Tasty Authentic Mexico and windy Ice Ball

It is good to be reminded that Authentic Mexico started out with food and the people who make it.

From the beginning, this benefit for the Hispanic Alliance has presented interior Mexican cuisine cooked up by top international chefs as well as local leaders. It has always included an informative program about the Alliance’s mission to transform lives through business mentorship, arts education and excellent resources.

Ian Gerg and Audrey Lee at Authentic Mexico for the Hispanic Alliance. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Yet as the evening expanded and moved — for one year only — to a hillside tent, it lost a little focus. Situated back on the glorious stage of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, it has regained the core qualities of intensely pleasurable rations and repartee.

Pre-dinner bocaditos came from Roberto Espinosa (TacoDeli), Kristine Kittrell (Weather Up),  Rick Lopez (La Condesa), Jeff Martinez (Alcomar) and Ryan Shields (Bullfight).

We arrived in time for the entrada, an intoxicating asado de boda from Daniel Brooks (Licha’s Cantina). I could have stopped there. But no, out came the magnificent plato fuerte from Roberto Santibañez (Fonda of New York City), three long, lean, gorgeous lamb chops with guajillo, ancho and chocolate mole served with cornbread, creamy roasted poblano peppers and fried plantains. One of the best lamb dishes I’ve ever tasted.

Luckily, party regent Monica Peraza planned time between the plato fuerte and the sweet postres from Tita Jolliffe (Tita Jolliffe Catering), Juliann Stoddart (Parkside Projects), Kevin Taylor (ATX Cocina) and Sharon Watkins (Chez Zee American Bistro).

Congrats to Trailblazer Gary Valdez. We’ll catch up with him later when we are not distracted by the cuisine and the conversation.

Ice Ball

Earlier, we told you about a gala that withstood the winds of Hurricane Harvey to raise money for cancer causes. Well, there was another: The Ice Ball for Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Texas.

This is, rightly, one of the highlights of the early fall season in Austin. This year, despite the weather, the event grossed $670,000 at the JW Marriott Hotel. The nonprofit’s helpers sent in reports, which we quote here.

“I was absolutely amazed by the turnout and by the enthusiastic support our Central Texas community showed at Ice Ball!” says board chairman Carlos Barbosa. “We were bracing for the rain, but what an amazing show of support we received! Huge thanks to all who came out, and to those who couldn’t make it but still found ways to support our agency!”

Jermaine Thomas and Justin Yarborough at the Ice Ball. Contributed by Chris Caselli

“Watch the match story (below),” says spokeswoman Brenda Lindfors. “It is a beautiful, powerful and moving story. And it was powerful to have Kirida and her mom, Theresa, in the room with us at the gala. Our guests formed a line to meet and talk with Kirida at the end of the night. She was – rightfully – a celebrity. She has overcome a lot and is going to do great things. Kirida’s Big Sister, Maggie, was stuck in Bastrop with the rain.”