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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Perot Museum and the Original Pancake House

You know that saying..... "everything is bigger in Texas?"  The Original Pancake House is the poster child of that slogan.  We decided to try it because I felt like having a Dutch Baby, and I also wasn't too familiar with the Dallas Breakfast scene. 
Afterwards, we visited the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas on their second day open.  When you do visit the museum, do not neglect the very bottom floor.  They have a stairwell that plays notes, which is pretty awesome (see below).  There's also an interactive sports arena - I dare you to race a T Rex!

Dutch Baby on one plate and omelet on the other. 

This is just to give you an idea of the SIZE of the plates around here. 

The museum was an architectural wonder. 

Musical Steps!

There goes the escalator!

Rain = musical pipes?

The view of Dallas from the escalator.  Quite a fantastic view at that.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Roasted Citrus Edamame - Inspired by the Scraps Dinner at Ramen Tastuya

I had this dish (pictured below) by Chefs Tim Dornon from Uchiko, Tatsu Aikawa of Ramen Tatsuya, and Paul Qui from East Side Kings.  I loved it so much that I decided to make a version of it.   It had a great roastiness/charred flavor and just a kick of spice. There was a great tang in the dish, which I created with meyer lemon.  So put together some ingredients and tried to approximate the flavors.  Here's my version. 
  • 1 bag of frozen edamame (I used a 16 oz bag)
  • 1 swig of sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of oil.  Canola is best for higher heat.
  • Juice of one meyer lemon.
  • Spices to taste.  I used red pepper flakes, but you could use togarashi spice.
  • Pinch of salt.
  • Optional: Chopped onion or garlic
Heat up oil (I actually used extra virgin olive oil because I didn't have canola) in a skillet.  Once piping hot, carefully add the frozen edamame to the skillet.  Stir like crazy.  You want to make sure that you toss the edamame every 30 seconds or so they don't burn.  You do want them to get a little roasty, but not burned.  Add in chopped onion or garlic if you like.  Cook until the the onions are start to become translucent.  Add the spices and the lemon juice.  Drizzle with the swig of sesame oil.  Give the edamame a quick stir, and it is ready to serve!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scraps Dinner @Ramen_Tatsuya! @pqui @tastu512

Scraps. Yes.  What do you do with them?  I usually eat them, feed them to the dogs, or compost them.  What do rockin' chefs do?  They turn them into the deliciousness that you see before you.  Chefs Tim Dornon from Uchiko, Tatsu Aikawa of Ramen Tatsuya, and Paul Qui from East Side Kings created this amazing meal for friends.  Thanks to the chefs for inviting us for great food and great company. 

This was our opening snack.  I loved this so much that I'm going to make it at home.  Edamame and green beans roasted to a charred smoky goodness and coated with tangy dressing. 

Mushroom on a stick?  Mushroom pop? 

Here we go!  Duck pops! 

Next up is the jamon kimchi and the duck tartare.  This dish combination was absolutely amazing.  The savory, rich duck meat combined with the saltiness of the dressing, aromatic bite of the green onions, and toasty pine nuts was pretty much out of this world.  This was another dimension of tartare. 

That tartare deserved another photo.

This is the snapper ramen served with bamboo and egg yolk.  This was being served right as the cold front came in.  There's nothing like a hot bowl of goodness when it is freezing outside.  The flavor of the broth came from six weeks worth of fish head scraps.  It was like tasting the ocean. 

Chef Tim takes a minute to get in a bite as a small crowd watches. 

Crowd of friends that is.  Cheers to a fabulous night of scraps!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Welcome to #Austin, @SwayThai!

Austin is growing up, at least in the ethnic food arena.  Here's my "secret" list of ethnic food restaurants in Austin.   Austin's attitudes and expectations  have changed drastically over the last decade, with more and more people being opened to unfamiliar and non-mainstream food and flavors.  It might just be my perception or that I don't hang around adventerous eaters anymore. 
You might have remembered Chef Rene Ortiz and Chef Laura Sawicki from La Condesa.  They've been working on this little project called Sway, and now I'm happy to say that the project has come to fruition.  Sway is not home cooking Thai, rather it is modern Australian Thai cuisine.  I've had many deep discussions about Sway since their preview dinner(s) ranging from the meaning of "Sway" to the direction they are going.  My response was that "Sway" if you say it while bobbing your head up and down  means water in Mandarin.

My takeaway from the preview dinner was that Sway leaves little to be desired.  I am always surprised and amazed by Chef Laura (send her love letters please, or at least on my behalf), and Chef Rene can execute like ninja.  I loved that many of my dishes had a component of comfort (something I consider to be a compliment about many of the ethnic food eateries), creative flare, and a capsicum induced endorphin rush. 

Rumor has it that some diners had complained about the spice level, and thus, the spice would be coming down a level.  This is much to my disappointment and horror.  I have not been back since the preview dinner, so I'm not sure how this mild the food has become.  Also, if the food is too spicy, order a beer - pils or IPA.  Or bring some ice cream with you. 

Here's some of the dishes we tried that night.  Neon lotus chicken salad with crispy lotus root, snow peas, banana blossom, and coconut-chili dressing.  Can you say yum? 

This is the XO mussels with crawfish XO, bacon, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, Thai chili, and sweet onion served with aromatic rice.  This dish was incredibly spicy and incredibly delicious!

