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January 28, 2013

Austin Carnaval Brasileiro 2013 pre party happy hour with Austin Samba School

are you ready for Carnaval Brasileiro 2013?  I offer you a sampling of what it has to offer... 

carnaval 2013 austin samba school

pretty girls with elaborate feather and sequin ornamentation dancing to crazy fast drum beats...  that pretty much sums it up. 

dos equis most interesting man in the world austin

we met this interesting man, he gave us a few Dos Equis (XX)

austin samba school carnaval 2013

drums ready, and GO!

carnaval austin 2013 samba school dancers

the girls danced their way around El Sol Y Luna

austin samba school dancers carnaval 2013

yeah, they dance THAT fast!

austin samba school carnaval 2013

samba school dance austin carnaval 2013

austin carnaval brasileiro pre party el sol y luna

and then it was done....  the real event is this saturday, feb 2nd. 

tickets: http://sambaparty.com/

austin samba dancer on 6th street

January 24, 2013

it was for a good cause, and we were hungry (and thirsty)

instead of sending out checks for return address stickers and calendars we didn't ask for, we attended a couple of fund raisers that offered something we could actually use. 

The Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Winter Soiree, benefiting their education fund, party hosted by NSIDE AUSTIN magaine:

mad style nside austin magazine winter soiree 

the event was described as a mad men style evening of philanthropy...

austin philanthropist party

something I hadn't expected to see in my description, philanthropist. 

mad style winter soiree austin

photobooth pics... (I'm trying to look like a philanthropist that is excited about being philanthropic)

the happy philanthropist

open bar, food, music/dancing and black jack.  I hadn't played black jack since I was a kid.  kat quickly got the hang of it.  we had fun.

austin hispanic chamber of commerce winter soiree 2013

black jack table at scottish rite theater austin

scottish rite theater austin philanthropists

Cory had come to the realization this was some sort of democratic party leaning event (a few DEM party politicians were recognized and applauded)... he hadn't expected that.  I don't identify with either democrats or republicans, so I'm not bothered by such left/right, D/R Donkey/Elephant designations. 

He appluaded for the speakers all the same.  We enjoyed some Z-tequila and more black-jack. 

winner winner korean chicken dinner

then, he hit a lucky streak!  winning until the dealer ran out of chips and said, "why don't you guys do me a favor, go dance or something".

black jack high roller bankrupts the house

Brews with Bates, at TRACE (W Hotel Austin), benefiting the Sustainable Food Center:

Trace patio W hotel Austin brews with bates

we started with light snacks, beer-cocktails (cognac with shiner bock, or reposado tequila with blue moon and honey) and live music on the patio.  winter weather was in the 70's and it felt great! 

trace austin w hotel patio winter austin 2013

we moved inside for the formal dinner.  they started with an amuse bouche that involved goat tongue and aspic on a spoon, in a tiny jar (I had to set aside my vegetarian diet for this goat-centric meal)

noble pig john bates trace brews with bates menu

noble pig john bates brews with bates at trace w hotel austin

kat said this (above) was the best thing she's ever had at TRACE.  I'm not sure I agree but if the wife is happy, I'm happy.  we were both happy.

goat three ways brews with bates trace austin w hotel sustainable food center fund raiser

goat three ways above.

brews with bates at trace w hotel austin


January 21, 2013

Carnaval poster signing party with Susannah Blanton and a blanco river hot pot

Austin Carnaval is nearly here.  This year they chose our talented friend Susannah Blanton to create the poster.  We went to the poster signing party.

susannah blanton carnaval poster 2013 signing party

Susanna Blanton

austin carnaval samba school

and of course there was a lot of samba dancers and drumming.

austin carnaval samba school 2013 poster signing party

carnaval austin 2013 samba school

austin samba school drums

samba girls austin carnaval

austin samba school carnaval 2013

austin samba school carnaval

austin samba school party carnaval 2013

austin samba school 2013

austin carnaval poster signing party

austin samba school carnaval

three day weekend, spent one night at our little cabin on the Blanco River. 

