Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Way South Philly - Austin, TX

A few days ago I reviewed the cheesesteak at Delaware Sub Shop with a theme based on Always Sunny in Philadelphia, both of which I am a big fan of.  I thought it was a good cheesesteak, the best I'd had in Texas in fact, which was true as of a few days ago, but which is very, very wrong today after a trip to Way South Philly.

I was naive.

I was blind.

Blinded by a two year absence from the City of Brotherly Love.

So first and foremost, to Charlie, to Mac, to Dennis, and of course to Sweet Dee (not so much you, Frank, you are a dirty, dirty little man), I AM SORRY.  You all have my sincerest apology in associating you with a sandwich, that while good, and while a cheesesteak, is not worthy of being a PHILLY cheesesteak.

Way South Philly, now THAT is what a Philly cheesesteak is supposed to taste like.   THAT is a Philly cheesesteak.

Delaware, I salute you for trying, and for making a good sandwich, but most of all for stimulating my appetite for a cheesesteak and getting me out there in search of Austin's best.  And as of right now, that Belt lies firmly around the bloated waist of a little trailer out on East 6th, Way South Philly.

For starters, the guy who runs the place is a Philadelphia transplant, hailing from just across the river in south Jersey.  And he's got a resume.  First off, his favorite steak joint in Philadelphia is Jim's, which is legit, less known to tourists, and a favorite of many locals.  Two, he's a good family friend of the folks who make arguably the best roast beef sandwich in the city, Tommy DeNic's at the Reading Terminal Market.  C.) when I started a conversation about pork roll, not only did he know what I was talking about, but he told me that he had some, having just brought it back with him from a recent trip.

So, enough about the man, let's talk about the sandwiches.  Proudly displayed on the side of the trailer is a sign stating that they serve their sandwiches on real Amoroso rolls, straight from Philadelphia, and the only roll that a Philadelphian will accept.  And they are every bit of it.  Buttery, light, soft, and toasty, these things hold that greasy, cheesy goodness more snuggly than a McPoyle holds his milk.

And the cheese.  First thing you see when you peer in the window is this...

Yep.  Wiz.  The real deal.

So, there are several combinations of cheesesteaks here that all looked incredible, but for comparison's sake, I settled on...


paul•ie  |ˈpôlē| - adjective – 1. Rocky Balboa’s brother-in-law : Paulie, it’s Thanksgiving, I got a turkey in the oven.  2.  a generous portion of seasoned grilled philly steak, sautéed with steamed onions and mushrooms, then topped with Cheez Wiz : Yeah, I’ll have the Paulie, wit wiz.

Two words:  incredible

Seriously, this thing was perfect.  You know the saying, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts?   Well, it applies to cheesesteaks.  That's for damn sure.  When all of those ingredients are put together on the flat top, and their juices and flavors combine, they become something much, much more.  The flavors change.  They become one.  It.  Becomes one.  It.  Becomes a cheesesteak.

I'm going to offer a comparison here for those who may not have had a real cheesesteak, but may have had one of these.  White Castle.  And I mean no disrespect to Philadelphia, I'm not comparing a White Castle to a great cheesesteak, this is purely illustrative.  Try to make a slider at home.  Good, right?  Now go to White Castle and get the real deal.  See the difference?  You can't find the lines between bun, onion, meat, cheese and bun, nor can you taste any individual ingredient.  It has become one soft, oniony mess, with a flavor all it's own.  And that's what you get with a good steak sandwich, and that's what you get at Way South Philly.  He nailed it.

Oh, before I finish up.  Tots.  Wiz.


I think the picture says it all.


Atmosphere:  food truck, outdoor seating, smoking section, perfect for lunch, carry out

Food:  real deal Philly cheesesteaks

Crowd:  not-so-tough guys, guy in a tie, lady smoking a cigarette and drinking a Dr. Pepper, looked a little like Mac's mom

Dog Friendly:  yes

What to Order for the First Timer:  The Paulie

Best Time to Go:  lunch on a nice day, after the bars on a weekend

Monday, December 19, 2011

Torchy's Tacos - Austin, TX

Torchy's Tacos has a following like no other taco place in Austin, or Texas for that matter, stemming from a loyal student base in search of great food on the cheap.   It's this following that has allowed Torchy's to aggressively expand, from it's start as one of Austin's premier trailers, to numerous brick and mortar locations around Austin, and now...GASP!...Dallas.

