GMOs, José Andrés and #MeToo: A day-by-day guide to this year’s SXSW food programming

It’s been a busy start to the year for the people who plan and schedule South by Southwest. Just in the past few weeks, they’ve added a handful of panels to an already full food track. As in years’ past, this year’s food panels and speakers cover everything from food media and restaurants to technology in agriculture and food innovation.

José Andrés has become an outspoken critic of the Trump administration, but he also became internationally known for his relief effort in Puerto Rico after last year’s hurricane. Contributed by Seth Browarnik via The New York Times.

José Andrés will join frequent SXSW speaker Andrew Zimmern to talk about his latest work in Puerto Rico, and Food Network mega star Tyler Florence will lead two panels, one about celebrity chefs and another about food technology.

RELATED: Explore all our SXSW coverage here

Iron Chef Cat Cora, OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles, former Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin, cookbook author Christina Tosi and Helen Hollyman, the founding editor-in-chief of Munchies, are all involved in programming that will touch on the recent #MeToo movement and inequality in the food world.

Below, you’ll find all of this year’s food panels in chronological order, along with the appropriate hashtags and location. You’ll need a SXSW badge to attend these sessions.

Instagram and other visual media have changed how we think about food and how people in the industry tell their own food story. Several panels during this year’s SXSW will address this issue. Contributed by SXSW

March 10

5 to 6 p.m.

Kintsugi, the Art of Japanese WellnessAuthor and chef Candice Kumai will read from her forthcoming book, “Kintsugi Wellness,” which is about finding balance, peace and health through the modern application of ancient, traditional healing practices. #Kintsugi,  Austin Convention Center, Room 10AB

Milk Bar book signing: Christina Tosi, the author of several Milk Bar cookbooks and co-host of “Master Chef Junior” will sign copies of her latest in the SX Bookstore.

Bytes & Barolo: How Tech is Transforming Wine is a panel on March 12 that will discuss the many uses of modern technology in winemaking, wine marketing and wine consumption. Contributed by SXSW

March 12

9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

The Evolution of the Eating Ecosystem: What does today’s connected kitchen look like? Tyler Florence will chat with Google Assistant’s Ye-Jeong Kim and Josh Sigel of Innit about how everyday eating technology is making cooking less complicated, stressful and time-consuming for home cooks. #EatInnit, JW Marriott, Salon AB

Monk of Mokha: The Story of Yemeni Coffee: This is your chance to hear Mokhtar Alkhanshali’s heart-pounding story of being kidnapped in Yemen while on a coffee expedition in 2015. Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco the son of Yemeni immigrants but didn’t know anything about the country’s long coffee history until he was an adult. After that experience in the ongoing Yemeni civil war, he is now using coffee to tell a much deeper story about what’s going on internationally. The co-founder of Sprudge, Jordan Michelman, will interview Alkhanshali, who is the subject of Dave Eggers’s latest nonfiction book, “The Monk of Mokha.” #monkofmokha, JW Marriott, Salon C

11 a.m. to noon

Cook Out Loud: How to Create the Shift for a Better Restaurant Culture: Helen Hollyman, the founding editor-in-chief of Munchies, will lead a conversation with a handful of female chefs, including Ashley Christensen, Ashleigh Martin, Sarah Grueneberg and Carla Rza Betts, to talk about the transformative changes happening in the industry to reduce sexism and harassment in the restaurant industry. JW Marriott, Salon AB

Taking Mass Extinction Off the Seafood Menu: The James Beard Foundation assembled this panel of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Sea Creatures Restaurants and Duna Fisheries to talk about practical ways to save at risk fish populations. #JBFImpact, JW Marriott, Salon C

Speaking Broadly: Live podcast recording with Dana Cowin and Martha Hoover: Longtime Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin interviews this year’s winner of Eater’s Restaurant Empire Builder of the Year award Martha Hoover, who runs Patachou in Indianapolis. #speakingbroadly, Fairmont, Wisteria Room

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Shaping the Future of Bread: Eater’s Matt Buchanan will interview Modernist Cuisine author Nathan Myhrvold about his new tome on bread.JW Marriott, Salon AB

Women Who Create & Curate Culinary Careers: Santana Caress Benitez of I’ll Cook Like Your Mother, Esther Choi of Mokbar & Ms. Yoo, Ashley Holt of Sugar Monster Sweets and Elle Scott of SheChef will talk about the importance of networks and community to the advancement of women and minorities in many culinary fields. #HerFoodStory, JW Marriott, Salon C

2 to 3 p.m.

The Restaurant of the Future: How will the pressures of restaurants today reshape the industry as a whole in the next five to 10 years? Joy Crump of Foode, Mitchell Davis of The James Beard Foundation, Arielle Johnson of MIT Media Lab and Josh Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken & Sunday Dinner Club will talk about how consumer preferences, food and climate policy, social and economic change, gender and diversity issues, technological advances and other forces play a role in the evolution. #futureofrestaurants, JW Marriott, Salon AB

How to Build a Digital Brand and Cultivate Community: What’s Gaby Cooking blogger Gabriella Dalkin, Ellen Bennett from Hedley & Bennett and Kendall Coleman of Williams-Sonoma will talk about building brands and community in a content- and metrics-driven digital universe. JW Marriott, Salon C

