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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Uni Crab Special @UchikoAustin Makes You Want to do Really Bad Things

My Christmas present came early this year - a Canon Powershot 95 from the ever thoughtful @Windaddict.  My previous camera was a Fuji Film FinepixZ90 that had seen much rough abuse over the last four years or so.  It had tumbled down 6th street during a cartwheel and round off Halloween, and it has also taken a tumble down more than one flights of stairs.  Needless to say, it has been handed to someone else who really needs a camera, and can probably take care of it through intensive care. 

To take part in America Express's Small Business Saturday (both @Windaddict and myself got $25 each), we started at Macho Taco, watched Puss in Boots at Alamo Drafthouse, and rounded out the night with dinner at UchikoUchiko, with its visually appealing food and low lighting, makes photography fun and challenging.

We arrived during social hour, which meant we got to partake in snacks before dinner.  This is the ham and eggs.  I hadn't messed with the camera yet. I just pulled it out and shot in auto mode.  Keep in mind that there's almost no light where we were sitting. 

The beef tongue is one of my favorite nigiris at Uchiko.  At this point, I still hadn't messed with any of the settings yet. 

A gift from the kitchen: uni crab special.  Trumpet mushrooms, uni, mitsuba, apefel cuvee, and crab are smothered with a lobster sauce.  It wasn't a bisque, but close. 

The server poured the sauce all over different ingredients leaving it a visually interesting dish. 

If you aren't a seafood fan, you might not like this dish.  If you grew up on the coast, love seafood like your first born child, and love unami more than life itself; you'll love this dish.  The combination of sweet seafood, meaty mushrooms, intense seafood flavors with pungent uni powder is amazing.  I still can't find the right words to describe the dish, but I'll try.  *My description is also Chef Tyson Cole approved.  This dish is so rich and sinful you'll feel like you're fornicating in a church.  If you don't know what fornicating in a church is like, I would recommend this dish.  And if you decide to try it (the fornicating), please don't get caught and clean up after yourself. 

As you can see, I really loved this dish.  I mean REALLY loved it. 

This was the sabavichie.  It was completely different from the uni crab in style, but lovely all the same.  I remember it tasting like a mashup of thai flavors and cevichie, but honestly I didn't eat that much of it.  I was still licking the plate of the uni crab. 

My favorite dish at Uchiko used to be the truffled congee.  It inspired me to make a macaron with a similar flavor profile of lemon, togarashi spice, and truffle.  Then the truffled congee went away, and I was sad. This tamago congee was a good replacement.  This congee has slow scrambled egg, black truffle, and koshi hikari.

The slow cooked scrambled egg in congee had a comfort food element for me that reminded me of that flashback scene in Ratatouille, except the Asian version.  I grew up eating plain congee, called mwua in Taiwanese or shee fan in Mandarin.  No, I didn't use proper pin yin.  Really upscale comfort food is really good.

I found a piece of egg!

This was the dessert special of lemon gelato, pistachio soil, and beet puree.  That's black pepper on the meringue pieces.  This dessert has also inspired me to make another macaron flavor out of it.  Black pepper, lemon, pistachio, and beets. 

This was the perfect way to end a Small Business Saturday

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Luxury Gift Ideas for the Spirits and Beer Fancier

The holidays are around the corner, if you have food lover friends like me, you probably have the same problem.  I never know what to give those friends.  They have all the kitchen gadgets they could ever want.  They probably already have anything else they could ever want.  I usually resort to giving them gift cards to restaurants they like to visit.  This year, I opted to donate to two non-profits, The Lone Star Paralysis Foundation and Trigger's Toys, in honor of my friends and family instead of giving formal gifts.

There are a plethora of blog posts on homemade gifts, creative gifts, and artisan gifts.  This one doesn't fall into any of those categories.  If you have some extra cash to spend (like somewhere in the neighborhood of $300) on a beer or spirits connoisseur, I have two gift recommendations.  These are high end gifts, and packaged as so.  I have personally tried both of these.  While none of these are on my shopping list this year, they are something I will think about for future occasions. 