blanco river wimberley cabin

my mom took the boys down earlier in the day. 

blanco river wimberley fischer winter jan 2013


blanco river texas winter


boy throwing rocks in the blanco river wimberley


nice texas winter weather, about 70 degrees. 

chinese hot pot hotpot

we had chinese hot pot that evening.  the salmon worked really well, cut into strips, skewered and then poached for 90 seconds.  served with a bit of sweet chili sauce.

salmon sweet chili sauce hotpot


salmon hotpot

#1 son played his noodle like a string instrument.  the daughter said his note was a bit flat.

wimberley cabin fireplace

we are members of the Hill's health and wellness center.  kids are allowed to join on the weekends.  they beat up this dummy. 

the hills health and wellness center west lake hills


January 14, 2013

grilled pizza and other gastronomic destinations

 wood fired pizza fireplace wimberley

I had this vision of using some old pizza stone sections in the fireplace down in wimberley for grilled (wood fired) pizza.  

father and son pizza assembly party

I brought an assortment of toppings, cheeses and semolina dough I'd made.  the kids rolled their dough and assembled toppings.  I also supplied a white sauce from 25 cloves of garlic, butter, cream and parsley (reduced and blended till a smooth paste). 

grilled fireplace pizza midcentury modern cone

the only snag was that the bottom of the pizza cooked before the top browned enough for my liking. 

family night of grilled pizza assembly

off grid screen room wimberley fischer texas grapefruit rio star

grilled pizza finished in magic chef halogen convection oven

we moved to a two stage process, where we browned the bottom in the fireplace on the stones, and browned the top in the magic chef halogen convection oven (black friday impulse buy). 

magic chef halogen convection oven pizza

after we dropped a pizza (or two) we tried cooking the pizzas in the magic chef and skipping the wood fired grill/fireplace entirely. 

magic chef halogen convection oven pizza

I was sad to admit that the magic chef and its reliance on grid supplied electricity made the best pizza.  it was good, real good.  I could try to make a real wood fired oven but I'll just admit my grid tied magic chef superiority for now.  #1 son said "this was the most fun EVER!"  the kids had fun, just us, being a family making pizza together. 

wimberley: snoozie the koozie

we have words we use only when we are at Wimberley.  #1 has decided the item in his hand will from now on, be referred to as "snoozie the koozie".  he demonstrates how he uses it below. 

snoozy the koozy

other words they listed include:

fahr: Combustion or burning.  example, "now that's a fahr"

spatular: a flattened food prep utensil with a handle


family sushi meal at imperia austin downtown

kat was craving sushi, I purchased a groupon and we went to Imperia.  the kids took a rush hour game and we played hangman on #1 son's iPad.  it was also happy hour with reduced prices on appetizers, house wine/sake, and sushi rolls are two for one (buy one get two)

family night at imperia austin asian restaurant

we chose our usual space at the end of the lounge, two big comfy sofas with a low coffee table between.  our sushi home away from home. 

imperia hamachipotle sushi

specialty rolls (above and below) are regular price during happy hour, we used the groupon to pay for those. 

red devil suchi roll imperia austin downtown


braised rib meat eleven plates wine bar austin wine bar westlake

I received an offer from Eleven Plates, come in for a wine tasting from 5-6 and stay for dinner and enjoy buy one entre' get one free.  WOW!  that was a really good meal/deal.  we had three different pinot noir before dinner, then had these two meals at the 2 for 1 offer. 

kat said her brasied rib meat (above) was REALLY GOOD.  I'm off land animal consumption so I stuck to my less photogenic but tasty redfish and quinoa.

eleven plates wine bar and fine dining austin westlake


special pho austin phonatic pho-natic

kat had an annoying head cold, took her to lunch for pho as treatment (it did seem to work).  I had quit pho years ago.  it was getting so popular that many places seemed to be using pho stock cheat (instant pho broth paste that is heavy on artificial color and sodium).  cheap pho made from the shortcut method always made me feel thirsty and bloated afterward. 

