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Food Matters: Drink & Plate, sugar calaveras as art, teens cook food they grow

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Plate gives picnickers a helping hand

Picnic protocol usually calls for three things: a drink, a plate and mobility. But that's a two-handed task with no hands left over for wrangling kids or running the grill. A product called Drink & Plate solves the problem with a dishwasher-safe plastic unit that combines a plate with a cupholder big enough to hold a large drink. The user just grabs onto the cupholder, and a bracket fits over the hand to hold Drink & Plate in place much the same way a carhop's tray hangs onto a car window. For us, the plate was big enough for a backyard barbecue of steak, green beans and watermelon, plus a longneck in a koozie. The only drawbacks: Our plate sagged a little when modestly loaded, and the white plastic is homely, a problem solved with a colorful paper plate. Drink & Plate is made by Pioneer Plastics in Kentucky and costs $20 plus $5 shipping for a pack of six. Order at 888-717-5283 or www.drinkandplate.com . The company also offers logo printing with bulk orders.

- Mike Sutter

Teens cook food they grow for farm lunches

For some of the 30 teenagers in the Urban Roots program, which uses a farm in East Austin to teach sustainable agriculture practices and business skills, growing the food isn't nearly as fun as cooking it. Each summer for the past three years, Austin chefs have volunteered to bring the students into their kitchens to prepare a meal using Urban Roots produce, which they then serve to members of the community during a lunch at the farm, 7651 Delwau Lane. The community lunches take place at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesdays starting June 15, with Anthony Alejandro of Tacos & Tequila/TNT, followed by La Condesa's Rene Ortiz on June 22, Jack Gilmore of Jack Allen's Kitchen on June 29 and Terry Wilson of Aquarelle on July 6. $10 suggested donation, youthlaunch.kintera.org/2011communitylunch .

- Addie Broyles

Sugar calaveras can live on as works of art

At the International Association of Culinary Professionals' annual conference last week, Wimberley artist and cookbook author Kate Heyhoe showed off her sugar skulls. Unlike their Day of the Dead inspirations, which are meant to be eaten, Heyhoe's skulls are coated and decorated so they'll last as a piece of art on your mantel or shelf.

Heyhoe, who has written eight cookbooks including, most recently, "Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen" (Da Capo, 2009), uses sugar to make skulls of various sizes, seals them so they last and then paints and adorns them with unique trinkets and decorations. You can find the skulls at Tesoros Trading Company or Yard Dog Folk Art, both of which are located on South Congress Avenue, or online at insidemyskull.com .

- A.B.

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Ms. P's Electric Cock, a bright aluminum trailer with big red letters spelling out "chicken" that sells fried chicken at 1101 S. Congress Ave. Co-owner Perry Ray (Ms. P) said she uses buttermilk and fries each piece to order. Chicken prices vary depending on the local source, co-owner Alex Seyer said, but generally run $6.50 for two pieces and $7.50 for three with a roll and pickled jalapeños. Eight- and 12-piece buckets available. Sides ($3.50-$5) include truffled mac and cheese, grilled Mexican-style corn with jalapeño aïoli and Cotija cheese, french fries and slaw. The trailer formerly operated behind Bar 96 on Rainey Street. Hours are generally 5 until 9 or 10 p.m. every day except Tuesday, when it's closed, with brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. 762-5450, www.electriccock.com .

• Open: Shore Club Restaurant and Bar at the renamed Shore Club Volente Beach (formerly Volente Beach Waterpark), 16107 Wharf Cove, Volente. 512-258-5110, www.shoreclubtx.com .

• Closed: Zoot Restaurant, 11715 Bee Cave Road.

• Closed: Viva Chocolato at the Domain.

• Closed: Orange Cup Yogurt at the Domain.

• On the way: Howdy Donut, next to World Liquors at 997 S. Congress Ave.

- M.S.

Food and wine briefs

• Brandon Rhyder's Taste of Texas Musicfest is set to bring live music, food from area restaurants and celebrity chef Grady Spears to San Gabriel Park in Georgetown from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets $15 in advance at www.outhousetickets.com, $20 at the door, $10 for ages 5-12, free for kids younger than 5. Benefiting Operation Resilient Families. www.tasteoftexasmusicfest.com .

• Boggy Creek Farm, in conjunction with the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, is hosting a new farmers workshop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday that includes a tour of the farm and informational sessions on soil development, greenhouses, marketing and setting up farmstands and markets. $65. Info and registration at www.tofga.org .

• The Texas Department of Agriculture is launching a new initiative this week called Go Texan or Go Thirsty, which helps connect Texas wineries with restaurants that want to offer Texas wine on their menus. The program also will provide cards that Texas wine-loving consumers can leave at their favorite restaurants that either thanks them for serving Texas wines or encourages them to do so. You can find the cards at wineries throughout the state or download them at www.gotexanwine.org .

• Tyler Florence will be signing copies of his new book, "Start Fresh" ($19.99, Rodale), at noon on Sunday at Whole Foods Market, 525 N. Lamar Blvd. The book, which comes out this week, contains tips and recipes for feeding infants, babies and toddlers.

• Olivia (2043 S. Lamar Blvd.) will host a six-course foie gras dinner with wine at 6:30 p.m. Monday as part of its Summer Chef Series. $150. Future diners in the series include Escoffier Classics (July 18) and Pan-Asian Flavor (Aug. 22). Reservations required at 804-2700.

• Santa Rita Cantina at 5900 W. Slaughter Lane will hold a free tequila-tasting class with appetizers and Ambhar Tequila starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday . Limited seating. Email catering@santaritacantina.com.

• Austin-area Chick-fil-A stores will offer a free breakfast entree to dine-in customers who wear pajamas to the restaurants from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday , then again June 21 and 28.

• Sagra (1610 San Antonio St.) will host a five-course dinner starring tomatoes at 4 p.m. June 15. $45, $65 with wine. Reservations at 535-5988, www.sagrarestaurant.net.

• Foreign & Domestic (306 E. 53rd St.) will host multicourse Tribeza Chef's Table Series dinners at 6:30 p.m. June 27-29. $100. Reservations at 459-1010.

- M.S., A.B.