden East), and Michael Fojtasek (Olamaie). Have a minute? Drop by the Pioneer Wine Company Lounge.
1pm – Plan on either Amanda Freitag’s “The Chef Next Door” seminar or the Santa Margherita “Mangia, Mangia, Ya’ll” demo.  If both full, a trip to the Summer Sipper Lounge & Patio and/or Summer Saloon. Stop by KitchenAid and drool over appliances. Drink water. Reapply sunscreen.
1:45pm – Aaron Sanchez, baby! Gotta get a peek at one of my favorite cheflebrities and his tats, even if his “Johnny Sanchez Classics” demo is SRO. There’s also the “Rhode Island Red, Seafood, Sauce and Red Wine” demo. Alternate plan: hit the Grand Taste again, if I haven’t tried all the yummy bites, or sampled enough bevies.  “So much time and so little to do. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. Thank you.” I’m sure to feel like I’ve had a trip through the wine and food version of Willy Wonka‘s factory after this day.
2:15pm –  Cheese and charcuterie, please! “Legends of Europe” features Prosciutto di Parma, Grana Padano, Montasio and Prosciutto di San Daniele. I can’t remember if I’ve tasted Montasio and Prosciutto di San Daniele. I may not remember tasting it at this event, either. *Note to self: arrange a sober ride home in advance of weekend, for both fest days. Drink water. Leave happy.
Festie tip of the day: Utilize the spit buckets. If you don’t like what you’re tasting, don’t drink it. There’s so much to savor, and some flavors may not be ones you enjoy.

How do you plan on doing the #AFWfest?

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