How to celebrate Mardi Gras in Austin, as well as Austin's culinary news

Mardi Gras Eats

If you're looking for a delicious way to celebrate Mardi Gras right here in town, there are certainly some great options. The Louisiana-bred folks at Crescent City Beignets (1211 W. Sixth, 472-9622) are throwing a Mardi Gras party this Saturday night, Feb. 24, from 9pm to midnight, complete with live zydeco music, plenty of gumbo, and beignets. Bring your beads, your appetite, and your dancing shoes for the fais do do. Next up is the annual Gumbo Contest at Central Market (4001 N. Lamar, 206-1000). Entry forms and instructions are available at the information desk and both the form and entry fee must be returned to the store by 9pm, Feb. 23. The categories are Individual and Restaurant; vegetable, chicken/sausage, seafood, and exotic. There will be prizes for winners in each category and the grand prize is a $1,000 shopping spree in the store. (Entrants in the Restaurant category are not eligible for the grand prize.) Gumbo samples and lists of ingredients must be delivered to the store on Sunday, Feb. 25, between 9-11am. Judging will take place from noon until 6pm and the winners will be announced in the Cafe at 7pm. Drop by to find out if you're the big winner and stay for some festivities afterward. I'll be judging this year, and I'm really looking forward to it!… If your taste runs to things Italian, Asti Trattoria & Wine Bar (408-C E. 43rd St., 451-1218) plans to commemorate Fat Tuesday with Carnivale-Venetian Style, a $75 five-course pre-Lenten feast featuring the foods and wines of Italy's Veneto region. The dinner is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 7pm. Seating is limited to 24 people and reservations are necessary. Speaking of Asti, I have a correction to make: I've been informed that the very talented and capable Christy Moore is now and has always been the only sous chef at the hip Hyde Park eatery.


One of Austin's favorite homegrown coffeehouses has just expanded and relocated its University area outlet, recently celebrating the grand opening of Little City Espresso Bar & Roasting Company (2604 Guadalupe, 467-2326) in the former Longhorn Dental building on the Drag. The design team of Samantha Randall of Circa Design and Jean Goehring of Chop Shop have turned a stodgy office building into a hip, colorful new space that Little City founder Donna Taylor describes as the "Pussycat Lounge meets Pop Art with the scent of roasting coffee beans!" In response to customer demand, Little City has also expanded their menu to include a variety of signature sandwiches, soups, and salads prepared with homemade sauces and dressings. All this in addition to pastries, people-watching, and a full complement of coffee drinks… Check out the "New and Noteworthy" column in an upcoming issue of the Wine Spectator magazine for a story titled "Building the Cellar," about the creation of state-of-the-art cellar facilities at Emilia's (600 E. Third St., 469-9722) and an interview with Emilia's wine director Matthew Berendt… Congratulate the folks at the Driskill Grille (Seventh & Brazos, 474-5911) and the Cafe at the Four Seasons (98 San Jacinto, 478-4500) for being named Four Star Restaurants in the new Exxon Mobil Travel Guide 2001. They are the only two Austin restaurants so honored and two of only 17 Texas restaurants recognized in the annual guide… The ever popular Thursday night wine tastings are still in full swing at Whole Foods Gateway (Hwy 360 & Research, 345-5003) from 7-8:30pm. The cost is $12.50 per person, and reservations are necessary. During March, they'll be sampling big, bold blends from around the world, their favorite "Zins," and some marvelous Rhone varietals.

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Crescent City Beignets, ASTI Trattoria & Wine Bar, Emilia's, Whole Food Gateway

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