“A Quiet WEEKEND” from the Empty Nesters…with great food

Here is a tour of our eats and drinks Thursday – Sunday, October 16-19, 2014.

THURSDAY>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Corn ChowderDinner: Cheddar, Corn, and Potato Chowder
A recipe from the Whole Foods App.  I serve it with Aurelia’s Chorizo.  You can find this on occasion at HEB (the Besitos – small links). Central Market also carries Aurelia’s chorizo products. The authentic flavors in this chorizo can no be beat!

FRIDAY>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Dinner: Conan’s Pizza – Marc grew up with this Austin landmark.  Still has the phone number memorized. (sorry – no picture.)
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Wine: Cote 125 2013 Corbières, a new French offering from our favorite Austin wine shop, EAST END WINES.

Beer (my Dad joined us): Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale

 

 

 

SATURDAY NIGHT>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

SteakDinner: Beef Ribeye, Bacon and Mushroom Potato Gratin, Salad, Chocolate Coconut Bars

Marc grilled Beef Ribeye, served with a Porcini Butter (an idea I borrowed from Vino Vino). The Potato Gratin was amazing! I found this recipe on a favorite blog – the Brown Eyed Baker. This recipe will definitely grace our table again, most likely when a friend like you is over for dinner.

Recipe link – Bacon, Mushroom and Potato Gratin

IMG_2129Wine: After finishing the Cote 125 Corbières from last night, we opened Domaine de Colette Régnié Beaujolais, another great French offering.

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For dessert, I made Chocolate Coconut Bars, a recipe from Martha Stewart.  All of the ingredients were already in my pantry, so this was easy and fun.  I substituted vanilla wafers for the graham crackers. I used a variety of chocolate chips – all were partial bags left over from a previous recipe (or Ben’s late night snacking). These bars are soft and chewy, but not sticky. We will be eating these all week long!

Recipe link – Chocolate Coconut Bars

SUNDAY>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Image 2Breakfast: Trader Joes’ Pumpkin Pancakes
At $2.99, this pancake mix is a real deal. They were very easy to make, needing a minimal amount of extra ingredients. The texture was soft and the flavor reminded me of Kirby Lane’s version. A nice treat for a quick breakfast before church.

Lunch: Sierras Mexican Restaurant in Georgetown
Our son, Nick, introduced us to this new place. Now that we are attending church in Georgetown, it is nice to eat locally so we can spend time with Nick. I’ve had the beef enchiladas both visits and they are great. Solid Tex-Mex fare with great service, good price point, and no wait.

Dinner: The famous Chicken Tamale Casserole – an Erck staple.
I found this recipe in a Cooking Light magazine years ago. I’ve altered it slightly, omitting the green chilies, and using one whole egg, instead of the egg white.  Heats up wonderfully as leftovers.

Recipe link – http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-tamale-casserole

Dinner, the Symphony, & ACL Traffic

One of our favorite symphonic pieces lured us to an Austin Symphony concert.  Several years ago, Debra played a band arrangement of Scheherazade at LBJ High School (a big SHOUT OUT to Don Haynes, LBJ Band Director).  Marc played the same transcription at Anderson High School.  A few years ago, the Anderson High School band played an entire marching band show featuring the work’s amazing themes by Rimsky-Korsakov.  What can we say.  We love it!

Due to ACL (Austin City Limits), we knew that our best bet for a bite to eat before the concert would be to get down to the Long Center early and find some spot close by to dine.  We decided on El Alma, described on their website as a “homespun take on the contemporary flavors of Mexico”

The wine list is pretty limited (only 4-5 offerings by the glass).  The Malbec Debra selected was fine, but did not hold up to the mole sauce in her entrée.  Marc went with a Negro Modello on tap.  Excellent choice.

For dinner, we enjoyed the following:

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Fish Taco – marinated black drum, Valentina aioli slaw, avocado

 

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The Tamale Special

 

 

 

Duck Enmoladas – Shredded roasted duck enchiladas with pasilla mole and almonds.  Side serving of Corn Pudding

 

 

The duck enmoladas were fantastic – a generous portion of shredded, tender duck meat rolled in a soft tortilla and covered in an authentic mole sauce.  The mole was excellent – in the same category as our favorite mole sauce at Manuels.  The Corn Pudding was served like a small cornbread casserole muffin – creamy texture and good balance of sweet flavor and heat.

