Austin Insider’s Guide
The Best of Austin’s Culinary Scene
by Nicole Beckley
“I wanted to build a knife for my mother and my mother-in-law as a Christmas gift, that’s all I was going to do,” Travis Weige says. Looking to get away from his computer and into his shop, Weige started making knives as a hobby. In 2012, he founded Weige Knives and today has designed custom pieces for chefs Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen’s Kitchen and EatStreet’s Pamela Nevarez-Fisher, among others. Custom making each knife, Weige works with clients to select every element, from the shape of the blade to the type of wood used on the handle. “I take a clay mold of the person’s hand holding a knife, then each knife is hand drawn,” Weige explains. “Most knife makers use patterns; I don’t use any patterns. I never make the same knife twice.” With an attention to detail and craftsmanship, Weige knives typically take a year to create, and there’s a waiting list. But don’t worry, you’ll be in good company alongside Paul Qui, who is having a knife built for his forthcoming South Congress spot, Otoko.
INSTAGRAMMER OF THE MONTH
As the author of the Cocina Marie cooking blog and the cookbook Cooking With Marie: On Any Occasion!, Marie Saba has always had a passion for food. When she started getting creative with her kids’ lunches, her culinary projects took the form of rocket ships made of quesadillas and dolphins made out of hot dog buns and maple sausage. Using the plate as a canvas, Saba creates adorable edible scenes using fruits, vegetables, cheese, and bread. “I’m with my kids all day and so you have to find something to do,” Saba says, “It’s fun, and we always have supplies around.” The native Austinite (whose Instagram feed was featured on Goop) takes scene suggestions from Instagram and her kids help her create them. “It’s great,” Saba says, “I told my husband, I’ve never had so much fun in my life.” For more information, visit cocinamarie.com and @mariesaba on Instagram.
With spring in full swing and grills fired up, Red Room Lounge’s Joelle Cousins shares some of her seasonal wine selections. Named Texas’ Best Sommelier at TEXSOM last August, the native Austinite advises looking for wines that are light in body, crisp, and with good acidity. Here are some of her picks:
- Hirsch ‘Heiligenstein’ Grüner Veltliner, Kamptal 2012 – It has light citrus flavors of white grapefruit, Meyer lemon, lime, but it has a savory element that can go really well with grilled vegetables and fish.
- François Mikulski Bourgogne Passetougrains 2011 – It’s a Pinot Noir/Gamay blend from Burgundy in France. The traditional red grapes are light in body, but have great complexity and a lot of cool flavors, herbal notes, mineral notes, and as far as the fruit’s concerned, it’s strawberry, cherry, and not very tannic.
- Bramare Malbec, Valle de Uco 2011 – It’s so great for barbecue. It’s got nice flavors of blueberry, black cherry; it’s a little more dark fruit style, but still very medium tannins. It’s got these flavors of campfire smoke, baking spices, and tobacco leaves that all pair really nicely with some ribs.
JUST FOR KICKS
When Abbrev’s, a purported Austin-area restaurant devoted to “abbreviated versions of food,” debuted in February, Danny Palumbo wasn’t expecting to have a viral hit on his hands. “I didn’t realize it would connect that much,” Palumbo says. Along with his brother Anthony, a chef in Pittsburgh, the Palumbos created a website for a fake restaurant, aiming to satirize overly pretentious culinary trends. While the restaurant is fake, the food featured on the site is completely authentic, down to the rabbit sausage used for the Rav N’ Ball meatball and the foie gras in the F.G. Tacs. “It was going to be a hi-def photo, I just wanted it to be real,” Palumbo says. Enlisting the programming help of comedian Ramin Nazer, who recently left Austin for L.A., the site has garnered over a million views, according to Palumbo. Focusing on his own comedy career, Palumbo will be competing in the 30th annual Funniest Person In Austin contest, whose finals will be held May 18, as well as dreaming up another food-focused site. “I’m always trying to merge comedy and foodie culture, for some reason,” Palumbo says, “I’ve been around kitchens my whole life and I’m friends with chefs and it’s a big part of my life that I can’t really shake if I try.”
Weige Knives photo by Travis Weige
Travis Weige Portrait by Alta Real Pictures
Danny Palumbo portrait by Katie Pengra
Abbrev’s photo by Justin Aller