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Food Matters: Colorful reusable bags to replace kids plastic baggies; new skillet that sings

Staff Writer
Austin 360

A laundry list of lists that will make you laugh

Bill Keaggy has been collecting grocery lists since 1997. The St. Louis-based designer/brand marketer/graphic artist has personally found many of the lists, but hundreds more are sent in from people around the world. Yes, some of them are mundane, but usually, there is some element that is funny, sad or in some other way worth noting. (Keaggy appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" last year with one that had a particularly memorable line: "If you buy more rice - I'll punch you." To see the clips, as well as an interesting list I found last week, go to austin360.com/relishaustin .)

In 2007, Keaggy published a collection of his lists, and last month "Milk Eggs Vodka" was released in paperback (Ho w , $14.99). Like Found magazine or the Post Secret books, "Milk Eggs Vodka" gives readers insight into modern America through something as seemingly disposable and ephemeral as a list of things to buy at the grocery store.

- A.B.

Reduce plastic baggies at lunchtime

Ready to ditch your kids' plastic snack bags for something more environmentally friendly?

Wanderland, an eco-friendly gift shop (3419 N. Lamar Blvd. 371-9929, www.wanderlandshops.com ) which carries toys and kids gear among many other things, might be just the ticket.

Turns out they carry SnackTaxis - brightly colored fabric bags, lined with nylon to keep moisture in the sack. The velcro closures are a snap for the kids to use. There are two sizes, one large enough for a sandwich ($9) and a smaller one ($7) for crackers, fruit, cereal or other treats. The reusable bags are machine washable and free of lead, phthalates and BPA. The makers estimate that each bag replaces about 1,000 plastic baggies. The designs change with fabric availability; Snack Taxis (www.snacktaxi.com ) are made by hand in Massachusetts.

As a gift to myself? A new coffee mug reminding me to "breathe in, breathe out."

- Tara A. Trower

Soul restaurant idea edges Austinite's plan

New-Yorker-turned-Austin-culinary-student Joey Galluzzi and his Brooklyn Meatball Co. concept made it to the final round Sunday , but Jamawn Woods' fast-casual soul-food concept Soul Daddy will be "America's Next Great Restaurant." Contestants on the NBC reality show competed for a shot at opening their own mini-chains in New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. The investor/judges were Chiptole founder Steve Ells and chefs Bobby Flay, Curtis Stone and Lorena Garcia.

The experience clearly moved insurance adviser Galluzzi in a new direction, given his current role as a student at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin.

"This is something I'll continue to nurture. It's just too beautiful to let die on the vine," he said at the close of Sunday night's finale. Former Longhorns basketball player Fran Harris was knocked off the show in the early rounds.

- Mike Sutter

Blogger pens guide to Austin food scene

In the six years that she's been writing her food blog, Poco Cocoa (poco-cocoa.com ), Austinite Crystal Esquivel's interest in food has evolved from what she cooks in her own kitchen to what the best chefs in Central Texas are cooking in theirs. For the past year, she's been visiting hundreds of area eateries for her first book, "Food Lovers' Guide to Austin" (Globe Pequot, $14.95), which came out last month.

The book is divided into eight geographical sections, which includes a chapter about the Hill Country, and for each part, Esquivel writes about a restaurant's food, ambience and even cocktails. The book, which is available online at various retailers and in store at BookPeople, also includes a guide to local farmers' markets, food events and grocery stores and even has a few recipes from local chefs.

- Addie Broyles

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Lucy's Retired Surfer Bar, an Austin outlet of the regional chain serving California-style Mexican food and beach standards at 506 West Ave. 236-0083, www.lucysretiredsurfers.com .

• Closed: Joe's Bar and Grill at 506 West Ave.

• Open: Tootie Pie Goumet Cafe, serving sandwiches, soups, coffee and other cafe standards plus pies whole and by the slice. 10515 N. MoPac Blvd. (Loop 1), Suite A-120 at the Arbor Walk. 462-0922, www.tootiepiegourmetcafe.com .

- M.S.

Cast-iron skillet makes kitchen sing

Everybody in Texas needs a cast-iron skillet - how else are you going to fry chicken and make corn bread? - and the Tennessee-based Lodge Cast Iron recently has released one that will perk up Austinites' ears: a small guitar-shaped skillet that is the perfect size for making biscuits for two. Or for hanging next to the hollow-bodied beauties already in your living room. $14.95, lodgemfg.com .

- A.B.

Food and wine briefs

• La Condesa restaurant will host a Cinco de Mayo block party from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday. The all-ages event, with live music and food and drinks from nearby restaurants, will cover the block of West Second Street between Guadalupe and San Antonio streets. Admission is free.

• PAWS Shelter and Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter in Kyle, is hosting a fundraiser dinner on Thursday that will feature dishes from Hays County chefs including Matthew Buchanan of The Leaning Pear, Jana Muniz of The Goodnight Diner, Kate Tilton of Kate's Place and Debbie Roberts of Redbud Cafe. The chefs will demonstrate their dishes in the showroom kitchens at the host site, Wilson Appliance, 4205 E. U.S. 290 in Dripping Springs. Tickets ($50 in advance, $60 at the door) are available online at www.pawsshelter.org or by calling 512-894-0219.

• Through May, the Gluten Intolerance Group and its Austin affiliate the Alamo Celiac Organization are seeking to raise awareness of celiac disease and gluten-free dining through "Chef to Plate," a program that recognizes area restaurants offering gluten-free options. Find the Austin participants - which include six Maudie's locations, Z'Tejas and Food for Life Cafe - online at bit.ly/gflistatx .

• Linda Fondren, who helped residents in Vicksburg, Miss., collectively lose more than 15,000 pounds, will be talking about how a community can help tackle childhood obesity at noon on May 12, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Tickets ($35) can be purchased online www.austincommunityfoundation.org or by sending a check to Women's Fund of Central Texas, 4315 Guadalupe St., Suite 300, Austin, TX 78751 before Monday.

• Springdale Farm (755 Springdale Road) will host a Bon Chien (Good Dog) wine dinner at 6 p.m. May 15. Driskill Grill chef Jonathan Gellman will cook the five-course dinner, proceeds of which will benefit animal rights charities. $75. Tickets at www.ponoevents.com .

- A.B., M.S.