I might also note that they serve chips with two styles of salsa while you are waiting for your meal. I really like the smokiness and the texture of their red salsa.

After the concert we had planned on stopping somewhere for dessert, but it took us over an hour just to get out of the Long Center parking garage (due to ACL traffic).  Oh well, I guess that goat cheesecake at Vino Vino will have to wait.

Eat, Sip, Swirl Austin restaurants

Home Is Where the Heart Is… and Good Food!

DINING AT HOME – OCTOBER 2014 — Now that Marc and I fall in the “empty nesters” club, our meals at home look and feel a little different.

First adjustment: servings.  Although it is nice to have leftovers for the lunchbox, an abundance of servings equals waste – or eating the same dish for multiple days in a row. Neither of those options suits me. Therefore, our goal is 4 servings max.

Second adjustment: variety of offerings at one meal.  Now that there is no longer a need for multiple veggie/fruit choices on the table (aka picky eaters), we aim for a protein, a veggie or salad and one “extra” – either a starch, fruit, or additional vegetable.

Third adjustment: adventure and budget.  New recipes are much easier to put on the table now – and we have already found a few keepers that I think the boys are really going to like when they are home.  Sometimes new recipes require ingredients that are more expensive and/or more challenging to find.  With just two servings needed, however, it is not as cost prohibitive to reach out to a special cut of meat or fish.

Here are a few of our most recent dinners.

SUNDAY NIGHT: Grilled Maple Chipotle Pork chop, roasted sweet potatoes, saladIMG_0973

I found the pork chop recipe on myrecipes.com. This is one of my go-to sites for easy, yet fresh ideas for meals. The maple chipotle sauce is a winner – also works well with grilled shrimp and the Gouda Grits suggested in the same recipe.

Here is a link to my Pinterest Page that features this recipe (and several other family favorites).  Musicdillo’s Favorite Family Dinners (Pinterest)

MONDAY NIGHT: Grilled Sausage, Gouda Grits, Butter Lettuce salad with Fuji apple, Goat Cheese and Toasted pecans 

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We are becoming fonder of the new Whole Foods location in Austin, just north of the Domain.  If you go for the sales, you can get some high quality produce and meats at a very reasonable price.  They always have a very interesting offering of homemade sausages.  We selected two – the Cranberry Chipotle Pork (which we have had before and LOVED) and a Pumpkin Apple mixture (can’t remember the other ingredients). Both were delicious!

The grits recipe is another from myrecipes.com.  You can find it on the Pinterest page linked above.  I can’t get enough of this dish – super easy and amazingly flavorful.  Easy to reheat – just add some milk to the cold grits in a saucepan over low heat until you get the consistency you like.

The salad was my favorite part of the meal. I dressed the fresh ingredients with a light vinaigerette – white wine, white vinegar, a touch of honey, Italian herbs, cracked pepper and olive oil.

Image 1TUESDAY NIGHT: Julia Child’s classic Quiche, fresh fruit

I’ve been making this quiche recipe forever!  It is so easy, and great for a quick meal when you are not sure what’s available in the fridge.  I use frozen regular pie crusts.  Do not use the deep dish – they take too long to cook through and the crust will be overcooked.  Brown the crusts (I always make two at a time) for about 10-12 minutes in a 350F oven.  While the crusts are cooking, combine eggs and milk (2% works fine).  The ratio is ONE egg plus milk = ½ cup. It takes about 6 eggs to fill the two pie crusts.

When the crusts come out of the oven, add meat, cheese and/or veggies to your pie crusts.   Cooked bacon and cheese (swiss is my favorite, but I use whatever I have in the fridge) is our go-to favorite.  In the past we have added things like fresh basil, sliced cherry tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions.

Pour the egg/milk mixture over the other filling items. Sprinkle with seasoning – salt, pepper and paprika are possible options.

Cook at 350F for about 30-35 minutes. GREAT as leftovers for breakfast!

