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Five Years Old!
It’s been an exceptionally rewarding five years as we’ve grown our local food magazine from 52 pages for our debut issue in the summer of 2007 to this 100 page-issue in your hands today. We’ve watched and cheered as our local food community has swelled as well. One thing for certain is that there has never been a lack of fascinating and deserving stories to tell. We’d like to thank all of our hardworking contributors, our advertisers, our subjects and our readers for making us what we are today and giving us the motivation and inspiration for publishing Edible Austin for many more years to come.
By Christine Whalen
Last February, I traveled to Peru with my husband’s family to visit close friends, Jorge and Pierina—Peruvian locals who’d offered to help us navigate the country and its cuisine. From the hearty potatoes and corn in the mountains to the tropical fruit in Lima and the Amazon, the food was incredibly fresh, varied and abundant. We spent several days around chilly Cusco—the historic Inca capital about 11,000 feet above sea level—and stayed warm by drinking hot herbal infusions and eating quinoa soup and choclo, a giant-kerneled corn served with slabs of queso fresco that’s sold on the street.
The Wellness Issue
Welcome to The Wellness Issue. I promise we’ll stop welcoming you to each of our themed issues as soon as we’ve made the rounds of introducing them this year. As our first issue with this theme, however, I’d like to share a bit of background.
Read on for some of our favorite books to use in our own kitchens or give as gifts, most of them by Texan authors. We love it all- you'll find educational reads, cocktail collections, and vegetarian, carnivorous, and gluten-free options. There's a little something for everyone! Don't forget to shop at your local bookstore, BookPeople.
With so much to celebrate, it’s entirely appropriate that this is our Beverage Issue and toasting is in order.
First, a toast to our newest Edible team member, Dawn Jordan, who is joining us as Advertising Director and Events Coordinator. We have always held that our mission to grow community goes beyond our printed pages and spills into our signature community events and fundraisers. We are excited to bring a fresh focus to creating these events with each new issue. Watch for details about our Sipping Social, a vintage-themed celebration of the Beverage Issue coming up on June 21.
Marble Falls makes for a Texas Hill Country vacation that's close to home. Founded in 1887, it's steeped in state history, boasts incredible lake views, offers adventurous hike and bike trails to explose, and has a rich Main Street District for eating, drinking and shopping.
Austin Food & Wine Alliance (AFWA), a nonprofit formed just two years ago, recently announced the four winners of its 2nd annual 2013 Culinary Grants Program. The Alliance awards the grants based on culinary inventiveness and contributions to the local community. The program supports chefs, farmers, wine, beer and spirit makers, artisan producers and food-focused nonprofits.
The Outdoor Issue
They nourish us. They cleanse and soothe us. They heal us. And occasionally they sting us.
Bees are essential to life on earth, for without them (and other pollinators) we’d have no food. The now well-documented fragility of their survival amid the disappearing diversity of pollen-host crops, use of GMO seeds (with the accompanying increase in pesticide application) and the bees’ vulnerability to trans-global pathogens and parasites have all resulted in new USDA funding for research and education on honeybee decline—as well as a growing chorus of call-to-actions by bee-activist and nonprofit organizations around the world. But what can we do in our own homes and gardens?
To embrace bees is to save them. In this issue you will find stories on many delightful ways to bring honey and bees into your life, from using honey in your personal care and beauty regimens to tips on how to become a honey “sommelier” by hosting a honey-flight brunch. You’ll find multiple recipes featuring honey, including making your own herbal honey rose wine, and we’ll introduce you to Central Bee Rescue, a honey co-op that finds homes for rescued beehives and Two Hives Honey, a business that teaches sustainable beekeeping for backyards and community gardens while putting comb honey on the menus at several Austin eateries.
Celebrate our Beverage issue this summer by keeping yourself hydrated and cool.
Cool as in sipping on an herb-infused spritzer drink—Lucinda Hutson offers several options to choose from. I vote for the Gin and Roses (after reading all about the history of gin by mixologist David Alan).
Cool as in using those plentiful tomatoes from your garden or the farmers markets to make a calming Tomato-Water Martini, courtesy of Laura McKissack. Craving a non-alcoholic refresher? Try your hand at making Kate Payne's soda syrups for your own homemade fountain sodas. Spiking allowed, of course!
