Tasty travel tips. bocaditos, and more ...
Here are some tasty suggestions for upcoming vacations. Heading out to the Big Bend country this summer? In Marfa, chef Nathan Stevens of the Phat Cafe in Terlingua has relocated his menu of Asian street food and fresh flown-in fish to the Thunderbird Hotel and Lounge (601 W. San Antonio in Marfa, 432/729-1984, www.thunderbirdmarfa.com) for the summer season. Stevens presents his distinctive culinary creations from 7pm to midnight, Tuesdays through Saturdays... If you're already that far west, you might as well motor on over to Marathon and grab a bite at the legendary Gage Hotel (102 W. Hwy. 90, 432/386-4205, www.gagehotel.com) where former Austin chef Paul Petersen is now on the range... Hungry for a culinary exploration in Mexico? Chef and cookbook author Susanna Trilling of Seasons of My Heart Cooking School (www.seasonsofmyheart.com) in the countryside outside the city of Oaxaca has announced the schedule for her annual Mushroom Foray. From August 21 through 26, guests will explore four different microclimates, searching for many varieties of the edible treasures with village experts and then return to Trilling's kitchen to prepare the bountiful harvest. Check the Web site for more details and prices... Cocktail aficionados with a desire to contribute to the restoration of the New Orleans tourist economy should consider the five-day drinking and dining experience known as Tales of the Cocktail. Explore the history and spirit of the cocktail with celebrities, bestselling authors, award-winning chefs, and mixologists at a series of fun and fascinating events hosted by French Quarter landmark the Hotel Monteleone (800/299-0404, www.talesofthecocktail.com), July 19-23. Several travel packages are available... And, FYI, when coming and going through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, be sure to grab a slice or a whole pie at the newest Mangia Pizza outlet, between gates 12 and 13, across the concourse from the west food court.
Condiment-makers par excellence Lauri and Carol Raymond of Sisters SASS bought out Martin Brothers in 2001 and formed a company called Sisters & Brothers Inc. (www.freshdressings.com). After five years of producing both SASS and Martin Brothers products, they have now selected their 10 best fresh dressings and are producing them all under the newly designed SASS label. None of the popular recipes have been changed in any way, and devoted fans should look for their favorite flavors under the festive new labels... Beef lovers will be interested to know that Waterloo Ice House (multiple locations around Austin) have added a Wagyu beef burger option ($1 extra) to their popular burger menu. The Waterloo chicken-fried steak is also made with the same beef at no price upgrade. Wagyu beef is renowned for its all-natural and mono-saturated fat properties... Tomato season is here, and, despite the drought, area farmstands and farmers' markets have a bountiful supply, as do the various Kerbey Lane Cafe locations. The cafe's get plenty of fresh vegetables grown specifically for them by Bobby and Cora Lamar of Oak Hill Farm, and they share the veggies with customers in the form of delicious menu items... Driving up the hill on South First the other day, we spied the attractive new Sun Garden Shaved Ice (1207 S. First) offering all-natural flavors of snow cones in a little oasis of shade above Bouldin Creek. They're open from 2 to 7pm Wednesdays through Sundays... The coolest new rooftop music venue Downtown has to be atop Houlihan's (309 E. Third, 474-5757, www.houlihans.com), the new Austin outlet of the national chain, where they'll be showcasing the acoustic musical stylings of local singer-songwriters weekly.
Event Menu: June 23-29Organic gardening enthusiasts will want to check out the grand opening celebration of Thunderhead Market (12002-B Hwy. 290 W., 288-4405) which stocks all organic pest control, soil amendments, and Thunderhead brand potting soil. Festivities will include an eclectic arts-and-crafts market, herb seminars, and refreshments. Admission is a can of food for the Capital Area Food Bank; Sat., June 24, 10am-2pm.
AIDS Services of Austin serves up an evening of fun at the annual Viva Las Vegas party, transforming the Austin Music Hall (208 Nueces) into a Vegas-worthy casino for an evening. Guests will enjoy faux gaming, great food from several Austin restaurants, an auction packed with enticing prizes, plus drinks and dancing. Proceeds benefit ASA and the Capital Area AIDS Legal Project. Tickets are $40 in advance at www.asaustin.org or 406-6115 and $50 at the door; Sat., June 24, 8pm-12mid.