Serve with a salad, or on this occasion, fresh fruit on hand. Nothing elegant, but easy to prep and delicious.

Not sure what’s for dinner tomorrow night – What are YOU serving for dinners at home these days?

FLOUR & VINE… and the KING – OCTOBER 2014

After a year hiatus, we are back! We look forward to sharing with you again our culinary adventures – both out and about and at home.

Date night – Friday, October 3, 2014 — Dinner and a Show!!IMG_0971

After a challenging week at school, we headed out early (due to ACL) and parked our car at Zach Scott. Before heading to the theatre, we walked over to a relatively new wine restaurant in Austin– Flour and Vine. After reading reviews online, I decided we should sit at the bar and take advantage of their Happy Hour deals. We hit the jackpot.

If your goal is to try several wines, the flight is a good deal.  Three half-glasses for half price. We asked the bartender to select a flight of whites and a flight of reds for us from a nice selection of wines sold by the glass.

WHITES:

  1. 2013 Château Bellevue Entre-deux-Mers, France
    70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon blend.
  2. 2013 Lícia Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain
  3. 2012 Mouton Cadet, Bordeaux Blanc, France

REDS:

  1. 2011 Vecchia Cantina, Rosso Toscano, Campaltino, Italy Sangiovese & Canaiolo.
  2. 2011 Damilano “Marghe” Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Italy
  3. 2012 El Cortijillo Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain

The Happy Hour food offerings are very reasonably priced.  We had:

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* The antipasto platter – three cheeses, two meats, cashews, olives, dates, peppers, crostini and mustard. A variety of textures and flavors, which provided some nice pairing with our wine.

 

 

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* Sauteed Gulf Shrimp, served with paprika rice and a lemon garlic sauce. This was our favorite offering of the evening – and an absolute steal at $7.00. The sauce was reminiscent of our favorite shrimp dish at Paesanos (in San Antonio) – clean, fresh, simple.

 

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* BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders – served with an apple slaw. The pork was delicious – not fatty like some other offerings. Great texture and just the right amount of seasoning.

The bar staff took good care of us as we took our time enjoying our wine and food pairings. It was an easy jaunt to the theatre afterwards for an AMAZING performance of the KING AND I at Zach Scott Theatre.

Hats off to the cast and crew for a moving and memorable evening!!!

10649821_10204735999457548_2401743179557155461_nSpecial “thanks” to Mel Sagrado Maghuyop and Yuki Ozeki for visiting my school (Hill Elementary, Austin ISD) and sharing a little theatre “magic” with my 4th graders).  Mr. Maghuyop was a captivating King (I cried from the ballet sequence all the way to the end of the show!).  Go see the show and support live theatre in Austin, Texas!!
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Flour and Vine on Urbanspoon

Another Fine Anniversary Dinner- Happy 24th!

CONGRESS IMG_2010

Yes, spoiled we are in Austin.  There will never be enough days or meals to enjoy all of the tastes offered in our city – from fine restaurants, to food trucks, delis, cheese shops and wine bars (to name a few).   The summer, however, affords us with a little more time to whittle down our “bucket list”.

Fine dining was in order this weekend in celebration of our 24th wedding anniversary.  With the amazing experiences we have had in previous years at some of our favorite restaurants (Wink, Vino Vino and the Carillon), it always feels like a risk to try something new.  At the top of our “haven’t tried yet list” was Congress, located at the corner of Congress Ave. and 2nd Street on the ground floor of the Austonian condo tower.   Two enticing reasons sealed our decision to finally visit this fairly new (just under 3 years old) dining establishment – Chef David Bull, and our favorite sommelier, Paula Rester.  Chef Bull needs no introduction – he is a ROCK STAR in the culinary world.  We met Ms. Rester at her previous position at Vino Vino, where she delighted us at every visit with great tastes and incredible knowledge of all things “wine”.

Wait until you read about the genius cuisine and wine pairings to follow!

Both the hostess and our server greeted us with “Happy Anniversary”, and before we were even able to get a good look at the surroundings two glasses of Champagne were being poured at our table.  Soon after we were presented a menu.  There are two choices, a prix-fixe three-course meal, or the chef’s tasting menu (seven courses).  I can not imagine attempting seven courses, although there were a couple of offerings on the list that I would have loved to try.  The three-course menu presents plenty of choices, but does not include dessert (separate menu).  All of the menus can be viewed online at the restaurant’s website: Congress

Once we finally made our selections, the seamless presentation of dinner began.

