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Chef/Owner Michael Fojtasek has created a dining experience exclusively for this collaboration at the C.L. Butaud tasting room. With bread oven in tow, Fojtasek will be baking his breads on site, and C.L. Butaud have chosen a selection of wines to pair with his dishes, including one library wine from their California days and two current release CLB wines.

In addition to Fojtasek’s three James Beard finalist nominations for Best Chef and one for Best New Restaurant, Olamaie has been named Austin’s best restaurant three times by the Austin American Statesman (placing in the top five every year since its inception).

The restaurant and its team have garnered numerous awards from CultureMap, including Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bartender of the Year, and Pastry Chef of the Year.

Photo courtesy of Kalahari Resorts and Conventions

Round Rock resort makes a splash with food and wine festival featuring 7 eateries

The Food Chain

A resort dinner sounds nice, but sampling multiple menus at a resort sounds even better. Kalahari Resorts and Conventions is giving Round Rock a chance to do just that at its inaugural Food & Wine Festival on November 20. Along with signature dishes, there will be locally sourced wine, beer, and spirits, plus live music while visitors take their self-guided tours through the event.

Fittingly, the samples are managed through a “tasting passport” that records progress through Kalahari’s seven dining options, plus more than 40 beverages. Of the four restaurants, one is a steakhouse, one is a bar and grill focusing on burgers and shakes, one serves Italian comfort foods, and one serves modern Mexican food with a long list of tequilas. The event also features two cocktail bars and a sweet shop.

In addition to the four restaurants, one special tasting comes from Michelin-starred Dallas chef John Tesar. Tesar’s Michelin recognition comes from his experience in another resort, the Ritz Carlton Grand Lakes in Orlando, and he’s best known for his two appearances as a contestant on Top Chef.

“Everyone will enjoy this festival, from those with the most discerning palate to folks simply looking for a fun day out,” said event organizer and Kalahari assistant general manager Brandon Wise in a press release. “Guests will enjoy everything from handmade burgers at B-Lux to premium steaks at Double Cut and pastries at Last Bite.”

When not hosting food events, the resort entertains visitors in a gigantic 223,000-square-foot water park, an 80,000-square-foot adventure park, bowling lanes, and more. Escape rooms tease the mind, and a spa brings the energy back down.

“The owners and founders of Kalahari Resorts, the Nelson Family, have a true love, passion and commitment to culinary excellence in all four of their resorts,” said Wise. “The Food & Wine Festival further demonstrates that we take food seriously, and opens up the opportunity to taste all we have to offer to the people in the Austin metro [area].”

Tickets ($75, including a wine glass to take home) to the Kalahari Food & Wine Festival on November 20, from noon to 4 pm, are available at kalahariresorts.com. Attendees must be at least 21 years old.

Photo by Abby Savage on Unsplash

New axe-throwing bar hits the bullseye with first Austin location opening soon

Chop Shop

If a few beers go great with bowling, does that apply to axe throwing, too? Blade & Timber Axe Throwing thinks so. Its parent company, the immersive entertainment developer Swell Spark, is bringing the bar and 15 axe-throwing lanes to Austin in November 2022.

The experience is more than grabbing a beer and an axe, and hoping it hits the right stuff. Blade & Timber has “Axe Safety-Certified” coaches onsite to demonstrate techniques before anyone touches a blade. (And bartenders punch wristbands to limit the number of drinks given, just in case.)

The team has been teaching for three years, and blind, deaf, and other throwers with special considerations have found success and safety in learning. Throughout the game, the coach sticks around, partially for safety, but also so that the crew can experience a few more bullseyes.

If trying to hit the center feels rudimentary, there are game books to peruse while enjoying cocktails, beers, and wine. One game works a lot like HORSE, the basketball game, except throwers spell BLADE. Another involves hitting all sections of the target. There are even leagues at some locations (nothing announced in Austin, yet) that offer free warm-ups, prizes, and chances to compete in two-on-two tournaments.

For those still wary of kicking back near axes, these are not close quarters. This venue — the brand's eighth — spans 5,000 square feet, making it the second largest facility. For such a large space, it’s also going to be surprisingly accessible at 3005 S. Lamar Blvd., Suite 110-A, in good company with Torchy’s Tacos and Kerbey Lane Cafe.

