Food & Drink : All you can eat 

News and notes from the San Antonio food scene

A memorable Elvis Costello lyric aside, butterflies are not usually associated with conflict, but in the wake of last week’s Hitchcockian swarms of American snouts, a tussle between two local Mariposas seems almost foreordained.

On July 20, chef Brian West of the former Café Mariposa announced that his 4-month-old restaurant would renounce its name to avoid legal action by Neiman Marcus, whose year-old SA restaurant is called Mariposa (as are eight other of the Texas-based department stores’ eateries). Ginger Reeder, Neiman Marcus VP for Corporate Communications, says the company sent a cease-and-desist letter advising West that they have had the name registered since 1977.

West’s press release quotes one customer complaining about a “giant corporation `stomping` out the fire,” but to be fair, the knife cuts both ways. Several years ago, the homegrown Pig Stand successfully sued global behemoth Hard Rock Café, which was offering a menu item in Dallas and Houston that shared name and everything else with Pig Stand’s signature Pig Sandwich. Don’t make us choose sides, please! Café Mari Ester (18322 Sonterra Pl., 798-7200), as it has been rechristened, serves delicious food, and so does Mariposa (15900 La Cantera Parkway, in-store, 694-3550)); San Antonians need more gourmet restaurants to love, so let’s not get all Montague and Capulet.

I hope the name combination of “Mama” and “soul food” isn’t off limits. I’d like Edward Lee and Padraic Harris to get their gumbo online as soon as possible. The childhood friends from Beaumont were reunited five years ago while stationed in England with the Air Force. Now that they’re retired, they plan to stick close to their adopted home with Mama Lee’s Soul Food, a lunchtime café that will be stationed just outside Lackland AFB, at 310 Valley High. Lee brags on his gumbo — he makes his roux with butter — and catfish. “We’re going to actually sell the breading” for the catfish, says Lee. “Just in case they want to make Mama Lee’s catfish at home.” You’ll probably want to follow that up with Mama’s peach cobbler, pound cake, or sweet-potato pie. Mama Lee’s is slated to open at the end of August.

Email for more info.

In the questionable-judgment department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (motto: “Second-guess this!”) has announced that it will cut testing for Mad Cow disease by 90 percent, from one in 100 slaughtered cows to one in 1,000 `for a related story, and an alarming assessment of the country’s Mad Cow-prevention tactics, see “No cattle left behind,” April 12-18, 2006`.

Which naturally brings us back to veggies `for more incentive, see “Wheat is the new oil,” page 30`. The next meeting for the Community Garden Project of the Bexar Land Trust is at 6:30 p.m. tonight, July 26, at the Guadalupe Community Center, 1801 W. Durango. The agenda includes an overview of the project (so don’t worry if you’re new), presentation of potential sites, and garden planning. For more info, contact the Bexar Land Trust at 222-8430.

- Elaine Wolff

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