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Eat & Drink Beat

This week in food: Olivia's new pastry chef, bacon, beer, free cheese and the official Austin drink hunt

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Olivia restaurant on South Lamar exterior
Pastry chef Finney Walter returned to Olivia this week. Photo courtesy of Olivia
Finney Walter Mettle
Finney Walter, formerly of Mettle, recently moved to serve as pastry chef at Olivia. Courtesy of Mettle/Facebook
Beer Bacon Restaurant
You know what goes with beer? Bacon. At least that's the theory behind  Austin's Bacon and Beer Festival this month. Bacon/Facebook
Bacon restaurant
Bacon restaurant will indeed participate in Austin's Bacon and Beer Festival this month. Bacon/Facebook
Austin Photo Set: molly_national margarita day_feb 2013_jack allens kitchen
What might Austin's official drink be? The Official Drink of Austin contest returns after a three-year hiatus. Courtesy of Jack Allen's Kitchen
Austin Photo Set: News_tiffany_New Years Food Trucks_dec 2011_chilantro taco
Chi'Lantro will compete against The Peached Tortilla in an Asian-fusion food truck contest. Courtesy of Chi'Lantro
Austin Photo Set: News_layne_peached tortilla_march 2013_truck
The Peached Tortilla will compete in an Asian-cuisine food truck throwdown. Peached Tortilla Courtesy of Peached Tortilla
Austin Photo Set: News_Monique_antonelli's free cheese_feb 2012_platter2
Antonelli's Cheese has much excitement up its sleeve, including the return of free cheese platters. Courtesy of Antonelli's Cheese Shop
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt_sommeliers_tastemakers_march 2013_nathan prater
Sommelier Nathan Prater won the Somms Under Fire Wine & Food Pairing Competition. Photo by Jessica Pages
Olivia restaurant on South Lamar exterior
Finney Walter Mettle
Beer Bacon Restaurant
Bacon restaurant
Austin Photo Set: molly_national margarita day_feb 2013_jack allens kitchen
Austin Photo Set: News_tiffany_New Years Food Trucks_dec 2011_chilantro taco
Austin Photo Set: News_layne_peached tortilla_march 2013_truck
Austin Photo Set: News_Monique_antonelli's free cheese_feb 2012_platter2
Austin Photo Set: News_Matt_sommeliers_tastemakers_march 2013_nathan prater

Street food wars — Two famed Austin food trucks — The Peached Tortilla and Chi'Lantro BBQ — will compete against one another on February 22 to prove once and for all (or for a little while, at least) who makes the best Asian-fusion cuisine in the city. During the throwdown, both trucks will prepare one existing menu item as well as one specialty dish that demonstrates their culinary chops. Event attendees will vote on the overall winner based on taste tests. Tickets are available at two price levels: a $20 ticket grants you admission, food from The Peached Tortilla and Chi’Lantro and a pint of New Belgium Snapshot Sour Wheat Ale, while a $28 ticket includes all the same perks plus a t-shirt. The exciting competition is hosted by FoodtrailerAustin.com.

Meat and booze — In partnership with Eat Boston, Edible Austin will host the first-ever Austin Bacon and Beer Festival on Saturday, February 22, at the Marchesa. The unconventional culinary event features a selection of — you guessed it — bacon-centric bites and a nose-to-tail hog demonstration from Salt & Time, as well as craft beers from around Central Texas. Founded in Boston four years ago by Eat Boston, the Bacon and Beer Festival has become popular across the nation in cities like Denver and San Francisco. A portion of the overall proceeds will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. The Austin Bacon and Beer Festival is open to anyone aged 21 years old or older. Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased here.

Olivia has a new pastry chef — Pastry chef Finney Walter has finally planted his roots after leaving Mettle earlier this year. According to a source close to the chef, Walter will return to James Holmes' Olivia. Here are a few of the desserts the chef is already whipping up for the South Lamar Boulevard restaurant:

Toast & Jam: grapefruit marmalade, malt, lemon lime mousse

Smoked Cherries: black olive marshmallow, chicory, balsamic

Whipped Chocolate Ganache: olive oil gum, pear, pistachio

Free cheese! Antonelli’s Cheese has some exciting events up its sleeve: The Hyde Park shop will host a free Pop-Up Chocolate Shop with Steve Lawrence of The Chocolate Maker's Studio at the Antonelli’s cheese house on Sunday, February 2, noon – 4 p.m. Additionally, the dairy shop has big plans for celebrating its fourth anniversary. Commencing Monday, February 10, it will carry out its annual tradition of giving away free cheese plates for a week at a handful of wholesale partners’ restaurants. All the restaurants noted below will begin offering free cheese plates at 5 pm, unless noted. Better hurry, because these plates will go fast!

Monday, Feb. 10: Cipollina and Easy Tiger

Tuesday, Feb. 11: Bess Bistro and Max’s Wine Dive

Wednesday, Feb. 12: 24 Diner and House Pizzeria

Thursday, Feb. 13: Bufalina (starts at 5:30 pm) and Qui

Friday, Feb. 14: Drink.Well

Sommelier wins big — Nathan Prater of The Red Room Lounge was awarded the winner of the Somms Under Fire Wine & Food Pairing Competition, which took place on January 26. During the high-tension contest, Prater and other contests were judged on their ability to select “perfect” wine and food pairings before being sent to a panel for explanation and critique. Prater was also selected as the fan favorite and scored highest on the theory-based entry exam.

Oasis beer The Austin beer scene has a fancy new participant: Oasis Texas Brewing Company will begin selling its unique line of beer (both canned and draft) starting this summer. Located in the Hill Country's new Oasis development, the company is lead by head brewer Spencer Tielkemeier, who has worked at both (512) Brewing Co. and Live Oak Brewing Co. Austinites can get a first taste of the new brews on Thursday, February 6, at the grand opening of the brewery’s adjacent space, The Mansfield.

A citywide drink – On Thursday, February 20, The Official Drink of Austin competition returns. The charitable booze event had been on hiatus for the past three years. The six competing bar teams — assembled from myriad local restaurants and bars — include qui, Weather Up, drink.well., Four Seasons Hotel, Midnight Cowboy and Whisler’s. Each of the six teams will be responsible for preparing a drink menu consisting of one long drink, an up drink and a shot and that features Texas spirits and ingredients with Austin-inspired roots. The event takes place at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center and will benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance's culinary grants program. Tickets cost $65 and are available through the Austin Food & Wine Alliance website.

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