"I first visited Austin in 2004 running in the Texas Relays, and I fell in love with the city," said Swell Spark founder Matt Baysinger in a press release. "Since Swell Spark began in 2015, we've been looking for an opportunity to bring our brands to such a vibrant city. We are excited to bring top-of-the-line axe throwing to the Austin Community!"

People of all skill levels age 10 or older can try their hand. The venue also offers large party rentals, with coordinating for food and drinks, as well as the general tone of the event. For more information about opening dates, sign up for the newsletter or check bladeandtimber.com.

Kalahari Resorts & Conventions presents Kalahari Food & Wine Festival

The Kalahari Food & Wine Festival will feature the best of Kalahari dining, including bites, local wine, beer, and artisanal spirits. There will also be appearances and tastings from Texas's own Michelin Star and Top Chef lum, John Tesar.

Photo courtesy of Visit Lubbock

3 unexpected — but delicious and fun — reasons to travel to Lubbock

1, 2, 3

Looking for a getaway that's full of music, wine, and good food? Look no further than Lubbock, a northwest Texas city that has all this and so much more.

Wine country
The Lubbock area is located within the Texas High Plains AVA, which accounts for 90 percent of all Texas wine grapes grown and produced.

With more than a dozen wineries, and six award-winning wineries in the Lubbock area, wine tastings are available for all palate preferences.

Drop in for a glass or two at Burklee Hill Vineyards and McPherson Cellars, the latter of which is owned by winemaker Kim McPherson, a two-time James Beard Award semifinalist.

Just outside of city limits, Reddy Vineyards, Llano Estacado, and English Newsom Cellars offer full tastings and tours of the vineyards on property.

Llano Estacado is the second oldest winery in the state and hosts multiple wine festivals per year, including Grape Day, an annual event in October that celebrates the end of harvest season.

High Plains cuisine
You'll find that the food here offers a distinct West Texas flare that pays tribute to the ingredients grown and raised in the area.

Not only does the locale have a large influence on the dishes served in local restaurants around town, but Lubbock’s diverse culture is also on display in each plate.

From La Diosa Cellars, a Spanish tapas restaurant, to Llano Cubano, a Cuban food truck, the offerings for dining in Lubbock are as extensive as they are rich.

Restaurants of note include The Nicolett — home to chef Finn Walter, a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Texas — Dirk’s, The West Table, Claraboya, Thai Pepper, Stella’s, Evie Mae’s BBQ, and Rave On at The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences.

Standing ovation
Music lovers and theatergoers will be thrilled with the diverse lineup of performances onstage in Lubbock nightly. From Broadway performances like Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen to national headlining acts like Tim Allen and Lady A, the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences offers shows for all preferences.

As the birthplace of Buddy Holly, Lubbock is no stranger to good music and local talent. The legacy of Lubbock legends such as Buddy Holly, Mac Davis, Waylon Jennings, and Josh Abbott take center stage at one of the many music festivals, including JABFest in October.

Fun fact: Lubbock currently boasts the most live music venues per capita in the Lone Star State.

To start planning your itinerary of Lubbock's restaurants, wineries, and attractions, head over to VisitLubbock.org.

La Diosa Cellars serves a stellar Sunday brunch.

Photo courtesy of Visit Lubbock
La Diosa Cellars serves a stellar Sunday brunch.

Gruene Music and Wine Fest brings more good times to a historic venue

Going Gruene

Wine, music, and super-old dance halls are the best offerings of Central Texas. Texas’ oldest dance hall, in fact, Gruene Hall, is bringing both wine and music together at the 36th Annual Gruene Music and Wine Fest from October 6 to 9. In collaboration with KNBT 92.1 FM Radio, ticket and drinks sales from the four-day event in New Braunfels will benefit United Way of Comal County, which in 2021 received nearly $148,000 from the event.

Other festival costs are covered by sponsors (JP Morgan Chase & Co., New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, and Texas Hill Country Wineries, to name a few). Visitors can participate in wine and beer tastings in between watching live shows at Gruene Hall and The Grapevine wine bar, another one of the event’s sponsors.

