Food Matters: Fusebox sparks thoughtful pairings
At many art performances or openings, you're lucky if you can get a candy bar during the intermission or some passed hors d'oeuvres in the gallery, says Hank Cathey, culinary arts coordinator of the Fusebox Festival, which starts today and is in its eighth year.
"Design and food go together very easily," Cathey says. "Look at Fonda San Miguel or East Side Show Room, where a lot of care has been put in to create an environment that reflects the food." But often, food is an afterthought for a performance company or museum.
"You spend six months or even a year working on this play, and then you stop short in the lobby and serve them Snickers bars and Coca-Cola," he says. "How does it reflect anything in the show? How does it support local community and artists?"
Cathey for the second year is spearheading Digestible Feats, a series of collaborative events that connect culinary arts with more traditional performances or visual arts. (Some of the events are free, but others require tickets. You can find a full schedule and details at fuseboxfestival.com.)
On Thursday, composer Graham Reynolds and food trailer owner Lucky Sibilla, who owns Lucky's Puccias, are teaming up for "Night of the Tarantula," a multi-course meal and musical performance centered on a traditional Italian dance called the Tarantella. Jodi Elliott of Foreign and Domestic is lending a hand for a live painting performance on Friday night called Sweet Betrayal, and Jason Stevens of Bar Congress created the cocktails for "Bottled in Bond: The Decline and Fall of a Thug as Told in Five Drinks" on Saturday afternoon and Sunday night.
Brian Dressel of Midnight Cowboy will be channeling the '80s for a happy hour Monday at the bar downtown, and on Tuesday, Whole Foods Market is hosting an antipasti lunch and concert with East Side Show Room chef Sonya Coté and Reynolds. Austinite Julia Halperin will host a screening of her film "Now, Forager" on Tuesday that will feature a menu from Louis Sheppard of Hopfields, Mike Rivera of Fatback Boucherie and local forager and hunter Tink Pinkard. To help close out the festival, Stevens and Cathey will serve cocktail-inspired versions of the Snowball, a New Orleans summer refreshment, at the festival's Hub, 1100 E. Fifth St.
"We want to inspire real collaborative relationships between the culinary artists and artists from other mediums that continue throughout the year," Cathey says. "We're trying to get past dinner and a movie."
Gastronomy, history of the Lone Star State
Houston author (and former Austinite) Robb Walsh has written another authoritative look at Texas food. This one, "Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook" (Ten Speed Press, $25) covers the state geographically, culturally and historically, touching on almost all the native (and non-native) culinary traditions that have blossomed over the generations, including Cajun, Vietnamese, Indian, Czech, German, African American, Italian, Tex-Mex, Mex-Tex and good old-fashioned Americana. Like most Walsh books, historical research, interviews and recipes go hand in hand, and Austin gets its fair share of pages, but this book features all color photographs, many of which were taken by Laurie Smith, a former Austinite who has shot a number of cookbooks, including Hudson's on the Bend chef Jeff Blank's "Fired Up."
Walsh will sign books at two area H-E-B stores this weekend. From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, he'll be at the H-E-B Plus at 1700 E. Palm Valley Blvd. in Round Rock, and from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, you'll find him at the H-E-B at 5800 W. Slaughter Lane.
Franklin's Espresso BBQ Sauce
4 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
6 Tbsp. brewed espresso
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. coarsely ground pepper
In a saucepan, combine all of the ingredients, stir well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer gently for 20 minutes to blend the flavors. Use immediately, or let cool, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Makes about 7 cups.
- "Texas Eats" by Robb Walsh (Ten Speed Press, $25)
* From 2 to 5 p.m. Friday at Lucy's Fried Chicken, 2218 College Ave., food writer Josh Ozersky will sign copies of his new book, "Colonel Sanders and the American Dream," a biography of Harland Sanders, who became more known by his Colonel Sanders caricature rather than the astute businessman he really was. Ozersky's previous books have covered hamburgers and television during the late '60s and early '70s, and the book was published by the University of Texas Press earlier this month.
* Mother's Day isn't until May 13, but Grace Young will channel her mother at a class ($65, centralmarket.com) at Central Market North on Sunday, where she'll teach from her first book, "The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen," which won the IACP Best International Cookbook Award in 2000. "Most of the relatives and family friends who taught me their recipes and stories have now passed away or are too old to cook," Young says now, having written a number of successful books since then. The dishes that she's teaching - Hoisin Glazed Barbecued Spareribs, Shrimp with Black Bean Sauce, Cashew Chicken and Scallion Pancakes - aren't nearly as important as the lesson of cooking with those you love before it's too late, Young says. "I never dreamed that in my mother's lifetime I would cook her dishes for her, but she is now too old and frail to even remember her signature dishes, until she tastes them."