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November 24, 2013

Castle Hornberg (Germany) Chef's table dinner at FABI+ROSI

We enjoyed a five course meal prepared by Master Chef Gerhard Penitz, of the Castle Hornberg, Germany. 

fabi+rosi castle hornberg wine dinner chef's table menu

BIG

castle hornberg fabi rosi chef's table

The Lighting in the back room is warm, yellow-orange even.  It takes a lot of manipulation to get the pics of food to render true colors. 

fabi+rosi wine dinner chef's table castle hornberg

filet of venison fabi+rosi chef's table castle hornberg germany

Finally busted out the iPhone flashlight for an impromptu studio lighting technique.  The venison filet was fantastic!  It was all delicious and we enjoyed some witty banter with Chef after the meal.  Chef Wolfgang of Fabi+Rosi had apprenticed at the Burg Hornberg, the two chefs had a long history together.  We felt priviliged to be there for this reunion of sorts, like extended family that gets all the benefits of great food and wine. 

fabi+rosi private event room austin tx wine dinner

The single decorative item in the back room is this large white buck. 

fabi+rosi wine dinner german chef's table castle hornberg

chef castle hornberg fabi+rosi germany austin

Chef Wolfgang translated for Master Chef Penitz, explaining how he was traveling around, checking up on his past apprentices.  Ensuring they were still doing things right! 

castle hornberg germany

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Tapasitas Grand Opening party, West 6th area

Tapasitas is officially open, we stopped by their Grand Opening party to mark the occasion.  I recommend you give them a try, we've had a few great experiences there and found a few familiar faces. 

 mitaxa porron tapasitas Justin Elliot austin mixologist bartender

Yeah, it's a spanish porron, and I'm like a baby bird receiving my sustenance from the momma bird. 

The part of momma bird was played by Justin Elliot, brand ambassador for Metaxa, usually found behind the bar at Qui. 

tapasitas grand opening austin tapas

Two other happy "brand ambassadors" serving up custom cocktails to celebrate the opening of Tapasitas. 

tapasitas moscow mule and martini austin tapas bar w. 6th

We appreciated their hospitality.  It looks like they are going to do well.  We'll be back.

November 18, 2013

Tapas and the Turkey (Tesla Tom)

It used to be a well known fact, Austin had NO GOOD tapas restaurants.  There was one place that served what they called tapas, but it was not good.  Times have changed!  Suddenly we find THREE really good tapas places. We managed to sample them all in one week. 

While they haven't yet had their Grand Opening Event (it's this wednesday) we went toTapasitas for an art event. 

outside of tapasitas austin

jeff boley cocktail austin

With Jeff Boley behind the bar, you know the cocktail options to be well crafted. 

pork belly tapasitas austin tapas

The food is also creative and delicious.  Pork belly (above), and sweetbreads (below) were really good.  We also enjoyed the steak tartare.

sweetbreads tapas austin tapasitas

The bottle prices at Tapasitas are very fair.  Wine by the glass will cost nearly the same as a bottle at just three glasses (example: $11 per glass or $35 for the bottle).

live music austin tapas tapasitas

Dude played guitar while Kat scooped up a few items from the silent auction. 

Tapas, art, and turkey in the Tesla:

tesla chauffer

we spent an evening with friends, visiting art studios and hopping between two other new tapas restaurants.  It was fun being chauffered in their Tesla.

tesla tom the turkey pinata

While visiting with our friend, artist Caroline Wright, we found this turkey!  Took him with us, we did.  He did fit in the third row (rear facing) seat of the Tesla.  I think we can safely say, this was the very first giant turkey pinata EVER driven around in a Tesla. 

turkey pinata austin

chris levack EAST sculptor

We stopped for some fun and casual conversation with Chris Levack at his studio. 

winebelly outdoor patio tapas austin

We enjoyed some of the lovely weather in the back patio of Winebelly.  Our first tapas stop of the evening.

white anchovies tapas austin winebelly

The White anchovies were excellent.

barlata austin tapas

We eventually landed at Barlata.  I'd forgotten it was F1 weekend, it was packed.  The seating is communal and the lady next to me saw I had my little camera out.  She assumed I was trying to sneak a pic of Alonzo (sp?).  She said the F1 Ferrari driver was seated near us.  We came for the tapas, and beverages, not papparazi. 

craft cocktails at barlata austin

Kat had this really elaborate and firey cocktail. 

firey cocktail barlata austin

wine service at barlata austin tapas

paella austin barlata

we had tapas, but the real jewel from Barlata, the paellas. 

honorable mention:

peanut curry Sway Thai austin texas

I had a delicious lunch at Sway this past week, Peanut Curry (with chicken confit). It was cold out, we warmed up with hot Jade Oolong tea from Taiwan.

