Texas finalists in the Gallo Family Vineyards Gold Medal Awards, the Loft Bar at Finn & Porter debuts new menu, another Lamberts, and more

Gallo Family Vineyards ( has announced the finalists for the third annual Gold Medal Awards for artisan food products. Of the 274 finalists, 13 are Texas companies. (Those with products available in the Austin area are noted with an asterisk.) Congratulations to Boggy Creek Farm* of Austin for Larry's Smoke-Dried Tomatoes, Cocoa Puro* of Austin for Kakáwa Cocoa Beans, Austin Slow Burn* for Habanero Jelly With Rosemary and Green Chile con Queso, Wateroak Farm* of Bryan for Brazos Supreme Ice Cream made from goat's milk, Mozzarella Co.* of Dallas for cheeses, Broken Arrow Ranch* of Ingram for meats, Brown Paper Chocolates* of Houston for chocolates, Veldhuizen Family Farm* of Dublin for cheeses, Leaning Oaks Vineyards of Spring Branch for condiments, Claybury Products of Houston for baked goods, Fischer & Wieser of Freder­icks­burg for condiments, Artisan Baking Co. of Fort Worth for baked goods, and Cherith Valley Gardens of Fort Worth for condiments and fruits/vegetables. Gold Medal Award winners will be announced at a gala event in New York City in April. We wish all the Texas finalists the best of luck!... Menus specially designed to pair with cocktails are all the rage just now, and the Loft Bar at Finn & Porter in the Hilton Downtown (500 E. Fourth, 482-8000) debuted a new menu during South by Southwest. Look for such enticing selections as Boursin Grilled Cheese ($8) and "Top Shelf" BLT ($11) sandwiches, an artisan cheese platter ($15), Crispy Gulf Oyster Sliders ($10), and Baked Blue Crab & Spinach Dip ($14)... Years before making Austin his home, popular local chef/restaurateur Lou Lambert helped self-styled "cowboy chef" Grady Spears make a success of the Reata restaurants in both Alpine and Fort Worth. The old friends now have two joint ventures in Fort Worth: Dutch's Burgers opened to rave reviews in May 2007 across the street from the TCU campus, and the brand-new Lambert's Fort Worth (2731 White Settlement Rd., debuted earlier this month immediately west of downtown Fort Worth. The new spot features some of the same menu items that have been a big hit at the Austin Lamberts Downtown Barbecue outlet but is somewhat more casual with a lower price point. It's open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch and will offer late-night live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Drop in the next time you're in Cowtown... Now here's a piece of news that should give celiac disease suffers pining for brownies and chocolate cake a glimmer of hope. The most popular item on the buffet at Miles Compton's open-house party at his new East Austin kitchen facility last week was samples of the prototype for his new gluten-free Miles of Chocolate. The product is still in the development and testing phase, but Compton hopes to have it in stores by September.

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