Our Favorite Things: 2015 Austin Food & Wine Festival Preview

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Can you feel the excitement? Have you started the countdown calendar? I have! It’s almost time (22 days and counting) for my annual food holiday weekend – the 2015 Austin Food & Wine Festival on April 24-26. Woo hoo!

Kim Crawford Prickly Pear Punch and Kim Crawford Citrus Wine Slush from Kelvin Natural Slush Co.

It’s hard for me to pick what I most excited about it. I love the demos by superstar chefs who I’ve only admired on TV. I’m intrigued by Jenn Louis’ tartare 101 with three types of raw dishes and the mystery basket challenges with Graham Elliott and Andrew Zimmern promise to be spectacular as the chefs demonstrate their improvisation skills. But, the double-header paella class with Jamie Bissonnette Ken Oringer of Toro may be the highlight of the demo sessions for me. Paella was one of the first complex dishes I learned to make and I can’t wait to learn masterful tips from these creative East Coast chefs.

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Salt and Time talking about the art of salumi at 2014 festival

Of course the beverage side of the house is stacked with great talent as well. Mark Oldman’s tasting session on pairing wine with spicy foods is a perfect match for our Texas cuisine, and I’m delighted that we have three of our local wine pros (Craig Collins, Devon Broglie and Vilma Mazaite) each leading separate tastings. I can’t wait to see how  David Alan Rescues the Rita as well. If anyway can teach us to make a perfect margarita, The Tipsy Texan can.

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Sparkler session at 2014 festival

The festival is bringing rising stars from across the state in for the sold out Taste of Texas event on Friday night and a few of the chefs are sticking around for demos and the fire pit. Hearing from Matt McCallister of Dallas’ FT33 and Chris Shepherd of Houston’s Underbelly without having to travel out of town is a real treat. And, I can’t even imagine what kind of hi jinx Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner of Pass and Provisions (Houston) will get into at the Fire Pit.

Vegetables cooked in clay from Gardner

First bites from Gardner at 2014 festival

Both the Fire Pit and the Chef Showcase are expanded this year with more chefs and some sneak peeks. I’m looking forward to finally having a bite from Wu Chow, the Swift’s Attic team’s new Asian adventure.

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And not to be overlooked, the Grand Tasting tent is going to be busting at the seams with sips and nibbles. The festival has a attracted a whole slew of new vendors as well as old favorites.

High Brew Coffee, cold-brew in a can

High Brew was just one of the new vendors introduced at the 2014 festival

I’m so excited! If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, now is the time. You do not want to miss this!

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