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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Patience, Young Jedi. Force leads to resistance.

Also crossposted at

As we jump into the the fury of the Holidays, I've been asked about New Year's Resolutions.  I don't have any.  If I want to make changes, I'll make them now.  There's no reason for me to wait symbolism of something new.  Over the course of 2010, I've become much more independent in my career leaving a very unhappy situation and starting my own firm.  Since I started taking on clients, I've learned to say "No."  And for anyone who knows me, saying "No" is probably more painful than smashing a batch of perfect macarons (the horror!).  I'll be trying to say, "No" more often in 2011. 

This blog post isn't really a resolution for me, but rather a two part lesson that I'd like to share.  Patience, Young Jedi: force may lead to resistance.

I can be very impatient, especially when I am hungry.  That, I openly disclose.  However, outside of hunger, I try to practice patience.  My 2011 challenge to businesses is to practice more patience with social media.  My approach to social media is that it is simply relationships that communicate online.  Many businesses that I've encountered are impatient with social media.  They want results, and they want them now.  On the first day of launching a Twitter campaign, someone asked me "Why isn't anyone retweeting me?" "How come I didn't make more sales?"  Patience.

Businesses aren't the only ones who are perpetrators of this attitude.  On occasion, I'll have new bloggers or tweeters contact me with questions. "How do I get to 1000 followers?"  "How do I get people to read my blog posts?"  "How do you get people to talk to you on Twitter?"

The problem I have with that attitude is that it is impatient with the relationships.  Relationships take time and effort.  People aren't machines where if put in X number of tweets, you'll make a friend.  People experience emotions, people can be cautious with others, people don't always (or shouldn't always) disclose everything online, and people need time to develop trust.  When you meet someone in a romantic context, you will rarely fully mutually disclose your deepest and darkest secrets on the first date.  You also wouldn't likely get married to that person in the first few weeks of dating.  My quick poll of my Twitter followers showed that most married couples dated for 3.36 years before tying the knot (n=14, max = 8 years). 

So why is it that our culture finds it commonplace to date and to be engaged for long periods of time before marriage, but our businesses get so pushy and antsy in other types of relationships?  Why do businesses get worried if I don't I retweet their promotions after only a few tweet exchanges?  Why do businesses think I should be loyal to them just because I mentioned them in a Facebook post? 

I don't have be pushed into a relationship.  As a consumer, I should be able to decide which brands I want to have a relationships with and which ones I don't.  So if you're using Twitter for a business, have a little patience.  Nurture the relationship.  Quit worrying about your numbers on the first day you roll out with your social media campaign.  Instead, evaluate them every 60 to 90 days.

For the second part of this lesson, we'll discuss force and resistance.  It seems like some of the best lessons in life come from dog training.  If you didn't catch it before, I train, handle, and judge dogs in various activities.  I call my type of training "motivational training."  My trainers are Debby Quigley and Judy Ramsey at Dogwood Training in Houston, TX.  With this type of training, we teach motivation first.  Everything that I ask my dog to do, I first train my dog to be motivated to do it.  If my dog is NOT motivated to do it, then as a handler, I'm doing something wrong.  While there are methods to force a dog to engage in a certain behaviors, motivational training gets more enthusiastic and reliable performances.  And the dogs also enjoy it. 
You can watch dogs in the obedience ring and see which ones were trained with force and which ones were trained with enthusiasm.  Force leads to resistance.  Sometimes trainers use it to their advantage.  The next time you see a televised dog show, watch the handler closely as the cameras zoom in.  You might notice that the handler will pull back on the dog's leash ever so slightly when the judge approaches.  The goal of this is not to get the dog to step back by pulling back, rather this slight pull (force) leads to the dog leaning forward (resistance).  When the dog leans forward in a stacked stance, the dog's muscles flex and look better toned.  Try it next time you take your dog for a walk.  For a large majority of dogs, the more you pull back, the more your dog will pull forward.  I won't get much into it, but I don't recommend that as a way of controlling your dog.  I'd recommend that you motivate your dog to stay with you, as opposed to investigating something else much more interesting than you.

The next time you think about your social media campaign, ask yourself why anyone would be motivated to follow you, tweet you, or show up to your events.  If you can't think of a good reason why, it is probably time to revamp your game plan.  If people follow you only because you give away free prizes, you might want to also revamp your game plan.  Giving stuff away free isn't building a relationship.  That's just bribing them into following you.  With tactics like that, you'll gather more variable and less loyal followers.  Getting followers through bribes isn't much of a community.  Please note: That tactic is very different from playing online or social games within your community that involves a free prize.  These are two very different concepts.  Motivate them to want to build a relationship with you. 

Happy New Year, and Patience, Young Jedi.  Force leads to resistance. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

@IndyBrewing Dinner at Mansion on Judge's Hill, Sunday, Janurary 16th

If you haven't already heard, Mansion at Judge's Hill will be hosting an Independence Beer dinner on Sunday, January 16th.  That's five courses and five beers.  The tickets are a steal at $60, and they make the perfect gift for the food and beer lover in your life.  *Hint Hint*  Call 512-495-1857 to order your tickets.  Tickets are limited.

I attended a test run of the dinner so you get to enjoy a little virtual teaser.  Passed appetizers will be Boursin and Portabella Crostini with Oven Dried Cherry Tomato and Fried Boudin Balls with Spicy Remoulade paired with Austin Amber.  The menu has changed slightly since the test dinner, so I didn't have the Fried Boudin Balls. 

Next up was the Kobe Slider with Sage Derby, Mole, Balsamic Onions, House-Made Sweet Pickles, Parmesan-Truffle Gaufrettes served with Bootlegger Brown.  The slider was fantastically juicy, flavorful, interesting with mole, sage, and sweet onions.  The effervescence of the Bootlegger paired wonderfully with the richness of the slider.  I couldn't definitely see this type of pairing on a happy hour menu.  I'd eat this for breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner. 

