When Ben Googins met Rio de Janeiro native Elias Martins while teaching English in Brazil in 1998, he couldn't have guessed that the two would wind up making p?o de queijo?cheese bread?on an episode of the Cooking Channel's FoodCrafters with celebrity chef Aida Mollenkamp. Their journey began as Googins learned more and more about the Portuguese language and the generous, hospitable Brazilian culture via Martins's family and their flavorful cooking. The duo eventually moved to Austin in 2006, bent on realizing their dream of opening their own restaurant. After their handmade foods gained popularity at the downtown farmers' market, their all-natural malagueta sauces appeared in Austin's flagship Whole Foods store. They finally opened Rio's Brazilian Caf? in 2010, where the staff makes caipirinhas and creates contemporary and traditional Brazilian recipes from scratch. The last Saturday of every month, diners can enjoy feijoada, a classic Brazilian stew made with pork, beef, sausage, black beans, and the juice of one soccer ball.
The restaurant still, of course, makes its renowned cheese bread. The basil variety was the favorite of Fearless Critic, which noted that the restaurant is "one of the few places where carnivores, vegetarians, and gluten-intolerant diners can all happily coexist." The restaurant was also a Critics' Pick for Most Charming Brazilian Outpost in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin 2011, and has appeared in numerous publications and on TV shows such as Good Day Austin and Fox 7 News. According to Eater Austin, celebrities Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara have noshed at the cozy eatery, whose bright yellow and green exterior and outdoor patio give way to a similarly vibrant and eclectic dining area.
This Brazilian steakhouse in the popular, upscale Arboretum at Great Hills is not just a restaurant, but a cultural experience. The dining room is large, with white tablecloth-covered tables surrounding an extensive central salad bar buffet. Walls covered in frescoes of Brazilian life add to the ambiance, as does an extensive collection of wine bottles. Of course, with any good Brazilian churrascaria, the dining experience consists largely of skewered meats, though simple side dishes like polenta and fried plantains abound, and much of the meal is tinged with a South Texas spice profile that makes Estancia distinctly Austin. Carnivores swing by for the fourteen different cuts of meat, each grilled to order and served in abundance.
Texas de Brazil blends the steak-centric cuisine of Texas with the traditional churrasco method of slow-roasting meat over an open flame grill to form a luscious meaty mélange. The full dinner ($39.99) marches out a cavalcade of choice cuts, allowing diners to welcome continuous windfalls of flavorful proteins. Brandish your table's provided card, green on one side, red on the other, and it will function as a meat traffic light that summons servers to either send stacks of seasoned beef, pork, or lamb skewers or halt plate traffic like a decorated culinary crossing guard. Or feel free to substitute greens for the grill by stepping into the sprawling salad-bar conga line ($24.99), two-stepping through toothsome goodies such as imported cheeses, steamed asparagus, and dozens of other hors d'oeuvres.
Main Streets are often the most historic parts of town, their storefronts changing over the years as the generations visiting them evolve. And Main Street Grill is no different. Since first opening as a general store in 1877, it has also served as an opera house, a bank, an auto-supply shop, and a TV and radio store.
Traits of these past lives are still visible throughout the restaurant; for example, a private dining room is housed in an old bank vault, and on weekends, musicians here fill the space with soothing music, just as the bankers used to jam by shaking bags of coins.
Main Street's menu is equally nostalgic, though its classic, elegant dishes are updated with contemporary ingredients and Texas flair. Rainbow trout is encrusted with crab and sunflower seeds, the southwestern pork tenderloin is rubbed in chili, and duck breast is smoked over green-tea leaves and then plated in blackberry-wasabi sauce. The wine list integrates reds, whites, and sparkling varietals from around the world, and various digestifs pair perfectly with dessert.
Jeff Blank and his kitchen crew like to joke that other cooks must suffer from a "fear of cooking." That's because, for the award-winning chef, cooking is a kind of alchemy?an ambitious experiment that is sometimes fated to fail. But when it works, Jeff and his Executive Chef Kelly Casey transform fresh ingredients, often plucked from local farms and ranches, into piquant dishes adorned with housemade sauces, such as tomatillo white chocolate, mango jalape?o, and bourbon vanilla praline. Behind the kitchen, a stone smokehouse infuses ostrich, rattlesnake, and venison meats with dusky notes, creating entrees that have won them recognition for the Best Wild Game Dish from readers of the Austin Chronicle.
Diners take in the gustatory array on a patio and in a garden gazebo, surrounded by vegetable plants, flowers, and trees wrapped in petite nodes of light. Even the rustic, upscale decor?characterized by soft candlelight, red tablecloths, and vibrant paintings along exposed-stone walls?has earned acclaim, finding favorable mention in the New York Times' travel guide.
The Intro to Photography class is produced by Monte Zucker Photographic Education (MZPE), which provides quality professional photographic instruction. More than 30,000 enthusiastic students of all levels have attended their photographic tours on three continents over the past seven years to learn how to combine the power of technical expertise and artistic vision to create beautiful photos and films. In addition to offering the tours, MZPE produces instructional books and DVDs, as well as teaching in-depth photo-master classes around the world. The 2002 United Nations Photographer of the Year, celebrated photographer and mentor Monte Zucker once stated, "I don’t photograph the world as it is. I photograph the world as I would like it to be." Continuing on in his memory, current instructor Bob Ray teaches with an entertaining, passionate presentation that focuses on learning immediately in class. The experience provides an aspiring photographer a comprehensive set of tools to reach his or her artistic potential.