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Posted: 10:34 a.m. Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Austin Recovery, Toast of the Town, Easter Quiches and more 


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Michael Barnes
Gigi and Sam Bryant at Austin Recovery Lunch

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Michael Barnes
Karin and Bob Stern at Toast of the Town dinner

By Michael Barnes

HEALTH: Why are we drawn to these traumatic tales? The Austin Recovery speaker series often features a celebrity who has thrown off the shackles of addiction. This year, more than 700 guests assembled at ACL Live during the lunch break to hear musician Natalie Cole tell of extreme behavior on drugs before sobriety took hold in 1983. It took more than just a detox and time in a rehabilitation center. Rather, she was able to reenter the world only after months in a family-oriented residence. Cole talked about the insecurities about growing up the child of celebrities, performing and interviewing "high as a kite," and walking "on the other side of midnight." Potent stuff. Before her fluent, sometime funny speech, an Austin Recovery leader announced that the group would soon open a family out-patient facility on Spicewood Springs. (Very impressed with what chairwomen Val Armstrong and Mary Yancy put together for this benefit.)

FOOD: You couldn't beat the setting, the food or the comradeship. The Toast of the Town series, which supports the St. David's Foundation's scholarships in health science, is known for intimate affairs. Imagine a Dick Clark-designed house of limestone, glass and metal, positioned high above a pristine nature preserve. Drinks on the deck as the sun sinks behind the impossibly green hills, then inside the home of Charlie and Melanie Jones (C3) where three tables seat 10 guests each. In the kitchen is affable chef David Bull and his crew, although most of the food is also touched by the wood-fired grill outside. The menu: crisp giardinera, white asparagus gazpacho, flash seared salmon belly, potato gnocchi with grilled octopus, roasted pork and kohlrabi slaw. Pasty chef Erica Waksmunski's light dessert included a sweet pea mousse.  All this was masterfully paired with wines by Whole Foods Market's master sommelier Devon Broglie. My near tablemates were Dr. Bob Stern and his wife Karin Stern, who discussed their German, Swedish and Danish Texan ancestors as well as their daughter and son-in-law's dressage stables in Coupland. (I tell you this, not to provoke envy, but rather to encourage attendance at these benefit events.)

FOOD 2: A trio of egg-cellent quiches for Easter. From Addie Broyles story in the Statesman: "The egg salad can wait. After Easter, many of us will be eating hard-boiled eggs until we can’t stomach them any more, but on Easter morning, why not spring for a quiche, a much more elegant and brunch-worthy dish suitable for guests or a quiet morning with the family. Easy to make ahead and infinitely customizable, quiche might be the perfect Easter food. All those eggs certainly have something to do with that, but as a savory pie often filled with cheese, it’s upscale comfort food you can serve by the slice. Sarah McIntosh, the chef/owner behind Epicerie, serves a variety of quiches at her Rosewood eatery, including a classic confit tuna tomato quiche that is one of her favorites and a roasted mushroom quiche with Comté cheese, which is a favorite at brunch. “I love quiche because you can eat it for any meal and put any filling you want in it,” says the Louisiana native, who trained with Thomas Keller in California before working at Austin’s Olivia and opening her cafe in 2012. “It’s just rich, good comfort food.” http://shar.es/TcXHp  (I know what we are having this weekend.)

Michael Barnes

About Michael Barnes

Michael Barnes writes about Austin's people, places, culture and history. He also writes the Out and About social column and blog.

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