Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's an Honor Just Being Nominated.

Ha. I got an email from my friend Mindy yesterday, informing me that I was the subject of a Craigslist missed connection.

wheatsville johnny - w4m (not austin anymore)

i used to come in for munchies with my obnoxious ex-boyfriend that i could tell you wanted to strangle. i've moved far away but just wanted to throw out that goddamn i had the biggest crush on you. as does probably ever other shopper, women, men,
babies, puppies and kittens, sunflowers...anyway. you have really good energy. peace

Sunflowers? This could be anyone. The strangling seems a bit harsh, and may reflect poorly of my customer service skills...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Swad Redux

Okay. C-LaB and I reprised our trip up to Swad this evening, and it was everything that I hoped it could be. First off, we got there via the #1 -- which is an adventure all to its self at 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night -- and it was standing room only when we got on at 38th and Guadalupe.

After a some musical straps and seats we were seated together and discussing the prospects of responsible urban renewal and development. We exited the bus at Lamar and Rutland and made our way over to the strip mall that houses this little gem.

This time we skipped the pakora, samosas and naan, and got the mysore dosa instead. I had seen a dosa being delivered to a table the last time we ate here and recalled that they were fucking huge; we were not disappointed. 

It was absolutely delicious. The crepe was perfectly cooked, and the potato filling --which is much like that of a samosa -- was just spicy enough to excite and entice my palate. 

We both ordered the Thali again. The selection was different this time though, and that alone makes me want to keep ordering it on future trips. 

The Thali had some veg korma, a nice potato and okra dish, a veg mix that was reminiscent of slaw, rasam, honey dipped fried pastries, basmati rice, a yogurt curry that I don't know the name of, some curried chickpeas, riata, and pickle. Oh, and I can't for get the fried breads. Poori, some type of idli, and some cracker bread. 

It never had a chance. 

This place is a hidden gem. After tonight, I'm certain that I prefer Swad to all other Indian joints I've been to in Austin, and I will also say that it is the best vegetarian food I've eaten in Austin, hands down.  If you love Indian cuisine, I strongly recommend Swad. 

Did I Really...?

I awoke this morning to see a pale green bowl with a fork sitting in it on the table next to me. I had slept on the couch -- which I do at least once a week -- and had eaten the worst thing possible before going to sleep, about eight ounces of ganache. Straight ganache

I'm glad I brushed my teeth before bed. What the hell was I thinking?

On other fronts, I have managed to watch all four seasons of Top Chef in about three weeks. That's roughly fifty six hours devoted to food porn. The bad thing is, now when  a new season airs I'll have to watch it week to week! Damn it! 

I'm going to be fasting for ten days starting the first. I'll keep everyone posted. I'm sure I'll be missing food pretty quickly.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bun B at the Parish

Friday night I went to a really solid show. I like gangsta rap, particularly stuff from the Dirty South. Being a Southerner I have to keep it 100 and rep for the South, sayin'? I was stoked to find out a few weeks back that the surviving member of Port Arthur's ground breaking rap group, UGK, was going to be playing at the Parish.

Bun B -- or Bernard Freeman -- is a living legend. Back in December when his partner and best friend Chad "Pimp C" Butler died in his sleep at age 33, a lot of people thought that would be the end. Instead, Bun B has since come out with a great album, II Trill, and is working on a post humus UGK release that was being produced when Pimp died, due out next Spring.

I went and saw the last Bun B show at Emo's and it was great. He is a real showman, and is hard as fuck. This event was way different, and I must say, my mind was blown. This show was part of the Scion Presents series, and was free(!) if you RSVP'd on their website.

After a less than stellar dining experience -- which I'll post about when I have more time -- we made our way over to the Parish. After a decent DJ set -- that was really more like a best of Hip-Hop set -- a great funk band named Orgone came on stage and played a very tight and energetic set. Some great covers were thrown in, such as "Lifted" and "Ain't No Use," which the bands female lead vocalist nailed.

