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Third Time’s a Charm

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Austin Food & Wine Festival gears up for 2014.

By Courtney Bell

A few of Central Texas’ most beloved culinary minds prepared lunch for the media Jan. 21 at Contigo to kick off the excitement for this year’s Austin Food & Wine Festival. Tickets are currently on sale. Chefs in the area are preparing menus for the big weekend in April. There are a lot of changes this year to make the event even more successful than the previous two years.

Chefs Tim Love (Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Woodshed Smokehouse, Queenie’s Steakhouse, Love Shack, White Elephant Saloon, Fort Worth), Chris Shepard (Underbelly, Houston), Mike Lata (FIG, The Ordinary, Charleston) and Andrew Wiseheart (Contigo, Austin) created a dining experience Tuesday afternoon that got everyone excited for what is to come in April.

The perfect appetizer to the day’s meal was Lata’s Maine lobster ceviche. The light flavor of the sweet crustacean was paired with finely diced, fresh jalapeño. Love’s tender lamb porchetta topped with a minted goat’s yogurt served with roasted carrot home fries and goat cheese was a crowd favorite. Shepard spiced things up with his Korean braised goat with dumplings reminiscent of gnocchi. Wiseheart’s tender pork on a spit with pieces of crispy skin was served up with fire roasted Brussels sprouts and a tantalizing salsa verde. The entire meal was a delicious success, and Jen’s Splendid Ice Creams put the icing on the cake with ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

This year’s festival will offer more than 40 events during the course of three days from April 25 through 27, including tastings, book signings, demonstrations and panel discussions. Due to popularity, the interactive firepits will be back this year two-fold, featuring four chefs a day. This year’s pit masters include Aaron Franklin, Paul Qui, Ned Elliot and Andrew Wiseheart.

The Rock Your Taco competition will return Saturday evening of the festival with live music from JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound. Admission to this event is included in the Savor Pass or sold separately. The newest addition to the festival is a kickoff event Thursday night. The sold-out Feast Under the Stars at Butler Park is an intimate outdoor celebration featuring five Texas chefs. This family-style meal includes wine pairings and parking.

Tickets for the third annual Austin Food & Wine Festival are available in two tiers, the Taste Pass and Savor Pass.

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