Food-o-file

What's cooking in the Central Texas food scene.


2005 Curiosities

The coming year looks to be a busy one, and I've made a list of some emerging stories that have already piqued my interest. Here are some things I'll be curious about in 2005, in no particular order of importance: How will the recent fire sale of the homegrown Schlotzsky's chain manifest itself on the menu? Will we see sweeping changes locally at both the corporate and store levels? Will they abandon the upscale Bread Alone bakery/cafe concept? Will they re-create the original sourdough sandwich buns?... The Saveur Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival saw plenty of upheaval in 2004. In fact, the many-faceted story was so complex I could never quite get a handle on where to start reporting on it. The festival did lose its third director in three years, plus several board members over the summer, so it should be interesting to experience all of the exciting new features planned now that the event has entered into a production agreement with local powerhouse Capital Sports & Entertainment. We hear they're bringing back the original founding chefs in addition to Wolfgang Puck, Todd English, and Claudine Pepin, just to name a few, and will be hosting two days of outdoor events on Auditorium Shores, replacing the Sunday Fair. Talk about embracing Austin!... The upcoming downtown development near the dynamic new City Hall is generating lots of buzz. Will some distinctively local restaurants brave the sky-high rents on the prime properties, or will the chic new spaces have to be filled by national chain outfits?... The Westlake Farmers Market appears to be flourishing in Sunset Valley, and is set to reopen on Saturday, Jan. 8. We're betting that their first full year there attracts even more vendors and greater expansion. The Downtown Farmers' Market reopens at Fourth and Guadalupe on Saturday, Feb. 5, and we'll keep an eye out to see if they are able to bring in more new growers for the extended 2005 season... The closing year brought several new international culinary delights to our city, especially from Latin America. Is it possible there's a churrascaria (Argentine steak house) in our future? Wouldn't that be great? We're also hearing more and more about good new restaurants in area towns such as Bastrop, Niederwald, Kyle, and Buda, which means road trips are in the offing... After watching local confectioner Miles Compton's Miles of Chocolate explode on the national scene this fall with mentions in the major food magazines and network TV programs, plus placement in an upscale holiday food catalog, I can't wait to see what Austin's next breakout product will be. I'm betting on Rick Bristow's SXUL Chocolates and Tom Pedersen's Cocoa Pura Pure Whole Bean Chocolates based on what I've heard about how they sold during the Christmas holidays. And I'm also eager to see which small Austin food businesses chose this year to make the transition from wholesale to retail and which, if any, decide to close up shop. Looking into these things should keep us busy around here for months to come, but if there's some other food story you're curious about, please let me know. Happy new year!Title: Food-o-FileKeywords: Schlotzsky's | Rick Bristow | SXUL Chocolates | Tom Pedersen | Cocoa Pura Pure Whole Bean Chocolates | Miles Compton | Miles of Chocolate | Downtown Farmers' Market | Westlake Farmers Market | Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival Description: Farewell to 2004; hello, heaps of food news in 2005!

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