Live Fire! – Let the Meat Begin!

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance took over part of the Salt Lick estate to put on their second annual Live Fire! meatacular. With 16 fantastic chefs putting their twist on meat+fire (here’s a look at the menu), complimented by several equally talented pastry chefs crafting some special desserts. Not to be left thirsty, the wine, beer, and spirits flowed freely from Texan vineyards, brewers, and distillers.

live fire welcome sign

On a beautiful evening out on the grounds of the Salt Lick the crowds were certainly out and hungry. Part of what makes Live Fire! so much fun is the relatively small number of tickets for sale, so the lines are manageable.

live fire crowd

Even waiting for this guy didn’t shoot your whole evening. And he was humble as ever, making excuses for why it wouldn’t be as good as usual and not to judge them based on this sample, blah blah blah. It was phenomenal.

live fire aaron franklin

Aaron Franklin slicing and serving brisket

Also prepping and serving food was Chef Josh Watkins. He was saucing his beef chuck ribs and beef cheek dishes. Some said the deep fried beef cheek was like the best chicken nugget they had ever had. Both the rib and cheek were excellent.

live fire josh watkins

Josh Watkins of The Carillon putting the finishing touches on his beef rib dish

Now, there was a LOT of great food, so choosing a favorite is a bit like picking a favorite child — it’s me, sorry Julie it just can’t be done. I can narrow it down to three two three: the oxtail ramen from Ramen Tatsu-Ya, the Tongue and Cheek from Jason Dady, and the Jungle Curry from Sway. I’ve had ramen before, but none were this good. I was blown away by the tender meat, complex broth, and the most perfectly soft-boiled egg you ever did see.

live fire ramen tatsuya

Oxtail Ramen with Beef Tongue Chashu from Ramen Tatsu-Ya

Jason Dady (of Jason Dady Restaurants in San Antonio) put together a playful Tongue and Cheek combination. The tongue was sliced thin and reminded me of a great

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pastrami while the cheek was meaty and tender. Each component played off the others to make a perfectly balanced plate.

live fire jason dady tongue and cheek

And while the oxtail ramen had five hundred layers of flavor and the tongue and cheek had perfect balance, the Jungle Curry from Sway punched you in the face with flavor and spice. The shredded beef was laced with pepper flakes with deliciously reckless abandon.

live fire sway jungle curry 1

Simmering Jungle Curry

To cool it down it’s topped with a coconut cream and Thai basil leaves. The intense heat and merciful fire extinguishing cream made it impossible to stop the fork from going back for more. This was the only dish I had twice, the second time being after all the desserts. Maybe that speaks for itself as to which was my favorite.

live fire sway jungle curry 2

The final (pre-devoured) Jungle Curry

Like I said, the options of beverages was vast. Aside from the free water and Sweet Leaf tea (yay event sponsors!) the wine-heavy selection also showcased four local breweries and a few Texas-made spirits. The TX blended whiskey from Firestone and Robertson was particularly smooth.

live fire TX whiskey

Though we feasted on the other side of the event, we enjoyed the live music playing in the background all night.

live fire music

An event named Live Fire! just wouldn’t be complete with a giant fire pit to roast your own marshmallows. It’s hard to capture how big these marshmallows actually were. The three-foot long sticks were tasked with supporting apple-sized marshmallows. Definitely the biggest ones I’ve seen since Ghostbusters (that’s still relevant, right?). They were gooey and messy and fun to get a little hands on fire time.

live fire smores

For the second year in a row Live Fire! was a huge success! The fire-inspired party showcased what Central Texas has to offer and kicked off the upcoming Austin Food & Wine Festival (which I didn’t get to attend). With two great years in a row, I’m ready to say Live Fire! should be a mainstay on your calendar. Can’t wait for next year!

live fire pit

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