Archive | November, 2014

Walking the Wild Side of Wine with East End Wines’ Sam Hovland

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One of my favorite things about the world of wine is the sheer volume and variety of what is available. I love that you can tour any part of the world and learn about the area’s history, geography, climate and culinary influences all through a few sips. I’ve never been to Uruguay, Turkey or the volcanic Mt. Etna, but I now know a great deal about those places because of Wine Buyer Sam Hovland at East End Wines.


East End Wines, on Rosewood Avenue just across from Hillside Farmacy, is an affordable place to experiment with new wines. The shop targets an average retail price of $18 per bottle and hosts free weekly wine tastings to introduce their customers to new offerings. (You definitely want to sign up for that email list.) They also host wine classes where you can learn in depth about your favorite vino.

I recently attended a Uruguayan wine tasting at the shop and it prompted me to ask Sam to take me on a tour of some of the other unusual wines they have on their shelves.

The Mile High Vineyard. Torrontes is the flagship white wine of Argentina and has become increasingly popular in the U.S., but it is unusual to find a wine made from grapes grown over a mile above sea level. The Laborum Single Vineyard Torrontes 2013 El Porvenir de Cafayette has the peach and honeysuckle flavors you might expect from this varietal, but because the temperature drops 40-50 degrees when the sun goes down, it also has an uncharacteristic acidity.


“This wine has racy acidity, while you still get that stone fruit and floral character without it coming out as overly sweet or soft,” says Hovland. “It’s pretty easy to enjoy.” This refreshing white from the Salta region retails for $18.

A dry Hungarian.  Hungary is known for it’s sweet wines from the Tokaji (prounced to-keye) region northeast of Budapest, but the East End Wines team prefers the quality dry and sparkling wines.  The Royal Tokaji Furmint Sec 2011 is dry, sleek, light and citrusy white that retails for $17.


“This wine would pair well with a roasted chicken stuffed with sliced up orange and fennel or a whole range of earthy eastern European or Italian vegetable dishes that,” says Hovland.

A volcanic rosé. There are few places as precarious to grow grapes as on the side of Mt. Etna, an active volcano in Catania, Italy on the island of Sicily.  But Frank Cornelissen is not known for shying away from challenges. Not only is his vineyard on a volcano, but he practices organic winemaking and refuses to use sulfur as a preservative, creating wines that are literally alive in the bottle.

The F. Cornelissen Susucaru 6 Rosé is a blend of 80% red grapes and 20% white grapes, from several varietals native to Sicily like the Nerello Mascalese, Malvasia and Cattaratto. The bottle is full of sediment and looks more like a lava lamp than a fine wine.


“This wine is weird,” says Hovland. “It is very tangy and has a still alive spritz. One bottle may be fizzy and one may be more still, but they are fun and worth trying.”  This delightful pink volcano in the bottle retails for $30.

A Turkish Delight. Turkey is known more for its cuisine than its wine, but the vineyards in the Central Anatolia region on the banks of the Euphrates, are producing notable wines that are considered rising values. Made with native Turkish grapes Öküzgözü and Boğazkere, the Kavaklidere – Selection Kirmizi 2010 has intense dried plum and sweet spice aromas and is elegantly powerful and full-bodied on the palate.


“This blend is from interesting varietals that you don’t see that often,” says Hovland. “It comes off like a bit more ripe Bordeaux type of blend and is very versatile as a food wine.” The elegant Turkish red sells for $20.

When you stock your wine rack for the holidays, mix it up and explore a little. The folks at East End Wines are great sherpas for the journey!

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The Humble Turnip: Recipe Round-up

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Turnips tend to be looked at as the stepchild of winter vegetables, heckled for being bland and boring, but we disagree.  The next time you are at the Farmer’s Market take a second look at this duel purpose vegetable: both the root and greens are edible. Turnips can replace potatoes in a recipe, can be pureed for a soup or enjoyed raw in a salad.


Chorizo and Turnip Tacos– If you try only one recipe, I suggest this one. Tacos with a picadillo like filling of chorizo, diced turnips and sliced onions.  The chorizo and turnip filling is spicy and rich, and the sliced radish garnish give these tacos a great crunch.

