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!

E. MexiKinney St. Taco Crawl #1: Veronica's Cafe

In our lovely home of Denton, TX, East McKinney street is full of small taquerias, most of which are not frequented by we gringos. To bridge the cultural divide and fill our bellies, Bryan (Tre Orsi's drummer) and I are making our way up McKinney St., hitting every single taqueria and cafe.

Stop #1 was Veronica's Cafe, today at 3:30. They were out of a lot of stuff. Note to self: must wake up earlier.

  • Carne con chile taco: C+. Not bad, not that exciting, either. This is their "spicy" beef?
  • Lengua taco: C-. Not flavorful enough. Like my mom's brisket. (Sorry, mom!)
  • Salsa: B. Consistency like Mexican Sriracha.
  • Service: A
They do their morcilla Mexcian-style, as one would suppose. They were out, so no dice.

(I should add that the only time I've had morcilla was in Valencia, Spain. There, it's a sausage made of pig heart, lungs, neck, blood, and spices. Was served in a super-light crepe, drizzled with honey.

I asked the guy at Veronica's how he makes it: "Just blood.")

Also of note: our friend, Mariel Tam, (who knows her gastronomy like no one's business), says: "The caldo de pescado from Veronica's cured my case of mono. For like a day, anyway. It is fabulous."

Friday, April 13, 2007

There is food in Baltimore

Previous to her emigration to the Republic of Texas, my wonderful punk-rock librarian wife was a long-time resident of this frightening mid-Atlantic city. (Did I mention that, on average, about 1/10th of a percent of Baltimore's population is murdered every year? Frightening!) One of her favorite eateries is an tavern in the Fell's Point area named Peter's Inn. I had been there a few times during previous visits, and each meal was a treat -- well-done American food, a diverse enough beer collection, and enough Baldimore color to charm it up a notch or so.

So, Shearwater, we're on tour, playing at the Ottobar. Betwixt load-in and showtime, me & Howrad and KB cabbed it over to Peter's Inn for a nice dinner of, Jesus Fucking Christ, anything but goddammned pizza. (Enough with the pizza already! Can someone tell the booking agent "NO PIZZA"? What are you paying him for, anyway?) On the menu for the night, IIRC: duck leg, scallops with corn grits, lobster ravioli w/ spinach.

Conclusion? Not as great as I remember, a little more fru-fru than I remember, but shit, far nicer than fucking pizza. I recommend it, especially since there's only crack and beer available near the Ottobar.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

cheap frozen southern tasty

When in Durham, we followed sound advice from Lalitree Darnielle and walked to Loco Pops. Here it is on a map.

It's at the corner of Hillsborough and Fifteenth Streets, and it was about maybe a half mile or slightly more walk from the Duke Campus to the little storefront. Decorations are toddler-minimalist drawings, and the well windowed front lets sunlight fill this temple of frozen-tasty-on-a-stick.

In 10 minutes, I ate:
  1. Mojito
  2. Sorrel
  3. Grapefruit Basil
  4. Horchata

I also tasted the pops of others: saffron or saffron & pistachio, chocolate & chili, and some others I can't remember. All were great, but Owen of Casiotone and I preferred the Mojito flavored pop over all the rest. It was maybe better than the $9 Mojito I had later that night. Sorrel was definitely the strangest popsicle I've ever eaten; kind of a slightly spicy sweet, very dark red hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa?). Not at all unpleasant, and a nice break from the strong sweetness of more common flavors.

My desire for convenience would love to see Loco Pops propagate to every city like Starbucks, but not if it makes this one less special. It is very special.