Amelia Sweethardt conquers Vermont, plus a Texas Book Festival update
Kudos to cheese-maker Amelia Sweethardt from Pure Luck Texas grade-A goat dairy (www.purelucktexas.com), who recently returned from the annual American Cheese Society competition in Burlington, Vt., with first-place ribbons for her Basket Molded Chèvre and Del Cielo cheeses and a third place for her Bleu. In addition to sharing info on her prizes, Amelia reports that Texas cheese-makers who attended the event discussed forming a Texas Cheese Guild to help promote artisan cheeses made in the Lone Star State. We'll keep you posted... Our former Chronicle colleague and current literary director of the Texas Book Festival, Clay Smith, e-mailed with some interesting news about the festival's culinary lineup. Author and Chez Panisse restaurant founder Alice Waters (The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons & Recipes From a Delicious Revolution) will join authors Phoebe Damrosch (Service Included: Four-Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter) and Kathleen Flinn (The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking School) in conversation on Sunday, Nov. 4. I've just finished the Damrosch book and can't wait to share it with readers and to hear her speak. More on the lineup for the festival's cooking tents as the event gets nearer... Talk about good news! Preschool teacher Karen Freeland of the Children's Courtyard (12366 MoPac N., 339-0727) recently won a national child-care-education award for her idea to develop a family pizza garden designed to "teach 4-year-olds math, art, science, problem-solving, thinking and social skills." Freeland, her students, and their parents celebrated the award on Aug. 10 with a homemade pizza party, topping the pizzas with fresh herbs from their garden. Gardening makes good environmental sense as well as good curriculum, and we're always pleased to hear that teachers are growing another generation of gardeners... Daily Grill (11506 Century Oaks Terrace, 836-4200) announced their recent opening in the Domain by dropping off a delicious bag of treats at the office. I sampled the enormous Cobb salad and shared some of the tart key lime pie, the fresh gazpacho, and tender grilled skirt steak with mashed red potatoes with Chronicle contributor MM Pack. Based on the tasty samples, we'd be willing to give the local outlet of the California-based chain a try... Pieman Bud Royer called to invite us down to Royer's Round Top Cafe (105 Main in Round Top, 979/249-3611; www.royersroundtopcafe.com) where he says the kitchen staff marinates chicken pieces in buttermilk for 24 hours and serves up bone-in fried chicken every Sunday for lunch. Sounds like fried chicken worthy of a road trip.