Hatch chiles weather the storm, Jane King leaves Central Market for Patricia's Lunchbox, Bill Norris of Fino heads to Queensland with his Bee Sting, and Bennigan's lives on while Ararat goes nomadic
News reports about the remnants of Hurricane Dolly dumping rain on far West Texas and Southern New Mexico had me concerned about the green-chile crop in the Hatch Valley. However, the mayor's office in Hatch, N.M., assured me last week that the crop did not suffer any significant damage. Growers in the Hatch Valley expect to harvest a big, healthy crop of the wildly popular chiles later this month in plenty of time to supply produce for the local chile celebrations scheduled at Austin stores, restaurants, and farmers' markets in late August and early September... Jane King has been a mainstay on the staff of the flagship Central Market store since it opened 13 years ago. She was one of two of the original staff "foodies" who helped shoppers find products in the store; she created the successful Treats for Troops program, wrote the kids magazine Fit, and taught the kids cooking camp for a couple of years. King left Central Market late last month to become a working partner in Patricia's Lunchbox (www.patriciaslunchbox.com), the private-school lunch program founded by Patricia Bauer-Slate. "We're looking forward to feeding 1,000 private-school students this year, and we're talking to representatives of [Austin Independent School District] about developing a pilot public-school healthy-lunch program with them," King reports... The next time you are in Fino (2905 San Gabriel, 474-2905), ask award-winning mixologist Bill Norris to whip you up his Bee Sting, the original creation that won him a berth on one of three teams of bartenders representing the United States at the fifth annual Cocktail World Cup competition, sponsored by 42Below Vodka in Queenstown, New Zealand, Sept. 9-13. Look for the Bee Sting recipe at www.tipsytexan.com... Hammoud Inc., franchise owner of four area Bennigan's outlets (13995 Hwy. 183 N., 257-7713; 12415 N. I-35, 821-1319; 2500 Hoppe Trail in Round Rock, 512/671-1500; 4025 S. I-35 in San Marcos, 512/392-5511), wants the public to know its restaurants are not affected by the recent bankruptcy filing by the Bennigan's parent company... Ararat owner Kelly Abshire (552-7365, www.myspace.com/araratrestaurant) describes her business as a "roving restaurant." Since losing the space on North Loop last year, Abshire has thrown in with the ladies at Hot Mama's Espresso Bar (2401 E. Sixth, 476-6262), serving her Mediterranean specialties at their counter daily and at their regular outdoor events. More recently, she's arranged to set up in the parking lot at White Crane Healing Arts (1902 S. Congress, 916-1122) on First Thursdays, to be part of Ohm Mondays every second Monday at the Red Fez (209 W. Fifth, 478-5120) and Sahara Nights every second Saturday at Copa Bar & Grill (217 Congress, 479-5002), plus a monthly four-course Zodiac Dinner ($35, BYOB) at the German-Texan Heritage Society (507 E. 10th, 482-0927) celebrating the zodiac sign for that particular month. Somebody needs to find this gal a restaurant space so she can settle down!