Energy bars go back to basics

Inspired by what might have been the world's first energy bar, a trio of Austinites has created Thunderbird Energetica, a line of raw, gluten-free, vegan bars made of dehydrated berries, fruits and nuts.

For centuries, American Indians made a dense, nutrient-packed food called pemmican that was easy to transport and didn't easily spoil. Thunderbird Energetica co-owner Katie Forrest says the company wanted to replicate the idea, but without the animal fat that was used to bind ingredients and supply additional calories.

They have three flavors - cherry walnut crunch, cashew fig carrot, cacao walnut hemp - that you can buy either online ($36 for a box of 15 at www.thunderbirdenergetica.com ) or at more than 20 local cycling and running shops, coffee shops and grocers, including Whole Foods Markets in Austin starting this week.

- Addie Broyles

Stick to this chocolate drink, hot or cold

Spring already feels like summer to us, but it's hot chocolate season year-round in San Francisco, and the Bay Area's Ticket Kitchen is exporting the experience ... on a stick. Starting with 1.5-ounce blocks of dark French chocolate - plain or dusted with cayenne, ancho and chipotle powders - you make the drink by pouring steaming hot milk or water over the stick, then swirling the chocolate with the stick as it melts, which takes about two minutes. For my tastes, the perfect cup comes from eight ounces of milk, which still leaves a fair a mount of chocolate hugging the bottom of the cup. But the chocolate taste is bold, sweet and aggressive, an experience amplified even more by the tingling chili powders. I also poured a batch over ice for a refreshingly cold chocolate blast. Both varieties start at $3.95 per stick, with packages of four for $15 or 12 for $43. Order at www.theticketkitchen.com . For a quick and local hot-chocolate fix, the Holy Cacao trailer at 1311 S. First St. (851-2253, www.theholycacao.com ) sells its own versions for $4 hot or $5 blended with Blue Bell ice cream.

- Mike Sutter

Lineup of recipes puts big leagues in your kitchen

The long, glorious baseball season starts Thursday, and with it comes the release of "Diamond Dishes: From the Kitchens of Baseball's Biggest Stars" (Lyons Press, $24.95). Author Julie Loria, whose husband is Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, interviewed dozens of players about not just what they eat, but what they like to cook, too. Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton falls into the likes-to-eat camp. Hamilton, whose .359 batting average helped lead the Rangers to their first World Series appearance last year, is a North Carolina native, so it's no surprise to find recipes for pulled pork sandwiches and sweet tea from his wife, Katie. He probably ate a few extra helpings of his wife's sweet potato casserole, also featured in the book, when he won the American League most valuable player award just before Thanksgiving last year.

- A.B.

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Gonzo Juice and Salad, a trailer at 1104 E. Sixth St. doing a variety of fresh-squeezed juice blends, from Dad's Truck (carrot, beet and apple) to the Double Barrel (grapefruit, jalapeño, lemon, ginger, garlic and carrot) for $3.50-$5.50, plus small shots, plain juices and lemonades. The trailer, run by the brother-and-sister team of Sutton and Bella Van Gunten, also makes salads with such diverse elements as avocado, black beans, candied pecans and beet balsamic vinaigrette, with a garden-basket of greens and vegetables for $6, with occasional options of chicken, shrimp or beef picadillo for an extra $2. The trailer, which sports a giant rooster head, draws inspiration from the Muppet named Gonzo. "We love Muppets. We love gonzo journalism," Bella Van Gunten said. "We wanted the theme to match the trailer. And Gonzo is obsessed with chickens." Open Wednesdays-Sundays for lunch, plus late nights on Fridays and Saturdays. 782-0392, www.facebook.com/GonzoJuice .

• Open: Port A Cafe, a seafood restaurant from Adam Gonzales of Cafe Serranos in Southpark Meadows at 9500 S. Interstate 35, Building C. 614-4250. Check out Gonzales' fridge in the What's In Your Fridge Friday feature at austin360.com/relishaustin .

• Open: Yellow Jacket Social Club, a bar with sandwiches and patio seating in the former Cafe Mundi space at 1704 E. Fifth St. 480-9572.

- M.S., Deborah Sengupta Stith

Food and wine briefs

• Haddingtons, the American-British style tavern and bar opened by chef Zack Northcutt and restaurateur Michael Polombo in January, is bringing in James Corwell as executive chef. Corwell's background includes time as executive chef at Le Foret in New Orleans and at the Culinary Institute of America in California as an instructor. In a press release, Haddingtons said Corwell will introduce lighter, bistro-style dishes while keeping rustic dishes such as game meats and charcuterie in place. Northcutt will stay on as head chef, building the restaurant's program of family-style whole pig and lamb roasts. Haddingtons is at 601 W. Sixth St. 992-0204, www.thehaddington.com .

• From 7 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday at Casa de Luz, 1701 Toomey Road, learn about mindful eating from meditation instructor Chan Huy. Huy, who lives in Canada, will talk about how focusing your awareness and intention around eating creates a healthier relationship with food. $10 suggested donation.

• Kyle McKinney has joined Bryce Gilmore's Barley Swine restaurant (2024 S. Lamar Blvd. 394-8150, www.barleyswine.com ) as pastry chef. McKinney's worked locally with the Hilton Austin, the Mansion at Judges' Hill and the Four Seasons.

- A.B., M.S.

Austin transplant gets saucy on restaurant reality show

We don't know Joey Galluzzi's fate on the reality show "America's Next Great Restaurant," but we do know this: The life insurance agent with New York City and Florida ties is now in Austin to study cooking at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. The elimination-style show brings together potential restaurateurs to compete for a shot at opening fast-service franchises in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis, backed by chefs and restaurateurs Bobby Flay, Lorena Garcia and Curtis Stone and Chipotle founder Steve Ells.

Galluzzi and his concept, an Italian-style meatball shop with the barely printable name Saucy Balls, have made it through the first four episodes, creating a logo, hiring a chef, making a menu, feeding a theme park crowd and working a disastrous shift at Chipotle. Not exactly the stuff of dreams, but Galluzzi, 41, was ready to chase his. "It was always in my heart to open a restaurant one day. It was that flame that never went out."

Galluzzi said twin passions - food and family - have drawn him to Austin. His wife is from Houston, and he was impressed with the Le Cordon Bleu program and facility in Austin, he said.

What about that name? Galluzzi said it came from one of his two young daughters watching her dad make his Sunday marinara sauce and meatballs. "After she ate a meatball, she looked at me and said, `Hey Daddy. I know what we could call your restaurant. Saucy Balls,' " he said. "My wife and I, we just couldn't stop laughing." He's using recipes from his late Sicilian grandmother, Catherine. "The cooking has definitely passed through the generations."

Another contestant with Austin connections, former University of Texas basketball player Fran Harris, didn't make it past the second episode with her Sports Wrap concept. The next episode airs at 7 p.m. Sunday on NBC.

- M.S.