3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Changing the World Through Food: Jose Andrés, Dana Cowin and Andrew Zimmern will sit down for what will easily be the biggest food event of this year’s SXSW. Andrés has recently earned international acclaim for his recent work feeding thousands of hurricane survivors in Puerto Rico, but in this chat with Zimmern and Cowin, they will all talk about the revolutionary ways food impacts the lives of people around the world.Austin Convention Center, Ballroom EFG

Algae, Not Animals: The Plant-Based Revolution: Philip Bromley of Virun, Thomas Delauer of PuraThrive, Ben Kelly of Algarithm and Anita Norian of Kemin Human Nutrition and Health will talk about the new innovations in plant-based food products, including algae. JW Marriott, Salon C

Bytes & Barolo: How Tech is Transforming Wine: Camilla Marcus of TechTable, Florencia Palmaz of Palmaz Vineyards, Rob Wilder of Jose Andres’ ThinkFoodGroup and Heini Zachariassen of Vivino will discuss the many uses of modern technology in winemaking, wine marketing and wine consumption. JW Marriott, Salon AB

5 to 6 p.m.

The Future of Food Delivery: Walmart executive Kelly Boyle will join Ben Lipson of Doordash and Robyn Metcalfe of Food & City magazine to talk about the many changes happening inside the global supply chain and food delivery industry, many of which are designed for consumers not to notice. JW Marriott, Salon C

Influencing Food Culture & Policy Through Film & TV: Chefs Tyson Cole and Matt Moran will talk with Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam and Lydia Tenaglia of Zero Point Zero Productions about how TV and film is shaping both food culture and the food system and how they all approach storytelling. #filmfoodpolicy, JW Marriott, Salon AB

Technology, including artificial intelligence, is already helping farmers today. Learn how in a panel on March 13. Contributed by SXSW

March 13
9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Inspiring the Next Creators: What Will They Create?: Marc Demarest will interview Eanes ISD superintendent Tom Leonard, Casey Smith of Cooking Up Cultures and Foo Swasdee of Dr. Foo’s Kitchen about keeping an eye on industry changes and adapting quickly. JW Marriott, Salon C

Plant-Based & Clean Meat Will Save The World! Ethan Brown of Beyond Meat, Alexis Fox of Lighter, Bruce Friedrich of The Good Food Institute and David Kay of Memphis Meats will talk about what’s happening on the cutting edge of food innovation that aims to reduce or eliminate industrialized agriculture, even as global meat consumption skyrockets. #FutureOfFood, JW Marriott, Salon AB

11 a.m. to noon

Pedaler’s Palate: Food, Cycling + How They Collide: Cyclists and food lovers Lentine Alexis, Kate Powlison, Alaina Sullivan and Tom Vanderbilt will talk about how motion impacts the way we crave what we crave, how it shapes our sense of taste, and how using a bike to get around or exercise impacts what we choose to eat and how we enjoy meals and food. JW Marriott, Salon C

The Community, Culture & Science of Barbecue: Davey Griffin of AgriLife Extension Service, “Hardcore Carnivore” author Jess Pryles, Ray Riley of Rosenthal Meat Center and Jeff Savell of Texas A&M will talk about the popularity of barbecue and the community around it, as well as the passion for learning the science behind the flavor.  Courtyard Marriott, Rio Grande Ballroom

Silicon Valley to Restaurants: The Path to Equality: OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles will talk about why women are largely missing from leadership roles in both Silicon Valley and the restaurant industry and how you can implement strategies to create a more positive and inclusive company culture. JW Marriott, Salon AB

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Meet the Kitchen of the Future: Trends in Food Tech: Famed “Iron Chef” Cat Cora will join Jared Costa of Miele, Jane Francisco of Good Housekeeping and Carley Knobloch of HGTV will talk about how American cooks are actually using technology in their kitchens, including automation, smartphones and appliances that can help you cut down on food waste. JW Marriott, Salon AB

Modern Farms: Is the Future of Farming in Technology?: Eliza Barclay of Vox will interview two very different farmers: Don Cameron of the 6,000-acre conventional California farm called Terranova Ranch and Fred Haberman, who runs Urban Organics, one of the country’s largest indoor aquaponics farms. #modernfarms, JW Marriott, Salon C

2 to 3 p.m.

Changing Restaurant Culture Meet Up: Alba Huerta of Julep and Alex Raij of Txikito will lead a meet-up about how the restaurant industry is responding to the #MeToo movement. JW Marriott, Room 209
New Mediums to Tell Authentic Food Stories: Shanna Keller of Whole30, Beth Lipton of Clean Plates, Sarah Russo of PRE Brands and Alex Snodgrass of The Defined Dish will talk about how much today’s influencer-based digital food culture relies on authenticity and transparency. Learn how brand marketers, news outlets, influencers and consumers can benefit from it. #foodstory, JW Marriott, Salon AB

AI Will Help Feed a Growing Planet: George Kantor of Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute will lead this session about how the agriculture industry is embracing artificial intelligence, not just for planting crops but for many steps of the agricultural process. JW Marriott, Salon C

