The Mexic-Arte Museum hosts Taste of Mexico 2016 in honor of Cinco de Mayo

nicolette mallow

Taste of Mexico 2016: A Culinary Arts Festival celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Photography by The Mexic-Arte Museum.

The Mexic-Arte Museum celebrated Cinco de Mayo early this year by hosting a decadent and heartfelt party, Taste of Mexico 2016, at Brazos Hall in Austin, Texas. Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration on May 5th and Taste of Mexico 2016 was a culinary arts festival in honor of this holiday. Brazos Hall was decorated top to bottom, upstairs and downstairs, filled with brightly colored red and violet spotlights. Dozens  of food and beverage vendors were carefully placed about the space. Tacos & tequila, a mariachi band, a DJ, a photo booth and artwork also adorned the venue. Piñatas in the form of painted dolls, calaveras (skulls) and flowers dangled from the ceiling, too. The party was so full that at one point guests had to wait outside in line to get in as to not overfill maximum occupancy. Brazos Hall is a fairly large turn-of-the-century warehouse venue. Therefore the fact Taste of Mexico 2016 reached maximum occupancy not even one hour into the party on a Wednesday night is a testament that The Mexic-Arte Museum knows how to throw a fun-filled celebration for the community.

Taste of Mexico is a festival of Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisine and beverages from over 30 of Austin’s most eclectic restaurants, food trucks, and flavorful purveyors featuring fine tequilas, mezcals, wines, beers, and other refreshing beverages. Taste of Mexico also featured the Bazaar del Arte, including Mexican folk arts and crafts, unique gifts, one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces, selections from the Museum Store, and the Pop-up Print Shop hosted by our very own Screen It! students and the Education Department. In collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico, Mexic-Arte Museum was pleased to present Chef Ángel Vázquez as their Chef of Honor for Taste of Mexico 2016. Vázquez is known for his international palette and sophisticated dishes that represent a Poblana-Mexican kitchen. His critically acclaimed restaurant Intro (Cholula, Puebla) boasts cuisine that takes inspiration from countries such as Morocco, Thailand, Greece, Spain, France, and more. His latest projects include Salome Antojeria Del Mar y Mezcal, Carbon Central de Hamburguesas, and Augurio Comedor Poblano. All ticket sales supported the Mexic-Arte Museum in its mission to offer enriching educational programs and provide the community with outstanding exhibitions.”

Writer and Austin Examiner, Nicolette Mallow, attended Taste of Mexico 2016. Mallow has previously covered celebrations hosted by The Mexic-Arte Museum such as Viva la Vida, a Día de los Muertos event. A local A&E writer and Latina from Tejas, Mallow has experienced many of the museum’s sponsored events. The time and thoughtfulness put into each party is so evident just by regarding the immaculate detail and intricate decorations. The Mexic-Arte Museum always hosts events that flow smoothly for guests. Even the pamphlet for Taste of Mexico 2016 included a guided map to all 30 vendors and their menu. Most of all, the staff and vendors are friendly and hospitable, making the party all the more delightful. Whether you’re a member of the Latino/Hispanic/Mexican community or not—everyone is welcomed with open arms and there is a sense of family, continuity and love at every celebration the museum hosts. Mexico and Texas are known for their hospitality and fiery personalities, so this infusion of a Mexican holiday celebrated in downtown ATX is a strong and vibrant combination. Anyone that attends a celebration hosted by The Mexic-Arte Museum is guaranteed to have a good time. Simply put, The Mexic-Arte Museum organizes genuine and unforgettable parties with memories that last a lifetime. Once you enter the doors, attendees feel a vivacious, playful and radiant energy that is bound to put a smile on anyone’s face. And you will want the party to last throughout the night.

To view photographs from Taste of Mexico 2016 and to view a list of the sponsors that helped facilitate the event, please visit their website at www.mexic-artemuseum.org.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in May 2016.  

Slings and Arrows: Zodiac Vodka concocts a romantic recipe for cocktail lovers

nicolette mallow

Zodiac Vodka: Slings and Arrows cocktail recipe.

Zodiac Vodka released several exquisite cocktail recipes in honor of Valentine’s Day weekend. Slings and Arrows is my favorite recipe: a refreshing and succulent mixture of vodka, lemon, thyme, simple syrup, vanilla bean and champagne. Slings and Arrows can be appreciated by all vodka or bubbly connoisseurs. Whether you wish to pair a cocktail alongside dinner, or simply relax with a libation. This easy-to-make, elegant and bold concoction is bound to seduce and calm your senses. Its presentation and scent is so soothing that it lures you to slow down and take a peaceful moment to imbibe.

