Archive | March, 2011

Visiting Boggy Creek on Two Wheels

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I was delighted when I was invited to join and write about the Austin on Two Wheels Urban Living ride to Boggy Creek Farm.  I always enjoy visiting Boggy Creek and have been saying for years that I wanted to commute to the farms and farmers market by bike, but have been hesitant to venture out on my own.  You can read all about my lovely day with the folks from Austin Two Wheels and my new found confidence with riding in town on their blog:  My Boggy Creek Farm Picnic.

I highly recommend their rides for anyone who wants to do more cycling in town, but is nervous about traffic and riding rules (and not just because they are paying me to do so.)  I will definitely be participating in more Urban Living rides this Spring.

This post was sponsored by Austin on Two Wheels.

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Patio Garden Update: Spring Planting

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I can’t believe that I just finished my fourth planting of my patio garden.  I never would have dreamed that not only would I learn how to garden, but that I would look forward to the new season planting so much.

My winter garden didn’t work out quite as I hoped.  The broccoli and Brussels sprouts never produced although they did grow.  I’m guessing that, like the tomatoes last summer, they just didn’t get enough sun.

The season wasn’t a complete loss.  I managed to keep my Kaffir Lime and bay trees alive.  At one point, I’d thought I’d lost them both, but, alas, they are both sprouting new growth and looking good. My oregano, mint and lavender made it as well. The bougainvilleas are even blooming already and they never bloom this early.  I might, just might, be getting better at this.

Kaffir Lime Tree

Undeterred and with the continued coaching from Carla Crownover of Austin Urban Gardens, I’ve selected a new round of crops for the spring and summer.  Carla brought me seedlings for yellow straightneck squash and pickling cucumbers.  She even shared two Charentais melon seedlings from her recent seed exchange with friends.

Sqash, cucumbers, melons & herbs

I rounded out the planting with a few herbs – basil, thyme and sage.  I skipped the eggplant this year.  I’m a fairly creative person, but I didn’t think I could dream up an entire new season of eggplant recipes after last year’s eggplant explosion.

Even more exciting than my own garden is the news that my sister has caught the bug and planted cucumbers and herbs as well.  My niece and nephew loved helping with the Earthbox and were excited to garden again.  Woo hoo!

Here’s to a productive spring and summer!  What have you planted?

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Grab Your Calendars: It’s Farm, Food & Wine Season in Central Texas

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Spring has definitely arrived in Austin as evidenced by my overflowing calendar of events.  This is the perfect time to get out in the community and learn more about where your food (and wine) comes from, meet the producers and taste some terrific treats.  There are events to accommodate every budget so grab your calendar and go explore!
Slow Food Austin Farm Tours.  Slow Food Austin is a wonderful organization that hosts informational sessions, happy hours and farm tours all focused on local and sustainable food practices.  Their farm tours are a fantastic way to explore one of our area farms and get to know your food better.  Spring tours start this Saturday 3/26 at Urban Roots Farm with a tour and work day.  You’ll learn how the hardworking kids at Urban Roots run their farm, get to pitch in and take home a bag of crunchy veggies for your donation and effort. Tours continue throughout the Spring with trips planned to Sand Creek Farm in Georgetown, Home Sweet Farm in Brenham, Thunderheart Bison Ranch Overnight Farm Tour in South Texas and Pure Luck Goat Dairy Farm Tour in Dripping Springs.

DSCF1863
Chef David Bull demo at 2010 Sunday Fair at Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival

Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, or, as I like to call it, the Official State Holiday for Texas Foodies, starts Thursday 3/31 and continues through Sunday 4/3.  The schedule of events includes everything from lunches at area wineries to panel discussions about different wine regions and varietals to grand tastings from some of Texas’ best chefs.  Last year, I was introduced to several new chefs from around the state at the Stars Across Texas Classic and I only had to travel as far as the Long Center.  Bonus!

This year I’m particularly excited about the Live Fire event Friday night at the Texas Disposal Systems Exotic Game Ranch.  This event pairs some of the best BBQ and grill masters from around the country with Texas all-star chefs for a beef extravaganza.  Come hungry!   Festivities kick off on Thursday and tickets to some events are beginning to sell out so buy your tickets today.

Check out my post from last year’s events to learn more about the festival.

Margerum Wine Tasting & Wine Dinner.  During my recent trip to Santa Barbara, I had the opportunity to taste the lovely wines from Margerum Wine Company, a winery focused on making wines in a hand-crafted, natural way.  I was lucky enough to win a bottle of their wine at a drawing and was able to share with a few friends.  Now you can join in on the fun as Doug Margerum visits Austin in mid-April for a wine tasting and wine dinner.