3:30 to 4:30 p.m

Displaced Kitchens: Community Empowerment via Food: Jabber Al-Bihani Jr. and Nas Jab, who run a startup called Komeeda, will talk about the ways Americans are starting to address the policies that disempower marginalized communities and finding new ways to empower them through food. #eatKomeeda, JW Marriott, Salon C
Disruptive Tech in Your Home Cannabis Kitchen: With marijuana legalization sweeping the country, more food and beverage businesses are getting into the cannabis space, and this panel brings together four of them: Warren Bobrow of Cocktail Whisperer, Andrea Drummer of Elevation VIP Cooperative, Shanel Lindsay of Ardent and Caroline Rustigian Bruderer of K-Line Productions. JW Marriott, Salon AB

5 to 6 p.m. 
Re-Imagining How America Can Reduce Food Waste: Anthony Bourdain won’t be at the festival this year, but Anna Chai, who directed “Wasted,” the food documentary his production company released last year, will be. She’ll talk about the epidemic of food waste with Marco Canora of Hearth, Kris Moon of The James Beard Foundation and Danielle Nierenberg of Food Tank. JW Marriott, Salon C<

What’s the latest news about GMO in food? Hear from a panel on March 14 during this year’s SXSW. Contributed by SXSW.

March 14
11 a.m. to noon

The Biggest Threats to Your Brain and Health: Jess Barron of, Jeff Chean of Groundwork Coffee, Sarah Endline of Sweetriot and Peter Work of Ampelos Vineyard & Cellars will talk about how dependent the coffee and wine industries are on pesticides and what that means for consumers who love them both. JW Marriott, Salon C

The Era of Camera-First Food: Lior Lev Sercarz of La Boite, Helen Todd of Sociality Squared, Thomas Schauer of Taste in Motion and Michael Friedl of Advantage Austria — a chef, social media expert, food photographer  and a diplomat — will talk about how much photography influences what we eat, from online and in-store grocery shopping to picking where we’re going to eat out next. #camerafood, JW Marriott, Salon AB

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

A Progressive Food System Through Gene Editing: Michael Doane of The Nature Conservancy will lead a conversation with Matthew Crisp of Benson Hill Biosystems, Sara Eckhouse of FoodShot Global and Sanjeev Krishnan of S2G Ventures about how gene editing can empower “a robust community of innovators to tap the natural genetic diversity of plants and develop more nutrient-dense crops, scale local indoor agriculture, manage diseases with less pesticides and use natural resources more efficiently.” JW Marriott, Salon C

We All Scream For Ice Cream: Building A Movement: Maryellis Bunn, founder of the Museum of Ice Cream, will talk about her Miami playland dedicated to sweets. JW Marriott, Salon AB

2 to 3 p.m.

Food Mktg Claims – The Equivalent of “Fake News”?: Jay Hill of USFRA, Culver’s executive Joseph Koss, Rebecca Larson of the Western Sugar Cooperative and nutrition consultant Rosanne Rust will talk about the effects of what are called “absence claim-based products” to their product lines, but these foods have marketing claims that can have negative effects on a company’s reputation. JW Marriott, Salon C

The Original Celebrity Chefs & Restauranteurs: Food Network stars Tyler Florence and Amanda Freitag will talk with Ti Martin of Commander’s Palace and Noah Rothbaum of The Daily Beast will gather to talk about the first generation of celebrity chefs, going all the way back to Auguste Escoffier, and why many of these pioneers are forgotten in this most recent culinary boom. JW Marriott, Salon AB

3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Mesopotamia to Millennials: Beer & Food Connection: How have food and beer been connected, from their inception to today’s craft beer and gastropub craze? That’s what Alison Tozzi Liu of the James Beard Foundation, Jake Maddux of the Brewer’s Table, Richard Martin of Food Republic and Caroline Wallace of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild will discuss. #foodandbeer, JW Marriott, Salon AB

GMO 2.0: Beyond Monsanto: Canadian fruit grower Neal Carter will join Roots of Change founder Michael Dimock, “Food Evolution” director Scott Hamilton Kennedy and Diana Horvath of 2Blades Foundation will talk about how GMOs are bringing about major changes to the food system to reduce food waste and pesticides and make a more equitable food system. #beyondmonsanto, JW Marriott, Salon C

5 to 6 p.m.

Teaching Old-School Restaurants New Tech Tricks: Chefs Sam Hellman-Mass of Suerte, Kati Luedecke of Killa Wasi and Thomas Nguyen of Peli Peli come together to talk about how technology has changed the way we see, cook, eat and even get food delivered, but restaurants are the serious “old dogs” refusing to learn new tricks. So why do restaurants cling to their old-school ways and how do they change? JW Marriott, Salon C

One of Austin’s longest-running organic farms is taking a ‘breather’

After 25 years, Tecolote Farm is taking a break.

David and Katie Pitre have owned Tecolote Farm since 1993. They announced last week that they were pausing their community-supported agriculture program, which is the longest-running CSA in Texas. Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In the mid-1990s, when Katie and David Pitre planted their first crops at their land just east of Austin, no one had heard of a community-supported agriculture program or an email newsletter or a locavore, but that didn’t stop them from starting what is likely the longest-running CSA in the state of Texas.

RELATED: Texas’ oldest CSA has seen community, farm industry transform

Happy 175th to the French Legation and Boggy Creek farmhouse

The CSA officially started in 1994, and despite all the ups and downs that come with running a farm, the Pitres have kept the CSA going, even as more farms, farmers markets and CSAs opened in the area.

