Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Artisan Spirits, and Mouthgasmic Food.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Which steakhouse smells like brown butter? Ruth Chris's.

Ruth Chris's in downtown Austin invited a group of Austin bloggers to check out their menu, and needless to say, I left pleasantly surprised.  Of all things, I now associate the smell of brown butter with Ruth Chris's.  If you know the smell of brown butter, that is a good thing. A very good thing.  Photos by John M.P. Knox.

The meal started off with a nice bottle of wine. 

The stuffed mushrooms were fabulous. 

The crab cake was made with huge pieces of lump crap and covered with an incredibly rich sauce. 

I'm already a mushroom lover so it isn't a surprise that I found this dish fabulous.  Four different types of mushrooms.  Oooooooh yes.

Ruth Chris's steaks are prepared in a very particular fashion.  They are cooked at 1500 degrees, and finished with butter on a hot plate.  What that means is that by the time the steak gets to you, it smells of brown butter.  Brown butter + steak is pretty fantastic. 

Seared Ahi Tuna. 

Delicious creme brulee.

Amazingly taste like someone's grandma made it bread pudding.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Food Porn with Champagne at Kenichi

Reliving a sensual meal doesn't always require many words.  Like a good porn, food porn sometimes benefits from the lack of words and a focus on presentation of flavors, colors, textures, and shapes of the dishes.  Join me in some food porn from Kenichi's Champagne Dinner. 

That is a sexy and sweaty bottle.  The shape of a champagne bottle in our culture is instantly paired with bubbly and giddy thoughts - a great pre-cursor to a meal that arouses all the senses. 

Amuse-bouche of succulent lobster served with American caviar and butter sauce drizzled over the top.  The bamboo skewer used to serve this rich morsel is perfect for feeding to your partner.  It's called foreplay.

Naked ama ebi sashimi served with a red beet salad and fried prawn heads in a suggestive position.  This dish was served with a bubbly Ruinart Blanc de Blanes.

Sauced ebi served draped over black rice and sesame.  These little delights were presented like sexy crossed legs wearing a pair of high heels.

Beautiful hamachi toro sashimi lying in a pool of lemon garlic sauce.  If behind closed doors, you might feed this course to your paramour with your fingers. Let her lick your fingers and the platter.  This dish was served with Deutz Brut Classic. 

This dish so delicate, it deserves two photos. Cold smoked salmon maki with fresh strawberries and a sweet miso glaze. Notice how the strawberries are so thinly shaved and how the caviar really pops against the light pink flesh and red edges of the strawberries.

I love how you can almost see through the pieces, much like appropriate lingere.  Served with Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial. 

Cool ankimo with truffle ponzu served with Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec.  This dish was rich, silky, smooth, and flavorful. 

Moromi miso-glazed sea bass with basil lo mein.  The firm flesh of the fish was perfect with the crispy sweet skin of the seabass.  Paired with Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut, this is definitely culinary fornication. 

Dessert - Crispy beet chips served atop candied sweet and tart creme fraiche was the perfect blend of textures and flavors.  Served with Zipang sparkling sake, it is sure to satisfy your palate. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to Navigate Beer Events

As someone who frequently writes about and cooks with the Nectar of the Gods, it isn’t surprising that I’m also a beer festival and tasting veteran.  Here’s my guide on how to navigate beer festivals, tastings, and open houses.  If you’re looking for information on food festival or festivals in general, check out this post.

Brewery open houses in Texas are not allow to sell you beer, which means that the beers are free.  With that in mind, be prepared. Be prepared to wait, and be prepared to brave the crowds.  Most brewery open houses are held outdoors (with the exception of St.Arnold’s in Houston), so be prepared to brave the weather as well.  

  • ID. Even if you look like you’re 85 years old, TABC could be watching.  No one wants trouble with TABC so bring your license and don’t pitch a fit if you’re required to show it.  
  • Cash. While beer cannot be sold at the brewery, other items can be sold.  Frequently, shirts, glasses, caps, hoodies, and other items will be on sale.  Cash is preferable, and checks are sometimes okay.  Credit cards probably won’t get you very far.  Usually, outside food vendors are brought in, and they usually don’t have a credit card machine either.
  • Shoes. You’re outside in Texas. It will either be really hot or really cold.  You’ll need shoes for either situation.  
  • Sunblock.  There’s no reason to damage your skin and your liver.  Just pick one organ to destroy at a time.  
  • Water. While the beer may be plentiful, water is sometimes difficult to find.  Be safe and bring an unopened bottle if you can.  
  • Snacks. And sometimes there is no food provided at brewery open houses.  Pack a power bar, banana, apple, or some crackers.  
  • Chair.  If you can’t stand for long periods of time, bring a chair.  The brewery most likely will not have any.  
  • A designated driver. You can destroy your own liver, but please don’t destroy another person’s life.
  • Your manners. Don’t piss off people.  Don’t be rude.  Breweries are giving you free beer.  Don’t forget that.  Be grateful and courteous to other attendees, brewery employees, and volunteers.  Being rude may get you the boot.  

