About Town: Austin
Tartinette | Whole Foods Market Test Kitchen

Disclosure: I was a guest of Whole Foods Market at a media preview event where samples of menu items were served, at no expense to me. The press release, below, is provided by Whole Foods Market. Photos and commentary are my own.

Whole Foods Market recently launched a Food Truck Test Kitchen at their flagship store, and I was honored to attend an introduction and menu media preview of its first project, Tartinette.

Man, am I lucky to be its neighbor!

Shown from top left, Carrot Tartare, Roasted Mushrooms, Slow Roasted Beets, Crushed Peas, Grilled Cauliflower, Figs a la Plancha, the off-menu Kale topped tartine, and spiralized vegetables with fresh herbs. Not shown, sweet potato bacon-hash hush puppies are also offered as another affordable side. 

Whole Foods Market's flagship store is located in downtown Austin, at 6th and Lamar, and plays an active role in the local food community. Among it's long list of contributions, Whole Foods often serves as an incubator for developing culinary concepts, like the new WFM Test Kitchen, under the tutelage of new Global Vice President of Culinary and Hospitality, Tien Ho, who is "kicking off his tenure at Whole Foods Market with a food truck concept that will launch during Austin’s annual SXSW Festival. Tien and his team will use the food truck as a delicious way to test new food concepts for our Whole Foods Market prepared foods and bakery departments. The menu and concept will change every two months, testing new dishes and flavors that could become favorites nationwide. First on the docket are open-faced sandwiches, or tartines".

A tartine, traditionally, is a French open-faced sandwich with various toppings. The uber-popular avocado toast is an example. Tartinette elevates the concept with the Roasted Mushroom tartine served with a silky pistachio puree, a melt of taleggio cheese, with a lively sauce vierge and razor-thin radish shavings enhancing rich, earthy flavors. The sweet and spicy Carrot Tartare boasts tender green notes from fennel and a slow-heat finish of harissa. A personal favorite, the Slow Roasted Beets tartine is a sophisticate, perfectly pairing the deep red cubes with blue cheese, pears, pecans, and mildly spicy arugula greens. 

The menu is unabashedly vegetable-forward, but adding proteins is an option. Salmon brochette was served with an off-menu kale-topped tartine, punched with peppery flavors, and roasted chicken pumped up the Crushed Peas tartine, seasoned classically with pecorino, lemon, and mint. The vegetable darling of the year, Grilled Cauliflower, became a belle of the ball with the addition of a perfectly fried egg, and imaginative pickled lemon and romesco sauce dazzled as complements. 

Sweet-cravers will not be disappointed-- Figs a la Plancha, served with honey, goat cheese, watercress, and hazelnuts and a cup of tea-- sounds like the perfect antidote for a midday slump. Wait. That's a great idea. 

Be back soon, y'all. 

Note: As noted in the press release, below, Tartinette will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Whole Foods Market will update the concept, menu and name of the truck every two months to explore food trends, seasonal flavors and vendor partnerships, so get there quick to get a taste of their inaugural offerings. 

There's a pretty good chance you'll run into me. 


Press Release


Truck opens March 10 with Momofuku alum chef Tien Ho serving new food concepts, testing ideas for stores
AUSTIN, Texas (Feb. 22, 2016) – Whole Foods Market is launching a food truck test kitchen at the retailer’s flagship store in Austin, Texas, to experiment with new ideas for store eateries, and to explore collaborations with chefs and supplier partners. The concept was created by Tien Ho, the company’s global vice president of culinary and hospitality, along with Whole Foods Market’s prepared foods team.
The truck will open on Thursday, March 10, under the name Tartinette, and will offer a selection of open-faced sandwiches and creative salads prepared by Ho, and served from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Whole Foods Market will update the concept, menu and name of the truck every two months to explore food trends, seasonal flavors and vendor partnerships.
“This test kitchen is so exciting because we get to include Whole Foods Market customers in the process, using their input to create dishes that could become new favorites across the country,” Ho said. “Guests visiting the truck can expect the same high-quality, fresh ingredients found in our stores, and a menu that’s completely revamped each season. Changing it up will give us the chance to collaborate with local chefs and suppliers to create eating experiences you won’t find in any other grocery store.”
Two percent of sales from the test kitchen’s first eatery concept will benefit Whole Foods Market’s longstanding nonprofit partner, Austin Food & Wine Alliance. Funds will support the organization’s efforts to foster culinary innovation in Central Texas through grants, educational programming and events. With each new test kitchen concept, Whole Foods Market will partner with a new nonprofit beneficiary.
Ho recently joined Whole Foods Market after stints at many prestigious and trend-setting restaurants, including Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Má Pêche, Little Wisco,Café Boulud and, most recently, Morgans Hotel group. He plans to bring this innovative style to the food truck test kitchen, and is considering partnerships with other national and local chefs who can bring even more new ideas to Whole Foods Market shoppers.  
Tartinette’s full menu is available here, http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/service/whole-foods-market-test-kitchen 

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