Food-o-File

The holidays are over, and the Austin food scene is back to getting busy.


Last Holiday Tidbits

No, I will not divulge the top-secret location of the toffee waste dump (though someone's dog found it and barked incessantly for hours), and thanks so much to all the people who gave me copper polish for Christmas! My absolute favorite Christmas card had to be the photo of the Lee sisters, Alexandra and Louise, proclaiming they would leave Santa Babbo's gelato and coffee rather than cookies and milk. I'm sure it worked to their advantage. Santa left a little bundle of Christmas joy for Jean Luc's Bistro chef/owner Shawn Cirkiel and his wife, Bria, a 7-pound, 11-ounce baby boy named Noah Edward. What a marvelous gift.


New Year's News

After investing 15 years in developing the Texas flan market, Marta Guzman, creator of Marta's Flan (476-4334), has been busy expanding her product line. First it was the dainty little meringue cookies that flew off the shelves at Whole Foods and Central Market stores, and then she came up with her own version of a popular new Mexican dessert with a layer of chocolate cake topped with a layer of flan, called Choco-Flan. Now, her new tres leches cake is really developing a following. The folks at Catering by Rosemary were so impressed with it, they served it to Lady Bird Johnson at her recent birthday party, and it will soon be available at all Cafe Serranos outlets, the Iron Cactus, and Central Market... Duke and Cathy Bischoff have sold their BBQ World Headquarters (6701 Burnet Rd., 323-9112) in Austin's Historic Farmers' Market to husband-and-wife team Cynthia Marion and Larry Fick and their business partner Glenn Garrett. Though the Bischoffs will be available through the transition, the new owners have taken over the business and plan to extend operating hours, add beer and wine, and are scouting possible new locations... Things are finally beginning to look up restaurantwise in the far southwest part of town with the recent opening of Evangeline Cafe (see review, p.38); Craig O's (4970 Hwy. 290 W., 891-7200), a comfortable Italian neighborhood spot with pasta, pizzas, and beer; and the two-for-one Bistro 88/Noodle-ism (MoPac & West William Cannon, 899-0488) combo from Jeff and Vivien Liu... The folks at Crestline Hotels were so impressed with the job local chef Lou Lambert did getting their corporate fat out of the fire at Grady Spears' new Burning Pear restaurant in their Marriott in Sugarland, they've hired him to help them develop another new restaurant, this time at the San Antonio Plaza. And in all his spare time, Lambert has just finished a 75-recipe cookbook as a companion to a new line of cookware called ConvectionWare that will soon be available on QVC... Pastry chef Phillip Speer continues to get great local press even though he has been gone from Jean Luc's Bistro for months now, but he called recently from Houston to let us know that he's making desserts and pastries at the brand-new ultrachic boutique Hotel Icon on Main Street in the heart of downtown Houston. The restaurant there, called the Bank, is a Jean-Georges affair, under the direction of Vongerichten's longtime lieutenant, Brian Caswell. Talk about moving on up!

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