Turnips Anna, Kristi’s Farm to Table

Scarlett Runner Bean and Turnip Soup, Kristi’s Farm to Table

Beef Vegetable Soup, Kristi’s Farm to Table

Turnip Cauliflower Mash, Holistically Engineered

Spicy Skillet Turnip Greens, Add A Pinch

Turnip Green Pesto, Whitney Miller

Turnips with Yogurt and Tomatoes, Saveur

Grated Carrot, Apple and Turnip Salad, Fruit Guys


Do you have a favorite turnip recipe? More turnip inspiration here!

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Curious Confections

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Michael and Gemma and Matherne of Curious Confections. Image from


Traditional English scones and New Orleans style king cakes might seem like strange bedfellows, but the two dishes live in delicious harmony on the menu of Curious Confections. The baking duo of Gemma and Michael Matherne sprinkle their menu with flavors from their very different upbringings.

Gemma’s English heritage shines through in delights like the Earl Grey cupcakes, Welsh cakes and tea loaves and sticky toffee pudding while Michael’s deep southern roots are evident in the red velvet and pineapple upside down cake as well as New Orleans style king cakes.


Curious Confections New Orleans Style King Cake


Gemma moved to Austin from Wales to finish her training as a pastry chef and when the Texas Cottage Food law was amended in 2013 to allow the sale of home baked goods, she and Michael seized the opportunity grow Curious Confections. This update was a huge hurdle allowing them to sell their products at farmers markets, reaching a broader audience. In addition to custom orders, they are now regulars at the Sunday HOPE Farmers Market at Plaza Saltillo, selling their traditional pastries as well as vegan options and even dog treats.

“It is really encouraging to get repeat customers,” says Gemma of their market regulars. “Its really nice to not only make someone happy but make them so happy that they want to come back for more. ”


Custom Beatles Birthday Cake, Ringo Starr’s bass drum


Welsh Cakes, similar ingredients to a scone but cooked in a griddle like pancakes.


Crawfish sugar cookies


With a focus on high quality ingredients, it’s no wonder the pastries are in high demand. Curious Confections uses local ingredients from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Texas citrus and Austin Honey. Whether it is a human scaled zombie cake, a delicate eggnog snowflake cookie or a flaky croissant, the couple’s attention to detail and artistry is impressive.

Gemma and Michael are genuine people who want to make people happy with food. From the taste of things, they are off to a great start.







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November Texas Food Events

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Gunderman Farms Tomatoes (2)

Image from Urban Harvest Farmers Market.

Urban Harvest Farmers Market Anniversary Dinner
Sunday, November 9
Houston @ Underbelly

Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Urban Harvest Farmers Market in Houston with a unique dinner hosted by James Bear award-winner Chris Shepard along with some of Houston’s finest chefs. All proceeds benefit local family farms and Urban Harvest. Check out the full list of participating chefs and farms and purchase your tickets here.

Texas House Farm-to-Table Caucus Brunch
Sunday, November 16
Austin @ Springdale Farm

Come meet your local farmers and some of Austin’s top chefs! Enjoy a variety of locally grown food, prepared by Sonya Coté of Eden East along with local spirits, craft beers and Texas wine.  The Farm-to-Table Caucus was formed in the Spring of 2012 to educate members of the Texas House of Representatives on issues relating to the growing, harvesting and consumption of Texas foods. Grab your tickets to brunch!

Green Gate Farms Benefit 
Wednesday, November 19
Austin @ Lenoir

It’s time to come together and help one of our farmer friends in need! Green Gate Farms needs help paying basic bills, covering cost of fighting the tax office for their agricultural status and preparing for the spring planting. Your $15 entry donation (via cash or credit card) will go directly to keeping Green Gate Farms so Skip and Erin can continue their passion of farming and food education to benefit all of us in Central Texas! Complimentary drink and specially priced snacks will be available. Check out the event facebook page for more details.


It may only be the beginning of November but we are already looking forward to Edible Austin Eat Drink Local Week including an evening Dan Barber at the Paramount Theatre where he will talk about his new book, “The Third Plate”. Dan Barber is a world-renowned chef, winner of multiple James Beard awards and was named one of Time magazines 100 Most Influential People in the World.




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