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Fun Fun Fun Food 2011 Day 1

Festival season is upon us once again. And somehow it feels like it never ends. I mean, seriously, didn’t Halloween feel like it lasted 4 days this year? Next year Halloween will be on a Tuesday. Will that mean Halloween will be a 5 day festival? Time will tell.

But our little heart putters in excitement for Music Festivals. Because festivals bring good food.

And Fun Fun Fun Fest is no stranger. This year they have brought out the big guns to help kill off your cravings.

Tiffany and I weren’t able to break away until late in the afternoon from work, so we only enjoyed dinner at the fest.

Black Sheep Lodge has a great list. I joined the Black Sheep regime by getting their Carnitas Sandwich with spicey green chili and coleslaw.  The best part was when I got the offer to add tater tots for $2 more.  I gave in, since my arm was twisted by the sweet people at Black Sheep. I must say, the tots were splendid – prefect and crisp! The sandwich was suprisingly moist. Truth be known, I often anticipate having heat-lamp-dry food at a festival. But the sandwich is fully flavored and great! Well done sheeps!

Tiffany fell for mmmpanadas by getting their mushroom and spinach specialty.  What sent empanada into greatness was the chipotle mayo. The food was great although I think that Tiffany would have enjoyed it more if the she had the opportunity to scoop/pour her mayo on her empanda.

We have a big day ahead of us!  Time to try some specialty crepes and milkshakes.

Lets move onward Fun Fun Fun Foodies! Spoon away!

mmmpanadas
4209 Airport Boulevard
Austin, TX 78701

(512) 788-2228

Black Sheep Lodge
 2108 South Lamar Blvd # A, Austin, TX
(512) 707-2744

Bacon Ain’t Playin’

Bacon - Home to Happiness

 

Dear Bacon:

Tonight, I can’t sleep. It’s not your fault  but I thought I would send you this note while I am working on pleasant things that will put me to sleep.

You see, I visited your fine establishment last week. And I truly enjoyed myself. From the moment, I heard that you were completely focused on my favorite cured food, I thought, “I hope this was done well.”  There is a fine line between art and crap, or funny and corny or classy and campy The same could have been the case with you, Bacon.

But Bacon, when my eyes first glanced at you, I noticed that someone had payed great attention to detail. Someone had done a great job. Then I found out that Sanctuary Printshop was involved. Well played. Everything seems to work well. The neon Bacon logo is warm and inviting. The one-color, silk-screen menus layout was delightful and easy to read. But my favorite part may have been the Bacon door handles.

Texas Toast, Bacon, Eggs and More!

Now, don’t get me wrong Bacon, the place is great but I don’t want the visuals in your establishment to overshadow the food. This is the real test. You had a wonderful special the day I went—Texas toast, apple-smoked bacon, organic arugula, fresh tomatoes topped with a sunny-side up egg and covered in a cheese sauce. Oh the joy! The best part was, I didn’t have that dirty feeling you get when you eat something dirty. In fact, my heart was happy and was ready for my afternoon run. Yup, it’s true!

So, if my heart could hug yours, it would.

And now, I hope to get some sleep and, hopefully, I will dream of Bacon!

Love your new friend,
Antonio + Team OhSpooning.

Bacon Restaurant
900 W. 10th St.
Austin, TX 78703

(512) 322-9777

Foodie Foto Featurette /// Gypsy Picnic 2011 ATX

Sometimes, you can only mention how much fun you had in a picture.  From time to time, we will post a Foodie Foto Featurette as a sort of food porn for your enjoyment.  What a great way to start the weekend!

elBulli: Cooking In Progress


El Bulli Movie Poster

War of Art” was written by Steven Pressfield (“The Legend of Bagger Vance“).  In this book, Pressfield examines how we need to follow our hearts and move in a direction that God has created us to do.  This book is in no way theological. However, Stephan dives deep into the discussion about what stops us from following our heart, the essence of art and how we are built.

Often, movies do not showcase the struggle of creating art. When we watch an artist work, it is slow – even painful at times. But this is the landscape of where art is created.

Same is true for the movie “elBulli.” The film begins with the closure of a serving season. The focus of the story revolves about the creative mind of  Ferran Adrià, and his sous chefs, Oriol Castro, Mateu Casanas and Eduard Xatruch, leading the staff of elBulli through a creative adventure. He pushes his team hard and has high expectations. In a point of frustration, he tells his sous chef to “only bring me things that taste good.” Farran keeps words direct and focused but never raises his voice. He consistently gives recommendations on how to make each course better.

