food-o-file

PICK A PEPPER

Craftsman Farm

Hwy290 W in Dripping Springs, 858-1090

If the multitude of incendiary comestibles at the recent Hot Sauce Challenge inspired you to become a salsa chef, here is one more local source for fresh chile peppers. Steve and Marianne Sprinkle of Creek Road in Dripping Springs will pick you a peck of peppers from their certified organic garden: sweet bell peppers, gypsy peppers, pepperon-
cini, red and green anaheims, poblanos, habaneros, jalapeños, serranos, cayennes, Bolivian rainbow peppers, and tabascos, to name only a few. Visit their farm stand on Saturdays, 9am-1pm or catch them in Wimberley on Friday afternoons from 3-6pm outside the El Dorado Trading Post at 13700 RR 12.

DINE WITH RHONE WINE

Zoot

509 Hearn, 477-6536

September 18, $65 per person

Quality wines from some of the best producers of Rhone wines such as Chateau de Beaucastel and Guigal will be presented at a fall wine dinner at Zoot on Monday evening, September 18, 7pm. Chef Stewart Scruggs' menu will include Poached Salmon, Wild Mushroom Bisque, Lamb Fricassee, and Chocolate Pâté with Raspberry Sorbeto. Each course will be complemented by a different Rhone wine.

RECIPE FOR SMUT

One of our favorite appetizers on a recent visit to the new Coyote Cafe was the Huitlacoche Tamales. Though dreaded by farmers as "night smut," huitlacoche is an edible corn fungus that is highly prized in Mexican cuisine. The dark, musky flavor is a perfect complement for sweet corn, and Mark Miller pairs the two flavors perfectly in the Huitlacoche Tamales with Tomatillo Sauce and Roasted Corn and Wild Mushroom Salsa ($6.95). No sooner had I enjoyed them in the restaurant than a review copy of Miller's new cookbook arrived at my office. Mark Miller's Indian Market Cookbook (TenSpeed Press, hard, $27.95) is an eminently readable collection of the special recipes developed for the world-famous, annual Indian Market Week celebration held every August in Santa Fe. The beautifully produced and photographed book just happens to include a recipe for Huitlacoche Tamales which makes trying them at home a real temptation. Once you've got the book, you can order huitlacoche from Miller's mail-order source in Florida or find it frozen and canned, available locally from Heart of Texas Produce, 479-8771.

NEW AND NOSHWORTHY

Mustang Diner

400 Lavaca, 472-2363

Lunch 11am-2pm, Monday-Friday; Dinner 5-10pm, Monday-Saturday

This spiffy new spot in the burgeoning bar and restaurant district in the Fourth through Sixth Street area west of Congress is attracting a good business crowd at lunch and starting to build a happy hour and dinner crowd. The food here is described as "Napa Valley wine country cuisine" and should provide a rather pricey but interesting alternative in the neighborhood. On the lunch menu, some winners include the Grilled Portobello Sandwich ($6.95), the House-Made Roast Beef Sandwich with caramelized red onions and smoked horseradish aioli ($7.50), and the Mediterranean Bowl ($7.95) featuring baba ghannooj, tapenade, hummus, and couscous. Though the Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin ($14.95) with bourbon whole grain mustard sauce was delightful, on the whole, we were more partial to the appetizer menu than the entrées at dinner. Hardworking Executive Chef Mark Oster assures that he's still fine-tuning some of the element. We'll be back. - Virginia B. Wood

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