ACL Food Fight II: Pie and Ice Cream

By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 10.08.13
UPDATED SUNDAY 10/13: Sunday's ACL Festival have been canceled because of flooding rains. A note from ACL: "Due to current weather conditions with flash flood warnings, The Austin City Limits Music Festival organizers have canceled the festival for Sunday, October 13. Our first priority is always the safety of our fans, staff and artists,” said Shelby Meade, communications director for C3 Presents, the promoter behind Austin City Limits Music Festival. “We regret having to cancel the show today, but safety always comes first.” Refunds will be issued automatically by check from Front Gate Tickets within three weeks. One-third of ticket price will be refunded to all ticket buyers based on original ticket price paid, and will be mailed to the billing address on the original order. For questions, please visit"
Kings of Leon or the Cure? There’s only room for one if they’re playing at the same time. Same goes for ACL’s Austin Eats food court. In Round II of the ACL Food Fight, I’ll help you decide between dueling vendors of pie and ice cream. Click here for the full food and drink menus and prices for ACL 2013.
Pie Fight: Mmmpanadas vs. Boomerang’s
 Mmmpanadas (Argentinian beef empanada, $8; above left): There was a red Mmmpanadas van parked a few hundred yards away from the festival on Barton Springs Road selling these same pies for $5 instead of the $8 ACL price. I begrudge nobody a festival markup, but this stuffed pastry shell doesn’t seem like $8 worth of food even in this environment, not when I can get a Best Wurst sausage dog or a burger and fries from P. Terry’s for the same or less and be a full degree more satisfied. The sauces have always been a selling point for Mmmpanadas, but they left them behind for ACL. Their chipotle mayo might have amplified the dry static charge of this Argentinean-style ground beef and boiled egg pie. The charge comes from the grassy chimichurri herbs, throwing off weedy aromatics like mild chronic, backed up by green olive twang. The crust is crimped as neatly as a seashell, with a smooth finish and a flake that goes from oil to fluff as the layers fall away.
 Boomerang’s (Guinness steak and potato pie, $8): I’m put in the mind of a pub pie by way of Guinness in the name. Also from the full-figured gravy that holds potatoes and rough pot roast-style beef in gelatinous suspension. It’s close to being flavorless, unless bland counts as flavor. This pie’s most redeeming factor is a crust somewhere between biscuit and savory tart. That’s good for texture, but if the crust is the most interesting part of your meat-and-potato pie, then the meat and potatoes have some soul-searching to do.
 The Winner: A draw. But not the kind where both are just so good that you couldn't possibly pick just one. Neither one delivers for the price. These are rec soccer teams that had break-even seasons, and I don’t believe in participation trophies.
Ice Cream Fight: CoolHaus vs. Tiff’s Treats
 CoolHaus (Ice cream sandwich, $6; at left): The van that CoolHaus brings to the Hope Farmers Market looks like the Pixar tire-shop trucks, evoking the loopy agility that lets them offer five kinds of cookies and six kinds of ice cream at their ACL booth. Pairing any ice cream with any cookie means 30 possible ice cream sandwiches. They let me try a well-bred olive oil gelato and a bracing pear sorbet, but a rowdy bourbon pecan drew me in with Maker’s Mark and local pecans from Berdoll Farms. I could have gone with chocolate-chip or snickerdoodle or coconut-almond cookies, but a soft ginger-molasses made perfect sense. Blue Bell? No. Southern belle.
 Tiff’s Treats (Tiffwich, $5): Among the almost nothing I miss about office life is this exception: Warm delivery boxes of Tiff’s cookies on my birthday. They took that simple, fresh-baked idea and turned it into a dozen shops in three cities. And Tiff’s brought its two best players to ACL: chocolate chip and snickerdoodle. That second one turns an ice cream sandwich into a buttery cinnamon embrace with Blue Bell vanilla. That’s the Tiffwich, cold and simple.
 The Winner: CoolHaus. Ice cream was selling like, uh, hotcakes on Weekend 1, even when the weather cooled off. The lines at Tiff’s and CoolHaus looked like sound spikes on a mixing board. I like Tiff’s, but we all know what Blue Bell tastes like, so their sandwich was playing only half of the CoolHaus game. Tiff’s snickerdoodle was in a dead heat with the competition’s ginger-molasses, but the CoolHaus bourbon pecan blew the freezer doors off Blue Bell.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)