After they finished their set, we got some drinks and got settled. We were confused when the band took the stage again. I didn't think opening acts did two sets? After a few seconds I figured out that we were in store for a treat. The MC came back out -- he was about 4'8" and named Freak Nasty -- and introduced Bun B.

NO WAY. A gangsta rapper with a live backing funk band. This was going to be the shit, and it was. He was on fire and so was the band. Bun B seemed to really be feeling it, and let everyone know it. Of course, he gave mad props to Pimp C several times throughout the show, and took it old school by playing some of UGK's earlier hits like "Pocket Full of Stones," and "One Day." The show blew my mind; I'd never seen such a high energy hip-hop show.

The band and Bun encored with "International Players Anthem," with the female vocalist doing the Willie Hutch "whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh, I choose you, baby" parts nearly bringing the entire venue down to rubble. Funkin' A.

Stay Trill.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Stopping the British Invasion, One Plate at a Time

For the past five weeks, my best friend's girlfriend has been in the States visiting from England. They spent some time on the road, driving up to Toronto and Michigan to visit each other's families. They even brought me back some out of state beer.

Sian, my bf's gf, fancies herself to be an eater, so we have something in common,which is a good thing. Two of her friends flew across the pond, timimg their Amtrak voyage across the Colonies to correspond with Sian's trip. When Vicky and Liz showed up, it was entertainment time. We went out several nights in a row, sampling decadent menu's and drinking copious amounts of wine. 

I took the chance to do a little reviewing. I love to eat. I love trying new things, and new places. I love daring and confident Chefs preparing good, clean, solidly executed food. I love wine. I had fun. 

We really covered some bases in our little Austin culinary romp, including a five course homecooked meal at my house. I hope your ready, get comfy, get your drool cups, and enjoy the food porn.

Spanish tapas bar eh? Sounds good. Cory, Sian, and I had planned on taking the girls here, yet a lost passport caused some concern. I little assertion, and a phone call later we were in business and our fears of denied entry were assuaged. 

We were catching Malaga in an interesting time of transition. They were going to be vacating the current premises on Fourth Street for a new facility in the burgeoning Second St. District. This meant that they couldn't move with there inventoried booze, including a shit-ton of wine. 

What this meant for us as customers was that the by the glass selection would actually be something a little better than what was stated on the menu. Sweet. I went for a nice Malbec, and stayed there. I felt that this was the right red to compliment the Spanish influence of the food. We went a little crazy. 

We ordered fourteen of the twenty things on the menu. Most of them were great. There were a few homeruns, and a few that were just meh. Olives are hard to fuck up, so they were nice and salty. Some of the items that really stood out were the Corduro Cacereno, marinated seared New Zealand lamb with a nice curry aioli, Calamares Rebozados, unreal calamari cooked to perfection (falling apart like butter in the mouth!), and the Viuras Serrano, a spanish take on a classic scallop dish -- grilled diver scallops wrapped in serrano ham. 

These dishes were great. We ordered the lamb as  an afterthought, and it trumped everything from our first round of selections.  The scallops were a highlight for me, perfectly cooked, great texture, and of course the serrano ham. I'd eat any thing, shoe, crap, whatever -- as long as it was wrapped in some type of pork product. These were worth going back for. And then there was the calamari. I've eaten my fare share of calamari, and generally can gauge the quality of an establishment from this simple dish. If you can't use your fryer, go home. This was the best, calamari I've eaten in Austin -- period.  I finished the meal with some nice Armagnac, I wanted coffee, but it had already been moved to the location.

The service was great (our server was a Wheatsvillian) and the atmosphere was very warm and casual. I am eager to see what they do with a new space. My only real criticism of Malaga was the aioli happy menu. I really think that they could be a little more creative than a dozen types of aioli as sauces for these great menu items.

Okay. So... If you are an long time reader of my blog, than you may know how much I love this restaurant, and how frequently I go there. If your a newb around here, let it be known that Hudson's is my jam. 

