It’s amazing to think about the 5,000 people who descend upon the Palmer Events Center every year for Paleo f(x).
The annual Paleo conference, which was started in 2011 by Austinites Keith and Michelle Norris, is now the largest such event in the world, drawing thousands of attendees who spend a lot of time thinking about the food they consume and the ways they move their bodies.
As usual, the event will feature keynote speaks and panels, as well as workshops to try out various workout programs and watch some cooking demos. This year, they have a Paleo 101 stage for beginners and a large Health Expo Playground to try samples of foods, workouts and products that cater to the “ancestral health” lifestyle. Guests this year include Joseph Mercola, JJ Virgin, Chris Kresser, Robb Wolf and Ben Greenfield.
According to the organizers, “Paleo f(x) provides the most supportive atmosphere for you to take ownership of your life and your health. Meet our leaders. And meet each other!…Imagine being part of a community of thousands of like-minded world changers, spending three days sharpening our collective axes, training with jedis, and raising our vibration for a better world!”
Tickets cost $1477 for VIP, $597 for Premier and $167 for the Expo only. (You can get some discounts online in the weeks before the event.)
For the second time in three years, the Houston-based grocery chain Fiesta Mart has been sold.
Fiesta has two stores in Austin, a small market compared to the 32 stores in the Houston area and several dozen in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. According to the Houston Chronicle, Bodega Latina Corp and its Mexican parent company Chedraui will acquire 63 Fiesta stores in Texas if the $300 million sale goes through, which is expected. The buyer already operated 59 El Super stores in the Southwest and is one of the largest Hispanic food retailers in the country. Fiesta was sold in 2004 and then again in 2015 Acon Investments, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm.
From the Chronicle:
Although Fiesta Mart has revamped some stores to broaden its appeal, the grocer has been outgunned by well-capitalized giants H-E-B, Kroger and Walmart and newcomers such as Aldi, who have been aggressively courting Hispanic customers with competitive prices and a more international selection of produce, meats and canned foods.
A little history: This internationally focused grocery catering to the Hispanic market first opened 46 years ago in Houston. Its flagship Austin location opened in 1993 at 3909 N. Interstate 35. A second location followed in 2001 at 1120 S. Lamar, where the Alamo Drafthouse now stands, but it closed in 2003. Another second location opened on Stassney and Interstate 25 in 2005.
The farmers who have been hosting the East Austin Urban Farm Tour have put together the ninth annual tour of the four farms, which are all located in the same neighborhood around East Seventh Street, Springdale Road, Shady Lane and Lyons Road.
But this year will be a little different. Glenn and Paula Foore announced a few weeks ago that they will close Springdale Farm this summer after 10 years of selling local produce to home cooks and chefs alike.
The remaining farmers at Boggy Creek Farm, Hausbar Urban Farm & Guest Haus and Rain Lily Farm haven’t said what might happen to this event in the future, but this year’s tour returns from 1 to 5 p.m. April 15. Tickets cost $60, or $65 at the gate, and proceeds benefit the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance.
Attendees can visit each of the farms to sample food and beverages from local purveyors and chefs. Some of the participating local beverage companies and restaurants are Austin Wine Merchant, Pitchfork Pretty, Sala & Betty, Texas French Bread, Weather Up, Wink, Lauren’s Garden Craft Cocktail Juice, Otoko, Paula’s Texas Spirits, Puli-Ra, Texas Keeper Cider, Wimberley Tea Company Yaupon Teas, Zilker Brewing Co., Bufalina Due, Epicerie, Fairweather Cider Co., Old Thousand, Eden East, Friends and Allies Brewing, the Hightower, Justine’s Brasserie, L’Oca d’Oro, Lost Pines Yaupon Tea, Odd Duck and Olamaie.
Remember that rotisserie chicken taste test we did in January? For my Facebook livestream video earlier this week, I took many of your suggestions to include Sam’s Club, Walmart and Randalls in their own taste test with Fiesta, which won the previous round.
If you missed the original taste test, we compared rotisserie chickens from six local stores — H-E-B, Central Market, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Costco and Fiesta — and the Fiesta chicken was the unanimous winner. I knew we wouldn’t be able to include every chicken in that original taste test, but six chickens were plenty to taste at once.
After the story and video published, I heard from lots of readers who love the rotisserie chickens from Sam’s Club, Walmart and Randalls, so I decided to host another showdown between those three and the previous winner. This time, the results weren’t so clear. Many tasters like the Sam’s Club chicken as much as the Fiesta chicken, but the Walmart and Randalls birds couldn’t match the other competitors in taste or texture.
The only issue with Sam’s Club is that you have to have a membership to the buy the chicken, which costs $45 per year. The company does allow you to get a free day pass to shop in the store, but you have to pay 10 percent extra on whatever you buy. As with Costco’s chicken, the Sam’s Club chicken was a full pound larger than the others and it was about two dollars less.