Previously, elBulli had run in six month cycles. The initial six months were allowed for Ferran, Oriol, Mateu and Eduard to create in their lab. During this time, the elBulli chefs worked to create the most interesting menu imaginable. Day by day, they experimented in a scientific fashion. Farran’s team painstakingly documents every minor change and critique their own work regularly. Digital close-ups are taken of the most mundane looking food, while notes are taken about texture and taste. Slowly, you see how the mundane evolve into edible splendor. Then again, the process repeats. More photos are taken, printed into slides and all notes are given a digital manicure for historical records. Before the creative season ends, the chefs stand before a wall covered with recipes and, with the best of their memory, they pin each recipe with a one, two or three star tag. This creative sabbatical pushes the chef to whittle literally 100’s of items into a 35 course adventure.

elBulli: Cooking In Progress

As the dining season approaches, Farran, Oriol, Mateu and Eduard begin a two week training with their new team. They tell the chefs-to-be not to worry as the menu has not been finalized and, things will change in a moments notice. True to his word, Farran consistantly asks his team to make changes on the fly for reproduction. In a training class to his chefs, Farran tackles the idea of creativity versus reproduction, a notion many artists struggle with. As the artist, he tells his students that he could easily spend his days creating and spend the afternoons on the beach, leaving reproduction to their interpretation. Yet his desire is to assist in every process of the experience. Farran yearns to awaken the diner with every dish and that the dining experience should be emotional and nontraditional.

On opening night, the kitchen staff begins to work as if they were working in any other restaurant. Courtesy is dropped and patience becomes short. The volume of the kitchen begins to rise. Quickly, Eduard steps in demanding silence to work. Progress a few weeks and you begin to see a well-rehearsed team working in a quiet, eager manner. The staff knows their place and which step is next in the sequence.

During the dining season, elBulli hosted a 50-person single seating, costing €250, and accommodates only 8,000 diners a year. With an arsenal of 40 chefs to help complete their four-hour dining opus, elBulli has been operating at a loss since 2000. This alone is amazing considering 2 million people petitioned for a seat during elBulli’s final 2011 season. Farran and elBulli helped offset costs through releasing books.

Beyond elBulli, Farran regularly embarks in public speaking events and has been deemed one the the “Fathers of Molecular Gastronomy.”

On July 30, 2011, elBulli shut its doors as a traditional restaurant. However, Farran has promised that elBulli will “reopen in 2014 under a totally new format, focused on the limits of creativity from an interdisciplinary view.” The new venture will be privately funded.

In a recent discussion with a colleague, we talked about elBulli. As an MBA student, my colleague felt that Farran was missing out. He quickly came up with a grand scheme about how Farran should have posted each night’s seating up for bid and let the highest 50 bidders take a seat. “People would pay thousands,” he muttered. I couldn’t agree more, people would pay thousands, but a 35-course dinner at  €250 allows for a larger percentage of the population to enjoy the art.

Listen to this . . .
"Were you put on this earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.
Do it or don't do it.
It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don't do it, you only hurt yourself ... even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts for the sole purpose of nudging you the human race one millimeter further along on the path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of an actor. It's a gift to the world and every being in it. Don't cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you've got.' - Steven Pressfield
Every once is a while, you get the opportunity to view greatness.  Farran, Oriol, Mateu and Eduard  each exemplify great art and I highly recommend this film, as an artist, foodie and big spoon!

The Crown of The 2nd Street District

This weekend, I surprised Tiffany with tickets to see elBulli at the Violet Crown Cinema. Granted, we had seen a flick there a time or two before, but this was the first time we had the opportunity to enjoy the bar.

Milcampos Tempranillo is our new fave!

Conveniently, located in the Second Street District, the atmosphere at the Violet Crown is simple, yet chic. If you are worried about parking downtown, the Crown will validate your stub—up to 3 hours—for the AMLI parking garage directly behind the venue.

While we have other dine-in movie theatres in Austin, Violet Crown falls in an exclusive niche for independent, documentary and international films. Granted the ticket price is a couple of dollars more but, upon purchase, you reserve your specific seats in the theatre.

