Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Daily Funny

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lovely Dinner

We had the best dinner on Saturday night at the The Carillon (http://www.thecarillonrestaurant.com/). I had purchased a Groupon for a buy one get one free for their tasting menu so we received a very nice deal. Normally the tasting menu is $60 per person, which is a bit steep but after enjoying our meal I see the value. The restaurant is in the AT&T Executive Conference Center on the UT campus. They had tables that allowed the patrons to see in side of the kitchen, and I would have LOVED to sit there. I enjoy watching the hustle and bustle in the kitchen. I used my new phone to take the pictures (has an 8 mega pixel camera) and my current point and shoot has been crapping out during night pictures. I'm not super happy about the quality of pictures but they turned out okay.

We started off with some bread and butter. I remember Rosemary being in part of the description, but can't remember if it was in the butter or the bread (I hardly tasted it). The softened butter had 2 types of salt on it, one being Hawaiian salt. LOVED the extra salty taste on the bread.

We started off our meal with an Amuse Bouche. The first spoon had a basil panna cotta with some type of citrus, it was a lovely smooth texture and a delicate basil flavor. The second spoon was a tuna ceviche, which was equally as good. I wanted a few more spoons of each :)

Nairagi Napoleon

Smoked Chevre - Texas Grapefruit - Cucumber - Lemon Zest

Our appetizer was fresh Nairagi chopped up and layered between sliced cucumbers. Next to the cucumber stack was a slice of grapefruit and a few crumbles of the chevre. My first bite was of the cucumber and the fish, and it was so delicate. The lemon zest was a nice zing to the delicate fish and cucumber. Next I added a little grapefruit bite along with the cheese. It was all quite good, light, and a perfect way to start the dish.

Sea Scallop

Sumac - Cauliflower - Asparagus - Vanilla Citrus

I had to look up what Sumac is... "A sprinkling of this pretty purple spice adds a tangy lemony flavour to meat and salads". Can I just say that sumac and scallops go hand in hand, and I loved every single bite. the cauliflower puree was so creamy and was perfect because it was only a light flavor. The grilled asparagus was also a nice flavor to the dish. the vanilla citrus sauce was not a big player on the dish but I did get a hint of the sauce with every other bite. Might be the best damn scallop I have had.


Chanterelle Mushroom - Blueberry - Pistachios

This dish was supposed to be white tuna but they said they ran out so they substituted the escolar. We have only had escolar raw (sushi) so it was nice to try it cooked. This fish is very hearty and was delicious. When I read the description and saw blueberry on there I was very curious. The blueberry sauce was just enough flavor but definitely not overpowering. The pistachios crumbled on top were so delicious, loved the crunch it added to the fish. There was not one thing wrong with this dish... I totally wanted more.

Olive Oil Poached Prime Beef Tenderloin

Potato Puree - Frito Misto- Peppercorn Sauce

I have not had an olive oil poached meat before. The meat was so tender with a wonderful pepper flavor. The Frito Misto consisted of fried artichokes, onions, garlic and fennel. This part of the dish was my least favorite... tasted to much like oil and not the vegetables.

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Vanilla Sweet Potato - Caramelized onions - Chanterelle Mushrooms

When we eat out at restaurants I tend to order the short ribs because it is a dish that I have not conquered yet. I have come close, but not quite. Out of all of the dishes, this was not my favorite. The meat was tasty but just didn't have the wow factor that the other dishes had. The vanilla sweet potato puree was tasty but pretty sweet.

Guanaja Chocolate Terrine

Coriander Ice Cream - Crystallized Cilantro

Our dessert was slightly different than the menu. We had a fried mint leaf on top as well as a sour orange reduction. If you even remotely like chocolate, you will LOVE this 100000% chocolate terrine. to me, it was similar to fudge, but not quite as thick. The ice cream was a nice way to cut through the sweetness, but it was the sour orange reduction that struck a cord with me. Such a delicious combination of flavors.

After our lovely meal, we were both stuffed. I looked over at Jim to find him taking a cat nap ;)

I couldn't let Jim be in the post without me.... self portrait in the ladies room

Monday, March 21, 2011

SXSW 2011 and St. Patty's Day

Originally we were going to stick to a local bar for St. Patty's day but then we found out that our friend Erin's company was hosting a SXSW showcase at the Side Bar. This was my first time at the bar, which seemed pretty cool... decent size inside and a good back yard type patio. We watched a few bands, drank some beer, chatted with friends and had a good time!

