Monday, May 27, 2013

Fatback Boucherie

I was recently asked by Mike of Fatback Boucherie to try his food in exchange for my feedback. The short of it all -- his food is awesome! Keep reading if you'd like the longer version.

Fatback Boucherie (FB) is now doing catering and they are beginning to embark on a meal delivery service. (I had always heard good things about their food when they were operating as a food trailer, but I was never able to try them.) Last Sunday, Mike brought me fried chicken, greens, beans, a cane syrup gateau (cake), gravy, hot sauce, and a mustard-based sauce. These did not disappoint. Oh, and pickled turnips too!
The chicken was really well fried, very crispy, very moist, and had a hint of what I assume is a Cajun seasoning. The greens were tender with nice amounts of bacon, and the beans had ham in them too, and a bit of a vinegary flavor, which I liked. Prior to this meal, I was not familiar with a gateau, but as you can see from the picture below, they're small little cakes, make from cane syrup (like Steen's), and are Cajun staples. With meals like this, they take the place of cornbread, but cornbread can be ordered through FB as well.
FB uses many local suppliers, like Richardson Farm chickens and Tecolote Farms greens, and his pricing is still very reasonable. So check out their website, and take at look at the menu. I am not sure if they have a defined delivery area yet, but email Mike or send a message via their Facebook page. Delicious food! You'll be pleased!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Turkey Empanadas from the AFBA Cookbook

I've been in need of foods that I can take to work with me for lunch. Flipping through *our* new Austin Food Blogger Cookbook, there are certainly several recipes that caught my eye, but last weekend, I decided to make the turkey empanadas from my good friend Girl Gone Grits. I like to cook AND to bake, so these were right up my alley.

You'll find the recipe on page 69 of the book, and it's an easy one to follow. Again, having experience with baking, I enjoyed the process of making the dough. For those less-inclined to cover your kitchen in flour, you could use the frozen Goya empanada disks (though they're harder to find sometimes) or a pre-made pie crust dough that you find in the refrigerated section, like Pillsbury. If making your own dough, it definitely needs the time to chill in the fridge before rolling it out, so don't skimp on that step; you could even make the dough the night before.

For the filling, I didn't have fresh sage, so I used fresh thyme and a bit of fresh oregano; I used an all-purpose salt-free seasoning in place of the lemon pepper, and added a bit more garlic and preserved lemons.

Unfortunately when preparing my dough, I had turned my back to the kitchen counter for a moment to wash my hands, when my "assistant" got involved! *sigh*
Anyway, the end result is quite worth it! These empanadas totally remind me of my trip to Morocco in 2008 (one of the reasons I started this blog!), so I thought I'd photograph them on the plate I bought there. I did not make the yogurt sauce that Ms. Grits includes the recipe for, but it does sound good! You could even add some chopped olives to the filling to give it even more of a Moroccan flair. They freeze well too, so they have been convenient for lunch; I do prefer them reheated in the oven/toaster oven as opposed to the microwave.
I should also add that I tested the Bacon Corn Pesto Pasta (page 130) from Apron Adventures back in the fall when we were editing the book. I LOVED it, and can't wait for some good fresh summer corn to make this again!

Monday, May 20, 2013

L'oca D'oro Dinner

L'oca D'oro (the Golden Goose) is a private dining service that holds "Dinners to Rock," where each event is themed around a different musician, and the foods inspired by specific songs. They've covered a wide range of musical history, from Prince to the Clash to Radiohead. I attended this past week's Nina Simone event, held at Franklin BBQ, where L'oca D'oro Chef Fiore Tedesco works during the week.