First, the amuse bouche.  Even after having the server repeat the description twice, I cannot remember all of the details about this delightful start to our meal.  I will attempt to list the ingredients here, in a similar fashion to how the menu presented the other courses we selected.

Amuse Bouche:  Kaffir yogurt * horseradish crème * pickled watermelon * bergamot

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Light, refreshing – a great way to prepare the palette for what was coming next.

Bread:  Focaccini is what I believe they called this bread.  A baby focaccia roll, warm, soft inside, slight crunch on the outside with a hint of sea salt.  OMG!

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First Course: Steak Tartare · Sunchoke · Parmesan · White anchovy · Grilled Kale · Caesar Dressing

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Luscious, rich, beautiful salt from the anchovy, tart from the dressing, Unbelievable.  Not sure I have the experience to describe this wonderful dish.

IMG_2003Sungold Tomato Salad · Confit Carrots · Rosemary Buttermilk · Nutmeg

Definitely the most artistic plating of the night!  The variety of heights and curves in the visual presentation of this dish reminded me of a roller coaster, but one you would see in a Dr. Suess book. Little stacks of carrots (reminded me of pickles, a little sour and crunchy), tiny orange-yellow hued tomatoes, accompanied by small dollops of two different creams, white and pale orange, that provided a another texture profile for the dish.  On top, a playful ribbon of some kind of crunchy veggie – our server believed it was made from a white carrot.  This dish was paired with an elegant, yet subtle French burgundy.  Excellent!

Second Course:  Garden Carrot Ravioli · Spinach · Gingered Carrots · lemongrass · Carrot Tops

Very good, interesting combo (sorry, no picture)

Suckling Pig · loin and Shoulder · Escarole · Ramen Noodle · Black Radish · Bacon Dashi

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… and now for something completely different.  A big pottery bowl arrives.  Inside a pile of ramen noodles, topped with a radish salad (I spied black and watermelon radish cut in very tiny matchsticks with microgreens) and transparent slices of raw pig.  Then the server took a beaker with the Bacon Dashi (a piping hot and rich bacon broth, filled with umami) and poored it over the pig, cooking it on the spot.

As the liquid mingled with the rest of the ingredients, pieces of pork emerged from the pile, along with the escarole.  This rather substantial dish was paired with an Austrian gewürztraminer, light but spunky.  Gewürztraminer is quickly becoming one of my favorite white varietals.  Excellent!

Third Course: Surprise!  The wine director, Ms. Rester, surprises us with a bonus course – her favorite offering from Chef Bull’s tasting menu:

Cheese agnolotti · Morel Mushroom · Tomato Provencal · Black Truffle · Parmesan

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Has food ever made you cry before?  Here I go…

(Excuse me while I gain my composure)

This is what I imagine a perfect plate of pasta in Italy would taste like.  Delicate pillows of luscious cheese ravioli, accompanied by mushroom heaven, the most tantalizing tomato jam creation, and Parmesan two ways – foam and shaved.

Paired with a beautiful Italian Barbera

- Palladino ‘Bricco delle Olive’ Barbera d’alba Superiore 2007 Piedmont, Italy

Hands down the most exquisite cuisine we enjoyed all night.  Simply amazing!

Fourth Course: Ora King Salmon · Grilled Okra · Fried Yucca · Corn Mole · Roasted Corn · Epazote

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Goat Tenderloin · Garlic Sausage · Morel Mushroom · Spring Peas · Cumin Yogurt · Pepita

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I almost turned this entrée away after the last course.  My first time to eat goat, however, so the show must continue.  The tenderloin was not gamey at all.  It reminded me of a perfectly cooked piece of hanger steak.  The sausage was good, but very garlicky and not for the faint hearted.  The cumin yogurt and hint of pepita puree were nice accompaniments.  This was one of those rare times when I would have liked a little more of the accompanying condiment (not sure what else to call it).  I am not a fan of peas, so they were quietly left behind.

