Texas®

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.

Customers named Mary can drop into either Mary of Puddin Hill locations, in Greenville or at Uptown Village in Cedar Hill, and receive a complimentary chocolate dipped strawberry, now through Christmas Eve.

Mary of Puddin Hill has been a Christmas legend for more than 60 years and is considered by many to be Texas’ best tasting fruitcake. Made from Mary Horton’s original heirloom recipe the cakes are abundant with pecans or walnuts, apricots, cherries, pineapples and dates—with just enough batter to hold it all together. There are no spices, citron, preservatives or additives, keeping the flavor legendary.

Each December, the little bakery founded in Greenville, Texas ships thousands of fruitcakes and other homemade goodies around the globe.

Mary Horton Lauderdale began it all baking fruitcakes using her namesake great grandmother’s recipe, a pioneer woman with a family farm on a northeast Texas patch of Blackland Prairie. In 1839, Mary’s husband, James Horton, received 620 acres of land as payment for his services to the Republic of Texas.

The day Mary and James arrived at their new home site, rain poured consistently . Gully washers make any patch of Texas Blackland soil a soggy, gummy mess. Even so, James and his proud family slogged around the site as he led them to the crest of a small hill when Mary, struggling through the thick black mud declared, “This is like walking through pudding.”

Inspired, James spread his arms wide and proudly shouted, “Welcome to Puddin Hill!”

More than a century later, Mary’s great granddaughter, Lauderdale, started making fruitcakes out of their tiny apartment from advice given to her by her economics professor. Mary’s parent’s loaned her the money to purchase the fruit and friends helped prepare cakes.

Five hundred pounds of fruitcake later, they realized they might be on to something, moving to Greenville and opening their first store in 1975 located at E. Interstate 30, Exit 95.

For more information and to order online go to www.puddinhill.com.

Bliss Raw Café and Elixir Bar will consolidate the Greenville Avenue location into the recently opened Bliss Raw Café in Preston Center. Now raw food enthusiasts and curious foodies can find the “modern” raw, organic cuisine and tonic super food elixir bar at 6005 Berkshire Lane in Preston Center.

“We could have never predicted the popularity that the Greenville Avenue location would generate,” says Dee Pisarro, proprietor of Bliss Cafe.  “Lack of space and parking limited expansion, and our loyal clients have embraced our Preston Center location.”

“Dallas has certainly taken note of raw food cuisine and the health benefits that it offers,” says executive chef Kelly Dennis, formerly of 105degrees in Oklahoma City where she served as executive chef for the menu created by noted raw food chef and author Matthew Kenney.  “We’re very excited to debut a revamped menu in December.”

Bliss serves only pristine, raw, nourishment for the health conscience.  Committed to using only the highest quality ingredients from organically grown sources in all recipes and refreshments, seasonal and local organic choices are a priority whenever possible.  Ingredients are uncooked, refined, fresh, alive; rich in enzymes and minerals.   Bliss Café foods are free of gluten, sugar, meat or dairy products, unhealthy additives, processed flours, genetically modified foods, pesticides and preservatives.

Pisarro is currently working on second concept, V-Spot at 1908 Henderson Avenue, set to open December 2010. V-Spot will focus on cooked vegan/vegetarian-fare.  The former Bliss location on Greenville Avenue will go under renovation to become a new concept announced soon.

Bliss Café and Elixir Bar is located at 6005 Berkshire  in Preston Center across from Gold’s Gym.

Hours of operation are Monday – Saturday from 11am-9:30pm and Sundays from 11am – 4pm.  For more information visit Bliss online or call 214.368.8585.

When I lived in New York, I suffered the most bone chilling, damp, frostbitten winters I’ve ever endured. But no matter how cold it got, nor how miserable I would become, I always made the trek to imbibe on the hot chocolate and homemade marshmallow goodness of City Bakery in the Flatiron district. Since being spoiled by their chocolaty marshmallowy heaven in a cup, I’ve been hard pressed to find something similar here in Texas. Well, that was until a good friend hipped me to COCOAMODA’s homemade hot chocolate w/ fresh whipped cream.

CocaModa

Ken Wilkinson creative genius behind COCOAMODA

The chocolatier, COCOAMODA, doesn’t just cater to your hot cocoa needs, though. Located in Calvert, Texas, they also sport a restaurant and chocolate boutique, too. Breakfasts – served only on Saturday and Sunday – are all served with fresh, buttered brioche. I had the luxury of sampling their Benedict of poached egg, smothered with hollandaise, lightly topped with shaved parmesan and black truffle. Drooling yet? The menu also sports a hearty cassoulet, lobster bisque and their signature Potage Jonelle – a delicate tomato and orange soup.