The first one is Casa Dragones - a sipping tequila.  I was invited to a tasting, and boy was I educated on sipping.  The tequila is crystal clear with a very complex nose that changes depending on where you hold the glass.  I got deep spice notes with an anise finish that lingers.  If you ever get the chance to try it, you'll understand why it is $300.  It is nothing like the tequilas that you use for mixing.  For the price point, you don't want to mix this one.

The bottle is beautifully handcrafted with many symbolisms carved right in by hand (look at the bottom).  Every tiny detail about this product has been thoughtfully chosen.  

Photo courtesy of Casa Dragones.

The second gift is the Sam Adams Utopias.  This high ABV beer is not readily available in all markets, but it is well worth the effort if you can get a bottle.  The 2009 batch was 27%.  I got a bottle a few years ago from Denver, and though it set me back a pretty penny, it was enjoyed by many at a private party.  The beer does not taste like a traditional beer.  Rather, it tastes like a fine aged bourbon, scotch or port.  The flavor profiles in each batch may vary.  It is only made every other year, and you'll have to pre-plan how you'll be getting your bottle.  Denver or on the East Coast are good options.  Asking friends in those areas to pick up a bottle for you is probably your best bet.  If you receive one of these for the holidays, someone really, really loves you. 

Photo courtesy of Sam Adams

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Best Lessons I Ever Learned Came from Canine Sports

I wrote this post almost 2 years ago right after @MousetheDog earned his 22nd and 23rd titles, but I never found the right time to post it.  I truly feel that some of the more valuable lessons I've learned came from dog showing.  @MousetheDog was my first dog, and he was a spectacular and exceptionally well-tempered and forgiving creature.  I'm so lucky that he tolerated all my mistakes. 

Now that he's nearing the end of his competitive career, I'm starting this process over again with another teammate.  The goal of this post isn't to encourage others to start showing their dogs, but to remind myself of all the lessons I've learned over the last decade.  I'm going to use these lessons as I start off with my new partner in canine (I love puns), @VestaTheDog@MousetheDog's new job will be to teach her all that he knows, and Basil's new job will be to keep our new little tyke in line. 

The Roman Reign Posse, in a shark.  

I love my dogs.  It doesn't take long for someone to realize that I'm borderline-dog-show person.  The only way I get to stay on the sane side is by being equally immersed in other activities.  This blog post isn't entirely about dogs, it is most much about what I've learned through showing dogs.  I've showed, trained, handled, and judged (not in all activities) dogs in conformation, weight pull, drafting, rally, herding, water rescue, packing, and obedience.  Needless to say, I was exposed to many different breeds and many different types of dog owners.  And the politics in the dog world is tremendous.  The movie, Best in Show was a severe understatement of what really goes on at dog shows.  Dog show politics makes any other type of politics (including governmental) look like a walk in the park on a sunny day when the birds are chirping.   I heard that horse show politics are worse, but I'll avoid that for the time being.

Showing dogs has made me a more patient and understanding person.  Showing dogs can be the ultimate test of persistence, and it can frustrate you to no end.  After all, the essence of handling a dog in the show ring is that you and the dog have to work together like a team.  That's right.  That animal that would rather hump your leg is supposed to do what you ask.  Furthermore, that dog doesn't speak English.  I tend to laugh when people complain about their students or their employees.  At least human students and employees speak English (or another spoken language) and can be reasoned with in some logical fashion.  A dog cannot.  A dog does not care to learn your way of communication nor does the dog really care about what you want. 

"Mom, I don't speak English. I speak dog."

