Virginia B. Wood has news from across the land.

Movin' On Up to the Eastside

I was genuinely touched by the reactions to my column about leaving South Austin, and, in response to your queries, no, I'm not leaving town and certainly not leaving the Chronicle. After 10 years in a drafty, funky, old rental house, it was time to move on. The house was for sale, and six months of having obnoxious real estate agents pull up and call from the front porch to announce they were about to lead strangers through my house was all I could bear. The allure of a snug, well-insulated home with more space, central air and heat, a bigger kitchen, and a real dining area was irresistible and, I might add, completely unavailable in SoCo in my price range. Moving 1,000 books was a challenge, but now I'm happily ensconced in a Fifties-era salmon pink brick duplex in the Maplewood neighborhood. I sure miss the action of SoCo, but the peace and quiet over here is nice, too. There are already some wonderful restaurants close by, and if my SoCo experience is any indicator, there will surely be more to come. Hoover's and East Side Cafe were already longtime favorites of mine, and I'm newly acquainted with the overstuffed breakfast tacos at Mi Madre's. (My first Sunday dinner in the new 'hood was at Hoover's, and I wish I'd been seated closer to Tim O'Connor and Clifford and Susan Antone, so I could have eavesdropped on the Antone's/Direct Events deal before they went public!) There's always John Mueller's for barbecue, and a little farther south, I can hit Sam's, Ben's Longbranch, and Gene's PoBoys. Not bad to start, and emerging directly from the ashes of the much-lamented Pato's Good Tacos location on 38th Street, there's a new joint called La Super Rica Taco Lounge taking shape. And speaking of books, one of my first projects in the new house will be to serve as judge for the James Beard Foundation KitchenAid Book Awards this spring. Can't divulge which category of cookbooks I'm judging until after the awards are given in April, but I've got two new boxes of books with which to entertain myself for the next few weeks!

Valentine's Day Date Deal

Have we got a Valentine's date deal for you! Once again, we're teaming up with the Alamo Drafthouse North and Austin RentAll Party to bring you an Eat, Drink, Watch Movies feature. For Valentine's Day, we've chosen the bittersweet romantic comedy Mostly Martha that was such a big hit with local foodies in the fall of 2002. Patricia Bauer-Slate of Portabla and Sweetish Hill will be preparing the food, offering a dish of Martha's and something seductive of Mario's, as well. We're also negotiating with a local candy maker and a florist in hopes of making the evening a one-stop shop for all of your Valentine's romance needs: dinner, drinks, a delightful romantic movie, flowers, and candy. What could be better than that? All you have to do is make reservations and show up. Check out the menu and prices at, and make your reservations early. We're willing to schedule a second (later) showing if and when the first one sells out. As always, the proceeds from the evening will benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.

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