Boggy Creek Farm, considered one of the earliest urban farms in the country, opened in 1992 and still operates with several farmstands a week. Hairston Creek opened near Burnet in 1990 and got its organic certification in 1993. In 2006, Green Gate Farm opened its organic farm on the other side of what is now the SH 130 toll road.

But this year, they are taking a “semi-sabbatical” to take a “breather,” and that includes stopping the produce delivery program. “We won’t be doing our CSA this year, so production will be lessened,” they wrote. “Our kitchen garden will be a farmer’s version of one, so we will definitely have surpluses from time to time in the next year ahead, and will show up at market at those times. We are excited for this opportunity to reassess the farm’s direction. We are not retiring, simply looking at how best to shape Tecolote moving forward.”

David Pitre examines herbs and other young plants in his farm’s greenhouse. KATIE URBASZEWSKI/WESTLAKE PICAYUNE

This news comes just a few weeks after Springdale Farm announced that it had sold to developers and would close at the end of summer to make way for some new buildings on the property that is now used to grow food for the farmstand.

AUSTIN FOUND: What did Austin’s farmers markets look like in the 1970s and 1980s?

Amid the ‘farm-to-fable’ controversy, what does it really mean to ‘eat local’?

Here are a few more details from the Tecolote newsletter:

Keeping 20 to 30 crops growing sufficiently well at any given time so as to ensure diversity, plan for abundance, as well as anticipate loss (bugs, weather, pestilence, disease) is an amazing feat here in Central Texas. Don’t mind if we do admit that we do it pretty well. We will continue growing this year on a much smaller scale, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear that we’ll be at a farmers market here and there via our email newsletter, or that we’re supplying a local restaurant with some of our surplus produce. However, the CSA and large scale market production is definitely on hold for 2018, and we will let our future plans be known after we scale back, step back, and assess our plans, hopes, and dreams for the next 25 years.

We appreciate y’all so very much. We will miss seeing you every Saturday in 2018:  it’s what we’ve been doing since we were as old as our son Zachary is now! However, there is much work to do on the farm that gets neglected when we’re busy 24/7. Our fall/winter “off-season” has been shrinking every year, as our wholesale and restaurant business has grown, and the projects are piling up. We will be playing catch up on those projects, taking on some odd jobs (David’s already lining up work doing electrical wiring and mechanical repairs), and venturing into other sustainable farm projects. You have fed us with your loyalty and support, and we will miss feeding you in 2018. Thank you for your understanding, and please stay connected with our other farm endeavors in the meantime. Please keep your Tecolote loyalty intact until further notice! We hope to host some celebrations this year on the occasion of the farm’s Quarter Century Anniversary.

With $70,000 up for grabs, H-E-B wants to hear your best food ideas

H-E-B’s annual Quest for Texas Best contest has brought more than 200 products to grocery store shelves across Texas.

In 2016, the Texas Pie Company in Kyle won $25,000 for these frozen pie dough pucks. Two years later, the city is trying to brand itself the Pie Capital of Texas thanks to owner Julie Albertson’s success with her bakery and spin-off grocery store product.

The Texas Pie Company in Kyle won the H-E-B Quest for Texas Best contest in 2016. Photo from Texas Pie Company.

Last year’s overall winners were Skull & Cakebones, the company founded in Austin almost five years ago by Sascha Biesi and Yauss Berenji, who took home $25,000 for their vegan desserts in a jar.

As a judge at the 2017 contest, I tasted a barbecue sauce that raised money for veterans’ groups, a pecan cake from a family in Bertram and the famous tomatillo sauce from Mi Tierra in San Antonio. These dips, drinks, snacks, sauces, frozen meals and fresh ideas come from everyday Texans who started with a wild food idea.

You might remember they had a Super Bowl commercial about it.

This year’s fifth annual competition is open to applicants through March 18, and if you’re curious about the process, you can sign up to attend an event on Tuesday at the Sustainable Food Center, 2921 E. 17th St. At 2:30 p.m. Feb. 27, H-E-B officials will be on hand to answer questions from local business owners and enterprising entrepreneurs who want to know more about the $70,000 in prize money and process of getting on the stores’ inventory list.

The event is free, but attendees are asked to register here. To officially enter the Quest for Texas Best contest or learn more about it, go to


Upscale kitchen, home store near downtown closing March 5

Kettle & Brine, the kitchen and housewares store that opened a few years ago in a small strip center on North Lamar Boulevard and 12th, announced this week that it would be closing soon.

Kettle & Brine is located at 904 W. 12th St. It will close on March 5, but the owner said in a newsletter that there are plans in the work for another location. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Since fall of 2015, owner Tarica Navarro stocked beautifully designed home goods that brought as much form as function into a home. In a newsletter a few days ago, she said that it was time to close the current location to focus on a sister brand called Kinn and possibly move into another location.

From the email:

Alas, it’s time to move on. You might have heard, big things are brewing for us this year. Growing pains are hard, and a part of that is closing down our beloved shop at 12th and Lamar. But fret not, you’ll still be able to buy your favorite things online. Stay tuned for our next location which will also house our up and coming new sister brand Kinn. Sign up for updates and write us your thoughts on where you would like to see us next!

The store won’t officially close until March 5, and you will still be able to shop for some of the products online at

Austin restaurants pay market fees for local farmers, ranchers amid chilly sales

The owners of Odd Duck and Barley Swine know that this time of year can be rough on local farmers and ranchers.

