The Austin Food and Wine Alliance is “dedicated to fostering awareness and innovation in the Central Texas culinary community…” At the 2nd Annual Wine & Swine they certainly made everyone aware of all things pork with 18 chefs flexing their culinary muscles. At least half of them had whole hogs spit-roasted overnight while others worked pork into tacos, soups, and desserts. As if that wasn’t worth the entry fee, I was generously given a free media pass that included an invitation to a VIP party. We bought a ticket for Ev,
put on our stretchy pants, had a small breakfast, and were on our way! (Warning: several whole-roasted pigs appear in photos below)
Our VIP party meant an hour of special access to cured meats from Salt and Time, cocktails from Twin Liquors, wine from Whole Foods, and chocolates from Delysia Chocolatier. In VIP House Number One, Salt and Time blew us away with their spreadable sausage called N’duja, though their other salamis were nothing to scoff at. This, along with most dishes throughout the day, was served on Easy Tiger breads. Man, they know their dough.
Twin Liquors featured three cocktails showing off Maker’s Mark, Waterloo Gin, and Starlite Vodka. I usually steer clear of vodka, but when mixed with a cacao liqueur it, won me over. Of course the Maker’s Mark drink (a spin on an Old Fashioned) was great, and the Waterloo Gin was mixed with fruit juices for a refreshing opener to the upcoming meatfest.
We moseyed over to VIP House Number Two and found the chocolate and wine. In fact, Delysia covered both bases with a Cabernet-filled chocolate. They also had a coffee flavor and a bacon jalapeño. Naturally. All three were incredible. Whole Foods poured us a light white wine that neither of us particularly cared for. In fact, we didn’t have very much wine at all, mainly because the beer and cocktails fit better with the unseasonably warm November afternoon.
Just before the main event opened up, the Whole Foods tent brought over two of three of their porky presentations: a rillette (a layering of pulled pork and pork fat in a jar) and a pork belly biscuit. Rich and delicious and a great taste of things to come.
And then we got serious. After a brief tour of the soon-to-open tents, we went on a tasting frenzy. Of the eighteen chefs, we only tried seventeen. We’re not gluttons!
Like I said, at least half roasted whole pigs, and those pigs were front and center at their tents. Some were being finished over the grill, like by Jason Dady of Jason Dady Restaurants.
Rebecca Rather from The Pink Pig in Fredericksburg had her pig out in front of her tent. Grab a plate of fry bread and veggies, then turn around for the meat.
And Andrew Wiseheart from Contigo had his pièce de résistance front and center serving the food.
However, the first tent that was ready to serve the crowd ended up being, without question, the best of the group. Executive Chef Josh Watkins of The Carillon shared the most phenomenal ribs I’ve ever had. Watkins is outgoing, friendly, and just has fun with food. I mean, he plated the ribs on the pig.
Speaking of fun, as others asked for him to take a picture, he suggested this look:
We picked up several drinks from Deep Eddy Vodka, Jester King Brewery, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Hops & Grain Brewery, White Hat Rum, and Dulce Vida Spirits to keep us cool. Lots of day drinking by all! Ev enjoyed the two vodkas while I preferred the Farmhouse Noble King IPA from Jester King and the Alt from Hops & Grain. We were both blown away by White Hat Rum. They first gave us a taste of just the rum, and then a spiked blood orange soda with mint. Hands down the best rum you can buy.
With drinks in hand we check out the father-son Gilmore tents. They roasted a pig together and used it in their own presentations. It was actually Bryce (son, and of Barley Swine) whose food we didn’t try. Jack (father, and of Jack Allen’s Kitchen) had a tasty pork and grits.
Even dessert wasn’t safe from the pig. Swift’s Attic’s Zack Northcutt broke the salty meat trend with bacon ice cream topped with foie gras whipped cream. Almost savory, but an especially great treat in the warm sun.
Before leaving I had to grab one more bacon jalapeño chocolate from Delysia. The lesson here is it will melt in your hand if you lollygag trying to take pictures, so just eat it already! The perfect end to the porktacular event.
Wine and Swine showcased some of Austin’s top chefs using Texas’ “other” meat. While beef may be king, pork certainly felt like royalty today. A big part of the fun comes from interacting with the chefs. For them it’s a time for them to show off their creativity in a fun event for a good cause and see people enjoying their food firsthand. For guests it’s a unique experience to have direct access to some of Austin’s best chefs and try something you can’t get anywhere else. We had a great time and I’m impressed by the quality of the event put on by the Austin Food and Wine Alliance. I can’t wait for Spring to get here when they’ll put on Live Fire again!