I've been a fan of Torchy's since my first visit, and unless I'm in a rush and passing by a location, I like to head down to it's humble beginnings, in the trailer park of South 1st, one of the nicest and easiest in town.

Now, first things first.  Let's boil down what kind of "Mexican" we're talking about here, an important first step for anyone looking for "Mexican" food in Austin.  I've drawn up a little organizational chart here, focusing on the taco side of the equation.

First things first, let's differentiate between Mexican and Tacos.  If you're "going out for Mexican", you're talking about more of a full meal, ranging from something like Taco Cabana to Maudie's to Fonda San Miguel.  Varying degrees of quality, options including enchiladas, burritos, plates, rice, beans, and also different styles such as Interior Mexican, Tex-Mex, or Coastal Mexican.  Now, tacos may very well be a part of your Mexican meal, and that's alright.  For instance, I ate at Maudie's last night.  We "went out for Mexican" and in this instance, Tex-Mex.  I had a combination plate featuring among other things, a crispy beef taco.  But we didn't "go out for tacos", like we did Saturday, when we hit up Torchy's, meaning we were heading somewhere specializing primarily in tacos, though most will likely feature things like chips, salsas, queso, and in the case of some of the authentic Mexican places, tortas...the Mexican sandwich.  That said, generally you're talking about a quicker, more on-the-go meal, something you might associate more with lunch, carry-out, or late-night.

Alright, now that we've got that out of the way, let's briefly touch what I view as this area's primary taco types.

Mexican Street Tacos:  these are the more authentic Mexican tacos, ranging from the more normal classic recipes for al pastor (pork), picadillo (ground beef), and bistec (steak), to the scary...lengua (cow tongue), tripas (small intestine), cabeza (cow face)...and always served on small, usually corn, tortillas with minimal accompaniments, typically cilantro, onion and lime, and your choice of red or green salsa.

Tex-Mex:  think back to taco day at your elementary school growing up, and you've got it, and if your school didn't have taco day, God help you, then drive through Taco Bell and take a look at the menu.  Crispy corn taco shells or soft flour tortillas, seasoned ground beef or shredded chicken, beef or chicken fajita, you got it.  Cheese is typically a component of these tacos, as well as some combination of lettuce, onion, tomato, and salsa.

Fusion:  we're seeing these in the taco trucks quite a bit around here...Korean, Vietnamese, Barbecue, Southern...any kind of non-Mexican food prepared in a tortilla, typically with some sort of meat or vegetable base, cooked, and then any sort of toppings depending on the style...kimchee, slaw, carrots, greens...you name it.   REALLY good.  Not Mexican.

Breakfast:  the pride of Austin, with everyone and their brother, mother, grandmother and everyother making them...I mean come on you can go to Dan's Hamburgers in the morning and get breakfast tacos.  Sounds like a Mexican breakfast joint, doesn't it?  Anyway, you know the drill here, basically corn or flour tortillas, base of eggs, and any assortment and combination of meat, beans, vegetables, tortilla chips, herbs, etc.  Basically, its how you need to start your day.

And there you have it.  Sorry to have digressed.

Alright, so then back to Torchy's.  From a classification standpoint, I'm going to consider Torchy's a Tex-Mex Fusion with side of Breakfast and just a spritz of Street.

 S-Tm – F (B)-S

So I got an assortment to bring back to the house on Saturday for My Lovely Wife Mrs. Gordo and me to share.  First off, they traveled well, due to care in preparation.  Salsas, specific to each taco, are left off of the taco and served in little containers, keeping liquid from gumming up the tortilla.  They're also wrapped tightly in foil, giving juice from the meat little room to squeeze out to the outside of the tortilla.  So, I got all of ours on flour and cut them in half upon arrival for your viewing pleasure.

