By the time you read this, I'll be driving up legendary blues highway 61 in Mississippi, on the way to the annual Southern Foodways Symposium on the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford. The topic of this year's symposium is "From the Farm to the Table" and will feature presentations from farmers, culinary historians, and food writers plus catfish frys and dinners on the grounds. Austinites attending this year's meeting are SFA president Toni Tipton-Martin, Texas foodways specialist Dawn Orsak from Texas Folklife Resources, and Hoover Alexander, owner of Hoover's Cooking. I also expect to see former Austinite and longtime Chronicle contributor Pableaux Johnson, who now resides in New Orleans. One of the things we'll be discussing is the possibility of hosting an SFA event in Austin next summer with a barbecue theme.
The other morning when I noticed Martha Stewart and one of her minions making a ruffled Halloween costume out of coffee filters, it dawned on me I'd pretty much overlooked the entire upcoming event. With no kids in my house and few little ones in my neighborhood, I rarely stock up on Halloween goodies. But this year I've discovered a fantastic treat you could share with your favorite hobgoblin. Check out the custom-made caramel and chocolate dipped apples at both Dr. Chocolate stores. (in Central Park, 454-0555; in Westgate Mall, 891-6800). They take a crisp, fresh Granny Smith apple, dip it in rich butter caramel, and then coat it with milk and dark chocolate. They'll garnish with white chocolate or nuts, your choice ($12.95). The end result is a decadently delectable treat, guaranteed to ward off plenty of tricks. I've been savoring a slice or two a day for about a week now and am sorely tempted to go back for more.
Imagine the surprise experienced by the staff of Jean-Pierre's Upstairs when their employer invited them to toast his birthday one recent Saturday evening and then informed them the restaurant was closing that night! The closing puts plenty of qualified restaurant professionals back into the job market, including longtime Austin chef Raymond Tatum. Look for restaurateur Jean-Pierre Piaget to open The Y Bar & Grill in Oak Hill sometime soon... Chef Suzann Garde has recently taken over the kitchen at the Inn Above Onion Creek in Kyle (4444 W. Hwy. 150, 512/268-1617, www.innaboveonioncreek.com), where proprietors are considering opening the dining room to the public. Chef Larry Perdido's Saba Blue Water Cafe has been named the "Best New Restaurant" in Houston by the Bayou city's alternative newsweekly, the Houston Press... Central Texas Cystic Fibrosis invites you to join them for a Festival of Food, Flowers and Stars on Thursday, Nov. 1, 7-10pm, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (4801 La Crosse). The event will feature tastings of signature dishes from Austin restaurants, beer & wine, live music, a silent auction, and a $100 per ticket raffle. For more information or tickets, call 338-1744. Tickets are $50 in advance or at the door... If you hurry, you can still get seats at a terrific wine dinner tonight, Oct. 25, at Girasole (219 W. Fourth, 481-0219). Chef Daniel Nemec has created a dynamic fall Italian menu to be paired with excellent French wines. Reservations required... The Monday wine dinner series continues at Ella's (#1 Jefferson Sq., 451-2148) with Australian wines Nov. 5, holiday wine pairings Nov. 19, and sparkling wines and champagnes Dec. 1. Reservations are necessary... While I'm gone, don't forget to check out the menus and purchase your tickets at www.drafthouse.com to Eat, Drink, Watch Movies, The Austin Chronicle's five-course film feast taking place November 1-5.
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