Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Eat some pie for a good cause; Ninfa's salsa comes to Central Market

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Two events to help Austin nonprofit SafePlace, one slice at a time

If you've ever seen the movie "Waitress," you know the power of pie.

The 2007 movie starring Keri Russell tells the story of a waitress at a cafe who makes some of the best pies the customers have ever had. She's always wanted to open her own pie shop, but she finds herself pregnant, with an abusive husband and little hope that she could actually pull it off.

Inspired by the movie, the Austin Food Blogger Alliance has created a two-part event to benefit SafePlace, the Austin organization that provides assistance to people and families dealing with sexual and domestic violence. (Full disclosure: I'm a board member of the alliance, which started earlier this year and now has more than 130 members.)

The first half of the SafePlace fundraiser was a pie luck last month at House Wine where a few dozen bloggers brought pies to share with others and enter in a pie contest. (I made a cherry galette, recipe below, with a wordy title inspired by the movie's main character, Jenna.)

The second half of the event is a screening of "Waitress" at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar Boulevard at 1 p.m. Sunday. The winning pie — a pecan pie from Cooking for Engineers blogger Michael Chu — will be served during the film, and local bakeries are donating pies that alliance members will be selling after the show. Proceeds from ticket and pie sales will go directly to SafePlace, which last year fielded more than 12,000 calls from people in need of help. You can buy tickets ($10) at the door or online at drafthouse.com. Event details at austinfoodbloggers.org .

Without the Pits, Life Ain't a Bowl of Cherries Cherry Galette

23/4 cups flour

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. chilled butter (I used salted, but if you use unsalted, increase the amount of salt by 1/2 tsp.)

7 Tbsp. ice water

5 cups pitted cherries

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 egg, beaten

Pulse flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add water slowly while pulsing and combine just until dough holds together when pinched. It should still be crumbly at this point.

Turn dough out on clean countertop. Knead as few times as possible to bring the dough together. Divide in half. Lay out two pieces of parchment paper and press each section of dough into thick discs on top of each piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment on top and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour (or in the freezer for 30 minutes).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove dough and let sit for five minutes. Start with one disc and remove the top layer of parchment. Slowly roll out the dough from the center until the circle is about 12 inches in diameter.

Mix cherries with sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch.

Place dough on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place between 11/2 and 2 cups of cherry mixture in the center and spread cherries out to form a single layer that leaves about 11/2 inches of dough around the outside. Fold dough over the edges and brush with beaten egg. Repeat with second dough and the rest of the cherries. (You might not use all the cherries, depending on how big your galette is.)

Bake for at least an hour or up to an hour an a half until galettes are golden brown on the edges and filling is bubbly. Eat one and share the other with someone who could use a sweet treat to make them forget about life's pits.

— Adapted from a recipe in "Martha Stewart's Cooking School" (Clarkson Potter, 2008)

Ninfa's salsas hit Austin stores

You can now have a taste of Houston's iconic Original Ninfa's on Navigation without the drive. The legendary Tex-Mex restaurant that opened in 1973 is now selling its salsa at Central Market and H-E-B stores in Texas. The salsas, available in 16-ounce jars and four flavors – mild and medium house red roasted, a smoky chipotle and one with Hatch green chiles — cost between $4.49 and $4.98. It's not exactly Mama Ninfa's famous fajitas, but it'll do.

Dinner, with a sense of appreciation

For the past year, musician Brian Rocheleau has been traveling to a handful of cities across the U.S., including Austin, to host the Blind Cafe, a pop-up restaurant in which guests experience dinner in the dark. Rocheleau is bringing the event back to Austin on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at St. Martin's Lutheran Church, 606 W. 15th St. The waitstaff, all of whom are blind, will serve a family-style vegetarian meal prepared by Austin chef and Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts graduate Brian Henderson. "We can't do soup, and dipping sauces are out of the question," says Henderson, who helped cook at the last Blind Cafe in Austin. "It's hard to see where the food is, floating on a fork in the dark, so honestly, many people end up eating with their hands."

