Foodie Finds

Friday, Nov. 4 @ 7 p.m.
Casa Chapala, 101 San Jacinto, 78701

Includes:

Tequila Tasting Tour ~ More than 45 Tequila Selections
Live Music ~ Yummy Food ~ Tequila Awards
Benefits the Homeless Coach

Purchase Tickets Discount code: amigo101 gets you $5 off tickets

 

Film + Food + Focused on Good
Friday, Nov. 4 @ 6 p.m.

Includes:

The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, The Sustainable Food Center, Farmhouse Delivery, The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, in.gredients, the Natural Epicurean Culinary Academy, Johnson’s Backyard Garden, Slow Money Texas, Slow Food Austin, Greenling Organic Delivery, and HOPE Farmer’s Market

With Delicious Food, Wine, and Specialty Drinks from Deep Eddy Vodka, The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, Amy Ramm of the Natural Epicurean Culinary Academy, Amanda Love-the Barefoot Cook, Amity Bakery, Pie Fixes Everything, Pate Letelier, austiNuts, NXNW brewery, Madria Sangria and more

And hear Film + Food insights from:
Elizabeth Winslow of Farmhouse Delivery, Brad Stufflebeam of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Brian Nunnery of in.gredients and more

Proceeds benefit Lights. Camera. Help.!
Other sponsors and supporters: Vintage IT, atxhipsters, Edible Austin

Get tickets

 

~FREE EVENT~
Edible Austin hosts Ellen Sweets
Friday, Nov. 4 @ 7 p.m.
BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Includes:

Author Ellen Sweets ~ Tastings from recipes from her new book, “Stirring It Up with Molly Ivins” ~ Seasonal craft beer courtesty of Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Learn more on Edible Austin’s website.


Fun Fun Fun Fes
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Friday–Sunday Nov. 4–6
Auditorium Shores
This is where you can find the OhSpooners this weekend! We are big music fans! We’re looking forward to Passion Pit, Lykke Li, Spoon, Slayer, Hum, and, of course the food vendors! Last year’s find was Boomerang’s pies. Yum! Yum!
Includes:
Live music ~ FFF6 Poster Show ~ Retail and nonprofit vendors
Food vendors
  • Austin’s Pizza
  • Austin Daily Press
  • Aquarelle
  • Black Sheep Lodge
  • Blue Ribbon BBQ
  • Boomerang’s Pies
  • Chi’Lantro
  • Crepe Crazy
  • Frank
  • Handshakes
  • Hey Cupcake!
  • Juiceland
  • Kebabalicious
  • Linda Chan’s
  • Lucky J’s
  • Mmmpanadas
  • The Parlor
  • Snowie
  • Thai BBQ
  • Tiff’s Treats
  • Progress Coffee

Technique—Offering Fine Fining At A Small Price

As I’ve mentioned, my parents took Antonio and I to Technique in Austin for my birthday celebration.

This is a place my parents and I love going whenever they come to town. It’s the Le Cordon Bleu’s restaurant, where culinary students learn practical skills, such as serving and preparing food.

It’s a great place for a family dinner or to take a date. You’ll find white linens on tables, for a fine dining experience. This semester, we were told the culinary class is small for the restaurant, so instead of its usual choice of more than three courses you’ll be able to only choose three courses. The pro to this tiny con is that you’ll pay just $10 for that three-course meal prepared by chefs in training. The menu changes at times, but usually has a few staples, such as a fish, a nice steak and something a little braver in the meat selection.

Focaccia Bread

Bread with individual butters came to the table first. Unfortunately, some of the bread was still too doughy in the middle. Mine was cooked-through, so I gave it to my mom because she doesn’t even like doughy cookies—everything needs to be cooked through, thank you.

The caprese salad was by far the best thing I tried, with a perfect presentation and taste.

I started with the caprese salad, which the table agreed was excellent both in taste and presentation. The mozzarella was fried and, in addition to the typical red tomato, there was a hint of roasted red pepper mixed in.

