Austin Food & Wine Festival: Tix Available

UPDATE: The VIP All-In and Single Day tickets are sold out.

Get ’em while they’re hot! Tickets have been released for the November 4-6, 2022 Austin Food & Wine Festival. New this year is the ability to buy single day tickets ($165), a perfect opportunity for those who are unable to attend the full weekend. This season also sees the debut of luxury VIP All-In with a dedicated lounge with seating and air conditioned restrooms, earlier entrance time and dedicated entry lane into the fest along with access to the Friday evening Wurst Weekend Kickoff and Saturday evening Rock Your Taco events. ($725). Other ticket options include the All-In ($625) with access to Wurst Weekend Kickoff and Rock Your Taco included, and the Weekender ($250) which grants entrance into both days of the festival but doesn’t include evening events.

I’m intrigued with the Wurst Weekend Kickoff, which replaced Grillin’ & Chillin’, the chef-guided hands-on dinner party. It’s billed as a Bavarian-styled evening, with beers and brats, and bound to be just as lively as Grillin & Chillin, with less actual work on the part of the attendee. Is it too much to hope for a live oompah band? Break out your lederhosen and dirndls!

The festival will release its talent line up soon, but as someone who has attended religiously, let me say that the cooking demos, tasting sessions, Fire Pit offerings, and nibbles and sips from the many top wine, beer and spirit makers are well worth the ticket price. Additionally, Austin Food & Wine Festival historically highlights local restaurants that are close to opening but haven’t yet begun service, thus giving attendees a first, exclusive taste of the menu to come. It’s also a fantastic way to sample fine dining restaurants without paying for an entire meal, especially from establishments you’d deem “special occasion” spots solely due to the price. Who doesn’t want to know that the quality and execution of their food is worth it, without first dropping bank on a meal? At the Austin Food & Wine Festival, you have the opportunity to try (and try again, if you find it delectable) the restaurant’s “come hither” delicacy, the bite that they’re serving up to both impress and beguile you into becoming a regular patron of their dining room.

One of my favorite offerings from the festival is the tasting sessions, and meet the maker opportunities. I’ll admit to fangirling out over chefs and winemakers, but also deeply appreciate hearing their stories, insight and guidance. The festival has a celebratory atmosphere but the education is not to be brushed aside, as you have the expert directly in front of you, and even the most “formal” tasting sessions (as formal as you can be, in a tent at an outdoor festival) often include a Q&A.

The grand tasting in the central area of the festival always garners the most attention, but the Fire Pits are a close second for fan favorite. Chefs use all manner of cooking with live fire methods to produce carnivorous, pescatarian, and vegetarian fare. Yes, these pits will have lines as the crowd gathers, but they generally move quickly, and you are guaranteed a tasty tidbit while being able to watch the chefs tend to the flames and food.

Please note the hours of the festival will be from 1:30pm – 5:30pm on Saturday and Sunday (gates at 1pm; VIP All-In gates at 12:30pm). Always a sell out, buy your tickets now. Follow the festival in social media channels using their hashtag #AFWFest.

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The Return of Texas French Bread

Image Credit: Texas French Bread

Texas French Bread announced via Facebook and Instagram posts this week that they’re selling bread and pastries at the Texas Farmer’s Market at Lakeline, and hope to be offering items through Farmhouse Delivery in the near future. The bakery suffered a total loss of their brick & mortar at the beginning of 2022 when a fire destroyed the historic building housing the bakery and restaurant.

The iconic European-style bakery has been a mainstay in Austin since 1981, when the Wilcott family first began selling bread wholesale, with their retail venture following shortly afterward. In the early 90’s, Texas French Bread was instrumental in opening up my world to the wonders of, at the time, unfamiliar items such as their heavenly, buttery brioche. It was love at first bite for this former Wonder Bread kid.

Texas French Bread helped pioneer the farm-to-table movement in Austin, showcasing products from local farms, ranches and businesses including Boggy Creek Farm, the city’s oldest urban farm. Their menu changes with the season, taking advantage of peak flavor of produce, and sourcing not only beef, chicken and pork but also rabbit and other game from Texas vendors. Their coq au vin is legendary, as is their decadent Hyde Park Fudge Cake. Austinites can breathe a little easier, knowing that Texas French Bread’s comeback is taking its first steps.

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Austin Food & Wine Fest 2021 Highlights

The Austin Food & Wine Festival came roaring back this year, with COVID-19 precautions in place, celebrating delicious bites and tasty sips in what had to be one of the most beautiful weekends of the year. With cool temps, blue skies and plenty of wine just inside the gates, attendees waited patiently in line to show proof of vaccination or their negative COVID test.

I always kick off my fest with bubbly. Loved getting to know Cheurlin.

There was what seemed like an endless supply of wine, beer, cider and spirits to sample along with food from fine dining establishments as well as more casual restaurants. I tasted multiple small bites from both new restaurants and long-term spots, and was happily satisfied with the amount of food available.

Lance Kirkpatrick, pitmaster at Stiles Switch BBQ provided a delicious two bite taco at the fire pit.

The festival continued the tradition of small sessions along the exterior of the festival. With the larger tents filling up quickly, it was nice to participate in a more intimate Q&A session. I always soak up more about wine, terroir, how to better pair food and vino, and choosing great bottles from these unpretentious gatherings, probably because I’m more relaxed.

Talkin’ bout vino.

HEB, a sponsor of the festival, always has quality food and drink on hand, but this year their booth took it to a higher level. With a ridiculous number of food offerings on their grill, HEB served wine, frozen cranberry margaritas topped with bubbly, and rolled everything out with a smile and impeccable people skills. I will admit to indulging in their NY Strip and pit roasted delicata squash with savory and tart muhammara and dukka, as well as the post oak grilled tri-tip with a cilantro, lime and pepper marinade. Delicious!

Thank you, HEB!

Angry Orchard Hard Cider set up an exclusive playhouse for enjoying their cider, complete with a top deck looking out over Lady Bird Lake and downtown Austin, and a swing in their “front yard.” Their cider was a happy surprise, not nearly as sweet as most ciders on the market these days, very refreshing. Cider is normally not my first choice, but Angry Orchard has shown me the error of my ways.

The only thing missing in this yard is a cornhole game.

This year’s Rock Your Taco event did not disappoint. Always a fierce competition, the tacos from each contestant were unique and decadent. The days’ celebratory atmosphere carried over into the night, with music, laughter and more than enough food. Republic Square was the perfect venue, with twinkly lights giving it an almost romantic feel. Do you take this taco, to be your favorite taco, for ever and ever? I do!

LeAnn Mueller of la Barbecue preparing her tacos de cerda.

After a year off due to the pandemic, this year’s festival truly felt joyful. For many people, it was the first time venturing out into a large group in over a year. For many vendors, it was a chance to whet the appetites of the masses, and encourage a return to in-person dining. It was freeing, gathering together in the celebration of food and drink, and it was exactly what Austin needed. I’m very much looking forward to next year’s festival!

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