Motivating the unmotivated: Mouse wakes up in the morning with a few things on his mind: I want to pee, I want to poop, I want to eat cat poop, and I want to find something to gnaw.  While he didn't tell me that himself, I'm just going to guess that is what's on his mind.  Dogs are not motivated to do what humans want them to do in general, and it certainly is true for some activities like competitive obedience.  Some of the exercises in competitive obedience are pretty unnatural for a dog in the wild (ex. sitting perfectly still for one minute, heeling with precision, or retrieving an object with a jump in between).  Teaching a dog that doesn't speak your language to be motivated to perform unnatural exercises in unpredictable environments is a pretty big feat.  To do that requires a great deal of creativity in communication and motivation

One thing that you'll learn in showing dogs is that the handler is wrong 99.99995% of the time.  Let's just round that up to 100% of the time.  I've learned in dog shows that I'm always wrong.  Everything that doesn't go as planned is my fault.  Either I gave the wrong hand signal, or maybe I set up dog up to miss a turn, or maybe I didn't proof my dog for a certain distraction, or I got flustered and made my dog misjudge my commands - it is always my fault.  Being wrong in dog shows all the time makes taking responsibility for being wrong in other realms so much easier.  I'll say it now. I'm human, and like all humans, I'm wrong from time to time.  I try not to be wrong, and I try to fix my wrongs.  But I'm pretty sure I'll mess up here and there. 

There are more microcultures in dog shows than there are in the Center for Disease Control.  I tried to break down all the groups, but that list just got out of control.  There are at least 30 or more microcultures, and learning to navigate all these different microcultures is a challenge.  But however it makes drives home the point that in order to work with all these groups of people with completely different attitudes, one must truly understand them and their motivations.  This becomes even more important when companies try to market to these different groups. Marketing plans are not always generalizable. 

Showing dogs has taught me deal with arbitrary rules and regulations.  Dog show can be rules are pretty silly an useless.  In a particular draft dog test, a dog can fail an entire test for moving their feet during the greet a stranger exercise.  Yes, a dog could simply fail for shuffling their feet.  Seems silly, but rules are rules.  In competitive obedience, the handler is only allowed to give the dog one command.  No where in practical life would you only give a dog a single command, but again, those are the rules.  In dog shows, changing rules and regulations takes years, and by the time a rule has been changed, your dog has passed prime show time.  I typically follow rules I don't agree with, but as is life.

"I like to eat cupcakes." 
There is no one way, and there's no "expert."  All dog are different, and all handlers are different.  I don't believe there's a single one and only way to train a dog as I don't believe there's only one way to market or to use social media.  Also, in dog training, I don't believe in experts.  While there are many people who are extremely knowledgeable and highly experienced that I look to for mentorship, those people are always learning and changing their techniques.  They do not claim to be experts, but they do claim to keep learning.  I hope that I'll keep learning my entire life, and if I ever call myself an expert, someone please kick me. 

Through showing dogs, it is nearly impossible to embarrass me.  Let's just say that my lovely dog, Mouse, was a character, and he had embarrassed me in the ring to no end.  From picking up a a piece of a mop and frolicking about the ring in his cart in front of the entire national club members to jumping a ring to pee on a tree, I'm not embarrassed anymore.  Mouse is a dog, and he does things that dogs do.  Life goes on, no matter how foolish your dog makes you look at a dog show.  

I wasn't dancing. Mouse and the sheep almost tripped me.  That's pretty typical. Photo by Yvonne Schoeber.

I'm accustomed to failure and criticism.  I fail because I try.  I've been asked many times how I manage to do so well in so many areas.  The answer is 1. Because I'm type A and 2. Because before there were many successes, there were many failures@Jason talks about this many times This week in Startup, and I think that it is a common motto for many people who try many ventures.  Failures are a learning experience.  Every failure leads you closer to success.  Criticism can be a hard pill to swallow, but I've found that people who give me constructive criticism do it because they care and want me to succeed.  If I wasn't given ways to improve, I'd stagnate and stay the same.  If you hadn't seen Randy Pausch's Last Lecture on criticism, do so now. 

Support is critical.  Dog people are extremely supportive.  Check out this card my trainer sent me when Mouse earned his companion dog title (below).  My trainers are pretty darn awesome.  In my group of friends in the dog community, we all treat each other like family.  Even with friends across the country, they know that I'm available anytime of the day (literally) if they need me, and they are available anytime I need them.  I remember being woken up one morning at 5 am to a phone call demanding that I evacuate to Virginia due to Hurricane Rita.  If I didn't leave now and drive up to them, them were going to come down to get me.  That's how much they cared, and that's how supportive they were.  Another friend I met through my breed club was so supportive that two days prior to his passing, he emailed to congratulate my dog and I on our recent achievements.  He never let on that his cancer had severely worsened, and even when he was the one in need of support; he thought of me first. 