Many of my core group of friends work, or have worked at Hudson's. There are people I've known fro over twenty-five years working there. I'm a groupie. I never worked there. I worked next door at the Hill Country Pasta House, and down the street at the Iguana Grill, but never there. I don't know why, shit, I could still go work there if I wanted to, I suppose. I grew up with most of the staff, have known the owner since the eighties, and have eaten the food from there as leftovers brought home by roommates for over a decade. 

That being said, culinarily speaking, Hudson's has been somewhat of an inspiration on my own cooking. This is not to say that I have the same style, but rather an understanding of the concepts behind the menu, and it's execution. Growing up, my family ate game. We hunted, ate roadkill, what ever. Dove, quail, all types of venison -- deer, elk, antelope -- wild boar, and Texas sea food were things that I loved to eat growing up. As an adult with a more refined palate and a quest for good gourmand food, these are ingredients that I enjoy to use for my own guests. 

Also, and this a big plus, we're IN at Hudson's. The servers, bussers, managers and cooks are friends. Getting VIP treatment at the best restaurant in Austin will make you a believer every time. That evening we'd be six for dinner, with Tim as our waiter.

We got a nice table on the patio. The dining room was full, and it was near the end of a busy service. All the usual suspects were there: Gray, Kevin, Bobby, Dave, Tim, Brad, James, Blake, and even Oscar. Cory was working the amuse shift, and joined us when he was finished. Sara came and sat with us, and choose a sampling of starters for us as our amuse arrived.
Our amuse bouche was a shot of a cantaloupe soup with a hot and crunchy shrimp. It was a nice contrast of texture and flavors. There was a hint of coconut in the shrimp that really complimented the cool flavors of the melon.

Some of us wanted things that she didn't order for us, but I was down -- there was fois gras coming -- so I couldn't complain. I love fois, and they do a nice job with it. Seared on a strawberry shortcake with a zinfadel reduction. Yum. We also got the tuna tartar, and softshell crab. The tartar was great, but it was tuna tartar. I really liked the texture of the softshell crab. 

I was having a hard time choosing a main course. I wanted to go for the pork chop, but was in the mood for something lighter. I ended up choosing the Guajillo  #1 Ahi tuna topped with a seared diver scallop, shrimp, lump crab, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and smoked red pepper sauce. It was nicely done. My tuna was just how I liked it, but I felt it was upstaged by the diver scallop. 

Maybe I'm just a sucker for good scallops. When they are perfect, they are a hard thing to beat, and I was two for two for perfect scallops that weekend. I was having a really hard time getting any pictures to turn out in the low lighting, and stopped trying after a while. Everyone's food looked beautiful and tasted great. Liz's lavender encrusted lamb chops were phenomenal; cooked perfectly, with an awesome peach beurre blanc (which they had changed from the prickly pear beurre blanc that was served with the dish back in May.). The watermelon infused pork chop slammed, and really just hit home with it's flavors. 

I don't know how, but we all ordered a dessert. I got the strawberry short cake, and to my dismay, ate the whole fucking thing! Kelly, one the chefs came out to socialize. She approached saying, "Which one of you is Johnny?"

She told be that she had be hearing about me for years, had eaten my food, and wanted to meet me. I was flattered, and honored. We all sat and chatted for a while, finished up our wine, and drove back into Austin full and content.

After a long day tubing the river, we were in need of sustenance. Cory suggested Polvo's. The five of us went down there after a brief stop, and got a nice patio table. Unfortunately we weren't fully covered by the awning. When it started raining, this presented itself to be a problem. The staff seem, well, confused that we wanted to move under the awning, and had a really difficult time grasping how to make our request happen. 

Eventually we just got up and moved to another table on our own volition. It was cool. The food was decent. My tamales were great, but the enchiladas were just enchiladas, and weren't vert memorable. All in all, this place had tough shoes to fill, and just fell short. The service was the deal breaker, and our little dude just didn't care. So be it. 

