Last week, for perhaps the first time ever, I won something. Not just a little something, but tickets to Austin’s first Food & Wine festival!

This all happened thanks to my favorite ice cream spot, Cool Haus….and for the record they were my favorite before I won the contest. Just ask any of the countless friends I’ve coaxed into joining me for a late night dessert run.

Coolhaus happened to be sponsoring a twitter contest for the festival and, with the help of my persistent desktop twitter client, I managed to participate by tweeting some of my favorite new flavors they were offering. When I got the message I won after the contest was over, I couldn’t believe it. After a few minutes of excited jumping, I emailed Cool Haus for the details and picked up the tickets.

Being the overly prepared engineer, I planned which sessions I was going to attend and even created a schedule with the Food & Wine iPhone app. I tend to plan for the worst for these things, so I showed up at the festival around 7:30am, camera in hand, so I wouldn’t miss out on the 9:00am hands-on grilling demo by Tim Love. I credit my Friday morning run ritual for this insight, as I saw the  limited amount of grilling stations getting setup along Town Lake the day before. I rarely regret arriving early, and this event was no exception. I got to settle in and take in the format before the crowds started lining up, and I was able to catch Paul Qui and Chef Morimoto…talk about starting the festival off right!

       

The grilling demo didn’t disappoint either. A 200 grill setup complete with chimneys filled with charcoal, coolers filled with a bottle of wine, a New York Strip, a Skirt Steak, some broccolini, and oh yeah…Tequila! Chef Tim Love brought a lot of energy, and got us roaring for the weekend with a Tequila toast or two. I’m no rookie on the grill, but this demo taught me some good skills. Most importantly, 1. Always cook with peanut oil on the grill, and 2. Overcome the fear of finishing your steaks directly on the hot charcoals. The skirt steak developed a nice crust, and to my surprise no ashy residue was to be found on it.

             

The steak was delicious, the bottle of wine was empty, and the party was just beginning.

The other demos were good, but a step down from the hands-on fun. I learned something at each one of them though, and left with a few recipes and techniques I’m going to have to try. Keep an eye out for those posts.

The Food and Wine tastings were well done in my opinion. I didn’t have trouble going from vendor to vendor, and lines moved along quickly. Big booths giving out free wine and beer were always stocked and filled glasses were at the ready  - quite a feat for a first year event if you ask me.

My new friend and fellow blogger, Camille Styles attended the event as well – so be sure to check out her write-up if you’re wanting more Food & Wine.

The day was also glorious, bright, and I couldn’t get my eyes (or camera) off the sweeping panoramas the Austin skyline offered. Big thanks again to Coolhaus for allowing me to take part in this great event. One of the Food & Wine publisher’s mentioned that the success of the event would ensure it’d be back again next year, and I know I’ll be looking forward to it.

Cheers!



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