Primates in Progress; plus, Texas chefs in the media and Texas barbecue across the Atlantic
My quest for information about the Texas Monkey Project Art Show and Sale prompted me to check out Progress Coffee (500 San Marcos St., 493-0963, www.progresscoffee.com) in the first place. The silent auction of the artwork benefitting Primarily Primates continues through Aug. 20, but it is only one of the many reasons to visit Progress. Founders Sarah and Joshua Bingaman chose to set up shop in the vintage 1942 East Austin warehouse because it reminded them of their previous business location in the Mission District of San Francisco. They've created a comfortable, inviting space that's fast becoming the coolest downtown daytime hangout for drinking coffee, eating light, and reading magazines.
Progress offers organic coffee, and cook Brenna Byerlotzer whips up light breakfast and lunch fare that changes weekly based on the availability of local organic produce from Oasis Gardens. They bring in breads, pastries, and desserts from such local bakeries as Quack's on 43rd and Old World and have a small selection of good beers and wines. Don't go looking for breakfast tacos or burgers, but note that the Roast Beef and Brie on ciabatta and the Mixed Green Salad with apples, grapes, walnuts, and bleu cheese are both particularly good. Though they are relative newcomers to Austin, the Bingamans have slipped right into an Austin groove they've made a serious commitment to support of the local arts scene by hanging regular art shows, presenting weekly jazz evenings, and hosting occasional author readings with book signings in a space that feeds you well and makes you feel right at home. Keep an eye on their Web site for details about menu changes and ongoing entertainment options, www.progresscoffee.com.
Austin food professionals have been all over the national and regional print media this summer. Many of the chefs modeling the latest in kitchen fashions in the current Chefwear (www.chefwear.com) catalog are from Austin. Staff members from Aquarelle, the Salt Lick, Salt Lick 360, Starlite, and Uchi are looking mighty stylish... Pick up a summer issue of Texas Monthly for a preview of the recipes in chef Jeff Blank's new self-published cookbook Fired Up! More Adventures and Recipes From Hudson's on the Bend and keep an eye out for a story in the September issue of TM that will follow a brand-new Austin restaurant from concept through construction right up to the opening... The "Reporter" column in the August issue of Saveur celebrates chicken-fried steak with historical commentary and a recipe from Austin musician/author/gourmand Joe Gracey... An early summer issue of Fine Gardening showcased the exquisite gardens and distinctive outdoor living space created by local author/herbalist Lucinda Hutson... And Austin/San Antonio restaurateur Hoover Alexander and his Picnic Salad are featured in a big spread in the Southern Living that hit the stands last week.
In the Media
More than 500 soldiers from the 71st Brigade of the 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army Guard were recently deployed to Babadag, Romania, for a NATO training exercise. As this was Romania's first participation in a NATO event and the Texans wanted to make a good impression, they threw a down-home Texas barbecue for their Romanian hosts on Aug. 2, feeding 1,800 soldiers and dignitaries at the party. Rudy's "Country Store" & Bar-B-Q of Austin supplied seven gallons of their signature "Sause" for the big feed. We love it when Central Texas barbecue can be an ambassador to the world.
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