Lindsay, Chris, Katie, Jen and Jim

Charlie, Jim, Mike and Chris

Me, Jim, Lindsay and Chris

Excuse the wild eyes...

Doing their best Zoolander

We left The Side Bar in search of more music and fun.

During our search for music we came across this food cart..... Jim got a hot dog and I got a potato pancake. Decent potato pancake... reminded me of hash browns in the shape of a pancake. The fun came with Jim's hot dog

Jim's hot dog was covered in mustard... the guy put it on for Jim and he had a heavy hand. That heavy hand left Jim with mustard fingers. It was every where! We got the case of the giggles watching Jim and his yellow fingers

Because one food cart wasn't enough, we stopped at the Austin Daily Press. We have known about them for awhile thanks to a Food Network TV show. I ordered the ham and jalapeno jack cheese sandwich, and it was damn good. They seemed to have a limited menu, so I'm not sure if that was just a SXSW thing or if that is all they normally have on the menu. I did a HORRIBLE job of taking pictures of our food that night, they all came out blurry. I slightly blame my camera, it has been acting up while talking low light pictures. I think it is time for a new camera... this guy has been around 2 years which is a LONG time for me. :) Not that I am hard on them, they just get a lot of use.

Friday was our big party day. This is our third year of enjoying SXSW music and I hope we continue on with this tradition. We only partake in a very small portion, typically on Friday during the day. We don't want to spend the money on wrist bands so I searched the interwebs for the best free shows during the day. I typically RSVP to about 6 shows so we can have options :) I am slightly worried about the availability of the day show next year because there is talk that SXSW might try to limit the amount of free shows. That is a HUGE bummer because that is the only way we want to experience SXSW--the free show way. I'll do my best to ensure that we can keep our Free Friday SXSW tradition alive!

Each year we started off our SXSW adventure at Counter Cafe, an incredibly cute and delicious sliver of a restaurant off of Lamar, North of 6th street. We haven't strayed from our go to order of Eggs Benedict. They are sooo delicious with the twist of putting the eggs on a biscuit instead of an English Muffin. One of these days I'll try their hamburger, but passing up the Eggs Benedict will be hard!

Our first stop of the day was at Maggie Mae's for the Sonicbid show. We went there a couple of years ago and had a really fun time. They have bands on their patio upstairs as well as downstairs.

View from the Maggie Mae's patio, 6th street

This was our first band of the day, the Seedy Seeds. They had an indie alternative sound to them which was pretty catchy. We listened to the last few songs of their set before going downstairs.

We headed downstairs and waited for this band to set up. Eventually I will figure out their name but they were from the Netherlands. We had really high hopes for their music as they tuned their instruments and got ready.

Musically they were a good band... but I can't really comment on their singing. They did a lot of ooOOOooOOOooOOoo-ing and that wasn't really our thing. Sure it sounded good, but I could only handle about 1.5 songs before we moved on.

We had passes to the show at Stubbs, so we left Maggie Maes to head over there. We walked since the streets were a mad house with random closings and people walking around.
We walked by this venue (aka a parking lot) and stopped in to listen to the music. They were a metal band that had promise, but we only heard about the last half of the last song they were playing. Well damn. We ended up leaving for Stubbs, but we ran into the band later and Jim went up to talk to them. He found out they are an Austin band and once again... totally forgot their name.

On our walk to Stubbs I found myself checking out the 3 people walking in front of us. There was something very photogenic about them walking together... kind of like they just looked like the essence of SXSW.
Once we got to Stubbs we found our friends Sarah and Orly. We had fun afternoon of catching up and listening to music.

Our view of the music.
We had passes to a section of the concert that had shade, access to free booze, and where we could watch bands getting interviewed. Kind of rock star cool! I could get used to being "on the list".
Hipster watching the concert
Orly, Jim and Sarah
No freaking idea why Yo Gaba Gaba was on stage with the band
I don't know who this little girl is but she was very photogenic. She looks a little like Caden, my nephew, doesn't she?

I took 5 days off at work last week to paint the living room and to enjoy SXSW. I didn't want drastic changes in the living room but I did want a lighter color. I am about 92% done... Some touch ups and part of the ceiling. I am now debating on what color to paint the ceiling because I want more of a contrast. I guess I should mention that I bought fabric a few months ago to make curtains for the living room and the color we had on the walls wouldn't match. Painting is the easy part.... actually making these curtains and relying on the skills I learned while in Home Education in Junior High is going to be the hard part.

