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By Deborah Hamilton-Lynne; Photo by Destry Jaimes

Twenty two years ago when I moved to Austin, there was really no discussion of food being a major attraction; it was pretty much Tex/Mex, traditional Mexican, chicken-fried steak and barbeque from tried-and-true mainstays: Matt’s El Rancho, the Salt Lick, Guero’s and Shady Grove, with some special- occasion restaurants: Green Pastures, the Driskill Grill, the Four Seasons, and literary/politico hangouts like Las Manitas, Cisco’s and La Zona Rosa thrown in for good measure.

My, oh my, how things have changed. Everywhere I go, people talk about Austin’s booming food scene and our rockstar chefs. They want to know about Tyson Cole, David Bull, Jack Allen, Bryce Gilmore and Paul Qui. They want to know about the food-trailer phenomenon. They w ant to know why Austin was chosen as the site for the prestigious foodie event, the Austin Food & Wine Festival, a three day epicurean bacchanal. They want to know how Austin has so many hot chefs winning James Beard Awards and just about every food accolade you can mention, including two restaurants out of 20 on this year’s Bon Appetit’s 20 Most Important Restaurants in America list. And everyone—and I do mean everyone—I meet wants to know what it is about Aaron Franklin’s barbequed brisket that makes it worth the three-hour wait.

So we knew that we had to do a story on how Austin became a foodie town and what makes this such an incubator for creative cuisine and young chefs. We also knew that we had to find out first hand what makes Aaron Franklin the master of the grill, and I am happy to report that, yes indeed, the brisket is worth the trouble and the wait. Steve Uhler takes us on the ultimate culinary journey, which will leave your mouth watering with a long list of must-experience restaurants.

Conversely, Austin has long been known as a drinking destination, with the infamous Sixth Street being heralded far and wide. As downtown revitalized and attracted more restaurants, the bars became more upscale and the offerings more sophisticated. In this issue, Matt McGinnis takes a look at whiskies, drinks for every man with the focus on the burgeoning Texas industry that is giving Kentucky a run for its money. And we give you two suggestions for celebrating safely and in style.

Looking forward to the holiday season and festive gatherings? We’ve got all the right looks, from casual to formal, as well as that most hip accessory: a hat. If you are looking for events, look to the Buzz, and for inspiration, to Jared Dunten and Greg Davis.

How many of us can’t wait each year to receive the Neiman Marcus catalog and dream of those fantasy gifts we might never afford? This year, we took a trip down fantasy lane and discovered ultimate luxury gifts for all of the men on your list. Personally, I have my eye on the luxe stereo console, although I wouldn’t turn down a McLaren. Other great gifts for the guys on your list might include a guys’ getaway, fresh fragrances or coffee custom roasted right here in Austin.

For me, each day I wake up in Austin is a gift. This is the best city with the most creative, supportive and giving people. There are so many happy holiday traditions to enjoy: the Zilker tree, John Aeili’s carols on Congress Avenue, the Armadillo Bazaar and a new tradition I am going to begin this year on the advice of Roy Spence. It is a gift that is free and if you’re lucky will be returned: The gift of a heartfelt hug. So the next time I see you, prepare to receive a big holiday hug. Wishing you and yours all the best during the holiday season.


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