Friday, January 11, 2008

Czech Stop 3 Cupcake Blitz

One for each bear.

Actually, 3 for one bear. I ate em all. Last weekend, coming back from a Tre Orsi gig in Austin.

So here's the deal, The Czech Stop is a gas station + bakery + deli off I35 in West, Texas, exit 353 (from memory, and I bet it's right). They have all kinds of kolaches, deli sandwiches, and baked goods. There's a LOT of shit. Most of it is just ok. Some of it is worth digging into every time though. Many bands stop here. Hell, many people stop here. There are glorious 1980's looking promo pics (autographed!) above the freezers. You can see our friend Joe Cripps on the Brave Combo photo.

Here's what I've learned in 10+ yrs of stopping there.

  1. The peanut-butter-kiss cookies are the shit. Outside is chocolate dough, but the generously proportioned inner vault is all peanut butter. Each one is heavy, it's that star matter you read about in elementary school, where a spoonful weighs a ton. They're not cheap, but they are the secret weapon I've used as a gift many times.
  2. Don't eat the egg-salad sandwich. It looks good. I've had it probably 25 times. It's less than mediocre. Barnhart just got it, and let's just say we all suffered the worst of it.
  3. The kolaches are decent, I like the poppyseed and less fruitier ones.
  4. Deli sandwiches, dunno.
  5. Beer bread: good, heavy, little oily or something, but insanely consistent. Thor and I have bought this for each other for years. Makes good breakfast for about a week.
  6. Cupcakes: the above chocolate on chocolate one was really good. So fluffy it fell apart, but that didn't matter because I'd eat them off the (consistently medium gross) Czech Stop bathroom floor. So consistent the hand air dryer has had the on button hanging out by a spring for years. Back to the eating. The cupcake on the left was good too, a little less decadent. The one on the right was peanut butter, and definitely 2nd best.
  7. They have a whole freezer of sausages I've never tried. I should.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

E. MexiKinney St. Taco Crawl #2: Taco Lady

For many months, I have heard the lavish praise ladled upon this taqueria. (Owen Ashworth: "The carne asada will change your life." Justin Collins: "The barbacoa made me quit my job. Don't try the eggs.") Why the fuck haven't we made it over there yet?

Bryan (Tre Orsi drummer and my partner in the Taco Crawl) made the executive decision to skip over the place in line after Veronica's and head straight for the supposed queen of E. McKinney St. taquerias. Why the fuck not?

Between the two of us, we had chorizo and egg, barbacoa, and carne asada tacos. In that order:
  • Chorizo and egg: fine flavor, iffy on the texture (almost like tofu scramble), but a fine enough example of the form if you're in the mood.
  • Barbacoa: Bryan's favorite. Very juicy, great beefy flavor. She does a nice mix of cabbage, onions, and cilantro, and those mixed w/ the corn tortillas are divine.
  • Carne asada: Look, here's the deal w/ me: I still consider myself mostly a vegetarian. I'll try just about anything that's great in the interest of science or blogging or cultural goodwill, but day-to-day? I'm a vegetarian. Taco Lady's carne asada has changed the game. It has rattled me to the core, made me question my beliefs. It has put the urge inside me to bike my fat ass back down there before she closes and get two dozen, then crawl into my closet and stuff my face with the lights off so the cat can't see me in my shameful pose.
I don't know how I'm going to recover from this. Damn you, Taco Lady!

Bookish Coffee

I was recently turned on to (and I forget by whom -- many apologies) local (Denton, TX) coffee roaster, Bookish Coffee. My maiden order, a half-pound of Nicaragua (Fair Trade/Organic) arrived on my doorstep on Wednesday, and I finally fired up a pot in the Ilsa Moka this morning.

The verdict: nice body, good flavor, very enjoyable. It's no Intelligentsia, but it also walked itself over to my house, rather than coming via FedEx or UPS or USPS. I'm most definitely subscribing to support this great local company.

Howard stopped by his place and talked for a while, and got a look at his roaster. Hopefully he'll write something up about it here soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Legal Beans - Hoboken, NJ

where = 86 Garden St Hoboken, NJ

espresso - shockingly good. maybe one of my favorite shots this year.

food - I got some eggy breakfast thing. I remember it being fine.

