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Dining out options for Christmas, New Year's

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

In addition to what we've listed in print and on my Forklore restaurant blog, here are a few more restaurants where you might find room on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, plus a few restaurant events for New Year's Eve. Call ahead for hours and availability. See the expanded list at austin360.com/forklore.

- Mike Sutter

Christmas Eve

Cedar Door (201 Brazos St. 473-3712, www.cedardooraustin.com)

Crú a Wine Bar (238 W. Second St., 472-9463; 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Suite 104 in the Domain. 339-9463, www.cruawinebar.com)

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar (11600 Century Oaks Terrace, Suite 140 at the Domain, 835-9463; 320 E. Second St. 457-1500; www.flemingssteakhouse.com)

La Madeleine (Until 6 p.m. 701 S. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360), Suite G, 306-1998; 5493 Brodie Lane, 287-4081; 9828 Great Hills Trail, Suite 650, 502-2474; 4401 N. Interstate 35, No. 2005, 512-863-0889; www.lamadeleine.com )

Lakeway Resort and Spa (101 Lakeway Drive. 261-2323, www.dolce-lakeway-hotel.com)

Manny Hattan's Deli and Restaurant (9503 Research Blvd. 794-0088, www.mannyhattans.com)

Christmas Day

Cedar Door (see above; opens at 7 p.m.)

Lakeway Resort and Spa (See above)

Manny Hattan's (See above)

SWB Southwest Bistro (208 Barton Springs Road in the Hyatt hotel. 480-2035, www.austin.hyatt.com)

New Year's Eve

Fino Restaurant Patio & Bar (2905 San Gabriel St. 474-2908, www.finoaustin.com): Paella, tapas, DJ, unlimited sparkling wine. $85.

Lamberts Downtown Barbecue (401 W. Second St. 494-1500, www.lambertsaustin.com): Riverboat Casino party with buffet, band, DJ and open bar. $135.

Parkside (301 E. Sixth St. 474-9898, www.parkside-austin.com): Four-course dinner. $60/$95 with wine pairings. Separate party with DJs, open bar and food. $100.

Sagra (1610 San Antonio St. 535-5988, www.sagrarestaurant.net): Five-course dinner, $49/$74 with wine.

The Popcorn tin never tasted like this

Cornucopia Popcorn is reinventing the longtime holiday gift tradition of the popcorn tin.

"It's not like grandma's popcorn tin," says co-owner Nikki Dugas. "Because grandma would never put dill pickle, cinnamon toast and Madras curry all in one tin."

The company, behind Veggie Heaven on Guadalupe Street near the University of Texas campus, sells more than 45 flavors of popcorn year-round. But for the holidays this year, they've created a line of spirited flavors including white chocolate cranberry and cinnamon roll. "Pumpkin pie didn't work out too well, but the best one is the peppermint bark," Dugas says. "We make candied peppermint popcorn and drizzle it with peppermint-infused milk chocolate and sprinkled with bits of real peppermint."

Dugas, along with longtime friend Nadia Elhaj, opened the store last year, and their popcorn quickly became a cult favorite among Austin foodies. "Our overall best-selling flavor is dill pickle," Dugas says. Other favorites are pesto, Texas chili and cheddar jalapeño, and each week, Dugas and Elhaj add two or three new flavors to the menu.

The store will be closed on Christmas Eve, but call ahead today and place an order for pickup. You also can order online and schedule a shipment to anywhere in the country. A six-pack sampler costs $30. Holiday tins, which you can customize with up to four flavors, start at $15. 1914 Guadalupe St. 477-2676, www.austincornucopia.com.

- Addie Broyles

Reasons to not judge a wine by its bottle

Somewhere, the people who make (and drink) Almaden chardonnay in a box must be smiling. The tasters who contributed to "The Wine Trials 2010" (Fearless Critic Media, $14.95) chose their wine and 149 others that cost less than $15 in blind tastings against bottles costing much more. Put together by Robin Goldstein and Alexis Herschkowitsch of the Fearless Critic restaurant guide series, "The Wine Trials" reports, for example, that a $12 Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut sparkling wine was preferred over a $150 bottle of Dom Pérignon champagne by 41 out of 62 tasters when the bottles were hidden. The book, a sequel to the 2008 edition, explains the methodology (tasters included wine experts and casual drinkers alike), analyzes the industry's penchant for arbitrary pricing and includes "nose," "mouth" and "design" notes for dozens of wines you've seen on grocery-store shelves. The $9 bottle of Fetzer chardonnay that won its category? "Complex and delightful, with citrus, mineral and apple aromas."

