The Week in Food

The week in food: El Arroyo loves McConaughey, Stiles Switch's barbecue beer and a new vegan food trailer

This week's food news: cheeky signs, new menus and new vegan projects

el arroyo matthew McConaughey sign
El Arroyo's cheeky congrats to Matthew McConaughey. El Arroyo/ Facebook
Thirsty Planet Brewing
Thirsty Planet teams up with Stiles Switch for the brand new Wandering Wood Smoked Porter. Thirsty Planet Brewing/ Facebook
interior dining space for The Hightower
The Hightower opens for lunch during SXSW. Photo courtesy of The Hightower/Facebook
Austin Photo Set: News_Adam_easy tiger_feb 2012_David Norman
David Norman from Easy Tiger was named one of the best bakers in the country. Courtesy of Easy Tiger
el arroyo matthew McConaughey sign
Thirsty Planet Brewing
interior dining space for The Hightower
Austin Photo Set: News_Adam_easy tiger_feb 2012_David Norman

This week in food brings us new beer, new ideas for vegan cuisine and new lunch menus. What else was going on?

Smoky beer
Barbecue and booze have collided at Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew. The North Lamar restaurant has been working diligently behind the scenes with local brewer Thirsty Planet Brewing to debut a new barbecue-inspired beer: the Wandering Wood Smoked Porter.

Thirsty Planet's master brewer Brian Smittle collaborated with Stiles Switch's owner-pitmaster Shane Stiles, smoking over 725 pounds of barley in the restaurant’s wood smoker to bring the limited-edition beer to life. As to how the drink gets its smoky flavor, Smittle says, "We take half of the two-row barley, place the barley on screens in the smoker, mist the grain down with water, and then fire up the smoker. As the grain dries, it absorbs the flavor of the smoke. [After it’s done drying,] we bring the grain back to the brewery and brew it the next day."

Thirsty Planet Brewery plans to release a new collaborative barbecue brew every year, changing the joint they work with each time. For those who want to get a taste of the new barbecue beer, Stiles Switch will be hosting a special unveiling on Thursday, March 13 at the restaurant, beginning at 4 pm and continuing into the evening.

Congrats to McConaughey
El Arroyo is certainly proud of Austin’s own Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey. The Mexican restaurant is known for posting its share of hilariously witty messages on its outdoor sign, but its recent heartfelt congratulations to the talented actor certainly takes the cake: “And the Oscar goes to the Naked Bongo player from Austin.”

Crowd-funded vegan food trailer
If you're a veggie fiend who is feeling rather generous, head on over to the Pulse Vegan Kickstarter page. The proposed culinary project is an upcoming food trailer that plans on serving a 100 percent vegan menu. The owner, Colin Andrew — a ten-year vegan veteran — already has the trailer secured and plans to use the raised funds to add necessary pieces of equipment, such as a commercial food processor, steam table and convection oven.

On the Kickstarter page, Andrew says, "Austin is a fantastic place to live and in my own small way, I want to direct my skills, experience, and creativity towards making Austin an even greater and more welcoming city than it already is. The menu I have developed for Pulse Vegan is big on flavor, with an emphasis on hearty, pleasurable food [that's] strongly influenced by Southern comfort cuisine. I'll be offering sandwiches, sides and platters with many unique and extraordinarily tasty options not found elsewhere in the city."

The Hightower to debut lunch menu
The Hightower is using next week's SXSW festivities to test out some enticing mid-day meals. This new addition to East Seventh will debut an assortment of fare for SXSW patrons and out-of-towners to feast on from March 8 - 16. The Hightower will unleash a permanent lunch menu the following week.

Here's a sneak peek of some of the dishes the restaurant plans to feature: fried chickpeas, marsala, orange aioli; blistered green beans, faro, honey mustard, candied pecans, leeks, mint; fries with cheddar sauce, crema, pinto beans, jalapeno puree; carnitas bruschetta on grilled sourdough, black thunder beer/cheese soup, mustard greens, radish; and hanger bruschetta on grilled sourdough, charred tomatoes, oyster mushrooms, shallot, aioli.

Easy Tiger features one of the 10 best bakers in the country
Dessert Professional has recognized local baker David Norman — head baker at Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden — as one of the top 10 bakers in America for 2013. The self-described "doughpuncher" tells the story of how Easy Tiger came about, his favorite breads, and where he sees the baking industry going in the coming years.

Mardi Gras donuts
Gourdough's is certainly in the Mardi Gras spirit with the debut of a seasonal King Cake donut. As should be expected, the fried pastry is covered in all things purple, yellow, green, frosting, sprinkles and general guilt-inducing ingredients. If you’re up for celebrating NOLA-style, you can pick up the $4.75 treat throughout the Mardi Gras season.

Mack Brown's post-game rituals
Ever wonder where Mack Brown ate out to celebrate his winning games? (Even if those wins seem like they happened years ago?) Well, not to burst your bubble, but the answer definitely isn't as exciting as you'd think. According to Mack Brown's Twitter-verse, the now-retired coach always went home after his Longhorn victories. So much for post-celebratory feasting.