The Austin Chronicle


By Virginia B. Wood, January 19, 2001, Food

Omissions and Corrections

In the off-with-my-head department, there are some omissions from and corrections to holiday columns that need to be addressed. (My adult onset of attention deficit disorder seems to have been running rampant while December columns were being written.) It's important to mention one of the best food stories of 2000 that was omitted from our end-of-the-year top 10 lists. Like many renters in Austin these days, Montessori instructor Ronda Dizney found herself in a tight spot in the spring of 2000. The South Austin property that had housed Ronda's Montessori Garden (707-8635, 4300 Mt. Vernon) for six years was put on the market, and skyrocketing real estate prices quickly put the property out of Dizney's personal price range. She was unsuccessful in negotiating an affordable price with the property owner, and it looked for a while that she would lose the lush and productive organic gardens so lovingly tended by her preschool-age gardeners for the past six years. The intrepid Dizney put out appeals all over the community and invited KXAN's Jim Swift to film one of his "Out on the Porch" segments at the garden. During the segment, Dizney made a plea for some gardening guardian angel to purchase the property and sell it to her at a price she could afford. That's exactly what happened. Through friends in Austin, California high tech millionaire Laurie X. Wayne heard about the garden's plight and stepped in to save the day. Wayne purchased the property and sold it to Dizney in November, which means that Ronda's Montessori Garden will be nurturing environmentally aware little organic gardeners for years to come.

In a holiday column about nonprofit volunteer and donation opportunities, the contact phone number for the Green Corn Project (833-7446, was listed incorrectly. Please make a note of the correct phone number and e-mail address if you are interested in volunteering or donating funds to this nonprofit that creates organic gardens for disadvantaged Austinites.

Musing in a Dec. 29 column about all the new restaurants I was eager to visit, I completely changed the name of the friendly and hardworking general manager at Emilia's (600 E. Third, 469-9722). Former Mezzaluna manager Michael McGovern is the GM at the lovely new Emilia's located in the old Waterloo Compound. McGovern, chef Will Packwood, and wine director Matthew Berendt joined forces with retired Dell exec Denis Tracey to create one of the most stunning restaurants Austin has seen in years. Despite my faux pas, McGovern welcomed us graciously and gave us a grand tour of Emilia's. Every exquisite detail has been attended to in the multimillion-dollar purchase and renovation (by local restoration specialist, architect Greg Free) of the historic downtown property that housed a popular local saloon and mercantile for more than 100 years. The limestone wall and hardwood-floored dining rooms are tastefully decorated, the existing wine cellar has been turned into a state-of-the-art facility, and the kitchen is one that any chef would kill for. Chef Packwood's cuisine holds its own quite well in the elegant historic setting. Everyone at our table was sublimely happy with our dinner choices, and we'd happily drown in Packwood's rich and flavorful lobster bisque ($9) garnished with crème fraîche and osétra caviar. Due to convention center construction, Emilia's is only accessible from the south, so take Caesar Chavez to Red River and the restaurant is in the two-story stone building on the corner at Third Street. It's dinner only with complimentary valet parking. This restaurant is not to be missed.

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