Virginia B. Wood gets the lowdown on Sandra Bullock's recent party spot and updates readers on local culinary news.

That's a Wrap

Though some members of the cast and crew of the Sandra Bullock film Miss Congeniality stayed at the San Jose Hotel (1316 S. Congress, 444-7322) for the duration of local filming, the production took over the entire facility Saturday, July 15, for a Texas-style wrap party catered by who else but Liberty Catering (383-8880). For the big shindig, the hotel parking lot was fenced for privacy, the hip neighborhood Jo's Coffeehouse was transformed into a cocktail bar, Bob Schneider and the Scabs were on hand for the live music portion of the evening, and later, a DJ provided music for dancing in the hotel courtyard. Five hundred of Ms. Bullock's nearest and dearest dined on Tex-Mex appetizers, Liberty's barbecue specialties, including their fabulous pulled pork, icy cold watermelons, and desserts by new Liberty pastry chef Rebecca Rather. As someone who lives around the corner from the hotel, I can assure you, the joint was rockin'.

Expert Spokesman

When Hunt-Wesson Foods, the makers of the absolutely necessary Rotel tomato products, needed a spokesperson to promote the newest addition to their product line in Southern markets this summer, they contacted the premier interior Mexican restaurant in the area. As a result, Fonda San Miguel executive chef Roberto Santibanez is the new spokesman for Rotel's new pico de gallo. The charming Mexico City native will create recipes using Rotel products and participate in a media tour of major Southern cities over the next few months. Chef Santibanez's tenure with Rotel began with a mid-June visit to Birmingham, where he appeared in interviews and cooking demos on both radio and television. In addition to his promotional duties for Rotel, the knowledgeable chef will conduct a four-day intensive program on Mexican cooking and culture for the culinary students at Kendall College in Chicago in August.

Snowballs in Hell

Snow-cone-loving readers have been very happy to alert us as more vendors pop up around the city. A reader dropped a card about Valli Stokes' homemade flavorings at Aussie Shaved Ice in the Bingo Hall parking lot on W. Ben White just south of Manchaca Road. We also noticed a new snow-cone trailer in the parking lot at Mercedes Martinez Restaurant (1703 S. First, 440-1889) that's open from 11am to 10pm, and we have it on good authority that the Raspas stand at W. Anderson Lane and Mullen Street serves shaved-ice snowballs made with slicing blades imported from New Orleans!

Feeding the Hungry

The Shepherd's Flock, a new organization dedicated to feeding the hungry in East Austin, has just received their official nonprofit (501C-3) status from the IRS, according to executive director Jim Coddington. Currently, Coddington and his hard-working volunteers purchase food from the Capitol Area Food Bank and serve meals every Friday. Their long-term goals include a kitchen facility and paid staff members who can provide meals every day. As a brand-new nonprofit, the Shepherd's Flock needs donations, sponsors, and volunteers. Contact Coddington at 452-9135 for more information.

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Virginia B. Wood, Sept. 18, 2015

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Sandra Bullock, Fonda San Miguel, Hunt-Wesson Foods, Roberto Santibanez, Bob Schneider and the Scabs, Aussie Shaved Ice

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