With that said, showing dogs makes you really reprioritize your life.  For the most part, many of my mentors in the dog show world are older, and when working with an older population, death is inevitable.  I would hazard to guess that I've lost at least 25 friends in the dog show world in the last seven years.  When some of your strongest supporters and wisest mentors pass, it makes you really rethink your life and how you spend your time.  One of my biggest influencers passed away from a heart attack on the day I gave a lecture about finding your mentor.  That was kind of rough, but it makes me care a whole bunch less about little things and more about people. 

Also, dogs are earnest. You can't fool a dog.  They can tell when you are nervous, upset, or tired as they can read body language much better than humans can.  You're better off being honest because your dog will be. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Evolutionary Psychology of Online Trolls

Ever wonder why some people are so mean online?  One might argue that people are inherently evil and that being anonymous online without having to physically face others gives them the ability to engage in rude behavior.  That's a classic social psychological phenomenon.  When people are anonymous, they engage in behavior that they normally wouldn't.  Common examples I use in class are the Ku Klux Klan.  This group masked their identities and committed horrible crimes.  Do you think that those Ku Klux Klan members would have committed those crimes if their faces were exposed?  I'm going to guess not.  This begs the question of transparency now.  Why are people who do reveal their identities still big jerks on the internet?   Why do some people make "hate" for the sake of hating something a sport? 

My hunch is that this is because we aren't evolved to life in large groups.  Our brains were evolved to live peacefully (relatively) in fairly small groups.  Most anthropologists and psychologists I know use ~200 as rough estimate by looking at historical data and examining tribal groups today.  We're not evolved to live in groups of 1,000,000,000,000 or whatever size city you happen to reside.  Our brains just don't work that way.  It is difficult to try to get with that many people.  Rarely will I say this, but thank goodness for a larger infrastructure (government) that keeps us relatively well-behaved and functional.

Pre-1995, social groups were still relatively small.  Enter the internet into that situation, and now we're talking about a different story.  Online groups started on listservs, irc chat, and even *gasp* Yahoo groups.  Now that we have Facebook, Twitter, and a plethora of other social networking sites, our social networks can be gigantic.  I'm making no distinction between online and offline social networks as both are equally real and valid to me. 

We now have a situation.  We have brains that are evolved to peacefully live with about 200 people, yet we are in contact with hundred and thousands of new people every day.  It doesn't take an anthropologist to see why our brains might have a meltdown and why some people misbehave.  This perspective certainly doesn't jive well with mainstream views in social media.  Social media takes on the perspective that we should have bigger and stronger social networks.  HUGE social networks of people are what is important to personal brands and product brands.  However, this perspective is not how our brains are designed to function.

I'm not debating on how we should change social media practices or how we could change brand management.  I don't believe that many people in social media or in brand management on behalf a commercial brand cares about the human psyche and mental health.  For most brands in social media, they are only interested in their bottom line.  On the other hand, this post offers a different perspective on online trolling and impression management.

1. The ability to post your opinion in the form of an update, tweet, blog post, or video is a great tool that I love.  I can put my opinion out there for everyone to see.  However, the ability to post anything and everything can lead to an over inflated sense of self-importance.  Some people think that just because they posted something on the Internet, that makes them right (correct) or worse, important.  Your opinion is like your rectum.  Everyone has one.  Even @MouseTheDog has one, that doesn't mean is opinion is correct or important.

2. Sometimes those people post mean things just to start a riot (online or offline).  I call them trolls.  These are the people to inject themselves into online exchanges (in which they are not invited) simply for the sake of causing a disturbance.  These trolls are the cancer of online communities.  I had a student who told me he frequently did this just to see how upset people get.  There are many of these types of people who say terrible rude things to others via Twitter, just for the sake of attention on themselves.  I used to have a friend who would tell me outrageous drama just to make me or others feel bad.  He reveled in starting drama, causing fights, and most of all, being in the center of it.  Some people troll offline too!  There are theories on what factors or mental disorders (narcissistic personality disorder) can lead to these behaviors, but I'm not going to talk about them in this post.

