Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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During my visit to Austin I have been on a grand and very festive culinary journey without traveling very much. I discovered in the first couple of days how little I liked driving in this city. Traffic is like Southern California, but there is no ocean view. Knowing that, I investigated all the walkable and easy driving destinations to either buy groceries or enjoy restaurants and food trucks. The only problem I have had is a complete inability to be hungry enough to eat everything I want to try. Honestly, I don’t think they tolerate bad food around here. At least I have not run across any. This is the highest concentration of foodist festivities I have seen in my life. I have been to Napa and the Bay area, and do like all the options in New York City. However, I choose Austin, Texas as my own gourmet destination supreme. I am here at a good time, with plenty of ripe peaches, figs, melons, peppers, okra, and all garden greens. There are farmers markets on every day of the week if you choose to go. Food trucks offer new kinds of fusion cuisine that you could not even imagine. Naturally barbecue is big, but I don’t eat meat, so I stick to all the smoked veggies, cheese,and condiments. They even smoke hummus. It is the creativity and dedication to pure unadulterated products that makes the difference. I even tried beers that are 100% naturally fermented with yeast grown on the farm. I have made some reviews in this blog to guide the gentle readers who might visit, but I would encourage anyone to just follow your nose and the menu that speaks to you. There is an abundance of quality that will surprise you no matter what you like to eat.
During a museum tour I got hungry and walked out to find a bite to eat. I went to the drag (Guadalupe) by the campus and was not favorably impressed. The area has become pretty dumpy with graffiti and garbage. This surprised me because next to campus was always a profitable active place for business. It is now run down, tacky, and did not appeal to me. I managed to find a restaurant right on the mall on campus operated by UT endowment that was lovely and when I was there, very off-peak. This place is the best bargain in town. The Carillon Restaurant serves an all you can eat buffet at lunch for $17.00 that includes a 20% tip!!!! The selection was outstanding, innovative, and prepared with skill and artfulness. Servers were friendly and attentive, and the ambiance elegant. All my selections were delicious. The carrot ginger soup was much creamier ( as in half and half) than my own version which made it almost like a dessert. The grilled romaine was tasty, as were the many grilled veggies on the buffet. I splurged on a tiny raspberry tart and chocolate mousse before heading back to the museum. I think if you only come to town for a day and will only have a chance to try one dining experience The Carillon is the place to go. Bon Appetite, gentle readers. Do you have a favorite food place in Austin? Do tell.
Although this well produced story is actually an ad for Chipotle Mexican Grill I believe it is worth sharing with everyone who buys and eats food. I believe cruelty and waste are built into the American economy and fed to all of us; this is not inevitable or even reasonable. Cruelty and waste are the root cause of our environmental problems, including the human obesity epidemic. While I would love to see more whole foods produced and eaten locally, just stepping away from heavily processed and transported foods is the first baby step to liberate the energy we spend freezing, storing and shipping our nutrients. American kids are not familiar with the sources of food, other than the drive up window. The entire society pays for the ignorance in the form of what is known as health care. It is time to put self-care and prehabilitaion on the menu in the United States. It is easy, clean, and leads to tastier dining. Stop feeding the industrialized food monster and start nourishing your home and family. Eat something raw and local today, Gentle Reader. Sorry it is so hard for most of you Americans to find.
The classic oil and vinegar combination, used for salad and other dishes, has taken on new epic proportions in Tucson. Alfonso Gourmet Oil and Balsamics offers a wide variety of super high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars. I have used them for over a year and have virtually stopped buying any dressing in a bottle. I have found additional ways to use both the oils and vinegars,seasoning roasted veggies and even love the vinegars on ice cream and in cocktails. My list of favorites expands every time I go back to the store.
Tom Alfonso, the gracious owner, recently completed a course followed by a certification exam to become a professional olive oil taster. He said it was intense, with three days of learning and savoring. He just found out that he did pass the exam and is now a certified olive oil professional. I am very pleased he and his wife decided to carry these extraordinary products right next to my bank drive through window, very near my home. It is a fun extravagance that improves our meals every day. The bottles last for a very long time since a very small amount produces big flavor results.
The recycle punch card bonus system reminds you to bring the bottle back..then you try a few new items, check out the sales, leaving with a whole new culinary profile with which to play. Today my new item is a grassy, very green, high note olive oil from Australia. It is both delicious and unlike any other oil I have tasted. It is not flavored, but I have recently received a lovely gift of special Australian herbs in a combo box from a friend down under. This will be an exciting paring with greens, tomatoes and avocado. Freshness spikes the flavor in the olive oil that reduces the need for other seasonings. I will sauté with it as well as dressing salads.
The ginger blackberry balsamic I refilled today is an ingredient in a cocktail I love to make and drink, the Gas Streak. The example calls for ginger rice wine vinegar, which I am sure is nice, but the blackberry adds punch and the balsamic is fabulous with the burned sugar taste. Enjoy!
Recently reminded of the superb quality of the cuisine at Feast, we took the middle of the day on Saturday to enjoy it. I started with the violet flavor and mysterious look of the Cuyahoga cocktail, which improved as the ice melted. It was a new twist on lunch beverages that grew on me. In fact, I ordered another one to go with my salad. Bob wanted to try snails, so he ordered quail and snail, which he said was mostly mushroom in flavor, and he liked it. My first courses were delightful wild rice savory pancakes with sautéed vegetables, and a fried artichoke heart dish we both loved. I enjoyed the gnocchi salad, but was too full to finish. The use of pan fired gnocchi as croutons made this a filling dish I will have again today for lunch. Bob loved the banana and pork combo he ordered.
We passed on dessert in order to attend an event to support the Humane society of Tucson. A vegan bake sale, complete with adoptable dogs, was the perfect place to buy our take home tofu cheesecake and peanut butter brownies for the late afternoon snacking. We napped, we slowly chipped away at our dessert until nighttime. There was only one vegan peanut butter brownie left to split for breakfast.