I sampled her broth and I'll say that tastes like the real deal!  not too salty and plenty of fresh ingredients.  I was real happy with my grilled shrimp. 

grilled shrimp pho-natic phonatic austin


January 07, 2013

that slow part of the winter break...

the holidays have passed, winter weather is still here but school is still out.  not much happens this week. 

sea bass crudo at TRACE W hotel austin

kat and I did get out for a date night.  we really enjoyed TRACE, especially the sea bass crudo.  our favorite part was that broth at the bottom of the bowl.  make sure to ask your server for a spoon to get to it. 

1967 dodge hotrod van a100 mopar

the Dodge A100 hotrod van has proven itself reliable and ready to face the inspection test.  I refinished an original grill and replaced the silly one some PO (previous owner) had applied.  blue van is next on my list. 

ipod nano 6th generation watch

kat got me a really awesome Christmas gift this year!  looks sort of like a watch, but it's really an ipod nano 6th generation on a watch strap.

ipod nanao watch 6th generation

scallops sous vide then grilled

spent the weekend at our place on the blanco river near wimberley.  I made scallops in the sous vide and finished them over a hot mesquite and oak grill.  they came out perfect and made my wife so happy. 

magic chef halogen convection oven

an impulse buy at home depot on black friday... this crazy magic chef halogen convection oven did a great job of making breakfast biscuits, even if it was four at a time. 

biscuits and scrambled eggs der scharfe maxx

I made scrambled eggs using scharfe maxx cheese and the cheesey egg biscuit sandwiches made for a delicious breakfast, even when it was 32 degrees in the screen room. 

wimberley bottle wall

kat wants a chair that hangs off the arbor, I made a metal brace to stop any sway and then I further stiffened it with concrete wall.  I sunk doubled up wine bottle ends into the concrete to let some light through. 

sunlight through bottle wall wimberley cabin

I was happy to see the sunrise shining through the bottles!

austin modhouse koi

the koi are much slower moving in the winter.

kay-so the housecat observes koi fish

Kay-so the cat drinks the same water the koi live in.  our koi are quite tame and often come when they see somebody at the edge of their pond.  they assume that food is being dispensed.  I saw the big gold koi (Goldy) nibbling on Kay-so's tongue as she was drinking (koi had assumed it was food).  it was quite comedic to me, Kay-so was a bit annoyed. 

housecat and koi fish

lenoir austin french food

found a few old pics from before Christmas on the pocket camera.  great meal at Lenoir, faces have been blurred to protect the innocent. 

champagne at lenoir austin $20 corkage

I just received notice that Austin Cotillion 2013 is about to start.  Are they ready for my daughter this year?  She's become much more self assure, cynical and sarcastic.... that's my girl!

January 01, 2013

New Orleans streetcars and guitars

new orleans streetcar riverwalk

rode from the riverwalk to the french market and cafe du monde, $1.25 per person or $3 for an all day pass.

new orleans street car garden district saint charles line

we also took the saint charles streetcar through the garden district.  streetcar riding was the best part of the trip for #2 son. 

streetcar ride st charles line garden district new orleans

he could've ridden all day. 

st charles streetcar new orleans garden district

streetcar new orleans st charles canal street

new orleans riverwalk streetcar hilton

waiting for the street car in front of our hotel at the riverwalk.

guitar musician pirate's alley new orleans

Pirate's Alley

lafitte's blacksmith shop bar bourbon street musician new orleans

Lafitte's blacksmith shop established in 1772, the oldest bar in america.

jackson square new orleans street musician

Jackson Square

jackson square new orleans louisiana street musician

down and out on the streets of new orleans street musician cafe maspero

the hard life of a street musician on a cold new orleans day.  he was revived with french onion soup from Cafe Maspero stood in line for around 30 minutes to get in for their "traditional New Orleans sandwiches" (Muffaletta).  food was a bit salty, but it was cheap and it was warm inside.  the food revived the kids as they had crashed from all that sugar for breakfast.  The place was also once used as a slave exchange. 

