If you’ve ever wanted to try Syrian and Iraqi cuisine, Sunday is your chance.
Austin doesn’t have many Middle Eastern restaurants that specialize in these cuisines, but thanks to Hope & Sesame, a nonprofit whose mission is “empowering recently-resettled refugees through opportunities to integrate economically and socially into the Austin community,” a group of Syrian and Iraqi cooks will be preparing a dinner at 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 8134 Mesa Drive, to raise money for the organization.
Hope & Sesame has hosted several of these dinners in the past year, including several with a focus on Afghani cuisine.
What’s on the menu? They organizers haven’t said exactly, but guests can expect vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as some including meat. In keeping with Muslim customs, this event is alcohol-free.
Tickets cost a suggested donation of $70, but the organization has encouraged people who want to attend to come, even if they can’t donate that amount. You can find out more about the organization and find out more about upcoming events at hopeandsesame.org.
Thanks to the Jabour family, which runs Twin Liquors and has a long history in Central Texas, this festival celebrating Mediterranean cuisine and culture has taken place since the early 1930s. The Austin City Limits Music Festival, by comparison, started in 2002, a mere 70 years later.
This year, the Mediterranean festival returns September 21 and 22 at the church at 408 E. 11th Street with Mediterranean foods, cocktails, wines, beer, a shopping bazaar, dancing and live Arabic and Greek music. Festivities will run from 6 to 11 p.m. on the 21st and noon to 11 p.m. on the 22nd. Admission is free from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets to the event are available at all Austin-area Twin Liquors locations for a $5 donation.
“Medfest is one of my favorite events of the year, and one that is very close to my heart because of our family heritage,” Twin Liquors president David Jabour said in a release. “With food, wine, cocktails, music and dancing, it’s a true celebration and we’re thrilled to lend our support for such a long-standing tradition.”
After several curry cook-offs, the nonprofit is now bringing together anyone who loves any kind of noodles, from Italian spaghetti to Vietnamese vermicelli. (Full disclosure: I helped start this group and now serve on its community advisory board. In 2013, we wrote a cookbook!)
From 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 23 at Brew & Brew’s event space, 906 E. Fifth Street, more than a dozen contestants, who include some local bloggers and area restaurants, will bring their best dishes, and the crowd and a panel of judges will determine the winner. The Oodles of Noodles Community Cook-off costs $25 in advance or $30 at the door. You can still register to compete by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, go to austinfoodbloggers.org.
Here is a noodle recipe from Chrystal Keogh, the Austin blogger behind Monkey-Bites, whwo created this vegetarian take on traditional Pad Thai using sweet potato noodles and edamame. You could use rice noodles if you don’t want to use spiralized sweet potatoes.
For the stir-fry:
3 medium sweet potatoes, spiralized
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
For the sauce:
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 tablespoons palm sugar, brown sugar or honey
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
1 to 3 teaspoons sriracha, to taste
1/4 cup water
2 to 3 teaspoons soy sauce, to taste
1 mess bean sprouts
1 mess cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
Cook sweet potato noodles in boiling water for two minutes. Drain.
Combine all sauce ingredients in measuring cup and set aside.
In a wok or skillet over medium-high heat, add coconut oil and onions. Cook, stirring continuously for about one minute. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another two minutes. Add edamame and red bell pepper and cook for another two minutes. Add sweet potato noodles and sauce and cook for another two to three minutes until noodles are desired doneness and all ingredients are evenly distributed. Serves 4.
For the sixth year, local farmers have created pieces of art — including paintings, photographs and sculptures — for a Farmer As Artist exhibit at Prizer Arts & Letters, an art gallery at 2023 E. Cesar Chavez St.
As the exhibit has grown, so has the number of contributors. This year, 23 local farmers will show at this exhibit, which is open from Sept. 8 to 28. You’ll see works from Boggy Creek Farm, Millberg Farm, Tecolote Farm, Urban Roots, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Munkebo Farm, Farmshare Austin, Agua Dulce, Joe’s Organics and ANUME Foundation Farm.
The opening reception, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday.
Quesoff, Austin’s big queso contest, was last weekend, and the event raised enough money for the Central Texas Food Bank and its partner agencies to serve meals more than 15,200 Central Texans in need.
The food bank was the beneficiary of the event, but there were queso winners, too.
