The ICCA kicked off 2019 in the Lone Star State with a return trip to Austin. It’s been over 10 years since ICCA stopped in ATX and the culinary scene has grown well beyond the barbecue and Tex-Mex that put it on the map. During this full two-day Immersion, one of the only repeat stops was at Easy Tiger, led by Head Doughpuncher David Norman, who has been named one of the best beer gardens in the nation, as well as one of the top bakeries. Norman’s breads can also be spotted in some of Austin’s top restaurants, including Whole Foods Flagship store. Here is a link to some of the photos from the trip.
Barbecue legend Aaron Franklin recently teamed up with the JBF 2011 Best Chef: Southwest winner Tyson Cole to open Loro, an Asian smokehouse. We had an amazing lunch at Loro and the dinner at Uchiko was a lesson on creativity both with flavors and plating. Cole received national acclaim for Uchi and Uchiko before expanding into Dallas, Houston and Denver.
We also went out to the Texas Hill Country to see the barbecue pit at The Salt Lick with owner Scott Roberts, who took us on a tour of the property as tasted wine from grapes grown on the property – not kidding these were good wiines in the heart of Texas. Jester King Brewery brews authentic farmhouse ales and is located on 165 acres of preserved land in the Hill Country. As Austin continues to grow and green space becomes less common, Jester King is devoted to maintaining the land and has recently planted a variety of fruits and vegetables, including hops and wine grapes. We also had friends walk with us as the goats are used to help clear the land.
Back in town, Chef Iliana de la Vega of El Naranjo prepared a special Oaxacan menu for our group. Iliana was featured on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine in 2003 for her restaurant in Oaxaca before moving to Texas to help open the Latin Cuisine program at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio.