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Food takes the stage at these SXSW fests

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

You can't throw a stick during the 10 days of the South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive conferences and festivals without hitting a party that's offering free food.

But an interesting phenomenon has been happening in the past few years: parties where food is the headliner, not just a trick to get people in the door. Here's a short list, and links to RSVP and more events are online at austin360.com/relishaustin.

Burlesque and cupcakes. Enough said. Pastries and Pasties party is at 8 p.m. Friday at Emo's. $12-$15 or free with SXSW Interactive badge.

• To celebrate the launch of Foodspotting's new iPhone app, the Web site is hosting a scavenger hunt and a street food fest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Brush Square Park, which will feature food from Austin trailers including Mmmpanadas, Chi'lantro BBQ, Good Pops, Holy Cacao, Sugarstar Cupcakes and TaKorea.

• For the second year, Cupcakes Take the Cake and BakeSpace are hosting a cupcake social at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Tiniest Bar in Texas, which is mostly outside and isn't so tiny. Free cupcakes from some of Austin's best bakers, so get there early before they are gone.

• Hosted by Brooklynite Matt Timms, the Bacon Takedown at 4 p.m. Sunday at Emo's will pit bacon-laced dishes from Austin cooks against one another. $10 tickets include samples of the entries plus a chance to vote for the winner.

March is one of the best times of the year for fresh vegetables in Central Texas, and New York chef Michael Cirino of A Razor, A Shiny Knife is hosting a cooking demonstration and supper club dinner at 2 p.m. Sunday to showcase what he only wishes he could get in the Northeast at this time of year. E-mail him for more information, and he'll disclose the location to confirmed guests. Tickets cost $99 and include classes, meal and beverages.

• Local and national food bloggers will be mingling over food and drinks from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Cedar Door on Monday for the second annual Austin360 Food Blogger Bash. The first round of tickets has sold out, but keep your eye out. We'll hopefully be adding a few more tickets this week. Free.

• If you just can't get your fill of capsaicin elsewhere, check out the eighth annual Nuclear Tacos party at 6 p.m. Monday at Brush Square Park, where members of this underground group will be serving some of the hottest tacos in town.

• Tech geeks from Milwaukee are bringing their style of tailgating to help wrap up SXSW Interactive at a Milwaukee Beer and Brat Bash from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Cedar Door. Enjoy Milwaukee beer, brats, potato salad and cookies for free.

• 'Food Party' host and creator Thu Tran, whose wacky and surreal videos on the Independent Film Channel have earned her profiles in The New York Times and The Washington Post, will be handing out free empanadas from Austin's Mmmpanada food trailer from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the IFC Crossroads House at 612 Brazos St. Entry restricted to badgeholders.

• The Shed BBQ, a Mississippi-based barbecue restaurant, is opening an Austin trailer with a grand opening from 2 p.m. to midnight March 17 at East Sixth and Chicon streets, and to celebrate, theyll have music from acts including the Greyhounds, Papa Mali and Good Bad People. Don't come expecting free grub, but if it's a new trailer and it's serving barbecue, you know Austin's food crew will be there.

• Whip In has evolved from selling snacks and sodas to some of the best Indian food in town and a large selection of wine and beer, including some on tap. From 4 to 8 p.m. March 18 through March 21, the store will host South by Suds, a music showcase that will help raise money for Whip In's latest project: a brewery.

• Chef Sam Mason, host of ‘Dinner with the Band' on IFC, will be shaking cocktails during a happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. March 18 at the IFC Crossroads House at 612 Brazos St.

• VegAustin.com and Austin blogger Lazy Smurf, aka Stephanie Bogdanich, are hosting a vegan bake sale from noon to 6 p.m. March 19 at Club de Ville during the BrooklynVegan party to raise money for Food for Life, an organization feeding Haitian and Chilean earthquake survivors vegan meals.

• Uchi is hosting its second annual East Meets Fest party from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 20 featuring bands as well as Japanese street food. It's a cab ride or a long hike from the convention center but well worth it if you want a sample of some of Austin's best food. The Octopus Project will be playing DJ between sets from Dana Falconberry, Woven Bones and the White White Lights.

For the past few years, Rachael Ray has been hosting one of the most talked-about parties during SXSW, always featuring great food and strong headliners. This year, Rachael Ray's Feedback is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 20 at Stubb's, the lineup includes She & Him, Jakob Dylan, Neko Case, Dr. Dog and Mishka.

abroyles@statesman.com; 912-2504