Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Flag Cake

Feeling Patriotic

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lockhart, The Barbecue Capital of Texas

BBQ Plate at Chisholm Trail

I didn't think I'd ever been to Lockhart, but driving through, I get a mysterious sense of déjà-vu. Curious. Anyway, as I'm positive it's my first time eating barbecue in Lockhart, my first taste comes at Chisholm Trail. My mouth started watering even before we arrived at the restaurant. This air in this town just smells of smokehouse barbecue.

I ordered the 3-meat combo platter. You get your choice of three sides, sausage, sliced beef, and your choice of either pork or beef ribs. For the sides, I chose mac-and-cheese, potato salad, and fried squash. The potato salad was blah, mac-and-cheese was okay, but the fried squash was a nice departure from your usual BBQ sides. I also slurped down many a glass of their yummy sweet tea.

Now to the most important part: the meat. The sliced beef was very tender, but also seemed to be very fatty. I know that fat=moisture, but I have had moist sliced beef with considerably less amounts of fat. For the ribs, I chose pork since beef ribs are the norm in Texas. Pork ribs are a bit more meaty than the beef, and these had a nice smoke ring. Overall, good. The sausage, I hated. As soon as I sliced into it, it just completely fell apart, crumbled onto the plate. I may not know much about barbecue, but I know sausage doesn't do that. It's almost as if the casings were stuffed with cooked, crumbled sausage that had nothing to bind it together.

Dessert was peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. The cobbler was so hot, the ice cream was soup by the time it reached our table. Probably had to do with the fact that they used soft-serve ice cream. The cobbler was okay. I preferred the crisp, flaky crust to the actual peaches, which were on the tart side. We've not had a good peach season in Central Texas because of the drought. But they probably used canned peaches anyway.

Lockhart Barbecue, Take 1: Mediocre. Fried squash and sweet tea were more of a standout than the meat. Salt Lick (my favorite in Austin thus far) 1, Lockhart 0.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Four Seasons Austin - TRIO Happy Hour

Crab Fondue, Herb Bruschetta

A not so impressive dish. Flat, overwhelmingly dairy. Yes, it is fondue, but you would think that the crab would be a prominent flavor. Nowhere to be found.

L to R: Baked Gulf Oysters, Shrimp, Bacon, Shoestring Potato; Pork Belly

I rather enjoyed the crunch of the potato on the oyster. My previous oyster experiences were very minimalist, highlighting the fresh oyster itself. But this baked oyster was quite good.

The Pork Belly (apologies for not remembering the exact accompaniments) had a nice, almost Asian-inspired smoky barbecue flavor. But how could you not enjoy pork?

Smoked Shrimp Croquettes, Green Mango, Fennel

My favorite. By far. I went so far as to inquire about the smoking process. I did manage to stump the manager on duty on the type of wood they use to smoke the shrimp, but it was nice of him to try. From the moment you crunch through the outer layer of the croquette, you embark on a pleasurable sensory experience. The smokiness floods your palate, but not overwhelmingly so. The shrimp melds beautifully with the smoke, and melts right in your mouth. The accompanying mix of sweet and sour fruit and veg provided a nice sharp upper tone to the bass-like croquettes.

Lamb Sliders, Local Lamb, Tzatziki, Cumin

Because all of our food arrived at the same time, I think these were lost in waiting. I thought they were good, not memorable. The tzatziki kind of melted into the bun. I like to think that the tzatziki was cold when it first arrived, bringing a refreshing layer to the lamb burger. The sliders would have been better consumed straight away. But by the time pictures are taken, plates divvied up, going through each individual dish, not all survived the wait.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch, Peanut Butter Mousse, Milk Chocolate Cremeux, Grape Fluid Gel, Milk Shooter

A whimsical take on PB & J, with a glass of milk to boot! I love these sort of desserts that include a bit of molecular gastronomy. I think it is a wonderful way to interpret an old standby. To reinvent it with new and unexpected textures, but retain the same, familiar flavor profile.

Blackberry Lemon Napoleon-sable breton, blackberry mousse, lemon vanilla cream, lemon frozen yogurt

Yummy and tart was this classic blackberry/lemon combination. A refreshing end to a good meal.

Apparently Penguins Look Like Owls

Penguin Graduation Cake: Chocolate/Vanilla Marble Cake, Caramel Buttercream, Candy Graduation Cap

Baker-for-hire: Kindergarten Graduation. School colors are blue and gold. Loves penguins.

I tried to incorporate the school colors into the penguin's skin/fur and graduation cap. That Happy Feet penguin had a blue-ish tinge, right? I took some pictures to document (this was before the feet, mind you) and scratched my head. Did my penguin end up looking like an owl? I sent the picture to my mom and first thing she said was why did my supposed penguin look like an owl. My co-workers seemed to think it looked like a penguin, but most had never seen a blue penguin. One suggested that as soon as I had the penguin-y feet on, it would look less an owl.

So on went the feet and a longer beak, et volia! We have a penguin.

Most importantly, the client loved it!