That was followed by the halibut, served with corn and fava bean succotash, tomatoes and peas. It was good, but could not compute with the caprese salad. I only ate half of it, because I wanted to make sure and leave room for dessert (times two, since my mom made me a cake).

For dessert, I think the whole table ordered salted caramel pot de crème, with Chantilly cream and an almond sable cookie. While the consistency was excellent, we had a hard time recognizing the salted caramel taste at all. Not that the dessert was bland—it was quite tasty. It just lacked a strong salt or caramel flavor. Antonio not only finished his, but also mine as well, so he must have thought it was splendid. It was quite good, just not what any of us had anticipated from its description.

Salted caramel pot de creme

While I thought the service was good, Antonio, who has worked in the service industry was not as impressed. I tried to explain to him that they

were in training, but he didn’t seem to like that excuse since both times we’ve been there he’s seen issues. This time was much better than the last, though. And the instructor definitely had his serving skills perfected.

If you enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner, you’re in luck there as well. They have a wine list to choose from.

Overall, I think this is one of the restaurants that is often overlooked in Austin. Where else can you get such a nice meal at such a great price? Thanks mom and dad!

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!

Put Another Candle on My Birthday Cake

So, I turned another year older last week. Some people dread that day as they get older, but I take it with pride—I got to live another year? Beats the alternative! As we’ve noted, my parents came to Austin to celebrate with me.

The delicious birthday cake my mom made me.

We went to dinner at Technique Restaurant, the local culinary school’s training kitchen (review to come soon). When we got there they pointed us to a table and in the center what did we find? A beautiful pink cake!

My mom is a pastry chef instructor at North East Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, where she teaches students all about baking breads, cakes and other desserts. So she surprised me with a homemade cake. And what I mean by homemade is not what most people mean when their mom makes them a cake!

This view shows the pretty buttercream ruffles.

This layered cake included vanilla, red velvet and then another layer of vanilla with red raspberry filling and buttercream frosting between each. Butter cream frosting also coated the outside in a beautiful design that reminds me of a pink, satiny dress.

Our waiter told us everyone in the back admired the cake as it was cut and we sent him with a piece of cake of his own. As we walked out of Technique two women stopped us to tell us how gorgeous the cake looked.

Everyone enjoyed the cake, me included, and I’m still eating leftovers!

Festivals Galore

The Gypsy Picnic has its own festival trailer at the entrance.

This weekend has been filled with festivals for Austin, Texas. The Austin Film Festival, the Texas Book Festival, the Cedar Park Fall Festival (where Antonio and his band Dear Science played!), and, of course, the second annual Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival at Auditorium Shores.

We lined up a mere 45 minutes early—just to be sure we got all the best stuff. My mom kept trying to sneak in; I’m pretty sure that was her favorite part of the day.

By the time 11 a.m. rolled around there was quite the crowd gathered. Trying to be a bit too much like ACL, they played the “Star Wars” theme song as they opened the lines. But that’s where the cheesiness ended and the fun began.

While everyone stayed to the left of the park, I headed across the field, rogue-style making a quick stop at Tenderland for a portabello sandwich, followed by The ZubikHouse for a caprese kolache and then to Holy Cacao for a frozen hot chocolate. Yum yum.

The ZubikHouse's kolaches are made of sweet bread.

Tenderland’s portabello sandwich was good, but not great. It was a good call adding grilled onions, cheese and some sort of sauce, but it could definitely use a little something else for pizzazz—tomato slices? Basil? green chiles? I also think they would make a better impression with homemade buns. That being said, I appreciate their vegetarian option and it was good sized for the price.

The ZubikHouse’s caprese kolache was very yummy, with a very sweet bread, topped with cheese, basil and tomato.

Holy Cacao's frozen hot chocolate is scrumdiddlyumptious!

