March 30, 2011

Local Spicer

After lunching in East Dallas this weekend we happened into Spiceman’s FM 1410, the storefront for Tom Spicer's provisioning services. Mushrooms, micro-greens, vegetables, herbs, etc., direct from garden-to-kitchen for some of Dallas' more discerning chefs. Organic and in my backyard?  I can see the attraction.

Were it not for the fun they seemed to be having I mightn't have ever given it a second thought; the sign above the door gives absolutely zero indication of what’s behind the gate. But as I walked by I noticed a couple of folks milling about around a farm table inside, drinking Tecate and playing music. Quite naturally I was intrigued.   

The whole operation looks like a Utopian experiment from the 60’s that no one ever bothered to quit running. Food is grown predominantly in the back of the store on a rather impressive plot of dirt. They were friendly, as you'd imagine, eager to show us around and itching to sell us a dime bag of 'shrooms.

It's locavore impressively done, lifestyle and all. Obviously there would be no website, but a quick search turned up nearly 1,000 hits (late to the game is how I roll). Lots of “eat local” chatter, “save 1410 from the parking lot they intend to drop on top of the garden,” and the like… it clearly has some equity with those in-the-know, and now I know why.

Spiceman's FM 1410
1410 B North Fitzhugh Avenue
Dallas, TX 75024

Scrolled Fiddleheads, of which they were particularly proud, and for good reason

That's not all we grow!

March 26, 2011

Dispatch... South by Southwest (day three)

By Saturday we'd reached a certain level of comfort with the mayhem. Picked a couple of shows spaced far enough apart and put all our eggs into that basket. If it doesn't work out hey those are the breaks. We brought the average age up a bit at the S********r (Portland, OR) show at ND, a band with a most commercially unviable name that has actually been in a commercial

The music was electr(on)ic and the Modelos were cold but the venue was dark, so we changed course as one does and proceeded into the thick that is South by San Jose to see Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears (Austin).   

We left the next morning, spent a week in New York and are currently laid-over in Dallas. This madness has to stop... if only it weren't so damn fun. 

Panda. Unnoticed in crowd



Spicy Tangy Micheladas...

...and a setting sun

Until next year then
As a parting gift - I saw this declaration in a port-a-potty and captured it in spite of overwhelming risk to both my phone and personal integrity.  Is this the next Wade Boggs phenomenon? 

March 19, 2011

Dispatch... South by Southwest (day two)

We started the day watching college hoops on a patio overlooking Lake Austin. The wind picked up and I found myself wishing that I'd worn longer pants... it was a short-lived lament. By the time we got downtown the heat was full force. Free Red Stripe cooled us down (while it lasted) and Deerhunter (Atlanta) took us into the night.  

900 Red River
Austin, TX 78701

Night Image via: Club de Ville.

March 18, 2011

Dispatch... South by Southwest (day one)

Welcome to SXSW. The world of short sets and bearded zoo animals in plaid. Everything is sponsored and if you're not an officially sanctioned South by Southwest venue then by God you're an unofficially sanctioned one.

Scene here: a picture of you taking a picture of me, if my name were Raphael Saadiq. He opened racously to Heart Attack and didn't let off the throddle.  

208 W 4th Street
Austin, TX 78701

March 16, 2011

Mad About Saffron

Best I can recall, the first time I had paella was about ten years ago. I was in Barcelona on the front end of a three-week trip across Europe and stayed for a week with some friends in the Gothic Quarter on stipend of $90 per day. To a 23 y.o. on a state-sponsored boondoggle, whiling away the afternoons on the beach and nights spent hunting down seedy absinthe bars, it was all the money in the world (at least that's what I thought until I made it to Kazakhstan the following year, flush with $127/day - you can't give away $127/day in Kazakhstan, but that's another story entirely). 

We spent this past Sunday afternoon at the Pearl for the 2nd Annual Paella Challenge.  Fifty bucks all in and we were up to our ears in saffron and sangria.  Chefs from around the country on-hand to compete and check out the newest CIA campus. I appreciated the liberties they took with (what I'm assuming to be) a more authentic preparation: lots of crawfish, buttery scallops, an interesting version with pesto... the difficulty seemed to be in finding the right consistency with the rice. Too saturated, pretty much all around. Broth measurement is key... hey I'm all for winging it in the kitchen but we've got to keep the measuring cup manufacturers in business somehow.