We started with a lovely cocktail with rye and absinthe on Franklin's porch as they finalized things inside.
You wouldn't have known you were in a BBQ restaurant, with the lovely table settings and wine options. Nary a smoked brisket in sight!
The first course, a nest of delicately fried potatoes with zucchini, peach, basil, and dressed with a peach mostarda and a perfect egg on top. The contrast of flavors and textures was wonderful, and this may have been my favorite course. 
After which, came bread with three different types of butter -- with peaches, Double Devon Cream, and garlic. I love the Double Devon, having purchased it in the past (at Central Market); it's just a fabulous, fresh-tasting butter that's lightly salted. Great for good bread or your breakfast muffin; this is not butter to cook with, as you'd loose its nuances!
The second course, cuttlefish ink risotto, with charred cuttlefish, fresh porcini mushrooms, baby kale, golden beets, tomatoes, and topped with shaved truffle. The risotto was divine, and played nicely with the other ingredients, though I will say the truffle really didn't have much flavor, which was surprising.
The third course was a smoked pork tenderloin with fried green tomatoes, wheat berries and pickled blueberries. The pork was beautifully cooked, and while the breading on the tomatoes was a bit heavy on the salt (and I like my salt!), the tenderness of the pork, the crispness of the tomatoes, the squish of blueberries, and the softness of the lettuce really all complemented each other.
Dessert was a jasmine torte, poppy seed pudding, and a jasmine rice-smoked whipped cream. Unfortunately, this was the one course that wasn't quite on equal footing as the others. The cake was too dense, almost like cornbread, and the pudding had what seemed like a lot of stabilizer (agar, tapioca?) in it. 
I wished I had paid a little more attention to the music during the evening, but on the flip side, I enjoyed my dinner companions and conversations! Here's the menu, so you can see what songs inspired what dishes.
Apart from the dessert, my only other real issue with the event was the timing of the dishes; there was a lot of lag time (we were there a total of 3.5 hours). Otherwise, the plating of each dish was exquisite, the flavors were unusual combinations, and the service was spot on. It's $60/person, the first cocktail and gratuity included; they also offer the meal with wine pairings for $90, though other wines were available by the bottle or glass. Check their website or Facebook page for upcoming events, and see the flip side of Franklin BBQ. L'oca D'oro is sure to gain a steady following.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bits and Bites -- Austin Food News

Openings, etc.
-- Houndstooth Coffee in the Frost Bank Tower downtown, 401 Congress.

-- DFG Noodles (Darn Freakin' Good), a new trailer on Rainey Street, specializing in all things noodles. 

-- WuWu Sushi, at 1407 E. 7th -- Asian fusion with a full bar.
-- Benji's Cantina at 6th and West, will open May 24th, offering rooftop seating and Mexican classics. 
-- Umami Mia Pizzeria at 1500 Barton Springs (old Romeo's), opening May 31st.

-- Patrizi's Italian food trailer, soft opening next week, at 2307 Manor Road, inside the Vortex Theater complex. (Went to a tasting last night, blog post coming, but some amazing meatballs!)

-- Celebrating their one-year anniversary, SPIN Modern Thai Cuisine is now offering a social hour menu, Monday - Thursday,  5 - 6:30 pm, 14005 US Hwy 183, near Lakeline Blvd.

--  El Monumento in Georgetown has created Mixology Wednesdays, where the craft cocktail are celebrated with three pours for $14.

-- El Chile on Manor Road is moving to the old La Reyna at South First and Mary Streets (my Bouldin 'hood!).

-- Longhorn Food Court (food trailers) and Texadelphia on Guadalupe 

-- Through May 20th, Uchi and Uchiko are celebrating Uchi's 10 year anniversary, with special six-course omakase menus.

-- Rough Hollow in Lakeway is holding their 4th Annual Crawfish Boil, Sunday, May 19, from 12 - 4 pm,  $20/person.
-- The Escoffier School of Culinary Arts will host a Backyard BBQ Party in on Sunday, May 19 from 6 - 9 pm, to celebrate AUSTIN Foodstyle Magazine’s publication launch. Ticktets are $55 and benefit the school's culinary scholarships. 

-- Olive + June will host a benefit for the Sustainable Food Center on Sunday, June 1st, $25/person. 

