Get cheesy — seventh annual Quesoff coming Aug. 26

Aug 15, 2017
This Daily Harvest smoothie has cherries, kale, blueberries, banana, raspberry and acai. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

The Quesoff, Austin’s biggest queso celebration, returns Aug. 26 at the Mohawk, 912 Red River St. From 2 to 5 p.m., more than 30 local businesses and competitive cooking teams will compete with their best cheese dips.

Last year’s winner, Frank, will face entries from Chicon, Bullfight, LeRoy and Lewis, Burro Cheese Kitchen, Kesos Taco House, JuiceLand, Freebirds World Burrito, Mama Fu’s Asian House, BuzzFeed Austin, Red Mango, Vegan Nom, Willigan’s Island, Project ATX6, Pop That Chalupa, Shady Grove, Javelina Bar and Waterloo Ice House, among others.

The judges are James Beard winner Aaron Franklin, Austin Food & Wine Alliance Executive Director Mariam Parker, American-Statesman restaurant critic Matthew Odam, Mike Thelin of Feast Portland and Hot Luck, Austin Food & Wine Festival director Shelley Phillips and Wendy Cummings of South by Southwest. Mayor Steve Adler will be on hand to proclaim Quesoff Day in the capital of queso.

At this seventh annual event, entry is free with a donation of two canned goods or a $2 donation per person, and proceeds benefit the Central Texas Food Bank. Note that bags of chips will be available for purchase for $5, and you cannot bring your own. Organizer Adi Anand says that for the first time this year, they’ll have a Say Queso photo booth as well as the mariacheese band Mariachi Relámpago, along with returning resident DJ Johnny Hottub.


Shipt expands delivery area in Austin, adds Killeen, Temple and College Station

Austinites are spoiled with delivery services, but outside the metro area shoppers don’t have as many options for getting groceries or food brought to their door. That’s slowly changing as companies such as Instacart and Favor expand their delivery zones, and last week the Alabama-based Shipt expanded its own rapidly growing service area to include Killeen, College Station and Temple.

Shipt already delivers in Austin and San Antonio, and Killeen, College Station and Temple already have Instacart, which, like Shipt, partners with H-E-B to deliver groceries. But the expansion is notable because it indicates that enough shoppers outside the Texas metro areas are interested in having their groceries delivered that multiple companies can compete for business.

“Texas residents have been some of our most loyal Shipt members, and we continue to receive requests from new and current metros for greater access to grocery delivery,” Bill Smith, founder and CEO of Shipt, said in a news release. “This expansion is a reflection of this demand, and our growing partnership with H-E-B has allowed us to work in our shared mission to serve these communities, together.”

Shipt operates on a membership program, not unlike Amazon Prime. For $99 a year (or $49 if you can catch a launch special), members can get free, unlimited grocery delivery on orders over $35. The cost of the groceries is slightly higher — they estimate $5 higher on a $35 order — but orders can be placed as soon as one hour before delivery. And with the addition of 185,000 households to its current Austin and San Antonio delivery zones, the company now estimates that its service area covers 4.6 million households in Texas, where it has been operating since 2016.


Smoothies by mail? Trying Daily Harvest, a smoothie delivery service

How do you make a healthy smoothie, anyway? That was the question I posed to Mary Agnew, our Ask a Dietitian columnist, in last week’s food section.

As we were searching for recipes and smoothie tips, I came across Daily Harvest, a delivery service that sends cups of frozen fruit (and vegetables, grains and other ingredients) to make dozens of kinds of smoothies at home.

The company sent a beginner’s box with six smoothies. Half were somewhat unusual flavors — chocolate and blueberry, cacao avocado and watermelon cucumber — and the other half more familiar: mango papaya, chocolate banana and berry banana.

They all contained superfood ingredients to sneak extra nutrients into each smoothie, and the cups had plastic lids with a place for you to insert your straw. It was convenient to be able to pull out a cup from the freezer and fill it with liquid. We had to let it sit for a few minutes to thaw enough to blend in the blender, but once we did, it was a pretty good smoothie. Nothing remarkable, but it’s a good service if you make several smoothies a week.

Another feature to note: Daily Harvest uses organic produce that has been picked at peak ripeness and frozen within hours right at the farm, which means it has more nutrients than produce that has been sitting on the shelves in a truck or grocery store.

The boxes start at $47.50 for six smoothies. If you’re already paying $8 each for smoothies at a store, you might have fun experimenting with the Daily Harvest options. You can choose from dozens of flavors, including a sundae-inspired line with ice cream. As for the question of at what point a creamy chocolate brownie batter smoothie becomes a milkshake, I’ll let you decide.

They also sell heartier options, such as overnight oats and soups that you can blend and serve hot or cold.

On a side note: We mixed our Daily Harvest smoothies with the new tart cherry flavor of Wtrmln Wtr, one of three new flavors coming out (ginger and lime are the others). A lemon flavor came out last year with Beyonce’s “Lemonade” album, and the other varieties have the same prominent watermelon flavor of Wtrmln Wtr’s original. It is squeezed from fresh watermelons, but the process intensifies the watermelon flavor. I love it, but if you’re on the fence about watermelon, you might not like even the flavored versions of the drink.


A look back at farmers markets in Austin

Last week was National Farmers Market Week, and to celebrate, I pulled more than a dozen photos from our archives to show you what Austin’s farmers markets looked like in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. You can find all the photos at