The most disappointing thing about this trip was that I was going to bring my tamales to work for lunch the next day and due to an error, I failed. I was leaving. I was out the door, locking it up, and the cat runs up the stairs. Shit. I set down my lunch on the railing, opened the door and fed the cat before heading off to work. About an hour after getting there I realized, "Oh fuck. I left the tamales on the porch!" When I got home they were covered in ants, and ruined. Whaaa.

Our Dinner
I'm going to admit right up front, that I was intimidated to cook a big meal after the two great meals we'd eaten as a group at Malaga and Hudson's. I let that intimidation be the guide, and went for a solid menu for our five course dinner. 

I finished the menu planning on my break after checking out what we had fresh that day. Some great mahi, and some nice produce completed some of my thoughts from the night before. I shopped after my shift. Cory was my sous chef for the night, and was cleaning up my house when I arrived. We went over to Central Market for a few ingredients and some wine. We choose a few nice bottles from styles that I had worked the courses around. 

We got back to my place, and got to work. I lined Cory out on a nice prep path, and he did a great job doing exactly what I wanted him to do, giving me the end results that I needed to work with.

Wines for the night: Villa Marsetti Pinot Grigio, Toad Hollow Chardonnay, Zolo Malbec, Cloudline Pinot Noir, Home Rance Zinfandel.

I wanted to play with the tapas idea, and went there for a first course. I brined some lamb loin chops and started to prep for the shrimp and mahi ceviche. Cory worked on a homemade cherry fennel pork sausage from ground pork that Butler had been kind enough to do at work earlier. The sausage turned out just how I'd wanted it -- good job Cory, if that whole lawyer thing doesn't work out, you may have a future in sausage making! 

The first course consisted a few tapas: pan seared lamb loin chop, with crimini mushrooms and pan jus, a simple mix of  country olives, mahi and shirmp jalepeno shrimp ceviche with a crostini, and crimini caps stuffed with cherry fennel pork sausage topped with a little smoked basils cheese.

We enjoyed the Villa Marsetti Pinot Grigio with this course. Cory and I were going to be enjoying the courses before heading back to fire the next. Things were going smoothly and the first course was really well done. The favorite was definitely the ceviche. It was nicely spiced, and the citrus really did a great job highlighting the flavors of the seafood.

After we finished our wine, it was back to the kitchen for the second course. This was a very light course, and a last minute change had us pairing it with a different wine than we'd originally planned. It was a fish course, and we were going to go for the chardonnay, but we agreed that with the right kind of sauce we could compliment the fatty butterfish with the Coudline Pinot Noir. It was risky, but we pulled it off. 

The second course was a fish course consisting of butterfish (sablefish, or black cod - which is sustainable and fucking delicious) with a raspberry single malt puree and a mixed green salad topped with hemp seeds and heirloom cherry tomatoes with a strawberry kombucha hemp vinaigrette on top of mariposa pluots. 

The raspberries were tart and really worked well with the pinot and the butterfish. The acid from the kombucha went great with the nutty flavor of the hemp oil. This was by far the healthiest dish of the night. The butterfish  has a crazy amount of omega 3's DHA and EPA, and is low in dioxins and mercury. There were also a ton of omega's in the hemp in the dressing, and using kombucha as the acid was also a nice play on some health food.

Next up was the heaviest portion of the meal, the beef course. I did a duo of beef, and wanted to go for two very different but complimentary flavors and textures of beef. I'd picked up some nice meat from the meat case that day; New York strip, and petite sirloin. I braised the sirloin in beer and sherry with tons of shallots, mushroom stalks and leeks.

The strip got seared in a nice hot pan with a little salt, pepper, and coriander. This was going to be paired with the Zolo Malbec, which worked out nicely.

We've had some really nice local green chiles for the past few weeks so we roasted some, and made a creamy mash with them to go with the duo. Now, I don't really like towers of food, yet in this case it worked well with the family style plate up, and sauce table service. 

Here we have the crustacean cream sauce for the strip. 

And here we have a nice thyme pan reduction for the braised beef.

