Austin, TX. has most definitely become the Foodie Capital of Texas. From famous top chefs visiting and living here (such as Anthony Bourdain, and Top Chef: Texas winner Paul Qui), to Austin finally holding it’s first Food and Wine festival… when you’re in Austin, you have a plethora of choices when it comes to food, all given the thumbs up by these greats. I’m amazed by the high-quality, top notch cuisine served here compared to my old hometown, Dallas. And just so you know, the food here was Reason #3 we decided to call Austin home!
I had the most amazing honor of attending this year’s food festival, brought to us by Food and Wine Magazine. No one honestly knew what to expect, but needless to say, our expectations were definitely met above and beyond. I had the most amazing samplings from Stubb’s BBQ, Tiny Pies, H-E-B, and Sullivan’s Steakhouse, to name a few. Stella Artois handed out beer in their signature chalice. Chefs like Masaharu Morimoto, Andrew Zimmern, Tony Mantuano and Marcus Samuelsson were signing books. There were demos galore! Gail Simmons had a demo that I unfortunately missed out on The bar was full of all the beer, wine, tea and water you could consume. East Side King, mmmpanada and The Peached Tortilla even made an appearance. As you can see, this festival was truly fantastic!
I really have to be honest here, there were a few things that bothered me. I’m not a fan of large crowds. The older I get, the more I realize I’m quite the introvert. So, I wasn’t feeling the crowd too much. But I tried my best to tune them out and just enjoy whatever was placed in front of me, even if people were so rudely shoving me around. Obviously out-of-towners. *sigh* Secondly, there was some gnarly high winds and the grounds they chose to hold this festival was mainly dirt. Talk about a dust bowl. I left early simply because I got dirt in my eyes, ears and it stuck all over my body. I understand they couldn’t control the high winds. But perhaps some advanced planning would have helped? Maybe having the festival at Zilker Park next year would be ideal, too. It’s grassy there. And the whole reserving four-five rows out of eight for the VIP badge holders at the cooking demos did not make sense. People that were waiting an hour or more were lucky to even get a seat in the tent. Only for three rows to fill up with VIP badge holders, leaving two rows for last-minute Weekender badge holders to take and not having to wait. I believe VIP badge holders already have so many perks, the whole priority seating at the demos is one they should consider leaving out next year.
There were pros and there were cons to the whole event. But seeing as how it was their first year having this festival, I understand the whole “learning through living” process. I do hope Food and Wine learned from this year and make next year’s festival even better!
If you would like to see more images, feel free to check ‘em out on my flickr: ATX Food and Wine Festival.
Did you attend the Austin Food and Wine Festival? What did you like/dislike the most?