Cuisines Editor Virginia B. Wood reveals some recent sandwich finds and shares the latest culinary news.
Sandwich-loving readers were kind enough to point out that we'd managed to completely overlook the delicious offerings at one of Austin's oldest homegrown bakeries, Texas French Bread (multiple locations), in our sandwich roundup (austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2001-05-18/food_string_all.html ). Since they brought it to our attention, I've visited the TFB location nearest the Chronicle office (Red River) and the one closest to home (S. Congress) to sample the sandwich menu. I've developed quite a taste for the Mediterranean-inspired La Niçoise, the tangy Feta & Arugula on Ciabatta, and the homey, comforting Pimiento Cheese on Sourdough made from TFB-owner Judy Wilcott's mom's personal recipe. I highly recommend them whole or in halves paired with soup or salad, chips, hot sauce, cookies, and a drink as $6.70 lunch specials. A chance visit to the new Dam View Cafe (3825 Lake Austin Blvd., 472-8177) introduced me to consulting chef Happy Abdelbaki's stellar sandwich menu there. Formerly a chef at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the Crescent City, Abdelbaki knew the only way he could get the authentic taste in his po'boys was to make them on bread from his favorite New Orleans bakery, so that's what he's done. Twice a week, he imports baguettes from the famous Leidenheimer Baking Company, purveyors of the definitive Zip's French bread loaves used for most po'boys in the city that made that sandwich famous. The Dam View offers truly wonderful shrimp, oyster, and crawfish po'boys, fully dressed and partnered with the restaurant's signature homemade potato chips. Start with a bowl of seafood gumbo and finish with a Hot Brownie Sundae and you'll swear you spent lunchtime in New Orleans! And speaking of inspired sandwiches, try Abdelbaki's hamburger with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg or wait until he adds a really decadent Eggs Benedict po'boy as a special on the upcoming Sunday brunch menu.
Kudos to event chair Paula Biehler, her hard-working crew of volunteers, plus all the chefs, restaurants, and purveyors who contributed their time, products, and talents to the recent local Share Our Strength Taste of the Nation campaign. The three fundraisers held in June raised $40,000 -- almost twice as much money as Austin has generated in years past If you missed this week's Cannon Shoot at Becker Vineyards (at Stonewall, off U.S. 290 W. on Jenschke Lane, 830/644-2681), you can still make it to their annual Lavender Festival scheduled for the weekend of July 14-15. Stroll among the rows of the three-acre lavender field directly behind the winery and purchase handmade products such as sachets, soaps, scented wands, lavender bundles, and potpourris made from the three varieties of lavender planted there Join representatives of the Austin Wine Merchant (512 W. Sixth, 499-0512) at Si Bon (801 S. Lamar, 326-8323) during the evenings of July 9-12 to sample a $45 Degustation Dinner celebrating the foods and wines of Provence. Reservations are necessary. And while we're on the subject of Si Bon, the postcard introducing their new Sunday brunch arrived the other day and the affordable a la carte menu looks very inviting. The Tuscan Omelet, Ginger Flapjacks, Grilled Hanger Steak with Pommes Frites, and Eggs Si Bon (poached eggs on crab cakes) all sound particularly interesting Former Austin chef Ron Brannon, who worked at both Hudson's on the Bend and Central Market, has just returned to Austin as executive chef at Star Canyon (Seventh & Congress, 391-1550). Welcome home.