From left to right:  Ranch Hand, Crossroads, Trailer Park, and Dirty Sanchez.

The Ranch Hand was my least favorite of the four, but not because of failed preparation or a bad mix of ingredients...it was just ordinary, lacking the creativity, flair and flavor that the others celebrated.  Don't get me wrong, this is a good taco, and though not in the breakfast portion of the menu, is basically a steak breakfast taco.  Ample, fluffy scrambled eggs, grilled beef fajita, and shredded cheese, served with their homemade Diablo Sauce, which is basically kind of a creamy fire-roasted habanero sauce, which is quite excellent.  Frankly with the tiny amount of beef featured on this taco, it provided all of the flavor, which was great, but pretty basic.

From here on out it gets a bit more difficult to rank them, as each is very different, very good, very innovative, and any one of them could be your favorite based on what you're feeling like the day you're there.  So let's move to the Crossroads.  Smoked beef brisket with grilled onions, jalapenos, cilantro, jack cheese, and a slice of avocado served with tomatillo sauce.  WELL DONE, TORCHY'S!  What I really like about this is that it's a brisket taco with a great charred and smoky flavor, complemented with sweet grilled onions and the crisp bite of jalapenos and cilantro.  The intentionally acidic tomatillo salsa is a perfect match for this one, with it's vinegary bite and heat cutting through the smoke and tender juiciness of the meat.

Trailer Park.  BAM!  I resisted the temptation to go trashy on this one, replacing the lettuce with queso,  though I'm not sure that really makes it all that much healthier.  Either way, this one is GOOD.  Fried chicken, green chilies, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese with poblano sauce, an almost jalapeno/poblano infused ranch dressing which is fantastic, and goes really well with this one...think chicken fingers and ranch.  Yep.  The chicken is hot, juicy and crunchy, and the lettuce and pico provide both a temperature contrast and a cool crispness that make this thing perfect.

Dirty Sanchez, also incredibly good, might be my favorite of the four, but I think it's going to depend on the day.  Ready?  Scrambled eggs, a breaded and fried poblano chile, guacamole, escabeche (pickled jalapenos and carrots), and shredded cheese with that same poblano sauce.  Again, think about anything fried...mushrooms, pickles, onions, potatoes, jalapenos...that you like to dip in ranch, and that's what you've got on a tortilla here with non-intrusive scrambled egg providing the body.


Atmosphere:  covered and uncovered picnic seating in a shaded trailer park, food truck, great place on a nice day for lunch, BYOB

Food:  Tacos

Crowd:  a little bit of everyone

Dog Friendly:  Yes

Best Time to Go:  lunch on a nice day

What to Order for the First Timer:  Trashy Trailer Park, Dirty Sanchez

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Delaware Sub Shop - Austin, TX


on a Thursday

The Gang Goes to Delaware

Kind of...

...well not at all actually.  First off, there was not gang, it was just me, and second of all, it was Delaware Sub Shop.  In Austin.  Texas.  Nowhere close to Delaware or Philadelphia.  Nicer people though.

So here's what I'm going to tell you to do next Thursday.  Go to Delaware Sub Shop for the special of the day, the Philly cheesesteak.

Now I've reviewed this place before, and it's a good sandwich shop, but it's pretty sterile inside and a place that's probably better suited for a carry out or a call ahead/quickie.  But on Thursdays...oh, Thursday...the place is transformed by a full griddle of carmelizing onions and searing ribeye, filling the place with a greasy haze that even your eyeballs can taste, and making you feel as close to the wrong side of the tracks on Snyder Avenue as you can get this side of the Mississippi.

Seriously though, the place has a different feel on Thursdays, and I get the impression most of the crowd there are Thursday regulars.  And even more seriously, the cheesesteaks are legit.

As with a true Philly cheesesteak, it starts with the bread.  I'm not sure if this is a true Amoroso roll, probably not, but it sure has a really close taste and feel to it.  Soft but sturdy, adequately malleable, with the telltale griddle marks and crispness on the edge indicating that these guys know what they're doing.  