On Thursday, October 6, attendees will gather in the Grapevine Garden for tastings from Llano Estacado Winery, Becker Vineyards, Hilmy Cellars, and an unnamed brewery. Admission is free, and tastings are managed with drink tickets in increments of $5 per drink, which decrease to $4 when purchased in larger quantities. There will be live music and giveaways, followed by a ticketed performance from Josh Abbott Band at Gruene Hall.

Friday’s events are already sold out, but could inspire an itinerary for another day in Gruene, visiting the historic Gristmill River Restaurant right next to the dance hall. One of the draws to this day’s tickets was a “Great Guitar Auction,” followed by a performance from Pat Green.

Back at the Grapevine Garden on Saturday from noon to 6 pm, is a new event that mirrors Thursday’s tasting, this time with six wineries: Lost Draw Cellars, Fiesta Winery, Texas SouthWind Vineyard & Winery, Texoir, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards, and Messina Hof. Josh Baca & The Hot Tamales and The Johnathans will play visitors through the six-hour tasting and into a ticketed concert by the Lost Gonzo Band, founded in 1972.

Sunday unplugs for a string of acoustic performances from 2 pm to 9 pm at Gruene Hall. The lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but Mattson Rainier of KNBT will emcee the all-day, 21-and-up show. The event ($40) promises “some of Texas’ best songwriters.”

When the festival was in its nascent years, it only filled one day, raising $450 for the United Way. The gigantic non-profit conglomerate claims a mission to “advance the common good,” which in Comal County includes support to several kids’, medical, and Christian groups. It also supports multiple food banks and resources for victims of domestic violence.

In general, tasting events are free and tickets can be pre-purchased online, or at the event. Concert tickets must be purchased ahead of time and may sell out. For more information and purchase links, visit gruenemusicandwinefest.org.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

H-E-B unveils merch for super fans, plus more hot Austin headlines

Hot Headlines

Editor’s note: It’s that time again — time to check in with our top stories. Here are five articles that captured our collective attention over the past seven days.

1. H-E-B unveils merchandise for brand super fans, available exclusively at one store. Kerrville was chosen to launch the company's new line of H-E-B-branded merchandise in celebration of its 117th anniversary.

2. Austin bar transforms into a magical winter wonderland this holiday season. Don your favorite elf socks and meet the lovely citizens of “Tinseltown.”

3. Draft 'Vision Plan' for Zilker Park unveils land bridge and more possibilities. Austinites are invited to comment on a vision plan that will inform the future of Zilker Park.

4. Austin ranks among world’s 100 best cities in prestigious new report. Austin is the No. 43 best city in the world, according to a new study. (And yes, we beat Dallas.)

5. Austin airport launches new SkySquad travel assistants in time for the holiday rush. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is keeping lines moving during a period of heavy travel with a new team of airport assistants.

Steven Spielberg opens up personal history in The Fabelmans

Movie Review

For over 40 years, director Steven Spielberg has been delivering some of the most popular blockbuster movies of all time as well as a bevy of Oscar-quality dramas, a combination that’s unique to him. For his latest, The Fabelmans, he’s decided to go more personal than ever, telling a thinly-veiled version of his own childhood.

Sammy (played mostly by Gabriel LaBelle) is one of four children – and the only son – of Mitzi (Michelle Williams), a concert pianist, and Burt Fabelman (Paul Dano), a computer engineer. From an early age, Sammy is enthralled by the art of filmmaking, first remaking a train crash sequence from The Greatest Show on Earth, and gradually moving on to more adventurous stories.

Burt’s advancing career, which moves the family from New Jersey to Arizona to California, causes stress for various members of the family, most notably Sammy and Mitzi. Sammy must deal with anti-Semitic bullies, while Mitzi falls deeper into a mental health crisis. Sammy’s movies continually offer a respite for the family, though, giving him a creative outlet and the rest of them a chance to forget their troubles for a while.

Written by Spielberg – his first writing effort since 2001’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence – and Tony Kushner, the film is heavy on emotions but presented in a way that those feelings don’t always translate. Spielberg is no stranger to depicting fraught family situations in his long career, but in showing ones from his own family, it feels like he pulled back, not wanting the scenes to be overwrought or schmaltzy.

