What a day! The Sold Out crowd along with DJ Filipino Fist created an electric atmosphere at the ND Venue Sunday. The second annual Austin Food Experiments was in town and it was greeted with such warmth from the hometown crowd. As I read the announcement for this year’s winner of the Austin Taco Experiment, I could not help but reflect on what a year it has been. Last year, the Austin Pork Experiment was my first event outside of the comfy confines of Brooklyn. Now, with the support and assistance of Brooklyn Brewery, I was just completing the second event of a 16 city international tour.
It wasn’t until I read that the second place went to the Holy Smokers that it sunk in. Everyone in Austin should give them a slap on the back and a handshake, they represented your fine city in 2011 with grace and enthusiasm. There is a new winner from Austin, Sous Me Alchemy, and she has some big robes to fill. Austin should feel good about its chances for taking home international gold, Liz of Sous Me Alchemy, will be an amazing representative. She has A game and it was on display Sunday at ND. I say this because she beat out some delicious, scrumptious, spicy, flavorful, and tasty bites. Both Zesty Bean Dog and The Holy Smokers made their best bites. Seriously, Jen D and Evan of Zesty Bean Dog made a smokey, ducky, juicy, crispy BLT of a taco which made the judges swoon, it earned her top judges’ prize including that whole brisket from Franklin. I think that is a prize a girl from Alabama can appreciate.
The Holy Smokers made a Greek taco (despite their recent bailout) which was truly inspired. I have tried three dishes from these rambunctious and charming pastors, and I say that this was their best one yet. It made my eyes open wide with surprise and delight. I will miss them this year in Brooklyn, no one to accost the Willie B hipsters in their natural habitat. Liz, I am sure they will be saying a prayer for your success.
Liz Arredondo’s grand prize finish was earned with pure grist and determination. She made every thing by hand on the frickin’ plate. I think she actually created dyes to make the markers to make her sign. The cheeses were homemade, the tortillas were homemade, the sour cream was homemade. If she brings just half her enthusiasm to Brooklyn in December she will have a good shot.
The biggest disappointment to the day, was that some people didn’t make it to the podium. There was not one bad taco! Let me say that again: There was not one bad taco! I know some of you will think I am full of it. Well, that’s your problem. I knew Sunday was going to be special as soon as I bit into Spritedka’s Box Wine Bison and The Jelly Queen’s 6 peppered pigs in a blanket. It is very rare that the first two bites fill me with such enthusiasm. Spritedka’s broth was incredible.
I thought No BS BP’s taco with the Asian hint of flavor and use of celery was great. I will never forget Chris, no one ever forgets Chris. The Beach Bums fish taco was great. He kept the fish moist and the flavors fresh! Team Temple has many great ideas, I think they could wind up in the winners’ circle shortly. So many great ideas from using Hawaiian bread rolled out to toasting the shells on a cast iron flat top on sternos. El Alto and Ender’s should feel pride in making meat that was moist and full of flavor.
Our esteemed panel of judges did not have an easy job. It could have gone to so many worthy tacos. It is sometimes easier to be an audience member than a judge. We were so fortunate to have had Austin’s culinary dream team put their stomachs on the line. Addie Broyles from the Austin-Statesman, Claudia Alarcon of The Chronicle and Zagat, Virginia Wood, Food Editor of The Austin Chronicle, and local Austin Food Blogger Stella Floyd of Stella Cooks . Thanks to all of them for their hard work.
I cannot wait to return to Austin. It is one of my favorite cities in the USA. Hell, all my damn friends keep moving there!!!
Remember: Gloria Culinarius!!