If you’re looking for an excuse to enjoy some delicious food and cocktails while mingling with people who are involved in Austin’s food and nonprofit scene, you’ll want to know about Fresh Chefs Society’s fall fundraiser coming up at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9 at a house in South Austin. (Link for tickets.)
The event, which is the wrap party for a year-long capital campaign to hire a full time executive director, will have a happy hour vibe with cocktails, heavy hors d’oeuvres — from Foundation Foods, Launderette, Olamaie, Bespoke Food Austin and Dos Lunas Artisan Cheeses — silent auction and music from DJ Mahealani.
What does Fresh Chefs Society do? In five years, nearly 500 youth in Central Texas have participated in at least one of Fresh Chefs Society programs. One of the organization’s primary functions is to match local volunteers, including everyday home cooks and professional chefs, with young people who are in the foster care system but are learning how to live on their own.
“Through dynamic (and edible) programming, Fresh Chefs Society is providing a new way of connecting community to youth through food and creating experiences that enrich their lives, enhance their connection to food and give them important life skills,” says founder Shaleiah Fox.
One of the delightful treats we picked up from the Valentina’s location on Saturday morning was this churro Chex mix from Kristina Wolter, my food stylist friend behind girlgonegritsfoodstyling.com. She shared the recipe she used to make this sweet snack.
Churro Chex Mix
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 cups Rice Chex cereal
4 1/2 cups Corn Chex cereal
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Heat oven 350. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a pot, add the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil for 1 minute and then add baking soda and set aside.
Put the Chex in a large bowl, and pour the hot caramel over the cereal and mix until all cereal is coated. Spread the mixture on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cereal. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for another 5 min. Let cool before breaking up. Store in an airtight container.
It’s only July, but it’s time to mark your calendars for a food event in November.
The Austin Mac & Cheese Festival will be returning for the third year from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.
Tickets go on sale on Sept. 11. This event sold out quickly in its debut year, creating something of a cheesy phenomenon that could be rivaled only by the Quesoff, another tasting event that also caters to cheese lovers.
If you think Austin has a thriving food scene, you only know part of the story.
A third of kids who live in Austin are considered food insecure, and so are 25 percent of the adults who live here. A lack of affordable housing and living wages mean food industry employees are struggling to stay in Austin, despite incessant news reports about new restaurants that are opening and the latest 10 top list that the city has landed on.
But anyone who has looked with a critical eye on Austin’s food system knows that inequities abound and that the ecosystem is more fragile than you might think.
This week, the Entrepreneurs Foundation and Blackbaud are hosting Food for Thought ATX, an annual spring service week that encourages tech workers to volunteer at local nonprofits during the day, but some of the evening events are open to the public.
At 4 p.m. Monday, the Capital Factory, 701 Brazos Street, will host an afternoon of speakers, including Raj Patel and Erin Lentz, who oversaw the most comprehensive study of food access in Austin, and leaders from a handful of food nonprofits, including Derrick Chubbs of the Central Texas Food Bank, Ronda Rutledge of the Sustainable Food Center, Max Elliott of Urban Roots, Robyn Metcalfe of Food & City magazine and Edwin Marty with the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability. These leaders will give their insight into what is and isn’t working in the local food economy.
On Tuesday, Springdale Farm and Eden East are hosting a free networking event on the farm that starts at 6 p.m. and includes light bites and drinks, and on Thursday at 7 p.m., organizers are hosting a screening of the movie “Chef” at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Mobile Loaves & Fishes Community First! Village. Bring chairs and a blanket, and burgers, french fries, snacks and drinks will be available for purchase.
Slow food inspired an entire generation of eaters and food businesses, but about 10 years ago, influencers in the financial world started picking up on the locavore ethos.
One of them, Woody Tasch, coined the term “Slow Money” in his 2008 book on a more organic way of funding food startups, and since then, more than two dozen investment clubs and networking groups have started across the country.
The first is a free book signing at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 20, at the Central Library downtown, and the second is a dinner at Eden East and Springdale Farm on Monday, May 21.
Austin Foodshed Investors is hosting the dinner, which will bring together food entrepreneurs and investors to learn about the personal impact investing and the Slow Money ideals, as well as the local community that has sprouted up around them. According to AFI, which has grown significantly in recent years, local companies that have benefited from Slow Money investments include Richardson Farms, Cat Spring Yaupon, Eden’s Organic Nursery and Bola Pizza.