It’s hard to take pictures in the dark. Especially when all you have is your phone. My son took me to this little food truck court on East Sixth Street for some yummy eats. I should take a picture of his food because he gets a sandwich of some kind. I just wanted the veg so this is what I found at Me So Hungry, an “Asian Fusion Food Truck”. I can’t remember if this was called cucumber carpaccio or what but it was cucumber slices with a little sauce of some kind, a squirt of hot sauce and a sprig of cilantro. It was OK, not great. I think the price was 3 or 4 dollars.
For our Independence Day celebration, my first son and I decided to do a hamburger competition. So for days, I’ve been thinking about this. The best burger I ever ate was made in a little cafe in my hometown back in North Carolina. You could tell each beef patty was made by hand. In North Carolina, slaw is a favorite topping on everything from hot dogs to hamburgers to barbecue sandwiches and this little cafe burger was no exception. Although the meat and bun were hot, the sweet cole slaw topping was cool and creamy. I’ve talked to friends from home about that burger just to see if my memory has blown it out of proportion, and they say no, that was a world class hamburger. I wish I knew what made it so special.
So for my entry, I used 80/20 ground beef, seasoned with a generous amount of salt and pepper and added chopped jalapeno chiles and Worstershire sauce. I made 1/4 pound patties, trying not to squeeze it or handle it too much so it wouldn’t be tough and compact. To cook them, instead of using the grill, I used an iron skillet because I figured the burgers of my youth were cooked on a flat top. Then I spread a little butter on the inside of both halves of my sesame seed bun and browned them under the broiler. After three minutes, I flipped the burgers and immediately placed a slice of American Cheese on top. Two minutes later, I placed a big lid over the whole pan to melt the cheese thoroughly, about another two or three minutes. Lid off, take the meat out of the pan and allow to rest five minutes.
Now I am going to reveal a secret sauce that you must keep under wraps. I mix mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup together to spread on the bun. Shh! Don’t tell everyone or they’ll all be doing it. (Wink, Wink to Emeril) Then, place the patty on the bun, a few well seasoned slices of avocado and two very thin slices of tomato. Top it with the other half of the bun and press down to make it all stick together. I also put a slice of crispy bacon on it, I forgot to mention. I thought it was delicious! On the side, we had baked beans and a few potato chips.
My son wasn’t quite as happy with his burger but he had some technical problems like the meat didn’t cook completely and the sauce he used was intended for fish tacos. However, it was a fun time and we both learned something. I was satisfied that I came close to having the burger of my dreams.
Pacific Salmon with Broccoli and Polenta Cakes at Brick House Tavern on Hwy. 183 North in Austin, next to Chuy’s.
Cucumbers get a bad rap. A little sugar helps in the vinaigrette.
I had to go back to Antonelli’s. Ever since I finished off the last crumb of Baley Hazen blue cheese, I’ve been hungry for more. I’ve been reading about the French diet recently and I wanted to see how I felt if I followed it for a while. Out of 192 countries in the world, France is second to last, number 191, in amount of heart disease. Only Kiribati has a better rate, where ever that is. The United States is 135 and has a heart disease death rate of 80 out of every 100,000 deaths. France has 29 out of every 100,000 deaths attributable to heart disease and the average citizen eats 80 pounds of cheese a year! So, somewhere, there is a link between cheese and a healthy diet. I want to get to the bottom of this!
A very usual breakfast is a French baguette, thinly sliced, toasted and spread with some jam or honey. I purchased my baguette from the 43rd Street bakery there in Hyde Park close to Antonelli’s. My cheese monger, Kelly, from my last visit, helped me find a few new things. I purchased a Tupelo honey from Savannah Bee Company in one of my favorite Southern towns. For jam, I was intrigued by a carrot jam from Confituras.net in Austin (Kelly let me taste it first). Since I’m nervous about the whole bread and jam for breakfast idea, I thought if I could throw in a vegetable at the same time, maybe I could go all morning without getting hungry. Keeping with the French tradition, I bought a red wine, described on the 205food.com website as
“The Clos Roche Blanche “Cuvée Pif” (Touraine, France) 2011 $17 [Very Good] is a very genial and well made natural wine. Dark purple in color, the nose is full of chalky/stony notes, dried leaves, substantial black raspberry and mulberry fruit, dollops of mint and black pepper, and a slight whiff of fingernail polish. Medium bodied, with average acidity, the wine is full in the mouth with tannin that is mainly hidden. There is a bit of grit, however. The flavors of chalky stones, ripe and round dark raspberry fruit, herbs, and dried leaves have good intensity and an appealing geniality. The finish is very good, of a piece with the flavors, and slightly gritty. This wine is a mixture of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. January 2013.