With the return of spring, nothing is more enjoyable in Texas than being outdoors. Sunrises are warm and invigorating; sunsets become spectacular theater. Nature is reborn—abounding in the budding trees, soft grasses and the candy-colored palette of our famous Texas Hill Country wildflowers. As we celebrate this lush, vernal time, we look to certain customs and foods as representatives of life’s victory over winter’s cold repose, and of the gentleness, tenderness and innocence that are promised to follow.
Probably the best known of these symbolic foods is lamb—gracing springtime tables in both religious and non-religious contexts for thousands of years and important to many cultures that began in the Mediterranean regions. Roasted lamb shank is traditionally eaten as part of the Jewish Passover Seder, and eating lamb at Pasqua (Easter, in Italian)—considered the most important religious celebration of the year in Italy, if not all Christendom—is deeply rooted in custom.
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by Pamela Walker
Monticello, New Mexico, home to fewer than 100 people, was founded in the mid-1900s and is nestled in a canyon at the end of NM 142—25 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences and 160 miles south of Albuquerque. The area lies within the northern Chihuahuan Desert, and the highway winds first through a plateau of lechuguilla, creosote bush and ocotillo, and then continues downward into Cañada Alamosa, named for the cottonwood trees that long ago took root near Alamosa Creek. Here, cattle roam freely, horses graze in paddocks, alfalfa grows in small, diked plots and old adobe homes alternate between more recent framed houses and a handful of trailer homes.
Among the town’s residents are Jane and Steve Darland of Old Monticello Organic Farms—the sole source of travel lodging in Monticello. The Darlands cultivate roses, lavender and other herbs and a vineyard of mainly trebbiano grapes. From their flowers and herbs they make floral waters and essential oils, and from the grapes they make their primary product: traditional balsamic vinegar—distinct from common balsamic because of its pure, unadulterated grape juice that’s been fermented and concentrated in casks for at least 12 years in the centuries-old Italian manner.
A Q&A with Juliana Ross, Director of Events, The Allan House + Brodie Homestead
What’s worth the money? Because everyone has a limited budget for their wedding, where is money best spent for maximum effect?
Hire a coordinator! It is definitely worth the money to hire someone with experience who will be at your venue on the day of your wedding to greet vendors, oversee setup, run your timeline for the entire event, and make sure your cleanup runs smoothly. Even if you don’t have the budget for a full-service coordinator who will work with you from the start of planning, hiring a “day-of” or “month-of” coordinator will take the stress out of the last leg of the planning process. Coordinators will bring things to your attention that you would never even think of, and most importantly, they will be able to make tweaks and adjustments as needed on the day of your wedding without ever having to bother you or your family. I always recommend hiring an entire group of professional vendors, but hiring a professional coordinator is my number one tip to all brides and grooms.
What’s the best way to get RSVPs back? Traditional or digital?
I may be the wrong person to answer this question since I am such a huge fan of paper goods and the lost art of sending a letter. I love receiving mail, holding it in my hands. It’s a tactile thing, but also very visual. Receiving a wedding invitation in the mail—being able to see it and feel it—is such an important element to me. An RSVP card is part of that experience, as it really sets the tone for the entire event. Even if you’re planning a casual wedding, having an RSVP card to send back to the event hosts is a tangible reminder to RSVP. That said, I’m seeing more and more couples use a digital RSVP system, usually through their wedding website. It’s probably where things are heading since we’re all on our computers all the time, but I am holding on to traditional RSVPs for as long as I can!
What should you rent versus buy as far as wedding accoutrements and event items?
There’s not a lot that you can’t rent these days for an event. You can get pretty much any look or aesthetic you want by using event rental companies, and here in Austin we have some pretty incredible local options. I think buying items in bulk because you think you’ll save money is a recipe for stress. Rental companies drop off and pick up at your venue, include cleaning services for linens and tabletop items, and overall, make the process so much easier.
Do you recommend seating charts? Why or why not?
