Virginia B. Wood digs up all of the good dirt on the farmers' market projects going on in Austin, in this week's "Food-o-File."
In the "off with my head" department, I can't think of any legitimate excuse for us neglecting to include either the Top Notch or the Texicalli Grille in the recent big burger roundup. They must have just gotten sucked into the pre-SXSW vortex, like so many other things. No disrespect meant to either of those venerable establishments. And speaking of SXSW, catering for the staff (which I've done since before I came to work for this paper) presents a new set of challenges every year. After all this time, I'd still have to say that the most interesting aspect of the entire event is parking in front of the Hyatt every day and observing the visitors come and go. We pulled up the first night and my crew disembarked to find none other than Tony Joe White standing outside the hotel, chatting with a longtime volunteer. Much squealing, hugging, and kissing ensued. The look of pure satisfaction on that mature man's face said everything you'd ever need to know about why guys pick up Stratocasters in the first place. Feeding the staff was made much easier this year with the help of local restaurateurs Hoover Alexander, for meatloaf that tasted "exactly like Hoover's," and Foo Swasdee, who provided last-minute service way above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you both.
Gardens & Markets
With the advent of spring, many folks' fancies have quite naturally turned to gardens and farmers' markets. Green Corn Project (www.greencornproject.org) board member Denise Salles e-mailed to report that their annual Dig In was a huge success last weekend -- 36 volunteers created eight gardens during the course of two days, with sponsorship from Hewlett-Packard, supplies from Seeds of Change, Hostyn Nursery, KemasTejas Nursery, and garden tools from a new locally owned hardware store called Zinger. The hard-working crews were sustained by food from Portabla and Satay... In the planning stages of the new Austin Farmers' Market that's set to open May 3 in Republic Square Park at Fourth and Guadalupe, the folks at the Sustainable Food Center (www.sustainablefoodcenter.org, 236-0074) put a great deal of effort into soliciting the support of local chefs and restaurateurs, which they hope will contribute greatly to the success of the new venture. Several weeks ago, a request went out for chefs to sign up for the Chef's Circle, agreeing to shop at the market, showcase local produce in their restaurants, and provide cooking demonstrations. According to chairperson Quincy Adams Erickson, the response has been very encouraging. In addition, two Downtown restaurants sponsored special events this week to benefit the new market. Tuesday night, March 25, chef Shawn Cirkiel hosted "An Evening of Farmers, Ranchers and their Bounty" showcasing the produce, meats, and cheeses of future market participants on the menu at Jean-Luc's Bistro (705 Colorado, 494-0033). And tonight, Thursday, March 27, from 6 to 8:30pm, at the grand opening party at Crimson Restaurant (407 Colorado, www.crimsonaustin.com), owners Greg and Stacy Davidson, partner Billie Dixon, and chef Joseph Bannister will entice the crowd with their "Southern fusion" cuisine, featuring dishes made with local ingredients... Based on the most current e-mail from SFC Project Director Suzanne Santos, 23 farms from within a 150-mile radius of Austin in the Central Texas region have signed on to participate in the new market, as well as more than 10 vendors who will sell crafts, condiments, and other artisan food products. Meanwhile, other area farmers' markets such as Austin's Historic Farmers' Market, the Boggy Creek farmstand, and the South Austin, West Lake, and Davenport Ranch Farmers' Markets maintain their long-established regular schedules.
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