I loved the pairing of a Spanish petite syrah blend with this dish.

Fifth Course: Before dessert arrived, I ordered a cup of hot tea.  The server returned with a box of large test tubes, each holding a varietal of tea leaves.  From the long-winded descriptions, I could not decipher if there was anything resembling a traditional black tea (like English Breakfast).  Steering clear of the Earl Grey, I ordered the Goddess of Mercy.  The tea was presented appropriately, pretty silver teapot, hot water, sugar cubes and a small serving of milk.

Initially we ordered what appeared to be the chocolate dessert offering on the menu.

Chocolate Veloute  · Mint Marshmallow · Cocoa Nib · Strawberry-Coconut Sorbet

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We were not impressed with this dessert.  The sorbet was very good, but the rest of the dish just didn’t meet the mark, in our opinions.  I was not taken with the presentation or the combination of textures and flavors.

Once again, an attentive staff member noticed a “disturbance” in the force.  They quickly removed the dish, and without even asking, remarked “Let me get you my favorite dessert on the menu.”

Banana Mousse  ·  Milk Chocolate Chiffon · Compressed Banana · Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Now that was more like it.  I am not a banana dessert fan, but this plate took the banana to another place.  The texture of the mousse was delicate and airy.  The combination of banana, peanut butter and chocolate (much more pronounced and better tasting than the chocolate in the previous offering) was a delight.  The presentation left you asking “How did they do that?”

Other observations and insights regarding our evening at Congress:

The décor of the room draws your focus to the food and the patrons.  Neutral colors, natural lighting, spacious surroundings and very comfortable seating provide no distractions.  The employees were also dressed in neutral colors, and moved effortlessly throughout the space.  They obviously had watchful eyes, because our table was continually attended to – water glasses never made it to empty and empty dishes were removed right at the moment when you realized that it was time to say “goodbye”.

So, there you go.  Probably way too much information for most folks, but I want to remember every detail of this special occasion.

Our sincere compliments and thanks to Chef Bull, Wine Director Paula Rester and the entire staff of Congress for a dining experience of a lifetime.
Congress on Urbanspoon

Triple Stop Tour

LICK – via Mister Tramps and East End Wines- for best viewing, view from the site EatSipSwirl.com – especially for our email-viewing friends.

You know it is summer when you find yourself at 7:00pm on a Friday night craving a cold treat.  We had just finished having dinner with my parents at Papa’s favorite sports pub, Mister Tramps.  The boys have joined my dad before for fish and chips at this spot and to watch soccer.  Sorry I did not take any pictures.  We all ordered fish and chips – batter fried cod fillet served in a basket with French fries, slaw and tartar sauce.  It was good – the Brit in all of us smiled.

On our way out the door, Marc and I decided to take a short road trip around Austin.

First to East End Wines for their  Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco tasting.  Of the four wines, we had tried two before.  Our favorite is the Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Pruno Nero.  We first experienced this wine at Wink when it accompanied a dish of beef tartare.  The Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Brut Rose Spumante also made it to the register with us.  A more delicate drink, the Rose will be nice to have on hand for the hot days ahead.

Next we steered west to Lamar, then south, down to LICK.

ImageLick: Honest Ice Creams, is a small ice cream shop that prides itself in using fresh, local ingredients for all of their small batch ice creams.  The list of local farms and food artisans that they partner with is impressive, and you can definitely taste the care taken to make “honest” ice cream in the combinations of flavors that go into their ice creams.  Some selections are “Every Day” flavors, while others are seasonal.  They also offer gluten-free and vegan varieties.

Here are the selections that we enjoyed today, along with the descriptions from Lick’s website.
Dark Chocolate with Olive Oil and Sea Salt- Buttery notes from Texas Olive Ranch Olive Oil and sea salt shine through this dark chocolate flavor.

Milk Chocolate – Local Great Bean chocolate and the finest milk and cream churned to classic perfection!Image 2

Caramel Salt Lick –Salty and sweet make it official! Homemade caramel is elevated with just a hint of sea salt.