On Wednesday 4/13 from 6:00-8:00 pm, The Austin Wine Merchant is hosting a tasting of Margerum Wines.  For a more in depth experience, you can join Doug for a wine dinner at Mirabelle Thursday 4/14 at 7 pm.  The featured wines at the dinner include: KLICKITAT Pinot Gris 09, SYBAIRTE Sauvignon Blanc 09, M5 08, Colson Canyon Syrah 07, UBER Syrah 07.  The dinner is $65 per person; contact the restaurant at (512) 346-7900 to make your reservations.  I’m honored to be Doug’s guest at the dinner and hope to see you there!

Sunset Valley Farmers Market Farm. Fresh.Taste. Event, April 16th 9 am to 1 pm, at Toney Burger Center.   A Nine-Chef Tasting Extravaganza with dozens of prizes, and, Green Easter Egg Hunt! A blow out of nine chefs will make dishes made directly from farmers, ranchers and dairy farmers from the Sunset Valley vendors.  Rumor has it that Chefs Todd Duplechan from Trio and Jack Gilmore from Jack Allen’s are among the chefs cooking up treats that day.  I can’t wait!

Crowd at Rain Lily Farm
2010 East Austin Urban Farm Tour – Crowd at Rain Lily Farm
East Austin Urban Farm Tour benefitting the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance was one of the most fun events I went to last year.  My niece and nephew fell in love with the farms and beg me to go back and visit whenever we can.  You can explore these urban farm gems on Sunday, April 17th, from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  Tickets are a bargain $35 as each tour also include treats from local chefs made with ingredients from the farm.  Children under 12 free.  Farm tours depart on the quarter hour at each farm and you can pick up tickets during the tour at any of the four farms:

Boggy Creek Farm, 3414 Lyons Rd.
Rain Lily Farm, 914 Shady Ln.
Springdale Farm, 755 Springdale Rd.
Hausbar Farm, 3300 Govalle Rd.

View photos from last year’s tour on Flickr.

Funky Chicken Coop Tour is another fun, family-friendly event.  Austin’s backyard chicken community grows daily, as you may learned from Addie Broyles’ own accounts in the Statesman of raising chickens.  I loved visiting the different coops last year and was surprised to learn that backyard chickens are a part of Austin’s culture in neighborhoods all over town. This year’s tour is  Saturday, April 23rd from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.  The tour map will be posted closer to the date of the event.  You can start at any venue and visit as many locations as you desire.  Prepare to be chicken charmed!

Here’s my post from the 2010 Funky Chicken Coop Tour.
View photos from last year’s tour on Flickr.

Farm to Plate Dinner on Thursday, May 12th from 6:30-9:30 pm at the historic Barr Mansion is the crown jewel for me in Spring sustainable food events.  It benefits the Sustainable Food Center, a nonprofit that works tirelessly to expand our local food system by running three of our area farmers markets, the Happy Kitchen program, farm to work and farm to cafeteria programs and so much more.   This year’s event pairs your favorite local farms with over 20 area chefs to create a lovely evening of food and celebration.  Tickets are $100 and worth every penny to further the work of a terrific organization.

Phew!  You better rest up.  We have a lot of touring and tasting to do to support our local food community.  See you at an event soon!

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Dining Out Sustainably: Snack Bar

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I love brunch – sitting with friends, leisurely catching up and enjoying the best of breakfast and lunch.  Thanks to Snack Bar you can have brunch every day from 9 am to 4 pm with lovely omelets, french toast and sandwiches while you relax on the patio watching the human parade on South Congress.

Egg Salad sandwich
Egg salad sandwich

On a recent weekday brunch, a friend of mine enjoyed an egg salad sandwich, wedge salad and Tamago Yoko, eggs served over a hash cake with sriracha, wasabi and bonito flakes.  Yum!  In the evening, Snack Bar serves tapas, again encouraging patrons to share with friends.

Wedge salad
Wedge salad

Tamago Yoko
Tamago Yoko

Most importantly, Snack Bar supports organic and local producers and serves humanely raised meats.  I was particularly excited when they recently hired Chef Thomas Reeh, formerly of Mars, to run the kitchen.  I have no doubt that he will add some special panache to a restaurant that is already serving up some pretty fun dishes.

See you at Snack Bar!

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