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Austin Food & Wine Festival

r
Royale Jan 18, 2012 08:45 AM

The schedule/lineup has been announced: http://www.austinfoodandwinefestival....

Worth the $250 ticket price? What demos/seminars most interest you? I always enjoyed the Hill Country Food & Wine festival, but this is certainly much different. It's good to see a good number of locals in the "talent" pool, on both the food and beverage side.

  1. j
    jaceb May 1, 2012 03:57 AM

    In a word, no. While the cooking demonstrations were educational, we spent more time standing in line than we did learning anything. Here are my major complaints with suggestions:
    1. Why not stagger the events? What is the crowd supposed to do for 45 minutes between each set of events? Bored, hot, hungry people drinking in the morning can be dangerous. Good thing this wasn’t held in New York, like Jonathan Waxman said. There would have been rioting. How about during each inexplicable 45 minute break between famous TV chefs, insert some local talent? Chefs and cooking school teachers could do a demonstration during the break. Heck, the Vitamix guy could sell blenders, for all I care. Anything, even infomercials, is better than nothing.
    2. People had to stand in line 45+ minutes in advance to get a seat. No one counted heads vs. chairs. By the time you figured out that you’re not going to get a seat, it’s too late to get a seat in any other tent.
    3. There were not enough chairs in all tents combined to seat all ticket holders at the same time. Get bigger tents and more chairs or more tents, more events, and more chairs. I met one couple who stood outside for 30 minutes on Sunday before the gate opened and then stood for one hour inside but still didn’t get one of the coveted grilling stations. They were punished for their optimism by being made to sit on the bleachers in the baking sun because no chairs were left in any tent.
    4. There was an awesome grilling set up and stage but left unused most of the day. WHY?? What a waste.
    5. On a related not, if Austin is the “live music capital of the world,” why not use the empty stage at least for live music? An empty stage in Austin with a captive audience is heresy.
    6. There was no coffee in the morning and food before the Grand Tasting event except for 3 food and one ice cream truck. Stand in another line to pay extra for food? No thanks.
    7. There was plenty of free beer and cheap wine but who wants to drink alcohol at 9am? How about some COFFEE? How about a crepe and espresso stand? More food trucks? People passing out free sample of stuff for breakfast?
    8. What happened to all of that meat from the hands-on grilling lessons? Tim Love provided about a pound of meat per person. How about cut it up and pass it out to the crowd for breakfast?
    9. The three Grand Tasting event tents were too packed once customers piled in. Get at least one more tent…maybe one focusing on FOOD and not wine. And high quality food. I didn't pay $250 for Frito Pie. Yuck.
    10.I saw several single guys stationed alone at a grilling table. Why not require 2 people per grilling station? Double up the single guys, match them up with a single woman, or ask the frustrated people who stood in line for over an hour and did not get a station if there were any singles who wanted to join a stranger?
    11. The Grand Tasting: too much wine, not enough FOOD…especially after starving us for breakfast. What I learned on Sunday is that you have to eat before you go to this food and wine festival. Never thought I’d have to say that about any food and wine festival, especially one sponsored by Food and Wine Magazine. Just glad I didn't pony up the cash to go to Aspen or South Beach.

    12 Replies
    1. re: jaceb
      v
      verily May 1, 2012 08:15 AM

      Yikes. They'll have to drastically improve it (and drastically reduce the price) if they want to sell any tickets next year. Nothing like angering the folks with deep pockets...

      I went to Uchiko for my birthday dinner on Sat. and spent the day after hopping from winery to winery. Sounds like my $150 or so went way farther.

      1. re: verily
        j
        jaceb May 1, 2012 09:11 AM

        Yes, that sounds more pleasant. We spent about $200 at Wink on a 5 course dinner for 2 with wine pairings. No regrets there. But I also don't regret goint to the Austin Food & Wine Festival. $250 is not that much for a weekend. See below:

      2. re: jaceb
        s
        singlemalt May 1, 2012 08:49 AM

        I should know by your description of events, but don't. My question is did you purchase the paupers 250 ticket or the big dog 850 ticket? Thanks,J.

        1. re: singlemalt
          j
          jaceb May 1, 2012 09:07 AM

          I was one of the plebes who paid $250. I was calculating pain and suffering vs. enjoyment: You'd have to pay me maybe $20/hour to stand in line in 88 degree heat ($20 x .75) X 5 = $75 added to the cost of the ticket = $325. I would pay $70/hour to watch famous people do cooking demos. I saw 4 demos. ($70 X .75) x 4 = $210. I would have paid maybe $50 to attend the Not So Grand Tasting Event twice = $100. Total value of the weekend = $310. So I figure I overpaid by $15. No big deal.

          1. re: jaceb
            s
            singlemalt May 1, 2012 10:04 AM

            It is nice that the organizers of the event are keeping the less fortunate of us in mind.

        2. re: jaceb
          r
          Royale May 1, 2012 02:22 PM

          I also attended (a Weekender/$250 ticket) and I agree with your criticims, but overall I enjoyed myself and would go again. I was more motivated by the Wine portion of the event, and got to attend 3 different wine events with 3 flights of 6 wines each (roses, sparkling, and "superstar [expensive] wines") and try quite an array of wines inbetween each event at the bar (yes, there was an open bar with beer, wine, and coolers of water, tea, and soda) and at the "grand tastings." Waiting in line to get a seat at each event was a bit of a drawback, but there was a group of us so always someone to go get drinks for the rest made it bearable. And I agree that there wasn't enough food. Some small bites at the grand tastings, and some pastries were passed around on Sunday morning at one of the events, but overall not nearly as much food as booze. I learned from my mistake on Saturday and had a full breakfast on Sunday and stopped at the East Side King for a snack mid-day. I also agree that the tents were too small (I can see why the wine ones needed to be limited, but for the cooking ones and the grand tastings, they should have been bigger) and they should give out tickets or something to people standing in line so people know if they're going to get a seat or not.

