Photo by Hanxiao on Unsplash

When Live Fire!, a Texas Food & Wine Alliance cookout, was rained out with no plans to reschedule, the organization had to look to off-menu options. The grilling extravaganza was meant to provide "a record-breaking amount" in grants, according to the nonprofit. But a new initiative is kicking the organization's plans back into gear with a recurring dinner series.

The "Off the Menu Supper Club" now joins the alliance's roster of events, including the "Wine and Dine" and "Wine and Swine" dinner series, the Taco Rumble, and more. All raise funds for grants across the culinary industry.

The new series, starting on June 8 at Camp Mabry, brings together four Austin chefs paying "tribute to the classic American chophouse," with grilled family-style surf and turf, caviar, oysters, cocktails, and desserts.

The grilled dishes will be prepared by Michael Fojtasek of Olamaie and Maie Day, Berty Richter of Ezov, Jakub Czyszczon of Garrison at Fairmont Austin, and Laura Sawicki of Oseyo. (As evidenced by all these links, these restaurants have all had a newsworthy few months, at least.) The chefs will use grills by Mill Scale Metal Works, based in Lockhart.

Cocktails come from DrinkWell's Jessica Sanders, using Tito's Handmade Vodka and spirits by High West Distillery. Those who'd prefer a glass of wine are invited to try vintages from Duckhorn Vineyards, DAOU, and Robert Mondavi.

What will tie other iterations of the series together is so far a mystery. The general formula for similar events brings together well-known chefs on a theme, so it's fair to assume that whatever the next theme is, the people getting it done will include more of Austin's favorite chefs.

The event on June 8 runs from 6:30-9 pm. Tickets ($175) are available on Eventbrite. Funds will support Texas Food & Wine Alliance to give grants, create educational opportunities, and host more events.

Photo by Diana Lott

Austin Oyster Festival celebrates 10 years of shucking good shellfish

Austin Oyster Cult

The world is your oyster, or at least Republic Square is, at the 10th Annual Austin Oyster Festival coming February 25th. Although Austin may be a little far inland to make oysters a large part of its everyday diet, this festival will gather the best in grilled and fried oysters, seafood dishes, cocktail pairings, and more, all benefiting the Central Texas Food Bank and Hope Campaign, a nonprofit creative network.

The outdoor festival includes four bars for different experiences and levels of knowledge. Foodies and supportive friends who don’t think much about the provenance of oysters will enjoy the grill and fry bars, which will cook up dishes that highlight shellfish, with lots of additional flavors including gumbo with rock shrimp and andouille sausage at the former.

More shrimp is in store at the Grill Bar, with Creole barbecue butter and grilled garlic bread, served to complement the smoked bacon Oysters Rockefeller. The Fry Bar is more sandwich focussed with po’boys and banh mis, plus fries on the side and banana pudding for dessert, in collaboration with Amy’s Ice Creams.

All visitors will have to stop by the Bloody Mary Bar, which enables lovers and skeptics of the cocktail alike to create a custom cocktail with toppings and add-ins that work for them. Sponsored by Bloody Revolution, an Austin-based bottled mix, the bar also offers Tito’s Handmade Vodka, wine by Brÿt, beers by Fredericksburg’s Altstadt Brewery, plus a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic seltzers.

Finally, advanced oyster lovers should explore the Raw Bar, with fresh oysters from the East, West, and northern coasts. (If you didn’t know there’s a northern coast, same, and the festival will be a great time to brush up on your coastal geography.)
That bar’s not all for hardcore fans, who can also sign up to access a VIP lounge with private tastings, sponsored cocktails, and snacks by Austin’s own Chef Shane Stark of Mongers Market + Kitchen, with help from 1417 French Bistro, Keepers Coastal Kitchen, and more local eateries.

Two bands — Blue Mist and The Lost Pines, and Chansons Et Soulards — will keep the Southern party going while guests enjoy the four bars and a raffle for local goodies. Volunteers will also swim around picking up oyster shells to reintroduce to local ecosystems thanks to the Texas Surf Conservancy and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

The Austin Oyster Festival will take place at Republic Square on February 25 from noon to 6 pm. Tickets ($70 general admission, $125 VIP, free for kids under 8) include varying amounts of vouchers to use at the bars, and are available at austinoysterfestival.com. Tickets may also be sold at the event, but usually sell out in advance.

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Top medical cannabis dispensary buds in Lakeline with new pickup store


Folks north of Austin can now find more relief closer to them with the opening of a new facility for cannabis prescription pickup.

Texas Original is now open in the Lakeline area at 10222 Pecan Park Blvd., continuing to expand the brand's services throughout Central Texas. While Austinites may be used to more recreational cannabis stores, Texas Original's main clientele are patients managing things like cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even dementia.

In Texas, patients can obtain medical cannabis prescriptions through online clinics or local physicians registered with the Compassionate Use Registry of Texas; In Texas Original's case, the dispensary connects candidates for medical cannabis with partnering clinics via an online form to close the loop between prescription and pickup.

Texas Original (formerly Compassionate Cultivation) opened the first public medical dispensary in the state (out of Manchaca) and started serving patients in 2018 with the motto “Grown for Texans by Texans.” The entire operation — from the cultivation of plants to the formulation of products — is based in the state. In 2023, Texas Original was named the best medical marijuana dispensary in the Austin American-Statesman's Community Choice Awards.

This is now Texas Original’s fourth location in Central Texas along with its headquarters and dispensary in South Austin, two other stores in Waco and San Antonio, and many others throughout the state.

“Opening a full-time pickup location that serves our growing community in North Austin and its surrounding suburbs is another step toward creating comprehensive medical cannabis access for all patients throughout Texas,” said CEO Nico Richardson in a release.