3. While it is difficult to ignore these trolls, you have to realize that in an ancestral environment, you might have never had contact with that jerk.  If that jerk was in your group of 200, he or she would not be welcome for very long.  The best thing to do from an evolutionary perspective is to block that jerk.

4. Conflict is inevitable in large groups.  While it is sometimes possible to get along with people in smaller groups, conflict is inevitable.  I'm in some very supportive and wonderful communities where dissatisfaction and conflict is very, very, very far and few between.  However, once you start adding more people in those groups, conflicts will arise, and they may be ugly.  This can be a great source of distress to some people as balance in attitude and sentiment is really important to some people.  You can read up more on balance theory or cognitive dissonance.  I admit that I used to find it distressing when people were fighting.  Now that I've served on at least 20 boards over 30 some odd organizations, I'm pretty okay with conflict in groups.  It will happen, and when it does, I'm not the one who is distressed.  I've been told that I have high tolerance for conflict and frustration.  Others say it seems like I don't care.  It is simply that I view it has part of psychology.  Conflict in larger groups will happen, and that doesn't mean that people are right or wrong for it.  It just happens.  Business should just move on.

5. Do you have to be friendly to everyone?  Absolutely not!  Apple is not necessarily a friendly brand.  RIP Steve Jobs.  They market to their followers, and they alienate all others.  Dr. Youngme Moon has a section on them in her book, Different.  I highly, highly recommend the book.  *I got a copy free from the Business of Software Conference.*  Mainstream marketers and even customers balk at Apple's attitudes and methods.  However, it makes complete sense to me from an evolutionary perspective.  Apple doesn't have to get along with everyone.  Apple doesn't have to like everyone.  However, Apple does a really darn good job of eliciting loyalty from their fans.  Apple gets along with their smaller (you might be thinking smaller than what!) network, and that has paid off for them.  They've decided that their fans are their *ancestral* social networks.  And they ignore anyone who isn't in that network, much like we ought to ignore people who aren't in our networks.

The take away message from this post is: We don't all have to get along.  We're not developed to get along with everyone, and that's okay.  If some random troll (online or offline) tries to start drama with you, it is okay to ignore him/her.  It isn't your problem that the troll has issues. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dining with The Lone Star Paralysis Foundation @CarillonAustin @ChefJoshWatkins

*I helped produce the Benefit for Daniel, and I was invited as a guest to The Lone Star Paralysis Foundation Vodka Dinner at the Carillon

With the giving season upon us, you might be looking for organizations that need some holiday funds or warm body volunteers.  The Lone Star Paralysis Foundation is an organization that I recently got to know through an unfortunate accident.  One thing that I noticed about the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation was the immense (and I mean IMMENSE) passion and unwavering focus on the organization's goals.  In meeting many of the board members, I was bombarded with warm greetings and huge smiles.  Dang, that is one happy, yet intensely focused board.  Since I hadn't mentioned it yet, the mission of the organization is "to cure spinal cord paralysis through funding research, advanced recovery, and community outreach."

Photo by John M. P. Knox. 

Daniel Curtis is looking fantastic.  If you haven't met Daniel (donations for his recovery accepted here) yet, you should soon!

Another thing that you might not know about the board is that they front all their expenses.  All donations go directly to their cause, and not to pay for incurred expenses.  As a member and current/past board members for a number of organizations, that is not an easy thing to do.  Expenses can range from air fare, hotel rooms, and car rentals.  To take on those expenses out of one's own pocket in addition to serving an organization with time is a testament to the board's dedication.  Though I'm not closely involved with the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation, I certainly appreciate and look up to their board members. Every time board members of the foundation speak, there's not a dry eye in the crowd.  These people are exceptionally moving. 

