Food news for your four-legged friends and more

While area farmers are still recovering from last month's devastating deep freeze, the six farmers' markets in the Austin metro area remain busy. With the advent of springlike weather, the hours at the weekly Triangle market have changed; the market is once again open from 4 to 8pm on Wednesday afternoons. In other market news, Cedar Park Farms to Market manager Carla Jenkins has been invited to open a Wednesday afternoon market in a newly constructed park plaza in downtown Round Rock in April. We'll keep you posted on the exact date and location.

Austin's reputation as a pet-friendly city is attracting some national attention this weekend. The first local outlet of pet-care chain Woof Gang Bakery (1204 N. Lamar, 391-9663, opens Saturday, March 12, under the ownership of Austinite Tom Morris. Woof Gang specializes in healthy, natural pet foods and treats, toys, fashion accessories, and pet-grooming products. Look for the store to offer pet-friendly events and Yappy Hours for customers and their animals... Also this weekend, the folks from Friskies will be promoting the launch of Tasty Treasures, a new cheese-flavored cat food. As part of the promotion, Friskies is bringing a 640-pound block of cheese carved to represent several famous cats that have been featured in popular YouTube videos. Check out the sculpture at Short Bus Subs' temporary location for South by Southwest at Fifth and Brazos. This Sunday beginning at 11am, Short Bus will be giving away free grilled-cheese sandwiches to the first 500 guests courtesy of Friskies. Meow!

Austin chefs are in the news. Chez Zee (5406 Balcones) announced last week that Ben Nathan, formerly of the Belmont, is the new executive chef at the popular North­west Austin bistro. Brad Sorenson, chef contestant on the last season of The Next Food Network Star, recently took some time off from his job at Asti (408-C E. 43rd) to compete in a new round of Chopped All-Stars on the Food Network. Soren­son cooked his way to the dessert round before being eliminated during a segment that aired March 6. Chef James Holmes, owner of Olivia (2043 S. Lamar), will take part in a South by Southwest Interactive panel discussion titled Bite Me – Are Ethics Gone From Food Criticism? at the Hyatt (208 Barton Springs Rd.) at 11am Monday, March 14. And in the off-with-our-heads department, sincere apologies to Austin chef Jesse Grif­fiths, who was one of the four local nominees in the recent online regional chef competitions held by Food & Wine magazine and CNN's We regret having left him out of a notice about that competition. Tim Byres of Smoke restaurant in Dallas was named People's Best New Chef in the Southwest.

The hippest new happy hour in town has to be the Social Interactive Playtime at Trace at the W Hotel (200 Lavaca). Guests can enjoy a variety of custom cocktails, Texas wines, and savory and sweet menu items for $5 each from 4 to 6:30pm every day.

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farmers' markets, Woof Gang Bakery, Short Bus Subs, Cedar Park Farms to Market, Carla Jenkins, Friskies, Tasty Treasures, grilled cheese, Chez Zee, Ben Nathan, Brad Sorenson, Chopped All-Stars, James Holmes, Bite Me – Are Ethics Gone From Food Criticism

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