Order a 7" or a 14", the latter looks much more impressive split in half and side by side in its basket, and though fourteen inches sounds huge, the proportions are right, and I guarantee if you order the seven incher you're going to wish you had that second half.   

Mushrooms and onions?  Absolutely.  Hot or sweet peppers?  Hot please.   Ketchup?  No thanks, give me mayo.  

And that was my order.  The beef was hot and tender, slightly caramelized to flavor perfection.  The mushrooms and onions were perfect.  That fine line between crisp and soft, with just enough tooth to provide a contrast to the bread and meat, and with just enough cooking to give it that fantastic seasoned griddle flavor.  The hot peppers are an addition that I'd recommend, I prefer hot to sweet, and prefer peppers to none.  These appeared to have been the chopped cherry pepper variety, and added a cool, sweet heat to the sandwich.  As for the mayo, I love it on a cheesesteak, I think because it feels a lot like an extension of the cheese without adding any conflicting flavors, and it fixes any dryness the sandwich may feature, though this one had no problems, and the mayo and provolone blended together to make this sandwich the best Philly cheesesteak I've had anywhere outside of Philadelphia, though I still long for a trip across the tracks back to John's Roast Pork



Only modification to my previously posted summary...go on Thursday.  Get the cheesesteak.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Top Notch Hamburgers - Austin, TX

Alll right all right all right...

I love them drive-ins...

Let me tell you what Top Notch is packin' right here, alll right...we got a 15-8 piece dark, No. 4 Longhorn Special, curbside service, 6 and 1 fried sides, no-doubt 390 cholesterol...we're talking some f-in' food.

Alright, alright...let's start with the fried chicken this stuff was G-O-O-D good, my man...I'm talkin' super juicy on the inside, ultra crispy on the outside, salty, plump...I don't know what they do to it, man, but they got to keep on doin' it, cause that chicken makes life worth livin', man.  L-I-V-I-N.

Sides?  Yeah, man, any and all, all right...mashed potatoes and gravy...and this gravy was smokin', man...S-M-O-K-I-N...I'm talkin' thick, creamy, salty, peppery...dropped on top of those fresh-peeled-boiled-and-mashed spuds like a cheerleader on a quarterback, all right...

Fried sides?  Can't decide?  Get 'em all...you got to eat what Artie Gordo wants to eat.  Okra...fries...rings...you got to know they do it right here, man...hot, crunchy, salty...may even sop up a little of that chicken fat in the fryer for a little soul, all right all right...

Burger...grilled over charcoal, man, the only way to do it, alll right...this number four is the 1976 version of the Big Mac, my man, and what Ronald McDonald no-doubt wants that Big Mac to be to-DAY, man...I'm talkin' two charcoal grilled patties...ripe with flavor....melted American cheese, special sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion...this thing is hot, this thing is big, and this thing tastes great...just wish they had crisper lettuce and ripe tomatoes...I'd be a lot cooler if they did...but who cares, I'm not here for a salad.

That's what I love about these drive-ins, man.  I get older, they serve the same food...

Off to the Moontower

Atmosphere:  old school, mellow, cruise in, drive-in, counter service, indoor seating, sit-in-your-car-and-push-the-button seating, carry-out, throwback, place for a date when you're to young to hit Centennial, THE place to pick up redheads, all right all right

Food:  classic man, burgers, fries, rings, fried chicken and fixin's

Dog Friendly:  you got to do what you got to do

Crowd:  me, Randall Pink Floyd, Slater-son, little Mitch Kramer, and redheads, man, I love those redheads

When to Go:  lunch, dinner, anytime you want my man, anytime you want

What to Order:  you got to order what you want to order, but get the fried chicken or a number four, all right all right...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tuesday's Dinner