Salad. Butter Lettuce Wedge, Champagne Soaked Apricots and Cherries, Bleu Cheese, Smoked Pistachio Vinaigrette, Candied Pistachios with Stash IPA.  If you've ever had a meal with me, you'll know that I am not a salad fan.  I enjoy some types of salads, but I'm generally not a fan of the lettuce-based salads.  With that said, I really liked this salad.  I mean really, really liked.  The smokiness of the vinaigrette, paired with sweet and tart dried fruits, and the pungent aroma of the bleu cheese made this a fantastic salad.  The bold and citrus-y Stash IPA was a great palate cleanser for the rich dressing. 

Main course: Shrimp, Chevre & Black Pepper Grits, Braised Collard Greens, Citrus Chipotle Vinaigrette served with Freestyle.  The crisp and dry Freestyle was a perfect compliment to the spiced shrimp and it cut through the creaminess of the chevre.  This pairing was delicately balanced with flavors and textures.  This was also the first time that I've had collard greens, and I liked them.  This course really reminded me of visiting the Texas coast: spicy shrimp and a refreshing beer.  I'm going to order shrimp and beer next time I visit Corpus Christi.
Dessert: Up-side down Molasses Pear Cake, Convict Hill Ice Cream, Convict Hill Caramel, Toasted Almonds served with Convict Hill.  The combination of the pear and molasses is straight-up comfort food.  I frequently ate pears (we had a tree in the backyard), and I love pear desserts.  So I might be slightly biased in my opinion here.  Nonetheless, this is another delicious and comforting pairing. 

Now that you have an idea of the deliciousness that is to come on January, 16th, you better buy some tickets quickly.  Word is that many tickets have already sold.  And buy them in bulk.  Good beer and good food is even better with good friends.  Hope to see ya there!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Barbeque Trailer in the Middle of Nowhere, otherwise known as Roan's Prairie

You know the saying.  The further away from civilization, the better the barbeque.  I was driving back to Austin from Huntsville, TX when this little gem was spotted.  It was a trailer at a four way stop in Roan's Prairie, TX.  The last documented statistic I could find from the year 2000 stated that the population of Roan's Prairie was 56.  Given the small population and trailer set up, I had to try them. 

Here it is.  The trailer in all its glory.  I was asked what I did for a living as I wasn't one of the regulars that drove by this stop.  I told him, and they were surprised.  Yes, really, I'm an adjunct professor.  They claimed that I looked like I was 18 years old.  There was no way, according to the trailer-keeper, that I was old enough to teach.  I'm plenty old! 

The menu is pretty inexpensive.  I was about to get a three meat plate, chopped bbq sandwich, and a dessert for less than $20. 

This trailer is not fancy.

Mmmmm.......... the delicious smoked meat.  It is true.  The smaller the town, the tastier the bbq. 

This homemade pecan pie was also wonderfully simple and easy.  Sometimes desserts just don't need muss and fuss. 

If you're ever driving through Roan's Prairie, stop on by and grab some meat. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Naan and Pie: Two new fabulous food finds.

I don't typically post about products, but here's two very different products that are absolutely amazing.  Naan and Pie.  They have nothing to do with each other besides the fact that I recently discovered  them.  For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to make a mutton bryiani.  I went to Madina Market to pick up some mutton (goat), and I wandered around the store to find some naan to serve with the bryiani.  I asked the store manager (he's the one behind the cash registered every time I visit) which brand was his favorite, and he immediately pointed to a bin right in front of the checkout counter.  The brand is Sher-e-Punjab made in Canada.  I don't believe there is a website for the company.  Upon his advice, I purchased two packages of the naan, zaatar green, a samosa, and a chicken roti.  The samosas there are only $1, and while they aren't my very favorite, they suffice.  The chicken roti rolls ($2) are absolutely amazing.  Roasted chicken is rolled in roti bread along with mint chutney and silvered onions.  Best lunch you will get for $2.

I served the naan along with zaatar green and olive oil on Thanksgiving Day, and it was a hit.  The naan can be microwaved or toasted. and either way, it is the best naan I have ever had.  I hate to say it, but this premade naan is better than even homemade.  Below was a photograph of the naan and bowl of zaatar green. I only like the WHOLE WHEAT naan from this brand.  I tried the garlic and the original, and they were just meh. 

The inside of the naan is light and fluffy.  The outside is perfectly toasted and golden brown.  Words cannot do justice the texture of the naan.  It is fantastic, and pre-made nonetheless.  I currently have three bags of naan in my freezer now.  To serve, I pop it into my toaster over for one dark toast cycle.  Serve with hummus, olive oil, or zattar green.  I get mine at Madina Market at Rundberg and Lamar in North Austin.  It may be available at other markets as well.  If you buy some, pick up a few for me.  Also, have a samosa or chicken roll up.

This chocolate is the second delicious item that has really impressed me.  It isn't something that you can buy off the shelf like naan; it is the chocolate pie from Monument Cafe.  I recently received one of these pies courtesy of Monument Cafe.  I put it into the fridge without really giving it much though.  Later that night, my sister came over for dinner so we broke out the pie.  This is no ordinary pie. The chocolate filling is thicker than a chocolate mousse, and not too sweet.  The crust is literally candied walnuts.  We had this pie with 512 Brewing Pecan Porter, and it is amazing.  At the next dessert and beer pairing, I will serve this pie with Pecan Porter.

These $20 pies at Monument Cafe are a cheap ticket to heaven. 48 hours advanced notice for the pies (because I will eat them all).  Thank you to Monument Cafe for the delicious treat.