To celebrate the opening, Texas Original is partnering with a telehealth medicine clinic to offer free one-year prescriptions to 50 customers at the North Austin location on a first-come first-serve basis. Patients can visit the store this week to book an appointment with the telemedicine clinic’s registered physicians to receive a prescription for medical cannabis.

For more product information and hours of operation for all of Texas Original locations, visit texasoriginal.com. Hours of operation at Lakeline are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 am to 6 pm, with plans to expand to six days a week in the upcoming months.

Fantastic visuals and original story make The Creator a must-see sci-fi film

Movie Review

In the relatively risk-averse world that is modern Hollywood, getting an original story is a rarity. The vast majority of potentially blockbuster movies these days are ones that have a connection to some kind of existing intellectual property that already has a well-established track record. So anytime something interesting arrives that’s not a sequel/reboot/remake/commercial for a product, it deserves to be celebrated.

And that goes double when it’s done as well as the new sci-fi film, The Creator. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2065, 30 years after a sentient artificial intelligence detonated a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles. Joshua (John David Washington) is an American soldier who for years worked undercover alongside A.I.-enhanced robots, many of which are fitted with clones of human faces, to try to find their reclusive leader, Nirmata, in a part of the world now called New Asia.

A personal tragedy sends him into exile, but he’s recruited back into service by Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) to seek out and destroy a weapon that may turn the tide in the war for good. Turns out the weapon is a robot in the form of a child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), and when Joshua discovers that fact, he finds it impossible to carry out the mission. Instead, he does everything he can to protect the girl he calls Alphie, with the military hot on his tail all the while.

Written and directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) and co-written by Chris Weitz, the film is astonishing in a number of ways, but mostly for its ability to draw the viewer in visually. The CGI is amazingly believable, making it easy to immerse yourself in the storytelling. From a foreboding super-weapon in the sky called NOMAD to the futuristic landscapes to the whirring metal cylinders that appear to be the brains of the robots, the film is full of fantastic details that make it a feast for the eyes.

The concept of A.I. is increasingly being used as a storytelling tool, and here the filmmakers seem to try to play both sides of the fence. Many people in the film fear its capabilities, especially given the nuclear event. But by literally putting human faces on many of the robots, it becomes more difficult to see them as pure evil, a dilemma that’s at the core of the problem for both Joshua and the audience.

Washington, who’s fast becoming as reliably good as his father, Denzel, is the star of the film, and he does a great job in that role. But stealing the show every second she’s on screen is Voyles, who delivers a debut performance the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many years. She is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as Alphie; while the story may have worked with a lesser actor, she helps take it to completely different level.

Also putting in great work are Janney, who proves herself as badass and fearsome a military leader as any man; Mark Menchaca as her No. 2; Ken Watanabe as an A.I. robot; singer-turned-actor Sturgill Simpson as a friend of Joshua; and Gemma Chan, redeeming herself after the misfire of Eternals.

John David Washington in The Creator
Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

John David Washington in The Creator.

The Creator could’ve earned praise simply by giving us an original sci-fi story. But by accompanying it with awe-inspiring imagery and performances that elevate the story immeasurably, Edwards and his team have made a film that will likely be remembered for years to come.


The Creator opens in theaters on September 29.

Timeless elegance meets modern luxury with charming Old Enfield home

On The Market

Nestled gracefully within the historic enclave of Old Enfield, the two-story stone home at 2313 Hartford Road stands as a testament to the enduring allure of architectural charm and modern refinement.

From the moment you step inside, it's apparent that every aspect of this 3,453-square-foot residence has been meticulously crafted to create a space that seamlessly marries timeless tradition with contemporary sophistication.

The journey through this captivating abode commences in the formal living area, where an exquisite copper fireplace welcomes residents and guests alike, setting the tone for the mesmerizing style that unfolds throughout.

A culinary haven awaits within the architect-designed kitchen, featuring stainless steel countertops, double sinks, and a luxurious limestone floor and backsplash. A chef's dream, this space is equipped with double ovens, poised to bring culinary aspirations to life.

Venturing further, the grand living room beckons with its soaring seventeen-foot ceilings, a majestic stone fireplace, and an expansive wall of windows that generously bathe the room in natural light.

Rich, dark-stained wood floors underfoot contribute to the home's inviting ambiance, complementing its overall character.

Every fixture, wallpaper choice, and flooring selection within this residence has been thoughtfully curated to make a resounding statement about the home as a whole. This meticulous attention to detail permeates every facet of the property, elevating its character and allure.

Moving beyond the interior, the outdoor living space proves equally enchanting, featuring a screened-in patio that offers the perfect setting for enjoying Austin's breezy evenings without the intrusion of pesky insects.

Additionally, a charming dining area nestled under the sprawling canopy of live oak trees, adorned with twinkling lights, creates a truly magical setting for al fresco gatherings and memorable evenings.

The primary bedroom, a sanctuary of comfort and luxury, boasts its own fireplace, finely crafted built-ins, and a spacious ensuite bathroom. Three additional bedrooms provide ample space for family or guests, each appointed with the same meticulous care evident throughout the home.

In its entirety, this Old Enfield gem harmoniously marries the finest aspects of traditional architecture with the conveniences of modern living.

It is a residence that radiates charm and sophistication, indoors and out, promising an exceptional lifestyle in the heart of Austin's historic landscape.


This home is on the market with Kumara Wilcoxon of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty. Click here to see more photos, details, and to contact the agent.

2313 Hartford Rd home for sale Austin

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Soaring 17-foot ceilings await in the living room.