Pork Paprikash and Spaetzle

I used a couple pounds of pork shoulder, and cut it into pieces about an inch by an inch, removing any connective tissue and extra fat, but you could just as easily buy a some precut pork (or veal) stew meat and skip that step.  In something that you can take from the stove to the oven, sear the meat in butter until brown all over, then remove, chop a couple of onions a quarter inch or so and saute them in the drippings until soft, then add back the meat put a couple of tablespoons of paprika and a tablespoon or so of flour in there and mix until coated.  Stir in a little tomato paste, and if you can find it, paprika paste, a couple spoonfuls of beef base, and a half cup or so of water to make a really thick mixture.  Cover it and put it in the oven for an hour and a half or so at 325, until the meat is really tender.  Take out, add a container of sliced mushrooms and a cup of red wine, cover and finish for another thirty minutes in the oven.  Serve over noodles or spaetzle and top with sour cream.

Spaetzle - you can do the first part of this in advance.  Whisk together three or four eggs, a 1/4 cup of water, a little salt, ground nutmeg and chopped chives, then add flour and mix until you've got a thick but still pourable consistency.  Work it through a spaetzle maker into a pot of boiling salted water and cook until it floats, then drain it and rinse it and put it away until you're ready to eat.  When you're ready, melt some butter in a pan and when it's hot, put the spaetzle in and let it cook over medium high, not playing with it too much so that it browns, then mix it up and let it brown a little more.  

Really good stuff.

Dirty Martin's - Austin, TX

I'll let my previous postings on Dirty's speak for the place itself, but must post this to say that Dirty's has the best Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich in Austin.

For years I've stuck to the burgers and sirloin sandwich, which I believe are the best in town, but the other day I decided to stray from my normal orders and give the chicken fried steak a shot.  Wow.  Homemade and deep fried, this sandwich was the perfect blend of tender and crisp, with a great black pepper flavor, just the right amount of grease, a soft bun, and crisp iceberg lettuce and a cool, ripe tomato and mayo to balance it all out.  If you're in the market for one, hit up Dirty's.



Friday's Dinner

Veal Rolls in Red Sauce

Good Italian comfort meal.

Start with a red sauce, I prefer homemade, but if you want to cut some corners, use your favorite jarred sauce.  For my sauce I minced up in a food processor a half an onion (drain off the excess moisture created in the blender), a carrot and a clove of garlic, and saute over medium low heat in olive oil until it starts to caramelize and smells sweet.  Add some tomato paste and a splash of red wine and mix well, then add a couple cans of San Marzano tomatoes and some dried thyme and crush in the pot using a potato masher or a fork.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.

While that's simmering, make some breadcrumbs and saute them over medium with a clove of garlic in some olive oil until they're lightly browned and crisp.  Mince a clove of garlic and some Italian parsley as well as some italian peperocini in olive oil (or roasted red peppers or something of the sort), some ham,  and some mozzerella cheese.  Add the toasted breadcrumbs and some romano cheese to it, mix well and then mix in an egg.  Pound out some veal scallopini very thin, being careful not to tear through, then smear the mixture on each piece, roll them up, tie them in kitchen twine, season with salt and pepper, and sear in olive oil unit brown, then add to the simmering sauce, cover, and let simmer (not boil) for an hour or so.  Serve on spaghetti.

Lily's Sandwich - Austin, TX

Since I was already up in Chinatown to try the sandwiches at Baguette House (http://thefatartery.blogspot.com/2011/12/baguette-house-austin-tx.html), I decided to pop into another sandwich shop recommended to me by a little Vietnamese guy for a frame of reference by which to judge the wonderful sandwiches I'd just had.

Lily's Sandwiches got the nod.  Located in the same 21st century slice of China in north Austin...

...Lily's was more along the lines of what I expected of an authentic Vietnamese sandwich shop, the kind of place that makes any white man pause, take a deep breath, and wonder if this is the right decision before opening the door to a great unknown.  Also in-line shop space, this one remains a mystery until that door opens because of the opaqueness of the windows, painted with all sorts of writing and pictures not understandable to anyone not fluent in the language.

