Food-O-File

If yours is one of the 5,000 families that has ordered its entire holiday feast from the Gallons to Go division of Threadgill's the past 10 years, listen up. Threadgill's owner Eddie Wilson announced this week that the company will not be taking to-go orders for turkey and trimmings at Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. The staffing demands of running two busy restaurants have left Wilson without the necessary extra employees needed to take orders, make last-minute changes, and prepare all those thousands of extra meals. "We hate to shut down the holiday take-out after all these years, but we just don't have enough help," he said last week. They'll still be serving Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in both restaurants, as usual. Watch this space next week for the names of some other local businesses which will be preparing take-out holiday meals.

A mouth-watering bowl of soup from Eastside Cafe (2113 Manor Rd,, 476-5858) was the glossy color cover shot on the trade publication Restaurants & Institutions in October. The story inside offered soup recipes from restaurants around the country, including one from the Soup Yourself cookbook by Eastside soup chef Ruth Carter. Speaking of Eastside's award-winning soups, Eastside co-owner/executive chef Elaine Martin reports that as of November 14, the cafe will be selling soups, salads, and a few take-out sweets from its small retail outlet, Pitchforks & Tablespoons. Patrons who can't wait for a table or are too busy to sit down for lunch can order from the Soup on the Run window and have a lunch in a jiffy.

Considering the large number of serious vegans and vegetarians in the local population, the International Conference on Vegetarian Diets at the Omni Hotel (Seventh & Brazos, 476-3700) should find a receptive audience. The conference is presented by the Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in association with Vegetarian Times magazine and Chefs Collaborative 2000. Previous meetings have showcased Mediterranean and Latin American food guide pyramids and Oldways has chosen Austin as the location to unveil the Vegetarian Diet food pyramid. The conference is scheduled for Saturday, November 15, through Tuesday, November 18. Cost of the entire festival package is $325, but single day rates of $99 are available with the option for extra charges for meals or receptions. The opening reception Saturday evening ($35) will feature an international vegetarian feast prepared by members of the Chefs Collaborative from Austin and around the country. Call 444-4444 for last-minute registration information. Several Chronicle writers will attend conference events or interview chefs/authors in attendance and report back in our vegetarian issue November 28. Here are some highlights from the conference agenda.

Sunday, November 16: Lectures, panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, and commentaries on such subjects as the history of vegetarian foodways, the history and significance of food guide pyramids, the commercial viability of vegetarian dishes on restaurant menus, dietary fat and phytochemicals, micronutrients and whole foods vegetarian living, and nutritional profiles on vegetarian protein sources such as nuts and legumes. The day will culminate in a Texas Vegetarian Buffet, contemporary vegetarian dishes prepared by chefs David Garrido and Wayne Henderson of Austin, Tim Keating, Monica Pope, and Jimmy Mitchell of Houston, and Jay McCarthy of San Antonio.

Monday, November 17: Nutritional news updates for vegetarians including discussions of the need for dietary supplements in the vegetarian diet; special nutritional considerations such as child development, women's health (pregnancy, lactation, menopause), and aging; discussion and definition of vegan lifestyles. The buffet lunch will highlight bread's "roll" in the vegetarian cuisines of the world, featuring breads made by Rebecca Rather of Bread Alone, an olive oil tasting, and a discussion of bread and wine. During the afternoon, the topics will focus on a sensible approach to alcohol consumption in a vegetarian diet; a lecture on bread's place in vegetarian traditions from Austin culinary historian Ann Clark and a baking demonstration by Jim Murphy, co-owner of Sweetish Hill Bakery.

Tuesday, November 18: Presentations and commentaries on vegetarian diet mainstays avocados and peanuts; discussion of the social challenges of vegetarian lifestyles; presentation of the Traditional Healthy Vegetarian Diet Pyramid at a Q&A session with national health and nutritional professionals; the buffet lunch is described as "The Doctor, the Food Writer, and the Chef, all in the Vegetarian Pyramid Kitchen." The final afternoon will offer presentation and commentary on organics, sustainability, and vegetarian shoppers, and a panel discussion on the communication challenges involved in spreading the word about vegetarian diets to consumers.

Skol! Prost! Salud! L'chaim! Drink to the Fourth Annual Texas Brewer's Festival

If all this hilarious consideration of local craft-brewed beers has whetted your thirst, the Texas Brewer's Festival this weekend comes just in time. The all-day parties will take over the intersection of Fourth and Colorado Streets from noon-11pm on Saturday, November 15, and 1-8pm on Sunday, November 16. Twelve microbreweries from Austin and around the state will join local brewpubs in pouring their best brews while local bands provide free musical entertainment. Neighborhood restaurants and food vendors will be selling delicious ballast to offset the large volume of beer. In conjunction with the festival, the Fifth Annual Brew Ha-Ha Homebrew Competition will hold the final round of judging during the day Saturday, with winners announced from the Main Stage at 5:45pm.

Entrance to the festival is free. To drink beer, patrons must have a valid Texas ID and buy a festival mug for $3. Beer tickets are $2.50 each, and it is possible to pre-purchase for $20 a Texas Tasting Pass which entitles the holder to 25 samplings from over 40 varieties of beer. (To charge passes by phone, call 462-2981 or 800/BREWFEST.) Proceeds from this event will benefit several local charitable organizations. The Texas Brewer's Festival promotes an appreciation of the craft of brewing and encourages safe and responsible drinking. Designated drivers will receive free soft drinks and safe rides home will be provided if needed. For more information, contact http://www.ccsi.com/~erc or 462-1855

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