Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ahem...

The new addition to Wheatsville is open. Go. Play. Rejoice.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gilded Recession pt. 4

When laughing in the face of starving millions while eating and drinking like Bacchus, it's only a matter of time until you pay the piper. I thought it would be the food police. I figured they were on to me. There was no doubt in my mind. The sad reality was that my financial state had hit critical condition. I had been having cash woes since before I flew off into the sunrise to see Phish. That weekend only exacerbated the problem. Chicken and waffles and scotch be damned. 

Decadence and depravity are to blame. I was in the hole. Leonard Cohen, bard and sage he may be, is also to blame. As is my landlord, the entire Phish organization, butter, and the byproduct of yeast and sugar. And the Dali Lama. The conspiracy runs to the top. 

People came in town. We had some drinks. Put it on my tab. We go to the thing. Parking sucks, the free whiskey sucks; the music is good. We go to parkside. I eat marrow, and raw meat. Bearded weirdos come out to revel, feast. Cheese plates and bloody marys. I fall asleep on the couch, my guests go on without me.  

Fail. 

Echo and the Bunnymen


Deceit lies at every turn.

Rillette please.

What a fluke.

Tata.

See ya tamarrow.

To make up for the economic woes and fees, we go to UCHI. For some reason everyone has gift cards, making it near impossible to give away our spare. The food is good, but doesn't live up to the hype. This has more to do with the hype than the food. The food was really good. Very high quality fish. I feel like I can't go ten feet without hearing someone mentioning Mr. Cole. He deserves some accolades, yet he slowly approaching Bob Schneider-dom. This clouds judgements. 

Me so hungry.

Maters. Panko. Green. 

End over endo.

What angry villagers use to accost those who have transgressed upon them.

There is redemption, even solace in a plate of food that costs less than three fidy a person. Thanks to staff discounts, free boxes and pantries, you made the day. What better way to fill the gap of time between poetry reading identical twins and hillbillies with animatronic-animal-rock-band-fetishes than a home cooked meal wrought with care?

Seared butterfish and blood orange gastrique with kale and herbed quinoa.
$7 for a meal for two.

Back on top, I remember the view. I find the bar, order a drink. Oh, and I'll take a white for Tyson.

Friday, March 27, 2009

For the Kids

Sausage, Fennel and Kale Risotto

Ingredients:
1/2 lb italian sausage, or what ever you prefer (I used Richardson's Family Farm), crumbled
1 1/2 cup aborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
5 1/2 cups of hot chicken stock
1/2 bunch of lacinato kale, chopped
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 medium onion, finely chopped
pinch of saffron
salt ad pepper
parsley for garnish

Method:
Cook sausage until browned; set aside. Put saffron in the white wine, and set aside. In a medium sauce pan or skillet heat oil over medium heat, add onions and cook until soft. Add fennel and cook until the onion is translulcent. Add rice, and stir to coat with oil. Cook until the rice is slightly translucent. Pull the saffron out of the wine, and add the wine to the pan. Stirring occasionally, cook until most of the wine is absorbed. Add stock one ladle at a time, allowing most of the liquid to be absorbed between additions. Continue this until the rice is tender, but still has tooth to it, stirring occasionally. Stir in sausage and kale until fully incorporated. Add butter and cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley, and more Parmesan if you desire. 

Need a new camera.

My Friend Fuligo

It was not unlike the feeling you get when reuniting with a close friend. I was surprised to see him. It had been a while; I'd nearly forgotten his face. He looked good, strong. He seem to be happy to see me too. The bad thing is he is a nuisance, harmless, but a nuisance nonetheless. He often overstays his welcome; tends to pop back up in my life at the wrong moment. He's somewhat unavoidable. Once you meet him, he's in your life forever. He seems to disappear from time to time, but you know he's around, waiting to resurface. Sometimes, he looks really bad, like dog vomit; others he looks as fresh and appealing as a warm pile of scrambled eggs. It's a shame he is such a lowlife. Slimy bastard. Dirt dweller. Well, I guess he's back. My friend. My friend Fuligo

In some ways it's like he never left.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taco Time: Most Important Meal of the Day

I own a shirt that states: I heart breakfast tacos. Of course it is supposed to read I love breakfast tacos, but in the parlance of our times heart is sufficient. This is a true statement. I do, very much, love the breakfast taco. Not the breakfast burrito, or even the sausage biscuit can compare. Being from Austin, Texas, I could rightfully assume the title of Breakfast Taco Aficionado, however, that may be a step down the path to being absorbed into the hipster rank and file. 

We could sit here and argue who makes the best breakfast taco in town, yet I tend to find such conversations pointless, therefore I will not waste more than this sentence's worth of your time on the topic. Besides, entire blogs are devoted to this, and you can go read them your damned self. I have a few favorites around town, yet always love to make my own at home. 

