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Food Matters: Custom chocolates from Chocbites, hot debate over hot foods at the farmers' market, Easter brunch requests, a new Casa Chapala, Cafe Racer and more

Staff Writer
Austin 360

Starting Saturday, the Sunset Valley Farmers Market is moving to Barton Square Creek mall, and the Sustainable Food Center, which operates the downtown and Triangle farmers' markets, will begin operating a new market in the parking lot of the Burger Center in Sunset Valley.

The new market, called the SFC Farmers' Market at Sunset Valley, will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to a press release on the Sustainable Food Center's Web site. Some of the vendors from the previous market are switching markets and staying at the Burger Center, and others are moving with the market to Barton Creek.

"SFC has a temporary permit to run the market weekly, pending a review for a more permanent special-use permit in April by the City of Sunset Valley. SFC's intent is to run the market weekly, rain or shine, year-round," the release states.

The Sunset Valley Farmers Market is now the Barton Creek Farmers Market and will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the mall parking lot next to Dillard's.

Last year, the market lost its lease with the Austin Independent School District, which owns Burger Center, and was negotiating for a new home with the City of Sunset Valley.

In other market news, after April 1, vendors at the downtown market who have been cooking food on-site will no longer be able to get the temporary permit that has allowed the practice.

Those temporary permits are designed to allow food preparation at events such as carnivals, South by Southwest and Rodeo Austin without the equipment investments needed to meet standards for the mobile food vendor permits used by more than 1,000 food carts and trailers around the city.

Mark Parsons, supervisor of sanitarians for the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, said the temporary permits weren't designed to be issued for events that happen week after week, as many farmers' markets do. "You want to minimize your risk to the public when you start doing it routinely," he said. Farmers who simply sell produce (and don't slice it) don't need a permit, Parsons said, but permits are required for vendors who sell prepackaged foods or prepare foods on-site.

"I personally like farmers' markets and going back to a less-centralized food system," Parsons said. "I'm hoping we can achieve the goal without too much of a headache."

SFC market director Suzanne Santos Santos says that Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club was the first to utilize the temporary permit to prepare food on-site. "We respect that they are meeting the needs of consumers and businesses, keeping them safe and managing the risk," she said.

- Addie Broyles and Mike Sutter

Easter brunch? Tell us

If your restaurant is hosting an Easter brunch on April 4, please e-mail the details to Mike Sutter at

Openings, closings and coming soon

• Open: Muck-N-Dave's, a barbecue trailer at 1603 S. Congress Ave. .

• Open: Cafe Racer, a breakfast and lunch trailer at 603 W. Live Oak St. 281-620-6442, .

• Open: Casa Chapala, a Mexican restaurant at 101 San Jacinto Blvd. .

- A.B., M.S.

Chocolate made the way you like it

Who says you can't eat chocolate and lose weight? When she gained weight after quitting smoking a few years back, Adeline Rem realized that the only way she'd be able to shed the pounds was to be more mindful of what she ate. Once she mastered portion control, she would allow herself one small piece of chocolate every day. Because she limited herself to one piece, she wanted to make sure it was a good piece, but often, she couldn't find the exact chocolate she wanted. "You can have pizza your way and ice cream your way, but why can't you have chocolate your way?" she asked herself.

So, she started Chocbite, a company that allows customers to customize chocolate bars with just about any combination of chocolate and add-ins imaginable. Choose from one of four chocolates - white, milk, dark (54 percent dark chocolate) and black (70 percent) - and browse the more than 80 "choctops," which include jalapeño salt, cranberries, M&Ms, toffee bits, marshmallows, wasabi peas, saffron, nuts and even sriracha sauce. Rem says the bars, which start at $4.77, are available by delivery in Austin or shipping outside the city. .

- Addie Broyles

Food and wine briefs

• For the second time, La Condesa is hosting an all-star lineup of chefs to create a dinner benefiting the Sustainable Food Center. At 6 p.m. on April 11, La Condesa chef René Ortiz and pastry chef Laura Sawicki will be joined by James Holmes of Olivia, Tyson Cole of Uchi, Shawn Cirkiel of Parkside, Todd Duplechan of Trio and Jesse Griffiths of Dai Due Supper Club to present a dinner using locally sourced produce and meats. Tickets cost $100 per person, and all proceeds benefit the Sustainable Food Center. .

• "Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life" author Louisa Shafia will be hosting a class about creating a Persian New Year dinner at Whole Foods Market downtown at 6:30 Thursday. The Persian holiday of Norooz falls on Saturday this year, and Shafia will demonstrate traditional dishes like a fava bean soup and kuku sabzi, a baked egg dish. Class costs $45. Register online at .

• At 3 p.m. on Saturday, learn about olive oils at Con' Olio Oils and Vinegars in the Arboretum. This month's class will go over the myths and facts about olive oil, as well as guide guests in what to look for when tasting oils. 10000 Research Blvd., Suite 130. 342-2344, .

• Can't scramble eggs? The casting team for the Food Network show "Worst Cooks in America" will be at the Magnolia Hotel, 1100 Texas Ave., in Houston from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, looking for Texas' worst cooks. To find out what to bring or how to apply online, go to .

• At 7 p.m. March 30, Hudson's on the Bend (3509 RM 620. ) will host a five-course wine dinner. $75. Reservations at 266-1369.

• At 7 p.m. April 5, Vino Vino (4119 Guadalupe St. ) will host a dinner featuring six "orange wines" and a tasting menu. $150. 465-9282.

• Texas Monthly's August 2009 cover story, "50 Best Hamburgers in Texas," is among the magazine's four National Magazine Award nominations, announced last week.

- A.B., M.S.

Three spots where the men are eating

In its April issue, Esquire magazine singles out three area restaurants for a feature on "Where Men Eat." Downtown spots Frank and Parkside are joined by Kreuz Market in Lockhart, which the magazine calls "the best barbecue town in Central Texas (and, by extension, on Earth)."

- M.S.