Erykah Badu feeling the Keep Austin Weird vibe while onstage at the Austin City Limits festival...
Erykah: Peace and Love! How y'all doin'?...
Erykah: Y'all wanna go to hell?
Erykah: You supposed to say "Hell No!"...Just thought I'd throw that in...a little hell check.
Austin is so funky. And the food at the ACL festival was seriously superb. The organizers work with local restaurants -- some of them pretty swank -- to make meals that are easy to eat in one hand while holding a Lone Star tall boy in the other. Rock on, dude. And all this happens with nary a funnel cake in sight.
Lindsay and I waited in line for about 30 minutes (the longest of food lines, btw) for one of these chicken cones from Hudson's on the Bend, a white tablecloth restaurant in town where the average check per person ticks up to $75.
Intrigued that the restaurant would slum it with a booth at a sweaty music festival, I called chef/owner Jeff Blank to talk about the origins of the $8 cone.
Turns out the festival producers came to Jeff after the first year and asked him to be a culinary consultant. He suggested vendors and created this cone breaded with almonds, sesame seeds and red pepper, then "deep sauteed" (um, deep fried). Swaddled with a slice of avocado and drizzled with Ancho chile aioli, it's spicy, for sure, but the surprise that you *can't* see at the bottom of this cone is a bite of coleslaw with mango that cools the tastebuds like a garden hose in summertime.
Jeff said Hudson's has been selling these cones exclusively at the festival for six years, and they've attracted quite a following. He even plans to sell them in a rolling street cart called Hudson's on the Road beginning in spring of '09. "Hopefully it will diffuse some of the rabid-ness at the festival," he said.
The lineup at the ACL turned out to be as eclectic as the city and its food. Along with Erykah, we heard Patty Griffin, Hot Chip, N.E.R.D. and Alison Krauss/Robert Plant among others. While eating our cones, however, it was good 'ol American rock 'n' roll with John Fogerty howling out Fortunate Son.
"Some folks inherit star spangled eyes,
They send you down to war,
And when you ask them, how much should we give?
They only answer more! more! more!"