Sway Thai Austin hot oolong tea

Kat and I also tried some of the juices from Benji's.  GOOD!  looking forward to returning with kids to try their tenderloin fajitas. 

Benji's Cantina cocktails austin tx

the green drink was like a margarita with avocado in it, and the red one had blackberry but not sweet or syrupy.  we liked them both. 

OK, so did we do/consume all of that (including duck cassoulet) in a week?  it was a good week for eats and drinks. 

Cassoulet, low country French food feast #2

We've been adding a bit of French to our home, mainly some food, wine and vocabulary.  I've been exploring some of the classic French food I had never made at home.  This was our first Cassoulet.

Started on Monday by salting some duck leg quarters.

duck confit for cassoulet

After two days in salt, along with shallot, garlic and thyme, they get sumberged in duck fat and baked low and slow (250) for a few hours.

duck confit oven

the duck is left in the fat, and stored in the refrigerator for almost a week.

duck in duck fat confit

duck confit at home

duck confit meat is liberated from the skin and bone.

marvin and eichler

they were so patient, hoping a scrap would slip from Kat's hands and land on the floor. 

Sunday morning, I combined the duck confit with the two other major components listed below:

1lb of norther white beans, I prepared the beans in the pressure cooker using a rich chicken stock, smoked ham hock and some onion.

Pork Stew (made on friday), 1 lb of pork shoulder (trimmed of fat), onion, carrot, (LOTS of) garlic, and one LB of pork/garlic sausage along with herbs and, tomato, white wine, rich chicken stock...  and it all starts by browning the meat and veg in duck fat, add the liquids and reduce.  there is a lot of fat in this dish.

duck confit cassoulet assembled

Sunday came and everything assembled. I put a dallop of duck aspic and a bit more duck fat on top.  it went into the oven for 3 hours at 300.  Then I applied some bread crumbs and bumped the heat up for another 15 mins till the top was all golden and crusty.

duck cassoulet

After a week of effort and smelling all these fantastic aromas, we finally have our very first duck cassoulet.  It's not very photogenic but it smelled amazing. 

We had other tasty sides and small bites to enjoy before we dove head first into golden cassoulet goodness.

hearts of romain salad with shallot and pecorino

duck cassoulet

It was good!  the top as just a bit crusty with the bottom bits nicely caramelized. 

The weather was cool enough for us to enjoy the hearty low-country French Fare in the screen room.  and of course a friend brought a selection of French wine to sample and complete our French evening. 

jl chave hermitage 2000 france syrah wine

our trio of fancy French vin rouge!

 

November 11, 2013

Yelp Golden Age party 2013

oyster shooter barChi

parking downtown Austin is not like it used to be.  street space is hard to come by and most lots are now $10.  I'm in the habit of arriving early to find cheap street parking, and patronizing some happy hour until event time.  on this occasion, we stopped in for sushi happy hour at BarChi.  this was kat's first experience with an oyster shooter, jalapeno infused hot sake!  she liked it. 

elite yelp austin 2013

the Yelp Golden Age party was at Speakeasy.  this multi level old building had fun stuff tucked everywhere.  we enjoyed open bar, free food from some great restaurants, a jazz band with tap dancer girl, pole acrobatics by the Brass Ovaries, a wonderfull rooftop deck .... they even have some vintage bowling lanes on the second floor. 

gold is best! (iphone 5s) yelp gold party austin

Gold party was perfect occasion to display a gold iphone 5s

brass ovaries speakeasy yelp party 2013

brass ovaries girls on poles austin

brass ovaries yelp party 2013 speakeasy

speakeasy rooftop photography

we snuck out on the rooftop for some pics taken with my wifi enabled camera/lens.  I control it via iphone. 

iphone portraiture studio lighting

it was a good party.  thanks again Yelp.com

WURSTFEST 2013, Beer and Sausage festival, Texas-German style

I've not been to Oktoberfest in Germany, but I think I get it now.  Beer, and Bratwurst... then mix in some Oompa music spiced with the frequent, "zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi, PROSIT!", don't forget the chicken dance, and somehow it all works.  a great deal of fun was the end result. 

wurstfest 2013 new braunfels texas oktoberfest

I'm getting good use of my lederhosen.

meat sausage on a stick wurstfest

sausage on a stick! 

beer and dance hall wurstfest

several halls are filled with communal tables, and a live band playing traditional German songs; Roll out the barrel, Eidelweiss, chicken dance and Ein Prosit were crowd favorites. 

german oompa band chicken dance

I never had much interest in the music.  but after some bratwurst and a pint or two of oktoberfest...  it really starts to gain some appeal.  especially those times when the entire hall sings along at top volume. 

