Texas®

Look, we basically tell you what we think of ourselves with our URL. Yet again, we’ve got others that have no problem backing that lofty claim of ours up.

Our founder and CEO, the lovely and not-yet 40 year-old Carrie Layne was honored and recognized this past week in a ceremony at the House of Blues in Dallas as one of this year’s Dallas Business Journal’s 40 under 40 class.

The magazine says that this year’s class recognizes “executives and entrepreneurs who are at the top of their game professionally, and personally have demonstrated a commitment to the North Texas community.” We here at best of Texas HQ can certainly attest to the fact that Carrie belongs in this class.

Go here to read the full feature and to see what heady comapny Carrie finds herself in this year.

WAY TO GO, CARRIE!

 

As the first awards platform to celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat – tasty, authentic, and responsible – the Good Food Awards received over 780 products from 41 states. Today winners will be announced at the Good Food Awards Ceremony hosted by Alice Waters at the San Francisco Ferry Building, followed by a Marketplace event on January 15, 2011 where food lovers will be able to talk shop with producers, plus taste and pur- chase the award-winning products.

The Good Food Awards celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic, and responsible. This pioneering initiative grants awards to out- standing American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients. In its inaugural year, Good Food Awards will be given to winners in seven categories: beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves.

Awards will be given to producers and their food communities from each of five regions of the US. The Good Food Awards seal, found on winning products, assures consumers they have found something exceptionally delicious that also supports sustainability and social good. Winners are announced at an annual Awards Ceremony and Marketplace at the iconic Ferry Building in San Francisco to honor new Good Food Award recipients and also organize a month of events and tastings to support the wider community making good food.

Two Texas contenders are going for gold tonight:

In the Preserves category, Austin’s own Confituras who make delicious small batch, locally sourced jams, jellies and preserves – I highly recommend the Salted Carmel Pear Butter

In the Coffee category up against microroaster Blue Bottle,  is none other than Cuvee Coffee out of Austin as well.

Two men charged with driving while intoxicated had their charges dropped after police arrested them for riding a horse and donkey down a crowded street in downtown Austin.

The two were coaxing passers-by to take pictures and pet their horse and mule. Police said the two were impeding traffic and could have caused an accident.

Officers conducted a field sobriety test on the two and then charged them with driving while intoxicated.

Those charges were later dropped for both Mr Rios and Mr Olvio because the legal definition of a motor vehicle in relation to DUI charges is too vague, but Mr Rios was charged with public intoxication.

Yee. Haw.

Video here.

I didn’t know that either until last night, when the Daily Fail Mail penned these lovely words, ” New Braunfels has a population of just over 50,000 and is notorious for its high unemployment levels, poverty and crime. But see it’s gonna be okay, because the Virgin Mary has chosen to make her appearance on the side of a New Braunfels apartment complex

Wow. And all this time I just thought that the usual stereotypes and tall tales of and about Texas involved cattle, rednecks and chupacabras.

Now, thanks to the Mail’s warning, the next time I go to take a lazy float down the Guadalupe, meander over to Gruene, or fill my belly at Wurstfest, I’ll be sure to pack a sidearm and sport a kevlar vest.

Yeesh!

Speaking of beer and The Flying Saucer, all sorts of holiday merriment will be going on at Dallas’ Meddlesome Moth come Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve!

If you’ve never dabbled in all things Moth-like, here’s your chance to spend some of the scrilla Santa may be stuffing your stocking with:

CHRISTMAS EVE:
On Friday, Dec. 24, the Moth will be open regular hours of 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Rare beer tappings will include Austin’s 512 Double Pecan Bourbon Barrel aged cask-conditioned ale and Sierra Nevada’s 30th Anniversary series Grand Cru. The chef will prepare some chalkboard specials to pair with these fine ales.

CHRISTMAS DAY:
The Moth will reopen at 5 p.m., and guests are encouraged to arrive early for the tapping of a rare cask of Jester King Commercial Suicide aged in George Dickel Tennessee Whiskey barrels. The Jester King is a Texas brew and is extremely limited in quantity.

SUNDAY, DEC. 26:
Guests and their families are invited to enjoy the Moth’s new Sunday brunch menu, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which features flavorful, interesting food selections and specialty beers, including Eggs Creole (poached eggs, crawfish, cayenne hollandaise and lyonnaise potatoes. Ask about the Meddlesome Margarita, you’ll love it! Reservations are recommended.

