Archive | November, 2011

Dining Out Sustainably: Noble Pig

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There may not be anything more satisfying or comforting than a truly great sandwich – perfectly toasted bread with moist, perfectly spiced meat and condiments dripping just a bit over the sides.  I have to think John Bates and Brandon Martinez, chefs and co-owners of the Noble Pig, knew that when they opened their artisan sandwich shop in the far Northwest corner of Austin (11815 620 N. Suite 4, Austin, TX 78750).  With all of the ingredients made from scratch, these sandwiches are worth the drive to this small shop tucked away in a strip mall not far from Lakeline Mall.

Bates and Martinez, who met in culinary school, believe that each element of a dish, even the humble sandwich, is important and make all of the ingredients in house including smoking the bacon, making the sausages, pickling the vegetables and baking the bread.  The care and attention is obvious when you bite into the spicy chorizo and egg breakfast sandwich or the three meat extravaganza house namesake, The Noble Pig.

Beef Pastrami Sandwich
After a little over a year of success with the deli, Noble Pig is opening a charcuterie shop next door on Friday, November 25th.  You can now take home their carefully prepared meats, spreads, pickled items, breads and desserts after you exhaust yourself shopping on Black Friday.  
I attended a media preview last week at which we sampled a few of the delicious pates, terrines, rillettes and meats.  I was given a parting gift of pork rillettes which  I shared with a friend who needed some cheering up.  As it turns out, their rillettes drizzled with Confituras pickled blueberries (didn’t have any Noble Pig pickled berries in the pantry) was just the pick me up she needed.

Noble Pig Charcuterie
The charcuterie shop will be open from 10 am to 7 pm daily and offer a rotating menu of the following: 
Jarred items-relishes, mustards, jams, pickles, a line of bread puddings
House prepared meats – pates, terrines, sliced tongue, beef and duck pastrami, bacon, ham, smoked pork belly, smoked turkey, roast beef, sausages
Bread – white, wheat, ciabatta and brioche
Sweets – tarts and other seasonal desserts
Grab and go ciabatta sandwiches from the Noble Pig catering menu

You can also learn some of Chef John Bates’ secrets at a sandwich themed cooking class at Central Market on Monday, November 28th at 6:30 pm.

Chef Bates will share recipes for some of his favorite sandwiches and condiments, and attendees will take home a jar of their pickled vegetables. The class is $45 and the menu includes: Croque Monsieur, Cuban Sandwich, Sweet & Sour Pickled Veggies and Whole Grain Mustard.
I highly recommend taking some time to embrace the art of the sandwich with the Noble Pig, whether enjoying a dish from the deli, taking home selections from the charcuterie shop or attending the cooking class.  You’ll enjoy every throughfully crafted bite.
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Edible Austin’s Eat Drink Local Week kicks off December 3rd

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The first week of December (December 3-December 10) has been blocked on my calendar for almost a year now.  I’ve been waiting with anticipation for the 5th Annual Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week – a weeklong exploration and celebration of Central Texas farms, restaurants, chefs and artisans who support our local food system.  The proceeds of this exciting week benefit two vital non-profits on our local food scene: Sustainable Food Center and Urban Roots.  Forget Thanksgiving and Christmas, this is Austin Farm to Table’s big holiday.

