The Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils 2005 is the one; plus, taking measure of the Mercury's rising
The best laugh I had before Thanksgiving was produced by an e-mail greeting card featuring an animated turkey warbling the Seventies disco anthem "I Will Survive." When I called Wes Marshall to thank him for the true gift of a good laugh, he shared this tip about a wonderful bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau: the Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils 2005 (about $14). "When we opened the bottle, the room filled with the aroma of violets, and the dense, intensely fruity wine had cherry and tropical fruit flavors," he told me. "This one should not be missed." If you hurry, you might still be able to find this young wine at one of the many Twin Liquors outlets or at Central Market.
A guest list that included wedding and event planners, nonprofit representatives, media types, and local entertainers braved Austin's first cold night recently to attend the unveiling of the newly refurbished Mercury Hall (615 Cardinal Ln., 236-1226, www.mercuryhall.com). Tasty comestibles were provided by Word of Mouth, Austin Catering, Primizie, An Affair to Remember, Ciao Chow, and Gina's Kitchen. Beer and wine were plentiful, and a band serenaded the crowd in a heated tent on the patio. A good time was had by all despite the sudden chill.
The New Mercury
The hall is a 1907 white-frame church from Mercury, Texas, complete with hardwood floors, ceiling fans, and simple stained-glass windows. It was relocated to a tree-shaded South Austin hilltop in 1997 and became a popular event venue despite some strategic drawbacks. In the spring of 2005, a local investment group headed up by former Word of Mouth Catering owner Leslie Moore and magic-touch entrepreneur Daryl Kunik purchased the Mercury and an adjacent property. They hired architect Michael Hsu and designer Joel Mozersky (these guys are everywhere!) to make the necessary changes. The very capable creative team recently completed the renovations, maintaining the Mercury's quaint charm and historic integrity while correcting a few flaws. The main hall has a larger area for dining/dancing, accented by soaring windows and French doors that open to a lovely patio and fountain. There is now a comfortable bride's dressing room, the bathrooms are larger, and the relocated service kitchen is more functional. The adjacent property in back has become a parking lot, reducing the need for guests to park along Cardinal Lane or neighboring side streets. It's a very impressive package. And though I'd cheerfully take a beating with a tire iron rather than ever actually cater another wedding, I'll have to admit the retired caterer in me was totally smitten with the new Mercury!
Tea Embassy (900 Rio Grande, 330-9991) owner Carol Sims will sign copies of the new edition of her self-published book, Tea Treasures and More, this weekend. The book offers essential information about tea preparation, etiquette, and culture in addition to a time-tested collection of Southern family recipes originally gathered for the author's sons when they went away to college. For more information, go to www.teaembassy.com; 10am-5pm, Saturday, Dec. 3.
Event Menu :: Dec. 3-8
Experience Homespun Holidays at the Austin Farmers' Market (Fourth & Guadalupe), where local artisans will demonstrate such crafts as soap-making, candle-making, wool spinning, and more. There will also be fresh, seasonal produce, delicious holiday foods (with samples), holiday gift items, cooking demonstrations, and live music; www.austinfarmersmarket.org; 9am-1pm Saturdays, Dec. 3 and 10.
Aspiring gingerbread-house architects of every age and skill level will want to attend the fourth annual Gingerbread House Competition and Open House at the Texas Culinary Academy (11400 Burnet Rd., 837-2665), which is free and open to the public. During the afternoon, there will be holiday cookie- and cake-decorating demonstrations, live music, and holiday refreshments. Penny McConnell will be on hand to sign and sell copies of her book Cookie Stories. To enter the Gingerbread House Competition, contact pastry chef Aimee Olson at 837-2665 x179 or at firstname.lastname@example.org; noon-3pm, Sunday, Dec. 4.