NEW YEAR’S EVE:
New Year’s Eve will feature a prix fixe menu option, prepared by Chef Chad Kelley, accompanied by a handpicked selection of beers specifically chosen to pair well with each course. Wine lovers should not feel left out, as there will be wine pairing options, too. The Moth will open at 11 a.m., and celebration seating will begin at 10 p.m. The three menu options will include Coffee-Cured Duck Confit with Pistachio, Mache and Coco Nibs, and New Bedford Scallops with Sweet and Sour Golden Raisins and Parsnip Puree. Reservations are strongly recommended. For those guests who would like to reserve a table without dinner, the Moth is also taking reservations to celebrate and ring in the New Year with a special beer toast.

For more information about the holiday schedule or to make a reservation for any of the holiday events, please call (214) 628-7900.

Holiday hours for the Meddlesome Moth are as follows: Friday, Dec. 24, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, Dec. 25, 5 p.m. to close; Sunday, Dec. 26, 11 a.m. to midnight; and Friday, Dec. 31, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Earlier this year as the first 2011 Chevy Suburban’s started rolling down the Arlington, Texas’ General Motors Assembly line, Any Driven Sunday had the chance to sit down with one of the big kahuna’s at the helm of “The New GM” to talk about the longest lasting line of vehicles in the market and the future of GM.

As Global Vice President responsible for Chevrolet’s Domestic Sales and Service in the United States, Allan Batey has quite a daunting task most brave souls would run from as GM has gone through government supervised bankruptcy and Batey is partially responsible for billions of dollars of public bailout money. He and the company are also under the magnifying glass of the press and every politician trying to make a brownie point with frustrated voters.

“Really, it is a great time to have this job,” Batey says with his working class English roots showing in his accent and scrappy attitude, “We have a product line that is better than it has ever been in the history of this company. The reality is, it is a far better product than most people think it is. That is a great thing, now we have to get some seats in our seats to prove it.”

Batey started in the Global GM world with England’s Vauxhall, then. as one of many executives being groomed for higher places, he was sent in to Germany’s Opel operations eventually living and working in seven countries and earning a reputation as a man who can handle complex problems.

Bringing a company through restructuring and out of bankruptcy is no small task, but Batey has a unique bit of experience on his resume. Back in the 90s he was part of the team working for GM Asia dealing with the purchase of the then bankrupt Daewoo Motor Company in Korea.

Daewoo was once the value leader, darling of the super hot South Asian market, but like cross-town rival Kia, Daewood was decimated by dealings with Tommy Suharto, the son of the onetime Indonesian strongman. Tommy was largely responsible as the straw that broke the Asian economy’s back, plunging Korea’s small car rivals both into a death spiral. Kia ended up being folded into Hyundai and Daewoo became one of the asset rich prizes being pursued by both Ford and GM. GM won and Batey was part of the team tasked with sorting out the collected mess.

“Daewoo was a very unique challenge,’ explains Batey, “We had to be exceptionally careful of which assets we took on. The company had a global influence and has become the basis of many of our best selling cars throughout Asia and in particular in china where we sell a number of cars based out of the Daewoo operations.”

The reason Batey was in Dallas was the launch of the 2011 Chevrolet Suburban and he brought along a couple of things. One was a 1935 Chevrolet Suburban Carryall wagon the other was multiple NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion, Jimmy Johnson.

While most of the local media was clamoring for Johnson’s attention, Alan Batey sat down with Any Driven Sunday to talk about the bumpy road GM has endured and the tremendous opportunities the New GM had in front of it.

Even after emerging from bankruptcy GM is still one of the largest corporate entities in the world with global commitments and challenges.

The Suburban is very much the ideal vehicle to illustrate one of the more complex challenges ahead. It is the big boy on the street both figuratively and literally defining the Super Sized SUV market that grew up around it and siblings Tahoe, Yukon, Denali and Escalade. All are built in Arlington Texas, at a plant that has had to compete with other plants across the country to hold on to production and the millions of dollars of primary, secondary and tertiary jobs associated with it.

Dodge never really entered the Premium super sized SUV market and Ford all but abandoned it when they killed the Excursion leaving the Suburban alone with a 75 year heritage and a reputation for being one of the rally flags of conspicuous consumption uniting the environmental movement of all things wrong with the world.