Farmers and ranchers at the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown and Sunset Valley didn’t have to pay booth fees in January, thanks to a donation from Odd Duck and Barley Swine. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Unlike many areas of the country where farmers markets shut down over the winter, our local markets operate year-round, but that doesn’t mean they are busy year-round.

That’s why, for the second year, the restaurants have paid the booth fees for all the farmers and ranchers at the Sustainable Food Center farmers’ markets downtown and in Sunset Valley. The donation of more than $4,500 paid the booth fees for 63 farmers and 49 ranchers for the month of January.


“We’re so appreciative of Odd Duck/Barley Swine’s support of the SFC Farmers’ Markets and vendors,” Joy Casnovsky, deputy director of SFC, said via email.  During this tough time of the year, not having to pay booth fees can be the difference between a farmer or rancher making a profit at a market or not.

RELATED: Restaurants scheduled to open in Austin in 2018

Tales from the top: Bryce Gilmore’s blueprint for success

Bryce Gilmore is head chef and owner of Barley Swine at 6555 Burnet Road in North Austin.

Chef/owner Bryce Gilmore and his team have long been dedicated shoppers at the Austin-area farmers markets since he first opened a food truck in 2009.

“It’s our way of saying thank you to all the farmers for their hard work, especially when the challenges of the winter can result in less produce available to bring to the markets,” Gilmore said via email. “I figured it’d be nice for them to not worry about the booth fee when they have less to sell along with fewer customers shopping at the market.”


How do you cook octopus anyway? Use high heat, mind the beak

I’ve been a fan of octopus since I lived in Spain, where it is used in several traditional dishes.

In Galicia in the Northwestern part of Spain, you’ll find thick tentacles sliced into thin discs and coated in olive oil and paprika, often served with potatoes. In other places, you’ll find baby octopi or a few single tentacles sauteed in olive oil and garlic or grilled until the ends coil up and have a nice crisp.

These baby octopus have been prepped — by removing the hard center where you’ll sometimes find a beak — and are ready to cook. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

When I tried to recreate octopus at my apartment in Southern Spain, I often used a canned octopus preserved in its own ink. It sounds terrible, but that deep purple fried octopus and rice became one of my favorite home-cooked dishes during my year there.

Until earlier this week, I’d never worked with whole baby octopi, but thanks to the newly opened H-Mart, I got the chance. After searching the internet for cleaning instructions, I removed the hard(ish) center — there weren’t any actual beaks in these — and any membranes I found in the head. Taking the European route, I soaked them in a marinade made with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. (If you watch the livestream where I demonstrate this, you’ll see I also used a lemon powder I made recently with dried lemon peels.)

My kids were really worried I was going to choke on the suckers, which have been known to cling to an eater’s throat.

RELATED: Why Austin’s new H-Mart is a ‘grocery shopping game changer’

When it’s not raining, I’ll try these again over a hot grill, but with our wet weather, I decided to simply cook them in a hot cast iron skillet. I’ve found that you really want some high heat here to cook them quickly and try to get some caramelization on the suckers and the tentacles.

Because they are small, you don’t have to dip them in a pot of boiling water, which is what you might have seen instructed for larger octopus.

Cooked octopus will curl up at the ends and have an even density throughout the flesh. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The quick stint in the marinade was enough to season the octopi thoroughly and the oil meant I didn’t need to add any to the pan. After about 5 to 7 minutes over a high heat, most of the octopi were cooked through. The thicker ones needed a little more time.

I served these baby octopi with fresh Japanese-style noodles that I also picked up at H-Mart. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

After they were all cooked, I chopped them into smaller pieces and cooked up a package of fresh Japanese noodles I also picked up at H-Mart. I didn’t use any typically Asian seasoning, though, so I stuck with olive oil and garlic salt when I served it.

During the livestream yesterday, several people commented about the ways they cook octopus now or grew up eating it. If you have techniques, seasoning suggestions or tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.


Why Austin’s new H-Mart is a ‘grocery shopping game changer’

[cmg_anvato video=”4328369″]

Austin finally has an H-Mart. In less than two weeks, we’ll get 99 Ranch Market.

H-Mart opened its first Austin store last week, and shoppers are still flocking there in droves. On Monday afternoon, the store was packed elbow-to-elbow. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

If you’ve ever lived in Houston or New York or Los Angeles or Chicago, you know what a big deal this is to have two of the country’s biggest and best-known Asian grocers opening within a month of each other.

“When H Mart comes to town, that’s when you know your city has graduated to the big leagues of Asian groceries,” Peter Tsai said on Instagram.

“Grocery shopping game changer for sure,” is how @theburgervore put it. “This is even nicer than the one in Houston or Dallas!”

Having been to both a 99 Ranch Market and Austin’s new H-Mart within the past week, I can concur: These are the biggest grocery openings since Whole Foods’ 365 or even when Trader Joe’s first opened in Central Texas in 2013.

On Friday, when I was visiting family in California, I went to a 99 Ranch Market in San Diego and bought mochi, thin slices of pork belly and pineapple drinking vinegar. On Monday, I shopped at H-Mart at 11301 Lakeline Blvd. in Northwest Austin for sashimi, kimchi, miso and baby octopus. These were my first visits to both of these chains, but from what I’m hearing on social media, my first impression aligns with what longtime shoppers already know: These grocery chains mean serious business.