"Oh, we couldn't possibly eat any more," said the Brits. Yeah right. The fourth course was a cheese and salumi plate that would get us read for dessert.

Here we have some local Pure Luck Del Cielo goat brie with some raspberry puree, local Veldhuizen Raw Milk Texas Star, Ibores, some organic black grapes, organic mission figs with balsalmic reduction, two types of salami, and pancetta paired with Toad Hollow Chardonnay.

It all got eaten before we moved onto dessert. I had made some ganache earlier, and have been toying with the idea of a ganache and stroopwaffle candy bar that I came up with in a dream. I wasn't going to venture into that territory yet, but wanted to test that flavor combination.

We dipped stroopwaffles in ganache and made a nice maple ginger marscapone cream. Topped that off with some fresh berries, dark chocolate and raspberry puree. This dish didn't present itself as nicely as I'd have liked. Humidity and ganache are not friends.

This paired nicely with the Home Ranch Zinfandel which was being served by Tim, our friend and waiter from Hudson's. 

He brought some great wine with him that we finished the night off with -- Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon. It was great. 

After all that food, and all that wine, few could move. We lounged, chatted, drank, some removed belts. It was a good night, with great food, great wine, and great friends. It's night's like that remind why I do all the things I do -- from selling food, eating well, and preparing food -- it's that sense of pleasure that can only be gained by pleasing others. That selfless joy of cooking someone the best meal they've eaten in a long time, and having a great time doing it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wheats Skate Party

Ah. The many joys of cooperation. This past Thursday, we had a work skate party over at Play Land. This fancy shindig was arranged by the fine folks on our Communication Team, and a damn fine job they did in organizing everything.

First off, I don't skate. I grew up on a dirt road, I never skated, rollerbladed, or rode a skate board. I have skated, on ice even, but I would not go as far as to say that I skate well. I do, however, fall well. That old adage -- The bigger they are the harder they fall. -- is very true. I'm like 6'1" and 240 some odd pounds of hair and flesh. It hurts to fall.

That day at work everyone was asking each other about going to the party, and whether or not you where going to skate if you did. My response: "Johnny doesn't skate." The ride to the rink was hilarious and nearly a highlight to the whole event. Soutter drove us in his giant fucking van, and our crew was motley. Shane, Capi, Theron, Soutter, Ray, and I packed up the cooler with Dale's Pale Ale, and bottled water. Ray was in store for some great dude humor, with expletives and deep heavy referential comedy. She was a trooper, though, and seemed to come away unscathed.

Once at the rink, there were already some skaters skating, and since the rink was rented out just to us, they were friendlies. There was some vegan pizza, but we were told that more pizza would be coming, so don't hog the goods if you weren't vegan. Since I'm not vegan, I waited. 

I was not let down either. The Boot and her ladyfriend brought in a butt load of huge pizzas from a place called Rounders. It was the shit. I will definitely be going there soon.

There were good times to be had. After few Dale's, I was coaxed into donning the skates. Shane, who is one of the damn finest human beings I've had the pleasure of meeting, was doing it, and he gave me the whole, "If I'm doing it, you can do it too." thing.

Which was true. I sucked. It took about twenty minutes to get around the rink, and I fell on my ass, hard as hell, hurting my shoulder in the process (which wasn't noticed at the time, but has only gotten worse over the past week. 

Conti seemed be enjoying himself, stopping seem to be an issue, but what ev's. He came to work with an ACE™ bandage on his wrist. He also was the subject of a photograph that very nearly resembled the classic Sasquatch photograph. Blurry, arm extended and hirsuite. This is not that picture.

I hope to see more events like this in the future. Those Wheaties need this type of decompression. Working in a grocery store is a very interesting thing. It has been six years since I started at the Co-op, and I love it more all the time. I know that many of my co-workers find the constant customer service to be stressful at times, even if they really enjoy it, so some downtime to hang out with other workers in a social setting is rewarding and empowering. 

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bloggin' Town

So. Austin seems to be the hotspot for bloggers and blog-readers. The stats? 15% of adults in Austin have contributed to or read a blog in the last 30 days. Crazy.