- Mike Sutter

Get buzzed about beekeeping

In January, the San Marcos Area Bee Wranglers will host their annual four-week free beekeeping course at the San Marcos Public Library, 625 E. Hopkins St. From 7 to 9 p.m. on each Wednesday of the month, aspiring beekeepers can learn from members of the group, which is free to join for beekeepers in Hays, Comal, Caldwell, Guadalupe or Travis counties. Register for the free class by calling the library at 512-393-8200.

- A.B.

RESTAURANT and WINE BRIEFS

• Recognizing what Austin City Limits Music Festival fans and Mighty Cone trailer junkies have known all along, Food & Wine magazine's January issue names the hot-and-crunchy chicken cone one of 2009's best chicken dishes in the country. Jeff Blank of Hudson's on the Bend restaurant, which operates the Mighty Cone trailer on South Congress Avenue near Monroe Street, said in an e-mail, "We were the only trailer against the likes of Emeril's in New Orleans. The cone is sooo Austin - chef-inspired trailer food."

• In other Food & Wine magazine news, Annies Café & Bar landed a mention in the December issue for its dinner-menu fried calamari salad. Writing for Food & Wine's `10 Best Restaurant Dishes 2009 $12 and Under,' Texas Monthly food editor Pat Sharpe said, "Chef Tony Amplo makes it extra-great with thin slices of battered, fried cherry peppers and lemon. He serves it all over arugula with a powerful, creamy Sriracha chile sauce dressing for $10." The piece puts Annies in company with restaurants in food cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

• Pop, pop, pop! December is full of holiday parties, which means people are opening even more bottles of wine and champagne than other times of the year. Now you can recycle synthetic and natural corks at all area Spec's and raise money for a good cause. Spec's donates two cents for every cork collected at its Texas stores to the Houston-based Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research. The corks also will be made into playground material, trivets and corkboards.

• Through Jan. 10, Elevation Burger (9828 Great Hills Trail. 608-4054, www.elevationburger.com) will give a free milk shake to schoolchildren who bring in their latest report cards showing an "A" or "B" average, improvement over previous grades or proof of perfect attendance.

- M.S., A.B.

What's in Season

Broccoli, cauliflower, Romanesco, carrots, red and green cabbage, bok choy, regular and daikon radishes, turnips, mustard greens, collards, fennel, tangerines, tangelos, navel, pineapple and Marrs oranges, Ruby Red grapefruit, arugula, year-round lettuce, mixed Asian greens, chard, kale, beets, green garlic, green onions, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spinach, chrysanthemum and dandelion greens and tatsoi. Limited hot house tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and basil.

Also now available: Texas wines. Austin Farmers' Market director Suzanne Santos says that a law passed earlier this year allows the sale - and free public tastings - of Texas wines at farmers' markets.

Information provided by the Sustainable Food Center.

OPENINGS, CLOSINGS AND COMING SOON

• Open: The Star Bar, renovated by the team behind Austin's Ranch 616, at 600 W. Sixth St.

• Open: Fresh Cup Frozen Yogurt, a self-serve frozen yogurt-and-toppings shop in the Walmart plaza at 13000 N. Interstate 35, Building 11. 339-1333, www.freshcupfrozenyogurt.com.

• Open: Frutii FroYo , a frozen yogurt store at 1007A S. Congress Ave.

• Moved: DeFresh Mode, the vegetarian sandwich trailer that John Johnston and Kelly Carter (above) opened in June near Zilker Park, to 2801 Manchaca Road. www.defreshmode.com.

• Closed: The Dimassi's Mediterranean Buffet location at 4301 W. William Cannon Drive.