RELATED: International markets offer glimpse of a growing Austin

They cater first and foremost to shoppers with cultural roots in the nearly 50 countries that make up Asia, but they know that there are millions of shoppers like me who didn’t grow up eating and cooking very much authentic Asian food but are increasingly familiar with the ingredients and culinary styles. Both stores have figured out how to sell thousands of products to people along all ends of this spectrum, not dumbing down the marketing materials or store presentation to cater to non-Asians while also making the shopping experience inclusive enough to be enjoyable to someone who has never shopped in an international market before.

Asian housewares and kitchen goods are among the many non-food products available at H-Mart in Northwest Austin. AmericansAddie Broyles / American-Statesman

The first Austin location of 99 Ranch Market doesn’t open until March 3, but this new H-Mart is slick. It’s housed in a huge, 68,670-square-foot space that used to be a Sports Authority and Bed Bath & Beyond. The owners painted the ceiling black so it doesn’t look so cavernous, and each section is well labeled to help shoppers sort through the products. The aisles are compact with end caps selling the hottest items, from canned lattes to frozen fish balls.

The store has a different vibe than the 100,000-square-foot MT Supermarket over on North Lamar, which opened in 1984 and will continue to maintain the title of “Austin’s largest Asian store,” but it’s more similar to Hana World Market on Parmer Lane or Han Yang on Airport Boulevard, two large Korean markets that some longtime shoppers, including Tsai, say are likely already feeling the pressure to compete with H-Mart. Hana World Market opened in 2011, and Han Yang has been around since the mid 1990s.

One of the biggest draws to both Hana World Market and H-Mart are the food courts, where you can grab a bite to eat. The Austin location of H-Mart is home of the company’s first Market Eatery concept, where you’ll find sushi, Korean barbecue and fried chicken, Taiwanese shaved ice, a Tous Les Jours bakery, as well as live music and a craft beer bar. You’ll also find a cosmetic counter and a place to buy window treatments, including blinds and curtains.

H-Mart and 99 Ranch Market sell meat that is already sliced for Korean barbecue, Japanese hotpot and Vietnamese pho. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

North Austin was an obvious location for both new supermarkets, but as a resident of South Austin who lives not too far from several Korean churches and often laments the lack of Asian and Middle Eastern markets south of Lady Bird Lake, I asked the company if South Austin was on their radar for a possible second location.

“We explored all options when looking for a location. However, this specific location [in North Austin] gave us the best opportunity to create a huge, redesigned H-Mart and 25,000 square feet for the Market Eatery,” Stacey Kwon, president of H-Mart and daughter of the chain’s founder and CEO Il Yeon Kwon, said in an email. “Right now, we are focusing our efforts on making this location have one of the best and most customer-oriented experiences, so we are devoting 100 percent of our attention to that. But, that said, we certainly see the potential for expansion in Austin and are excited to be a part of the community.”

To take you on a virtual tour of the space, here are ten things to look out for when you get there:

H-Mart carries produce you’d find at other American grocery stores, but also specialty produce that’s harder to find. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
  1. Dragonfruit greet you at the door. Turmeric, purple potatoes, pomelos tease your cart. Greens, green onions, carrots line the wall.
At international markets, including MT Supermarket, Hana World Market and the newly opened H-Mart, shoppers will find pots, pans and other kitchen tools that you can’t find elsewhere. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

2. Ceramic nonstick cooking pans, called Eco-Tech Pots, take up much of the kitchen section, but you’ll also find all the fun bowls, tea sets and kawaii kid stuff you’d expect at an Asian houseware store.

H-Mart has live fish tanks, but most of the seafood is sold fresh or frozen. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

3. You won’t find quite as many live fish tanks as you’ll find at MT Supermarket, but they do have fish swimming in beautiful blue tanks in the back corner of the store. Most of the shoppers were buying frozen and fresh fish, shellfish and octopus by the pound from fishmongers stationed in the middle of two rows of seafood.

During a trip to H-Mart on Monday, I bought a tray of cubed tuna, salmon and tilapia. To introduce poke to my kids, I served them bowls of rice with the raw fish on top and the poke ingredients on the side so they could experiment mixing and matching the flavors. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

4. Also in the seafood section, you’ll find sashimi-grade sushi to make your own poke, sashimi or nigiri. You can find the whole filets so you can practice cutting it at home, or you can buy a pick tray of sushi that looks fresher than any other you’ve seen at a grocery store.

Whole Foods’ 365 store in Cedar Park might have a self-serve mochi bar that looks similar to this, but these are savory fish balls that you can serve fried, steamed, simmered or sauteed. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

5. Whole Foods’ 365 store just up U.S. 183 wins the mochi game with its mochi bar, but H-Mart has the same self-serve setup with more than a dozen kinds of frozen fish balls, which can be fried, simmered, steamed or sauteed.

Dry-aged beef can be hard to find at everyday supermarkets, but H-Mart is selling both T-bone steaks and ribeyes that have been dry-aged. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

6. Few grocery stores, if any, sell dry aged prime T-bones and ribeyes, especially those that the butcher will slice fresh for you, but you’ll find both at H Mart. Also in the meat section, you’ll find rolled-up frozen meats, thinly sliced, ready for Vietnamese pho or the Japanese hotpot called shabu-shabu, as well as slightly thicker cuts for Korean barbecue.

