by Virginia B. Wood

The handsome cadre of kilt-clad young men dashing around town on Saturday, December 7 was not a musical group or a soccer squad; it was Bertram's chef Peter O'Brien and his groomsmen. "We're all Scotch-Irish," explained the bridegroom, "so we each wore our clan colors, or as close as we could get." Chef O'Brien married his lovely bride Kara McGorrian early Saturday afternoon at the Perry Mansion and then catered his own wedding reception that evening at the same venue. He was aided and abetted in the adventurous undertaking by his groomsmen, the talented Bertram's kitchen staff, and Eddie Bernal, Tim Albright, and Chap Ross of 34th Street Cafe. Bertram's pastry chef Louise McLaughlin created both the exquisite bride's cake and a smashing dessert assortment which included a dense chocolate groom's cake layered with various chocolate mousses and chocolate ganache decorated with spun sugar Christmas ornaments and pulled sugar and hard-candy Christmas ribbons; a gingerbread box spilling forth an assortment of cookies backed up by gingerbread and sugar-stained glass windows; and a grocery-sized chocolate bag filled with dried fruits, strawberries, and three varieties of chocolate-covered strawberries!...

Restaurants & Institutions magazine has taken a real interest in Austin restaurants lately. A photo crew from the magazine was in town in early December, shooting their February cover at the Shoreline Grill. Shoreline chef Dan Haverty's original creations will be the focus of the story, featuring both recipes and photos. Fonda San Miguel restaurant was recently notified that they are nominated for R&I's prestigious Ivy Award, given for "excellence in food service." Only 34 restaurants from across the country are nominated for the 1997 award and of this year's nominees, only three are located in Texas. Fonda San Miguel is the only Austin restaurant ever to be nominated for an Ivy Award. Of the yearly nominees, eight restaurants will be inducted into the exclusive Ivy Society at a private ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Chicago in May. "I feel this nomination recognizes years of hard work by our whole staff," says Fonda San Miguel co-owner Tom Gilliland, "including our former chef Miguel Ravago. To be on the short list for this award is an overwhelming honor"...

La Madeleine French Bakery & Cafe founder Patrick Esquerré was in town to open his third local store in the Village at Westlake on Bee Caves Road. The opening included the debut of some new La Madeleine products such as premium coffee blends and teas, an Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Merry Berry Confiture, and Chocolate Truffles which are available in all La Madeleine locations...

Renaissance Hotels International has published the perfect gift for foodies to whom favorite chefs are celebrities. Their 1997 Chef-of-the-Month Calendar serves up chef profiles and a selection of recipes for delicious fresh vegetable dishes created by the hotel's chefs in the US and Canada, including executive chef Albert Musca of the Renaissance Austin Hotel. For a copy of the calendar, call their corporate office at 216/498-9090...

All the coffee lovers who voted Starbucks as their favorite coffee in our recent readers' restaurant poll will want to check out the cafe's holiday gift catalog. It offers all their popular coffee bean blends, coffee press pots and mugs, compilation CDs, gourmet desserts, candies and cookies, even coffee-related jewelry. Many of the items are available at Starbucks outlets but some are available by mail order only, so call 800/611-1669.

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