Food-o-File

It's all about the barbecue

BBQ Bites

A producer who creates programming for the Food Network told me this week that they've discovered that any programs about barbecuing are guaranteed hits. That comes as no surprise to me, considering the popularity of barbecue in our neck of the woods right now. Just last week, I got a fax from Luke Zimmerman and Pat Mares, owners of Ruby's BBQ (512 W. 29th, 477-2529, rubysbbq@jump.net), about their newest project – the formation of the Central Texas Barbecue Association. Their goal is for the association to represent barbecue restaurants and caterers in the Central Texas area. The initial agenda includes the development of a membership newsletter to keep up with community events and activities, an annual barbecue festival, and the promotion of Central Texas barbecue as a worthwhile tourist attraction to the local, state, regional, and national media. If you're in the barbecue business and haven't received a letter from Ruby's yet, feel free to contact Luke and Pat by phone or e-mail to sign up. The association idea has lots of possibilities, and it dovetailed perfectly with another tidbit of information that landed on my desk with a heart-shaped sausage recently. A group of barbecue-loving local independent filmmakers will debut their 46-minute documentary, "Barbecue: A Texas Love Story," at 12:30pm on Sunday, March 14, at the Austin Convention Center during the SXSW Film Festival. The film is a labor of love from Electro-Fish Media, produced and directed by Chris Elley. During the production, the crew logged more than 3,000 miles exploring the phenomenon of Texas barbecue and its important place in both the culinary and community fabric of life in Texas. (We even crossed paths with them in Elgin on the Epicurious shoot last summer.) The film is narrated by former Gov. Ann Richards and includes commentary from such notables as Dan Rather, Kinky Friedman, Ray Benson, Liz Carpenter, and Cactus Pryor, with a soundtrack by San Antonio rockabilly group Two Tons of Steel. For more information about the film and a list of other screenings, visit www.bbqfilm.com.

In other barbecue news, Kansas City grand champion pit master Paul Kirk rolled through town last weekend on his way to compete at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He spent all day Saturday, Feb. 21, teaching a master class billed as "Paul Kirk's Baron's School for Pitmasters" at Stubb's Bar-B-Q (801 Red River, 480-8341). More than 20 barbecue aficionados signed up for the $205 seminar, which included breakfast, lunch, all the meats (brisket, pork butt, chicken, ribs, sausage) and other ingredients (sauces, marinades, rubs) necessary to prepare competition barbecue. Not only did they learn how to cook barbecue, they also picked up the finer points of competition cooking and were judged on their efforts before the end of the day. And to wind up with a truly Austintatious bite, we could be the only town in Texas with a barbecue joint that serves breakfast! That's right, John Mueller of John Mueller's BBQ (1917 Manor Rd., 236-0283) figured that since he saw some traffic around his campus-area restaurant in the wee hours of the morning anyway, he might as well be selling those folks something to eat. He came up with the idea of Brisket Wraps ($2.95) and Sausage Wraps ($1.50) in fresh flour tortillas handmade by his wife, and imported some of the legendary doughnuts from Round Rock's Lone Star Bakery for good measure. What started out as a whim is now a bona fide hit, with the breakfast goods selling out by late morning most days.

Oscar Party Suggestion

If you're planning a homestyle Eat, Drink, Watch Movies celebration for your Oscar-watching party this weekend, grab a copy of Movie Menus (Villard, $16.95) by food historian Francine Segan. The delightful new book is divided into 10 chapters about different movie genres (historical dramas, Westerns, romantic comedies, etc.) with appropriate menus and recipes for each genre. It looks like months of fun and a must-have for foodie film buffs.

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