RECIPE: Korean Chile-Braised Brisket and Kimchi Coleslaw

To make many Asian dishes, you need thin slices of pork and beef, which are readily available at both H-Mart and 99 Ranch Market. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

7. The Indian aisle of H-Mart is strong, too. Lentils, big bags of spices and snacks fill most of the shelves.

Even though there are a number of dedicated Indian markets in the area, H-Mart also includes a sizable section with lentils, legumes and spices often found in Indian cuisine. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

8. Kimchi and other banchan — the side dishes served alongside rice in Korean — fill one corner of the store, right next to the frozen dumpling section, which is divided by cuisine.

RELATED: Oh Kimchi founders keep Korean traditions alive, with an Austin spin

The frozen dumpling section is categorized by cuisine. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
You’ll find an entire section of H-Mart dedicated to kimchi and other fermented and dried side dishes. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
Just a few of the many traditional Korean snacks and side dishes available at H-Mart. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

9. The food court is hoppin’, and my gut tells me it will be for some time. With more than half a dozen eateries, including Tous les Jours bakery, SnoMo shaved ice, a Korean fried chicken place and a craft beer bar, it’ll compete with just about every other lunch option in the area.


The beer bar inside the newly opened H-Mart is called Let Them Talk. On Monday, the store had a band performing on a stage in the Market Eatery food court. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

10. The crowds will be thick for weeks to come, but this store is a great place to take your kids. When we go to international markets, I always let mine pick out products that appeal to them, even if it’s a candy sushi-making kit or a $4 dragonfruit. For dinner last night, they made the “sushi” while I assembled poke bowls. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get them to try the octopus that’ll be on the menu tonight, but they are already asking when we’re going back to H-Mart.

My kids love picking out new candy, snacks and other fun surprises from international markets, including this “sushi” candy-making kit. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

This homemade harissa paste from America’s Test Kitchen seasons everything

Just when you think there are no new recipes or cooking techniques, America’s Test Kitchen comes in with a surprise, like blooming spices for this harissa-rubbed lamb in the microwave.

Many Americans only cook lamb around Easter, but you can use any number of cooking techniques and spices to prepare a special meal any time of year. This version from America’s Test Kitchen is rubbed with the Middle Eastern spice mix harissa. Contributed by Daniel J. Van Ackere

This dish is from one of the company’s new books, “How to Roast Everything: A Game-Changing Guide to Building Flavor in Meat, Vegetables, and More” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35),” which shows how you can build flavor by roasting everything from chicken, beef and pork roasts to broccoli, potatoes and peaches.

After rubbing this boneless leg of lamb — or a pork or beef roast or even chicken breasts — with the homemade harissa paste, you’ll brown the outside of the lamb before finishing in the oven to a juicy medium-rare. I recently made harissa potatoes using a dried harissa mix, but you could find many uses in your kitchen for this oil-based harissa paste.

In another genius step, the editors then toss cauliflower florets with the pan drippings and roast them until they are tender and browned. When mixed with carrots, raisins, cilantro and toasted almonds, the cauliflower makes a side that’s perfectly paired with this North African-inspired lamb. If you can’t find Aleppo pepper, substitute 3/4 teaspoon paprika and 3/4 teaspoon finely chopped red pepper flakes.

Harissa-Rubbed Roast Boneless Leg of Lamb with Cauliflower Salad

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground dried Aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper
1 (3 1/2‑ to 4‑pound) boneless half leg of lamb, trimmed and pounded to 3/4‑inch thickness
1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into 1‑inch florets
1/2 red onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

Combine 6 tablespoons oil, garlic, paprika, coriander, Aleppo pepper, cumin, caraway seeds and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl and microwave until bubbling and very fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring halfway through microwaving. Let cool to room temperature.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Set V-rack in large roasting pan and spray with vegetable oil spray. Lay roast on cutting board with rough interior side (which was against bone) facing up and rub with 2 tablespoons spice paste. Roll roast and tie with kitchen twine at 1 1/2-inch intervals, then rub exterior with 1 tablespoon oil.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown lamb on all sides, about 8 minutes. Brush lamb all over with remaining spice paste and place fat side down in prepared V-rack. Roast until thickest part registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), flipping lamb halfway through roasting. Transfer lamb to carving board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest while making salad.

Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees. Pour all but 3 tablespoons fat from pan; discard any charred drippings. Add cauliflower, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to pan and toss to coat. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until cauliflower is softened, about 5 minutes.

Remove foil and spread onion evenly over cauliflower. Roast until vegetables are tender and cauliflower is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting. Transfer vegetable mixture to serving bowl, add carrots, ­raisins, cilantro, almonds, and lemon juice and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Slice leg of lamb into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve with salad. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “How to Roast Everything: A Game-Changing Guide to Building Flavor in Meat, Vegetables, and More” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35)

Paint a hippo at the farmers market this weekend

Hippos will be at the SFC Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley this weekend.