I’d still love to hear about your favorite ready-to-eat grocery foods, including rotisserie chickens! Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s always nice to show up with a dish at a potluck and then go home with a recipe or two that you know you’ll be making for the next one.
A few weeks ago, we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner with his family; the day of the get-together, he texted to request that whatever we bring for dessert be vegan for some other guests he’d invited.
Rather than to try to whip up some impressive vegan tart, brownie or pie at the last minute, I went with a simple fruit salad that required no recipe. It was a nice complement to the host’s harissa chickpea stew from Milk Street Kitchen, Christopher Kimball’s bimonthly food magazine, which features more international dishes than I’ve seen in any publication since Lucky Peach.
Our host also made a pomegranate salad with radishes and a sumac dressing, but it was our new friends’ contribution that was the dark horse of the dinner. At first sight, the dish looked like a simple rice salad. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be served warm or cold, and with the dark color of the black rice, I couldn’t see any other ingredients besides the corn and cranberries, which is a combination of ingredients I’d never had before.
Every guest at the table was surprised when we finally sat down to the eat. The ginger, garlic, lime juice, cilantro and serrano pepper infused every grain of rice with flavor, and even though they are both sweet, the corn and cranberries balanced the savory, spicy ingredients that seasoned the black rice, which is also called forbidden rice.
Our new friends said the idea for the salad originated from their friend, Janet, and had morphed each time it moved from kitchen to kitchen. Some use lemon juice instead of lime; others omit the pepper. When I make this for the next potluck I attend, I might use wild rice instead of forbidden rice, although the plump texture of those deeply colored grains was simply delightful. As a bonus, fiber- and iron-rich black rice has as many antioxidants as blueberries, so it’s the kind of dish that you could easily serve as a main dish if you’re making it at home. You can serve it warm, cold or at room temperature, and it would be a great filling for a wrap or served on top of salad greens.
Forbidden Rice With Corn and Cranberries
1 cup forbidden black rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 serrano pepper, minced, no seeds
2 cups corn kernels, fresh
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, to taste
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for topping
Add rice to a medium-large saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a rapid simmer, then lower the heat, cover and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 30 to 40 minutes. If you’d like a more tender grain, add 1/2 cup additional water and cook until absorbed.
Just before the rice is done, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, ginger and serrano, and saute over low heat until golden. Add the corn kernels and sauteé just until warmed through.
Transfer the cooked rice to the skillet. Turn the heat up to medium-high, then add the lemon or lime juice, cilantro and cranberries. Stir together gently, then season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, transfer to a serving platter or bowl and sprinkle the pumpkin seeds over the top.
The free event brings together dozen’s of the city’s most vibrant food organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs. Families bring blankets and picnics to enjoy an afternoon meeting farmers and food vendors, listening to live music and playing games with other people who love food.
With yoga, music from Bob Appel, stories from the Austin Public Library, it will be an idyllic scene, to be sure. Nonprofits that will be in attendance include Central Texas Food Bank, Green Corn Project, Urban Roots and Fresh Chef’s Society. The event is sponsored by Flyrite Chicken, Integrity Academy, Whole Foods Market and Fair Market.
Nut milks — or nut mylks, if you prefer — can often taste too watery or too sweet. The commercial brands, usually sold in boxes in the grocery store, are now made with every combination of nut (or oat or soybean or grain) you can imagine. Some have more protein than others, but none of them taste so good that I want to drink them by the glass.
That changed when I tried Jordan Fronk’s nut milks. She’s an Austinite who accidentally started a business when she started taking orders from friends for her homemade nut milks. The company is now called Fronks and, although it specializes in nut milk delivery, you can also find it in some local stores and coffee shops.
Fronks bottled beverages are unpasteurized, so they have a somewhat short shelf life, but they are creamy with a concentrated almond, cashews or hazelnut flavor. The three varieties — simple, an unsweetened almond and cashew milk; the original, which is lightly spiced with cinnamon and sea salt; and cocoa, which includes hazelnuts and cocoa powder — are very lightly sweetened with dates instead of honey or sugar.
The cocoa is the sweetest, but both the original and the simple milks are creamy enough to satisfy a craving for dairy without being too sweet or cloying.
Fronk recently started selling a golden paste ($10 for a 4-ounce jar), made with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, Himalayan salt and coconut oil, from the local food truck Curcuma, which you can use to make a Fronks golden milk.
You can also find Fronks (and sometimes Fronks lattes) at Skull and Cakebones in Dripping Springs, June’s All Day, Mañana and the somewhat new Greater Goods Coffee Roasters, 2501 E. Fifth St., and you can also buy it through farmhousedelivery.com.
