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Food Matters: Brazil's national cocktail, Lou Lambert's new book

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Chef shares recipes, West Texas stories

Lou Lambert might split his time between Austin and Fort Worth now, but when it comes to food, he hasn't ever really left the West Texas of his childhood. With the exception of Jo's Coffee Shop, which has a decidedly city slicker feel, Lambert's other restaurants - Lambert's Downtown Barbecue in Austin and Lambert's Steaks, Seafood and Whiskey and Dutch's Burgers and Beer in Fort Worth - bring a bit of the ranch into two of Texas' urban centers. It's natural, then, that Lambert's first cookbook, "Big Ranch, Big City" (Ten Speed Press, $40), which comes out this week, reflects that combination.

It's a pricey book, but Lambert, a seventh-generation Texan and Culinary Institute of America graduate, is generous with the recipes for dishes available at his restaurants, from the gingered pear fried pies and three-cheese macaroni with country ham from Lambert's Downtown Barbecue to the fudge brownies that they sell at Jo's. With the help of Fort Worth-based co-author June Naylor, Lambert shares stories of growing up on a ranch far from a grocery store and road trips to Mexico with his buddy (and fellow Fort Worth chef-turned-cookbook author), Grady Spears. The photos of smoky fire pits and wide-open spaces will make you long for a road trip of your own somewhere far away from propane grills and stoplights.

Lambert will be hosting a free barbecue demonstration and book-signing at 7 p.m. on Monday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. He's teaching a sold-out at class later this month at Central Market, too, but you'll have another chance to catch him at the Texas Book Festival next month.

Find a recipe for Wood-Roasted Chicken with Mexican Chocolate Chile Rub at austin360.com/relishaustin .

Celebrate Brazil today with national cocktail

Sometimes a cocktail can become so intrinsic to a place and a culture that it rises above the fray to achieve the status of "official" or "national" drink of a city or country. New Orleans has the Sazerac, Peru has the Pisco Sour, and Brazil has the Caipirinha.

While Brazil's national spirit, cachaça, is celebrated every day in the form of the Caipirinha cocktail, the stimulating tipple gets its moment to transcend borders Thursday, which is Brazilian Independence Day.

The Caipirinha (pronounced kai-pur-EEN-ya), is a drink of the people with roots dating back centuries. The name loosely translates to mean "country peasant girl." True to its personification, the drink is a simple, rough-hewn combination of sugar, lime and cachaça, the national spirit of Brazil, which is similar to rum, but made with sugar cane juice instead of molasses, which creates a more fruity, grassy flavor in contrast to the thick sweetness of many rums.

If you don't want to attempt mixing one up yourself at home, there will be ample opportunities to try one around town today for Brazilian Independence Day. Brazilian steakhouse Estância Churrascaria, 4894 U.S. 290 West, will offer the Caipirinha and a fruity variation on the drink, the Caipifruta (a tropical mixture of cachaça with kiwi, strawberry, blueberry and pineapple). La Sombra, 4800 Burnet Road, will have Caipirinhas on special alongside another cachaça cocktail, the Ipanema (a mixture of cachaça, St. Germain and grapefruit juice). Watch a video on the proper way to mix up the Caipirihna, and read more information about the cocktail's base spirit cachaça on austin360.com/liquid .

Caipirinha

2 oz. Cachaça

2 tsp. sugar (I use demerara sugar)

1/2 lime sliced into wedges

Muddle limes and sugar in a mixing glass. Add cachaça. Fill shaker with ice and shake well. Pour all ingredients into a rocks glass and garnish with a lime slice. You can find several brands of cachaça (including Cabana, Leblon and Ypioca) at most local liquor stores.

- Emma Janzen

Food briefs

• David Alan of Tipsy Texan.com, a cocktail blog and beverage consultant company, teaching a 12-week cocktail class at Twin Liquors Marketplace in the Hancock Center for bartenders or everyday drinkers who want to learn more about the history and art of making cocktails. Tipsy Tech costs $275 for the semester and starts Tuesday.

• Tour de Vin, the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas fundraiser pairing 15 Austin chefs with 15 top wineries, will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday at the W Hotel downtown. Tickets ($80, $55 for members) are available online at winefoodfoundation.org .

• Looking for an excuse to check out all the recent changes at the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio? Foodways Texas, the relatively new nonprofit dedicated to preserving the food culture of Texas through oral history projects, documentary films, recipe collections and research, is hosting a fundraiser at 7 p.m. Thursday featuring guest speaker Molly O'Neill, author of "One Big Table; A Portrait of American Cooking," and food from chefs including Fredericksburg's Rebecca Rather and San Antonio chefs Jason Dady and Andrew Weissman. Tickets ($150), which include wine, are available at foodwaystexas.com .

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Cazamance, the Senegalese food trailer on Rainey Street, has opened a brick-and-mortar location called Cazamance Cafe at 1102 E. Cesar Chavez St. 844-4414, cazamance.com .

• Open: El Señor Mexican Cuisine, a Mexican restaurant at 10601 FM 2222. 372-9700.

• Opening Thursday: Coal Vines, an Austin location of the Dallas pizza bistro at 314 W. Second St. The restaurant, serving coal-fired pizzas, salads, pastas and other entrées, will start with dinner service first and then add brunch and lunch in coming weeks. 473-2744, coalvinesoftexas.com

• Opening Friday: Bacon, a bacon-themed restaurant serving breakfast all day, as well as lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch at 900 W. 10th St. In addition to burgers, BLT and the like, the menu will feature bacon in flavors ranging from classic to cinnamon to mango habanero, according to the website. 322-9777, baconaustin.com .

• Opening this weekend: Heirloom Tea Room at Bastrop Gardens Organic Garden Center, 316 Old 71 in Cedar Creek. Owner Deena Spellman says that she's turning a free grand opening party from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday into a fundraiser for people who've lost their homes, as well as making it a sanctuary with classical music and herbal teas for anyone in the area who needs a respite. "I realized that my community might need a place to come chill out," Spellman says. (512) 303-5672, www.bastropgardens.com .

A busy week in Austin for Mexico City chef

Chef Patricia Quintana, author of more than 25 cookbooks and founder of Mexico City's first culinary institute, will be in Austin next week for several events, including a free talk about the moles of Mexico at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the Blanton Auditorium at the Blanton Museum of Art. She's hosting a slew of cooking classes next week, starting with a 3:30 p.m. class on Monday at El Meson, 2038 S. Lamar Blvd. ($65, including dinner and drinks. Call 442-4441 for tickets.) She's also hosting cooking classes at noon on Tuesday at Whole Foods' Lamar Culinary Center ($20, WholeCateringAustin.com ) and on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Central Market ($65, centralmarket.com ).