Sunday, January 22, 2012

Carl's Jr. - Austin, TX

Pressed for time this afternoon, I made my maiden voyage to the Carl's Jr. drive-thru.  Yes, I promise I won't review too many fast food places, as most opinions have long since been formed, and it's generally not interesting, but I felt compelled to review this one for a few reasons:

1.  Carl's Jr. is quite easily the dumbest name I've ever heard for a restaurant, no offense to Carl or his dad.

2.  A Hardee's Mushroom & Swiss loyalist (I'm from the midwest) as a kid, this was my first visit to it's twin brother.

3.  They've brought Pulp Fiction's Big Kahuna Burger to the real world, and to the lucky residents of Westlake.

And because everything is funnier in German...


Cleverly disguised as the Teriyaki Burger, we all know what this is.


Chargrilled beef, grilled pineapple, Swiss (the fake kind) cheese, tomato, red onion and mayonnaise.  Yep, Sammy Jack's favorite, the Big Kahuna Burger.  Worthy of a tasty beverage to WASH down this tasty burger.

I opted to go without lettuce, according to the picture menu it looked like the wilted green variety that certainly wouldn't make the drive, and I'd recommend you do the same.

This thing was actually really good, though you'd better be ready for the sweet tang of teriyaki sauce.  Now I've never been to a Carl's Jr., but they do a good burger.  It's actually got flavor, a nice chargrilled flavor at that, without that sickly gassy flavor that other fast food joints have, though I won't say who.

Anyway, in addition to the beef, the sauce was pretty good, and onion was perfect to cut the sweet of both it and the pineapple, as well as add a much needed texture to an otherwise very soft (and that's a good thing) sandwich.

Decent fast food if your'e in the mood for fast food.


It's fast food, I'm not going to bother with this.

Dinner for the In-Laws

Chicken Vesuvio

Fettucini Alfredo

Butter Leaf Salad with the World's Simplest and Greatest Salad Dressing

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Last Night's Dinner

Pittsburgh Style New York Strip with Shallot-Thyme Butter

With simple Italian macaroni and cheese and sauteed spinach.

Last Saturday's Dinner

Veal Scallopini with Dijon Sauce, baby spinach with butter and white wine, and penne with butter, pecorino romano, and black pepper.

Sunday Dinner

Sunday Gravy

Spaghetti, meatballs, sausage, braciole, and short ribs

Marinated and fried italian peppers and onions

Garlic Bread

Game Night

Homemade Buffalo Wings

Marinated the wings in a combination of Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce, and a little bit each of chili powder, hot paprika, hot smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, and salt.  Drain and dry, and deep fry for ten minutes at 350.  Combine equal parts butter, Louisiana hot sauce, and salt, heat up to combine and toss the fried wings in them before serving.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Texas Honey Ham Company - Austin, TX


Reviewed this one already...

...but stopped in for breakfast yesterday after hearing their breakfast tacos were no joke.

Their breakfast tacos were no joke.

Sausage and egg, bacon and egg, baked potato hash and egg, and ham, egg and serranos.

All were very good...but let me sidestep here and say that just watching the guy working the morning shift on the flattop yesterday was like watching an artist with a canvas.  Eggs handled right hand only...crack, split, tossed...yes tossed (his range was about two and half feet) to the appropriate part of the griddle in the same swoop that delivered the shell to the trash.  His work with the spatulas (two of them simultaneously) puts him one rice volcano and a shrimp flip shy of the great Benny Hanna, and has me thinking his chopstick skills might rival Miyagi.

That said, back to the tacos.  All were good, the eggs being that half scrambled variety that though properly chopped together with the rest of the ingredients, leave you with a few really nice yolk bites and some texture.  The meat, all good, though there is no chorizo on the menu and the sausage, while nice, was fairly bland.  Ham was their signature ham, nicely chunked and sweet and salty at the same time.  Bacon, not over crisp, but not chewy.  Perfect consistency to be cut into the egg.  Potatoes were a nice change from a hash brown, darker in color and a little deeper in flavor, though I couldn't exactly put my finger on what they had done to them.  Tortillas were soft, and nicely wrapped in foil perfect for eating in the car if you needed to, and the salsa was homemade and fresh, on the mild side, but perfectly complementary of the tacos, not overpowering in flavor nor heat.  My recommendation if you're into heat in the morning is to adjust it using peppers.  Mild:  just use the salsa.  Medium:  get fresh jalapenos cut into your taco.  Hot:  same but with the serranos.  Just enough heat to make it hum, but not enough to cause you to turn back around on your way to work.

So, my order of preference of these things:

1.  Ham, egg, serrano
2.  Bacon and egg
3.  Baked potato hash and egg
4.  Sausage and egg

Alphabetical order of these things:

1.  Bacon and egg
2.  Baked potato hash and egg
3.  Ham, egg, serrano
4.  Sausage and egg

Front to back on the pig:

1.  Baked potato hash and egg (they'll eat anything, and trust me you want the way in, not out)
2.  Sausage and egg
3.  Bacon and egg
4.  Ham and egg

Right aligned, reverse alphabetical by ninth to last character, spaces being before A and punctuation being after Z:

1.  Ham, egg, serrano
2.  Bacon and egg
3.  Baked potato hash and egg
4.  Sausage and egg

Now, all that said, this is a mix and match place.   I'm a heat and freshness guy, so will opt for the serranos on whatever I get next, and though I do love the front part of the pig, I'll probably pass on the sausage and stick to ham and bacon.

Maybe I'll add some cheese to complete the trifecta...


Check out the prior review.

Friday Night Dinner

Thank you Rick Bayless for tonight's meal.  Tested out a few recipes, with minor modifications, from Rick Bayless's: Mexico, One Plate at a Time.

First up, seared steak tacos with blistered serranos and browned onions.

But I'll admit, I did mix and match a bit, but feel that Rick would approve, as he's incredible about including recommended variations in his cookbooks, though I didn't use that as a guide here.

Marinated the beef in the marinade for his "grilled skirt steak tacos", using skirt steak, left at room temperature in a blended mixture of white onion, garlic, cumin, lime juice and salt, which I then seared for a couple of minutes on each side in a really hot pan.  

In a nod to one of my favorite italian meals, sausage and peppers, I substituted a mix of jalapenos and poblanos (for the sensitive stomach of MLWMG), and sauteed them with some slice white onion until a nice caramelization was evident, then spashed with salt and lime, cooking for a minute more before serving alongside the steak.

Served these with warm flour tortillas and Rick's guajillo chile salsa, one of my favorites, with a side of black beans, simply made with chopped onion, epazote, and a touch of cumin and salt.

And then I went rogue.  No Rick here.  After finding some really good looking parsnips at the store, I decided to make some parsnip pancakes.

Shredded parsnips, an egg, a little flour, a pinch of Mexican oregano, a chopped jalapeno, minced garlic, a little toasted cumin, salt and pepper, formed into patties and pan-fried until brown, finishing in the oven for fifteen minutes or so.  Crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and really good with a little sour cream and alongside the tacos.  No disrespect to Rick, his tacos were incredible, but these could have been the best thing on the plate.  

Thanks Rick.