As many outdoor events, particularly in Austin, are dog friendly, here’s a list of what to bring when taking the puppy out for some beer fun.  

  • Dog on leash. Do NOT bring your dog off-leash.  Worst case scenario is that your dog is hit by a car.  I’ve been to so many festivals where dogs are running the street because the owners are too busy doing something else.  The leash is for safety.  Use it.  
  • Water + drinking bowl.  I bring a water jug with a shoulder strap for my dogs because they drink directly out of the jug.  Dogs need water throughout the day as well.
  • Poop bags.  Nature calls.  Clean it up.  No one wants to step in dog poop.  Or human poop either.  Keep a diaper on the babies.  
  • Snacks.  If you’re out and about for a long period of time, bring snacks for the puppies.  If you can’t go eight hours without food, why should your dog go without food.  I also bring treats for my dogs because I use every outing as a training session.  
  • Your dog’s manners. No one likes cranky people, and no one likes rude dogs.  Please train your dog how to behave appropriately in public before bringing it out to play.

  • Long lines.  Even if you arrive an hour early, expect that there will already be other people in line.  My advice is always get in line as soon as possible.  As soon as you get your beer, get back in line.  
  • Crowds.  If you hate crowds, you might want to avoid these events. You’ll probably be happier buying a few six packs and staying home.  
  • Cranky and drunk people.  Sometimes people indulge just a bit too much.  Please be tolerant of others who make poor decisions.  Save the drama for another time and place. 
  • Weather. It could be cold and rainy in May or it could be sweltering hot in October.  Except weird weather.
  • Other cool beer nerds.  Brewery events attract tons of beer lovers.  Expect to make friends.  Bring your business cards or some other way to jot down a phone number.  
  • Beer to run out: Get there early. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bastille Day Celebrations that will make your tummy happy.

Bastille Day is tomorrow, which means tomorrow is full of celebrations. Here's some of the events I found for tomorrow.

Peche on 4th Street is offering $2.50 St. Germain cocktails from open until close. If you haven't had St. Germain or been to Peche yet, you are missing out. Get there! Also, here's the blog post from the St. Germain Dinner at Fino.
Mirabelle is also hosting a Bastille Day Dinner with some French wines for your inner wine fancier. Information follows.

Bastille Day Wine Dinner, Weds, July 14th, @ 7pm. $65 (inclusive of tip/tax) 346-7900
We had such a great response to Michael raiding the cellar for the All American Wine Dinner, that he has been sent down again to find French wines for the celebration of Bastille Day. And what a set of wines: a terrific French 100% pinot noir sparkler, something old (2001 Puligny Montrachet) , something new (New World style Bordeaux), his favorite score from the acclaimed 2007 Rhone vintage, and a little Sauternes to send everyone home sweet. Michael obtained these wines over the years and on futures, so take advantage of his purchasing prowess and enjoy this Bastille wine dinner at half the price of its value.

Mirabelle Restaurant
Bastille Day Wine Dinner
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 7:00pm

Truffled Brie Gougeres
(NV) Brut D’Argent Sparkling Rose

Pan roasted Monkfish with Crispy Shallots
Avruga Caviar-Chive Remoulade and Sauce Meuniere
2001 Puligny-Montrachet, Domaine Gerard Chavy

Butter Roasted Quail with Herb-Bread Stuffing
Green Peppercorn Sauce
2006 Chateau GRAND DESTIEU Grand Cru
(Saint-Émilion, 90 points Wine Spectator)

Boeuf Bourguignon ala Julia Child w/ Les Halles Frites
2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, MAS DE BOISLAUZON
(94 points. Robert Parker)

Brillat-Savarin Crème Brulee with Pear & Apple Compote
2006 Sauternes, Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste

Le Cordon Bleu is offering a four course French menu for just 17.89 on July 14th. 


The Austin Museum of Art is also throwing a Bastille Day Celebration, complete with a Poodle Parade. 

July 14, 2010 from 5:30-9 pm
Austin Museum of Art-Downtown 823 Congress Ave at 9th Street
All proceeds benefit the AMOA’s exhibition and education programs
For everyone with a French flair for excitement…all ages!
Admission Tickets: $10-AMOA Members / $15-General Public
Join AMOA today and receive a free ticket benefit.

OOO-LA-LA! Party Features:
Poodle Parade and Prize Promenade/French Music/"Picture Yourself in Paris" collaborative mural/food and wine on a sidewalk café/photograph opportunities/berets and other great souvenirs.

Poddle Parade

Poodle Prize Package:
  • Lunch for two at Chez Nous,
  • a 8x10 pet portrait and sitting by Robin Jackson Photography,
  • a gift basket from Lofty Dog, and a trophy designed by Carl McQueary.