Austin Woman’s favorite bites, sips and more.
By Chantal Rice, Photo by Niki Jones
Some of the country’s top culinary masters descended on the capital city last weekend, wining and dining Austinites as they made their way around Auditorium Shores for the 2019 Austin Food + Wine Festival. Featuring countless chef-made bites and an endless supply of wine, beer and spirits, the two-day outdoor event, part of a multi-day gastronomy-focused adventure that kicked off Thursday evening, proved not only that locals do indeed relish artisanal bites and alcoholic beverages of all types, but that Austin chefs and purveyors of wine and spirits are on the cutting edge of the nation’s culinary scene. Here are some of the things we most enjoyed about the food-and-wine-fueled weekend affair.
Although the Austin Food + Wine Festival has been plagued in years past by rain-drenched weather conditions that made the outdoor fete less enticing, this year’s event could not have been graced by more beautiful weather. Some sunburn and a few allergy attacks aside, the sunny, slightly breezy conditions made for an ideal weekend in the park amid the city’s largest communal picnic.
The local talent
While the festival boasts an impressive array of visiting celebrity chefs and culinary hotshots, it was the Austin chefs and businesses that really shined. Yes, it’s fun to see, learn from and even hobnob with the likes of Andrew Zimmern, Aarón Sánchez and Carla Hall (the latter of whom was gracious enough to pose for scads of photos with festivalgoers), but the real gems of the Austin Food + Wine Festival are the local chefs and enterprises working hard to impress discerning Austin foodies. And they definitely did not disappoint. From smoked-meat delicacies on display at the Fire Pit cooked up by local chefs like Sonya Coté, Wayne Mueller and the big-game masters from Contigo, to the pork-centric dishes from a variety of local eateries and tantalizing bites from Austin favorites like Sarah Heard and Nathan Lemley of Foreign & Domestic, David Bull, Vespaio, Sway and Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden, notably delectable noshes kept on coming.
Some of Austin Woman’s favorites included the margaritas and meat-topped bloody marys from woman-owned Barbecue Wife, the delicate chicken and mushroom tamales from Tamale House East, the perfectly potent sipper from Susto Mezcal and the mélange of tasty nibbles from the H-E-B tent, including superbly garlic-forward avocado toast and way-better-than-boxed breakfast pastries. Though there are many that could vie for best bite, our most memorable—and a truly unique—morsel had to be Hopfields’ French-inspired escargot dumpling in a luscious garlic herb butter. (Pro tip: These dainty delicacies are part of Hopfields’ regular dinner menu, so if you missed them at the festival, they’re definitely worth ordering up at the Central Austin eatery.)
The downright overwhelming amount of booze options
Yes, one would expect there to be lots of drink choices at a food-and-wine event, but the sheer number of wine, beer and spirits exhibitors sampling their libations was quite impressive and required some strategic planning and meandering, most of which involved opting to imbibe spirits the first day and wine the second day. From the gamut of Central Texas-based and domestic vinos (bright whites, rosé bubblies perfect for an early Sunday afternoon, full-bodied reds) to beers and ciders served up from beloved local brands like Hi Sign Brewingand Austin Eastciders, and lots of local and well-known national spirits brands, there was no dearth of scrumptious sips. Cheers to that!
With this year’s event behind us (and a couple of well-earned Monday morning hangovers being so worth it), we’ll wait patiently and excitedly for next year’s sure-to-be-thrilling Austin Food + Wine Festival. In the meantime, there’s no harm in eating and drinking our way through the featured restaurants, breweries and wineries that contribute to making this town so deliciously Austin-tatious!