Monday, March 12, 2007

School of Fish - Austin,TEXAS

As part of my Valentines Day present, Senora Foodblog (working in conjunction with her motley crew of Champagne drinkers) decided to take “we husbands” to Whole Foods Culinary Center for a gourmet cooking demonstration. The dinner chosen by my lovely wife was School of Fish with Chef Sam Dickey (former head chef of 7 on S. Congress). Man, was I excited, a hot date with my baby, sampling good food and maybe just a glass of wine or two.

Joined by our good friends, the Best Dressed Couple, our evening again started at Hotel San Jose. Boy, that place fills up fast. We arrived right at 5pm and within what seemed like just moments every table and chair was full. Senora Foodblog and the Best Dressed immediately ordered a bottle of Prosseco while I chose Samuel Smiths Porter. With some time to kill, I decided to order the small cheese platter. Good stuff, lots of cheese, bread, grapes and olives both green and black.

After the second bottle of bubbly was finished, it was time for us to head on down to Whole Foods. Sometimes, timing is just right. Can you believe it, I found parking in front of Whole Foods...amazing.

The demo started promptly at 6:30pm. Our group, finally complete with the addition of Mrs. German and the Lady in Green, found our tables and awaited the demo to start. The menu presented was just crazy good. Chef Dickey is a master of what he does.

Crisp Lobster on Lotus Chips w/ Wild Mushrooms, Micro Greens, and Roasted Jalapeno Hollandaise

Baby Vegetable and Bay Scallop Panzanella

Seared Turbot on Fried Green Tomatoes w/ Black Bean Pasilla Sauce and Avocados

Blueberry – Strawberry Shortcake

The meal was exquisite; it’s hard to put it into words. The lobster was so tasty and the fried green tomatoes, a first for me, were just divine. The folks sitting behind us had no problem letting everyone it the room know that they thought it was the best meal they had ever had. Senora Foodblog is already making plans to attend another demo in the near future. If you want more info about Whole Foods Culinary Classes just visit the web site: and do keep in mind that the classes are limited in size and will sell out.

Have a good week all and eat well.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Marco Polo Restaurant ( Dim Sum) - Austin,TEXAS

“Originally a Cantonese custom, dim sum is inextricably linked to the Chinese tradition of "yum cha" or drinking tea. Teahouses sprung up to accommodate weary travelers journeying along the famous Silk Road. Rural farmers, exhausted after long hours working in the fields, would also head to the local teahouse for an afternoon of tea and relaxing conversation.”…. Rhonda Parkinson

Invited by Polyurethane, Cherry Bomb roller-girl exstordinaire, and The Grip for Sunday Dim Sum at Marco Polo Restaurant, how could we refuse? It has been a long time since I last dined on good dim sum, and for Senora Foodblog, her first time. I wasn’t certain what to expect but both Poly and The Grip had assured us we were in for a special treat. Located at Oltorf and I-35, Marco Polo is easy to find. Parking is not an issue.

We arrived around 10:50am to a line already forming. Show up early, or expect to have to wait for a table. After we were sat and our drink orders were taken, carts full of dim sum began to circulate the room. Now I am no expert, and the names of the items…I just don’t know, so I will do my best to describe what we ate and what we saw. Ready…

Dumplings: Shrimp, pork and combinations including mushrooms and leeks
Meat stuffed rolls much like kolaches
Noodles of all types: fried, soft, or stuffed with beef and chicken
Exotics: Jellyfish, pig ear
Small fried egg roll type items
Pork spare ribs
Shrimp balls, tuna
And many unusual looking desserts.

When we finally finished our feast and walked away from the table, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of food I had eaten. Every thing was really good. And as we left the building, the line was still there, with a lot of folks trying to get some of the dim sum action.

Senor Foodblog gives Marco Polo two spoons up. Guys, the food was wonderful. Different and a great change from the standard Chinese fare served around Austin. The servers were friendly and happy to answer any questions about the food and even give a little history about what you are eating. As I mentioned, get to Marco Polo Restaurant early if possible, as you will encounter a line. Be open to try some new flavors, I didn’t even begin to scratch the dim sum surface with my food list above, but I promise that you won’t be disappointed.

Marco Polo Restaurant
2200 S. I-36
512 445 5563

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hotel San Jose - Austin,TEXAS

First Thursday, how could I have forgotten! Parking was a bear; I ended up getting a ticket, parking next to a stop sign. Ouch…another $20 donation to the city. Once we arrived at the Hotel San Jose things got a lot better.

Senora Foodblog went straight for the Prosecco (Italian bubbly) while I enjoyed a cold Samuel Smiths. The wine pours are huge. This made the Senora very pleased indeed and when she is know I am happy, too. Suddenly distracted from my beautiful bride, out of the corner of my eye I noticed what looked like the largest cheese platter I have ever seen. I checked the menu and yes, the San Jose offers $12/$18 cheese platters. I asked our server and she told me that the serving I saw was the $18 platter. Wow…I would be guessing but it looked like a good lb. of cheese with a loaf of bread; not bad for this town. Our total came to $20 with tip.

We made our way down to Vespaio for dinner. As to be expected, we had to wait for our table. We chose to avoid the bar area; it was packed solid with no room to breathe. As we were seated our server brought out three kinds of bread and a puree of cannellini beans. If you are a hummus fan, then you will just die for the white bean puree. For our drinks, the Senora chose the house Chianti while I decided to stick with water. No appetizers, just two small Caesar salads and a little hand-holding. For our main courses, the senora had the Margherita Pizza and I had the Spaghetti Carbonara.

The pizza was thin with a crispy bite, wonderful fresh tomatoes and tasty cheese. The Spaghetti Carbonara is just the best in town. The flavor is fantastic, creamy and decadent, served with a cheese crisp and a poached egg on top. For desert I had the profiterole with gelato & cherry compote. God was smiling at me. Three small puff pasties with vanilla gelato inside, each covered with chocolate fudge, surrounded by cherries. Our meal was so good, I wouldn’t mind having it again tonight. Our total came to $68 + Tip.

Senor Foodblog gives First Thursday two spoons up. I thought we did very well, except for the traffic ticket. As with all street events, one just has to be patient and expect to wait for ...everything. The Hotel San Jose is just cool as hell. I’m going back, but on an off night for the cheese platter. Vespaio is the best restaurant on Congress, maybe in town. The food is a little pricey compared to most, but the service and attention to detail truly make the experience worth it. Peace.

Hotel San Jose
1316 S. Congress

1610 S.Congress
512 441 7672

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