Food-o-File

Just because it's the biggest and busiest week on the Texas culinary calendar doesn't mean that there isn't plenty o' news to report on, in this week's "Food-o-File."

Big Culinary Weekend

The biggest week of the Texas culinary calendar is here. It's the equivalent of SXSW, election day, or the Oscars for food and wine enthusiasts across the Lone Star State. Festivities began early in the week with wine dinners at Austin restaurants and a big opening bash Wednesday night at the Broken Spoke, with musicians who cook, such as Kimmie Rhodes and Joe Gracey, Marcia Ball, and Slaid Cleaves taking the stage (and the buffet table), alongside chefs who play music, including Dean Fearing, Robert Del Grande, Tim Keating, and Colman Andrews. Events continue throughout the weekend. I'm especially interested in the new dessert event late Thursday afternoon, and I'm looking forward to sharing a short regional barbecue tour with the visiting national press folks on Saturday. As always, the fest concludes with the Sunday Fair at the Salt Lick Pavilion, which features food vendors and artisans, wine and craft brew tastings, cooking demonstrations, cookbook signings, celebrity chef sightings, and an all-around Austintatious good time -- the best value for your entertainment dollar.

Plenty o' News

Things don't slow down around here just because the festival comes to town! We're saddened to add Emilia's (600 E. Third) to the list of recent restaurant closures. In it's short business lifespan, the elegant fine-dining outlet in the meticulously restored historic Waterloo compound generated lots of local and national media attention but was never able to build a strong enough client base to become financially viable. Owner Denis Tracey has sold the restaurant to Warehouse District entrepreneurs Buckner Hightower and Greg Schnurr, owners of Cedar Street Courtyard, Malaga Tapas and Bar, and Saba Blue Water Cafe. The new owners are currently developing a new concept for the remarkable Emilia's space and expect to reopen later this spring... Just a few blocks across Downtown, another group of local restaurant entrepreneurs will debut a new eatery later this month. Larry Foles and Guy Villavasco of Z'Tejas Grill and Eddie V's Edgewater Grille along with their partner, chef Robert McGrath, are bringing the Roaring Fork restaurant to the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel in the spot formerly occupied by Star Canyon. Locals might remember chef McGrath from his tenure at the Four Seasons here. He's spent the last several years as an award-winning chef at Arizona desert resorts and his original Roaring Fork restaurant in Scottsdale. Look for bold flavors of the American West on the Roaring Fork menu... Culinary consultant Cathy Cochran-Lewis e-mailed to report that the inaugural Central Market culinary excursion to visit the Seasons of My Heart Cooking School in Oaxaca, Mexico, was a huge success -- guests sampled roasted and seasoned crickets, goat barbecue, artisanal cheeses, homemade mezcal, plenty of margaritas, and the amazing seven moles for which the southern Mexico state is famous. Though the early summer cruise up the Alaska coast with Caprial Pence is already sold out, there are still some spots open on the next tour, which offers the opportunity to experience San Francisco's Chinatown with Martin Yan from April 24 to 27. Call 866/826-2433 for more info or reservations... And, by the way, congratulations to Cochran-Lewis on her recent election to the board of directors of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She'll take office at the upcoming annual conference in Montreal, Canada, in mid-April... Austin's large Thai community invites you to celebrate Thai Cultural Day with them this Sunday, April 6, from noon to 5pm, at Fiesta Gardens, 2101 Bergman. The festivities will include food, folk dancing, sports, cooking demonstrations, and contests. For more information, call 310-1821, 423-4217, or e-mail sirikarnthai@austin.rr.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, Thai Cultural Day, Cathy Cochran-Lewis, Seasons of My Heart Cooking School, Central Market, Emilia's

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