Another great reason to live in Austin…on Monday we attended the first ever Food and Wine Blogger Bash that was hosted at the Whole Foods culinary center. The event brought together mostly local, but some national food bloggers and writers. There were cooking demonstrations, a wine tasting challenge, music and of course good food and libations. The event was brought about by the very admirable efforts of Addie Broyles with Austin360.com, Whole Foods and the GoTexan program. It was good to see such a great turnout and everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there.
We arrived in time to grab a glass of wine and check out the first cooking demonstration. Chef Jesse Griffiths from Dai Due was showing us how to handle a flounder for his herb stuffed flounder dish. I had not heard of Dai Due until the announcement of this event. They offer classes on sustainable cooking concepts (want to learn how to butcher a hog or pluck a chicken?), a supper club that is hosted at various locations like Rain Lily and Boggy Creek Farms, and catering using only local, fresh and organic food – some of it from their own garden.
Our second stop was the “Texas Two Sip” challenge put on by GoTexan. It was a blind tasting that pitted Texas wines against wines from around the world. We somehow aced this, I think we can owe this to a little bit of luck, wishful thinking (we thought all of the TX wines tasted better) and to some of our Hill Country wine trips where we have done plenty of sampling. The Go Texan rep asked us what we thought made the Texas wines distinguishable. We couldn’t quite put our finger on it, but the red wines seemed to have more spice and a hint of cedar.
One of the highlights of the evening was listening to Executive Chef /Owner, Tyson Cole of Uchi talk about his craft. He spoke to us about the history, origins, and evolution of sushi from Japan to the US, as well as some of the major differences between them, including accepted ingredients and preparation methods. We also got some tips on cooking up the perfect batch of sushi rice and how vinegar is an important part of the preparation. One piece of trivia I found interesting, and was not aware of, is that the term sushi historically refers to the rice and not the raw fish.
He truly is a master at pairing flavors and you can tell he puts a great deal of thought into the ingredients and what combinations would make for a perfect culinary bite. We got to sample the fried onigiri stuffed with grilled trout and a cured green grape, which was served over a verjus reduction and garnished with a razor-thin slice of flash-pickled radish and sesame seeds. Each bite was different and all the flavors complemented each other – awesome! We have the complete ingredient list and preparation instructions if anyone is interested – it would be an interesting challenge to tackle one evening!
I know this is out there in the blogosphere and covered in triplicate, but I wanted to share some Uchi news and a new project by Mr. Cole. The second location is opening very soon and will be located somewhere on Lamar between 40th and 43rd streets (the exact location is not being disclosed – yet). It sounds like it will capture some of the same character as the original location but will be much larger. He mentioned a 50 seat bar area, and if I remember correctly, will be reservation only (I did have some wine). The name will be Uchi (insert: number, clever word, geographical designation), the full name is still under wraps or so I thought – Hillary thought she heard the name would be Uchi Ko (Ko meaning “child” or “child of” in Japanese). Looks like a new restaurant project may be in the works for some day down the road. It would be a foray into the Spanish style tapas world and would be pursued as a restauranteur endeavor, i.e. he would hire a chef to cook for that location but give his ultimate stamp of approval.
This was a great gathering – we had a good time and enjoyed the whole evening. This was our first event out wearing our food blogger “credentials” and one regret is we did not get to make the rounds and talk to as many fellow bloggers as we would have hoped to, especially those that we have exchanged online comments with. However, I know there will be many future opportunities to get to know everyone and am looking forward to it. Also wanted to send out a very big thank you to Addie Broyles, Austin360.com, Whole Foods, GoTexan, Dai Due and Uchi for a very enjoyable evening and for all the goodies.