This is one of the hippo sculptures that people at the Sunset Valley Farmers Market can help paint this weekend. Contributed by

Not just any hippos, of course. These are life-sized art hippos, ones that look like they are halfway submerged under the ground, from the Austin-based artist Faith Schexnayder.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, you can help paint them at the farmers market at 3200 Jones Road in Sunset Valley. The following Saturday (Feb. 25), the hippos and painting party will move to the downtown farmers market at Republic Square Park from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. It’s part of a launch for the Austin-based insurance company, Hippo, which is opening its second headquarters downtown.

The hippos will be auctioned off to benefit the Special Olympics of Texas.

From the archives: In love, wield your words like a sharp kitchen knife — carefully

Editor’s note: This story originally ran for Valentine’s Day 2011. For date night that year, my ex and I took a knife-skills class, and I wrote about it, finding parallels between love and knowing how to properly use a knife. We aren’t married anymore, but I still like the story. It has some helpful knife tips, but also some observations on love and trying to make it in a marriage. For what they are worth. PS: I’m still using that $130 Wusthof.

Love cuts like a knife, but don’t use your kitchen knife to cut paper. Deborah Cannon/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

They say love cuts like a knife, but anyone who has ever been married knows that it’s words, not love, that are required to get the proverbial dinner on the table.

But words are also what can do the most damage. The sharper they are, the swifter the cut, and if you don’t use them right, you’ll eventually draw blood.

To learn a little bit about using knives — both metaphorically and literally — as they are intended, I took my husband to a knife skills class at Whole Foods Market’s culinary center just a few weeks before Valentine’s Day.

Keeping a kitchen knife sharp can be tricky, especially if you don’t have the right sharpening tools. Addie Broyles/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Slicing a mango and bringing up the fact that your husband still hasn’t gone to get the car registered both require a delicate handling to pull off without doing any damage. There’s a right way to go about it that is both careful and intentional, and a wrong way, in which you hold the knife at the wrong angle and, in a split second, set the whole night off course. (Let’s just hope stitches aren’t involved.)

Instructor Jay Cusick quickly settled the score on one long-running issue between us: Knives and wooden utensils don’t belong in the dishwasher.

“Look down the blade at what you are about to cut,” Cusick tells the dozen or so students who have gathered around a large kitchen island. Not what you have cut or what you’d like to cut next. Focus on the consequences of your actions. Right. Now.

“Let the knife do what it is supposed to do.”

In 2011, Jay Cusick was a teacher at the Whole Foods Market Culinary Center, where he taught a knife skills. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Choosing the right tone is like choosing the right knife, and there is a time and a purpose for all kinds: the quotidian butter knife (an off-the-cuff “What’s for dinner?”) and the electric knife that only comes out once a year (the grave “We need to talk”). “Many knife injuries occur when laziness induces us to use the knife at hand rather than the correct knife for a job,” the class handout explains.

And then there is the chef’s knife. The everyday sturdy-handled silver workhorse that you can’t cook properly without but that needs proper maintenance to do its job. The day-to-day exchanges you have with your partner around which your lives rotate: planning vacations, paying bills and yes, figuring out what’s for dinner.

Chopping the knife up and down like a jackhammer is not what a chef’s knife is for. You are supposed to slide your knife through whatever you’re cutting, leaving the tip on the cutting board and pushing the blade back and forth, back and forth, dragging the tip of the knife on the wood. You should be able to glide the blade through even a hard sweet potato without too much pressure or force.

If you find yourself pushing too hard, your knife needs attention, and there’s a big difference between honing a knife and sharpening it.

It’s natural for a knife blade to curve to one side or the other after heavy use. By using a round steel rod at home, you can bring the still-sharp knife blade back to center and keep on cutting. But eventually, the blade in fact becomes dull and the only way to sharpen it properly is to take the knife to an expert who spends all day putting fresh edges on tired blades. (You can use a whetstone or electric sharpener at home, but both require a certain expertise.) But because sharpening a knife eventually whittles down the metal, you can only sharpen a knife so many times before it is worn beyond use.

The more frequently you hone your knife with a round steel rod at home, the less frequently you have to take it in for a big adjustment.

Over the past five years, Ian and I have done a lot of honing on our relationship. With two young kids and a still relatively new marriage, we’re constantly adjusting ­– in knife terms, realigning — how we handle even minuscule tasks like who takes out the trash and how socks should be folded. If we go too long without giving proper care and attention to our marriage, it just gets harder and harder to figure out how to get back on track.

Cusick tells us what a marriage counselor might tell a troubled couple: It’s not in class where you’re going to perfect your skills; it’s at home. Every grapefruit you cut into segments for breakfast, every slice of bread you saw off a French loaf for a sandwich, every onion you dice for dinner, you have to be aware of your technique and your tools.

And you don’t learn to turn a spiky pineapple into perfect cubes after one lesson. Proper knife skills take time to develop. “You have to make a correct attempt at it over and over again until the muscle memory sets in,” Cusick says. If your garlic isn’t perfectly minced one day, by all means don’t give up garlic altogether. “With time, practice and confidence, your speed will increase, but you do not need to look like a TV chef.”

Every person will grip a knife in a slightly different way, Cusick says, and inexpensive blades will get the job done, but it isn’t pleasant to use them. Treat yourself to a serious, well-made chef’s knife ­– I finally bit the bullet and bought a $130 Wusthof last year -­- and you’ll reap the reward for years to come.

Get one that feels right when you hold it. Then work with it in a way that maximizes comfort, control and safety while minimizing fatigue. Sound familiar?