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By Lisa Jones
—A plate of puff pastry scrolls, each of which does not contain a sausage: The Day No Pigs (In Blankets) Would Die.
—A bottle of double chocolate stout in flight over a nest of Cadbury Creme Eggs: One Brew over the Cocoa’s Nest.
—A blender full of a mint beverage, and a single glass: The Last of the Mojitos.
Combining food and great works of literature with a shocking lack of shame, the Fifth Annual Edible Book Festival was sponsored by students of the University of Texas School of Information and the Kilgarlin Center for Preservation of the Cultural Record.
By Beth Goulart
Photography by Doug Gaidry III
Franklin Houser wasn’t much of a wine drinker during his four decades as a trial attorney in San Antonio. But now, as he tastes the products of his Dry Comal Creek winery, it’s obvious he’s acquired a taste for it. “That’s really a nice wine,” he says, bypassing the often fussy terms experts employ to describe wines—a habit that makes Houser somewhat unusual among winemakers. Also unusual is the Black Spanish grape he’s chosen to grow. It’s one of a trio of little-known grape varieties producing great wines at the hands of several pioneering Texas winemakers.
Story and Photography By Jam Sanitchat
Thai cuisine is a cohesion of clean, distinct flavors—sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter—derived from different herbs, spices and vegetables. No-fuss preparation is a hallmark of many Thai dishes, yet finding the right ingredients locally can present a challenge. As recently as a few years ago, the most commonly used Thai ingredients were found only in specialty markets, if at all, and freshness was an issue. But as Thai cuisine continues to grow in popularity, Thai spices, vegetables and herbs have begun to carve a noticeable niche in many of Austin’s farmers markets and nurseries.
Out on the edge of Wimberley, Gary Weeks & Company has perfected the winning formula for turning out stunning, handcrafted furniture. But transforming cherrywood, walnut, maple, mahogany and mesquite into works of art and ergonomic ecstasy isn’t the only formula magic happening around here. Weeks has discovered a clever and beneficial way to repurpose the mountain of sawdust and wood shavings his business produces each week by blending it with another, less expected, by-product.
By Marcus Antilla
Photography by Aimee Wenske
Most people think of celery, carrot sticks and salad when they hear “raw foods.” But while those foods do fit into the raw category, raw cuisine can be much more complex, interesting and surprisingly diverse. Based on what humans ate prior to the advent of animal husbandry and the chemical adulteration and packaging of food, raw cuisine adheres to a few simple yet powerful principles:
Story and Photography by Skip Connett
"A Farmer's Diary Part 1: Bitter Harvest" can be found by clicking here
Editor’s note: After befriending Joe, a farm manager for two Central Texas organic farms, Skip and his wife, Erin, offer to support him while he seeks treatment for cancer. Joe’s intoxicating charm and over 40 years of farming experience initially win them over, yet broken promises, bizarre tales and numerous contradictions begin to mount and swirl around this Steinbeckian drifter with dirt on his hands and a peculiar cell phone ringtone.
By Sam Armstrong
Photography by Aimee Olson
While more and more consumers, chefs and restaurateurs cotton to the importance of local foods, Le Cordon Bleu programs at Texas Culinary Academy (TCA) have been incorporating this concept into the classroom for years. As a result, the once-modest student garden outside TCA’s bistro has unfurled to now cover the entire length of the school’s campus—continuously overflowing with herbs, seasonal vegetables and flowers ready to be put to good use.
An Afternoon with Wendell Berry
and Wes Jackson
SUNDAY MATINEE SOLD OUT
December 4 • 1 PM
STATESIDE AT THE PARAMOUNT
Join us for an unforgettable afternoon of conversation with two of the most influential architects of the sustainable food movement. American philosopher, poet, farmer and novelist Wendell Berry has been the inspiration for local food activists from Alice Waters to Michael Pollan for more than half a century. Wes Jackson is president of The Land Institute and is a widely recognized leader in the sustainable agriculture movement.
Tickets: $35 all seats, available at the Paramount Theatre Box Office, online or call 512-474-1221 beginning November 2 at 2 pm.
SOLD OUT. An Evening with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson
with special musical guest Eliza Gilkyson
SUNDAY, December 4 • 8 PM
STATESIDE AT THE PARAMOUNT
Join us for an unforgettable evening of conversation with two of the most influential architects of the sustainable food movement.
VIP Reception: Meet Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry and enjoy locally sourced, seasonal tastings from Chef Jesse Griffiths (Dai Due), Chef Matthew Buchanan (Leaning Pear), Chef Joel Welch (Kerbey Lane Cafe) and Chef Jason Donoho (ASTI Trattoria and FINO Restaurant Patio and Bar), Texas Hill Country Wineries, Tipsy Texan and Paula’s Texas Spirits, Houndstooth Coffee and more during a special VIP reception before the show. $120. 6–7pm.
The first time Bill Nadalini tried kombucha, it was anything but love at first sip. “My older kung fu brother had me drink a bottle,” he remembers. “I was not a vinegar guy and I didn’t like it at all.” He committed to finishing it, though, because he’d heard such good things about the beverage. “It took me about a day to get through the one bottle.”
By Elif Selvili
If you believe it’s possible for a nation to be in love with a vegetable, then you’ll understand how Turkey feels about the eggplant. Originally hailing from Southeast Asia, this curious purple vegetable has a starring role in Turkish cuisine and is served dozens of ways—hot, cold, healthfully, sinfully, fancily, plainly, sliced, cubed and stuffed—in dishes that often tout equally colorful names like hünkar begendi (the sultan liked it), karniyarik (split tummy) and imam bayildi (the holy man has fainted).