As the door opens, the mystery continues when a fish/dried shrimp smell hits you in the face at the same time you see the disposable tin of eggrolls in front of the counter for you to take for a buck.  Given the smell, I'm not sure I'd eat there, and I was getting my sandwich to go anyway, and I opted for the grilled pork sandwich.  Similar in look to the one at Baguette House, the bread was more along the lines of what I'd expect from a store bought baguette, good, but a bit chewy for a sandwich, and tougher to eat.  Ingredients were largely the same...cilantro, jalapeno, carrots, onion, but this place used some sort of brown sauce, which was good, but overall couldn't compare to the feel and flavors of Baguette House.

If you're making the drive, bypass this one and go around the corner where you'll feel better and won't be disappointed.


Atmosphere:  authentic, a little smelly, a little dirty, limited seating, good for take-away

Food:  Vietnamese sandwiches

Crowd:  real Vietnamese people

Dog Friendly:  only if you want them cooked

When to Go:  lunch

What to Order for the First Timer:  Baguette House

Baguette House - Austin, TX

I went to Chinatown for a Vietnamese sandwich.

Does that make me racist?

No.  Because they set up shop there, blurring the lines themselves and perpetuating ignorant stereotypes that all Asians are, and cook, the same.  They're not and they don't, but I don't really care because it's all  really good.  

Baguette House is worth the drive.  

This place, as the name would suggest, has some of the best bread I've ever had, as if a little Vietnamese man bedded a talented French baker, resulting in something both the Vietnamese (Chinese?) and French would be jealous of.  Incredibly soft, with a thin and crisp, but not too tough or chewy, outer layer, which is absolutely perfect for a sandwich, or to eat by itself or as a side for any meal.  The nice thing here too is that though not on the menu, you can buy this bread to take home.  

You'd be a fool though not to get a sandwich while you're there.  They're incredible, perfectly sized for lunch, and around $3 each, a steal.  

Let's start with Chinatown though.  Forget all you know about hanging chickens, smelly fruits, and eyeballs, this is a Chinatown of the 21st century, a master-planned, newly built strip center with all of the authenticness of a real Chinatown without the scary feel of dismembered eyeballs and dried mystery meats staring you in the face and stinging your nostrils with a "dear God, what the hell is that, turn and run" sort of olfactory violation.  Gringos, fear not what Baguette House can do to you, fear what you miss by not going.

Baguette House is a sparkling new sandwich shop which has a cleaner feel than any sandwich chain you've ever been in, and serves up some incredible Vietnamese sandwiches.  I opted to give two of them a shot while I was there, namely to amortize the $9.80 round-trip, IRS milage-based cost of this nine mile each way drive over a couple of meals, and also because I couldn't decide what to get.  

First up, meatball sandwich.  

No balls here, just an incredible flavorful and moist combination of ground pork and spices, topped with fresh cilantro, jalapenos, carrots and onions, with some sort of mayonnaise-like sauce binding it all together.  The quality of the bread here completes the sandwich.  Where as many places may use a baguette with a little more tooth to it, causing the contents of the sandwich to squeeze out the back, Baguette House's tears away easily leaving every bite a perfect combination of all ingredients.  I'll be back for this one.

Second, the grilled bbq pork sandwich.

Signature bright red grilled and sliced pork, with the same toppings and bread as the meatball sandwich, this was good, but not as good as the meatball.  The pork was very mild, and lacked the great flavor of the meatball, but was tender with a nice grilled flavor, and easy to eat.  

Staff here is incredibly friendly, and very interested in what a six foot white guy thinks of their sandwiches, and helps to put anyone without a clue of what a menu item is at ease and comfortable in their order.  

This place is a little bit of a trek from downtown, but well worth the drive for a good, cheap lunch fix.  


Atmosphere:  clean, Panera-like sandwich shop in a corner spot of a strip mall, good place for dine-in or take-away, great spot for lunch

Food:  Vietnamese sandwiches, bread

Crowd:  real Vietnamese people, real Chinese people (so you know it's good), white folk, businessmen, rickshaw drivers

Dog Friendly:  no

Time to Go:  lunch

What to Order for the First Timer:  meatball sandwich


Porcini Crusted New York Strip with Creamed Spinach

Great rub for a steak, which I highly recommend, courtesy of Mario Batali.  Secret though is to cook the steak over really high heat to get a great char and caramelization of the sugar on the outside of the steak.  And remember the key to any steak...DO NOT CUT INTO IT UNTIL IT'S RESTED!  So take it off the grill before it's done, put it on a plate, tent it with some aluminum foil and let it sit so that the juices spread throughout and finish cooking it.