I'm now hooked on Top Chef. That show is ridiculous, and absorbing. I actually watched eight episodes in a row last night (instead of doing dishes...), and found my self full of fear and loathing. Fear that the people that had integrity and skills would lose due to some stupid formality, and loathing aimed at some of the scumbags and douche bags whose egos get in the way of the good.

On a TV related note (not about the Olympics), I have successfully gotten my buddy Ryan into Twin Peaks. We are nearly halfway through the second season. He is like the fifth person I've really gotten into the Peaks, and the second Ryan... "You wanna play with fire little boy?"

We're going to watch a few tonight. I plan on getting him through the most insane shit of the show, the revelation of Laura's killer. Who dun it? I know who, and you may too. Oh, it is too good. I really can't believe -- and I've watched the whole series about five times -- that a show like that could have ever been on network television. I don't think that shit would fly today.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Here we go again...

Another month descends into the Abyss. Weeks pass like days. I need just a few more hours a day, maybe four. I don't think I can swing that myself, so fuck it.

Here we are on the maiden voyage of this blog. I hope you are enjoying the complimentary champagne. I'm being unnecessarily lazy. I have plenty of things to do, but little to no motivation to do them. This includes eating, dishes, and laundry. This is not an uncommon theme in my blogs. The whole laundry/dishes thing seems to never go away; the bane of my existence. My white whale...

It's a cool 94˚ here right now. It's been hot as balls here this week. Summer in full swing in Ausitn, Texas. The high today is set for 102˚. If I wasn't feeling so lazy I'd bike down to the Springs. I can't blame the heat for my laziness today, even though a better scapegoat I cannot find, due to fact that I'm loungin' in my AC with the cat. He is straight passed the fuck out, body all contorted and shit. It's hilarious. 

I hope to work up some motivation. Not quite sure how, though. I had coffee hours ago, exercised, had some yogurt, but just don't feel ready to 'start' my day. I really need to do the laundry that I'm slacking on, and these dishes! Shit, they're the Leo Party dishes from a week ago; mostly pint glasses and tableware.  I don't even want to cook in there, for fear that I'll only make more dishes to clean. 

Cooking? Did someone say cooking? Oh, I see. This new blog, this WYSIWYG interface, this wide-open betrayal of my own privacy, will be home to many new cooking endeavors [reviews of meals, recipes, food porn, and even some restaurant reviews], so please be patient. On a separate but related topic, I am going to be applying for a food writer job for Eat and Drink Austin. I need to know a bit more info first, but would find that to be an interesting and fun use of my time, palate, and writing skills. 

Eating is even more fun than cooking, and I have been to a few places recently that definitely caught my attention, and piqued my interest enough to want to go back soon. These three places vary so much, that mentioning them in the same paragraph seems strange. Taqueria Los Altos, Swad, and La Taverna have all been recent finds that have the potential to become regular destinations for the respective cuisines they represent. 

Taqueria Los Altos, which is casually situated on  the IH-35 frontage road just North of 32nd St., is open til midnight every night. The food is traditional Mexican border food. Cheese is sparse, but grease and taste are not. They are open for breakfast, and according to a local taco blogger, serve some of the best breakfast tacos North of the river. I have eaten here about four or five times, and have not been dissatisfied with ANYTHING that I have tasted. They have some Tex-Mex fare, enchiladas and such, but the gems on the menu are the tacos, and the meats. They have offerings on the menu with lengua (tongue), and signs on the walls for menudo (tripe soup) available everyday. These are things I want to see on a menu when I go to a Mexican restuarant. 

The crispy tacos al pastor are fucking unbelievable. They use a flattop grill to fry up these stuffed taco treats. Two tortillas are necessary to keep all that greasy goodness from falling out. The insides are a playground for perfectly cooked pork, diced onion, and a gratuitous amount of cilantro. The rice and beans are far superior to most Tex-Mex joints, so even a simple taco plate is a stunning meal. The meat combination plate with pierna (roast pork leg) and barbacoa adobado left me speachless, and with enough cash in my pocket to go buy beer. 

