This has certainly been a character-building year for Central Texas farmers: hard winter freezes, late spring freezes, months of suffocating drought, blistering heat, drenching late summer rains that washed away newly planted fall crops, and a first frost in late October rather than the customary early December. Nevertheless, farmers markets around the area are now selling fall crops. Restaurant menus all over town are boasting about Gary Hodge's Hodge Station salad greens and vegetables. At Boggy Creek Farm, everyone's favorite fall greens are finally for sale, with their excellent selection of lettuces and spinach not far behind. And you can take home the certified organic cargo in a totally Texas tote bag made from organic Lubbock cotton, silk-screened locally by Vreeland Graphics, featuring a photo of feline farm manager and native Texan, Tubby J. Tupelo... Historic pieces of the Texas wine industry are now for sale. The owners of Llano Estacado Winery outside Lubbock are expanding their production facility which necessitates the removal of one of their oldest vineyards. The Home Merlot Vineyard was planted in 1979 to demonstrate that wine grape vines could flourish on the High Plains and has consistently produced award-winning wines. Consumers are invited to visit the winery and choose a vine to take home. For $100, the winery will remove the vine, wrap the roots and send it home with the customer with a certificate of authentication and instructions on how to transplant and care for the vine. To obtain a Merlot vine from this historic Texas vineyard, call 800/745-2258. In other wine-related news, Leon Cikota, president of the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, has announced that the guest of honor for the April, 1997 event will be revered American wine industry patriarch, Robert Mondavi. "He rarely makes public appearances, so to have Mr. Mondavi come for our event is truly something special," says Cikota. Cikota also announced that the Friday night spotlight event will include restaurants from Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston in addition to Austin and San Antonio favorites... I would have just laughed and discarded this press release except that I have friends who do actually cook for their pets. Pet Sitters International (PSI) has published a cookbook entitled Eats `N Treats for Pets and Their People ($7.95). The book contains recipes for animal treats and humans plus helpful hints and pet care information. The proceeds from the sale of the cookbook will help PSI in its efforts to support and promote professional pet sitting. If your cookbook collection just won't be complete without this volume, contact PSI at 910/983-9222... Closer to home, animal lovers are invited to "put on the dog" on Friday, Nov. 8. Citiview B & B owners Carol Hayden and Ralph Canada, Jr. are hosting a fundraising dinner benefiting the Humane Society-SPCA of Austin on the grounds of their South Austin property. Citiview is both a bed and breakfast and party facility which features a Fifties-vintage Frank Lloyd Wright-style house with a dynamic view of downtown Austin and a two-acre exotic bird and animal sanctuary. Carmelo's Italian Restaurant will cater the benefit, silent auction items will be available and Texas author Kinky Friedman will make a personal appearance. Call 837-7985 to make reservations. Send restaurant news, chef/menu changes, food events, or intriguing rumors to: "food-o-file," The Austin Chronicle, PO Box 49066, Austin, TX 78765.
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