There are several ways that you can donate to this wonderful organization by hosting events, donating to their raffles, or by directly donating cash.  You can also donate by ordering the Carl Miller’s Layered Chunky Queso at Jack Allen's Kitchen.  The queso is green chile pork, queso and guacamole served with a basket of chips.  Also, don't you know that all food that supports non-profits is calorie free?  *statement not empirically tested.

Photo courtesy of Bread and Butter PR.

Throughout the year, the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation hosts a number of events including a vodka pairing dinner.  This year's dinner was sponsored by Tito's and held at the Carillon.  You probably know by now that I'm a HUGE fan of the Carillon and Chef Josh Watkins.  We've got a surprise for you in store on Dec. 9th, 2011.  Hang tight for more information.  Also, hang tight for a baby Watkins on the way.  Don't forget to congratulate Chef Josh and his lovely wife, Sarah on their upcoming family addition!

Photo by John M. P. Knox.

The Vodka Pairing Dinner dinner started off with some creative cocktails.

Photo by John M. P. Knox.

The first course was Heirloom Tomato Salad with Sweet Corn, Balsamic Cream, and Garlic Croutons.   Aren't the colors of this dish just fantastic?

Photo by John M. P. Knox. 

Here's a photo of best friends, Chef Josh Watkins and Daniel Curtis.  I'm excited to report that Daniel (donations for his recovery accepted here) is recovering well.  Last I saw him, he was kicking, literally!

Photo by John M. P. Knox.

Board member Doug English (YES! The football player!) and members present one of the raffle items, a painting of Doug in his Longhorn uniform.  If you want to give to an organization that will really make a difference, please keep the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation in mind.  I can attest that any donation you make will make an impact and that your help will be greatly appreciated.  Happy Giving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Roadblocks to Fans and Followers: Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behavior

You might have guessed from my business cards and blog posts that I'm an avid QR code user.  While the technology isn't brand new and the adoption rate is still up in the air, I still urge people to use them.  The idea for this blog post began when I noticed that many businesses have the Twitter or Facebook logo in their advertising.  It looks something like this.   You might not think anything about it, but the social psychologist in me says "Why?"  

You see the name of the business and two widely and easily recognizable logo.  You might think "the business wants people to know that they are on Twitter and Facebook."  Even though smart phones and internet access 24/7 is a reality for many of us, having to look up someone's Twitter handle or to search for them on Facebook (I still think the Facebook iphone app is wonky) is cumbersome and a roadblock to adoption.

You might also think that having the Twitter and the Facebook logo on advertising assets is branding you as a tech hip business, but it is really branding for Twitter and Facebook.  You pasting their logos for free on your ads.  That's great for them, I'm sure.   If you've taken a social psychology course, you might have been exposed the Theory of Planned Behavior by Icek Ajzen.  According to Ajzen, planned behaviors such as planning to follow a brand on social media services goes through a series of complicated steps.  In a tiny nutshell, a person must endorse the behavior, the normative belief (perception of other people's beliefs) must endorse the behavior, and the person much also believe that the behavior is within his/her control.  Those are factors that feed into intention that may actually feed into executing the behavior. 

*Used with permission. Read up on the Theory of Planned Behavior here.

So, if only your brand name with a Twitter or Facebook logo appear on advertising, this process of getting people to follow you is complicated. Here's some examples I found in a magazine.  I personally find the logos in print to be frustrating.   I can't click the print advertising.  I can't double tap a newspaper to go to a URL.

First, people have to notice it and intend on following you.  Then people have to go through the entire process of pulling out their phones, deciding whether or not use the appropriate app to search for your brand or to do a Google search for the link to your profile.  And then they have to actually find it.  Having a person go through the search process can be annoying, especially of the Twitter handle is nothing like the brand name or SEO for the brand name is pretty horrific.  If the person searching doesn't include the words "Twitter" or "Facebook" in the search, it can be an even more painful process.  After the search process, the people have to decide whether or not they like you.  If the search process was painful, they probably won't like you as much.  If the person has to remember to search for your profile on a desktop computer, the process becomes even longer. 

