livin' la dolce vita

lamb and rabbit stew from Trace

I was asked to cover the 23rd annual La Dolce Vita Food & Wine Festival for Culturemap Austin.  A  benefit for arts education at the Austin Museum, this is one of the longest running food events in town.  Having attended plenty of food festivals in Austin, though never this one, I had a pretty good idea of what was in store...but what I didn't expect was to discover a food fest better than the Food & Wine magazine-sponsored affair that made its inaugural run in April!

From the look on Carson's face, that tuna tataki agreed with him

While of course this fest didn't have the high profile celebrity guest appearances and workshops, all of Austin's best restaurants were represented, serving more delicious samples than any one (or even two!) people could possibly taste!  (And I can put away some samples!)  The span of establishments represented and the well thought out dishes served put the F&W's tasting tents to shame...

braised short ribs and mashed sweet potato from Jasper's won people's best dish

The VIP cocktail tent also had some of the best mixologists in town representing-- from Midnight Cowboy, drink.well, Contigo, and even Houston's Anvil Bar & Refuge!  I loved that Anvil was there and it made me wonder why Houston and Austin don't trade off a little bit more for events like this-- or even San Antonio and Austin! I would love to see this happen more in the future.

Midnight Cowboy mixologist

Anvil mixers and shakers multi-tasking

corn blini with lobster salad, tequila key lime pie from Clark's

Larry McGuire was elected the honorary chef of the evening, though I never personally saw him there (probably due to the fact that his latest masterpiece, Clark's Oyster Bar, had a soft opening just days earlier).  Sure enough, the delicate corn blinis they were griddling up, topped with lobster and caviar, were absolutely delicious.  (The photo above really cannot do justice.)

Sugar Circus' playful booth set up

Sugar Circus, a vegan bakery recently opened on the eastside, had a vivid, circus-themed booth which drew me into their mini cupcake display.  Unfortunately, I hadn't managed to leave much room for dessert, but that didn't stop me from at least a couple bites on our way out...

If you attend one food event in Austin next year, I'd recommend making it this one!