Central Market’s $500 Gingerbread Contest, Le Politique’s Sad Denoument, One Dovetail’s a Pizza and the Other Is a Pommeau, and OMG Watertrade What Kind of Genius Dessert Is That?

All the news that’s fit to get your taste buds quivering

Here's some of what's happening in Austin's culinary scene, as wrangled from numerous PR releases, words on the digital street, and even the occasional (verified) IRL eavesdroppings.

Dovetail Pizza brings more pies and pasta to South First

Yes, citizen, it’s your “Food News Buffet” for the third week of December in this urban hub that Kirk Watson’s gonna be the mayor of again

Ah, the coming solstice … As that Doge might put it: “Much winter! Many holiday! Wow!” And if your personal gingerbread-decorating skills have the potential to make not just a global meme-dog but discerning citizens go, “Wow!” as well, reckon it’s a good idea to try winning a $500 gift card from Central Market – by creating a confectionary masterpiece or two of your own and uploading photos to the contest page of their website. You can enter the sweet competition through Dec. 27. Note: Two winners will be chosen for each Central Market location, so there’s even more of a chance that you could be starting the new year off on a triumphant note…

Or never mind any contest and just have some (science-based!) fun: The Thinkery (1830 Simond) and Lady Quackenbush’s Cakery (1900 Simond #300) have teamed up to create an array of gingerbread kits you can build and decorate, exploring art and engineering concepts while building some beautiful holiday memories. Those kits can be built at home or at the Thinkery’s Candy Wonderland. (You could maybe say they’re for your kids, like you do with all those Legos you buy.)

"Oui! Oh, oui!" What else could one say to that lovely 1417 French Bistro in Bouldin Creek?

There’s one less – or, no, one fewer – French restaurant in town. As Eater Austin reported, Le Politique (110 San Antonio St.), shuttered since those damn ’ronas blew into town, is definitely defunct forever – done in by the pandemic and who knows what else – and will be replaced by some new culinary concept from illustrious chef Michael Mina. (We remember hearing much of Le Politique back in 2018, while looking for the best escargot in Austin.) Don’t drown yourself in putative Parisian tears, though, citizen: That new(ish) 1417 French Bistro (1417 S. First) continues to bring the butter-flaunting splendors of Gallic cuisine to our scene, after all. The Bouldin Creek neighborhood’s getting downright Frenchified, y’think?

And when another one bites the dust, how many more pop up to take its place? We keep reporting, almost with alarm, how there’s more and more and more pizza up in this burg; but you try to tell that to the city itself, that maybe it’s time to slow TF down, and the city is like, “Hold my beer.” Case in point: It’s not just another pie joint, we insist, when the new Dovetail Pizza (1816 S. First) is run by Present Tense Hospitality’s Ben Runkle, Joe Ritchie, and Natalie Davis in collaboration with Lenoir’s Todd Duplechan and Swedish Hill’s Alex Manley. Because, sure enough, in addition to the classic family-friendly menu, the place also boasts a full bar for some rockin’ late-night drink-abetted action. And, yes, pizza is their specialty, but there’s also frybread with smoked eggplant, corn fried calamari, and grilled ricotta with butternut squash chutney on garlic bread – in addition to classics like spaghetti and meatballs, rigatoni alla vodka, and orecchiette. The Bouldin Creek neighborhood’s getting downright Italianate, y’think?

While we’re going on about Bouldin Creek, you already know how good that eponymous, vegan-friendly joint is, right? Bouldin Creek Cafe, we mean, at 1900 S. First. Stopped in recently to check out those milk-infused fog tea drinks of theirs, with the steam and the vanilla and so on, which turn out to be a truly wintertime combo of yum. Then we couldn’t help ordering a breakfast taco for, um, ballast. So good. And, whoa, Leslie Martin, what a glorious, many-dished menu y’all have going there! For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the place is so deliciously plant-forward…

Kerbey Lane Cafes are all over the city, though – and it may do your parenting budget good to know that, on Tuesdays? On Tuesdays, children younger than 12 eat free (with the purchase of an adult entrée) at all locations. Certainly makes it easier to feed that spawn of yours – at least once a week. And, ah, “you are what you eat,” right? So who’s to say you’re not raising a bowl of Kerbey queso?

Let’s see – what else, what else? We’ve got a pleasing plethora of Holiday Dining options gathered for your choosing pleasure… and, excerpted from some of the best cookbooks around, an array of new recipes for re-traditionalizing your holiday feasts… and our A. Richmond’s got a scoop on that Tesla that crashed through the window of Kelly’s Irish Pub a couple Saturdays ago

And this Dovetail, from Texas Keeper, is a brandy-fortified cider, thereby answering the eternal question: "What pommeau do you want?"

Cider insider: We recently wrangled a roundup of local ciders for your perusal, and now we get to crow about this rosaceous ripening: On Sat., Dec. 17, Texas Keeper Cider (out in Manchaca, at 12521 Twin Creek Rd.) is releasing its second bottling of Dovetail Pommeau. Dovetail – note: not related to the abovementioned pizza joint – is the first pommeau made in Texas. (Pommeaus are to cider as ports are to wines; they’re ciders fortified with fruit brandy, traditionally made in Northern France.) This one began five years ago with a harvesting of Ben Davis and Rhode Island Greening apples. Texas Keeper then laid down a few more barrels (this time, Northern Spy and Wickson), and stopped fermentation halfway with fruit brandy. The batch has been aging in 100% new American oak casks since then. And now, they’re telling us, this Dovetail Pommeau is “positively luscious, with notes of honeyed apricot, peach, toffee and soft tannins,” and will also be available for local delivery and national shipping…

WUXTRY! Watertrade, that excellent lounge attached to Otoko (1603 S. Congress), is collaborating with the confectionary wizards at Besamé ice cream to offer a special dessert this weekend (Dec. 14-17): the baked Hokkaido. This is a riff on baked Alaska, combining blueberry mochi cake, Besamé's Yoshi-Cha tea-infused coconut ice cream, yuzu curd, Italian meringue, and a buckwheat-and-roasted-miso crumble, served with a 2-ounce pour of their private label Revenge of the Third Son sake. Whoa, y’all, what’s the Japanese word for dōmo arigatō?

Now eat as well as you can, tip like it’s going out of style, and don’t ever ever ever forget the reason for the season: This planet’s an oblate spheroid that wobbles and spins.

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