Even harder to resist is the chocolate boutique. Serving up handcrafted chocolates, truffles, candied fruits and gelees, COCOAMODA is the ideal shopping spot for holiday gifts or personal indulgences. If you can’t make the trip to Calvert, never fear, you can order their reasonably priced goodies online, too!

Cocoa Moda
518 S. Main Street
Calvert, TX

The Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest features the best of Texas wines, food, and entertainment. Texas Specialty booths and Texas wineries vie for attention from discriminating gourmets and oenophiles, as well as novice “foodies”. All fest activities are located on Fredericksburg’s beautiful downtown MarktPlatz (Market Square).

Wineries scheduled to participate include:

Becker Vineyards
Bell Mountain Vineyards

Brennan Vineyards
Chisholm Trail
Fall Creek Vineyards
Fawncrest Vineyard
Fredericksburg Winery
Grape Creek Vineyard
Haak Vineyards
Homestead Winery
Landon Winery
Llano Estacado
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards
McPherson Cellars
Messina Hof
Pedernales Cellars
Pleasant Hill Winery
Red Road Vineyard & Winery
Singing Water Vineyards
Texas Hills Vineyards
and Val Verde Winery – Texas’ oldest winery!

A wide variety of products will be available for sampling and purchase as well. Look for lavender products, salsas, jams and jellies, seasons and

spices, nuts, dipping oils, olive oils, popcorn, toffee, tea, hand painted glasses, glass holders, candles and even treats for your canine friends, among many other selections.

The ever-popular Grape Expectations Cooking School, on Saturday, starts at noon, showcasing Texas chefs. Presented by the Texas Lavender Association. Each chef will share samples, recipes and be paired with a Texas winery. Chefs participating are at:

12:15  - Leu Savanh, August E’s

1:15 – Lois Rodriguez, Texas Highways

2:15 – Ross Burtwell chef/owner, Cabernet Grill

3:15 – Chrissy M. Omo, CKC Farms

4:15 – Alma Alcocer-Thomas, chef, TNT Restaurant

5:15 – Michael James Chef, Silver K Cafe

Entertainment will include music by great Texas artists – The Frank Gomez Band, Jazz trumpeter Jeff Lofton, and Jay Boy Adams; games, and a silent and live auction. The auctions will feature original artworks, gift baskets provided by the fest Specialty booths, winery tours, and other goodies from local artists and merchants.

Organizers are planning two special events to enhance the experience of this year’s festival. These special events have limited seating with tickets being sold in advance only:

A Celebration of Texas Food and Wine will be held Friday, October 22, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at August E’s.

Patron Brunch on Marktplatz,catered by Delicious Details, will be Saturday, October 23, from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm.

The Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest begins accepting guests at noon Saturday and continues until 7:00 p.m

General admission is $20 for adults, $5 for those under 21, and free for children under 12.

For those of you feeling the need…the need for MEAD…your wait is near over.

The good folks that bring you the boobage, kissing wenches, jousting and any excuse to carry a broad sword, the Texas Renaissance Festival, will be kicking off their merriment and more come 9th October 2010.

This year will also boast some themed weekend events, games and rides, and enough music and fun times and food and spirits to blow even the most demure of Scotsman’s skirts up.

As in every other year, the enchanted 53-acre New Market Village will come to life as all European Courts come to pay homage to Queen Katherine.

Each of the eight weekends has a unique, wonderful theme with the different courts vying for the Queen’s favor by bestowing lavish amusements and gifts upon her.  Hundreds of costumed performers will lead you into continuous laughter on 22 stages, holding over 200 performances daily.

So prepare to meander along shaded cobblestone walkways and visit over 400 shoppes overflowing with unique arts and crafts or offering delicious foods and beverages and don’t forget to revel in the sights, sounds and smells of the authentically recreated 16th Century British village with lush landscaped grounds covered with beautiful gardens and vines while entranced by the masked spirit of the bells and the haunting music coming from the Cloister Stage, home of Cast in Bronze.

And, truth be told, your perfect day will end as you behold the burst of Royal Fireworks held at dusk above the festival’s lake.

Texas Renaissance Festival
Saturdays and Sundays
October 9th thru November 28th

It’s a yearly pilgrimage to fried food and farm animals and The State Fair of Texas opens today and runs thru October 17th.

Last year the State Fair of Texas almost gave me, the husband and friend Taylor a coronary. I’m sure this year will be no exception considering the additions of Fried Beer, which still sounds awful to even after I throw back a few cold non-fried beers.

