How cool was it to see venerable Taylor pit-master Bobby Mueller cracking jokes with Food Network host Guy Fieri on a barbecue episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives the other night? I'll have to say the spiky-haired Fieri is not my favorite Food Network personality, but at least he did demonstrate the proper appreciation for the stellar barbecue at Louie Mueller's (206 W. Second in Taylor, 512/352-6206). Another legendary Central Texas barbecue emporium, Southside Market & Barbeque (1212 Hwy. 290 E. in Elgin, 512/285-3407), celebrates 125 years in business this summer. As part of the recognition of that incredible milestone, members of the Bracewell family will represent Texas barbecue by serving their Elgin Hot Sausage at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in New York City's Madison Square Park this weekend with thousands of hungry people in attendance. Congratulations, and happy birthday! The Bracewells weren't the only Central Texans in New York this week. A delegation that included TateAustin ad executives, Texas Department of Agriculture officials Bobby Champion and Julie Andrews, and Texas vintners Raymond and Gladys Haak, Ed and Susan Auler, Ed and Madeleine Manigold, Alphonse and Martha Dotson, cowgirl cook Paula Disbrowe, and our own Wes Marshall did a three-day major-media tour there earlier this week. One of the places they poured Texas wines was a brand-new Big Apple barbecue joint and music venue called Hill Country (30 W. 26th in NYC) where a Texan will be manning the pits and Texas music and NYC's first all-Texas wine list will be featured! And speaking of Texas wines, both guests and organizers of the recent Austin Wine Festival were very pleased with the outcome. Organizers were gratified to see a big crowd of wine-curious young people tasting wines, chatting with vintners, and taking notes. "Many of them said they had no idea there were so many wineries in the Hill Country. All in all, the crowd represented a new and different demographic for us, and we hope that will translate into new business," said Gary Elliott of Driftwood Vineyards. Our own Mr. Smarty Pants, R.U. Steinberg, reports that he was very favorably impressed with an Orange Muscat and the selection of very good Texas Viogniers he discovered Aquarelle (606 Rio Grande, 479-8117) chef and co-owner Terry Wilson was surprised to find herself judging a crepe Throwdown! in late May where the contestants were Bobby Flay and the owners of Austin's Flip Happy Crepes (400 Jessie, 552-9034). Wilson could not be persuaded to divulge the winner, so I guess we'll have to wait for the segment to air on the Food Network It's not all about barbecue, wine, and TV this week, however. Happy readers alerted us about the quiet opening of the Counter Cafe (626 N. Lamar, 708-8800) in the old GM Steakhouse location. Former Austinite Debbie Davis has returned to her old neighborhood and resurrected a little piece of old Austin. "We're giving people the real diner experience, but with quality ingredients and a fresh coat of paint," Davis tells us. "So far, people have been very receptive." The new spot is open weekdays from 7am to 4pm and on Saturdays from 8am to 4pm, with breakfast all day. Welcome back!... Celebrity chef Kent Rathbun's new gourmet backyard cuisine outlet, Jasper's (the Domain, 834-4111), is now open for happy hour daily from 3 to 6pm with a special menu that offers $2 off all appetizers, liquor, beer, and wine. We've heard that the decor at this new place is a knockout The sushi surge that has washed over Austin in the past few years has now arrived in Georgetown with last week's opening of Hayashi Sushi & Grill (1019 W. University Ave. in Georgetown, 512/868-9686). Named for the chef who prepares the sushi, the new spot is open for lunch and dinner daily. Check out the menu at www.hayashigrill.com.
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