The newest Suburban’s are still larger than most Manhattan apartments but are now available with “Flex Fuel” technology and most importantly 2-mode Hybrid options. These options make a huge difference in the “Carbon Footprint” of a vehicle that has become not just the choice of families but also has become a commercial staple.

In movies and in reality the altered Suburban chassis is probably the most modified vehicle in service today. Thousands of “Civilian Contractors” Secret Service and military operators have been driving Armored Surburbans in some of the harshest places for vehicles and human cargo. The big truck frame and heavy-duty construction are modified by companies like San Antonio’s Texas Armoring Corporation (www.texasarmoring.com) for use in Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous places around the world.

GM has a unique struggle on its hands trying to reintroduce and in some cases introduce its product line to a consumer who for years has a preconception of what the General is. Prior to the bailout, Bankruptcy and restructuring Federal Auto Czar Steve Rattner’s assessment of the company was right on the money when he said on PBS’s Charlie Rose show, “It has a product line that is far better than anyone knew it was and a corporate culture that was simply the most dysfunctional thing I have ever seen.”

Even before the removal of Rick Waggoner as CEO, the shift to change that corporate culture had begun.

At the same time as GM tries to get people to try their product, which really is equal to the challenge, they can’t completely walk away from their heritage. Over 100 years of car building creates some great linage but more than a few black eyes to go with it. GM is trying to capture the good, like the new Corvette Grand Sport’s homage to the glory days of racing, and hope people can forget the lost generations of the 70’s 80’s and 90’s dreadful designs (Aztek) and monumental build quality and labor issues of the Roger Smith era.

The Suburban is one of those vehicles that came out of the mess GM brought upon itself stronger than you might think. Sitting alone in the market with a restructured and reenergized corporation behind it the GMC/Chevy product line is positioned to win back customers who seem willing and hopeful the General really is better.

There are very few vehicles out there that I would rather take, along with all my possessions for an extended voyage. The Suburban’s long wheelbase, solid frame, and seamless transmission make the journey effortless as long as you have the resources to stomach the 14/19 MPG. Dropping $5 in the gas tank is like spitting in a swimming pool and coming up to the cash register at $60,500.00 it is not a lightweight in price or 5835 pound curb weight.

“People who are in the car business want to build great cars, that is why you are in the business. I’m a third generation guy and I am in the car business because I love it,” Batey enthusiastically points out the challenges are great but at a time where the product is so strong he knows the New GM will rise from the last year much stronger, “The one thing that will trip us up is if we somehow become complacent and start to believe our own press and our own propaganda. We absolutely have to keep pushing forward, get results on the board, and get results that do not have to be explained. If we do that the brand will move very fast.”

It will be interesting to see if GM can follow through and continue to develop this new found entrepreneurial spirit into lasting success. Scrappy, experienced executives like Batey seem ready for the fight and the challenge of making a truly massive global company act like a small responsive underdog.

The 5th Annual HAAM Benefit Day, held on Tuesday, September 21, brought in the largest amount of funds ever raised for Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, its member-musicians and the healthcare service programs they participate in: $195,000, the organization reported today.

It was a record-breaking day all around, with the largest number of Austin area businesses making a donation or pledging a portion of the day’s proceeds — more than 200 — and the most musical performances (more than 140) heard on any HAAM Benefit Day.

“We at HAAM are incredibly pleased with the response to the fifth HAAM Benefit Day,” said Keith Carmichael, HAAM Benefit Day 2010 Committee chairman. “The number of businesses and the number of entertainers participating — not to mention the amount of funds raised, the largest ever — shows us how much this city and the people in it appreciate live music and what this organization is doing to make sure it flourishes.”

In addition to acknowledging Whole Foods Market for its generosity in serving for five consecutive years as HAAM Benefit Day presenting sponsor, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians is grateful for the tens of thousands of dollars donated not only by Whole Foods Market but also by C3 Presents and South by Southwest over the years of HAAM Benefit Day.

It also recognizes Texas Heritage Songwriters Association for its donation that matched the contribution of the Austin community as a whole on September 21 as residents ate out, shopped and donated on behalf of their favorite music-makers.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians also announced today the date for the 6th Annual HAAM Benefit Day: Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, when business, the music community and residents will again unite to keep music alive and well in Austin.