german beer hall new braunfels wurstfest

this hall had only German beers on tap. 

wurstfest ferris wheel 2013

kids enjoyed a few carnival rides. 

beer hall dancing band wurstfest 2013

it got MUCH more crowded as the sun went down.  we were surprised at how polite and orderly everybody behaved.  it was very dense but there was a constant stream of "excuse me, you go first" or "please sir (arm stretched out yielding the way)".  everybody was happy, no sloppy angry drunks looking for trouble. 

silly hats at wurstfest

the boys got silly hats to mark the occasion.  #1 son had second thoughts when I explained his hat would be coming from his own $.  then I bargained on the price and he agreed the hatdog was worth the lower price. 

beer at wurstfest 2013

many people skip the 16 oz cup of beer and drink straight from the pitcher.  and they will start a stack of dead soldiers they proudly carry around.  by nightfall, these stacks are quite vertiginous. 

chicken dance tally marks wurstfest

I asked the ladies what the tally marks represent, each group numbered by year.  the oldest group we found was back to 1991.  each mark represents a performance of the chicken dance in that hall. 

thumb war

communal tables in the beer hall wurstfest oktoberfest texas new braunfels

the tables are communal.  you end up sharing your wurstfest experience with new friends.  the magic of beer, sausage and Ein Prosit. 

bear claw, apple struedel and hefewizen wurstfest 2013

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi, Prosit!

we left just as it got dark, slowly pushing our way through the crowd of happy german-texans. 

and the next day... kat and I found this Growler filling device at Central Market.  it fills the growler in a pressurized chamber so it's nice and fresh when you get around to opening it.  we had some local hefeweizen from Live Oak and enjoyed it with sushi

central market growler filling station live oak hefeweizen

and that evening we took the kids to House Wine.  they really enjoy those table top s'mores.

house wine austin 78704 table top s'mores

November 04, 2013

cooking on salt, B-scene Black Forest faire

himalayan salt plate cooktop

some friends gave us a Himalayan salt plate.  it's a 200 million year old slab of salt that you cook on.  Hint, do NOT season (salt) the food before you apply it to the HOT plate, it will be seasoned by the cooking surface. 

himalayan salt plate shrimp feast 2013

I heated it up on the cooktop and used the hot salt plate to cook right on the table.  the kids LOVED this.  the sizzle and the steam from the food cooking right in front of you. 

himalayan salt plate meal 

most people use these on the stove top or grill, to keep the stone hot. 

it does start to cool once removed from the heat, we only get one real hot pass with food.  and, it's important not to crowd the plate.  I had just a bit too much (above).  it was still hot enough to cook a few more scallops on a second pass, and the scallops were delicious!

tabletop salt plate cooking steak shrimp scallops

B-Scene at the Blanton Museum of Art, Black Forest Faire

blanton b-scene black forest faire

brave combo austin blanton museum of art b-scene 2013 black forest faire

Brave Combo played and the people did dance and have a good time! 

I have been feeling less than 100% (cough and cold) so I mostly watched.  an older man put his hand on my shoulder and advised, "you better dance with her!  it'll be the only 2, or 3 minutes you get to be in control...  think about it!" 

brave combo 2013 austin blanton b-scene

a german guy and a chinese gal walk into an art museum and the bartender says...

we ate bratwurst and I got to wear the lederhosen again.  real lederhosen are not cheap, so I need to wear them often to justify the cost.  don't be alarmed if you see me at the HEB in such attire. 

Halloween 2013, portal guns and Downton Abbey

portal gun diy 2013

#2 son was not shy about his disappointment in my portal guns for last Halloween.  After he got over the fact that it would not "make a portal", he noticed I used a pistol grip.  the Portal game portal gun has the hand inserted into the back of the barrel...  so this year, I fixed the portal guns. 

portal gun homemade 2013

portal gun halloween 2013 p-body

he approved. 

downton abbey downtown halloween 2013 costume

the adults....  eh, older humans dressed up in a Downton Abbey style.  We've never seen the show but internet image searches obviously sent us in the right direction. 

Fall field trip 2013

elgin Christmas tree farm field trip 2013 eanes

these kids were just a little bit excited.  we did a LOT in a short time.  two tractor pulled train-like rides, one through a spooky forest.  we tossed bean bags, decorated pumpkins, had a water pump fueled duckie race, navigated our way through a maze, and spent some time with a baby goat...  the kids had some fun. 

eanes fall field trip 2013

elgin tree farm eanes westlake class of 2026 2013

at the Elgin Christmas Tree Farm

eanes buddies 2013 elgin

maze exit elgin tree farm eanes 2013