Austin Food & Wine Festival Hot News & Getaway Giveaway

We have hot news of changes underway for April’s Austin Food + Wine Festival, including retiring Lone Star Nights in favor of the hugely popular Tim Love hands-on grilling demo. Dubbed Grillin’ & Chillin’, it’s the ultimate interactive grilling experience for All In ticket holders. In past fests, this event was held on the festival grounds under the beautiful but brutal Texas sun. Moving the event to the cool Spring evening will amp up the always lively atmosphere. Ticket holders will grill dinner under Chef Tim’s expert tutelage, humorous anecdotes, music and a definite party vibe.

The festival is known for its Fire Pits, where chefs grill or smoke delectable cuts of meats, poultry, seafood and veggies.  This year finds the Fire Pits expanded to include more chefs, more food and more tips on how to harness the power of live fire to create delicious meals.  The Chef Showcase, held in the Grand Taste tents, has grown as well, with featured chefs sampling their signature dishes.

Last year’s festival was impressive for the amount of food and beverage sampling (it’s not just wine anymore!), and this year is promising to be the best yet.  Today marks the start of the Getaway Giveaway, with the Austin Food + Wine Festival awarding one lucky winner 2 round-trip flights to Austin, accommodations at the lushly swank Fairmont Hotel, two All In tickets to the festival, rideshare credits for transportation to and from the event, and an official festival merchandise package.  A winner will be chosen at random on January 17th, at 5pm, so enter now!

Tickets to the Austin Food + Wine Festival go on sale January 18th. The All In ticket gains you entrance to both Saturday and Sunday festival grounds, plus Friday night’s Grillin’ & Chillin’, and Saturday evening’s Rock Your Taco challenge. Weekender ticket holders have entry to both days of the festival, but not the night events. Invariably the question of “Is it worth it?” comes up, and we always answer with a resounding “Yes!” This is the only event where you can spend the equivalent of dinner (for two) at 2 local fine dining establishments yet sample bites and nibbles from a lengthy list of the best chefs not only in Austin or Texas, but nationwide. And then there’s wine, oh so many different types of wine. Last year saw growth in the offerings of beer and spirits as well.

And then there is the elegant, intimate, and oh-so-exclusive Feast Under the Stars. The traditional kick off to the festival is a 5-course meal prepared by festival chefs under the starry night sky at Auditorium Shores. Feast Under the Stars entry can be purchased separately, or as an add on to either ticket options. It always sells out early, so buy them as soon as ticket sales open.

See you at the fest!

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Cannon + Belle Texas Winemaker Dinner Series

In the first collaboration of Cannon + Belle‘s Texas winemaker series, the restaurant teams up with Duchman Winery for a six course pairing menu.  The dinner kicks off a celebratory series of Texas wines with Cannon + Belle’s regional cuisine. The event is tomorrow night, and few tickets remain, so I suggest calling (512) 493-4900 to secure your seat at the table. At only $65 per person (plus tax and gratuity), you’ll sample wines that retail between $16 – $30 a bottle paired with sumptuous, rich offerings including seared snapper with truffled spring pea puree, Texas mushrooms, and pickled radishes, and the mouthwatering citrus spiked, 72-hour short rib with gremolata, goat cheese risotto, rainbow swiss chard and a hint of hibiscus. Duchman winemaker Dave Reilly will guide diners through the courses, and offer a lively discourse on flavor pairings.


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Austin Food & Wine Fest – Must Do’s!


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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