Food-o-File

Romance available in paper bags, restaurant closures/openings, Girl Scout cookies, and more yummy news

The coolest Super Bowl party food idea I've seen so far this season has to be the cake stadium filled with cake balls decorated as Saints and Colts helmets! The folks at Austin Cake Ball (7950 Anderson Square #104, 826-4824, www.austincakeball.com) will whip one up in the flavors of your choice and deliver it to your Super Bowl party. So far, my favorite local Valen­tine's treat is the fabulous selection of hand-decorated cookies at Quack's 43rd Street Bakery (411 E. 43rd, 453-3399, www.quacksbakery.com), especially the skunk inscribed with "Love stinks." If a romantic evening at home sounds like the best Valen­tine's Day celebration option, the chefs at Central Market are ready to help. Order from several custom "dinner for two" menus complete with candles, brioche rolls, dessert, and a romantic-comedy DVD packed in a lovely gift bag. Dinners range in price from $50 to $80, and the deadline to order from either store's catering desk (Lamar, 206-1024; Westgate, 899-4343) is 4pm Feb. 12... Readers have really been burning up the e-mail with news of restaurant closures the past week. One distressed reader told of how evening shift employees at the Alligator Grill (3003 S. Lamar) were surprised to find the restaurant closed when they showed up for work one day last week, but general manager Paul Bland­ford assured us he had made every effort to contact his employees before the abrupt closure and said he would do whatever he could to help them find other jobs. He explained that owner Steve Wim­berly had evaluated the 14-year-old restaurant's profitability relative to fresh seafood costs and rent increases and made the difficult decision to close. Wimberly's other businesses Downtown, Gumbo's Louisiana Style Cafe and the Brown Bar, remain open. Farther north in the Rosedale neighborhood, some Brazilian soccer fans alerted us to the demise of Sampaio's Brazilian Cuisine (4800 Burnet Rd.). The Brazilian restaurant closed quietly earlier this month, but Brazilian food lovers can still find the cuisine of their homeland in the UT campus area at São Paulo's (2809 San Jacinto, 473-9988, www.saopaulos.net). We also got news about a new Bavarian restaurant near Briar­cliff called Ilsa's Kitchen (20700 Hwy. 71 W., 494-4270, www.ilsaskitchen.com), where longtime Austin chef Achim "Chef Keem" Thiemermann is running the kitchen. Its beer and wine license is still pending, so BYOB to enjoy with the German/Bavarian menu and the live oompah music... If you've yet to purchase Girl Scout cookies this year, be advised the entrepreneurial young ladies will be selling at local Simon malls – the Arboretum, both the Shops at Arbor Walk and the Shops at Arbor Trails, the Domain, Gateway Shopping Center, and Wolf Ranch Town Center – between now and Feb. 28... School gardens offer more than just fun or fresh herbs and produce for the cafeteria; they can also provide curriculum enrichment in a variety of disciplines. Teachers, administrators, and parents have a great opportunity to learn more about incorporating gardens and nature areas into their school curricula at the Get Growing & Keep Going conference at Garza Inde­pen­dence High School (1600 Chicon) from 8am to 4pm on Saturday, Feb. 6. The daylong event will offer both lectures and hands-on demonstrations on such topics as rainwater harvesting, vermiculture, double digging of garden beds, schoolyard habitats, entomology, fundraising, environmental stewardship, and building a garden community. Teach­ers can receive seven hours of continuing education credit for attending. Cost for the conference is $25. Register on the Web at online.nwf.org/ggkg.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

São Paolo's, Ach, Austin Cake Ball, Super Bowl, Valen­tine's Day, Quack's Bakery, Central Market, Alligator Grill, Paul Bland­ford, Steve Wim­berly, Gumbo's Louisiana Style Cafe, the Brown Bar, Sampaio's Brazilian Cuisine, São Paulo's, Ilsa's Kitchen, Achim Thiemermann, Chef Keem, Girl Scout cookies, Get Growing & Keep Going Conference

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