Slings and Arrows is a drink of mystique that is suitable for any romantic occasion—which is why Zodiac Vodka featured this cocktail for Valentine’s Day. Rest assured, Valentine’s Day is not only a commercial holiday for lovers and couples to show their affection together. Valentine’s Day is a time to love yourself as an individual and to mark the month of February as a memorable time of self-endearment. Therefore, this amorous cocktail is suited for everyone. Think of Valentine’s Day as a time to treat yourself to decadence and passion. Zodiac is a perfect vodka to pick because of its smooth, clean creation that gives it a brilliant taste.

“Most vodkas aren’t made in one place. Water from here. Ingredients from there. Distilling and bottling happen somewhere else altogether. That’s one way to go. Another way is to handcraft vodka in a quiet town along the majestic banks of the Snake River. To combine humble little spuds harvested from the valley’s rich volcanic soil with water born high in the Upper Tetons. Single Source Distillation® means Zodiac is made from beginning to end, entirely in Idaho. The resulting smooth, clean spirit proves that like Idaho’s vast starlit sky, sometimes the best things are only found off the beaten path™.”

A demonstration video portraying the making of Slings and Arrows can be found online. All of Zodiac’s cocktail recipes are posted with the inclusion of a video to guide guests through the process. For anyone seeking to mix a memorable cocktail that is less oriented around romance, something a bit more casual, yet equally flavorful. Zodiac Vodka also features other recipes including the following: Texas Golden Girl, Star Eyed Julep, and Bullseye. Each cocktail entails various flavors, recipes and garnishes ranging from strawberries, honey, rosemary, ginger, jalapeño, lemon and mint.

Several liquor stores in Austin, Texas are presently stocked with Zodiac Vodka. However, a store locator is also available on the internet and by entering a zip code: guests can find out where to buy this product nationwide. For more information regarding Zodiac Vodka, please refer to their website at www.zodiacvodka.com.

 Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in February 2016.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Driskill Hotel hosts holiday traditions in Texas for more than a century

nicolette mallow

Floral arrangements in December at The Driskill Hotel in Austin, Texas.

On the first of December at six in the evening, The Driskill Hotel initiated their annual holiday celebrations beginning with the lighting of the tree and a double quartet of singers from Austin Opera. Positioned in the center of the marble floors and steep columns within the main lobby closest to the grand stairwell, a decorated tree is illuminated and glowing the entire month of December. The holiday tree is so substantial in size that the gold star on top nearly touches the stained glass dome of the ceiling.

Throughout the month of December, for nearly 130 years since it was built in 1886, The Driskill Hotel hosts annual time-honored traditions to celebrate the holiday season. Notably, The Driskill is the oldest operating hotel in Austin, Texas and the architecture is Romanesque in design. When you enter the hotel it’s like going back in time, or finding a magical hiding place in town, because there is something other worldly about the energy of the building. Yet you know you’re in Texas by all the lone stars, leather, cowhides and southern hospitality. Even horse carriages still wait outside to take guests and locals for a stroll through downtown. An artistic infusion of different time periods; there is no other structure in Austin quite like it. Blocks away from the Texas State Capitol, The Driskill is a Historic Landmark and its European structure carries a prominent, unique presence amongst modern day architecture in the downtown vicinity. This refined hotel is aesthetically beautiful and elegant, inside and out. However, every December as the holiday season arrives: The Driskill shines brighter than ever with its festive, colorful decorum and sparkling tealights. Even before entering the hotel, dozens of homemade gingerbread men can be seen dangling happily in the windows of 1886 Cafe & Bakery. The gingerbread men are fairly large in size, decorated with smiles of white icing, red candied buttons, green checkered stockings and eyes that seem to be made of chocolate.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 In addition to the lovely holiday decorum on display the month of December, The Driskill will also feature holiday events on selected days and nights: seasonal music from a live string quartet, Afternoon Tea, an Afternoon with Santa, and Christmas Day in The Driskill Grill. Prices per event do vary. The Driskill Bar upstairs, which was recently named the best cocktail bar by The Austin Chronicle, hosts live music as well. Guests can escape the cold and warm up with snacks and a libation, or an apple cider, within the lounge area whilst enjoying the lyrics and melodies of various singers and songwriters. Don’t forget to try the mejdool dates wrapped in bacon!

Furthermore, on December 13th at 2:00 PM, Cookies for Caring is another holiday-related, charity event at The Driskill. “In collaboration with the Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring, The Driskill is hosting a holiday cookie swap. Guests can create their own holiday cookie collection and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Austin American-Statesman’s Season for Caring charity drive.” Cookie tins cost $25 per person and will be waiting for guests upon arrival to the event.

