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A Few Food Gift Ideas from The Alley


Madexalli Cultural Coffee Bar in the Alley has plenty of gift ideas.

While strolling through The Alley on Bitters (formerly known as Artisans Alley), 555 W. Bitters Road, Saturday, I spied a few gift ideas for the food and wine lovers on your shopping list.

Drink mixes at Madexalli make great stocking stuffers.

At Madexalli Cultural Coffee Bar, there were plenty of stocking stuffers, such as hot chocolate mix and gingersnap chai, as well gift baskets to be had. You can get a basket with coffee-related items, of course, but you could also add a bottle or two of wine, which is also sold in the store.

And then enjoy a latte with a jalapeño sausage kolache or a muffin while you’re there. (For more on Madexalli, click here.)

A neighboring shop with an idea on how to put that wine to good use is Painting with a Twist, a shop that lets you exercise your creativity by helping you get starting in the field of painting. You create a canvas using quick-drying acrylics. The “twist” is you can bring your own bottle to enjoy while you’re painting. You can enroll someone in a class or indulge yourself in some fun. (Check out the details at paintingwithatwist.com. There’s a second location on Bandera Road.)

Short-rib taco with kimchee at Bin 555.

Of course, you could always treat them to lunch or dinner at Bin 555. Jason Dady and his sous chef, P.J. Edwards, are cooking up some fine treats there.

Also posted were signs of Bahia Azul coming soon to the complex. The restaurant promises Mexican seafood, also with a “twist.” In this case, that means it will be in the style of Nayarit, which is on the Pacific coast.

For more in The Alley at Bitters, click here.

We plan on running more ideas of places to find unique holiday food gifts. If you are looking for something in particular or you know of an out-of-the-way place with great foodie gifts, email walker@savorsa.com or griffin@savorsa.com.

A few canvases hanging at Painting with a Twist.

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Texas Food and Wine — What a Sensational Pair


Chef Kelly Casey (with pastry bag) of Hudson's on the Bend in Austin plates her dinners.

It wasn’t about the prosciutto-wrapped quail, so juicy and tender with each bite. It wasn’t about the cocoa powder and raspberry flavors that mingled so beautifully in each sip of the Inwood Estates Tempranillo-Cabernet blend.

It was, however, about how the lush red fruit flavors of the 2007 Fall Creek Meritus joined with slices of Texas beef tenderloin marinated in coffee and chipotle to reach new  gustatory heights.

That was the point of the first Edible Texas Wine-Food Match, held Friday at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin.

Five chefs, narrowed down from a field of more than 35, were competing to see who could make the most successful pairings of Texas ingredients with Texas wines.

It was clear to both the celebrity judges’ panel and to the audience who did that best: David Garrido of Garrido’s in Austin.

Susan Auler (left) of Fall Creek Vineyards and celebrity chef Jacques Pépin enjoy the Edible Texas Wine-Food Match.

The chef, who once worked for Bruce Auden at the original Biga, took home the $5,000 grand prize as well as the People’s Choice Award. The centerpiece of his meal was the already-mentioned beef tenderloin with the Meritus,  but he also presented a crispy oyster with habanero-honey aïoli partnered with the Fall Creek Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2010 and a pastel de calabaza, or zucchini cake, with lemon crema and spicy caramelized pecans served with the Sister Creek Muscat Canelli 2010.

Patrick James “P.J.” Edwards of San Antonio’s Bin 555 won a second place commendation from the judges for his meal, which started with a crudo of Gulf Coast group with cured Poteet strawberries and Becker Vineyards Provençal Rosé 2009. It was followed by roasted lamb loin with herb-glazed turnips and porcini-raspberry soil, which was presented with the Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. A Grapefruit “Dreamsicle” with vanilla semifreddo and the Becker Vineyards Clementine 2010 rounded out his meal.

Organizer Marla Camp

Other chefs in the competition included Peter Smith of the JW Marriott in San Antonio as well as Kelly Casey of Hudson’s on the Bend in Austin and Josh Raymer of Navajo Grill in Fredericksburg. Each presented small plate versions of his or her entire menu to the crowd.

Chef Josh Raymer of Navajo Grill's Prosciutto-Wrapped Quail alongisde a Fredericksburg Market Salad with Pickled Peaches.

The local ingredients included a number of treasures worth seeking out at farmers markets as well as grocery stores: Pure Luck cheeses, Round Rock Honey, quail from Diamond H and Texas Quail farms, Shiner Bock, Broken Arrow Ranch Venison, Bluebonnet Hydroponics lettuces, and Texas olive oil. Alongside Casey’s blue cheese cheesecake were figs from her own trees.

Other Texas wines poured included Messina Hof’s Riesling and Riesling “Angel,” Perrisos Viognier and Petite Sirah, Stone House Scheming Beagle Port, and Flat Creek Muscato, Estate Syrah and Port.

Kelly Casey's Hopelessly Blue Cheesecake with her homegrown figs.

The judges included celebrity chefs Jacques Pépin and John Besh as well as Mozzarella Company found Paula Lambert, François Dionot of L’Academie de Cuisine and Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Proceeds from the evening, planned by Marla camp of Edible Austin and Terry Thompson-Anderson of the Texas Food and Wine Gourmet, will benefit the not-for-profit Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts, which is being planned for Fredericksburg. The goal is to raise all of the money needed to operate the center before it opens in October 2013.

 

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