Archive | December, 2009

More Sustainable Holiday Shopping – the Final Countdown

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Yikes!  You only have 7 shopping days left and you are stuck on what to buy that person who seems to have everything.  Don’t panic!

If putting together a gift  basket isn’t your style (Santa Claus is Coming to Town), you can still give the gift of sustainable food.  Johnson’s Backyard Garden is offering gift certificates for vegetable pickups.  A four pickup certificate is $128 and a 10 pickup option is $300.

If you are looking for lower dollar options, Greenling  also offers locally-sourced gift baskets (pre-made so you only have to choose) and gift certificates toward home delivery service.

Another idea is a gift certificate to a local eatery that sources locally.  Edible Austin  has a list of restaurants working with local farms, purveyors and food artisans.  There is nothing like giving a gift of a fabulous food experience to your favorite foodie.

And, if your favorite foodie prefers to be more hands on, I highly recommend buying them a cooking class at Thai Fresh.  I already love the food at Thai Fresh and have heard great things about Jam Santichat’s classes.  I can’t wait to take a class in the New Year with a gift certificate I received.

Ok, now stop procrastinating.  Get out there and buy your local, sustainable holiday gifts!

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Dining Out Sustainably: Fino

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120409_1I have been an unabashed fan of Emmett and Lisa Fox since they opened ASTI Trattoria.  Their dedication to a seasonal menu and offering the best local ingredients was apparent in the first dish I tasted.  But that’s for another blog post…

You can imagine my delight when I learned that the Foxes were opening FINO Restaurant Patio and Bar in the space that previously home to Granite Cafe.  I have always loved that space, particularly the patio, and couldn’t wait to see what they did with it.  And, of course, they did something fabulous.

FINO offers tapas, small plates and entrees with a mediterranean flair highlighting the best of local ingredients.  The entrees are delicious, but I love the tapas and small plates because you can order several and share.  More tasty bites for everyone!

120409_2Recently, I had brunch at FINO with my friend Jenna of Edible Austin and I was equally delighted with the selections.  It was a beautiful day so we sat on the patio, which I highly recommend if the weather permits. Chef Jason Donoho was kind enough to send us an order of their made to order doughnuts while we were picking our dishes.  And, yes, that is bacon on top.  They were incredible, and I’m not a big donut fan.

For brunch, I had the Egg, Leek and Petite Basque Coca which is like a flatbread pizza with a very delicious, perfectly cooked egg on top.  Since then, I have also had this for dinner.  It’s that good.

Jenna chose the FINO Benedict which mirrors the classic but is served with Serrano ham on top of a potato instead of bread.  Jenna was kind enough to share a bite and I truly enjoyed this variation.  It helped that the egg and potato were cooked perfectly. 

120409_3Like every other meal I’ve had at FINO, brunch was scrumptious and relaxed and lovely.  For me, FINO feels a little like a second home, and every time I eat there I wonder why I don’t come home more often.  Don’t make my mistake – head to FINO today.

During Eat Local Week, they are hosting one of their special Chef’s Table dinners on December 9th with Balcones Distillery.  Founder & Distiller Chip Tate brings his Baby Blue & Balcones Rumble to the table. Bar Manager Bill Norris will pair Cocktails and Cask Samples with Chef Jason Donoho’s fabulous food. FINO will donate 15% of the proceeds to Urban Roots.

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Dining Out Sustainably: Trio

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120309_1Trio, oh Trio.  I fell in love with Trio the first time they hosted a group of the local food bloggers for a preview of their Happy Hour menu.  It’s posh but not stuffy and the food is incredible.  
Chef de Cuisine, Todd Duplechan, came out to tell us about a few of the dishes and his enthusiasm for the food and the local ingredients they use was beyond infectious.
120309_2Todd described how they had worked with Richardson Farms to raise a hog that was finished on pecans, in the manner similar to how Iberian pigs are raised in Spain finished on acorns for Iberico ham.   The ribs that evening were made with the pork and they had a distinct tasty flavor unlike any other ribs I had ever eaten.  How could I not love a restaurant that would go to such links to work with a local farm to produce something so delicious?
120309_3Subsequent trips to Trio have reinforced that first impression.   Their attention to detail and dedication to fresh ingredients is reflected in every dish.  Whether it’s the beef carpaccio, the baked gulf oysters, the pork belly or the truffle macaroni and cheese (yes, you read that right), everything melts in your mouth. 

Lest you think I’ve only eaten from the appetizer menu, Natanya from Fete & Feast and I dined at Trio for the Go Texan Restaurant Round-up Week and were delighted with our selections for each course. 
120309_4I chose the quail, steak and sorbet and we had roasted okra and yellow squash as sides. Everything was delicious and I was particularly happy with my steak.  I’m pretty picky about steak as I was raised in Amarillo on Saturday night steaks cooked to perfection by my Dad.  I’m always a little hesitant to order steak out, but Trio won me over with a perfectly cooked Texas steak.

Now, I know what you are thinking, Trio is too expensive for your budget. And, my answer is that I think you’d be surprised.  First, Trio has one of the most affordable happy hours in town with half-priced appetizers and wines by the glass.  They also offer a 3 for $39 menu offering a three course menu for dinner.  

You have a great opportunity to try Trio during Edible Austin’s Eat Local Week December 5th-12th.  If you order from their prix fixe menu, they will donate $1 from each dinner to Urban Roots.  Do you need a better excuse?
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And Robert is going to Fresh!

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Thanks to help from, Robert has been selected as the winner of the pair of tickets to see Fresh the Movie at the Paramount on Saturday night.  Robert, please e-mail me at kristiwillis at to make arrangements for picking up the tickets.

Congratulations Robert!

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