-- On Sunday, June 9th, Dai Due will present a special Supper Club fundraiser event for Heather Love, one of their employees who was seriously injured in an accident. The  four-course dinner with wine pairings will be held at Parkside, tickets are $150/person, and will include dishes from Jesse Griffiths, Rene Ortiz, Todd Duplechan, Jessica Maher, Barrie Cullinan and Shawn Cirkiel.  

 All about ME! ;)
-- Top Chef alum Chef Fabio Viviani was at BookPeople recently to promote his new cookbook. He took some time beforehand to meet with a group of food bloggers; he was very personable and didn't stop talking! He was not very impressed with the Topo Chico he tried, calling it too gassy! Fabio has become a total brand -- opening new restaurants, book tour, online magazine, blog, and a video channel. And he's looking for bloggers to do guest posts for his magazine -- stay tuned, yours truly may just show up in one in the coming months! 

 -- Cooking Planit is website that helps home cooks plan out their meals, and offers step-by-step chef-written recipes that are easy to follow. They have also been a supporter of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (of which I am a member), and have taken some of the recipes from our cookbook and adapted them for their readers. My Black Bean and Quinoa Burger is included! (And you KNOW I am not a vegetarian, but this is a good, hearty burger!)
  -- Texas Monthly Magazine has released their list of Top 50 BBQ spots in the state; ATX's very own Franklin BBQ gets the top nod. I've been to 10 of the top 50, how 'bout you? What should I not miss?

Monday, May 6, 2013


Austin Cake Ball has recently converted their shop at the Domain (by Macy's and Zara) into Copper, a full-service restaurant and dessert lounge, open for lunch and dinner with a great cocktail listing to boot! I was recently invited to stop by and try their new menu, so I took my North Austin friend, Epicuriosities along with me. 

I had not been in the place when it was operating as Austin Cake Ball so I am not entirely sure what the decor was like, but I loved the feel of Cooper. Even on an overcast day, the huge front windows bathed the shop in natural light, and also highlighted the impressive glass counters with loads of cake balls to choose from. White, light blue, and of course, copper give it a modern and sophisticated color scheme.
As you head towards the back of the space, there's a divider wall which was entirely done in pennies, as was the floor of the restroom and the entire back splash of the bar, giving the decor a nice sparkle when the light hit the shiny pennies.
We began our lunch with the aforementioned cocktails, Epicuriosities having the Candy Girl (cotton candy vodka and bubbly) and myself the Cosmo-naut (acai liqueur, vodka, cointreau, blood orange and cranberry juices), along with the fried goat cheese balls, which were presented beautifully with an orchid. Perfectly fried, and with a teeny bit of local honey to contrast the creamy goatiness, they were lovely, especially with the drinks. From their website: "Our kitchen combines farm-to-table produce, house-made breads and artisan meats with an emphasis on simple, clean flavors with seasonal ingredients." Always a bonus to be at a restaurant that espouses this philosophy!
When studying the menu, I wanted to be sure we didn't order both the crab cake AND pork belly sliders or the pork belly sliders and the pork belly flatbread, but I should have paid more attention to not getting so many items with white bread! {Perhaps some multigrain menu options would be warranted.} From the left, we went with the crab cake sliders, the pork belly and goat cheese flatbread at the top, and the classic grilled cheese and tomato soup. The crab cake had nice flavor, though it was on a denser bun than what I would call a brioche bun. The flatbread (okay, pizza) and a real nice pop of color from the arugula, though being a pork lover, I of course, would have loved to have had more pork belly present! The grilled cheese fingers were a fun, grown-up twist on the kid favorite, with smoked cheddar, havarti, muenster, and fontina cheeses in the sandwich, and the soup being tomato and roasted red pepper bisque.
We asked our server to pick a couple cake balls for us, and she brought us, from the left: red velvet, tiramisu, salted caramel, and German chocolate -- great choices! The German chocolate was my favorite, as it combines coconut with chocolatey goodness! They use Callebaut chocolate, a Belgian line that is a favorite among pastry chefs for good reason. Copper also offers other desserts like a heavenly sounding peanut butter pie or the hot mess brownie; with their liquor selection or even a cappuccino, it would be the perfect spot for dessert or a break from a day of shopping. And that, is what I am sure the owners of Austin Cake Ball were banking on with their transition to Copper.
There was only one person working the front of the house; Ryan said she had only been there about ten days, but she was the consummate professional -- friendly, present yet unobtrusive. Copper is open daily for lunch and dinner, with happy hour everyday from 4 - 7 pm, including all day on Sundays, all night Tuesdays and reverse happy hour on Saturdays after 9 pm. I think the hot mess brownie and a glass of port have my name on them when I return!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Bits and Bites

