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Food Matters: Use cupcakes for your 'baby reveal'; fall food and wine festival in Hill Country this weekend

Staff Writer
Austin 360
In April, Central Texas bakers, bloggers and businesses raised more than $1,000 for Japanese tsunami and earthquake victims.

Boy or girl? The cupcake knows

Few parents, including this one, can resist the temptation of finding out the sex of their unborn baby. The 18-week sonogram is a routine checkup that doctors like to do to track the baby's development, but for many parents, it means that they can finally find out whether they are having a boy or a girl.

But in recent years, the "gender reveal" party has become popular among expectant parents like Kendra Kingsley Young. In August, an 18-week-pregnant Young and her husband, Jacob, asked the sonographer to not tell them the results in the office but instead to write the sex of the baby on a piece of paper and seal it up in an envelope. "I promptly drove from the doctor's office to Upper Crust Bakery and asked them to make 30 vanilla cupcakes injected with a shot of pink or blue icing, depending on whether the note said `boy' or `girl.'"

A few days later, they hosted a party with a few friends. "We had a 3-2-1 countdown and everyone bit into their cupcake at the same time," she says. The pink frosting inside told them they were having a girl, who is due in January.

Upper Crust Bakery owner Stephanie Schuster says she gets at least one such request a month, either for cupcakes or cake. "It's fun and cute," she says. "It reintroduces the element of surprise." Schuster, who waited until her own children were born to find out the sex, says they take great care to mark the orders clearly so if the person requesting the cake calls, her staff doesn't accidentally reveal the secret. "It's an easy thing to add to the process, plus it adds a layer of fun for us."

Saturday bake sale to benefit Bastrop fire victims

The group of volunteers who raised more than $11,000 through a citywide bake sale for Japan after the tsunami earlier this year are back, this time raising money for victims of the area wildfires. Austin Bakes for Bastrop will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at seven locations - Community Renaissance Market (6800 Westgate Blvd.), The Flying Saucer (815 W. 47th St.), Foreign & Domestic (306 E. 53rd St.), Hotel San Jose (1316 S. Congress Ave.), Old Settler's Park (3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd,, Round Rock) and both Whole Foods Markets - and will feature baked goods from more than 80 home cooks, food bloggers and businesses. Proceeds will go to Austin Community Foundation's Central Texas Wildfire Fund, and if you are interested in participating, email Kathryn Hutchison at austingastronomist@gmail.com. austinbakes.wordpress.com .

Stroll into fall with a wine glass in hand

Celebrate the best of Hill Country wine and food Friday and Saturday at the seventh annual Texas Fall Fest and Wine Auction in Marble Falls and Horseshoe Bay. The two-day event starts Friday with a "sip and sunset stroll" at Quail Point Lodge on Lake LBJ, where sixteen wineries and sixteen chefs will provide food and wine while guests browse artisan products from local producers. On Saturday night, Lamberts Downtown Barbecue owner Lou Lambert will be cooking for a wine dinner and auction in downtown Marble Falls. For more info and to buy tickets ($25-$75) are at texasfallfest.com . The event benefits Texas wine and grape research and Hill Country CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates).

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Napoli's, an Italian restaurant at 11905 Bee Cave Road. 263-0455, napolisbeecave.com .

• Open: Lizzie's Lunchbox, a trailer operated by Lisa Allen featuring wraps, sandwiches and salads at 10401 Jollyville Road. 217-8848, lizzieslunchbox.com .

• Opening Friday: Torchy's Tacos, 11521 RM 620, the eighth Austin location of the taco restaurant that originated in a trailer in South Austin. 381-8226, torchystacos.com .

• Closed: Graze, the promising restaurant at 1707 E. Sixth St. that only recently opened posted a sign last week that said they would be closed through the end of the year.

• Closed: The Belmont, the restaurant/nightclub at 305 W. Sixth St.

• Closed: El Arbol, the South American restaurant at 3411 Glenview Ave. General manager Victor Farnsworth says he and chef Chad Dolezal are putting together plans for a restaurant in East Austin that will serve comparable food but at lower prices.

• Closing on Saturday: Hickory Street, the 28-year-old restaurant at Eight Street and Congress Avenue downtown.

• Coming soon: Lick Ice Creams, an ice cream shop at 2032 S. Lamar Blvd. serving seasonal, artisan ice creams made with organic milk and cream.

Food briefs

• From noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday , sustainable food advocates will gather on the south steps of the Capitol for a "Rally for Real Food" that will feature guest speakers including Beanitos owner Doug Foreman and Judith McGeary of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance who will be speaking out against the use of genetically modified foods and encouraging legislators to require manufacturers to label foods that contain them. rallyforrealfood.com .

• Kerbey Lane Catering is hosting a locally-sourced urban farm dinner benefiting the Sustainable Food Center at 6 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Springdale Farm, 755 Springdale Road. Tickets ($40) are available at kerbeylanecafe.com .

• For the 22nd year, the Austin Museum of Art will transform the grounds of Laguna Gloria into an Italian soiree for the La Dolce Vita Food and Wine Festival, one of the museum's biggest fundraisers of the year. From 6 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 13, sample food from Austin's top eateries and wine and spirits from area vintners and distillers while strolling the grounds. Tickets and information ($125 per person, $100 for AMOA members) at amoa.org/ladolcevita .

• Austin Slow Burn won "best in show" at the 11th annual Houston Hot Sauce Festival earlier this month. This was the second year in a row that the Austin salsa and hot sauce company came home with the top prize having won first place in three categories and second place in two others.

• Progress Coffee, 500 San Marcos St., just got picked up by Williams Sonoma, and the locally roasted beans will be available at 30 stores across the country and even a few in Canada.

• Because the Capitol City Marching Band competition will take over Toney Burger Center on Saturday, the Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Market at Sunset Valley will move temporarily to Home Depot Boulevard just on the other side of Brodie Lane. The market will return to Burger Center the following week. Starting Oct. 5, the Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Market at the Triangle will start and end an hour earlier - 3 to 7 p.m. - for the fall and winter season.

Austin brewer set to sell its organic sake

Up until now, Texas has produced almost every alcoholic beverage possible. We've got dozens of breweries, distilleries, wineries, and even a couple of places producing cider.

To round out the collection, we can now claim one of the more underrated categories of alcoholic beverages to our body of homegrown libations - Texas sake.

Since the Statesman's Patrick Beach first wrote about Yoed Anis' Texas Sake Company back in December, he and his team have completed construction on their facilities, received organic certification (making them the first organic alcohol manufacturer in Texas) and have brewed their first commercial batch ready in time for you to taste at the grand opening party Saturday .

Texas Sake will release two kinds of organic sake made from Texas rice - the Whooping crane, which is a filtered variety, and The Rising Star, which is unfiltered. You'll be able to taste both flagship styles at the grand opening.

The event will take place at the Kura (5501 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite A115) from 1 to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance (can be purchased online) and $30 at the door, which will get you four samples of Texas Sake. Live music from Dale Watson, Jeff Lofton and more. Food trucks will also be on site.

- Emma Janzen