The staff is super friendly, just don't expect everyone to speak the best English (also what I want in a good Mexican eatery). There are two sides to the dining room, and one a couple of trips, I'd say that it had that segregated feel to it. However, I just go sit with the other brown people for solidarity purps. Oh, and the food is cheap!!! I don't think that they are sacrificing quality either. 

For those who have been there, Swad is a hidden gem in the tangles of the strip mall jungle that is North Lamar. Tucked away in  a sleepy retail center at Rutland and Lamar, Swad has no flash for the experience in store for the unsuspecting visitor. My buddy C-LaB and I took the #1 up there and ate like fucking Indian Princes.

We started with a mixed pakora, and some samosas. The pakora was phenomenal, and the samosas were as dense as rocks and the size of my fists. I really like the absence of table service, and the conveniently located pitchers of water that allowed me to refill at my leisure.
Next up it was the thali. A literal smorgasbord of dishes served with rice, pickle, and sauces. The daal that came with the thali, blew my fucking head off it was so good. The texture was perfect and the flavor was off the hook. There were some nice surprises in this mix of food. There was a mellow veg korma that was silky and subtle. There was this great dish that used pigeon peas and green beans that I was in love with. The pickle was sour, and was made of something that I could quite make out. The naan and the poori (fried bread!) were perfect to soak up all the rich gravies and sauces. Oh man. I want to eat there right now! 

I topped my meal of with a well  made mango lassi, which, in combination with the pureed mango dessert that came with my thali was almost too much. All in all, the best Indian food I've had in Austin. It beats Saravar and Madras Pavillion, which I love very much.

By far the bougeiest of my trips lately, La Taverna did not disappoint. I was tired. It was the morning after a raging party at my house. I needed strong drink, and fatty food. For some fucked up reason I wanted to go to the new 2nd St. district for lunch. Sian, Cory's limey GF is in town, and I felt that this would be something she would enjoy. She, like me, loves to eat. A lot. So, they scooped me up from my house (which was resembling a set for Animal House that morning), and we headed downtown. We had no particular restaurant in mind, and started walking around. La Traverna, whose patio is like, on the sidewalk, caught our eye. 

Sian and I went inside and checked out the menu. It was brunch time. They had $1 mimosa's and bellini's . Fo' real. We decided to check it out. We were not disappointed. I ordered a mimosa, but that went down tooooo easy, so I moved onto the spicy bloody, buddy. I started the table with the tagliere, a great selection of Italian cured meats, some parm, and a wee polenta crostini topped with some red sauce. Wow. It looked like bologna but it was fucking ridiculously delicious. It may have been olive loaf, came from many animals at once, and had a texture reminiscent of my poor, dirt road childhood, but I was impressed by the stunning simplicity of the meat and cheese platter. 

For my meal, I had the fettucine frutti di mare. Yum. Scallops, clams, mussels, shrimps all over fettucine covered in a brandy crustacean cream sauce. Yes please. It slammed. I was impressed, getting a buzz and stoked to see some 'Ville co-workers walk out of the jernt. Annecy and Laura, along with lil' Sophie, were hiding inside in fear of being spotted and being called out for the yuppie scum that they may or may not be. They were going to see Dark Knight (*the shit*). Aw. 

Cory had some chicken pasta dish, and Sian went brunch wise, eggs benedict style. All were impressed. I went home and took a much deserved nap. Life is good.

Some time has passed here. It is now a sultry 98˚ in the ATX. Motivated? No. Drinking? Yes. Laundry? Soon. I'm going to go on a me date after five. This means that I will be taking myself to dinner and doing laundry simultaneously. Asti it is. This has been months in the making. I always seem to be going that way too early on the wrong days. Not tonight though. Tonight I feast. I have already planned my meal. Yum. 

Thank you for tuning into this first edition of The Life and Times of a Bearded Weirdo. More as the story unfolds.

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