Texas au lait – Milk and cream steeped in espresso, lightly sweetened with pure cane syrup and subtly accented with a touch of Mexican vanilla.Image 1

Blackberry, Lime & Basil –Subtle hints of lime zest and fresh basil illuminate our sweet & tart Poteet, Texas blackberries!

Honeyed Peaches with Rosemary– Deliciously sweet Texas peaches and local Round Rock Honey pair impeccably with fresh rosemary.Image 1

As you can see, we all picked different flavors, and all were amazing. Everyone in our family gives LICK a big “thumbs up” (or should I say a big “lick of the tongue”).  I will mention here that the store is pretty small.  We were really lucky.  We arrived shortly before 8:00pm and walked straight up to the counter just as a large party was exiting.  By the time we sat down (there are only a few stools available), the line had 20 people in it.  Our very nice server told us that about 8:00pm, the line starts growing – right out the door!

I wish I could remember the cute saying on the LICK t-shirt that the servers were wearing – I would post it here.  I guess that means we will just have to venture down to South Austin again this summer.
Lick - Honest Ice Creams on Urbanspoon

Pieous or “Pious”— Righteous!

(To get the full effect of EatSipSwirl.com, please click this link- it’s worth it!)

Pious – 1. Devoutly religious; 2. Showing reverence and devotion for the divine
Pieous – a new pizza spot on Highway 290

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For some time now, Pieous has found its way to the top 10 list on the front page of Urbanspoon.  Lucky for us, our hip friends were dining with us one evening when the word “Pieous” crept into the conversation.  They had good things to say about their “Pieous” experience, and quickly invited us to join them the following weekend for dinner at the Pieous.

We drove way south to Oak Hill and arrived around 7:00pm at our destination.

Our friends quickly ordered a plate of homemade pastrami, the “Pieous Plate,” accompanied by sourdough bread, pickles, onions and mustard. IMG_2016

I will be the first to admit that I have never been a huge pastrami fan – that was until I put the first bite of the Pieous variety in my mouth.  Melt in your mouth and so full of flavor – it would definitely give a slice of Texas brisket a run for its money. IMG_2020

We also enjoyed a plate of fresh mozzarella and arugula.  Simple, yet decadent.

The menu includes several specialty pizzas, along with a create-your-own offering from an extensive (and festive) list of ingredients.  They make a lot of their ingredients from scratch, including the dough and the mozzarella.   We sampled three of their “pre-determined” combos.

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First, the Marguerita pizza – marinara, fresh mozzarella and basil.  A classic that did not disappoint.

Second, Italian Sausage – marinara, sausage and onions.  Delicious.

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And finally, “the Bacon Bleu” – marinara, mozzarella, blue cheese, arugula and bacon marmalade.   Yes, you heard it right.  The minute I read bacon marmalade my brain said “order that one.”  This pizza was special – one of those moments when your entire being enjoys a moment of magic.  The combination of flavors played beautifully together.

We topped off the evening with a slice of their chocolate pecan pie, enjoyed at our friends home, and paired with a fabulous glass of red wine.

Although it is definitely a trek for us to take advantage of this new pizza establishment, I definitely see us visiting Pieous again.  If Pieous was closer to our home, we could become deeply “pious” towards their culinary offerings.  If you are a pizza lover, I encourage you to visit Pieous – and take the kids!
Pieous on Urbanspoon

Happy Father’s Day

Yes, we have gotten way behind on our blog entries. What I’ve learned from scrapbooking is that it is best to start with the most recent events (hoping that your memory serves you best here), then work backwards.

We spent a quiet afternoon and evening at home for Father’s Day. Marc decided on steak for his special dinner. Since Marc is the king of grilling, he supervised Prince Nick at the grill. Prince Ben was in charge of the secret sauce. I prepared the sides – all veggies from our recent FarmHouse Delivery; fresh green beans, grilled corn and rosemary new potatoes.

The first course – CHEESE! (of course).

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From Antonelli’s Cheese Shop (Antonelli’s Cheese Shop) -starting from the top, left corner:
* pecorino riserva, Italy – Sheep
* Bent River Camebert, Alemar Cheese USA – Cow
* Finocchiona
* Coolea, British Isles (Ireland) – Cow
* English Walnuts
* Bayley Hazen Blue, Jasper Hill Farm, USA – Cow
* Straberry Vanilla Bean Jam – Confituras, Texas – Yum!!
The Bayley Hazen Blue cheese is definitely a favorite of the blue cheese lovers in the house. I could not pick a favorite from this plate – each offering was an excellent example of fine cheese making.