With a QR code (or even URL), many steps of the process that would have to go through Ajzen's Theory of Planned Behavior are cut out completely.   Here's some examples of better ways of integrating social media with print or non-digital advertising. 

The take away message from this post is that there are already enough road blocks to desired behavior.  You can remove some of those roadblocks by giving your audience an easy way to find you on social media, even in traditional advertising.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Farm to Table @LakeWayResort and Sustainable Food Center Autumn Harvest @LaCondesaAustin

A big thanks to Josey's and Chef Jeff Axline for having me over for dinner.  Eating local and sustainable is a pretty popular movement these days.  If you haven't heard of the reasons why you might want to start eating locally and sustainably, it is high time to get a move on it! Josey's is doing a weekly Farm to Table Dinner that changes every week.  The weekly dinner is at Wednesday Nights starting at 5:30 pm.  This meal is a steal at just $25 for locally sourced ingredients.  Take a look at the November 2nd menu. 

Chef Jeff Axline purchases the ingredients himself at the downtown Saturday morning market.  He goes incognito (sorta, not really) so don't expect recognize him quickly. 

The meal starts with fluffy biscuits with butter.  Nothing says Texas like warm biscuits. 

This salad was my sister's favorite part of the meal.  Grilled Texas Pears served with organic arugula, shaved Van Sormon cheese, French Breakfast Radish, Poached Farmer's Egg, and a Fig Vinaigrette.  The grilled pears was my absolute favorite part of the dish.  I love grilled fruit (pineapple, strawberries, and peaches), and these pears were no exception.  The pears were sweet and smoky which contrasted well with the bitter greens. 

The second dish was my favorite - Pan Roasted Copper Shoals Red Drum with baby squash, sweet peppers, green beans, tomato fumet, and sweet herbs.  Taiwanese cooking at home consisted of whole fish skin-on.  Living on the coast made having crispy skin on fish a regular dinner item when I was growing up.  It has somewhat of a comfort food quality for me.  I know, I have the most unusual comfort food preferences.  This fish skin was wonderfully executed and seasoned.  The red drum was from Copper Shoals Farm located in Palacios, TX.   

The dessert course was a rich version of a classic - Pumpkin Pie with House Made Buttery Crust served with Persimmon Mascarpone Cream and Persimmon puree.  Adding persimmon flavor to sinful mascarpone cream can only be good.  Did I mention that I love persimmons? 

If you're looking for another Farm to Table event, the Sustainable Food Center Chef Series Austin Harvest is right around the corner.  On Nov. 12th, you'll get to taste food from:
I attended the Spring Bounty Series, and it was pretty fantastic.  If you want to  be amazing by local chefs and local produce, get tickets for Sunday, Nov. 12th.  You'll love it!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

GABF 2011: Denver's Cow Parade and Botanical Garden

No Great American Beer Festival trip is complete without checking out some local fun.  As usual, a pit stop to Snooze was in order.
Snooze never disappoints.  While some might claim that Syrup is better, Snooze is my favorite.  I absolutely LOVE their pancakes. 

Austin is currently having a cow parade, and so was Denver!  Here's some cows on mall. 

This cow has stamps from other locations who were currently having cow parades

But why no stamp of Austin, TX?

And one from the rear. 

During our trip, we met with @PintsandPanels for a bite at Pat's.  Pat's turned out to be a Philly cheese steak place that was filled with Philly (the baseball team) fans.  The cheesesteaks were pretty delicious, and extremely inexpensive.  This was a Biggie which was four 6 inch long sandwiches and chips for just under $14.  This is another place that I'd love to visit again.   

I saw these unique plants while going on a walk.  These things were fuzzy.  No joke.

Texas might have BBQ, salsa, and queso,  but Denver has green chile.  Green chile is one of my favorite foods, and Denver sure does have a plethora of it. 

On Sunday afternoon, we took a stroll down to the Denver Botanical Gardens.  Enjoy!

Lily pads bigger than your face!

I wound up finding those fuzzy plants at the Denver Botanical Gardens.  They are called Lamb's Ears, and I'm infatuated with the idea of having them in the garden!

This is my view sometimes.