A capacity crowd of family, friends, and fans packed Book Woman last Friday night to celebrate the paperback release of Austin author Karen Stolz's delightful first novel, World of Pies (Hyperion, $11.95, paper). A sweet coming-of-age story that includes recipes, World of Pies has been favorably reviewed nationally and excerpted in Ladies Home Journal. It's a pleasant summer read and one of the few adult novels that is also appropriate for teens. Guests at the reading were encouraged to participate in a pie contest like one in the book, and Karen Stolz judged the assembled pies after the reading. The crowd devoured cherry pie, fresh peach fried pies, vinegar pies, blueberry pie, and a blueberry-raspberry pie with ice cream. My fresh peach fried pies won the contest, and I went home with a $30 Book Woman gift certificate. And speaking of fresh peaches, the peach stands along Hwy. 290 West between Johnson City and Fredericksburg are full to bursting with great peaches and should continue to be until well into August. Although some of the fruit we saw bore the marks of spring hail storms, the peaches we purchased were juicy and full of flavor. Some of the stands are also selling peach ice cream, peach smoothies, and peach cobbler. The peach fried pies I entered in the World of Pies contest were inspired by, but not nearly as good, as one I'd eaten earlier in the week at Rather Sweet Bakery (239 E. Main, 830/990-0498) in Fredericksburg.
Asti Trattoria & Wine Bar (408-C E. 43rd, 451-1218) celebrates their first anniversary next week and will serve complimentary cake and champagne to customers on July 18 and 19. Also, make reservations now for Asti's July 17 Farm to Table Dinner, a four-course meal paired with wine for $48 featuring the summer fruits and vegetables of Boggy Creek Farm. Farmers Larry Butler and Carol Ann Sayle will be on hand, and signed copies of their cookbook, Eating in Season: Recipes From Boggy Creek Farm (self-published, $14.95, paper) will be available... Local authors (and Chronicle contributor) Mick Vann and Art Meyer have completed their manuscript and are throwing the final Appetizer Atlas Supper Club soiree on Saturday, July 28, from 4-10pm. The menu will feature 16 American regional appetizers and dessert for a mere $50. Guests should bring their own beer or wine, and seating is limited. For more information and reservations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org... Enjoy an authentic Bastille Day "pique-nique" with chef Jean-Luc Salles at the Central Market Cooking School (4001 N. Lamar, 458-3068) on Monday, July 16, or sample the signature dishes from some of America's top ski resorts and guest ranches with Arizona cookbook author Gwen Ashley Walters on Thursday, July 19. Reservations necessary.
Girasole (219 W. 4th, 481-0219) owner Al Zare announced last week that chef Christian Echterbille has returned to his native Belgium and 27-year-old sous chef Daniel Nemec has been promoted to executive chef. Nemec, who has been with the downtown restaurant since it opened and whose background includes a stint with the Macaroni Grill chain, will be focusing the Girasole menu in a more Italian direction, according to Zare. Fans of 22 chef Casey Lloyd who've been wondering what happened to the talented young man when that restaurant closed abruptly in April need wonder no longer. Chef Lloyd has joined Will Packwood's team as sous chef at Emilia's (600 E. 3rd, 469-9722).
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