The Grey Dog

33 Carmine St, NYC - little happy heaven of sandwiches, coffee, and beer. Tight quarters = good conversation?

Kara Zuaro, author of I like food, food tastes good, took us here. It's in a modelicious richville megaswank Greenwich Village neighborhood.

I had the #10 Hummus, Gruyere, Avocado, Plum Tomato, Peppercini, and Pea Shoots on toast. I'm not sure I've ever *really* liked a hummus sandwich. I aimed for health and was surprised how tasty this was. I think most hummus sandwiches are as fun as eating hot sand, but the gruyere, tomato, and tasty bread made this worth remembering. I liked the Magic Hat beer I had, and the double espresso shot was a 7.5/10.

where do veggies come from?

I swear I was looking at the amazing furniture at Nobody and Co, when I found this hot, hot picture.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Shearwater and The New Year hit the Western US

Howard and I ventured out West with Shearwater (him + me) and The New Year + David Bazan (just me). Too slow on the draw to take photos and too busy with rocking to make detailed notes, I'll have to make do with a quick run-down of the notable meals:

1. Tacos @ El Chilito, Austin, TX: Migas tacos for breakfast, veggie tacos (saved for the 16-hour drive to Tucson). The former were magnificent, and not too greasy. The veggie tacos were less exciting -- plenty flavorful, just not that memorable -- but they had been sitting for four hours or so, so I give them the benefit of the doubt.

2. Granola & fruit at Cup Cafe, Tucson, AZ: Homemade, not too sweet. Excellent texture (all bits easily identifiable), to boot. I was tempted to repeat it, Chris Weber-style. (Legend has it, Weber once experienced a breakfast so grand that when the waitress asked, "Anything else?", his only response was "Repeat it!")

Shearwater's rented van (thanks, Okkervil River!) turned out to require $1600 worth of repairs so it could, you know, stop at red lights and stop signs (thanks, Okkervil River!). As a result, we arrived too late to L.A. for a proper dinner.

After the L.A. show, Shearwater traveled on to San Francisco and left me in the hands of the New Year, which led to:

3. Thai Food @ the Thai restaurant up the street from Spaceland: Bazan learned the New Year practice of "out-ordering" one another when Donofrio ordered pad see yew for the entire table, "stuffing" us both in the gastronomic and urban slang senses. I had a barely passable Tom Kha soup and an excellent panang curry with tofu. Biznono rocked the pinapple curry fried rice, besting us all. Damn him!

4. Granola and grits @ The 101 Cafe, Hollywood, CA: My only other time here was two years previous with Silkworm (where I met Greg O'Malley of Sunn0)))) and Southern Lord -- we listed to The Grimm Robe Demos all the way to Visalia), but the experience was much better this time. Bazan made a power play, going for the friend catfish and scrambled eggs, but I was unimpressed (I needed the fiber, really).

5. The Tex-Ass Donut @ Voodoo Donuts, Portland, OR: The photos really tell it all (scroll down). As food, I dunno how I feel about Voodoo's stuff, but as curiosity, quite amazing. They no longer sell the Robotussin-glaze, BTW.

6. Granola and fruit (WHAT???) @ J & M, Portland, OR: Amazing place. Fresh, simple, excellent diner food, done very well. I don't even remember what these other fuckers had.

7. Machiatto @ Stumptown Coffee, Portland, OR: The best coffee I've ever had, hands-down.

8. Various 'nuts @ Top Pot Donuts, Seattle, WA: We all went back for seconds on the raspberry creme, and the cinnamon cake was no slouch, either. Excellent all around.

Other notables: We hit In-and-Out Burger a couple of times (including the most northerly one in Redding, CA), and the cook at the Bottom of the Hill made us a very fine spread of pasta and salad. Serious Pie in Seattle did a great job with fancy-schmansy gourmet pizza.

One last note: according to the GPS, there are 27 Starbucks within a .5 mi radius of the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle. Sheesh!