Food Matters: 'Top Chef' audition, Valentine's Day dining, cold-brewed coffee
Say 'I love you' with a heart-shaped pie
You still have a little bit of time to plan the perfect Valentine's Day, but even if you don't make it to Fredericksburg before next week, you can order a heart-shaped pie from Fredericksburg Pie Co., 419 W. Main St., throughout the month of February.
The from-scratch pies come in six flavors (cherry-covered chocolate, coconut cream, chocolate cream, peanut buttercup, cherry and apple) and cost $14.95.
You can place an order by phone (830-990-6992) or e-mail (email@example.com), but owner Tawny Tully says they don't ship.
— Addie Broyles
Cold-brewed coffee, lots of possibilities
Pack your knives and go to 'Top Chef' audition
If you've always wanted to have a cat fight in a kitchen on national TV, now is your chance. "Top Chef" and "Top Chef Just Desserts" will be hosting a casting call in Austin from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 2 at Olivia, 2043 S. Lamar Blvd.
They are looking for "bold, ingenious pastry chefs who can build visually stunning pieces and impress the judges' palates" and, my favorite, chefs with "oodles of charisma." This is the ninth season of "Top Chef" and the second season of "Top Chef Just Desserts."
Applications at www.bravotv.com/casting. — A.B.
Openings, closings and coming soon
Open: Carl's Jr., a West Lake Hills outlet of the national burger franchise, 3201 Bee Cave Road. 306-8167, www.carlsjr.com .
Open: Lucky J's Chicken and Waffles, a brick-and-mortar version of the fried-chicken trailer. 5035 Burnet Road. www.luckyjs.com .
• Open: Three Little Pigs, a trailer specializing in pork dishes from former Backstage Steakhouse and Jeffrey's chef Raymond Tatum outside East End Wines at 1209 Rosewood Ave. Open 4 p.m. until around 10 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays.
• Open: Sushi Box, a converted shipping container doing sushi from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays at 215 Congress Ave. 851-0001.
Open: Diner on Wheels, a trailer doing New Mexico-style tacos, stew, nachos, sliders and hot dogs at 1207 S. First St. 516-7788, www.dineronwheels.net . Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Call for Sunday hours.
Relocated: Izzoz Tacos, the big blue trailer with some of the city's best trailer tacos and sandwiches from John Galindo and family, at 1503 S. First St., a few blocks south of its old location. 326-4996, www.izzoztacos.com .
— Mike Sutter
New lower-calorie Dr. Pepper almost a 10
Through June, Dr Pepper is testing a new product in Austin, San Antonio and four other U.S. cities. It's called Dr Pepper Ten, a 10-calorie (per 12-ounce can) drink developed to appeal to men age 25-34 who, the company's research showed, didn't care for the image of diet sodas and "want to make healthier choices without looking wimpy," said a spokesperson for Dr Pepper.
As the newsroom's unofficial chief Dr Pepper addict, I was pleased to help evaluate Ten. In a blind taste test of Diet DP (sweetened with aspartame; 0 calories per can), regular DP (high-fructose corn syrup; 150 calories per can) and Dublin Dr Pepper (cane sugar; 100 calories per 8-ounce bottle) alongside DP Ten (high-fructose corn syrup and aspartame), Ten was the closest to straight Dr Pepper, though definitely not identical. Dublin DP has a clean, sweet taste. Diet tastes plastic, to me at least. And Ten, as several of my colleagues agreed, is much like regular DP, but with a slight fake-sweetener aftertaste.
Conclusion: It might be good enough for some DP drinkers to switch. But how much good will that do them? I consulted Austin dietitian Amy Bluntzer, who as my former college roommate has been silently horrified by my levels of soda consumption for years. She said, "For someone who needs to cut calories and is trying to make gradual changes, then going from a regular soda to this might be a good choice, with the ultimate goal being less soda and more water." So remember: H2O still beats Ten.
— Sue Owen Whaley
Valentine's Day dining
More options for letting somebody else do the cooking so you can do the romancing. Find an expanded list at austin360.com/forklore .
Parkside (301 E. Sixth St. 474-9898, www.parkside-austin.com ): "Week of Sweets" four-course dessert menu for two Thursday-Monday. $21 per couple.
Central Market (Westgate, 899-4343; North, 206-1024; www.centralmarket.com ): The stores will offer a ready-made take-home dinner for two with entrees, salad, veggies, desserts and a bottle of wine Monday. Menu options include beef tenderloin and lobster tail. $69.99-89.99. Tofu option without wine $49.99.
Corazon at Castle Hill (1101 W. Fifth St., 476-0728, www.corazonatcastlehill.com ): Three-course dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday. Highlights: tortilla soup, duck enchiladas, chocolate truffle heart. $33.95-$39.95.
Haddingtons (601 W. Sixth St., 992-0204, www.thehaddington.com ): Three-course brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Highlights: toast with foie gras butter and housemade jelly, poached eggs on crab cakes, filet mignon with lobster ravioli. $50.
Manuel's (310 Congress Ave., 472-7555; 10201 Jollyville Road, 345-1042, www.manuels.com ): Three-course menu Thursday-Monday. Highlights: lump crab enchiladas, beef tenderloin, tres leches cake. $35, includes cocktail.
Mesa Ranch (8108 Mesa Drive, C-100, 853-9480, www.mesaranchaustin.com): Four course dinner Monday. Highlights: Crab cakes, filet with lobster tail, rib-eye with quail, champagne with strawberries, live music. $40.
Food and wine briefs
• Tickets are on sale now for the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, which runs March 31-April 1. The event's 26th year includes vineyard lunches, a Stars Across Texas tasting at the Long Center and sessions on burgers, sushi and sake, whiskey and cigars, charcuterie, craft beer, wines from Texas and Australia and more. The festival's Sunday Fair has been moved from Driftwood to the Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin. President Cathy Cochran-Lewis said one of the most exciting new events is a dinner featuring actor Kyle MacLachlan, who will be showcasing wines from his Pursued by Bear label. Tickets range from $35 to $100 and are available at www.texaswineandfood.org .
• To mark its one-year anniversary, Antonelli's Cheese Shop is partnering with its restaurant outlets to give away free cheese plates at 5 p.m. today at Jeffrey's (1204 West Lynn St.) and House Pizzeria (5111 Airport Blvd.), then again on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Apothecary (4800 Burnet Road) and 6 p.m. at 24 Diner (600 N. Lamar Blvd.).
Zax Restaurant (312 Barton Springs Road) will host a Jester King Craft Brewery kickoff party Feb. 16 at 6 p.m., featuring the brewery's Wytchmaker, Commercial Suicide and Boxer's Revenge in logo glasses to keep. 481-0100, www.zaxaustin.com .
The spring edition of Austin Restaurant Week, with dozens of restaurants offering three-course dinners for $25 and $35 and lunches for $10 and $15, will run March 27-30 and April 3-6, executive director Taylor Perkins announced last week. The restaurant list hasn't been announced, but is set to appear at www.restaurantweekaustin.com .
— M.S., A.B.