But the winner of the three from my point of view was the frozen hot chocolate by Holy Cacao. ‘Holy Cacao!’ is right! This drink has all the tastings of hot cocoa except for the temperature. We were all blown away and dear Antonio drank about half of mine, even though I was really just trying to share a sip with him.

Tips for next year:
• Get there early
• Map your route
• Don’t dilly dally
• Grab a few things at once

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!

Rolling With My Homies


Sushi

My parents drove in today for my birthday and called me on the way to see where we were eating for lunch. When I asked them what they were in the mood for I was given “we’ve heard miso soup is good for you.”

OKkkkk… An odd challenge. I knew most sushi places had miso soup, but my parents say they don’t like sushi. I was pretty sure they just hadn’t experienced much sushi, so after a bit of browsing, I decided Maki’s How Do You Roll was a great choice. It’s sort of ‘sushi-light’ in my opinion. The normal menu intimidation is gone. You can just look at the ingredients and pick them, thus freeing yourself from ordering something that sounds safe, but really isn’t. Besides, you can even get teriyaki chicken on your roll.

How Do You Roll is a great place to take beginner sushi eaters. For starters, there are large posters giving directions on how it works. To make your own wrap, you choose the wrapper—soy or seaweed, then three vegetables and then a meat. And you don’t actually roll your own, as my mom was worried about—they put everything together for you as you point it out to them.

At the counter they also ask if it’s your first time to come in. If it is, they hit a big gong and say, “we have first timers!” or something like that. Then an employee walks you through the steps, giving suggestions as you go if you’re as slow as my family. I got a crab roll with avocado, cucumbers, green onion and sweet chili dribbled on top. I also ordered miso soup, which was very flavorful and hot.

Wraps are $3.95 for traditional and $4.95 for modern, with meats an additional cost for each. Miso soup is just 99 cents and will help you feel full after one roll.

My parents enjoyed everything we ordered and none of us were too full, which was good, because our dinner reservations were for just three hours later.

Bottom line? I think it’s a great casual place to eat. It’s fast, reasonable and the interior is bright green and fun. And I love fun!

Arbor Walk Shopping Center
10515 N. Mopac Expy. 165A
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 243-8298, hdyr1@howdoyouroll.com
Mon.–Sun. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minimalist Cooking


A simple meal that's easy to put together, but still tastes great.

So, I have this thing with minimalism. I read all the blogs from Unclutterer to The Minimalists to This Tiny House. That might seem odd to anyone who’s been in my room, since it is quite full, but none-the-less, I love the concept and aim to continue uncluttering my life (as I have been for years). Today I read a post on Unclutterer about the two hats the poster uses in cooking: one as creative chef, the other as utilitarian cook and I can totally relate.

There are days when I come home and all I can do is take a slice of bread, toast it and maybe, maybe add some jelly or honey to the top for diner. Then there are days, such as today, when I feel creative in the kitchen and I really want to make something, be it trying a new recipe or just whipping up something I could make in my sleep.

Today I went to the store after having avoided it for so long, and, although I planned to just pick up a few items for a smoothie, ended up buying stuff, instead, for enchiladas. I didn’t use a recipe, but then again, I don’t really need to. The key to good enchiladas are simple: cheese, onions, fried corn tortillas, green or red sauce and black refried beans to accompany it. I added avocados and tomatoes to make it a little extra special, because come on—cheesy goodness was not on my diet for today.

What about you? Do your days go back and forth from chef to cook? What are some of your “go-tos” when your energy is gone and you just need some fuel?

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

 

Mama Fu’s new creations


Just a quick note to let you know what’s going on today Thursday, Oct. 20 in Austin.

Mama Fu’s has brought in nine chefs who will be competing for the best dish. It’s going on from 1–4 p.m.

The best part? You don’t need to leave your desk to see the action. Updates across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will keep you in the loop on this culinary showdown.

So follow @mamafus or visit them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=218175484916034 to find out who will win.