Adam Cotorceanu plays with his latte at Quack's, while spring brings changes around town

Photo by John Anderson

The concept of food and drink as consumable art is nothing new, but the specific genre of "latte art" seems to have emerged in the past few years as the coffeehouse revolution swept this country. Talented baristas who can draw hearts or rosettas in steamed milk are not uncommon, but a colleague sent me a cell-phone photo of the whimsical artistic creation of one local coffee maven, and the story behind it is too good not to share. Adam Cotorce­a­nu manages the front of the house during the day at the popular Quack's 43rd Street Bakery (411 E. 43rd, 453-3399, The young screenwriter worked his way through college and film school in coffeehouses in St. Louis and New York City, developing skills as a latte artist along the way. While he can make butterflies, snails, hearts, rosettas, birds, and self-portraits (with mustache) in the steamed milk atop a latte or a cup of hot chocolate, Adam's signature creation is a lion's head, complete with ruffled mane. "I'm a triple Leo, so a lion seemed like a natural for me. It took me awhile to work out how to do it, but the solution came to me one morning on a subway ride to work in New York," he recalls. Cotorceanu explains that creating the proper canvas for a work of latte art requires properly steamed milk and a pouring technique that doesn't cause too much swirling between the hot drink liquid and the carefully made foam. He says Quack's customers don't seem to mind waiting the few extra seconds it takes for him to add an artistic flourish to their hot drinks, and I can vouch for the fact that the milk artwork lasts to the bottom of the cup. While I was in Quack's visiting with Cotorceanu, I noticed that the coffeehouse has recently added hot panini sandwiches for lunches every day and breakfast on weekends – plus a very tempting cupcake selection (Boston cream pie and lemon meringue cupcakes are both particularly good) and a delightful array of sugar cookies decorated for Easter. Be sure to try something sweet when you stop in to appreciate Cotorceanu's consumable art... And now, here's a lightning round of local news items: Taking advantage of one of the best patios in Austin, FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar (2905 San Gabriel, 474-2905, has added Sun­day brunch (11am-3pm) to its lineup. Stop in for mixologist Bill Norris' signature brunch cocktails and a very inviting Spanish-inspired menu... Encouraged by enthusiastic customer response, Murph and Ben Will­cott have added Wednesday evenings to the weekly dinner service at Texas French Bread (2900 Rio Grande, 499-0544, In an effort to attract families, they've also added a new playscape in the garden and are offering a kid-friendly menu during a kid's happy hour with earlier service beginning at 5pm... Just in time for our lovely spring weather, Sagra Enoteca Trattoria (1610 San Antonio, has added patio seating in front of the restaurant. Check it out this Sunday for Easter brunch... Jo's Downtown (242 W. Second, 469-9003, has added a new corporate delivery service in its neighborhood. Choose from breakfast tacos, assorted pastries, boxed lunches (sandwich, chips, pickle spear, fruit cup, and a cookie), plus sandwich or dessert trays from the online menu, and within 24 hours, Jo's will deliver to your Downtown office... The strawberries at Sweet Berry Farm (1801 FM 1890 near Marble Falls, 830/798-1462, are ripe and ready for picking... Central Market announced last week that it has voluntarily removed all pistachio products from its shelves "strictly as a precautionary measure" until the Food and Drug Administration is able to identify the source of the current salmonella outbreak attributed to pistachios.

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latte art, Quack's 43rd Street Bakery, Adam Cotorceanu, FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar, Texas French Bread, Sagra Enoteca Trattoria, Jo's, Sweet Berry Farm, Central Market, pistachios

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