By Ellen Zimmermann
Photography by Carole Topalian
Now is the time to dig up root herbs to make your medicines for our cool season. The most powerful and most popular herb in our area is echinacea, and the easiest species to grow locally is Echinacea purpurea. Echinacea purpurea, commonly known as purple coneflower, is a Native Texas perennial herb found throughout North America. To plant, scatter fresh seeds in the fall, then lightly step on them, and water them in.
On April 11, Austin adds yet another unique tour to a calendar already brimming with curious annual sights and events. In this case, folks who’ve come to know and love the many joys and benefits of fowl play present the first Funky Chicken Coop Tour—a chance for urban chicken wranglers to show off their beloved birds and, more specifically, the coops in which they’re kept.
Like human domiciles, chicken coops run the gamut from slapdash mash-ups of found supplies to carefully planned architectural masterpieces. The common denominator, though, regardless of form, is that a good coop keeps out the endless army of predators unfazed by decorative touches and driven by an appetite for that which “tastes like chicken.”
Tracie Downing, an active member of the local AusTex Poultry Group listserv, has been instrumental in planning the tour. She’s looking forward to introducing coop tourists to her personal flock that includes five “slow-laying” Cochins (about one egg every three days) and one “accidental” rooster mistaken for a female as a chick.
At long last, spring has arrived. There’s a special shade of green that Mother Nature reserves for use only in the springtime; budding trees flaunt new foliage with this neon-like hue against cerulean-blue skies, while grass that’s been long dormant and brown sends up brightly colored stalks to herald the season of reawakening. Likewise, the first crops of spring have flavors that taste alive, vibrant and new.
Since it opened last winter, Jester King Craft Brewery has been churning out consistently creative farmhouse ales, and their Hill Country brewery has become a place of pilgrimage for Austin beer enthusiasts eager for weekly tastings complemented by local food and music. Their artisanal ales, which currently include six year-round products and countless limited editions, are brewed using filtered well water from their own backyard, and they use wild Hill Country yeast whenever possible.
By Beth Goulart
Photography by Bill Albrecht
May is going to be a crazy month for Chrissy Omo of CKC Farms in Blanco. Her spring-bearing goats—now more numerous than ever—will be producing high yields of milk in need of pasteurization and processing, her first pecorino will be ripe and ready for tending, and to top it all off, she’ll face final exams.
Aaron Blanco, owner of San Antonio’s Brown Coffee Company, remembers his early foray into life with the bean. “I started like everyone else . . . in college . . . drinking coffee as fuel . . . with lots of cream and lots of sugar,” he says.
But a propensity for purism eventually led Blanco to drinking his coffee black, and his passion for the liquid fuel inspired him to get educated. In 2002, Blanco took a barista job at a Philadelphia Starbucks—quickly moving up to manager. Three years later, he and his wife moved to San Antonio to be closer to family, and they soon noticed a dearth of independent coffee peddlers. Blanco used a small loan from his parents and in-laws, bought a five-pound coffee roaster and hung out a shingle.
Eventually, he needed a larger roaster, but the cost of even a used 25-pound roaster was prohibitive. Lamenting the situation to his father-in-law, a retired aviation engineer, the idea for a homemade roaster began to percolate. Soon, using various bits and scraps salvaged from everything but other coffee equipment, the two cobbled together a benevolent Frankenroaster.
By Elizabeth Winslow
Photography by Knoxy
I married for love, but if I’m being completely honest, the recipes had something to do with it, too. My husband’s family is rich in recipes—the dog-eared, sugar-stained, time-tested and perfected kind. These recipes are for dishes that appear year after year at family gatherings, holidays, celebrations and special occasions. I fell in love with my husband’s grandmother’s pepper jelly and charlotte russe (known in East Texas family parlance as “charlotte rouge”), my mother-in-law’s famous dinner rolls and pecan fudge and the hot onion dip everyone seems to make. But the most famous and sought-after recipe of them all is my sister-in-law’s mother’s toffee recipe.
By Laura McKissack
Photography of hügelkultur beds at in.gredients by Whitney Arostegui
Back when I began teaching and was freshly moved into a new place, I didn’t have the money to purchase new soil for a garden. Instead, I piled sticks and leaves onto a raised bed and covered it with some soil and compost I’d transported in coolers from my old garden. I had a great garden that year!
If Joe Reider were ever desperate for work, his want ad would read: Seasoned Amish farmer seeks to pass on 50 years of knowledge to organic farmers. Highly skilled. No salary necessary. Just room and board for me and my dog, Monty.
But Joe would never be desperate for work, because free advice from a kindly, experienced farmer is an irresistible commodity. And in 2005, when Joe appeared on the Austin organic farming scene, he was eager to share.
By Helen Cordes
Imagine this: it’s long about suppertime and you’re hungry, so you step out into the front yard and gather ingredients for a tantalizing Tuscan mélange—green beans, tomatoes, squash and herbs. And why not grab some peaches for dessert, while you’re there? Don’t forget to wave at the guy next door sweating over a loud lawnmower, then breathe a contented sigh that you’re avoiding the hours of fertilizing, mowing and maintaining the lawn you’ve replaced with an edible landscape.