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Food Matters: Foraging can result in scrumptious food; burger bar to replace Cissi's

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Hopdoddy will offer burgers from Black Angus to ahi tuna and veggie, plus local beers on tap.

Author finds favorite tastes in nature, goes wild with ideas

Adventurous cooking sometimes calls us to uproot, leave the confines of the kitchen and wander into the unfamiliar world of the wild, but for Connie Green, author of "The Wild Table," venturing into nature is just another day on the job. Thirty years ago, Green began her career as a forager of mushrooms, berries and other numerous wild foods. Now, she is translating her years of foraging knowledge and expertise into a comprehensive reference guide and recipe anthology in her new book, "The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes" (Viking Studio, $40). The book hits shelves Oct. 14.

Green sees her book as an opportunity for people to engage with a world beyond their local grocery store and community garden. "There is a borderline where agriculture stops and where nature takes over," Green said. "The majority of the foods we love can't be obtained anywhere but in the wild." She considers Texas to being a "forager's paradise," home to items such as persimmons, black walnuts, cattail, prickly pears, porcini mushroom and rose hips. She recommends her Bourbon Black Walnut Sundae as something Texans can track down and easily make. "As the sole person living in my house, I can say that is one thing that gets eaten quite a lot," Green said.

- Layne Lynch

Bourbon Black Walnut Sundae

Sauce

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup heavy cream

3 Tbsp. bourbon

1/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Whisk brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup, butter, salt and cream in heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. When the mixture is boiling (make sure it doesn't boil over), turn down the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until it is thickened, 7 to 8 minutes. It should be at a constant, energetic simmer. Whisk in the bourbon and lemon juice, then remove from the heat. Serve warm. Makes 2 cups.

Sundae

3/4 cup coarsely chopped black walnuts

1/4 cup bourbon

1 pint French vanilla ice cream

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Place the walnuts in a small bowl and stir in the bourbon. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes before proceeding. Divide the ice cream among 4 to 6 dessert dishes. Top with a generous spoonful of warm caramel sauce. Spoon the walnuts over the top.

Premium burgers coming to congress

Hopdoddy Burger Bar will fill the spot left on South Congress Avenue after Cissi's Wine Bar closed down this year. The sign went up last week , and the whole package is on track to open this month , said Larry Perdido, a partner in the venture and chef at Moonshine. He's joined by fellow Moonshiner Chuck Smith and the team of Guy Villavaso and Larry Foles, who created the Roaring Fork, Eddie V's, Z'Tejas and others.

Let's look at the name. "Hop" is easy, a reference to the dozen local beers the place plans to carry on tap, including Real Ale, Live Oak, (512) and Independence. "Doddy" is a little more obscure, a name that we're told in a press release is given to the Aberdeen Angus cattle of Scotland. That's a reference to Hopdoddy's burger mission, starting with Black Angus beef and branching to buffalo, turkey, ahi tuna and a housemade veggie patty. Special burgers might include local cabrito or lamb, Perdido said, every burger using brioche-style buns baked in-house. Prices will start around $5 for a basic burger, he said, going to about $9 or $10 for specialty burgers. The handmade approach will extend to fries made from Kennebec potatoes, ice cream for shakes, even special ketchup and mustard blends, he said. Fountain sodas will use cane sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup.

"We're looking forward to being a big part of that South Congress community," Perdido said. Smith and Perdido will also continue their roles at Moonshine.

Hopdoddy is at 1400 S. Congress Ave. 243-7505, www.hopdoddy.com. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, until midnight Fridays-Saturdays.

- Mike Sutter

Food and wine briefs

• Paggi House restaurant and bar will host a free unofficial Austin City Limits fest kick-off party starting at 4 p.m. Thursday , with music from Deadman, Bright Light Social Hour and more. Drink and food tickets $5. 200 Lee Barton Drive. 473-3700, www.paggihouse.com .

• The Gruene Music and Wine Festival is coming to the Gruene Historic District Thursday-Sunday . Highlights include a wine dinner, concerts by country singers Jack Ingram and Tanya Tucker, a Sunday gospel brunch and several all-day tasting events. Ticket prices vary by event. 1281 Gruene Road, New Braunfels. Tickets and details at www.gruenemusicandwinefest.org .

• The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas will hold its Tour de Vin wine-and-food-tasting fundraiser from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Whole Foods Market, 525 N. Lamar Blvd. The event will feature wines from Italy, France, Argentina and Chile and food from local restaurants . $75, $50 for members. 327-7555, www.winefoodfoundation.org .

• The Texas Fall Fest and Wine Auction comes to downtown Marble Falls this Friday-Sunday, with more than 15 Texas wineries, a chefs' dinner, Sunday wine fair and more. Ticket prices vary by event. Details at www.texasfallfest.com .

• The Austin Museum of Art-Laguna Gloria will host La Dolce Vita from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 14. The annual tasting event includes food from more than 50 restaurants, plus wine and spirits. $125, additional $25 for scotch-and-cigar lounge. 3809 W. 35th St. Tickets at www.amoa.org/ladolcevita or 495-9224, ext. 223.

• Chez Zee will host a four-course dinner and appetizers featuring wines from Messina Hof at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 20. The menu includes duck rillettes, halibut crudo and braised short ribs paired with gewürztraminer, riesling, muscat canelli and others. $65. 5406 Balcones Drive. 454-2666, www.chezzee.com .

- Mike Sutter

Openings, closings, and coming soon

• Open: Not Your Mama's Food Truck, a trailer serving Asian-inspired street food at 2209 E. Cesar Chavez St. Open noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays.

• Open: Annabelle's Casual Dining, in the former Ms. B's site at 8105 Mesa Drive.

• Open: Indulge Cheese Co. Austin, a catering company from marketing enterpreneur Amanda Reyna and Austin painter and designer Mara Hafele specializing in artisan cheese arrangements. www.indulgecheese.com , 317-3345.

• Open: Deseo Centro Lounge, a nightclub at the former site of Buzios Room at 217 Congress Ave.

• Open: Paco's Tacos, a breakfast and lunch spot at 1304 E. 51st St. 323-6206.

• Closed: El Chilito at 918 Congress Ave.

• Scheduled to open in mid-November: La Pâtisserie by Luxe Sweet, a French bakery from Soraiya Nagree, who runs the online confectioner's site www.luxesweets.com and the commercial facility Kitchen Space. 602 W. Annie St. www.lpaustin.com .

• Scheduled to open in late November: Zed's, described by a spokesperson as 'American fare with an Austin flair,' at the Tech Ridge Phase II development in North Austin. The site, designed by Austin restaurant specialist Michael Hsu, will spread across three acres and include a pond, a waterfall at the entry and seating for 300 people in 9,000 square feet. Zed's, overseen by general manager Rex Hutchison (the Melting Pot, Sullivan's) and executive chef Jim Matteson (Morton's in Houston, Sullivan's, Truluck's and Z'Tejas in Austin), will be open daily for lunch and dinner. Plans include a full bar and dishes such as smoked pork taquitos, venison spring rolls, smoked prime rib, King Ranch casserole and more. 501 Canyon Ridge Drive. 583-0060, www.zeds.bz .

• Scheduled to open early 2011: Flat-Top, a hamburger restaurant on Manor Road from the El Chile Restaurant Group.

- M.S., Michael Barnes, Patrick Beach

Update: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect date for the Tour de Vin fundraiser at Whole Foods Market. The correct date is Thursday, Oct. 7.