New Ownership

Chef/owner Jean-Louis DeHoux has sold his charming, romantic L'Estro Armonico, the Belgian Restaurant (3520 Bee Caves, 328-0580) to former maitre d' Felix Florez II. "When Marianne and I started the restaurant years ago, we didn't have children," DeHoux told me last week. "Now our kids are seven and 10 and I'd like to spend some time with them while they're growing up. The restaurant wasn't actually on the market. Felix just made the right offer at the right time and we took it." Quality and consistency should remain high as DeHoux will be leaving the kitchen in the capable hands of Belgian chef Christian Ekterbille, who relocated to Austin last year after visiting here several years in a row with his graduating teams of Belgian culinary students. When the DeHoux family returns from Christmas in Belgium, Jean-Louis will devote his energies to the production and marketing of the restaurant software Jumpware in partnership with Jean-Luc and Denise Salles, owners of Jean-Luc's French Bistro and Hixo ad man Mike Hix.

Unusual Jungle Pests

Chap Ross called from Chan Chich Lodge in Belize recently to assure his Austin friends that he'd survived the devastating Caribbean hurricane. As Belize was on the dry side of the storm, it received only minimal damage. The challenges he described had more to do with learning to live in a thatched roof cabana in a rainforest and finding ways to keep a marauding family of coatimundis out of his kitchen. It seems the jungle mammals are smarter and far more mischievous than raccoons. Ross expects to be busy over Christmas and New Year's cooking for groups of eco-tourists from Austin.

Stocking Stuffers

As anyone on Boggy Creek Farm's e-mail list can attest, the correspondence from farm co-owner Carol Ann Sayle is often the highlight of a week. At the request of several fans, Sayle and husband Larry Butler have recorded some of her most popular missives and are marketing them as Letters From the Farm. The cassette tapes are available for $8.95 plus tax at the BCF farmstand, the Westlake Farmer's Market, Whole Foods farmer's markets, Fresh Plus grocery, and Gardenville...

For the sweet tooth on your holiday gift list, Texas French Bread (various locations, 499-0035 to order) has a full line of delicious holiday baked goods. Try a traditional Buch de Noel or a chocolate-raspberry Poinsettia Cake. There are also cookie assortments in tins, several varieties of brownies, plus breads in holiday flavors such as Chocolate Cherry bread, Cranberry Tea bread, and Cranberry Orange scones...

For the deserving pet in your life, check out the wares at the new Bone Appetit Bakery (8820 Burnet, #502, 454-2222). This new chain operation has healthy gourmet treats and pet-related gift items for dogs and cats.


A few weeks back, we reported that Chris Shirley had been hired as a sous-chef at Vespaio (1610 S. Congress, 441-6100). For the record, Breton Childs is the sous-chef there...

The newest venture from Cathe Dailey and partner Michael Vilim is Mirabelle (8127 Mesa, 346-7900), a lovely Northwest neighborhood restaurant featuring the American contemporary cuisine of chef Jesus Torres...

Ninfa Laurenzo is in town this week celebrating the first anniversary of Ninfa's on Sixth (612 W. Sixth, 476-0612) with sons Tom and Gino Laurenzo...

Try the Cuban sandwich at the new El Veloz (5310 Airport, 206-3526), where the sign says they'll make paella with an hour's notice.

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