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In the news: Lidia Bastianich confirmed for Texas Book Fest

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Matthew Odam loved Mark Schmidt’s new restaurant, Blackbird and Henry, located just north of the University of Texas campus, giving it a rating of 9 out of 10, one of the highest scores he’s given this year. Due Forni, a high-end pizzeria downtown, didn’t rate quite as high, but Odam still found plenty to like. In today’s Austin360, he gives us the skinny on where to eat and drink poolside during these last months of summer.

Lidia Bastianich is the first confirmed cookbook author at this year’s Texas Book Festival, taking place Oct. 25 and 26 at the State Capitol. Her most recent cookbook is “Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master.” Her children’s book “Nonna Tell Me a Story: Lidia’s Egg-citing Farm Adventure” is due in early 2015.

After a trial run at softball, baseball, basketball and track and field events this spring, the University of Texas has decided not to sell beer and wine at Longhorn football games this fall.

Evan LeRoy of Freedmen’s Bar was a two-time winner at this year’s Quesoff, which took place last weekend at the Mohawk. In other restaurant news, Slake Cafe downtown recently hired Austin pastry chef Taff Mayberry, formerly of Olivia, and Garbo’s food truck expanded to a brick-and-mortar in North Austin a few weeks ago. The JW Marriott announced that it will have three restaurants in its 1,100-room hotel, slated to open next year, and that executive chef Juan Martinez will be at the helm of them all.

In this week’s food section, Liquid Austin columnist Arianna Auber shared ideas for infusing spirits and how to use them in summer-friendly cocktails.

I still haven’t seen “Chef,” that Jon Favreau that came out earlier this summer, but it looks like there’s another food-themed movie this summer to add to the list: “Le Chef,” a French film about two food professionals who conspire to help save each others’ jobs.

Have you ever tried malabar spinach? That was this month’s featured crop in a column from the Sustainable Food Center. It’s a hot weather-loving green packed with nutrients that many gardeners grow after the rest of the spinach has gone to seed.

It’s been two weeks since his visit, but President Obama hit up Magnolia Cafe and Franklin Barbecue during a fundraiser trip. (Oh, and chowed on some tacos from Fresa’s at a private event, too.) While at Franklin, he (now famously) skipped the line and (also famously) exchanged a fist bump with Daniel Webb, a local comedian who used his 30 seconds with the Prez to plug gay rights.

With recent advances in pot legalization in Colorado and Washington, there’s a lot of money to be make in marijuana edibles, and we’re not just talking brownies. This AP story talks to several entrepreneurs who are getting creative in what will surely be a booming industry.

Michael Barnes is always telling us about the most interesting Austinites, and this week, he shared the story of Frances Simnacher, a 102-year-old woman who is living in a house that her ancestors built in the 1850s. What’s she have to do with food? She credits her longevity to a healthy diet and 10 decades of farm work.

Whole Foods’ headquarters isn’t leaving downtown Austin any time soon. Earlier this month, they announced that they now own five properties around the flagship store, which will allow them to grow from 800 corporate employees to about 2,000.

On the flip side of that coin: A recent report found that the number of households in Travis County qualifying as “food insecure” jumped from 16.4 to 18.1 percent from 2009 to 2012, which is smaller than the growth of food insecure houses state- and nationwide.