More and more, organizers are mixing music with food at the industry parties that permeate the scene during the daylight hours of SXSW. This morning, I quelled my angry stomach with a full English breakfast of grilled tomatoes, Heinz beans, egg butties and tea at the British Music Embassy while I listened to musicians from Blackburn and Manchester Britrock the morning away.
Yesterday, the day party with the best food in town was Wunderbar: Lunch With The Germans, a showcase of both music and food courtesy of Germany's Initiative Musik and the German Federal Minister of Economics and Technology. (Yes, it appears that Germany still has incredibly long and official-sounding bureau names that are probably even longer in their native tongue.)
Aside from the wealth of DJ talent that was spinning upstairs at Parkside on 6th Street (Tobias Thomas and Matias Aguyar among them), the culinary talent downtstairs was dazzling the guests, who were half German and half American. Hayk Seirig and Phillip Patzig, the chefs from Berlin's popular Bar 25, had flown in to show the crowd at SXSW that German cuisine isn't all red cabbage and schnitzel.
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While traditional items like potato pancakes and -- yes -- sauerkraut dotted the buffet, the emphasis was more on modern items like springy and slightly sweet prawn balls; a cool, refreshing cucumber and yogurt soup; rich pork loin in a red cabbage-based sauce; juicy frikadeller with a piquant mustard sauce; and multi-colored summer salads with crisp bacon, apples and candied walnuts.
At the bar, German wines and beers were on offer, like Huber Sweigelt and a sweet Moliter Riesling that paired perfectly with the sauerkraut and frikadeller. All around me, I could hear fellow Americans muttering to one another, "I had no idea German food was this good." Next to me at the bar, one man tore into two plates of food before finally taking a breath and telling the barmaids, "If they haven't given you any of this food yet, go fix yourselves some plates. You have to taste this stuff. It's excellent!"
Before I left to conquer the rest of the day, I caught up with Hayk Seirig to tell him how wonderful the food was. "Vor allem, das Essen war ausgezeichnet," I enthused to him. He laughed, amused that an American was speaking [rather poor] German. Returning the favor, he told me in English that he was thrilled to see so many people enjoying the food. "We landed in Austin last night and immediately had to go on the hunt for the ingredients. I didn't think they'd be so hard to find. But I'm very happy with the way everything came together."
And by the looks of all the empty plates, so were all the guests.