What's going on in ATX

-- As I write this, the Austin Bakes for West citywide bakesale is concluding. Volunteer bakers, from professionals, to bloggers, to you name it, donated their time and baked goods; there were eight sites around town, and all the proceeds will go to AmeriCares. I made Grenada Nutmeg Cake and a whole bunch of biscuits! Our total tally is over $15,000  $18,000 -- thank you to all who helped and bought baked goods!

-- The upcoming Pachanga Festival (May 10 and 11 at Fiesta Gardens) will have a variety of local food trucks on site, including: Slab (who I just had for the first time this week at Trailer Food Tuesdays), La Fantabulous Taco, mmmpanadas, and Tapas Bravas, as well as special Latin-influenced tastings in the VIP area.

-- Argus Cidery celebrates the launch of their Idalou Brut with a crawfish bowl and tasting of their various ciders; May 11th, $50/person. They are also kicking off picnic lunch boxes that can be reserved in advance, and include one pour of cider. $20/lunch.

-- Mother's Day brunch at Sagra, $25/person, May 12th.

-- Jack Allen's Spanish Wine dinner has been moved to May 14th, $95/person.

-- Garza Gardens, operated by Garza High School Students (an alternative high school within AISD) will have an open house on June 1st from 10 am - 3 pm. The students learn horticulture, sustainability, and environmental issues and maintain the garden, which includes herbs that are sold to Farm to Table, a local sourcing company for area food businesses.

-- Faraday's Kitchen Store in Lakeway is having a huge inventory sale, as they will be moving to a new, bigger spot in the Galleria in Bee Cave at 620 and 71. The retail portion will stay about the same size, but the kitchen area will be three times larger, allowing for more classes, events and demos. 

-- El Alma has created a cocktail, the Park Preserver (Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka and muddled mint) in which the proceeds will benefit an "Improve Bouldin Creek Park" fund.

-- Third Base sports bar is opening a new location at 183 and Anderson Mill. 

-- Umami Pizzeria, in the old Romeo's on Barton Springs, will open May 31st.  

-- Patrizi's, a new Italian food trailer, is almost open on the east side, exact location TBA.

-- Al Fico, an Italian restaurant, is looking to open in June at 1700 E. 2nd.

-- Also recently opened, Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ trailer, is behind Star Bar at 600 W. 6th.

-- Tyson's Tacos at 4905 Airport; no web page that I can find, but here's link to their Yelp reviews.

-- Chen Z, the noodle house on Anderson Lane, has changed their name to Shabu

-- A new cider brewery, Austin East Ciders, is set to open this summer at 979 Springdale Road.

I volunteered last weekend at the Austin Food and Wine Festival; a few pictures from the weekend are on my Facebook page. (Have you "liked" it yet?) :)

Also had the privilege to attend a benefit for Chef John Besh's foundation, which provides culinary scholarships to New Orleans residents. The shrimp boil festivities were held on the Whole Foods rooftop, and it was a really great event, complete with music from the Urban Achievers Brass Band! Pictures from it are also on my Facebook page.