by Virginia B. Wood

By far the most interesting tidbit in the mail this week is the announcement of a contest to sell a local restaurant. Purple Plum owner Mary Heckler has chosen to give up her cozy, lunch-only restaurant and catering business through a contest that she is promoting both in the media and on the Internet. The Purple Plum has been a popular lunch spot in the central city medical complex neighborhood for 14 years. Heckler wants prospective owners to submit short essays, video or audio tapes, or mixed media presentations along with $100 entry fees detailing why they want to own her restaurant. The entry deadline has been extended to December 10, 1995, with the prize to be awarded Christmas Day. If all you want for Christmas is your own restaurant, drop by the Purple Plum, 1500 W. 34th, and pick up a packet of information with all the legal contest details (she needs 1750 entrants to compensate for the business, and will return entry fees if the goal is not met), or browse the Web sight at Good luck!... When chef/owner Lalo Garland opened El Rinconcito in 1991, he promoted it as a Mexican restaurant because he doubted the Austin dining public would frequent a Latin American spot. However, through patient and careful education of his clientele, Garland has been able to broaden the scope of his menu to include more Latin American dishes. Because his Monday night Peruvian Tasting Dinners complemented by South American wine selections are always well attended, chef Garland has added some of the most popular dishes from those dinners to the regular Rinconcito menu. Check out the Tallarin Saltado ($8.50), sautéed skirt steak with onions, peppers, and tomatoes tossed with linguini and parmesan cheese or the Pescado Platano ($10.95), grilled fish of the day topped with plantains in an orange and aji pepper wine sauce... Who says a delicious holiday meal has to be bad for you? The folks at Casa de Luz, 1701 Toomey Road, invite you to experience a totally macrobiotic Thanksgiving this year. Their special meal will feature healthy delectables such as Pumpkin Soup, Mock Turkey with Stuffing, Baked Wild Rice Pilaf with Dressing, cranberry sauce, apple and pumpkin pies, and organic wine. For prices, reservations, and directions to the restaurant, call 476-5446... If you just can't imagine your holiday meals without turkey but would like to try an organically raised, free-range, grain-fed gobbler that has never been fed hormones or antibiotics, the folks at White Egret Farm have the bird for you. It may be too late to get your turkey in time for Thanksgiving, but Christmas is just around the corner. Orders can be placed at 276-7408 or 276-7505, or drop by the Whole Foods Farmer's Market, Wednesday afternoons, 2:30-5:30pm and order from there... Popular Southwestern cookbook authors Cheryl and Bill Jamison will teach a class at Central Market on Monday evening, November 27, featuring recipes from their newest book, The Border Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, $29.95, cloth). The new book is a taste-tempting collection of classic and new recipes from diverse border-area cuisines that have become popularly known as "Southwestern." Call 458-3068 to make reservations... As of last week, Austin has another institute of higher learning. The Schlotzsky's Deli Flagship Restaurant/Bread Alone Bakery & Coffeehouse/International Training Center is open for buisness at 218 S. Lamar. Future Schlotzsky's franchisees from all over the world will train at the new facility, introducing Austin customers to the cutting edge of the chain's development. Nationally known baker Daniel Leader, owner of the Bread Alone Bakery in Boiceville, NY and author of the popular Bread Alone, is now a joint venture partner with Schlotzky's, and his signature breads will be an integral part of the chain's new line. Bread and pastry production at the new facility will be under the direction of Rebecca Rather, former Exec. Pastry Chef for Tony Vallone's group of popular Houston restaurants... In the "Off with Her Head" department: My sincere apologies to the Skyline Grill, 801 S. Lamar for the capricious relocation of their restaurant and to John Thorson for misspelling his name.

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