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We accompanied our meal with a Garnacha purchased at East End Wines (East End Wines)
2009 Bernabeleva “Navaherreros” Garnacha Vinos de Madrid

Fruit, Spice, everything nice (once the wine opened up). A lovely pairing with our rib-eye steak. We have also enjoyed the baby brother of this big guy – not as complex, but still a great drink.

 

Image 1For dessert, Marc requested Lemon Icebox Pie (a recipe that goes back to his grandmother). I’ve only made this pie a few times before – meringue can be a little scary, especially when it is humid. This one turned out great, trimmed in ‘Nilla wafers!

Happy Father’s Day Marc!

A 50th Celebration

On June 1st, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  The Carmack “5” held a special party in honor of their parents at our home.  Besides hosting the open house, I had the great pleasure of planning and preparing the menu.  Since my Mom is from England, and my Dad is from Texas, I thought it would be fun to include favorite foods from both of their “homelands”.  Here is what we served, with a few side comments and pictures of the table.

 

Norm and Jo’s 50th Wedding Anniversary
Buffet Menu

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Cheese Platter

  • featuring Montgomery’s White Cheddar from England, accompanied by English walnuts and Carr’s crackers
  • featuring Birdville Reserve cheese from Granbury, Texas, accompanied by Confituras (Central Texas) Blackberry Jam and Glazed Pecans
  • Once again, Antonelli’s Cheese Shop scores!  I was especially excited to find a Texas cheese made in Granbury, since some of my relatives live there.
  • the Blackberry Jam (with a hint of lime) from Confituras was about the best recipe we’ve tried from them yet.  

 

Fire-Roasted Salsa with blue corn tortilla chips-  This is the salsa I’ve blogged about before, made from a recipe by Rachel Ray.

Deviled Eggs
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

  • featuring a sharp Texas Cheddar and a White English Cheddar
  • Both of these dishes were made by my good friend Chef Mike Coughlan.  He runs a personal catering service, Specialty of the House Catering. (specialtyofthehouse@gmail.com).  Both were delicious and well received by our guests.

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Roast Beef Sandwiches accompanied by a creamy horseradish sauce.  I enlisted a little help from HEB to prepare these silver dollar sized sandwiches. 

Cornish Pasties with Major Grey’s Chutney- My Dad is a big fan of these “British” hand pies.  He loves to make them as well.  I used my cream cheese pastry recipe for the crust, assembled the pies, then froze them.  The morning of the party, I put them out to defrost, then baked them for about 25 minutes.  A great make-ahead entrée.

Ham on Southern Biscuits - accompanied by a variety of mustards and pineapple preserves.  Homemade biscuits piled high with HoneyBaked Ham – yum!

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Texas Caviar– a legendary black-eyed pea salad created by legendary Texas cook Helen Corbitt.  I had never prepared this recipe before, but it is going on my list of go-to side dishes for the summer.  This spicy, cold salad was a favorite of my Aunt Maudene.

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Watermelon Basket- featuring a variety of fresh fruit.  My Dad showcased his culinary artistry with this dish.  Take a look at the picture – yes, those are watermelon longhorns on top!

Strawberries with Mint Whipped Cream- It wouldn’t be a British spread without an ode to this famous pair.  I especially love my cream thick, but still pourable.  Next time I will increase the intensity of the mint (I don’t think the mint from my garden has the same potency as the mint you can purchase at the grocery store).

Shortbread Cookies- This recipe will also be joining the “make again” list.  With just three ingredients and a long shelf life, it was an easy treat to prepare ahead of time.

Peach Cobbler- made with Fredericksburg peaches.  Chef Mike’s cobbler made our house smell like a little piece of heaven all day!  We were happy to see that there were “leftovers” of this dish, so we could enjoy an extra serving the day after (with BlueBell Homemade vanilla ice cream, of course).

