Food-o-File

Cuisines editor Virginia B. Wood updates readers on the news from the 16th Annual Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival and mentions upcoming culinary events.


Last Hurrah

The 16th Annual Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival spotlighting the foods and wines of Spain was a success. Unfortunately, it also proved to be somewhat of a last hurrah for a critically acclaimed young Austin restaurant. After 22 (6203 Capital of Texas Hwy., 346-4411) chef Casey Lloyd won the people's choice vote at the Stars Across Texas dinner with his Imperial Duck Roll in Fiery Plum Sauce, visiting chef Jose Andres of Jaleo in Washington, D.C., rounded up most of the festival's visiting celebrities and took them to 22 for a celebratory late-night meal. Though the globetrotting visitors were wowed by chef Lloyd's eclectic cuisine and the restaurant's décor (by Laurie Smith Design Assoc.), the festival boost was ultimately not enough to forestall the inevitable. This week, owners Doug Foreman and Frank Obregon closed 22 and reopened the restaurant as The Alligator Grill, with the same menu and style as its South Austin counterpart. "The bank doesn't take four-star reviews, awards, and positive comment cards in the drive-through deposit," Foreman told me this week, adding that he just wasn't seeing the business growth necessary to keep pursuing the 22 concept. He also lauded the tireless efforts of chef Casey Lloyd and stressed the format change should not reflect negatively on the extremely talented young man. Amen to that. A chef with Lloyd's skill and creativity should not be on the open market for very long.

There's still no word on the MIAs from the festival's Saturday night Culinary Masters Dinner (in my opinion, a festival component that needs to be entirely overhauled). The Texas Tapas prepared by local chefs Wm. Emmett Fox of ASTI, Stewart Scruggs of Wink, David Bull of the Driskill Grill, and John Maxwell of Zoot never really materialized. It seems each chef created 300 servings of "Texas Tapas With a Twist" to complement the Texas wines being poured before the dinner guests were seated. Evidently, the appetizers were supposed to have been passed to the crowd waiting to enter the Four Seasons ballroom. However, due to some logistical snafu, the tapas and the crowd never quite got together. It's rare for an entire course to just disappear. The tapas would have been a welcome addition to the meal at our table.


Bocaditos

The lovely gardens showcased in the latest issue of Southern Living belong to Austin's own Lucinda Hutson, renowned gardener and herb expert. The article also features a selection of spring recipes from Hutson's kitchen… Victoria magazine spent the better part of a week photographing a story at Rather Sweet Bakery (249 E. Main, Fredericksburg, 830/990-0498) for publication in the fall… On Sunday, April 22, Mirabelle (8127 Mesa, 346-7900) will host a Seghesio Winery Showcase Dinner with winery owner Pete Seghesio. Mirabelle cooks will be working at seven different stations around the restaurant, preparing individual courses to complement Seghesio's award-winning Italian-style California wines. Tickets are $60, and reservations are necessary… The wildly popular Tuesday Night Steak Cookouts have resumed at the Hotel San José (1316 S. Congress, 444-7332). Dinner includes salad, steak, or grilled seafood with side dishes and bread plus dessert. Prices vary depending on the size of the steak; reservations are necessary… Farmer's markets are gearing up for spring and summer crops: Westlake Market, 4100 Westbank, Saturdays, 10am-1pm; Armadillo Market, 301 Riverside, Wednesdays, 3-6pm; Lakeway Market, 1700 Lohmann's Crossing, Tuesdays, 2:30-6pm; South Austin Market, 2910 S. Congress, Saturdays, 9am-1pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

16th Annual Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, Jose Andres, Teresa Barrenechea, Penelope Casas, John Mariani, Emilia's, 22, Granite Café, Grapevine Market, Pete Seghesio

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