Food Matters: Farm stand launches at UT, ‘Tasting Rome’ author visits


Farm stand launches at the University of Texas

The University of Texas now has a farm stand. The student-run stand, funded by UT’s Green Fee with support from the Division of Housing and Food Services, launched last month and returns from noon to 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the East Mall.

The farm stand features produce from local farms, including Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Fruitful Hill, G&S Groves, UT’s MicroFarm and Farmshare Austin, as well as baked goods from New World Bakery. Customers can pay with cash, cards or Bevo Bucks.

Unlike the other farmers markets and farm stands around Central Texas, the UT farm stand won’t be open every week. After Thursday’s stand, this semester’s remaining farm stand days are April 13, April 27 and May 5. You can learn more through the stand’s Facebook page,


Trio of food events set for mid-April

Just as the dust settles from South by Southwest, another big food weekend awaits us in a few weeks.

The 27th annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off will take place from noon to 3:30 p.m. April 17 at the Lakeview Pavilion at Old Settlers Park, 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd. in Round Rock. It costs $35 to enter a vegan chili in the cook-off, and first place wins $1,000. Entry to the event is free, but it costs $10 for a tasting wristband ($5 for kids ages 6 to 12). You can find out more and register a team at

Think you make a good curry? The Austin Food Blogger Alliance wants you to show it off. The nonprofit, which — full disclosure — I co-founded and am currently a member of, is hosting a Colossal Curry Cook-Off from 2 to 4 p.m. April 16 at Shangri-La, 1016 E. Sixth St. Home cooks are invited to compete by submitting a curry, any curry. It’s free to enter, but if you’re not submitting a curry, you can attend with a $15 ticket (or $20 at the door). Want to compete? Send an email to Find tickets and more info at

It’s been seven years since Rain Lily Farm, Boggy Creek Farm, Hausbar Farms and Springdale Farm joined forces to host a springtime open house so visitors could tour their East Austin farms. The East Austin Urban Farm Tour, whose hosts have weathered many ups and downs in the past seven years, will return from 1 to 5 p.m. April 17 to raise money for the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. Tickets (at cost $55 and include food and drinks from local restaurants and bars at each of the farms. You can start (and pick up tickets) at any of the four farms, which are close enough together to walk or bike from farm to farm.


Hotel Granduca chef, ‘Tasting Rome’ author team up for April 11 dinner, book signing

Do artichokes make you think of Rome? Pizza and pasta aren’t the only foods you can find in one of Europe’s great cities, and a local chef and Rome-based cookbook author are joining forces for a dinner on April 11 at Visconti Ristorante inside the Hotel Granduca, off Loop 360 in the Westlake area.

Hotel Granduca chef Tom Parlo and “Tasting Rome” author Katie Parla, distant cousins who apparently haven’t yet met, are hosting an event at 6:30 p.m. that will include a book singing and a four-course dinner featuring several recipes from Parla’s book, which comes out this week.

Tickets, which cost $150 per person, include a copy of the book. You can make reservations by calling 512-306-6424 or emailing

Baked Vegetables with Bread Crumbs

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch-thick strips

2 white onions, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings

2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

1 eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

1 Tbsp. sea salt

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the seasoned bread crumbs:

8 to 10 slices dry country bread, torn into bite-size pieces

2 tsp. dry oregano or chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano

First, make the bread crumbs: Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Spread the bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crispy and completely dried out, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and pulse in a food processor until finely ground to the size of coarse coffee grounds.

In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs with the oregano and grated cheese. Mix thoroughly. The seasoned bread crumbs will keep in an airtight container for 1 or 2 days.

Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or in an unlined casserole dish, toss the vegetables with the salt, then with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Layer the bread crumbs on top, at least 1/4-inch thick.

Drizzle over the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and bake, covered with aluminum foil, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the vegetables have reduced in size considerably. Uncover and continue to bake until the vegetables are soft, 20 to 30 minutes more. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City” by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill (Clarkson Potter, $30)


Two-day Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest is back

This weekend, the Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest returns to Austin. The traveling event will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Austin Convention Center, where festivalgoers can hear from allergy specialists and gluten-free cooking experts and sample products from dozens of companies that specialize in foods that are free of ingredients that most often cause allergies. Tickets ($15 per day or $25 for the weekend) and info at

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