What's cooking in the Central Texas food scene

Have a Home Slice

The wait is over: Fresh, handmade pizza has returned to SoCo with the opening last week of the long-awaited, much-anticipated Home Slice Pizza (1415 S. Congress, 444-7437). The snazzy new joint is the brainchild of pizza-loving husband-and-wife team Joseph and Jen Strickland. Jen, a former Chronicle editor, is a transplanted New Yorker who's been dreaming about bringing authentic New York-style thin crust pizza to Austin for years. The Stricklands' fondest dream is now your reality. In addition to pizzas, Home Slice also serves fresh salads, well-stuffed sub sandwiches, desserts, bottle and draft beer, and an affordable selection of wines. Service is eat in or takeout, and they've even got a pizza window on the street for folks strolling South Congress with the urge to grab a slice! Check out their menu and hours at

In Memoriam

Award-winning artisan cheese maker Sara Bolton and her husband, Denny, were among the pioneers of the Central Texas organic farm movement that began in the early Nineties. Sara started tending goats long before that, however, and learned to make goat cheese in her home kitchen from Debbie Gray of Blanco. For years, Sara's delicious unpasteurized cheese was known only to family and friends until her friend Marianne Simmons began selling it at a farm stand near Dripping Springs. The cheese developed a following, and a genuine business opportunity became apparent. They built Pure Luck Grade A Goat Dairy and began true commercial production in 1995. "Mom was so persnickity about quality, and she was really concerned that pasteurization and commercial production might change the quality and flavor of the cheese, but luckily it didn't," her daughter Amelia told me recently, adding that her mother "always loved experimenting and developing new cheeses."

The first time I met Sara Bolton and tasted Pure Luck cheese was at the "What's Cooking in the Park" event celebrating the opening of the Sixth and Lamar Whole Foods Market about 10 years ago. Local chefs and growers were paired for a tasting event, and the public loved Sara's cheese. The Boltons have always supported area farmers' markets with their participation, and their booth at the Sunset Valley (formerly Westlake) Farmers' Market attracts plenty of devoted customers. Pure Luck submits entries in the prestigious American Cheese Society annual competition and boasts winners every year, many of them blue ribbons. Sara's daughters Amelia, 28, and Gitana, 30, are now vital members of the family business, with Amelia taking over the cheese-making duties in recent years. Pure Luck cheeses are available locally at Whole Foods and Central Markets, the Sunset Valley Farmers' Market, Boggy Creek Farm, and Farm to Market Grocery.

Sara battled breast cancer valiantly for the past two years and passed away two weeks ago. She will be missed, but her husband and daughters continue to operate Pure Luck in her tradition of taste and quality. We offer them our sincerest condolences. The family will hold a memorial celebration of Sara's life at 1:30pm on Sunday, Nov. 27, at their farm near Dripping Springs, 101 Twin Oaks Trail. For more info and a map, go to

Event Menu: Nov. 25-30

Kids of all ages will enjoy the Cookie Monster Preview Party at Shady Grove (1624 Barton Springs), where they can check out some of the attractions that will be part of Chuy's 17th annual Children Giving to Children Parade. They can see the giant Cookie Monster helium balloon inflated on the front lawn, gobble up chocolate chip cookies and milk, listen to music from Sauce, meet with Chuy the Redfish, and visit the miniature horses from Hearts and Hooves. And don't forget to show up the next day for the actual parade with more giant balloons, floats, and bands. Party at Shady Grove, 3-6pm, Friday, Nov. 25; Downtown parade, 11am, Saturday, Nov. 26.

Sample great holiday wines paired with a selection of scrumptious party foods in the holiday splendor of the Driskill Hotel (Fifth & Brazos) at the festive Big Reds and Bubbles party thrown by the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, TAG Heuer, and Russell Korman Fine Jewelers. During all the noshing and drinking, take time to bid on the fine wines and unique gift items assembled for the silent auction. Tickets are $50 for members, $75 for nonmembers, at 327-7555 or; 6:30-9:30pm, Wednesday, Nov. 30.

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Home Slice Pizza, Sara Bolton, Cookie Monster Preview Party, Big Reds and Bubbles

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