At first glance, the menu above the snack bar seems traditional—candy, popcorn and hummus and pita bread. However, the real gem lies in the bar menu. Here you will find an array of drinks, everything from ginger pork tapas to cake balls. I let Tiffany take the lead in ordering and we got the avacado spring rolls. The rolls were fresh, the penut sauce was delightful and the presentation was far more than I expected.

This particular evening, they were hosting a Spanish wine promotion to coincide with elBulli. We had the opportunity to try the 2009 Milcampos Tempranillo. Our hearts lept for joy, as this wine was remarkably easy to drink. This tempranillo drinks with dark fruit first followed by a smooth finish. The best part is, you can pick this up from most wine vendors for roughly $12 a bottle. A wonderful recommendation by the staff at the Crown.

Avacado Springs Rolls at the Royal Crown

While you can order food at the bar, keep in mind that the wait staff will not deliver your meal inside the theater. You can bring the food in the theater with you, where lecture-style table tops are attached to nice, leather seating. The tops are small, thus creating a balancing act if you have wine, water and food.

I do need to mention, the Violet Crown has amazing service. Everyone on staff seems excited to show you to your seat, pour a glass of wine or simply give you your ticket. It seems hard to come across great service in Austin and VC stands out from the pack.

Overall, each experience at the Violet Crown has been  pleasurable. The service is always great and has such a unique selection of films, I would highly recommend making a trip out!

Now I just need my friends at the Crown to pick up this film!

Royal Crown Cinema
434 W 2nd Street, Austin, TX
(512) 495-9600

 

Food Fight In Austin

UPDATE: The auction raised $13,518 to benefit local culinary scholarships and farm-to-table initiatives. Way to go Les Dames d’Escoffier Austin and friends!

Monday, Oct. 17 marked the beginning of Food Fight Austin, an online auction running Oct. 17–28, 2011.

Why the Food Fight?

Les Dames d’Escoffier Austin is a group of professional women leaders within the food, fine beverage and hospitality industries. This year is the 3rd anniversary of Food Fight Austin, as the group is hoping to raise $10,000 for culinary scholarships and garden-to-table initiatives.

Last night, Austin chefs and food celebrities–Josh Watkins of The Carillon, Sonya Cote of East Side Showroom, Alma Alcocer-Thomas of El Alma’s, David Garrido of Garrido’s and Mason Arnold of Greenling engaged in a pie-throwing battle with Austin Food Bloggers, including Natanya AndersonKathryn Hutchison, Virginia Belle, Michelle Fandrich and Jennie Chen.

The media event took place on the rooftop of Whole Foods in Downtown Austin. What a great way to “throw” this event into the public and raise new funds for a good cause!

Bid now and bid often!

Free Drink Parties and the FDP


Post-ACL this year, I had to fly from Austin to Richmond. I arrived early to the airport, boarded the plane and found my assigned seat. I sat next to a young lady who was recovering from ACL. She was from Philly and worked for a drug marketing company. I asked her how her time in Austin was.

“I love this city!” she exclaimed.

She chatted about how friendly everyone was and how the music scene is great.

FDP-ing it up!

But the one thing that stood out in her mind was, “Y’all serve free drinks in Austin!”

My new friend had spent ACL eve on a plane. Her and her girlfriends landed and wanted to take on the town. They started their trek up 6th Street. Before they knew it, they were coerced into a bar that was running a promotion. She went on and on about how stuff like this doesn’t happen in Philly. But drinks were flying. Soon after, they left the first bar to take a taxi home. They had met their limit at their first stop.

I guess the promotional company got what they wanted—she had a glass full of stories revolving around her drink and she got a few free drinks from the occasion.

My friends and I have a term for these kinds of gatherings. Previously, we called them “Free Drink Parties,” but the phrase quickly got tiresome. Therefore, we whittled it down to a three letter acronym. In fact, you can now find it in the Urban Dictionary.

FDP
abbreviation for 
Free Drink Party; a gathering in which free beverages are served, often alcoholic in nature.

All I have to say is, we at OhSpooning love Austin!  We love what it stands for: great friends, wonderful music and the best food you can eat!

From time to time, we will be at an FDP and we’d love to meet you face to face!

So don’t be a stranger.  We are going to make our digital friends become analog!  :]

 

Circa 1918 – Newport News, VA


When I am in a new city, I ask the locals, “Where is the best place to eat?  What should I have? Why do you like it?”

When I go somewhere new to eat, I always ask the server what is their favorite item on the menu.  Generally, I take their recommendation and order without question.

