Food Matters: Happy Tails dog treats, Austin stars in TLC food show, Cinco de Mayo block party, 'Beer Trials,' Hello: Original New Orleans Po-Boys, Snap Kitchen, Townhouse
La Condesa hosts a fiesta in the street
To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican restaurant La Condesa will host a block party downtown from 5 to 10 p.m. today , with Mexican street food from chef René Ortiz and live music from Brownout, Ocote Soul Sounds and others. The all-ages event will cover the block of West Second Street between Guadalupe and San Antonio streets. Admission is free.
Dog snacks tempt the two-legged, too
People eat the dog treats. Jan-Marie Swanson, owner of Happy Tails Cafe, talks about her problem on a busy Saturday morning at the Barton Creek Farmers Market. She has sample cups of her Barkin Bacon, Cheddar Chomps and Peanut Mutters homemade treats ($7.50 for a 10-ounce bag) set out for her customers - the dogs - to try. But sometimes shoppers will grab a handful and toss them into their mouths before they realize they're eating dog food. Swanson makes her treats with people food, so there's no cause for alarm. Her bacon treats, for example, include bacon, organic whole wheat flour, egg yolks, organic cornmeal and garlic. Swanson said she's even dipped into a bag of Cheddar Chomps on occasion. But how does she know what tastes good to a dog? She runs new recipes by her No. 1 taste tester, her cocker spaniel Sophie. In addition to dog treats, Swanson sells dog shampoos ($16.95 for 12 ounces) and bug spray ($8.50 for four ounces) that she mixes at home. She also makes dog birthday cakes. Swanson said she'd like to open a brick-and-mortar bakery eventually, perhaps on South Congress Avenue. But for now, you can find Swanson and her Happy Tails Café stand on Saturdays at the Barton Creek Farmers Market at Barton Creek Square mall and online at www.happytailscafe.com.
- Emily Macrander
Best (insert Central Texas food here) ever
Central Texas food just might be the best ever, or at least that's what you could conclude from TLC's new series "Best Food Ever," which premiered this week and airs at 8 p.m. Mondays. In each of the show's six episodes, a Central Texas food joint makes a top 10 list narrated by actor John Goodman. No other area of the country gets as much airtime, according to a spokesperson with the show.
The show premiered Monday with a segment on the Mighty Cone trailer on South Congress Avenue. On Monday, Galaxy Cupcakes in Georgetown is featured as one of the top 10 "bodacious bakeries." Galaxy Cupcakes owner Cherie Gilbert says one thing that makes her bakery stand out are the specialty "cuptails," or alcohol- and beer-infused cupcakes that are on the menu each day. Gilbert says the bakery, located just off the square in downtown Georgetown, also serves lunch. In coming weeks, look for "Best Food Ever" segments on local favorites Gourdough's Donuts, Arkie's Grill, Frank and Snow's BBQ in Lexington.
- Addie Broyles
In this book, Guinness and Pabst are on equal ground
Drop $14.95 on "The Beer Trials" and you might find your budget for adult potables going further than before. The book, in which more than 20 tasters rated 250 beers blind, reveals that 11 of the 21 top-rated beers go for less than $2.50 a bottle.
Just as they caused a stir with "The Wine Trials," the folks at Fearless Critic Media, including co-author and now-and-then Austinite Robin Goldstein, are upsetting conventional wisdom. Of Guinness Draught, a brew made by one of the world's beloved brands, they were decidedly meh: "Other than its opaque color, nearly every aspect of the Guinness mythos comes off as overstated." It got a five.
You certainly can't accuse the authors and tasters of being snobs. They sipped everything from Pabst Blue Ribbon (they gave it a five, saying, "as a budget lager it holds its own in its price class, with perhaps a touch more hop character than similar offerings") to Fin du Monde from Montreal's I-can't-believe-we're-not-in-Belgium brewery Unibroue (a nine for that one, and worth every dime of the roughly $10 you'll pay for a big bottle around here).
On a quasi-local note, Shiner Bock gets a seven. The book is in stores now.
- Patrick Beach
Openings, closings and coming soon
• Open: The Original New Orleans Po-Boy and Gumbo Shop, a trailer at East 11th and East Sixth streets serving lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Sundays. 406-9237.
• Open: Snap Kitchen, specializing in prepared foods with a focus on health and nutrition. 4616 Triangle Ave., Suite 200, at the Triangle (459-9000) and 1014 W. Sixth St. (479-5959) . www.snapkitchen.com.
• Opening Friday: Townhouse, a craft cocktail and wine bar at 303 W. Fifth St., will be opening on Friday.
• On the way: TNT / Tacos and Tequila, a Mexican restaurant at 507 Pressler St. at the Pressler Gables complex. Scheduled to open May 14, with chef Alma Alcocer-Thomas (Jeffrey's, Fonda San Miguel). 436-8226.
• On the way: NeWorlDeli, a second location of the deli and cafe at 3742 Far West Blvd.
• Opening soon: Buster's BBQ, a restaurant at the northwest corner of RM 620 and Lohman's Crossing in Lakeway. 263-2340, www.busterslakeway.com.
• Closed: Little Woodrow's, a bar and grill at 2610 Guadalupe St.
• Closed: Two Austin locations of the burger chain Fuddruckers : 6607 N. Interstate 35 and 2700 W. Anderson Lane.
• Closed: Cissi's Market, the wine bar and grocery store hybrid on South Congress Avenue.
- Mike Sutter, A.B.
• On Monday, Austin cookbook author Paula Disbrowe won her first James Beard Award, regarded as the Oscar of the food world, for "Real Cajun," a book she co-authored with New Orleans chef Donald Link. The book won in the best American cookbook category.
• Love Southern food? Join a discussion with some of Austin's Southern food experts and enjoy samples of cocktails, beer and food at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Austin Museum of Art, 823 Congress Ave. The event, which is part of an ongoing series of museum and food activities hosted with Edible Austin magazine, will feature food scholar Elizabeth Engelhardt, author and blogger Toni Tipton-Martin and chef Jack Gilmore. Also on hand will be Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian, founders of Edible Community, who have just released a cookbook called "Edible, a Celebration of Local Foods." $15, $10 for museum members. Visit www.amoa.org for information and tickets.
• At 7 p.m. Friday, Ryder and Topalian will be signing copies of "Edible" at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. The book is a compilation of the best articles and recipes from the more than 65 Edible publications, including Edible Austin. Local farmers, producers and chefs will be on hand, and local food and drinks will also be available.
• If you're interested in learning how to cook with local, in-season produce, Green Gate Farm in East Austin is hosting three cooking classes with chef Kert Peterson of Kert's Natural Kitchen on Saturdays starting this week. Each class will start with a harvest tour of the farm with Green Gate co-owner Skip Connett and end with a lunch that the students prepare in the farm's new outdoor cooking pavilion. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for all three classes ($129) or a single class ($49). For more information, call Peterson at 512-626-3492 or email@example.com.