As she gears up to lead the Travel Channel's Epicurious on a Central Texas barbecue tour, Virginia B. Wood still finds the time to fill you in on the good news and the bad news among Austin foodies.

'Epicurious' About Barbecue

Chef/host Michael Lomonaco and a production crew from the Travel Channel cooking show Epicurious are in town this weekend filming two upcoming segments on Austin. They'll spend Sunday investigating all aspects of the 13th annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, with Lomonaco acting as a celebrity judge, and a camera following a contestant through the day. On Saturday, Aug. 23, I'll be hosting them on a three-stop Central Texas barbecue tour, during which they'll sample the German meat-market style of smoked meats at Louie Mueller's in Taylor, taste the Deep South, African-American style of barbecue at Crosstown in Elgin, and make an afternoon pilgrimage to Llano for the definitive West Texas mesquite-smoked style made famous at Cooper's. Our barbecue tours have been big hits with the Southern Foodways Alliance (June, 2002) and a national press contingent from the Saveur Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival (April, 2003), so we're looking forward to meeting Lomonaco and his crew. We also hope to re-create the popular tours for some barbecue-hungry SXSW guests in March of 2004.

News About Town

Scouting around town last week, we noticed that both the relatively new Atlanta Bread Company locations in far southwest Austin and Round Rock are locked up tight with auction notices posted on their doors... The District Bar & Grill has closed, and the corner space at West Sixth and Lavaca is now undergoing renovations while up the street, the window at the former DemiEpicurious is once again sporting a "for lease" sign, which would seem to put an end to the new French bistro rumors... The building at Fourth and Lavaca that was originally home to the Mustang Diner and most recently a salsa club called Azucar has completely disappeared, and the corner is now a parking lot... On a much happier note, the new Hoover's Cooking (6868 San Pedro) outlet is doing great word-of-mouth business down in the Alamo City, where commercial rents are cheaper, and folks appear to appreciate a good chicken-fried steak as much as we do here in Austin... Local landmark Fonda San Miguel (2330 W. North Loop, 459-4121) is now reopened after extensive, and very impressive, renovations of the kitchen, patio, and bar areas. They'll resume brunch service as usual in September... There's still time to join the Progressive Cocktail Party that begins tonight, Thursday, Aug. 21, at 6pm at Maggie Mae's (512 Trinity). The third annual event is sponsored by the National Association of Catering Executives and benefits their foundation as well as the Children's Advocacy Center. The appetizer and drinks portion of the party moves from Maggie Mae's to the Iron Cactus (606 Trinity, 472-9240), and the Driskill Grill (Seventh & Brazos, 474-5911) then culminates at the Omni Austin Hotel Downtown (Eighth & Brazos, 476-3700) for a Chef's Showcase featuring foods from local restaurants and businesses. The cost is $50, and it's for a very good cause... The Girl Scouts Lone Star Council (453-7391) will benefit from 100% of the opening-day pizza sales at the new California Pizza Kitchen (Barton Creek Mall, near Nordstrom) on Monday, Aug. 25, from 11am to 10pm, so be sure to stop by for pizza while you're checking out all the stores in the new wing of the mall... Those of us who are lucky enough to be personal friends of graphic artist Jan Heaton have prized collections of her handmade greeting cards bearing the stunning watercolor prints she does of various fruits and plants. Foodies with an appreciation for fine art will want to check out Jan's new show, "Aqua Fresca," at the Wally Workman Gallery (1202 W. Sixth, 472-7428,, which begins with an artist's reception this Saturday evening, Aug. 23, from 6 to 8pm.

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