Last week, Austin chef Miguel Ravago received a call from a publicity representative with Simon & Schuster, and the rep was so excited about her news that it took Ravago several minutes to learn the reason for her call. The good news: The book that Ravago recently co-authored with Seattle culinary tour director Marilyn Tausend, Cocina de la Familia (Simon & Schuster, $24.95 hard), has been nominated for a Julia Child Cookbook Award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). The awards ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 22 at the IACP convention in Portland, Oregon. Ravago will certainly be in attendance. "I'll have to come right back because Bertram's is hosting the Share Our Strength dinner later that week," the ecstatic author told me last week, "but I wouldn't miss this for the world!" No word yet on whether Cocina de la Familia will also be nominated for a James Beard Cookbook Award, but Simon & Schuster will advise Ravago as soon as the nominations for that honor are made public... And speaking of dinners for good causes which will be held at Bertram's, invitations went out this week to the Chair-ity Auction and Gala dinner that will be held at Bertram's (1601 Guadalupe, 476-2743) on Sunday, April 26. This worthwhile event donates 100% of the proceeds to hunger relief on the local, national, and international level, and both the food and art are always fabulous.

One of our favorite harbingers of spring has to be the re-opening of the numerous farmer's markets around Central Texas. As of this week, the farmstand at Boggy Creek Farm (3414 Lyons Rd., 926-4650) has officially re-opened, and is selling its wares every Wednesday and Saturday... Marianne Simmons of Onion Creek Farm (1611 Creek Rd., 512/858-1090) in Dripping Springs called to announce her Saturday farmstand will be back in business by the middle of the month... Pamela Boyar (280-1976) and her popular Westlake Farmer's Market (Westbank Drive in the Westlake High School parking lot) celebrates its 1998 grand opening this Saturday, April 4, 10am-2pm, rain or shine. The market features organic produce, flowers, goat cheese, natural beef and chickens, eggs, Hot Damn! tamales, breads from both Great Harvest and Bread Alone, pecans, plants, pastas, and pestos from Bottega della Pasta, pastries from the Living Arts Kitchen, salsas from Sgt. Peppers, and Italian ice cream from Milano's. A handful of the farms to be represented at Westlake are Boggy Creek, Hairston Creek, Homestead Beef, Lamar Farm, McKemie Farm, Pure Luck Organics, White Egret Farm, and the fine little farm tended by the basil-growing pre-schoolers from Ronda's Montessori Garden... One of the region's best-known markets, the Travis County Farmer's Market (6701 Burnet, 454-1002) re-opens with its Spring Fling on Saturday, April 11, 8am-6pm. Fresh produce, herbs, and flowers will be available for sale, and visitors can browse and buy in the antique and gift shops, as well as dine with new market tenants such as BBQ World Headquarters,
Los Armadillos Coffee Roasters
, Sweetie Pies, and Lucero's Mexican Restaurant.

Looking to whip yourself into shape this spring? Whole Foods Market is sponsoring a new program called Body Balance that may help you do that. The program is designed to teach consumers about the popular 30-40-30 approach to dieting, with nutrition consultant Kristy Walker providing weekly meetings at both of Whole Foods' stores (Sixth & Lamar, Gateway on 183). A free introductory seminar is scheduled for Wednesday, April 8. The subsequent four-week course will cost $75 and includes store tours, lectures, and group discussions. For more information about the program or to sign up, call Walker at 329-6656.

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