New Orleans Louisiana, eats and such

we took off down I49, driving south.  somehow I mentioned to kat that Natchitoches was famous for their meat pies.  didn't take long before we were off the highway, and driving into the historic area of Natchitoches.  kat was working her yelp to find us a place to eat. 

natchitoches meat pies at the landing louisiana

we had a nice lunch at the landing.  we also had the fried green tomatoes and some fried oysters. 

new orleans canal street winter 2012 

we arrived in new orleans a bit late, but made the best of our time and set out for our previously scheduled happy hour.

palace cafe sidewalk table new orleans

we made it for happy hour but the spaces indoors were all taken, and there was already a three hour wait for a table for dinner.  we braved the cold and the wind and sat out front.

crab claws remoulade palace cafew new orleans happy hour

small plates are only $5 for happy hour, the crab claws with remoulade were really good.  the buffalo oysters seen below were interesting (wouldn't order them again).  delicous fried oyster with blue cheese and buffalo style wing sauce on toast.

buffalo fried oysters palace cafe new orleans happy hour

then the wind picked up, and we got cold.  we'd failed to make any dinner reservations, we set off on foot through the french quarter with no destination.  but, we didn't have to walk far.

sobou new orleans w hotel restaurant

SoBou (W hotel French Quarter)  we spied the dining room from the cold and windy street, it was so beautiful in there.  a seamless blend of modernism with an antique feel.  with no reservations I went in and groveled.  they gave us a great space at the back of the bar, we had a whole area to ourselves and it was perfect.

sobou new orleans w hotel 

sobou new orleans w hotel bar

scallop carpacio sobou new orleans w hotel

the scallop carpaccio was really, really, good. 

tuna cones sobou new orleans w hotel restaurant

those are tuna cones, fun. 

butternut squash begniet sobou w hotel new orleans restaurant

butternut squash begniets (top plate) and fried boudin balls.

Cafe Du Monde: no trip to New Oleans would be complete without begniets from this place.  will probably skip it next time.  been there done that, too much sugar.

cafe du monde


Drago's new orleans charbroiled oysters

Drago's is famous for their charbroiled oysters.  we sat at the oyster bar and watched.  they had three big grills all working at the same time.  they'd load them up and battle the flames, serve and repeat. 

drago's carbroiled oysters new orleans

carousel bar hotel monteleone new orleans

we met up with our good friend CMoore for some pre dinner cocktails at the Carousel bar at the hotel Monteleone.  yes, the whole bar rotates.  gotta keep track of the exit and bathrooms as they keep moving from your seat at the bar. 

Bayona:  I'd read about Susan Spicer's famous Bayona and their garlic soup.  I made reservations for kat and I to try some.  (didn't take big camera).  I also didn't take a pic of the garlic soup,, it looks a lot like fresh made peanut butter.  we liked it quite a bit.

bayona new orleans french quarter restaurant sweet breads

(sweet breads above and duck below)

susan spicer's bayona duck new orleans french quarter restaurant

New Year's Eve 2012:

garlic soup at home bayona susan spicer

I knew that the Bayona garlic soup recipe had been published years ago.  I made a big pot of it for NYr's eve.  I rarely follow a recipe but I tried real hard to do so.  I did use cibatta instead of french bread and I also added a splash of VSOP cognac. 

new year's eve 2012 austin candle light dinner

we dined by candle light (#2 son didn't want his picture taken so he tripped the shutter for me)

I used the sous vide to make beef tenderloin.  I had made a sauce from mushroom, garlic, onion and dijon mustard for them to bath with in their bags.  one of the best fillet's we ever ate!  and now that it's 2013... I don't eat meat again for a while.  so I had a good steak to close out 2012.

beef tenderloin sous vide 7 hours at 133F and brussels sprouts

I had the steaks in the sous vide for 7 hours at 133F.  my dad gave me a cool laser type surface temp reader.  so now I have redundant temp meters to ensure my meat is cooked to an exact temp.