Yes! I am completely against the open seating plan trend, and I am so happy to see it’s dying off. Guests at a wedding want direction. They hate feeling like they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing or going places they shouldn’t be going. Open seating is a recipe for awkwardness.
Could you walk us through how far out couples should be taking care of various components of a wedding?
My advice to all couples is that the vendors who can only do one wedding on your wedding day need to be booked first, while the vendors who can take on a few weddings in any given night can be booked a little closer in.
Driving up the road to Austin Discovery School during the school year, you’re likely to see gaggles of kids with wheelbarrows, shovels, hoses and hoes. You also might see a bunny named Rusty being “hopped” on a leash, a pond being dug, trees being watered, chickens being held and leaves being hauled and spread. That’s because the public charter school’s Eco-Wellness program is an integral part of the kids’ educational routine. It’s also a critical way to fulfill the school’s mission of creating socially aware and confident critical-thinkers through hands-on learning.
In just two short years, Rainey Street darling Emmer & Rye has made the interesting combination of in-house fermentation and butchering, house-milled heritage grains and dim-sum carts both popular and something to watch. And some of the big guns that have taken notice are Texas Monthly, Food & Wine, The New York Post and Bon Appétit, to name a few. Good friends Executive Chef Kevin Fink and Pastry Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph took a little time off from polishing and arranging awards to describe their personal go-to/must-have kitchen items.
When asked to prepare a meal with special meaning, Kim and Whit Hanks choose the classic Spanish dish paella—not only because it’s delicious, but because preparing it can be, should be, a team effort. The Hankses should know from team efforts, too—married co-founders and owners of Whim Hospitality, they share a passion for hard work, hospitality and celebrating happiness in all its forms, business and personal.
Natural. Grassfed. Pasture Raised. Organic. These are only a few of the marketing stamps, seals and buzzwords jumping off food labels strategically placed to catch the eye of would-be conscious consumers. While these potentially exclusionary options might not be for everyone (partly due to food accessibility and equity), the marketing world of messaging can be a tricky landscape to navigate for those seeking to make food purchases that align with their values of humane animal treatment, sustainable and regenerative practices, ethical and fair sourcing and/or health concerns, to name a few. According to Daisy Freund of the ASPCA, “Well-meaning people are making choices that don’t actually support their values.” The problem is three-fold: misleading descriptors, undefined terms and lack of accountability.
“Your diet is like a fingerprint,” says Dan Marek, school programs manager and chef for Whole Kids Foundation. “No single diet is going to work for every single one of us.” Marek is standing in front of a group of teachers in the Williams Elementary school cafeteria in South Austin, leading a healthy-eating workshop/cooking demo—part of the foundation’s Healthy Teachers Program. And despite his soft-spoken and gentle demeanor, he means business. He’s not here to school teachers on what they should or shouldn’t be eating or to tell them what products to buy (“I work for a foundation that’s sponsored by an organic grocery store, and I can’t even afford to buy organic 100 percent of the time.”) Instead, Marek’s mission is to arm the educators with both data and inspiration, so they can make their own informed choices about how to eat.
If the Cinnamon Toast Crunch chef decided to enter a homebrew beer competition in Austin, Hazelnut Crunch is what he’d probably make. Seriously, it’s got actual Cinnamon Toast Crunch in it, though to hear the beer’s real-life creators tell it, that part was sort of improvised. “We were sitting around eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch as we made it, so we just decided to dump some in,” says homebrewer Nathan Beels, who dreamed up Hazelnut Crunch with girlfriend Bonnie Evans. “It was only half a box, so I’m not sure how much flavor it imparted to the beer. It was just one of those, ‘Why nots?’”
Walk into any Austin restaurant from Torchy’s Tacos to Jeffrey’s and you’ll most likely find that it’s understaffed. In early March 2018, Poached Jobs, a website that posts jobs in the food and drink industry, listed 689 open positions locally, and the Food, Beverage and Hospitality section of Austin’s Craigslist had more than 2,000 posts. We took a quick survey of some of Austin’s most spotlighted restaurants and found that 80 percent had open line-cook positions, and all had at least one open position from hostess to dishwashers. In a lightning-fast-growing city seemingly teeming with eligible people seeking employment, what could be the disconnect?