An insider’s guide to what’s buzzing around Austin
by Nicole Beckley
Straight to the Top
It’s not rare for chefs to donate their time and talents to worthy organizations, but chef David Bull is taking it up a notch. Actually, make that more than 19,000 notches, as he makes the climb up Mount Kilimanjaro in support of Water to Thrive.
Seven years ago, Bull, currently the executive chef at Second Bar + Kitchen, led a tasting event for the organization, which works to provide clean water for villages in Africa. Now he’s venturing up the highest free-standing mountain in the world and bringing his daughter, Jamison, along for the climb. “I think that the sheer magnitude of the experience of the hike and being on top of the world, so to speak, that’s going to be, I think, a life-changing experience,” Bull says. “And something me and my daughter can reflect back on.”
Calling the Shots
“If we had known ten years ago that now we’d be living in Austin, Texas, running a tequila company, we’d be laughing,” Matt Davis says. A decade ago Davis and Arturo Vargas were in White Plains, New York, running brands for Heineken. Today they’re CEO and President, respectively, of Playa Real, a newly launched fruit-infused tequila brand. “I would go down to Mexico for these surf trips, and we’d sit around after a day of surfing and locals would make their own tequila there,” Davis says. Inspired by the unique flavors, he created Playa Real with a vision for a more versatile liquor. “Either sip it, shoot it, or mix it,” Davis says. “Do it all.”
Whether you’re looking for packaged kimchi, buckwheat noodles, or red bean cakes, HMart has made Asian food products in Austin more accessible since it opened earlier this year. The Lakeline Boulevard location offers fresh produce, prepared foods, and baked goods and boasts a food hall serving a variety of Japanese and Korean dishes, including Korean tofu soup and fried chicken.
A little sweetness can go a long way. Just ask Courtney Ray Goodson. In November 2017, she launched Uncle Ray’s Peanut Brittle, using a recipe from her great-uncle. “I honestly didn’t grow up cooking a whole lot but had this great recipe and feel like it’s more fun for me when you share it with people,” Goodson says. “It connects people and creates community.”
The feelings of connection emerged for Goodson when she served in the Peace Corps in Fiji. Sharing batches of brittle mailed from her uncle, Goodson befriended a woman who wished to own her own business. To help realize those wishes, Goodson started a fundraising campaign, selling the first bags of what would become Uncle Ray’s Peanut Brittle. “I realized I have a creative and entrepreneurial spirit in me,” Goodson says. Since then, Goodson has dreamed up new flavors, including dark chocolate–dipped bacon-pecan brittle and a Hatch chile brittle, which are expected to be available at Central Market.
A Lucky Lager
What do you get when you combine the buzz of a hot new restaurant with the innovation of a favorite brewery? The answer: Suerte Lager, a beer specially crafted by Hops & Grain Brewery for the recently opened Mexican dining spot Suerte. A collaboration between Josh Hare (Hops & Grain) and Sam HellmanMass (Suerte), the lager is a dry and refreshing pairing for the masafocused menu.
Making a Splash
Move over, LaCroix. There’s another way to satisfy your carbonated-water thirst. Richard’s Sparking Rainwater, from the Dripping Springs–based company, is pure rainwater turned into bottled bubbles. Since 2002, the company has transformed collected rainwater into triple-filtered clean drinking water. Founder Richard Heinichen wanted a way to naturally purify water without added chemicals, later expanding his process to add carbonation.