This year’s festivities kick off on Saturday, December 3rd with the Urban Farm Bicycle Tour led by Bicycle Sport Shop and wrap-up on Saturday, December 10th with Local Brew Fest at Black Star Co-op (which I’m helping plan).  In between, you can participate in a pig roast at Springdale Farm, a coffee and chocolate festival, a holiday gift fair, and Drink Local Night.  You can also hear the wisdom of sustainability pioneers Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson or enjoy a feast and a movie at Alamo Drafthouse.
Saturday, December 3, 9am: Urban Farm Bicycle Tour. Tickets: $30, kids under 16 are free.
Saturday, December 3, 10am: Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week Kick-Off at SFC Downtown Farmers’ Market.  Free event.
Saturday, December 3, 4pm-7pm: Pig Roast and Harvest Dinner at Springdale Farm. Tickets: $30
Sunday, December 4, 11am-3pm: Coffee and Chocolate Festival at Texas Coffee Traders. Tickets: $25.
Sunday, December 4, 1pm: An Afternoon with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson at Statestide at the Paramount. Tickets: $35.
Sunday, December 4,  8pm: An Evening with Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson at Stateside at the Paramount.  This event is sold out.
Monday, December 5, 7pmAlamo BeneFeast: Moonstruck at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. Tickets: $75.
Wednesday, December 7, 4pm-9pm: Better Bites of Austin Holiday Fair.  Admission is free.
Thursday, December 8, 6:30pm-9:30pm: Drink Local Night and Official Drink of Austin Cocktail Contest at The Carillon.  Tickets: $35.
Sunday, December 10, 1pm-5pm: Local Brew Fest at Black Star Co-op. Tickets: $20.
Unless otherwise specified, you can buy your tickets for all Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week on the Edible Austin site or at the SFC Downtown or Triangle Farmers Market through December 3rd.  If you are planning to attend several of the events, consider buying a VIP pass which gets you into all events except Wendell Berry and the Alamo Benefeast and also grants you priority access.
If you prefer a quiet dinner over bustling events, you can also participate by dining at one of restaurants that will be featuring a special local dish that week.   Check the website as the event draws closer to view the featured dish for the week.
Participating Restaurants Include:ASTI Trattoria
Barley Swine
Buenos Aires Café
Chez Nous
Eastside Café
East Side Pies
East Side Show Room [Austin Farm to Table profile]
Fabi + Rosi
Fete Accompli [Austin Farm to Table profile]
FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar [Austin Farm to Table profile]
Food 4 Fitness Cafe
Green Pastures Restaurant
Home Slice Pizza
Jack Allen’s Kitchen [Austin Farm to Table profile]
Judge’s Hill Restaurant
Kerbey Lane Café Central, South & Northwest
La Condesa
The Leaning Pear
Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill
Peoples Rx
Shoreline Grill
Taco Deli Central, North and South
Tacos and Tequila
Uchiko [Austin Farm to Table profile]
Urban an American Grill
Wink [Austin Farm to Table profile]
Also new this year is an Online Chef Dinner Auction featuring eight of Austin’s favorite chefs. Bid on a chance to have a celebrity chef come to your  home or private venue for a memorable dinner for eight of your closest friends and family.
Needless to say, there is no shortage of ways for you to participate in Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week and support Sustainable Food Center and Urban Roots.  Find what fits you best and buy your tickets or make your reservations today.
See you at Eat Drink Local Week!
Disclaimer: While I am a contributor to Edible Austin and am helping plan the Local Brew Fest, they did not ask me to write this post. 
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More November food events and a farmers market for Lakeway

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As we head into that last minute push to the Thanksgiving holiday, there are a bevy of food events to keep you busy this week while you daydream about roasted turkey.  In addition to being able to help three of my favorite non-profits – Urban Roots, Slow Food Austin and Capital Area Food Bank – you can enjoy some terrific food.

And, don’t forget about the farmers markets as you prepare for next week’s feast.  A new Sunday market has opened in Lakeway and Chef Lou Lambert will be cooking and signing books at the Quarry Farmers Market in San Antonio this Sunday.

Wednesday, November 16th,  Farmhouse Delivery Chef’s Table Dinner: A Torrid Affair at Urban Roots Farm, 7:00 PM.  Farmhouse Delivery is hosting a Farmhouse Chef’s dinner with the non-profit supper club A TORRID AFFAIR to benefit Urban Roots, a youth development program that uses sustainable agriculture as a means to transform the lives of young people and increase access to healthy food in Austin.  The menu for the evening will feature cuisine and cocktails conceived by Peche Executive Chef Jason Dodge and Volstead Lounge Cocktail Director Justin Elliot. $75, includes cocktail pairing with each course. All proceeds benefit Urban Roots–click here for tickets.


