Just over a week into the new year and things in our local culinary scene are off to a flying start, what with the debut of the fifth outlet of our homegrown natural foods grocery chain, Whole Foods Market. Beer writer Anna Toon and I will be attending the media tour this Friday – she'll be checking out the various beer venues in the new store while I'm particularly interested in all the new products they'll be featuring from local and statewide artisan food purveyors sourced by the official local/Texas forager, Lynda Berrios. The other media party on our schedule this week is for Dolce Neve (1713 S. First); Austin's newest authentic gelateria opens to the public Jan. 10. The new business is brought to us by a trio of intrepid Italian immigrants – the sister and brother duo of Francesca and Marco Silvestrini and Francesca's fiancé, Leo Ferrarese. Their attractive South Austin shop was inspired by an Italian farmhouse and designed by Dick Clark. The menu offers gelatos in flavors based on seasonal fruits, herbs, and nuts made with organic milk from County Line Dairy and vegan gelato made from rice milk. Look for specialties such as fruit granitas, gelato sandwiches, and gelato-on-a-stick treats in addition to a full line of coffee and espresso drinks. What a great addition to the Bouldin Creek neighborhood.
Casa Brasil Coffees owner Joel Shuler is off to Brazil Jan. 13-17 to serve as a judge in the Cup of Excellence, a coffee competition hosted by the Alliance for Coffee Excellence several times a year in coffee-producing countries around the world. Shuler will be one of three American experts on the 25-judge international panel who will subject the coffees entered in the competition to a rigorous analysis. No doubt Shuler's loyal Casa Brasil customers will benefit from this opportunity for him to discover some one-of-a-kind coffees to feature in his product line.
We've been so caught up in the rapid pace of restaurant openings that a few closures managed to slip by in recent weeks. After a slow summer and football season, Cuatro Kowalski closed Cuatros (1004 W. 24th) in December to develop a new concept for his UT campus-area sports bar. No word on what happened to the Stallion Grill (5201 Airport) after its short life as a shooting location for Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn television project, but there's no one serving food in there these days. Speaking of restaurants on Airport Boulevard, Ryan Blackmore reports that his Your Mom's Burger Bar (5001 Airport) outlet continues to flourish after the closure of an ill-fated foray into the suburbs at William Cannon and Highway 290 West in Oak Hill. And over in East Austin hipster heaven, Papi Tino's (1306 E. Sixth) closed quietly with a Facebook posting at the end of the year, but we hear it will be rebranded by an enterprising entrepreneur any moment.
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