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Food Matters: Dripping Springs HEB, Thai Fresh ice cream, new chef for Bess

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Rodolfo Gonzalez AMERICAN-STATESMAN Executive chef Camden Stuerzenberger, left, and sous chef Janelle Reynolds will lead the food team at Bess Bistro on Pecan.

New Dripping Springs H-E-B taps local farms

If you live anywhere near Dripping Springs, you've probably been keeping a close eye on the construction of the H-E-B at the southeast corner of U.S. 290 and Rob Shelton Boulevard. Not only is it hard to miss the construction of a 68,000-square foot store in a town with only a few thousand residents, but buzz has been building ahead of Friday's grand opening because there aren't many full-sized grocery stores in this part of the Hill Country.

In addition to traditional grocery store items, the store will feature a variety of products made or grown near Dripping Springs, including cheese from Pure Luck Farm & Dairy, lettuce from Bella Verdi Farms, jams and salsas from New Canaan Farms, produce from Fredericksburg Squash Company and Hillside Farms, wine from Wimberley Valley Winery and Johnson City's Texas Hills Vineyards and potted plants and flowers from Blanco growers Arnosky Farm and Klepac Greenhouses. "It's the most vibrant growing areas I've ever worked with," says Leslie Lockett, H-E-B's director of public affairs. The store, which will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week, also will feature a meat market and seafood department, a sushi bar, a bakery, a floral department and a pharmacy. A fuel station and car wash located in the parking lot are already open.

- Addie Broyles

Go beyond vanilla with Thai Fresh scoop

It always amazes me that Thai Fresh has only been around since 2008.

Walking into the Thai restaurant tucked away in South Austin at the corner of West Mary and South Fifth streets, you'd think the place had been there for a decade. Thai grocery goods and fresh produce line the back wall. Regulars sip on tea while reading or chatting with friends, and there's always buzz near the counter where you order from a range of rice and noodle dishes, curries, satays, soups and other Thai specialties.

Even though it's just a toddler in restaurant years, Thai Fresh doubled in size earlier this year when co-owner Jam Sanitchat took over the space next door that used to be a yoga studio. The extra square footage has allowed her to add an ice cream freezer stocked with 14 seasonal frozen treats, a dessert case with an array of pastries, many of which are gluten free, and a tea bar, which features local teas from Zhi Tea, Sesa Tea and Barefoot Botanicals.

Like the food, all the ice creams and desserts are based on seasonal and local ingredients, including herbs from Sanitchat's backyard garden and fruit from local farmers markets. More than half the tarts, pies, cakes, cobblers, brownies, cookies and bars ($0.75-$4.50 per serving) are made without gluten, and many of the ice creams ($8.99 per pint or $1.99 per scoop), including the ever-present chocolate, are made with coconut milk and are vegan and dairy free.

Many of Sanitchat's inventive fruit-based flavor combinations like ginger peach, watermelon mint and cucumber melon eventually make their way into agua frescas ($2.99) that are also a recent addition to the menu.

­- A.B.

Thai basil ice cream

2 cups coconut milk

2 cups coconut cream

1 cup white sugar (or you can use 3/4 cup palm sugar)

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup packed Thai basil

Warm coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar and salt in a pot. Stir well to make sure all sugar is dissolved but don't bring to a boil. Let the mixture cool a little but still warm (not hot).

Pour the mixture in a blender, add Thai basil and blend until smooth. Strain through fine sieve or cheesecloth.

Freeze it in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.

- Jam Sanitchat

New chef for Bess will team with bakery

Camden Stuerzenberger has taken over as executive chef at Bess Bistro on Pecan, the French and Cajun-influenced restaurant owned by actress Sandra Bullock. He replaces Mizael Saucedo, who left in April. Stuerzenberger has been the executive chef for another of Bullock's enterprises, Walton's Fancy and Staple. He'll continue in that role at Walton's as well. He trained at the Texas Culinary Academy (now Le Cordon Bleu) and has worked at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort and the Oasis. Stuerzenberger will keep Bess standards such as Creole Shrimp Bess and smoked bacon mussels and add more seafood choices, a spokesperson said. He'll be assisted by sous chef Janelle Reynolds. They'll draw from the talents of Walton's pastry chef Sandi Reinlie, who'll be crafting Bess's dessert menu, and by Walton's baker Dawn Paulson, who'll continue baking the breads served at Bess (500 W. Sixth St. 477-2377, ).

- Mike Sutter

Openings, closings & coming soon

• Open: The Flying Carpet, a trailer serving Moroccan food at Gibson Street and South Congress Avenue. .

• Open: Iggi's Texatarian, a vegan trailer at 2324 E. Cesar Chavez St. .

• Open: Gumbo's of Lake Travis, part of the small chain of Louisiana-style restaurants, at 12823 Shops Parkway, Bee Cave. 263-2771, .

• Open: Blue Ribbon Barbecue, at the base of the Frost Bank building at 120 E. Fourth St. 369-3119, .

• Open: Max Parfait, a trailer doing hamburgers, portobello burgers, chicken sandwiches and Belgian-style fries in the complex of food trailers in the 1600 block of South Congress Avenue. .

• Open: Asi Es Colombia, a Colombian restaurant at 13717 N. MoPac Blvd. (Loop 1). 244-7006.

• Coming soon: The Local Yolk, a trailer specializing in fried egg sandwiches at 1112 E. Sixth St. .

• Opening this fall: Royal Blue Grocery, the third location of the downtown market 609 Congress Ave. .

• Closed: Jade Leaves Tea House, a tea cafe on Guadalupe Street.

- A.B., M.S.

Food & wine briefs

• National Association of Catering Executives is hosting next week's national conference in Austin, which will include an opening session moderated by Food Network's Marc Summers. Local chefs, including Todd Duplechan of Trio, Brian Krellenstein of Café Bon Appétit, Jessica Maher of Dai Due Supper Club and Javier Ortiz of the Hyatt Regency, have been tapped to show off their talents. .

• Jack Allen's Kitchen will host a four-course dinner to benefit the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana at 5 p.m. Monday . $50. 7720 W. Texas 71. 852-8558, .

• The South Austin restaurant Olivia is hosting a six-course dinner featuring wines from Spain at 7 p.m. Aug. 2. The menu includes a tapas trio, grilled octopus, braised rabbit, oxtail with a rosemary churro, a pork empanada and orange laurel cake, each paired with wine. $80. 2043 S. Lamar Blvd. 804-2700, .

• 24 Diner is hosting a five-course dinner featuring beers from Avery Brewing Co. at 7 p.m. July 29. Among the courses: duck confit, mussels, ribs and pork belly. $55. 600 N. Lamar Blvd. 472-5400, .

• Green Gate Farms is offering shares of pasture-raised pork reared on the East Austin farm. You can buy half a hog for $500 or smaller $50 or $100 shares. Green Gate co-owner Erin Flynn says you can also buy chicken, cattle and lamb share through their farm. .

- M.S., A.B.