Thursday, November 17th, Seedling Truck launch at Slow Food Austin Happy Hour at Rain Lily Farm, 914 Shady Lane, 5:30-8:00 PM.  The owners of my favorite catering group, Royal Fig Catering, are debuting The Seedling Truck, a mobile food truck featuring a revolving menu of seasonal farm fresh comfort food.  Royal Fig wowed our family when they catered my sister’s major milestone birthday (she’d kill me if I told you which one) last year and I can’t wait to try the creative dishes Chef Dan Stacy and team produce from the Seedling Truck. Short rib grilled cheese? Yes, please.  You can RSVP on The Seedling Truck’s website: Suggested donation is $15 and the first 50 guests will receive a $5 off dinner coupon for The Seedling Truck.

Saturday, November 19, 201, Austin Empty Bowl Project Preview Party at The Marchesa Hall & Theatre in Lincoln Village (across from Highland Mall) from 6:00 – 9:00 PM. The Austin Empty Bowl Project, a fundraiser benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank, gives you a chance to pick a custom bowl made by Central Texas artists filled with delicious gourmet soup to help end hunger in Central Texas.  At the Preview Party, sponsored by Whole Foods Market, you can select your bowl before the crowds arrive on Sunday and enjoy hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine. Tickets are $75/person online.
Sunday, November 20th, The 15th Austin Empty Bowl Project at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre in Lincoln Village (across from Highland Mall) from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM.  The main event for Austin Empty Bowl Project kicks off on Sunday morning.  For $20, you can enjoy Thirty restaurants and bakeries donate delicious soups and breads, while musicians donate their time and talent to entertain us. Then, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, friends and families come together to purchase a bowl for $20, have it filled with soup, and enjoy the music. The bowl is yours to keep, as a reminder of those whose bowls are empty. The proceeds go to the Capital Area Food Bank to help sponsor the Kids Cafe Program. Kids Cafe provides a safe, nurturing place where children receive a hot, nutritious dinner, as well as help with homework.
Sunday, November 20th, Lakeway Common Farmers Market in the parking lot of the Lakeway Commons Shopping Center at the corner of 620 and Lakeway Blvd from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM kicked off a few weekends ago with a few dozen vendors including produce, dairy, bakery items and prepared foods.  I haven’t been out to the market yet, but was pleased to see a healthy mix of farms and a few of my favorite vendor’s like Kala’s Kuisine, Kelly Jo’s Salsa and Round Rock Honey.  If you head out to the market, I’d love to hear about your experience.
Sunday November 20th, Chef Lou Lambert visits the Quarry Farmers Marketin the parking lot of the Whole Foods at the Quarry shopping center San Antonio, at 10:00 AM. Chef Lambert, owner of Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue and Jo’s Hot Coffee and Good Food, in Austin, as well as Lambert’s Steaks, Seafood, and Whiskey and Dutch’s Burgers and Beer in Fort Worth, will share his tips on making a seamless and easy holiday dinner and cooking a few recipes from his recently released cookbook Big Ranch, Big City.  Cookbooks will be available for purchase at the market and he will be signing books.
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Getting organized in the kitchen with Edible Austin COOKS!

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Sometimes the most important time I spend in the kitchen isn’t cooking, but getting organized.  In Edible Austin’s new COOKS! issue, I explore two of my bigger kitchen dilemmas.

The first was how as a renter I could create a greener kitchen since remodeling isn’t an option.  The easy to implement tools I explore in the Eco Kitchens: Every Little Thing article can be used by anyone to significantly cut down on kitchen waste.

I struggled for years with how to store my recipes and actually be able to find them again when I needed them.  All of that changed when I discovered Evernote, software that allows you to store and categorize notes easily and access them from anywhere – even your smart phone.  Now, when I clipped a recipe to try someday, I could actually find it again.  I explore how you can use Evernote and several other applications for effective recipe storage in the Smart Food: Recipe Storage article.

What are some of your favorite kitchen organizing tips?

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