The original and simple flavors cost $10 for 16 ounces, while the cocoa price is set at $12 when you order online at freshfronks.com. Deliveries occur from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday or Friday, depending on your ZIP code.
Farm to Plate, one of the biggest Austin-area food fundraisers of the year, returns for the 11th year on May 9 to raise money for the Sustainable Food Center.
SFC hosts several local farmers markets and a number of programs to increase access to and education about local food, and this sip-and-stroll tasting party at the Barr Mansion is the non-profit’s biggest event of the year. It always features some of the city’s best chefs, and this year is no different. SFC announced more than 30 participants recently:
Austin ISD Food & Nutrition Services, Aviary Wine + Kitchen, Barr Mansion, Bespoke Food, Boiler Nine Bar & Grill, The Bonneville, The Brewer’s Table, Bullfight, Café Josie, Cannon & Belle, Chicon and Contigo, Cocoa Puro, Delysia Chocolatier, Eden East, Fixe, Greenhouse Craft Food, Grizzelda’s, Italic, Jacoby’s, Juniper, La Condesa, Lick Honest Ice Creams, Make It Sweet, Odd Duck and Barley Swine, Péché, Pitchfork Pretty, Salt Traders Coastal Cooking, Sour Duck, South Congress Hotel, Sway, Tacodeli, Thai Fresh, Trace, Uchi, Vinaigrette and Wu Chow. Drinks will be provided by Argus Cidery, The Austin Wine Merchant, Empresario Brands, Hops & Grain, Hye Meadow Winery, Independence Brewing Company, Kuhlman Cellars, Lewis Wines, Pontotoc Vineyard, Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Tipsy Texan, Wedding Oak Winery and Zhi Tea.
All proceeds from Farm to Plate benefit SFC’s programs including SFC farmers’ markets, organic food gardening classes, support for area farmers, and interactive cooking classes and nutrition education.
“Farm to Plate allows SFC to celebrate all of the people that support Central Texas’ local food system, from hard working family farmers that produce the food and the incredible food and beverage artisans who bring these delicious products to life to our wonderful donors and volunteers that support our work in ensuring food access,” said executive director Ronda Rutledge.
Rachael Ray’s SXSW party is the only event where people don’t seem to mind to stand in line for food.
The crowds show up early, usually around dawn, to get in line for her annual Feedback Party, an event she hosts to say thank you to a home-away-from-home that she loves. For 11 years, that party has featured free Tex-Mex/barbecue/Southern to the audience, which can listen to the two stages of music while they wait for food.
On Saturday, at least the second time the party has falled on St. Patrick’s Day, the party kicked off with bagpipers playing for the people who were already standing in line when the doors opened at 10 a.m.
When I caught up with Ray after the first few acts, she was beaming. “They crushed it,” she said of the sets from Schneider and The Cringe, but she was most looking forward to Dr. Pepper’s Jaded Hearts Club Band, a Beatles cover band (and supergroup) with Muse’s Matt Bellamy and drummer Dom Howard. (Make sure you check out their clip singing “Helter Skelter” with Paul McCartney, Ray advised.)
As for the food, she joked, “We wanted to take it to the dogs — d-a-w-g-s –, so we had a vegan/vegetarian corn dog and Hebrew National hot dogs, plus three meat sloppy joes, so it’s the whole barnyard.”
The highlight of this year’s menu was the refried bean- and roasted tomato salsa-topped hot dog, with the pimiento cheese- and Fritos-topped dog coming in second. I loved the sloppy joes and the idea behind the tomatillo gazpacho, but the latter was a little too chunky and presented more like a green salsa.
Bands and chefs will be making music and food all over the city this weekend, but two local companies are hosting Ode to Austin, a free two-day event at the Kasita Showroom, 1304 E. Fourth St., with music and food from more than half a dozen local eateries. (Free, but RSVP at odetoaustin.splashthat.com.)
Foster ATX, an events company that hosts intimate pop-up dinners and concerts, and Made in Cookware, an online company that sells pots and pans out of Austin, will bring together bands on Saturday night and food makers on Sunday in two no-badge-required events, Sounds of Austin (5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday) and Made in Austin (noon to 6 p.m. Sunday).
No details about the bands or local chefs, but here’s how the hosts described the parties:
SOUNDS OF AUSTIN — a thoughtfully curated music festival, showcasing 6 different genres, 12 local bands, and an evening full of music, art and drink.
MADE IN AUSTIN — a celebration of the local Austin food scene. We’ve curated 7 intimate experiences that highlight the diverse cultural scene here in our city. Featuring 7 local chefs, guest will enjoy carefully crated bites with local libation pairings, plus 2 Kasita experiences, pop-up tents, a vinyl DJ lounge, and an immersive VIP experience.