The migas taco, that enigmatic, deconstructed taco within a taco, is by far one of the most widely disputed taco in the circles that I run in. Tortillas, or tortilla chips? Cheese in the migas, or on the taco? I really heart migas. I go back and forth on the tortilla-tortilla chip tip, and find that both have merit. I am just now realizing how long it has been since I've actually made migas, so maybe I should shut up about them. Perhaps once my garden starts producing chiles and tomatoes, I'll make a batch and actually post a recipe. As you've probably surmised by now, we here at the Bearded Weirdo can't be bothered by posting recipes, leaving that up to other kind folks out there in the ether. 

Friday, prior to what would be day of galavanting around downtown at the thing, Blackberry Shortcake and I ate some breakfast tacos at my house. These were simple tacos made from mostly local ingredients: Margarita's corn torts, Richardson Family pork sausage, Alexander Farms eggs, and Austin Spice Company salsa. The only non-local item was the cheese, which was from Vermont. I like Vermont. You should go when you get the chance. 

These tacos were all made to order, and wrapped in foil to keep them hot until we were ready to eat. Blackberry Shortcake tends to be a bit more of a purist when it comes to her breakfast tacos, so she got two egg tacos. I was feeling a bit more hungry, so I went with the egg, sausage and cheese variety. As jarred salsas go, I really like the Austin Spice Company's Smoky Hill Hot. It may not be as fresh as homemade, or even Ana's Salsa, but the flavor is nice and the heat is present but not overwhelming. 

His.

Hers.

Good jar of salsa.

Saturday, we went to Taqueria Alayna's on Manor. I really like their tacos, and their special green sauce. The Shortcake had a migas taco, and an egg and bacon job. I went for the migas taco, a bean-bacon-cheese, and a chorizo-potato-egg and cheese taco. When we returned home to chow down on these, Blackberry was shocked to find that her bacon and egg taco was more like five or six tacos; a folded pile of pillowy eggs gently enveloping hunks of bacon that was more or less resting on a tortilla that had no chance of wrapping around its contents. I devoured mine in no time, and sat sipping Peaberry Reserve while starring out the window in a meaty daze. 

Unfortunately my love of Alayna's was not shared by Miss Shortcake who is a Taco Deli fan. I have only had one experience with Taco Deli, but not at Taco Deli, just a delivered taco that was rather delicious. They have a similar sauce to the green sauce at both Alayna's and La Guera's–some kind of emulsion that does not have avocado in it, but looks like it does–which I thought that it was just as good, which says a lot. I will have to go to this mystery taco land and educate my self in their ways before making a decision on whether or not they are superior to my beloved magic taco window.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Musings on a Sunny Day

I wonder how many political or social contracts have been discussed, negotiated, and decided upon as heads of state, tribal leaders, or warlords dined. What were these meals that they ate? Could something as intricate and impacting as say, the Yalta Conference, be worked out over caviar and creme fraiche, and borsch? Was post World War II Europe subdivided while Stalin sipped Ukrainian spirits as Churchill took tea? 

Food plays a wide variety of roles in events of these kinds. At some events it may be the grand focus; others it may be merely on the table to give your hands something to do as you anxiously sit waiting for it all to end. We have all been there. I'd prefer to think that conquering peoples would throw a lavish feast for their newly acquired citizens; a celebration of the merging of their respective cultures, even if it wasn't consensual. Then again, this event would be far less exciting than a barrage of artillery, or the surprise decades later discovery of a forgotten, yet well placed, land mine. Probably why it is not in practice today. 

Throughout my life I have met a variety of people over dinner. I've even negotiated business deals, evaluated employees, bargained for love, and thought up brand new business models while enjoying a light snack, or a well prepared portion of fish and chips. I've been responsible for introducing kindred spirits over meals, people who have been friends for years; others who were doomed to repeat mistakes made in their pasts. I've had the pleasure of being introduced to some special folks as well, some who are well loved, and some who are life inspiring. Food seems to be a constant through it all, a character actor who's abilities to adapt are impeccable and delicious. 


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Roots

My winter garden is gone. All that remains are some beets, bolted lettuce, and a few sticks that used to be luscious lacinato kale plants. They'll bounce back like a junky on payday. The Wheatsville Herb Fair was 'transplanted'–har-har–to the downtown farmer's market this past Saturday. Blackberry Shortcake and I went and picked up some starts for the spring garden.

