Charitable Cuisine

The spring fundraising event calendar is filling up fast. Granite Cafe's Eddie Bernal, this year's chairperson of the Share Our Strength Hunger Relief fundraising cocktail party and dinner, reports that preliminary planning meetings suggest the 1996 fundraising goal of $50,000 is a realistic one. Jeffrey's executive chef David Garrido has been hard at work pairing up all the talented chefs who are more than willing to help with the dinner. This year, the pre-dinner cocktail party will be held on the lawn at the Four Seasons hotel and will feature appetizers from 20 restaurants. Tickets for the cocktail party will be sold separately to allow patrons to choose either or both events. The $125-per-person dinner will be held in the beautiful lakeview banquet room at the Shoreline Grill. The date for the SOS Hunger Relief Dinner is set for May 5. Call Eddie Bernal at 480-8504 for more information. Garrido is also planning a fundraiser called Food for Thought benefiting the Communities in Schools program with the office of Texas first lady Laura Bush. We'll have the date and more details on that event as soon as all arrangements are finalized.

New and Improved

I just sampled the newest shortbread flavor from Penny's Pastries, and the mixture of chocolate and plain dough, called Patches, is the best one yet! With Valentine's Day and Easter fast upon us, the cookie bakers at Penny's are as busy as ever. Cookie maven Penny McConnell is searching for a few good cookie decorators so if you consider yourself a true artist in the kitchen, go by the bakery at 2000 E. Sixth for a chance to dazzle them with your skill and reliability.

Spaghetti Western chef/owner Lalo Garland is turning out new menu items at his South First Street location. Garland's passion for the research and study of the various cuisines of South America are apparent in the new menu items; the Italian dinners each include a touch of Latin and South American spice to excite the palate. Try the scampi in a sauce of garlic, olive oil, lime, serrano chilies and cilantro, canelloni stuffed with spinach and cheeses and topped with a smoky chipotle marinara sauce, or linguini pescatore in which the noodles are tossed with shrimp, scallops, mussels, cilantro pesto, habanero peppers, and parmesan cheese.

Good news discovered at the Old Alligator Grill anniversary party on January 22: The Muffaletta sandwich ($7.95) is greatly improved. The giant half sandwich arrives on a real, sesame seed-encrusted muffaletta bun, is loaded with thinly sliced meats and cheeses, and is dripping with a generous helping of olive salad. It comes with spicy Cajun fries and creamy coleslaw and makes a very satisfying meal after sharing a Cajun Sampler ($8.95) of perfectly fried tender catfish nuggets, large crawfish tails, and those red-hot Cajun kisses.

The wave of popular local coffee shops has washed over into Round Rock. Saradora's is a new hot spot in downtown Round Rock, having renovated a charming historic building at the corner of Main and Mays. They'll be selling coffee by the cup and by the bean, loose teas, Great Harvest Breads, Chisolm Trail Fudge (in honor of the fact that the old cattle trail went through Round Rock), and a Japanese box lunch called Bento, made up of steamed rice and beef, chicken, or vegetables. They also feature live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

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