The result is a story that isn’t as universal as some of his other films. As the film is told from Sammy’s perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in his pursuits and various discoveries as he gets older. The mindsets of the rest of the family are less clear, even though his parents and sisters are ever-present. Mitzi’s state of mind is a concern from the start, but it’s not always treated as such by other important characters.

Just as Sammy’s movies are an escape for his family, so too are they some of the best parts of the film. Sammy figuring out the process and secrets of filmmaking is informative and often thrilling, especially if you’re a cinephile. Spielberg has been considered a master for so long that watching him revisit the days when he was learning as he went is catnip for movie lovers.

In addition to being a dead ringer for a teenage Spielberg, LaBelle is a fantastic actor. It’s no easy feat to carry a movie on your shoulders, and LaBelle makes the assignment look easy. Williams’ performance will likely be more polarizing; she employs a very mannered speech pattern that works in some situations, but not all. The film also includes memorable short appearances by Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and David Lynch.

Spielberg has provided the moviegoing public with such pleasure over the years that he deserves to have a movie that’s mostly for him. The initial viewing of The Fabelmans left this critic wanting, but perhaps it will gain more traction on a second screening.

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The Fabelmans is now playing in theaters.

Photo by Merie Weismuller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Gabriel LaBelle in The Fabelmans

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta acquires award-winning California resort

tilman goes laguna

Fans of Tilman Fertitta's nationwide hospitality brands are in for a treat. The Billion Dollar Buyer has just secured an award-winning, 30-acre resort in sunny Southern California.

Fertitta has purchased the acclaimed Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel, a premier beachfront property in the sunny SoCal getaway destination. Notably, the Montage Laguna Beach Resort Hotel is one of only six hotels in the U.S. to score the Forbes Triple Five-Star hotel status. The Montage has also been included among Travel + Leisure’s Top Hotels in the World.

Image courtesy of Montage Laguna Beach

Fertitta's newest purchase overlooks the ocean in Laguna Beach.

“I am truly thrilled to acquire this world-renowned property and add one of America’s most iconic trophy resorts to our luxury hotel portfolio,” Fertitta noted in a statement. “I have been traveling to Laguna Beach for over 30 years. It is one of my favorite places to visit and one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The Montage is a stunning oceanfront property and one of the premier hotel brands in the world.”

Press materials didn't list the property purchase price, but Law360 reports that the deal is in excess of $660 million.

The Craftsman-style resort sits on a coastal bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Impressive amenities are highlighted by the 20,000-square-foot Spa Montage, which offers eucalyptus steam rooms, dry redwood saunas, ocean air whirlpools, fireplace lounges, a state-of-the-art fitness center, a movement studio, and a lap pool.

More outdoor fun includes two pools and direct beach access, a museum-quality fine art collection, and more than 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, per press materials.

Every resident space — the 260 guestrooms, including 60 suites, beach bungalow-style rooms, and multi-bedroom villas — boast stunning views of the Pacific.

Dining destinations offer chef-driven interpretations of coastal California flavors inspired by region. The property is designated and included in the distinctive Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

“We are thrilled that Tilman is the new owner of this one-of-a-kind property and welcome him into the Montage family,” said Alan Fuerstman, founder, CEO, and chairman of Montage International. Mary Rogers, the Montage's GM added, “The staff is thrilled to be working with Tilman. Everyone here at the property is tremendously excited about his purchase and look forward to continuing to provide a world-class experience to all of our guests."

Aside from his palatial Post Oak Hotel in Houston, Fertitta also owns 14 other hotel properties around the country, including the award-winning San Luis Resort in Galveston, plus five popular Golden Nugget casino and hotel locations.

Another feather in Fertitta’s luxury portfolio cap is the iconic Huntting Inn, one of the most charming and historic locales in East Hampton, New York.

No stranger to California, Fertitta's presence there includes Catch Seafood and Catch Steak, Mastro’s Ocean Club and Mastro’s Steakhouse, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, The Palm, and more — all part of his 60 brands and more than 600 concepts nationwide.