Food

It's time again for the Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival, which takes off this Saturday from 11 am to 8 pm at Auditorium Shores.

Last year's picnic was anything but. Long lines (up to an hour for a donut), nightmare parking, vendors running out of food, and massive crowds soured many attendants.

The festival received a two-star rating on Yelp!, and led John Kelso of the Austin American-Statesman to quip: "If you wanted something to eat, it would have been quicker to sit on the corner with a tin cup, collect change and grab a tuna sandwich at a convenience store. Or bag a possum and build a fire."

This year promises to be different, according to Festival Marketing Manager Lindsay Hoffman of C3 Presents, which is producing the festival.

"Last year was the first year of the festival, so everything was unknown. We couldn't even anticipate those kind of numbers," she told KUT News.

"This year we're working with those kind of [anticipated] numbers, so it's a lot easier to work with the food vendors and prepare them to get their menu out faster," Hoffman said. "We've taken in all the feedback from last year."

Photo by furyksx http://www.flickr.com/photos/furyksx/

Pumpkins are kind of like fruit cakes. They only sell for about six weeks out of the entire year. And it’s usually around the time specials like this one air on television.

But the great pumpkin might be harder to find these days, according to agricultural experts.

Photo by Texas Farm Bureau

The price of grapefruit in Texas skyrocketed by almost 25 percent from June to September and sliced turkey was up 14 percent. But chicken breast was six percent cheaper over the same time frame and the price of a head of lettuce cost nine percent less.

Average it all out, and Texas food prices were relatively steady over the last three months, according to the Texas Farm Bureau’s Grocery Price Watch report.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

It won't quite a full-blown grocery store, but the University of Texas Co-Op is about to start selling some grocery items, ranging from milk and eggs, to frozen dinners and canned food, to beer and wine.

“We’ve actually got one of the largest coolers that money can buy,” Co-Op Market Manager Zack Voelker told KUT News. “We’ve got a twenty door reach-in/walk-in vault.”

There’s no question that Austin’s food truck scene has grown over the past five years. Travis County had fewer than 700 mobile food vending permits in December 2006. Today, the official count is above 1,300.

But a closer look at county data obtained by KUT News through an Open Records Request shows the number of mobile food vending permits has remained relatively stagnant since mid-2009. While that number doesn’t tell the whole story, it may raise questions over whether the city’s food truck market is approaching saturation.

The county changed how it counts mobile food permits in September 2010 to include delinquent permits. Those are permits that have expired in the last six months. It makes comparing 2006 to 2011 difficult.

Photo by manue_aka_crazeecrafteez http://www.flickr.com/photos/manueb/

The legendary East Austin barbeque restaurant Sam’s Bar-B-Cue is having its business license revoked today following allegations the owners purchased meat stolen from H-E-B.  Two other restaurants, La Morinita at 2944 East 12th St. and Willie’s BBQ at 4505 East Martin Luther King Blvd., are also being shut down.

courtesy flickr.com/photos/46523905@N00/

Three-quarters of Texas is experiencing “exceptional drought”, the worst category used by the US Drought Monitor. The effect on farmers and ranchers has been profound. But a state program launching today aims to give city folk a way to help farmers and ranchers by enjoying the fruits – and meats – of their labor.

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Has an Austin grocery store ever received this much hype before it has enough money to open a single location? Perhaps it’s the packaging-free premise explained in this catchy video, or maybe it’s the lack of healthy grocery options in East Austin, but in.gredients has attracted a lot of media attention.

Now here’s some more: in.gredients has announced a location for its yet-to-exist store. It's going to be at 2610 Manor Road.

Photo by WEBN_TV http://www.flickr.com/photos/politicalpulse/

Jesse Eisenberg, an actor who recently portrayed Mark Zuckerberg in "The Social Network", served free pizza to Home Slice customers this afternoon. The promotion was intended to draw attention to his new movie, "30 Minutes or Less." Can you guess what the movie's about?

Eisenberg has been doing this in several other markets with his co-star Aziz Ansari, including at Goat Hill Pizza in San Francisco and Lincoln Road Pizza Rustica in Miami. 

Here is some of the response on Twitter and Facebook from Austin fans who lined up today to have a famous guy hand them their slice of cheese and pepperoni.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

The number of food trucks and trailers in Austin continues to expand rapidly. Now a new organization has popped up aiming to organize the hundreds of mobile food vendors in the city to confront issues ranging from permitting issues to what to do with used grease. 

The Food Trailer Alliance is largely organized by Tony Yamanaka, a marketing guy at Austin's Better Business Bureau. We called him up to find out more about his organization.

Photo by Joey Parsons http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeyparsons/

Austin is a city for burger lovers, and one famous local brand just opened a new location in South Austin.  P. Terry's began selling burgers last week on the northwest corner of the intersection at Ben White Blvd. and S. Congress Ave, right behind the Shell gas station.

Photo by Whatknot http://www.flickr.com/photos/whatknot/

Historically dry conditions have brought the the Texas agriculture industry to its knees, according to the Texas Farm Bureau's board of directors. The board met for its quarterly meeting in Waco today and released this statement.

Photo by Dave Govoni (Va bene!) http://www.flickr.com/photos/dgovoni/

Farmers are already allowed to fire up a helicopter and gun down feral hogs tearing up their property. But a bill is now headed to the Governor's desk that will allow property owners to rent out seats in helicopters to anyone willing to pay for the privilege of hunting wild pork from the sky.

Photo by BrokenSphere http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:BrokenSphere

First it was In-N-Out Burger. Then it was H&M clothing chain. Now you can add Trader Joe's to the list of popular consumer brands looking to open their first Texas location in Dallas this year.  Dallas Morning News business reporter Maria Halkias says the grocer may even expand to the State Capitol.

Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News

Austin-based Bean Brand Foods, the maker of Beanitos bean chips, says it is looking for a 75,000 square foot facility in Central Texas to combine its manufacturing, warehousing, and administrative facilities. The locally based company says it will seek to hire 150 people towards the end of 2011.

Bean Brand Foods moved its manufacturing facility from Austin to San Bernardino, California in late 2010. But rising shipment costs and a desire to keep the plant closer to its Austin headquarters prompted the company to reverse course.

An event at Seaholm Power Plant that was supposed to feature local food trucks like Austin Daily Press and Hey Cupcake! along with other artists and vendors has been canceled due to "red tape", according to a blog post by organizer Tiffany Harelik.

Activia
Image courtesy Activia

Ever see one of these Activia Yogurt commercials starring Jamie Lee Curtis?

Watch this video by KUT's Peter Babb to get inspired for the remaining four days of Eat Local Week. It's an event sponsored by Edible Austin magazine that encourages Austinites to learn about and indulge in locally produced food. Proceeds go to Urban Roots, a non-profit that helps high needs kids learn about sustainable agriculture.

Tyson Cole
Image courtesy Yi http://www.flickr.com/photos/yi/

An American environmentalist group urged consumers to boycott blue fin tuna this week. The Center for Biological Diversity said the species is critically endangered because of overfishing and the BP oil leak. But Austin restauranteur Tyson Cole says his restaurant tries to serve blue fin tuna that is harvested responsibly.

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