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Antonelli’s Cheese Shop

April 25, 2013
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Antonelli’s Cheese Shop

Bayley Hazen Blue - Half Wheel

Bayley Hazen Blue from Cellars at Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro, VT

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:

An anise spice character, creamy but firm texture, and a flavor profile reminiscent of coffee, chocolate and cured meats.

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!


Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

April 25, 2013
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Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

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

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

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.


Pinthouse Pizza

April 25, 2013
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Pinthouse Pizza

Now that my children are grown, I figured I would never eat pizza again if I didn’t want. There was a time when we had pizza almost every week in our family. It’s embarassing to say, because I tried to raise my kids to eat healthy. That being said, to pick up the phone on a Friday night after a busy week is just too tempting. I have had a lot of bad and mediocre pizzas in my day, mostly pepperoni. You know how pepperoni is the universal pizza, everybody likes it? I always wanted one covered in vegetables but I was always outvoted. I have to say that one of the best pizzas I have ever had was a deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s in Chicago. I went there totally prepared to be underwhelmed because I don’t like a bready pizza. Much to my surprise, the crust is thin. It’s the dish that is deep and it is full of stuffings: in my case, vegetables. I got the Lou which is meatless and it was incredibly good. A truly memorable pizza, I must say. The picture is on the right.

The Lou at Lou Malnati's Chicago Pizza

The Lou at Lou Malnati’s Chicago Pizza

So there have been very few times in Austin that I have had what I think of as a great pizza.  I invited a few of my friends to go out for dinner so I could blog about a new restaurant and my friend suggested we go here, to Pinthouse Pizza. We brought our 20 something year old children so there were 6 of us all together.

The building has a massive red brick facade with a few picnic tables out front and lots of communal tables inside. There is a lot of parking but it fills up. The Pit Barbecue is right next door so be careful not to park in their designated spaces or you might come out and find your car is gone.

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the bar and the metal casks that store the beer. I’m going to have to ask Joe Mohrfeld, the brewmaster, what you call those things but they are massive. You see those at independent breweries.

One of the people in our group eats a gluten-free diet so he went with the nachos. The nachos looked so good, I want to go back for them myself. Chicken, jalapeños, black beans, green onions, Roma tomatoes, cheese, black olives, salsa, queso, sour cream, avocado, and tortilla chips. They’re very hearty for $6.50.

My salad, the Pinthouse Salad, came in a metal bowl with plastic utensils. Although I would rather have a real knife and fork, that is not a big deal. This salad made me so happy. It was all baby spinach, dried cranberries, red onions, blue cheese, candied pecans and poppy seed dressing. Not exactly a low carb salad but it was so good. Sugar, how I love you, even on my salads.

My pizza choice was the Milano because it was exactly what I wanted and at 7.75 for a small, I could eat the whole thing myself. There are three price points for each pizza and I got the small one for 7.75, which is a bargain. Ingredients included olive oil, cheese, artichokes, Kalamata olives, prosciutto, and fresh oregano. I’m not kidding. Fresh oregano! My friend had the Margherita pizza which is basically sauce, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Fresh basil! Oh my gosh, and I’ve been eating Pizza Hut all these years. Their only complaint was that there was not a whole wheat choice. However, they liked their pizza and there was not a drop of it left at the end.

A trivia game ensued before we left. My apologies to Pinthouse Pizza for not posting pictures I took that night. I don’t know where my cable is which connects my camera to my computer but as soon as I can, I will post pictures of their pizza!


Polenta alla Forno at Andiamo Ristorante

April 13, 2013
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Where do you find the only truly authentic Italian restaurant in Austin, according to the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce of Texas Inc.? Not behind a Jack-in-the-Box on Rutland Drive in North Austin, you might say. Although this is an unassuming place in a strip mall, make no mistake. This is a fine dining establishment. White linen tablecloths and napkins, impeccable service, relaxing atmosphere and wonderful art of Italian scenes and countryside. Lace curtains hide the parking lot outside the huge windows that let in just the right amount of filtered light.

Polenta alla Forno

Polenta alla Forno

Andiamo Ristorante opened in 2004 and has been receiving accolades on Yelp ever since. I first discovered it on Yelp when I used to work night shifts and had a little time on my hands to kill. The reviews were just like this one: “what the hell?’ Great Italian food by real Italians, not the diluted American kind of Olive Garden fare.  I had looked at the menu on the website before going and had a good idea of what I wanted to get but had only narrowed it down to two items. So I looked at the menu again to try to settle on one. I advised my sons to also choose one item, from any part of the menu. In Italy, people generally take a very long time to eat. First, they serve the appetizers or antipasti, eat, talk, eat, talk. Then they serve a pasta course, called the primi piatti, or first plates. After more talk and more wine over pasta, then they serve the secondi piatti, or second course. This is when you get the meat and vegetables. After the second course and before the dessert, you are offered a salad. It cleans the palate before having the dessert. Then you have a sweet treat to finish the meal.

Remember, we are Americans and we have a tendency to be overweight and are prone to diabetes and heart disease. So we chose one thing and drank water (except for the secondi son who ordered a  Coke). I love polenta so I settled on the polenta antipasto. It was crispy on the outside and tender and soft on the inside. The mushrooms were flavorful and warm. In fact, the plate was really hot when brought out and I was warned not to touch it right away. This little dish had layers of flavor. As I ate my way through it, I got a totally different taste at the end which was the parmesan, I’m sure, because it was cheesy and salty but not overly so.

Nolan had the Penne con Vodka,pasta with a creamy tomato sauce spiked with vodka, laced with prosciutto and chopped onion. It was divine. Fletcher had the Linguine alla Bolagnese, which is very much like a spaghetti with meat sauce, but better, lighter.

When we first sat, someone brought us bread plates and poured a rich olive oil into each plate, then scooped heaping spoonfuls of grated Parmigiano Reggiano into each plate. That’s when I knew I was in the right place. Next time, I will get the other choice that I skipped for the polenta; Insalata di Fagioli, a bean salad, described as “green beans, Cannellini beans, Garbanzo beans, green onions, red radishes, tossed in lemon olive oil, accompanied with Andiamo bread”. I can’t wait. Oh, and say Ciao! to Daniela, the owner. She was the first and last person we saw on our visit there.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Parmigiano Regianno.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Parmigiano Regianno.

Linguine alla Bolognese
Linguine alla Bolognese

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