STAR WARS COW!!

I ’m not as excited this year about the food as I normally am, with the exception of a Fletcher’s corn dog, but I am really excited about the animals. Because it’s in the livestock barns of the State Fair that I really feel at home. The sweet straw, and the sounds of livestock lowing, grunting and squee-ing…it all makes this enormous, bright, fried, be-Ferris Wheeled place seem more like being at small county fair, and I just love that.

There’s always Boris, the 1100 lb pig, the baby animals in the Children’s Barnyard where we almost always spend more on cups of food for the critters than we do ourselves, there are Star Wars cows, Elsie the Borden Cow and of course, the ducks that wear grossly oversized toupees.

It was also at last year’s fair that I began to learn more about its long and storied history.

The State Fair of Texas has been around since 1887, with its initial draw being horseracing. Both World War I, World War II and the Spanish flu caused its cancellation many times. “And though the fair was so successful, they still suffered under repeated fires, grandstand collapses, mishaps, mounting debt and the Texas Legislature banning gambling on horseracing, the fair’s main source of income. And yet the State Fair of Texas fought and struggled and survived and has thrived for over 120 years, no matter the obstacle. For me, that is the personification of the Texas spirit.

So as you walk past Big Tex and overindulge in fried food and farm animals, pause for a moment and realize you’re walking paths long trod and long fought for and be grateful for the spirit of Texas and her denizens lost passed.

Forget the best of the wursts, Plano’s Ringo’s Pub is playing host to their very own Texas-style Oktoberfest on Saturday, October 9th.

Gates open at 2 p.m. and there’s lots to satisfy even the persnickety-est of tastes, both musical and edible. Featuring BBQ and beer, of course, there’s plenty of live music with Todd Stewart at 3:30 p.m., Austin Allsup at 5 p.m., the wondrous King Bucks at 7 p.m. and ending the evening with Whiskey Myers from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.

If BBQ ain’t your bag, may we recommend the Ringo Burger? It’s so good, just just might stab anyone who might try to steal a bite!

Ringo’s Pub
865 Kincaid Rd.
Suite E14 (Behind Angelika)
Plano, TX

Want to enjoy a little bit of “the sweet life”?

Well, get your taste buds ready for the 20th annual Austin Museum of Art’s Food and Wine Festival.

On October 14th, over 50 of Austin’s best chefs and wineries will descend upon the Italian villa and grounds of Laguna Gloria to provide your hungry moths with delectable fare and play you with award-winning wines and spirts.

Each year this very popular event benefits the good folks behind AMOA’s education programs, like the Seeing Special Things Program which encourages students to dream of being an artist someday. Funds are needed for AMOA’s education programs that outreach to over 10,000 students of all ages each year.

Your ticket purchase can help make it all possible.

The event will see Laguna Gloria transformed into parts of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita movie set as Via Veneto in Roma, so make sure you make a wish in the Trevi Fountain, dress your Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni best, and bring your camera along for fun, movie-related photo ops.

Your ticket to the Food and Wine Festival will also include dancing and live music, but for an extra 25 bucks you can pay a visit to the Cigar & Scotch Lounge for your choice of a cigar, scotch, port, and a local dolce.

Nothing says Italy like wine, and this year’s wineries include:

Becker Vineyards
Duchman Family Winery
Fall Creek Vineyards
Inwood Estates Vineyards
Llano Estacado Winery
Paula’s Texas Orange
Perdernales Cellars
Pleasant Hill Winery
Spicewood Vineyards
The Vineyard at Florence

Tickets, a list of participants and more can be found on the AMOA’s website.

I could wax poetic on the virtues of both wine and pie…but put them together? I’m in freakin’ heaven! Come September 25th, you’ll find me and a bunch of other pie and wine lovin’ folks down Fredericksburg way for the Fall Wine & Food Festival at Texas Vinyards & Beyond. Enjoy wine tastings from seven Texas wineries and local food artisans, meet the winemakers and more at this wonderful, yearly event. You can sip and nom to your little pie noshing and wine sloshing heart’s content!

Participating wineries include Fall Creek and  Pheasant Ridge, while the Fredericksburg Pie Company and Dutchman’s Market are just two of the nomilicious folks providing great grub!

Cost is $10 per person at the door, which includes wine glass, wine and food tastings. Please call 830/990-9199 for more information or to buy tickets!

TEXAS VINEYARDS & BEYOND
329 1/2 E. Main Street
Fredericksburg, Texas 78624
Across from the Nimitz National Pacific War Museum