          1. re: Royale
            m
            Mike B May 1, 2012 02:39 PM

            What wines did they end up tasting at Superstar wines? I waited in line for 45 minutes for that one and got shut out when the VIPs ended up filling the spaces en masse.

            I'd say that was one of my major complaints for the fest. If you spent your time waiting for a wine or food demo and ended up not getting a seat, your chances of getting into another one were slim at that point.

            I think they're really going to have to consider holding the wine tastings indoors or in bigger air conditioned tents next time. I could actually see dust clouds wafting in towards the speaker's podium for one of the tastings I did make it into. He jokingly referred to the effect of gulping a mouthful of dust when wine tasting as 'Texas terroir'.

            1. re: Mike B
              r
              Royale May 1, 2012 03:05 PM

              Mike, we tasted:
              1. 2002 Bollinger Grande Annee Rose Champagne;
              2. 2009 Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots;
              3. 2009 Ken Forrester FMC Chenin Blanc (I didn't get much of this one as a wind gust caused the side of the tent to blow over my water bottle and knock over this glass. Luckily my husband shared his);
              4. 2010 Craggy Range Pinot Noir;
              5. A 2006 Chianti (I neglected to write down anything else on this one, whoops!)
              6. 2009 Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon.
              And, as a bonus, I got a signed copy of Ray Isle's pocket wine guide for knowing that Food & Wine magazine originally started as an insert in Playboy ;-)

              We were one of the last to get seats to this tasting. It was almost all VIP badges. The dust was definitely a problem, particularly on the first day. Maybe they'll spring for better grass at Auditorium Shores like they did after the ACL Festival dust bowl. It's particularly bad when it accumulates at the bottom of your wine glass and you can feel the grit in your teeth!

              1. re: Royale
                m
                Mike B May 1, 2012 03:23 PM

                Thanks for the detailed rundown. Bummed I missed out on that one.

                1. re: Mike B
                  amysuehere May 1, 2012 06:43 PM

                  Okay, I'm not too proud to say....holy smokes, what happened to Austin that this is even considered as anything but absolutely-positively Nuuuuuuts? C'mon - this would not have been tolerated a few years ago.

                  Same situation happened to me this weekend. Went to Hoppdoddys on Anderson and there was "a little" line outside...k...and 15 minutes later we were admitted inside to find a line of 30. Seriously?! for a BURGER?! No-no-no-noooo.
                  What have we become where we will put up with this nonsense? Reminds me of the the movie where the Californian will drive the block to wait in line. will...not...do.

                  1. re: amysuehere
                    v
                    verily May 2, 2012 06:46 AM

                    Aren't the trailers like this? Every time I think I'm going to eat at one, there are bunches of people both lining up and waiting endlessly for food. Seems like we've gotten trained to wait...

                    1. re: verily
                      ericthered May 2, 2012 07:51 AM

                      Reminds me a lot of the UK only they call it a Queue. If a Brit sees a line, no matter for what, they will instinctively get in it. The older I get the less things I am willing to stand in line for. Yes, this goes for Franklin's too.

        3. e
          elpaninaro Jan 29, 2012 05:36 PM

          Deleted- sorry, had wrong festival in mind.

          1. c
            ChristineR Jan 20, 2012 09:54 AM

            Are there tickets available only to the sunday fair... given that they are still having it... or do you have to buy tickets for the whole thing?

            1 Reply
            1. re: ChristineR
              m
              Mike B Jan 20, 2012 11:06 AM

              As of now, you have to buy a ticket to the whole weekend.

            2. s
              sqwertz Jan 19, 2012 05:54 PM

              it doesn't appear that you can see more than 6 demos, and of those 6 they may not all be your top 6 "must see's" (ans then there may availability/seating limitations as well). $250? Nah. $850? Maybe ;-)

              -sw

              1 Reply
              1. re: sqwertz
                m
                Mike B Jan 20, 2012 09:43 AM

                Seeing that this is now a C3 run event, I'd say that crowds and seating will definitely be a major concern. I'm not sure I want to spend $250 just for the chance to find out.

                I'll miss some of the single ticket events they did in previous years.

              2. s
                singlemalt Jan 19, 2012 11:22 AM

                They, the organizers, want to make it a national event, and, apparently, an elitist one too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: singlemalt
                  b
                  byanow Jan 19, 2012 02:14 PM

                  interesting thread of comments/reactions http://austin.eater.com/archives/2012...

                2. v
                  verily Jan 18, 2012 09:56 AM

                  As much as I'd love to spend my birthday eating awesome food and watching demos from some famous folks, I'd rather save my money and just blow half of that enjoying a tasting menu at a fancy restaurant. $250 seems crazy high, but might be worth it if you go all three days.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: verily
                    Chicago Wine Geek Jan 18, 2012 10:19 AM

                    I would LOVE to come in for that event, but $250.....

                    1. re: verily
                      r
                      Royale Jan 18, 2012 01:53 PM

                      And for $250 it's only two days. The only event on Friday is a VIP event, and VIP tickets are $850!

                      But, I've definitely spent $250 in food and beverages over the course of a weekend in the past, so maybe I can rationalize it if I don't eat or drink anywhere else during those two days?

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