There will also be a Q&A with the staff, live music by Rocheleau's band One Eye Glass Broken, a poetry reading and a guest speaker who will talk about spatial awareness and the senses. Rocheleau, who goes by Rosh, says that by taking away the sense of sight, people are forced to really feel the music, hear the words of their dining partners and taste the food. "It slows people down," Rosh says. "Some people get really anxious, and they have to work with that. We're bringing mindful awareness practices back into people's lives."

Check-in at 6:15 p.m. and dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. Tickets, available by calling (800) 838-3006 or going to theblindcafe.com , cost $45 or $35 for students and seniors, but to find out about sliding scale pricing, call (720) 495-7797. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Austin Blind Student DC Experience Scholarship Fund.

OPENINGS, CLOSINGS & COMING SOON

Closing/Opening: After 11 years operating one of the nicest restaurants in Austin, Aquarelle chef/owner Teresa Wilson is closing her French restaurant at 606 Rio Grande St. in a few weeks to reopen in late September or early October as Chonita's, an homage to her Hispanic grandmother.

Wilson says that diners shouldn't be misled by the name to think she's opening a taco shack. "For me, time at my abuelita's was centered around cooking and visiting with each other. Chonita's will be cultural dishes made with people who are passionate about food and have classical background training." As one of its last gigs as Aquarelle, the restaurant will still be serving its famous steak frites sandwiches at the Austin City Limits Music Festival next month.

Open: Verts Kebap. Just in time for University of Texas students to return to campus comes two locations of Verts Kebap — one in the Dobie Mall and the other on the Drag in the former Slices and Ices location — specializing in döner kebabs, the Turkish shaved meat sandwich found on street corners throughout the world. 2021 Guadalupe St. and 2530 Guadalupe St. (972) 762-7235, vertskebap.com .

Reopening: Kenichi, the 10-year-old sushi restaurant at 419 Colorado St. in the warehouse district has remodeled the facility, launched a new menu and added Shane Stark, who created the original menu in 2001 but was previously at Paggi House, as executive chef. 320-8883, kenichiaustin.com .

Open: Good 2 Go, a spin-off of Grove Wine Bar & Kitchen in West Lake Hills selling to-go versions of the wine bar's pastas, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, dressings, cheeses, accouterments and bottles of wine. The store is across the parking lot from Grove at 6317 Bee Cave Road. 327-4246, good2goaustin.com .

Closed: Bistro 88, the Euro-Asian fusion restaurant in Rollingwood.

Closed: Benihana, the Austin location of the Japanese restaurant at Research and Mo-Pac boulevards.

Food briefs

• Hatch green chiles from New Mexico are popping up at area restaurants and grocery stores, and just in time, Central Market has introduced a free Hatch iPhone app, its first foray into the world of smartphone applications. You can find recipes, both sweet and savory, that use Hatch chiles, including past winners of the grocery store's annual Hatch Chile Festival recipe contest, which takes place this month. You can submit your recipes in the contest through Sunday, and the app is available on iTunes.

• The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas and the Austin Wine Merchant are teaming up with La Sombra, 4800 Burnet Road, for a wine dinner on Aug. 24 featuring wines from Peru. The dinner starts at 7 p.m. and costs $65. Reservations at 458-1100 or www.winefoodfoundation.org .

• Whole Foods Market has launched Thrive, a video channel on its Facebook page that features five original series, including one hosted by Austin cookbook author Karen Morgan. To celebrate the launch of "Gluten Morgan," Morgan is hosting a watch party with gluten-free treats from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Gibson Bar, 1109 S. Lamar Blvd. To watch the videos, go to thrive.wholefoods.com .

• Zarghun Dean, who founded Tribeza magazine 10 years ago, has a new weekly dinner series called Qarnival that aims to connect Austinites over dinner at various restaurants around town, including Fino, Clay Pit and Zandunga Mexican Bistro. The dinners often feature a special guest that helps set the tone for the dinner conversation. Last week's guest was Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo, and tonight, Phil Coffman of Springbox joins diners at Zandunga Mexican Bistro. qarnival.com