It sounded like it would go well with cheese and nuts. Speaking of nuts, Antonelli’s has a big glass dispenser full of Marcona Almonds, so I got some to go with the cheese.
7301 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, Texas 78752
Today I had the Pollo Fricase with arroz blanco y salada. Next time, I plan to get the paella. Clean and neat and the owner is the chef. He will come out and talk to you about your selection. On North Lamar between Research and Airport.
In the world of restaurant salads, California Pizza Kitchen is a bonanza! This is not a typical pizza
restaurant like the huts and inns of my youth.CPK feels like a slightly upscale restaurant with both booths and tables and a full bar. The one my friend and I visited is next to Macy’s at the Domain. Two sizes of salads are available for each salad and the “half” salad size is plenty for one person. The wine glasses are on the table when you are seated and drink orders are taken right away. The menu includes wonderful sounding pizzas, sandwiches and pastas but of course, we were there for the salads.
My choice was the Moroccan Spiced Chicken and my friend had the California Chopped. The Moroccan did not look at all like the picture below when it was served to me but all the ingredients were there. The chicken was buried in the romaine leaves but it was fun finding all the hidden gems underneath. “One of a kind, with roasted butternut squash, dates, avocado, toasted almonds, beets, chopped egg and cranberries. Tossed with housemade Champagne vinaigrette. GF” is the description on the menu and that doesn’t do it justice. The almonds are Spanish Marcona Almonds and the cranberries are dried cranberries. The fig and the roasted squash are two things you don’t usually see on salads and the champagne vinaigrette tasted terrific.
I can’t say much about the salad my friend had except that she ate 100% of it. The applewood smoked bacon looked real good. She could have
gotten the optional beets on it but declined. This place is going to require more research. I’m already planning my next visit here.
As I sit here writing this, I can’t believe I am snacking on blue cheese with a fork. This chese is so different from anything I have had from the grocer, and I have had a lot of blue cheese over the past year. This one is Bayley Hazen Blue and the cheesemonger, Kelly at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, found it for me and let me taste it before buying. This cheese is from Jasper Hill Farms in Greensboro, Vermont and I want to move there. However, this won’t be necessary because Antonelli’s has it in their shop and I can get it anytime I want it. The Jasper Hill website describes Bayley Hazen as:
This is the most savory cheese I think I have ever eaten. Never would I have thought before yesterday that I would someday be snacking on blue cheese while watching TV, unaccompanied by anything else. Just the smallest piece on the tongue is so delicious.
Antonelli’s is in Hyde Park on Duval Street, across from Mother’s Cafe and Garden and adjacent to Hyde Park Bar and Grill. I stumbled upon it while walking to HPBG, did a head turn, and went inside for a fun tasting party. Kelly let me taste three honeys, three cheeses and some salame (having recently studied Italian, I am spelling it with an e at the end to indicate one; salami indicates more than one, I believe). I ended up buying two cheeses and 10 slices of salame.
Some of the cheeses come from as close as Blanco, Texas but many are from across the pond. In addition to cheeses and salami, like I said, they have wonderful honeys, wines, olives, marcona almonds, baguettes of bread and craft beers. There is a section of marmalades and jams, as well. All in all, it is a great experience to just drop in and treat your taste buds. Highly recommend!
I met my friend for lunch at The Triangle yesterday. The Triangle is a lovely shopping place that took a huge amount of real estate that was known as the Triangle long before the first shovel of dirt was turned because it lies in the intersection of Lamar Boulevard and Guadelupe. It was a field of green that people used to sun bathe, play frisbee, picnic and let their dogs run. Many people of Austin were opposed to commercial construction going up there a few years ago but they lost and now it is “The Triangle”, a huge complex of residential and commercial properties. This is part of the new Austin.
That being said, there is a lot to like at The Triangle. My favorite part is the Farmer’s Market that sets up there every Wednesday afternoon at 3 PM. You can get fresh local vegetables mid-week as well as some pre-made products like Indian curries and sauces. Some Wednesdays they have live music and there is still some green grass where dogs can run and frisbees can sail.
Lunch for us was at Flying Saucer Draught Em
porium, a place I would like to visit again sometime after 5 PM when I can sample some of the brews. Since we were there for lunch and both of us still had a few chores to do, we had salad with soft drinks. They have an excellent salad deal where you can get the grilled chicken and avocado salad with a soda for less than $6. People who say they can’t afford anything but fast-food places are not looking hard enough. I have been very successful at finding under $10 lunches around town, especially when willing to drink water instead of the much over-priced sodas, which can run $2-$2.50.
The salads were large, pleasing to the eye and palate and filling. Between the two of us, we had the grilled chicken salad and the goat cheese/spinach salad. We agreed they were solid, pleasing and healthy salads for a great price.
Life is difficult. But cooking is easy!