Austin FOOD & WINE Festival Kicks Off with Live Fire!

This weekend Austin gets to play host to the Austin FOOD & WINE Festival.  It’s a spin-off of the famed FOOD & WINE Festival held annually in Aspen.  Saturday and Sunday the festival will take over Auditorium Shores to showcase locally- and nationally-famous chefs doing what they do best.  To unofficially kick things off, the Salt Lick made for the perfect venue to prove you can’t have too much meat and alcohol in one place.  This is Live Fire!

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance, the masterminds of the event, put together quite a spread.  Thirteen meat masters and more than twenty local beer, wine, and spirit makers came to show off their specialties.  Tickets were actually a bit pricey, but thanks to my membership in the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance, I was able to pick up two tickets at half price.  Now that’s a deal!

With thirteen beef-testants giving out all kinds of goodness, it would be nearly impossible to rank them in order of my favorites.  I wouldn’t dream of … CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!  Kidding, I’ll spare you, but I will say my favorite was Foreign & Domestic’s beef tongue pastrami with chic live mousse and Maker’s Mark onion jam.  Yes, it even beat out the Franklin BBQ Tipsy Texan.  The whole menu is here, including one chef cooking an entire cow.  It was really an exercise (questionable word choice, as there was no exercise going on) in gluttony.  Needless to say, we were well into meat coma territory by the time we tried everything.  But…

…what better way to finish off a beef-tacular than with pie?  The amazing bakers at Royer’s Cafe were serving up SIX kinds of pie, including apple, rhubarb, cherry, Tollhouse, pecan, and junk.  Yes, junk.  I got slices of pecan and cherry.  While the cherry was extremely disappointing, the pecan was the real deal.  Huge pieces of pecans in a gooey, corn syrupy stasis.  It was worth over filling the tank for.  To wash it down was a pulled-to-order latte from local roaster Cuvee Coffee.  Delicious and just enough of a jolt to get me out of the meat coma and ready for the drive back home.

I can’t overstate how impressed I am with the organization and execution of the evening.  Never was there a line (except for Franklin BBQ), any confusion, or unnecessary hassle put in front of the attendees.  Great job all around and I can’t wait to go next year!


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