Cake!- My sister did a great job selecting the cakes for our celebration.  Take a look at this awesome cake decorated with a photo from my parents’ wedding:

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So sweet!  My Dad told me a few days later that he just couldn’t bring himself to eat the piece with my Mom’s face on it.

We also got a small German Chocolate Cake (my Dad’s favorite). 

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Both cakes were fabulous.  Here is a link to the bakery website: Ann’s Kitchen

With over 30 family and friends from all over the state of Texas attending, it was a grand day, and a wonderful celebration for two very special people.

We love you Mom and Dad!!

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Swift’s Attic – Loft of Goodness

IMG_1861Marc has been so busy with Easter and Opera, that you could imagine my excitement when he surprised me on a Thursday to say he had Friday night off.

We really wanted to try something new.  I have been reading about the “HOT” new restaurants in Austin, and Swift’s Attic kept showing up.  After calling the establishment, it was recommended to show up early – we did, and as always, Marc’s ROCK STAR parking place was waiting for him, less than a block away.

Swift’s Attic is on Congress Avenue, situated above the Elephant Room Jazz Club.  It is not a huge place, but it gives the illusion of space with clever décor and lighting.

The menu is set up like tapas – lots of small plates to share, in various categories: appetizers, salads, fish, protein and dessert.  They recommend 3-4 selections per person at the table.  Here is how our adventure transpired:

IMG_1862For wine, we decided on a bottle of Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco.  It was a perfect companion for the variety of dishes we selected.  You really can’t go wrong with great bubbles!IMG_1863

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we are behind on our blog entries, I will do my best to remember as many details as possible (unfortunately the menu online is not the same as the one we selected from that evening, so I have no reference there).

We started with two appetizers:

IMG_1865* Charred edamame with chili oil and poprocks. I loved the smoky, grilled flavor of the edamame with the heat of the chili oil.  The salt/poprock mixture (served in a separate dish), however, did not cling to the pods very well, so that was a little awkward.  I did have to smile when they would come by frequently to empty the bowl that filled with edamame shells.

IMG_1864* Serrano Ham “dumplings”, wrapped around some kind of cheese, and served with the thinnest slivers of heirloom tomato and a beautiful basil pesto.  I hope I got that right.  Our server insisted that we get a little bit of everything in one bite for the “full” experience of flavors.  This held true through out the evening will all of our dishes.  Definitely yummy.

Salad:  * Grilled Romaine lettuce with avocado dressing and sweet corn.

Protein:

IMG_1866* Quail with blue cheese grits, spiced nuts (almonds?) and a cherry demi-glace.  I know I am not remembering all of the details here, but I do remember Marc and I licking the plate clean on this one – delicious!

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* Antelope steak with chimichurri accompanied by pomme frites and tarragon yogurt sauce.  This was my first time with antelope.  It was a little chewy for my liking, but great flavor.  What blew my mind on this plate was the yogurt dipping sauce.  It was yellow, almost looked like a mustard, but with a surprisingly delightful, light texture and flavor.  If I could ask for ONE recipe from everything we ate that night, this would be the one I would beg for.  I am so NOT a mustard/ketchup/mayo girl, but I could get use to having this condiment on my plate.

Dessert:

IMG_1869* Chocolate empanadas with espresso gelato?  Help me out here, Marc.  I know he was underwhelmed by the chocolate aspects of this dish, but the gelato was a hit.

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* Popcorn and a Movie.  How could I resist a dessert with that name?  The first words that come to my mind are CLEVER, CRAZY, FUN!  Little pieces of housemade chocolate candybar and salted popcorn gelato served on a plate sprinkled with caramel popcorn and little dribbles of rootbeer gel (not sure of the spelling on that one).  I smiled from first to last bite!

We both agreed that there was much to admire about our meal and the restaurant.  OK, so we were the oldest couple in the place until about 10 minutes before we departed.  It looked to be a popular spot for groups of same-sex friends and young professional couples.  It is also a very short drive to East End Wines, which is open until 10:00pm Tuesdays-Saturdays.  Yes, we made a stop on our way home to pick up a few bottles of a wine we fell in love with recently that they recommended to us on a previous visit.  We should do an East End Wines entry soon J.
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