Monday, April 30, 2012

The List

So last post I mentioned by now infamous "list".  I have an Excel spreadsheet I set up ages ago for restaurants, tourist spots, museums and specialty hotels that I would like to visit one day from all over the country, and even the world.    It has everything from fancy schmancy tasting menus in New York City to the Ice Hotel in Canada, and another in Sweden.  (The latter two of which I have little hope of ever seeing as my husband regards being cold as slightly less comfortable than being water-boarded.)  Consider it a traveler's bucket list, so to speak. (No, I'm not compulsive, not me ...)

I've got the basics like name, address and phone number, along with web site and a column to list any specific items they are famous for.  I also note if they are uber expensive and leave space to notate the date when I finally get there.  (What?! Recording keeping is important.)

This all started primarily with restaurants I saw/heard about on what I refer to as the TV Foodie trifecta: The Food Network, The Cooking Channel and The Travel Channel.  But I don't limit myself to these three sources; I am also a voracious magazine reader (I once read Cigar Aficionado on a regular basis just because the office where I was employed had a subscription for the waiting room - but I don't smoke!)  Word of mouth is also excellent, so if you have a recommendation, don't be shy!

Once I started dating my husband, I surmised that I would be regularly visiting Texas, (because, I naively thought that I would never move there, no not me ... uh huh. Right.) so it got its own special tab.  Now the Texas food tab has just EXPLODED. And I love writing.  You see where this is going...  Also, I now have the perfect foodie battle cry, "But Honey, we HAVE to go out to dinner, it's for the BLOG!" Hee-hee.

So here we are on this foodie adventure together.  Next stop - calf fries!  (Which is really just a euphemism for testicles!)  Party on!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Shellfish Massacre

Anyone who knows me well knows that shellfish is my FAVORITE food.  My husband is not far behind me in his fondness for crustaceans.  So when we decided to splurge on a nice (read expensive) dinner after doing the responsible thing and using most of our income tax refund on bills, it was a no brainer.  I cracked open my infamous Excel sheet (more on that later) and clicked on over to the "Austin" section. 

Lo, and behold The Boiling Pot!

Now I'm from New Jersey.  I know a good seafood place when I see it, and this was it.  On the inside it looked like a shack someone threw up next to a dock (good sign).  There were multiple tables both inside and out on a deck, that were covered in plastic, red checked table clothes, a bar with bottles displaying all the cold beers available, a series of ceiling fans operating by a complex pulley system reminiscent of a Goldberg machine and a friendly staff person who encouraged us to "sit where you like".

We found a table, ordered drinks and were quickly issued a basket of yeasty, slightly sweet rolls and butter.  We were ready for some shell crackin', so we ordered a variety feast of shellfish.  At about $80 USD, it was a bit pricey, but we came to splurge, so *shrug*.  The menu states that it will feed 2-3 people, and that seems about right because we did NOT leave hungry.

Our tables was quickly covered with sheets of long, white paper, we were shrouded in plastic bibs and issued cups of melted butter.  In almost no time the waitress was back with a giant, steaming metal bowl.  The protocol in this place is they just dump your food right on the paper, hand you a small, wooden mallet and let you have at it!  And we did!  Our selection included a little of just about everything on the menu (except lobster): jumbo shrimp, snow crab legs, king crab legs, stone crab legs, craw fish and potatoes, corn on the cob and sausage.  (There was supposed to be blue crab in there too, but they ran out, so we got extra shrimp instead.)

I am happy to report that despite recent concerns about shrimp from the gulf, ours did indeed have TWO eyes.  I know, I decapitated them myself. ;)

The food was DELICIOUS. Even the iced tea was excellent.  (I am somewhat of a connoisseur because I drink mine with nothing in it, and some places ruin a simple thing by letting it get bitter.  Also, drinking iced tea completely unsweetened drives Southerners to near convulsions!  But I digress ...)  My only suggestion would be that they lighten up on the spice.  The craw fish were caked in a mixture of Old Bay and other Cajun spices, which then transferred to the other food and left my lips burning.  Next time, I will just ask them to hold back on that; those readers who are capsaicin junkies won't mind this at all.

The crab meat was tender and briney, the shrimp succulent and not overcooked.  Eating this type of meal is not just ingesting food, it is an experience.  My husband and I laughed and joked.  We pounded crab legs with our mallets, sometimes inadvertently jettisoning shell bits and salty juice on each other.  My husband taught me the proper way to eat a craw fish.  We had FUN. 

The staff checked on us occasionally and kept us supplied with ample iced tea and cold beer.  They were attentive, without being intrusive, which was excellent.

We managed to finish most of our mound of goodness, save for a few potatoes, sausages and corn cobs.  The menu assessment was correct, it would have easily fed another person.  Witness the carnage:

When the waitress inquired about dessert I had to waive the white flag, despite an alluring selection.  We departed and took a much needed stroll along Austin's famous 6th Street.

I will definitely be back.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let's Get This Party Started !

Several friends have been hinting that I need to start a new food blog after suffering through reading my numerous posts on Facebook.  Well here it is! I am a recent transplant from Trenton, New Jersey to Austin, Texas; and I'm an amateur foodie.  I'll be reviewing restaurants, lauding my own cooking exploits and occasionally ruminating about my garden.  Also expect a fair amount of complaining about the heat as this will be my first Texas summer. 

Hang on, it's going to be a tasty ride!