Gin and Tonic at Circa 1918

You might think this makes me lazy.  You might think I ask a ton of questions. You might even think I try too hard to write in a narrative format. But who better to ask than someone who eats there on a regular basis?

Word of mouth advertising is cheap and honest.

While sitting at a bar in Virginia, I got to know a few of the regulars. We got to chatting about quality food. From everyone engaged in our conversation, they had the same recommendation.

“You have to try Circa 1918!”  Everyone in our circle chimed in about making a reservation even if I was going to sit at the bar. They went on and on about the atmosphere and how great the food was.

Taking the barflies advice, the following evening I made my way to Circa 1918. The place was small, dimly lit, yet warm. At the door, I was greeted by Kara. After a quick introduction, I found out that her husband was the chef. She was warm and inviting.

Mussels with Chorizo, God loves his people!

Turned out, 1918 had mussels for $5 on Wednesdays. But this wasn’t your average array of mussels. 1918 boasts homemade chorizo atop their mussels. I thought to myself, “I have got to try this!”

The mussels were splendid. Possibly the best that have ever graced these lips. The mussels were tossed with sauteed onions, red peppers, homemade chorizo, butter and white wine. It’s moments like this when I know God loves his people!

Sauteed shrimp on a bed of polenta.

I finished my time at Circa 1918 with their shrimp appetizer. Given the theme of the evening, I figured I would enjoy the shrimp, sauteed in chorizo and served on a bed of polenta. Let me tell you, this did not disappoint.

Now, it may not be local, but if you happen to be driving through Hampton Roads, do not hesitate to stop by Circa 1918. The food and service should make other restaurants raise the bar.

Circa 1918
10367 Warwick Boulevard
Newport News, VA 23601-3702

(757) 599-1918

Fin – Newport News, VA


Tasty Seafood Puff

I truly enjoy stumbling across new places to eat. And this was literally the case.

Recently, I had been traveling through the greater part of Virginia for work. Being conscience about my weight, I decided to hunt down a smoothie for lunch. I bought said smoothie and began to walk across the street back to my car. In doing so, I picked up my phone to find my next appointment, when suddenly I ran into a sidewalk sign for a restaurant called Fin, “3 Tapas Dinner with wine pairing – $25.”

Organic, Herb Roasted Pork Shank

Was this God’s way of telling me, “Here is where to have dinner, my son?”

I am not sure, but who am I to give up such a great opportunity!

That evening, I sat at the bar and began my adventure in food.

The first course began with a 3 oz. pour of the  2010 A to Z Pinot Gris.  This Pinot Gris is simple, brilliant and elegant.  The apple and pear overtones were delicate—a perfect compliment for the seafood puff, a pastry puff layered with brussels sprouts, octopus and topped with lobster.  A splendid beginning.

Next came the organic, herb-roasted pork shank, served on a bed of polenta, a side of sauteed spinach and plated with an orange ju. This course was accompanied by a Kenwood Old Vines. Sadly, I did not get the varietal or the year. However, I can tell you that was, by far, the best Kenwood I have had. Maybe, I will just try a few bottles from their collection to reassure my findings.

Beef Wellington

My night came to a close with a beautiful beef wellington.  The beef was presented at medium rare and served with creamy mash potatoes, organic baby carrots and finished with a red wine demi-glace. However, the A to Z Night and Day would not be outdone by the wellington. With an arsenal of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, sangiovese and syrah, this bottle may become my new party wine.  At a $15 market price, I feel that it may be likely to find this gem for as little as $12. And let me tell you, this bottle drinks at a greater value that that. So drink up before A to Z realizes they can get more dough for this one!

After my time at the bar, I got to know Scott, the bartender.  He mentioned that the 3-course tapas feature only happens on Tuesday nights.

What were the chances that I would stumble upon such a great meal, at a great price on a Tuesday evening? Who knows?

Whether it was God’s intervention or not, I was pleased with stumbling upon this great find!

Fin
3150 William Styron Sq N
Newport News, VA 23606-2691

(757) 599-5800

Vegetarian Awareness Month


Did you know it is World Vegetarian Awareness Month?

I didn’t either until Facebook reminded me.

But I thought, I would let you know what my top 3 ideas for the month might be!

  1. Be aware vegetarians do exist!
  2. Have a vegetarian side with every meal!
  3. Let your vegetarian friends know you love them!