Health Alliance for Austin Musicians provides access to affordable healthcare services to Austin’s low-income, uninsured working musicians with a focus on prevention and wellness. Since HAAM’s 2005 start, more than 2,200 of the city’s battalion of hard-working musicians have joined and gained access to regular, cost-effective healthcare services. Medical, dental, mental, hearing and vision health services are provided by Seton Family of Hospitals, St. David’s Foundation, The SIMS Foundation, Estes Audiology and Prevent Blindness Texas. HAAM’s annual Corporate Battle of the Bands and HAAM Benefit Day have become signature events behind a great cause: maintaining the health of the musicians who help make Austin such an enviable place to live and work.

For more information, to join or to make a donation, visit HAAM online.

Hot off the PR Machine:

Noted food writer and critic Dave Faries, formerly of The Dallas Observer and Prague Post introduce Critic’s Guide; an exciting new online magazine covering the Dallas-Fort Worth dining scene.  Critic’s Guide is set to debut the week of October 18 at www.criticsguide.com.

Featuring four professional restaurant reviews by Faries and James Beard award-winning writer Mark Stuertz each week, Critic’s Guide also showcases local chefs, cocktail culture, dining trends, wines, vegetarian restaurants, cigars and more. In addition, visitors to the online magazine will find a searchable guide to recommended establishments and a useful events calendar.

Amongst the restaurants slated for review next week are The Green Room and Stephan Pyles’ new multi-course extravaganza Fuego.

With more than 20 years’ experience in journalism including TV and radio, Faries spent seven years writing for the Dallas Observer and three years in Europe.  Additionally, Faries served on the panel naming the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and edited several restaurant guides. He has also produced PBS documentary features for the series Outdoor Pennsylvania and the nationally distributed full-length documentary The Vanishing Civil War.

Mark Stuertz earned a James Beard Award for his food writing with the Dallas Observer. With a career that began two decades ago as a distinguished wine and food writer in San Francisco, Stuertz has most recently contributed to the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

”Critic’s Guide is a magazine solely focused on dining and nightlife.  We hope to be a comprehensive source information and fun for those interested in food, wine, special events,” says Faries. “We will have several recognized contributors including Steven Doyle, Brad Cameron of the popular blog Dallas Vegan.”

For more information go to www.criticsguide.com, call 214-609-2045 or follow on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Dallas-TX/Critics-Guide/115634368491156 and Twitter @CriticsGuideDFW.

Well, Stetson has certainly stepped things up a notch as of late. First there was their recently announced partnership with world-renowned milliner, Albertus Swanepoel which produced a slew of retro hat badassery that left me both drooling and covetous and now Stetson has collaborated with Garland’s own music maven Erin McCarleyhat tip to Wind-Up Records for letting me know and for signing Jeremy Fisher (yay!) – to present Erin’s new video for her new cover of Hank Williams’ ‘I Saw The Light’.

The video is pulling double duty, serving as both a vehicle to spread Erin’s music and as a look book of Stetson’s new Fall clothing line. I have to admit, I had to watch the video a few times because I was utterly gobsmacked by the sheer rock and roll awesomeness of Stetson’s new line. Believe you me, this is so not your grandpa’s Stetson, oh no not at all. We’re talking tight, low rider, black leather pants, people!

Steston is also running a contest where you can win some of the pieces Erin wears in the video. (It’s okay fellas, they have options for you, too, if you’re so inclined to enter the contest.

It’s easy to enter, just watch Erin’s new video and enter to win at Stetson here.

P.S. Like Erin’s take on a Hank Williams classic? Stetson will also let you download it for free!

Woo-hoo! While you’re pouring me a glass of Texas wine, may I suggest that we raise said glass to the Hill Country and their bumper crop of wine grapes this year? Yesterday, USA Today named the Texas Hill Country as one of just 10 great places for local wines in the US! They even went so far to call Fredericksburg, Texas a mini-Napa.
Says USA Today:

With more than 200 wineries, Texas has become a leading state for vintners. And the scenic area near Austin and San Antonio is the center of the action. Winemakers have learned that grapes from other warm-climate areas do well here, including Spanish Tempranillo, French Syrah and Italian Sangiovese, Siegel says. With all the attention, the town of Fredericksburg has become a mini-Napa with fine restaurants, shopping and bed-and-breakfasts.