ENTERTAINING

Sitcom star hosts caviar classes, sells to local restaurants

Actor, comedian and Lakeway resident Bill Kirchenbauer is on a mission to educate people that caviar in Texas isn’t just that black-eyed pea salad that you eat on New Year’s Day. "Little by little, I’ve made inroads," he says. "But it can be a hard sell." Kirchenbauer, who appeared in sitcoms including "Growing Pains," "Mork and Mindy" and "Night Court," fell in love with the infamously expensive cured fish eggs during his travels around the world and started Lone Star Caviar (lonestarcaviar.com) when he moved to Central Texas. He now teaches caviar classes and sells the product to restaurants, including Hudson’s on the Bend and Lenoir in Austin, (and even to a few celebrities) around the country. For the classes, he charges about $250 a person, depending on the variety and quantity of caviar the customers would like to try. He also offers "caviar in a box," a variety pack that includes accoutrements. "Even if you try some in a restaurant, most people don’t get to taste four or five different kinds of caviar," he says. "I want to give people an idea of what’s out there." To inquire about the classes or place an order for your holiday party, you can contact Kirchenbauer 636-8265.

PHILANTHROPY

Austin Food & Wine Alliance gives first culinary grants

The Austin Food & Wine Alliance gave away its first grants at a recent event at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center. Argus Cidery won a $10,000 grant to plant new apple varieties that are not grown in Texas in a test orchard in Dripping Springs. Tecolote Farm in Manor won a $5,000 grant to start a pilot program for heritage breed hogs as well as a subsidized community supported agriculture program for low-income families in Austin. Connally High School Culinary Arts program in Pflugerville won a $5,000 grant to produce a documentary film about the process of raising beef in Texas. The organization, which formed in 2011 as the beneficiary of the Austin Food & Wine Festival, has received proceeds from a number of other fundraisers, including their standalone Wine & Swine and Live Fire events and CultureMap’s Tastemaker Awards. Whole Foods Market, Maker’s Mark Bourbon and FreshPoint Produce have also donated directly to the alliance. On Thursday, Jan, 17, the alliance will add another event to its lineup — a Wine & Dine Dinner Series, which kicks off with a dinner from Congress chef David Bull on the penthouse floor of the Austonian. Tickets to that dinner ($150) go on sale Thursday at AustinFoodWineAlliance.org.

HOLIDAY FOODS

Last minute cookies, smoked meats available

Running behind on your holiday errands? Two local food makers might just be able to help you out. Maria Souktouri, who co-owns the Flying Carpet trailer with her husband, Abderrahim, is selling boxes of heart-shaped cookies she’s calling Moroccan Kisses, as well as Mejool dates stuffed with sesame almond butter. The cookies, which are available year-round and come in four flavors — lemon, sesame almond, dark chocolate-coated butter and ginger mint — cost $25 for 28 cookies, and the dates cost $18 for a box of 15. You can order them by emailing theflyingcarpetaustin@gmail.com or calling 744-5651. Famed pitman John Mueller, whose run at the barbecue trailer at 1502 S. First St. ended in October, has been smoking meats for a Saturday special at Shiner Restaurant and Bar in Shiner on recent weekends, but Mueller is also taking orders for smoked holiday meats, including brisket, ribs, sausage, ham and turkey. To order, call 677-9227.

BRIEFSWhen Austinite Chelsea Bartell was a server at high-end restaurants, she was always either looking for a wine opener or a lighter to pop open a bottle or relight a candle on a table. The idea stuck with her over the years, even after she left the industry, and a few years ago, she put her idea into motion with TapLite, a corkscrew with a serrated knife and double-hinged lever that also has a place to hold a miniature lighter. Bartell says the multi-use tool is also great for camping or for people who entertain frequently in their homes. You can order the tool ($11.99 through Jan. 1, $13.99 after that) at taplitetool.com.The Sustainable Food Center Farmers’ Market East will be closed Dec. 25, Jan. 1 and Jan. 8 because of the holidays. It will reopen January 15. The SFC Farmers’ Market at the Triangle will be closed on Dec. 26.

BEER

Saint Arnold announces new beer series

Later this month, Saint Arnold will release a Belgian-style Pale Ale, the first beer in its new Icon series, according to founder Brock Wagner. In addition to the regular, seasonal and Divine Reserve beers, these Icon beers will be released every December, March, June and September, Wagner says. "The initial thought was to brew some traditional styles of beer that we did not already brew," Wagner said. "The one thing that defines it, apart from the Divine Reserve series is that we’ll make multiple batches and we expect it to be available on the shelves for a couple of months, as opposed to a couple of hours."

The Icon beers also won’t be high-alcohol beers like the Divine Reserve series. Wagner said that if any of the new brews clock in above 9 percent, they will likely show up in the Divine Reserve series instead of as an Icon. Four-packs of bottles will hit retail shelves in January, after the holidays have blown through.

— Emma Janzen