These will be going in the ground shortly. I mostly got tomatoes, but some peppers and herbs were purchased as well. I am excited about this gardening season. I hope to fulfill my goal of producing enough tomatoes to preserve and use over the winter. Tomatoes don't get used too often in my cooking through the winter, yet I would like to dip into my own pantry for some DIY canned tomatoes rather than buy watery-out-of-season-tomato-flavored-cellulose, or expensive organic canned fare. We'll see. More on this as the situation develops.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pork Three Way

The Suidae family of animals were dealt a harsh hand in the evolutionary process: deliciousness. I can't think of one part of these tasty beasts that isn't flavorful. Pigs. They're smart too. 

Once I knew guy with one of those pot bellied jobs that people had for pets in the Eighties and Nineties. His mom was out of town, and he was responsible for feeding the beast. He was definitely one of my less intelligent friends, and his idea of feeding the swine involved a casserole full of leftover lasagne, curdled milk, velveeta, and other culinary odds and ends from long forgotten tuperware in his refrigerator. He set the casserole down in the yard, and released the fat, wire-haired sow from her pen. 

She sauntered casually to the casserole. Smelled it. Smelled it again. The pig was not impressed to find upon inspection that she was being given garbage to dine on. She placed a foot in the casserole then another, and another until her hind legs were evenly spaced in the pan, and her front legs were back on solid ground. She urinated. She then proceeded to peel out in the pan, strewing the contents around the yard in digust and anger before running wildly into the woods. This was one of the funniest things I've ever witnessed involving animals, second maybe to 'Kittens Inspired by Kittens'.

Last week I cooked some delicious Niman Ranch thick cut pork chops for a few folks. These chops tend to be very flavorful and juicy unlike other versions of this 'other white meat'. I don't really like that term. If you cook beef too much it turns grey, so what? Pork is a red meat, and when you eat GOOD pork you can tell the difference. Anyway, this was a great little meal, and everone seemed to enjoy it. I fried some fingerling potatoes in duck fat, yet refuse to call them coins. There was some asparagus–which I'd be smelling later–and a fresh picked salad with pine nuts tossed with a blood orange vinaigrette. The portions were small enough to be enjoyed by all. 

No coins here.

Kitschy food terms tend to irritate me like Anglo dreadlocks do. Coins, cigars, lollipops, and anything of the like just seems unnecessary. Why not just call them fried potatoes, rolled whatnot, and chicken legs? Chefs out there in the ether may not agree with me. I understand that these cutsie terms help to jazz up a menu, or description, yet find them childish; sophomoric. Of course this is just a layman's critical opinion. One which could be easily shrugged off like dirt on your shoulder.

Earlier this week I cooked up some Richardson Family Farms bone in pork chops for Blackberry Shortcake and I (no photos were taken, I'm leary of the quality of the pics these days...). These were good too. I used some Asian five spice to season them, and served these beauties along side some brussels sprouts, steamed jewel yams, and roasted fennel. The flavor of the fennel was a nice compliment to the spices on the pork. 

Last night down at Shaddley's, we braised some Niman Ranch country style pork ribs in the Gastronome fashion from way back in October. I added some of my homemade feral hog sausage to this recipe to beef it up a bit. One last attempt to get away with winter cooking during this random cold snap. Shaddley has gone to the Dark Side; part of him died in France, and what ever came back is not entirely human. Some strange Franco-Texan hybrid too perverse for public display. Charcuterie plate, soup course (potato-leek, very dairy laden), main course, fromage, and dessert?! A fucking truffle cake at that. I see fromage staying the course; weathering the tempest of the recession. The ladies were all filled to the gills. We ate like we tend to: righteously. We were constantly checking out the window for the food police. They'll get us one day no doubt. 

Thoup!

Recipe for this side coming.

Bacon on pork ribs.

Fromage!

We drank too much wine; I awoke with the first real wine headache of the year. What gives? Fortunately Taco Deli tacos and peaberry reserve coffee saved the day. Here is why: Chateau Grand Bireau 2005 Bordeaux Rouge, Bourassa 2005 Rhapsody Syrah from Napa, 2004 Phillipe Faury St. Joseph Blanc (the best of the night fo sho), Sur de los Andes 05 Malbec Gran Reserva, Olivet Lane Chardonnay and Pinot 2006, Palacios Petalos Bierzo 2006. Seven bottles for four drinkers, and we killed them all. 

Pigs beware. I've got your number. Bacon goes with everything. As soon as I buy a new candy thermometer, I'll make another batch of the toffee. I'll work on some spring desserts featuring that beast. I'm thinking of bacon toffee chunk cookies, similar to Heath bar chunk. I think that would be good! Am I crazy? Am I? You wouldn't tell me if I were, would you? 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hoity Toity

I'm not much on the SXSW tip. I don't mind big crowds or anything, just don't usually participate too much. I usually attend a few films, or really special music events, yet generally avoid the scenester, overly hipster douchebag wrought environs of downtown during this week. This year I have something to look forward to that appeals to both my passions and my palate.