So delicious, it gets another look.  This is the way you're supposed to eat Asian sauces....along with the rice.  This one was pretty spicy, and perfect with rice! 

This dish was the salt and pepper tofu on Thai chili. 

This is one of my favorite vegetables.  My mother planted it when I was growing up, and it was on the dinner table close to nightly.  I love this vegetable. 

The son in law was amazing - crispy farm egg, braised pork shoulder, thick soy and chili vinegar was one of my favorite savory dishes.  Asian dishes commonly use whole eggs, on many things.  The rich gelatinous yolk, crunchy garlic, and unami laden pork is perfect with the sticky rice.  This upscale rice bowl will smack your tastebuds with glee. 

It was very difficult to decide which dessert I liked best.  I really loved the jasmine tea panna cotta with red grape, lychee, palm sugar, holy basil, crunchy amaranth, and coconut-lychee sorbet.  I mean I loved it.  All the tropical fruit flavors reminded me of a Summer on my uncle's porch grabbing fruit off of trees. 

This dessert electrified my neurons.  Oh man, I. Love. This. Dessert.  This was miso-white chocolate semifreddo, sesame, crispy rice, coconut sticky rice, mango-calamansi sorbet.  Try it.  If you don't like it.  I'll finish it for you.  Unami miso + slightly sweet fruit + dark and early sesame = taste bud lust.

The lovely Chef Laura came out to greet us.  I was told by a man that he had a culinary boner for her and was afraid to talk to her.  I told him that he could still order her desserts en masse.  I had a great time at the preview dinner, and I'm so glad to report that the concept and the execution of this menu was top notch.  You'll see me back soon, probably licking the plates. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Chef Ben and Chef Janina of Trace bring you Food Porn

Chef Ben Hightower, previously of Uchiko, has been at Trace for a while now.  I loved his food at Uchiko, and I'm really amazing by his food at Trace.  I've eaten at Trace many times, in the restaurant and at events.  It is on my list of go to places for any occasion.

These photos were from a media tasting.  Chef Ben is flexing his Cajun wings at Trace.  I realized that it sounds like he's making Cajun chicken wings, but I'm talking about a metaphorical wing.  Enjoy!

Heirloom tomato gazpacho with basil pesto.  The tomato varieties in this gazpacho was visually and texturally interesting. 

Roasted red grouper with carrot emulsion, shaved carrot, and English pea.  This presentation is reminiscent of Chef Ben's Uchiko days.  Also, I just wanted to add that the whole snapper on the lunch menu is really awesome too.  This man knows his fish. 

This was the dirty rice stuffed stuffed Texas Quail with celery salad and green pepper vinaigrette.  O. M.G. Dirty Rice HEAVEN! 

Chef Janina is a magician with the pastries.  The dessert of the evening was dark chocolate cremeux with beet vanilla swirl ice cream and bitter fried truffle. 

As you can see, I've had many of her desserts, and I am always amazed by the artistry. 

Death by chocolate.......... I didn't die, but I would have died happen if I did.  If you're looking for a place to get your upscale dining with a Cajun flair or dessert that will make your dopamine receptors dance, go to Trace.  Say "Hi!" to Chefs Ben and Janina

Monday, December 3, 2012

Restaurant Find: Papi Tino's in East Austin

I had the great pleasure of being invited to a mezcal pairing dinner hosted by Zagat at Papi Tino's.  This is easily my greatest restaurant find for 2012.  I rarely venture out to the East Side, and I definitely didn't expect this caliber of execution.  I am determined to go back to try the rest of the menu.  I'm getting the tulip petals.  Needless to say, let the eating begin. 

The outdoor space was blissfully decorated.  Simple yet interesting. 

The first course was Oaxacan cricket tostada al albanil.  This photo freaked out some of my friend on Facebook.  I'm in many other communities that didn't know I was into "weird" foods.  Needless to say, I'm sure there was screaming, freaking out, and passing out on their end.  I actually quite liked the crickets.  They were rather crunchy, like bacos or those French fried potato sticks people put on casseroles. 

This dish was the grilled Garra de Leon scallop in a mango and zoconostle sauce tossed with pomergranate caviar and crispy sweet potato julianne.  The scallop was perfect.  Absolutely perfectly executed. 

If you didn't think that scallops were decadent enough, the next dish was Caribbean Lobster medallions with grilled button mushrooms filled with epazote requeson in a creamy chipotle lobster and tamarindo habanero sauce.  I'm not sure where the flavors came from.  I am interested in coming back for more of this deliciousness.  I'm pretty sure that by this course, I proclaimed my fan girl love to the chef a few times. 

The sixth course was a watermelon and strawberry raspado with a twist of basil served in a cucumber cup.  They spherified the watermelon and strawberry.  Genius.  Perfect with the mezcal and perfect for the breezy summer night. 

This was one of my favorite desserts.  It combined many of favorite flavors - figs, plantains, coconut, and smoke into an utterly delightful package.  The official name of the dish was Mesquite charbroiled plantain wrapped in banana leaves with coconut foam and fig mole. 

This dessert was so delightful that I almost ate my neighbor's portion.  Rather, I tried to eat my neighbor's portion.  A big thank you to Papi Tino's for inviting me to an eye opening, Facebook friends shocking, and utterly delicious evening.