I took a butt load of photos at SXSW so it will take me a couple if days to filter through and pick the best pictures to share!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Abbey looooooves chewing sticks while in the backyard

Chewie!! I wanted to post a picture of Abbey and Chewie but my application will only add one picture per post. Boo
Getting in shape sucks
I have started to jog twice a week, and I have to say I'm not a fan of running. Maybe I just haven't hit that point where is is easy to run miles and miles because I am still huffing and puffing after the first half mile. My boss told me about a program on the iPhone called Cycle Meter which has a lot of cool features like a stopwatch, calculating your times, there is multiple activities that you can choose skating, mountain biking, hiking, cycling, jogging, etc. The program also uses GPS and it will send you an e-mail when you are done with the stats of your jog/cycle/etc. The application also keeps track by date and also by any route.

The picture above is what the stopwatch looks like. This is the furthest I have run in awhile but I'll be honest... I did walk about a quarter of it (if not more). I just don't have the endurance. My goal is to reach 3 miles, then my goal will be to improve my time and not die during the run :). Hopefully soon I can post another picture of my stopwatch and have it be far more impressive

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


I downloaded a new Application to my IPhone that will allow me to post from my phone. This is the photo that was supposed to go with the last post :) My new tool wouldn't let me edit the photo(good to know) so here I am with another post :) Hopefully with this new tool I'll be posting more since I can easily post while on the go!

Monkey's Nest

I tried a new coffee house in the hood called The Monkeys Nest. It is a great space that was renovated, it used to be a thrift store. They have a few large and small tables along with cushy chairs and couches. My first trip was a quick one, a latte to go. I tried their special which was a spiced brown sugar latte which was spiced with cayenne pepper. The pepper play on the back of your throat but wasn't really a strong flavor. Overall it was a tasty latte. I look forward to coming back and trying one of their sandwiches.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Hearty Pork Soup

I have had a couple of cans of Hominy in my pantry for months now. I have wanted to use it, but I either forget to add it to a dish or I just plain ol' forgot I had it. I had hominy in dishes at a few restaurants and knew I liked it so I wasn't worried about that. I found this recipe at the right time... I had just made carnitas (shredded pork) and I had a bunch left over. I used the shredded pork instead of cooking the pork tenderloin. I simply used the same spices by sprinkling them on my shredded pork while heating them up in the pan. You could also just add the spices to the veggies while they are cooking if you are using left over pork for this recipe.

This soup was hearty yet not heavy since it is broth based and not cream based. I look forward to making this again because it was so easy and very tasty.

Ancho Pork and Hominy Stew
Adapted from: Cooking Light, December 2009
(found here http://tinyurl.com/4mt6ky2)

2 tablespoons ancho chile powder (Central Market has this in bulk, but for those of you living outside of Austin, check with Whole Foods in their bulk section. This is a spice that gives a smoky flavor without the spiciness)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika (see above about finding it in bulk sections at your grocery store)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 1/2 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 (28-ounce) can hominy, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained (such as Hunt's)

In a large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients (ancho chile powder through salt). Set 1 1/2 teaspoons of the spice mixture aside. Toss pork with remaining spice mixture in bowl, making sure each piece is coated.In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add pork to dutch oven and cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove pork from pan; set aside. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan. (This is where I started since I already had my left over shredded pork ready to go) Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the pork back to pan along with the reserved 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture, broth, hominy, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes.Serves: 6
Baileys & Chocolate Chip Cookies...

yes they are as good as they sound!

I found this recipe on Batter & Beat's blog through Foodgawker.com. Foodgawker.com is a great place to find recipes and great food blogs to follow. As soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. I substituted the generic brand of Baileys and it worked out perfectly. The house smelled WONDERFUL while these cookies baked, it seriously should be the next Fabreeze candle sent.

Baileys Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from RecipeZaar

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup Baileys Mint Chocolate Irish Cream
2-1/4 cups cake flour (sift before measuring) (I used regular flour and the cookies weren't as puffy but still delicious)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pkg. (6 oz.) bittersweet chocolate chips (Used Milk Chocolate chips since I already had them)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375º F.In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until smooth. Add egg, vanilla and Baileys; blend well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to mixture a little at a time, until thoroughly blended. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.Drop by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies.

My cookies didn't spread as well, and perhaps that is due to the different type of flour used. I smooshed my batter down a bit once it was on the pan or else you'll have a bunch of ball shaped cookies to eat. But that being said... shape didn't matter, these cookies are wonderful.