For the rub, grind a 1/4 cup of dried porcini mushrooms into a powder, then mix together with 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp each of red pepper flakes, fresh ground pepper, and salt, and four or five minced garlic cloves.  Add enough oil to make it into a nice paste, and spread it on the steaks, wrap it in plastic and let it sit in the fridge for as long as you can, preferably overnight.  Take that slab of meat out about an hour before you're ready to cook and let it get back up to room temperature.  Fire up your grill and once hot, put the steak over the hottest part of it, and for an inch and half thick cut or so, let it cook on one side for five minutes, then flip and finish for another four.  Don't worry about flare ups, I welcome them, and with the short amount of time you're cooking, it should give them a perfect char without burning the crap out of them.  Let it rest ten to fifteen minutes before slicing and serving.

For the spinach, sauteed a little chopped onion in a couple of tablespoons of butter, then added a couple of tablespoons of flour and stirred and cooked to make a light roux before adding some half and half, frozen drained spinach and ground nutmeg.

It was good.

Quick Dinner

Sausage and Peppers

Simple and good, the secret is a splash of red wine vinegar as you're cooking the peppers.  I cheated and didn't make my own sausages, but used one sweet italian sausage and one hot lamb italian sausage from Whole Foods.  Browned those in olive oil, then took out and added sliced onion, red pepper and green pepper to the pan and got them a little browned before slicing and adding back the sausage and giving it a splash of red wine vinegar, cooking until it looks good.

Last Sunday's Dinner

Red Chile Pork Tacos with Poblano Rice

This was a good cold weather meal, and for the spice averse, though this is made with chiles, it's not really all that spicy, just a good, earthy flavor.

For the pork I used a four pound bone in shoulder.  First though, stemmed and seeded four or five guajillo chiles and a few ancho chiles and reconstituted them in hot water for thirty minutes or so.  Once that is done, put the chiles and a little less than a cup of the liquid in a food processor, with a pinch or so of each of marjoram, thyme, oregano, ground cloves, and allspice, a couple of bay leaves a splash of cider vinegar, half of an onion chopped, and three or four garlic cloves and blend into a paste.  Heat up some olive oil in a dutch oven and when it'll sizzle, add the paste and cook for about five minutes until it thickens and begins to darken.  Take off the heat and throw the shoulder in, turning it to cover it with the paste, add a little water, cover it and throw it into a 325 degree oven for three hours or so.  Let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes outside of the oven before you pull it.  Then serve it on tortillas with a little bowl of drippings on the side to dip it in.

I sliced some radishes and romaine to eat as either a salad or as garnish on the tacos, which I'd recommend doing at least with the radishes, it was a good combination.  I did a simple dressing of a teaspoon of dijon, salt, pepper, a tablespoon of lime juice, four tablespoons of olive oil, and some chopped cilantro for the salad.

Poblano Rice:  this is awesome if you like cilantro.  Chop up a couple of poblanos, and simmer in two cups of chicken broth until they're soft.  Put all of that in a food processor with a whole bunch of cilantro and blend it into a puree.  Then chop an onion and saute in olive oil in a pot, and after it gets a little soft, add a cup of rice and a coupld of chopped garlic cloves, and cook over medium until the rice gets a little chalky, but don't let anything brown.  Add the poblano cilantro liquid after that, cover and simmer until it's done.  

Last Week's Dinner

Goulash Soup

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Irish Eyes

Had a chance to hang out with some friends in from Dublin last weekend, and pondered the following...

Q:  What happens when you give an Irishman a liquor that's not whiskey?



Friday, November 11, 2011

NeWorlDeli - Austin, TX

I think I've found Austin's best Reuben...