 

I would like to meet more food bloggers, and form an army of gourmands to eat this town out of house and home. This seems like a good first step, right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

And We'd Love to Take a Bath!

Sunday. Strong coffee. Two French presses worth. The breakfast 'burrito' is never a proper substitute for a breakfast taco. Beer and British food for sustenance. It's always a wonderful day for a Guinness. What Virginian pub experience is complete without Nascar or complimentary Irish car bombs? Scotch and beers while standing in line for the show? Absolutely. 


The dread beast falls to his knees.

I fucking hate clowns, even if they have my hat on.

Set One:

Sanity
Wilson
Foam*
Bathtub Gin
Undermind
AC/DC Bag
My Friend, My Friend
Scent of a Mule
All Of These Dreams
Maze
She Thinks I Still Care
Army of One
Tube
Cars Trucks Buses
Free
Frankenstein

Disco.

Set Two:

Down With Disease
Seven Below
The Horse >
Silent In The Morning
Twist
2001
Moma Dance
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Wading In The Velvet Sea
Slave To The Traffic Light

Get that thing out of my face, man.

A reason to rejoice.

Encore:

Contact
Bug
Tweezer Reprise

The George Jones cover–She Thinks I Still Care–was done up proper like thanks to Mike and his country twang. Rumor has it that Phish will headline ACL this fall. I'll wait until then to see them again.

*A fugue with a view. Behold FOAM!

Woe Is Me

If you are a regular reader of the Bearded Weirdo you may have noticed that the quality of photographs have recently diminished. As you may recall, I dropped my phone into a bowl of butternut squash soup a few months back causing some lens issues. I did some modifications of my own, removed the lens cover–which may have been dumb–and cleaned the inner workings of the lens housing. Despite my efforts, a strange, foggy, haze has developed around the perimeter of most photographs. Sad face. 

Those of y'all who do something similar to this whole food blogging thing may have suggestions for a nice camera in the $200 to $300 range. I would like to hear them. I found a few for cheap on Amazon.com, but I like reviews from real people as well. If you have a suggestion please leave it in the ol' comment area, and life will continue as usual. That is all. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Stay On Target

Saturday. Better living through chemicals. Coffee is better with espresso shots in it. Chicken and waffles is a genius idea–especially at 2 am. Seats. Seats are good. Sitting is good, preferably not on an indiscernibly wet surface. Planets aligned. Magic happened. Limb by limb is totally about coming off heroin. This was my grand epiphany. 

Pastrami on rye. Marbled. 
Before.

Set One:

Back On The Train
Runaway Jim
Brian & Robert
Split Open and Melt
Heavy Things
Punch You In The Eye
Gumbo
Reba
Mexican Cousin
It's Ice
Halley's Comet
Beauty of a Broken Heart
Guelah Papyrus
Lawn Boy
Run Like An Antelope



After.

Deep space.

That's no moon...

Set Two:

Rock & Roll
Limb by Limb
Story of the Ghost
Piper
Birds of a Feather
Wolfman's Brother
Prince Caspian
Mike's Song>
I Am Hydrogen>
Weekapaug Groove
Character Zero

Encore:

A Day in the Life

No, I am hydrogen.

What did you do this weekend?

Was it this cool?

Doubt it!

They're heading towards that small moon.

White out.

We were high up.

Sweet.

This encore was both poignant and impeccable. You can't beat Daylight Saving Time and Don Julio Resposado. An eleven AM check out is too early.


P.S. - Chicken and waffles slam.

Was It For This My Life I Sought?

Friday. Phish comes out of the gates hard as fuck, exhibiting the tenacity and passion of a hobo looking for his next bottle. This is why I see Phish shows. If you don't know, you just don't know.


Ballin'.

Flapjacks descends on the Muthaship.

The Mothership awaits.

Set One:

Fluffhead
Divided Sky
Chalk Dust Torture
Sample In A Jar
Stash
I Didn't Know
Oh Kee Pah Ceremony >
Suzy Greenberg
Farmhouse
NICU
Horn
Rift
Train Song
Water In The Sky
Squirming Coil
David Bowie


If you were on drugs, you were probably afraid.

Ooooh. Step into space...

Ladies and Gentlemen: Dad.

Set Two:

Backwards Down The Number Line
Tweezer
Taste
Possum
Theme From The Bottom
First Tube
Harry Hood
Waste
You Enjoy Myself

Encore:

Grind
Bouncing Around The Room
Loving Cup


As crazy as it looks.

Hi.

Sick as SARS.

Beautimus.

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