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Food-o-File

This summer brings a bumper crop of fresh chefs and local foods

By Virginia B. Wood, Fri., June 15, 2012

Area farmers' markets and farm stands are reporting record sales this month due to bumper crops of blackberries, corn, tomatoes, and peaches. An interesting aspect of this year's growing season is that most crops arrived two to three weeks earlier than usual, which means later summer crops such as melons, apples, and figs will show up on market tables earlier, as well. It's a great summer for canning and preserving, or just enjoying the fresh bounty of summer produce every week. In celebration of this, the Sustainable Food Center's markets Down­town (Fourth & Guadalupe) and at Sunset Valley (3200 Jones Rd.) have scheduled fruit and veggie festivals on Saturday mornings in June with cooking demos by different local chefs.

And speaking of local farms, we're told that Springdale Farm (755 Springdale Rd.) is one of the city's most popular outdoor wedding venues this year. Evidently, couples seeking a relaxed, farm-to-table event experience love the East Austin urban farm's shady grounds and the hospitality of owners Paula and Glenn Foore.

We've been hearing raves about the grilled cheese sandwiches on the lunch menu at South Austin's new Henri's Wine & Cheese (2026 S. Lamar), and also that it's the perfect spot to enjoy a cheese plate and a glass of wine while waiting for a seat next door at the always-busy Barley Swine (2024 S. Lamar)... In that same neighborhood, chef Andrew Francisco is back at Olivia (2043 S. Lamar) with a four-dinner series inspired by his world travels. The June 20 dinner features dishes from Western China; make necessary reservations at 804-2700.

From June 18 through Sept. 3, the four Little Woodrow's outlets host a turtle-racing competition at a different location each night, Tues­day through Friday, with betting and sponsored racing turtles. See details at www.littlewoodrows.com... And Star Bar (600 W. Sixth) offers different promotions every night; Thursday's Star Barrio features a free nacho bar and drink specials like Ghost-Pepper Infused Tequila Bloody Marias during happy hour, 4-7pm.

In local news: In order to focus her attention on Hillside Farmacy (1209 E. 11th) and the Homegrown Revival dinner series, chef Sonya Coté will no longer be cooking at East Side Showroom (1100 E. Sixth). That kitchen is now under the direction of chef Paul Har­grove, most recently of Trace at the W... After stints at some of the best hotel restaurants in Aspen and Dallas, UT grad Bryce Mur­phree is redefining comfort food as the executive chef at Urban, An American Grill, at the Westin Austin at the Domain... And chef Harold Marmulstein has returned to Austin as chef/partner in the recently-opened Salty Sow (1917 Manor Rd.)... We can now reveal the location of the new East Side Market (1208 E. 11th) and announce that the refurbished neighborhood convenience store hopes to debut in early July featuring lots of local artisan food products... Nearby, dance hall aficionado Steve Dean (sdean75@gmail.com) is looking for food truck vendors for an East Austin site he hopes to turn into a food court and music venue.

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