Austin Food & Wine Fest: SoundBites

By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 05.04.13
Scenes from the 2013 Austin Food & Wine Festival
 "Ketchup is our secret ingredient," said Vinny Dotolo of the Los Angeles restaurant Animal during his “One-Pot Party” with co-owner Jon Shook. The ketchup was part of the braising liquid for short ribs in one of the festival’s best “I could do this at home” demonstrations.
 Frat boy barbecue: Given Fort Worth chef Tim Love’s love of the double entendre, watching him cook beef cheeks and oxtails with Andrew Zimmern was like having a bench seat at the Locker Room Grille. The festival’s 100 Weber kettle grills got a workout, letting (mostly) VIP badgeholders grill along with Love three different times.
 “I have A.D.D. tastebuds”: While Tim Love’s PA system blasted Guns N’ Roses, another tent across the way cranked up Fun. It was a fitting soundtrack for chef Brian Malarkey, who’ll be opening his third Searsucker restaurant in Austin this summer.
 It’s pronounced vee-awn-YAY: A standout Texas wine came from David Kuhlken of Pedernales Cellars. His viognier had a bright backbone snap and a long, silky finish like fresh challah.
 Mark Oldman was busted at last year’s festival. Not for being a walkaround wine guy, but for jaywalking. To commemorate the arrest warrant sent to him by the Austin police, Oldman made T-shirts: “I learned wine from a crosswalk criminal.” His advice for “Drinking Like a Pro”:
— Straight from the head of Dom Perignon: Drink champagne from a regular wine glass instead of a flute for better aroma and fuller taste.
— Pros like to drink unpronounceable wines.
— “Daytime drinking is for pikers. A.M. drinking is for the pros.”
— The best wine for barbecue is rosé champagne.
(Photos at top, clockwise from upper left: Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook of Animal pose with a fan. Chef Tim Love’s hands-on grilling demo. Winemaker David Kuhlken of Pedernales Cellars. Lost Gold IPA from Real Ale at the brewer’s tent.)
(From left: Tim Byres’ oyster with ash salsa from Smoke in Dallas, San Antonio chef Jesse Perez of Arcade with shrimp chorizo and Houston chefs Seth Siegel-Gardner and Terrence Gallivan of Pass & Provisions, who made bone-marrow brioche.)
 Ashes to ashes: Dallas chef Tim Byres of Smoke grilled oysters over a barrel fire for Friday’s Taste of Texas. Simple enough. But he caused a stir with salsa made from the ashes of roasted vegetables. Mounted with chorizo scampi butter, it was one of the festival’s best overall bites.
(From left: Josh Watkins of the Carillon brought a taste of raw and fried kale with beet puree and bacon powder. Butterface Bake Shop in Austin scored with strawberry habanero cobbler and apricot rosemary shortbread. High fashion at the Pâté Letelier booth. Pretzel bread from the Austin bakery Flour and a beet taco with goat cheese from Hickory Street.)
 Excellent bites in the food tents: An alchemy of beets and kale from Josh Watkins of the Carillon, shrimp chorizo from Jesse Perez of Arcade in San Antonio, bangers and mash from Bastrop Brewhouse, lamb pastrami with rhubarb pickles from Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside, candy-colored grapefruit budino from Janina O’Leary of Trace, a beet-and-chevre taco from Hickory Street.
 Empire State of mind: Here’s the wrong question to ask an Austin crowd: “Do you have Whole Foods here?” Marc Murphy of New York’s Landmarc restaurant and TV’s “Chopped” had no idea that Whole Food started here. He was the king of the obvious during his “Easy Like Sunday Morning” brunch session when he said, “I’m a New York guy. We think we’re the center of the universe.” Sounds like another city I know. But the session conveyed three notable points about eggs:
— Consider using duck eggs for Easter,. They’re harder to break.
— Ostrich eggs? You’re going to need a hammer for that.
— An audience member chimed in with this: Some people who are allergic to chicken eggs can safely eat duck eggs.
(From left: Seating at Butler Park, with shade and Adirondack chairs. Mexican-style street tacos from the festival’s central Fire Pit.)
 Anthony Giglio’s thoughts on keeping leftover wine fresh: "People, just do your job and finish the bottle." Also: Don’t serve red wine warm, he said. The higher temp emphasizes the cottonmouth tannins and the heat of the alcohol while suppressing the fruit and acid.
 Qui player: Warming up the crowd for the cheese fondue he’ll serve at Qui this summer, Austin chef Paul Qui said, "My success comes from a lot of different failures." From his old jobs at Uchi and Uchiko, Qui said that chef Tyson Cole encouraged creativity by doing things like sending him a picture of a Lego castle and saying, “See what you can do with this.”
 Bring us some fresh wine: If you’re buying wine to age it, buy more than one bottle. “Or else by the time you drink it, you’ll be insane from waiting.” Advice from Food & Wine magazine wine editor Ray Isle, who said the beauty of letting wine age is tasting how it develops over time.
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)