Archive | January, 2012

Event round-up: Cooking with Connally, TEDxManhattan and Alice Waters

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The new year is kicking off with a number of exciting events around the state.  I had the distinct privilege to attend the most recent Connally High School Guest Chef Dinner featuring Chef Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside and Backspace last night and am looking forward to the February Taste of Asia dinner with Chefs Christina Lee and Louis Ortiz of Central Market Cooking School.  The dinners help pay for the uniforms, food and textbooks for this two year program that gives the Connally High students a head start on a culinary career.  For a very reasonable $25, you can enjoy a terrific meal and invest in the future of these highly motivated and hard working kids.

Opportunities to learn about local and sustainable food abound in January and February.  On Saturday, January 21st, TEDxManhattan has once again organized their conference around the topic of changing the way we eat and is broadcasting the series of speeches online.  Groups around the country host watch parties for this important conference and the Houston Chapter of Bioneers and Blackwood Land Institute are hosting the first Texas watch party.  You can apply to host your own viewing on the TEDxManhattan site.

San Antonio is hosting its first cocktail conference the weekend of January 26th and it is sure to draw talented bartenders, mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts from across the state.  If digging in the dirt is more your speed, the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Annual Conference is hosting it’s annual conference in Mesquite the weekend of February 17th with informative sessions for farmers and organic gardeners.

And last, but not least, The Progressive Forum and Urban Harvest are hosting restaurateur, author and activist Alice Waters in Houston on Monday February 27th.  I’m expecting inspiring tales from the woman that many consider to be the mother of the local food movement in the US.

Details about all of these events and more appear below.  The event lists are organized by city (alphabetical order) then date.  If you know of other events or organizations I should consider, please feel free to send them my way.

Austin

Thursday, January 19th, Slow Food Austin Happy Hour at Contigo, 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm.  Happy hour features a special menu prepared by Chef Andrew Wiseheart and a $5 Slow Drink Menu featuring El Tesoro Tequila and (512) Brewing Company.  RSVP here. Contigo, 2027 Anchor Lane.

Friday, January 20th,  Book People & Edible Austin host author Elizabeth Engelhart, 7 p.m. Elizabeth will discuss her book about Southern gender and Southern food, A Mess of Greens with panelists Carol Ann Sayle from Boggy Creek Farm and Stephanie McClenny of Confituras. Event is free.  Book People, 603 N. Lamar.

Monday, February 6th,  Connally High School Culinary Program, 7 pm.  The Cooking with Connally students  host the next dinner in their Guest Chef Dinner Series with A Taste of Asia four course dinner with Chefs Christina Lee and Louis Ortiz of Central Market Cooking School.  Tickets are $25.  Purchase tickets here. 13212 North Lamar Boulevard.

 

Dallas

Friday, February 17th – Sunday, February 19th, Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Annual Conference. This year’s conference will be held at the Mesquite Convention Center in Mesquite. This annual conference is a valuable educational and networking opportunity for new farmers, experienced farmers and people who like to grow their own food, with an exciting lineup of workshops, vendors, a bookshop and more. Visit tofga.org for details and to register.

 

Houston

Saturday, January 21st, TEDxManhattan Watch Party hosted by Houston Chapter of the Bioneers and Blackwood Land Institute, 9:30 am – 4:30 pm. An inspiring day watching leaders from diverse areas of the sustainable food movement talk about impacts and innovations across the country as we shift to a more sustainable way of eating and farming.  Event is free, but space is limited.  Register here Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1900 Bering, between San Felipe and Westheimer.

Monday, February 27th, The Progressive Forum and Urban Harvest present Alice Waters, 7:30pm. A pioneer of the sustainable-local food movement since she established her famous restaurant in Berkeley, Chez Panisse, Alice Waters has inspired chefs, farmers markets, and leaders of the food movement by using the freshest, local organic products, served only in season.  She’s the author of 11 books including The Art of Simple Food (2007) and 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering (2011). She will sign books and greet fans at the end of the evening. Ticket prices range from $14 to $94.  Wortham Center, 500 Texas Avenue, Cullen Theater.

 

San Antonio

Thursday January 26th – Sunday, January 29thSan Antonio Cocktail Conference.  This series of spirit based events organized at various venues in downtown San Antonio brings together top bartenders for four days of education seminars, guided tastings and cocktail parties.  Conference proceeds will benefit HeartGift San Antonio.  It looks like a great place to break multiple New Year’s resolutions while learning more about the craft of cocktails.

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Welcome to Kristi’s Farm to Table

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I started Austin Farm to Table four years ago as a way to stay on course with my annual cookbook project for friends and family.  I never dreamed that four years later I would still be writing the blog, writing for a well respected magazine (Edible Austin) or writing about cities other than Austin.  But, that’s exactly what has happened.

Over the last four years I have explored countless markets around the country, eaten truly incredible meals and developed a serious farmer crush (on all farmers, not one in particular) as the most passionate, hard working people I’ve ever met.  I’ve written about these experiences as they’ve popped into my world, but never really had a plan to formally “cover” any territory other than Austin.

That all changed during two eye-opening trips I took in the Spring of 2010.  In April, I was invited to Houston by real food advocates David Leftwich and Tara Kelly to watch a screening of “What’s on Your Plate?” at Mandell Park and spent the weekend exploring Houston’s burgeoning real food scene.  I had heard that Houston’s farmers markets were growing and was thrilled with the news of Revival Market’s opening, but I had no idea how much progress had been made.  When I arrived at the Eastside market on Saturday morning to find as many tents as the Downtown Austin Farmers Market, I was stunned.

Eastside market

Eastside Farmers Market in Houston

Revival Market - oils and syrups

Revival Market in Houston

A month later I visited San Antonio for a story for Edible Austin.  I had visited the Pearl Farmers Market several times and was unprepared for how much it had grown in the six months since my last visit.   Imagine my surprise when we were handed a flier listing all the other farmers markets in San Antonio, most of which had opened in that same six month period.   Top that off with two of the best meals I ate last year (The Monterey and Restaurant Gwendolyn), all from locally sourced ingredients, and San Antonio had my attention.

Pearl Farmers Market, photo by Jenna Noel

Restaurant Gwendolyn, photo by Jenna Noel

I will be the first to admit that in Austin we can be more than a tad bit provincial.  We are proud of our town and how we live and sometimes this gets in the way of recognizing what others are doing outside our city walls.  After the trip to San Antonio, I knew that I needed to expand my focus beyond Austin and intentionally follow what was happening in other cities.  I saw a number of vendors at the Houston and San Antonio markets who also serve the Austin area and I realized that if the vendors are covering all that territory, I probably should too.

My hope is that this wider scope will bring well deserved attention to the hard work of farmers, artisans and chefs in those other locales and broaden our view of how we interconnect.    So, here’s to a new name and adventure to start this new year.

I’ll see you at the farmers market!

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