Seasonally decorated gourmet cookies can also be purchased at 1886 Cafe & Bakery, a premier restaurant within the hotel named after the year The Driskill came to life. “The Driskill Hotel opened on December 20, 1886 to great fanfare and applause from Austin’s 20,000 residents. Since that time, the ‘grande dame’ of Texas hotels has remained a magnificent gathering place for locals, Texans and others to celebrate the holidays and other special moments of their lives in Colonel Jesse Driskill’s splendid Romanesque masterpiece. We invite you to recapture a nostalgic memory from a holiday season long past and to create new memories for your family and friends during our holiday celebrations.”

The Driskill Hotel holds 189 guest rooms and suites. Guests may also admire The Maximilian Room, the Governor’s Boardroom, the Mezzanine and the Victorian Room. For more information about holiday events, hotel reservations, catering or The Driskill Bar and Grill: please visit their website at www.driskillhotel.com or call 512-439-1234.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in December 2015. 

Lonesome Dove brings the old west to the Warehouse district

nicolette mallow

Lonesome Dove in Austin, Texas. Photography by Nicolette Mallow.

Founded and operated by Chef Tim Love, Lonesome Dove is a fine dining Western flagship with an urban twist. Pinpointed on the corner of 5th and Colorado within the Warehouse District of Austin; guests are welcomed by an open space adorned with chandeliers, studded leather, soft suede, candle lights, black steel, pinewood and taxidermy animals. High above the hardwood floors, the ceilings are lofty with industrial rafters. Antlers are detected in mass abundance. The bar particularly emphasizes the antlers and they’re arranged in such a way it almost looks like barbwire made of bones. Scents of fresh genuine leather filter the room with a natural musk, adding to the rustic and familiar aromas of wood-fire cooking in Texas. Even Lonesome Dove’s logo looks like a cattle brand with the silhouette of a dove nesting between the initials of the restaurant: LD. Sterling silver utensils and cutlery are also engraved with stars, longhorns, horseshoes and other symbols that portray the Western and pioneering themes of times past.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Opening its doors to Austin this summer, Lonesome Dove’s original location is further up north in The Stockyards of Fort Worth. Totaling seven culinary operations that span the Lone Star State, Chef Love also maintains five other restaurants and a catering business. In regard to Lonesome Dove Austin, while the owner, Chef Love, is seen from time-to-time at this establishment: Josh Neises is the Chef de Cuisine. These two chefs and their staff members have brought a refreshing and remarkable form of cuisine to Austin that every local or tourist should explore. Lonesome Dove’s menu is so extensive and rich in flavors that carnivorous guests would find great difficulty to ever grow tired of the food. (There are of course vegetarian options available, too.) According to the website, Chef has designed a menu influenced by all of the ingredients and cultures that have been a part of the West since the first adventure began on the Goodnight-Loving and Chisholm Trails — with an added level of modern sophistication.”

The name of this restaurant chain derives from the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel “Lonesome Dove” written by Larry McMurtry. The writer of this accredited novel is also from Texas, so it is most befitting that the state capital finally harbors and hosts this delightful culinary gem. Frankly the location of Lonesome Dove Austin is particularly interesting because of a building looming in the distance: The Frost Bank Tower. Frost Bank Tower is notorious for its architecture and there’s also a myth amongst locals that it was designed to look like a gigantic owl with enormous eyes glowing day or night. Therefore, to see Lonesome Dove and the Frost Bank Tower perched right behind its skyline is a picturesque addition to the artistic appeal of downtown Austin.

Without a doubt, Lonesome Dove has literally brought its game to the city. Various forms of meat can be found on the menu, entailing the following: Rattlesnake, rabbit, duck, kangaroo, elk, quail, wild boar, lamb, lobster, steaks, hamachi and more. Their lunch, dinner, dessert and drink menus are intricate and charismatic, just like McMurty’s novel. And the specialty cocktails are made with a loving bite of alcohol. Furthermore, everyday the Wild Game Fattine changes on the menu. These small, exclusive dishes can be found on the menu right above the first course plates. These daily-prepared meats are “a selection of cuts spit-roasted over open mesquite fire” and they are made with herbs, fruits and spices.

“I truly believe that Austin is one of the greatest cities in the country. The music, the architecture, the culture, and of course, the food, is out of this world. Austin feels like the perfect home for my style of cooking and opening a restaurant here has been a big dream of mine for a long time. I’m incredibly proud to be here alongside all the talented and creative chefs in the city and am excited to officially call Austin my second home.”
— Chef Tim Love

For more information regarding Lonesome Dove Austin or Chef Tim Love, please visit www.lonesomedoveaustin.com. To make a dinner reservation, call (512) 271-2474.

Note: This article was originally published on Examiner.com in August 2015