Tender corned beef stacked high with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing on the lightest rye bread you'll ever have, crispy on the outside, really soft everywhere else.  Served with a dill pickle.

What more could you want?

I won't ruin it with words.


Atmosphere:  deli

Food:  sandwiches

Crowd:  lunchers

Dog Friendly:  no

When to Go:  lunch

What or Order for the First Timer:  Reuben

Wednesday's Dinner

Black Pepper Crusted Chicken with Gorgonzola Fettucini

No, it's not burnt.  That's pepper, and lots of it.  Marinate a couple of whole chicken legs in half a cup of milk, tablespoon of lemon juice, two tablespoons of fresh ground black pepper, a tablespoon of fresh ground fennel seed, a little red pepper flakes, a couple tablespoons of chipotle Tabasco sauce, and a little salt, then sear both sides on the grill and cook for 25-30 minutes over indirect heat after pouring the remaining marinade on the chicken.

I used homemade fettucini for the pasta, but anything from the store will work.  Saute some mushrooms and garlic clove in butter, then add a chopped tomato without the seeds.  Whisk in a quarter or third of a cup of milk as well as some gorgonzola and simmer for a few minutes until it thickens a little, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook the pasta, throw it in a big bowl with the sauce, add some more gorgonzola and some parmigiana, then while you're stirring that really hard, crack an egg into it and stir until it's creamy.

Last Night's Dinner

Cucumber Salad and Veal Soup

Pretty easy on this one.  Thinly slice cucumber, put in a colander with some salt and let drain for an hour or so.  Then season with white pepper, chopped chives, equal parts water and vinegar, and a little sugar to taste.  Let marinate for a while then top with sour cream and paprika.

The soup is one of my favorites from a little European restaurant back home in Indiana.  Chop an onion, two carrots, and a celery stalk, add that and a small jar of drained pimentos to a pan and saute in butter until soft.  Add some veal shoulder or stew meat chopped up into little half inch pieces or so and saute until brown, then drain, add a half teaspoon each or so of dried thyme, dried marjoram, and ground nutmeg, a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and six cups or so of beef broth (I made my own by browning marrow bones, oxtail, and an onion then added red wine and cooked down then simmered with water for a few hours).  Bring to a boil and let simmer for around an hour.  After that scramble two eggs and slowly add some of the soup to it, then take that, and half the remaining soup, and pulse in a blender to chop everything up a bit.  Stir that back into the remaining soup with a couple more tablespoons of butter and some more chopped parsley, off the heat, and serve with hot french bread and sour cream if you want.

Texas Honey Ham Company

Do you ever long for those leftover ham sandwiches in the weeks following Easter and Christmas, but find that fifty weeks out of the year don't have a religious holiday that justifies you cooking four times the quantity of food that any normal person should?

Then folks, Texas Honey Ham Company is for you.

I know, I know, this place is a little flashy for a sandwich shop, but try to see through all the pomp and circumstance and see that this place is THE place to go for a hand-carved sandwich that makes you feel like you're in the comfort of your childhood home.

Several different sandwich options here, based mainly on ham and turkey, and I opted for their signature sandwich, The Choice Slice Sandwich.

A third of a pound of carved, cooked ham, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, dirty mustard, and mayo on a toasted fresh baked bun.  Wow, this was great.  The ham tasted just like a holiday ham cut right from the bone, tender and juicy, the lettuce and onion provided a crisp crunch, and the sweet-side mustard brought it all together on a really, really good, soft bun.

The baked potato casserole you see to the side of it I could do without on my next trip.  Really nothing more than lumpy mashed red potatoes with nearly undetectable traces of bacon and onion.  Remember though, you're here for the sandwich.  Get some chips.


Atmosphere:  homey, neighborhoody, great for a lunch meeting, family friendly, carryout

Food:  ham and turkey sandwiches, soups and salads

Crowd:  families, neighbors, hotmoms, businessmen

Dog Friendly:  yes, at a few outside tables

When to Go:  lunch

What to Order for the First Timer:  The Choice Slice Sandwich or the Club