After a while the cornucopia of flavors became a little overwhelming. This just isn't something you have all the time (like uni, or squirrel meat) so as much as I am categorically opposed to the practice of moderation, here it certainly had a role to play. Thus we all appreciated the Cajun transplant who was dishing up fried catfish and Modelo Especial; no prize awarded here but sometimes it's just best to stick with what you know, you know?

Top billing went to a local, the Valencia Hotel. Turns out they've got a daily Paella lunch for a whopping $8.95... Kazakhstan we ain't but I guess you'd be hard-pressed to give away $127 in San Antonio as well.

Here's a good recipe via Melissa Guerra.



March 13, 2011

Showlist Austin

SXSW 2011 showcasing act Braids
If you're making the trek to Austin this week for South by Southwest, no doubt you'll be overrun with options on where to see the band-to-see. Seems that every place with even the idea of stage space opens itself up. Good news is, with all this supply they need to build the audience somehow, and since we're all fairly predictable creatures the enticement usually takes the form of gratis ice cold beer and good tunes.

As you prep, might want to park it for a bit on Showlist Austin, which as far as I can tell is a damn fine list of who's playing where all around the Capitol City. You can customize by date, day and night shows.  Just might help you control the chaos just a bit.  But not too much... the chaos is really a big part of the fun.  

Enjoy the show.

Image via: SXSW.

March 9, 2011

Railroad Revival Tour

THE TRIP: This April, Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, and Old Crow Medicine Show will embark on a tour unlike any in recent memory. Traveling exclusively in vintage rail cars, the three bands will journey across the American Southwest over the course of a week. The aptly titled Railroad Revival Tour will feature the three bands playing concerts at six unique outdoor locations along the route, beginning April 21st in Oakland, California.

THE RAILROAD: Today’s mass transit is built for speed and volume, which suits our modern lifestyle. But sometimes the notion of landscape and discovery is left behind. The RRT is an effort to re-imagine that landscape, the experience of the journey, and to re-discover what happens in between destinations. The inaugural Railroad Revival Tour train is more than 1,500 feet long. It features 15 vintage railcars pulled by 2 locomotives, and is set to travel more than 2,000 miles over tracks that stretch across five states.

Honestly if this isn't the climax of a hipster's * dream then I need to seriously reconsider my definition of the term. The descriptions alone are excellent fodder for your Modern Day Urban Lumberjack (here's a handy guide to get you up to snuff). It has it all... Vintage Rail Cars. American Southwest. Marfa. Even a backhanded compliment to modern day mass transit. See y'all there...

Tickets on sale this morning at 11a Central.

March 8, 2011

Hangover Helper

Because now you've got a problem: it’s Mardi Gras you see, so instead of just having to keep it together from sundown to bedtime like normal, now you have to go all day, all night, and probably until the sky starts to turn that eerie shade of purple that says: "Seriously, just go home."  And because tying one on typically requires discipline, while discipline is typically the first thing to go when tying one on.  But this is Fat Tuesday.  So enjoy.  And tomorrow, after you peel your face off the pillow and wipe the sweaters off your teeth, go and have your eggs.

Because honestly, sometimes the booze just owns you. And because no trip to New Orleans is complete without a quick jaunt up St. Charles Avenue to Carrollton for a little Vitamin G.  And because the Camellia Grill is just one of those can't miss places… like F&M in our younger years. 

So now you see… Oh yes, this is so much more than just a place to knock back an orange freeze and chili-fries with your coffee. This is spring-anew… it’s just too bad all your Lenten obligations go out the window by the time you finish breakfast.

The Chef Special (serves 1)
3 eggs
½ cup diced potatoes, boiled until tender
½ cup diced onion
½ cup diced ham
½ cup diced bacon, cooked
½ cup diced turkey
1 slice Swiss cheese
1 slide American cheese
5oz cooked chili

Put eggs in a blender and mix on high until mixture is almost white. Toss potatoes, onions, ham, bacon and turkey onto heated grill pan and sauté for 30 seconds. Pour eggs over all, adding cheese on top of egg and ingredients, gently rolling eggs over into pillow shape. Let cook for 2 mins, or until firm. Place omelet on large plate and cover with chili.

Suggested: Serve with heaping mound of French fries on the side.

626 S Carrollton Ave
New Orleans, LA 70118

Recipe Courtesy: WSJ. Photos Courtesy: WSJ, Newman Photography, my shaking hand.

March 2, 2011

What Starts Here...

Alamo Immortal. Texas at 175 y.o.

Photo Credits: San Antonio Express-News.