The Austin Food & Wine Alliance took the “Live Fire!” name literally, with fire twirlers performing on the green to the Elana James Trio and a whole roasted cow from John Bullington, of Alamo Drafthouse. Hungry beef lovers wandered between wine booths (think Cypress Creek Reserve and Becker Vineyards) and the restaurants’ set-ups. Naturally, Franklin Barbecue had the longest line, for a hefty chopped brisket sandwich with sausage, piled with purple coleslaw and pickles, but, as usual, it was well worth the wait. Another gem was John Lichtenberger of Trattoria Lisina’s pizza topped with thin slices of filet.
Speaking of gems, Josh Ozersky was as clever as ever, saying about our town, “The quality of the restaurants is going up, and the quality of the barbecue is going down” (Franklin excluded, of course). He and Aaron Franklin brainstormed about what Franklin will make for the Meatopia festival, in September (you’ll just have to wait and see, since a lady never listens and tells).
Meanwhile, Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, in Portland, labored over her smoky barbecue pit like a pro, serving up tender Texas wagyu strip loin roast with wonderfully green wild ramp butter. Her reaction to her first visit to Austin? The same as everyone else’s, of course: “Ohmygod, I love Austin!” She had already visited Uchiko (“The fried milk rocks”) and Swift’s Attic before hightailing it to the Salt Lick.
The fan favorite of the night, though, was Josh Watkins of the Carillon, who served up tender beef cheeks and beef ribs with rich corn pudding. And who can forget dessert? Upscale or down-home, both treated us well. Barley Swine pastry chef Kyle McKinney forwent the bone marrow and instead grilled zucchini bread with chamomile gel and goat cheese mousse, topped with candied walnuts. Royers’ Round Top Café’s rich chocolate chip pie and apple pie put us over the top.
But for the true meat lovers in the know, there was more to come. Aaron Franklin brought a few extra briskets for the very lucky, or at least those with an iron stomach and an after party in mind.
[Photos: Eric McGregor/EATX]