Food-o-File

Restaurants are coming and going, but the peaches are still in their heyday

After years of late freezes, devastating hail storms, and crippling drought, Hill Country peach growers are having their best season in a decade! I've been getting wonderful peaches from Caskey Orchards at the Barton Creek Farmers Market (www.bartoncreekfarmersmarket.org), but all the area markets and roadside stands have an abundance of delicious freestone varieties available now, at the season's peak. The folks at Marburger Orchards (559 Kuhlmann Rd., Fredericksburg, 830/997-9433, www.marburgerorchard.com) e-mailed to advise us their Dixiland variety is peaking just now, and they're offering good deals to people who show up for the pick-your-own option on weekdays. It really is a great summer for fruit – I saw chef Deegan McClung leaving Boggy Creek Farm (3414 Lyons) with several bags of wild mustang grapes last Saturday morning. Look for them to turn up in jellies and sauces on the Jeffrey's menu (1204 West Lynn, 477-5584) over the next few weeks. Boggy Creek farmer Larry Butler told me how he turned a problem into profit this month. When stink bugs attacked his tomato crop, he picked the fruit, cut the tomatoes in half, and used a blow torch to burn off the skins. Then he mashed the pulp, cooked it with a little seasoning, and put up the results in quart jars that are flying off the farm-stand shelves as "fire-roasted tomatoes," great for soups and stews all winter long... Snap Kitchen (46th & Guadalupe, the Triangle, 459-9000, www.snapkitchen.com) recently joined a select group of local restaurants that have been recognized as Certified Green Restaurants by the Green Restaurant Association, a national nonprofit that uses science-based certification standards to evaluate the environmental impact of restaurants. In other green news, Tarka Indian Kit­chen (5207 Brodie, 892-2008, www.tarkaindiankitchen.com) received a WasteSMART Busi­ness Partner certificate from the city of Austin for reducing and recycling waste and using recycled products. Congratula­tions to both!... In anticipation of the opening of Maudie's Hill Country later this summer in Bee Cave, the folks at Maudie's Tex-Mex (www.maudies.com) have joined forces with Amy's Ice Creams to create a new flavor called Bee Cave Crunch, a Mexican-vanilla base with a honey and pecan-praline swirl. Ask for the new treat at your favorite Maudie's location around town... Look for Dripping Springs Vodka in new flask-shaped, 375-milliliter bottles that are only available in Texas. We're told the new curved bottles are the perfect accessory for "any event that requires pants with pockets." And speaking of local spirits, many members of the local distilling and artisan bartending communities are spending this week at the annual Tales of the Cock­tail conference in New Orleans, reputed to be the original home of the cocktail... On the new restaurant front, look for a second outlet of Arpeggio Grill (6619 Airport, 419-0110) to open in the spot recently vacated by TerraBurger in the 2500 block of Guadalupe Street. We're also told that the first Austin outlet of Houston chef Robert Del Grande's popular quick casual eatery, Cafe Express, is coming to the former La Madeleine location at 3418 N. Lamar. And we're eager to see the new Latin-inspired La Sombra (4800 Burnet Rd.), set to go into the former Sampaio's location in the Rosedale neighborhood.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

peach harvest, restaurant openings, Hill Country peaches, Caskey Orchards, Barton Creek Farmers Market, Marburger Orchards, Dixiland, Deegan McCllung, Jefrey's, Boggy Creek Farm, Larry Butler, fire-roasted tomatoes, Snap Kitchen, Certified Green Restaurants, Green Restaurant Association, Tarka Indian Kitchen, WasteSMART, Maudie's Tex-Mex, Amy's Ice Creams, Bee Cave Crunch

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