Send us the photos from your reunion with Blue Bell

Blue Bell is back in Austin.

FILE - In this April 10, 2015 file photo, Blue Bell ice cream rests on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kansas. In the wake of a deadly listeria outbreak in ice cream, the Justice Department is warning food companies that they could face criminal and civil penalties if they poison their customers. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

After a four-month absence previously unheard of for the 108-year-old Brenham-based ice cream company, at least four of its most popular flavors are back on shelves.

As the official Tweeter Laureate of Texas — aka Justice Don Willett — put it, it’s a day for Texans to remember:

Tweet us your photos of your Blue Bell reunion to @statesman or @austin360 using #bluebellatx. You can also send the photos by email: readerphotos@statesman.com.

Previous Blue Bell coverage:

• 5 things to know about Blue Bell’s return

• H-E-B to limit Blue Bell purchases

Experts: Despite ‘dark cloud,’ there’s a way forward for Blue Bell

 

 

What Blue Bell flavor are you most looking forward to?

FILE - In this April 10, 2015 file photo, Blue Bell ice cream rests on a grocery store shelf in Lawrence, Kansas. In the wake of a deadly listeria outbreak in ice cream, the Justice Department is warning food companies that they could face criminal and civil penalties if they poison their customers. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

 

After a public fall from grace following a listeria outbreak that left three people dead and 10 sick, Blue Bell is trying to win back public favor.

Videos and pictures showing Blue Bell trucks on the road have gone viral and now, Blue Bell is teasing its former fan base by making daily announcements about what flavors will be the first available. Today’s announcement: Homemade Vanilla.

If you are one of the 73 percent who told us earlier this summer that you were certain that you would be buying Blue Bell once it makes its way back to store freezers near you, tell us: What flavor are you most looking forward to upon Blue Bell’s return in Austin on Aug. 31?

Update: On Aug. 25, Blue Bell announced its second flavor: Dutch Chocolate

Related reads: Despite ‘dark cloud,’ there’s a way forward for Blue Bell, experts say

Two Austin food makers win big in H-E-B’s Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best competition

This is the second year of an H-E-B competition designed to recognize the best food makers in the Lone Star State as well as find new products for the Texas chain’s grocery store shelves.

Austinite Matthew Leo took home the top prize at H-E-B Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best Finale competition at the Houston Food Bank. Photo credit: H-E-B
Austinite Matthew Lee took home the top prize at H-E-B Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best Finale competition at the Houston Food Bank. Photo credit: H-E-B

After an initial 400 entries from 74 Texas towns and two days of judging 25 finalists, H-E-B’s Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best contest named its 2015 winners.

Two Austin food makers won two of the top four prizes and took home a combined total of $35,000.

After driving to Houston with his ice cream scoopers on the back of his Vespa for the final round of the competition, Texas-born Matthew Lee of Austin gelateria Teo Gelato was named the grand prize winner Thursday.

The Teo Gelato gelateria, famous for it Peanut Butter Nutella and Texas Whiskey Peach flavors, has previously been honored by both the Gelato World Tour as well as the city of Austin, which designated Aug. 13 “Teo Gelato Day” in Austin in 2014.

In addition to consideration for shelf space on H-E-B ‘s store shelves across the state of Texas, the Austin gelateria took home a cash prize of $25,000.

Lee hopes that the prize will help speed up their expansion into Texas stores.

“My goal for us to grow as fast as we can and keep the quality up,” said Lee, whose gelato is currently in the frozen section at the Westlake H-E-B.

You can find the original gelateria at 1206 W 38th St.

Related reads: Teo’s pecan caramel gelato, plus new gin from Dripping Springs

Austin’s Blackbird Bakery (yes, it’s named after the Beatles song) took the third place prize and $10,000 for its gluten-free flour line, which currently includes six blends for baking everything from donuts to pizza. You can read more about the gluten-free bakery in Addie Broyles’ 2010 profile of the gluten-free genius behind the business, Austinite Karen Morgan.

Two other Austin food makers made it the final 25: Martha Pincoffs’ Hot Dang Grain Burgers and Karen Posada Butler’s Good Promise Chilled Juice Smoothies.

Slaton Bakery’s Homemade Vanilla Wafers and Houston-based Blackbird Foods also took home cash prizes, placing first and second respectively.

 

Two Austin area farmers markets named among America’s best

Those who have already been taking advantage of Austin’s blossoming locally sourced and produced food scene won’t be surprised: Two Austin-area farmers markets were just named among the nation’s best.

Photo by Jay Janner
Photo by Jay Janner

The food and drink website the Daily Meal included HOPE Farmers Market and the Sustainable Food Center‘s markets in their annual round up of the 101 Best Farmers Markets in America.

HOPE Farmers Market, which according to the Daily Meal, has something “for every free-spirited hipster of Austin” ranked at number nine. The Daily Meal made specific note of the market’s offerings of music and “one-of-a-kind crafts” in addition to market produce and locally produced food. You can find Hope Farmers Market every Sunday in East Austin.

Related: A sampling of Central Texas Farmers Markets

With four different year-round, weekly markets around Austin, Sustainable Food Center (SFC) slid into the number 16 spot on the list. The Daily Meal cited the markets’ wide variety of produce, products and people as the reason why. According to the SFC, they host over 100 vendors including local farms and artisans.

According to their article, the Daily Meal takes into account the quality, variety and affordability of products; what kind of recognition the market has in the community; the atmosphere and experience of the market; and of course, the friendliness of the vendors.

Tell us your favorite reasons to attend Austin farmers markets in the comments.

FDA cracks down on Kind bars’ nutrition claims

Kind bars are a nearly ubiquitous snack in Austin. They’re staple samples at Austin City Limits Music Festival, Fun Fun Fun Fest and SXSW, and they’ve likely given many the Austin festival-goer the energy to carry on.

Yet a recent warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent to Kind’s headquarters called on the snack bar company to scale back its health claims, calling their bars “misbranded.”

(Photo by Sergi Alexander/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival)
(Photo by Sergi Alexander/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival)

FDA specifically called out the Almond and Apricot, Almond and Coconut, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate and Protein, and Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew and Antioxidant bars for their failure to meet FDA health and nutrition requirements.

What do you think, Austin? Will you stop buying them or accepting them as festival freebies? Was the FDA too harsh?

[h/t International Business Times]

Cookie butter now sold at H-E-B

(Photo by Jay Janner/American-Statesman)
(Photo by Jay Janner/American-Statesman)

H-E-B has spread its spreadable inventory into cookie butter territory.

The nut butter alternative previously famous for being both extremely delicious and a Trader Joe’s specialty item is now sold at the Central Texas grocery chain.

In case you missed it, H-E-B tweeted about the product today, also teasing to new recipes:

To commemorate the occasion, we recommend checking out more ways to enjoy the stuff, from cooking to baking.

Back in 2013, when Trader Joe’s first opened in Rollingwood and brought cookie butter to Central Texas, Austin 360’s Melissa Martinez showed us all how to make chocolate cookie butter cupcakes.

Buzzfeed also has their own list or recipes and reasons why people are easily addicted.

Ready to get in the kitchen? H-E-B’s new list of cookie butter recommendations includes everything from Cookie Butter French Toast to a Thai Style Cookie Butter Dipping Sauce.