July 31, 2011


Last Saturday at the Pearl Farmers Market El Monty Chef Quealy set about the task of deboning a pig head, live and in color and assisted by the smooth sounds of emcee Owner Chad Carey. The lush crowd was five rows deep seated and three rows deep standing, and the Charles & Charles Rosé flowed freely to those with nothing on the daily docket.

After all was said and done the case of wine had been drunk and nothing was left on the skull but teeth and eyeballs. Admirable accomplishments both, completed in less than an hour and all before 10:30a. Once the meat was removed Quealy rubbed it in salt and spice and wrapped it around the tongue, trussed it, portioned it, and sous-vide low and slow... real slow, for what would ultimately be 48 hrs.

Mark from South Texas Heritage Pork, based just up the road near Floresville, donated the head and ran us through what got him into business: "Wanted better options," he said... "A better product for my family." Not, I'd imagine, entirely dissimilar to what gets most of these independent operations started. But keeping them going is up to us, and since the best way to preserve is to consume, here's a list of restaurants that enable the consumption...

Each of Jason Dady's, Luke San Antonio, and of course the Monterey.


July 28, 2011

On the Border

Earlier this week, late Monday evening, after we'd finished the filets and the Decoy Cabernet and covered at length the topic of this inextinguishable mess across the river and its crushing effects on border towns this side and that and debating what might put a stop to it all, we grabbed a night cap and stood along top floor of the La Posada Hotel looking out across the Rio Grande into sister city Nuevo Laredo.

There was an unsettling emptiness to the night. Really very little sound except the palms blowing. It's a rare thing staring into a foreign land, certainly when that land is forbidden in parts. Gone are the folks crossing over in droves for an evening in old Mexico. Downtowns are dead or dying...

So the next day, incapable of fetching lunch across the international bridge, we stopped into a recommended spot just off the square called El Meson de San Agustin. On first pass we didn't notice the restaurant... and we were actually looking for it. Second pass, same thing. No sign, low-slung building, and not actually at the address as advertised.

At last we entered through a cloudy shuttered door and into a full house and all trepidation fell by the wayside. Outside it was hot, convection oven hot, wind swirling the 104-degree afternoon, and on a day like this I was grateful that El Meson takes the time to make its own Jamaica - 32oz hibiscus tea with high ice and sweetened within an inch of being labeled Kool-Aid.

For eats I had the Carne de Puerco en Chile Rojo, which was essentially carne guisada with pork not beef. It was fatty, and tender, and stewed in guajillo chiles and tomatillos and spices and perfect when nestled inside a thin flour tortilla with a little lime and a little salt; quite suddenly we didn't need to be in Mexico... though it'll sure be nice to go back when we can.

908 Grant Street
Laredo, TX 78040
(956) 725-9299  

July 23, 2011

Quick Pick

I seem to be listening to a lot of Justin Townes Earle and other music of that ilk lately. Especially when the sun shines bright middle of the day.

Video Courtesy: LaundroMatinee.

July 19, 2011

Idle Speed Now, pt. 1 - Ocean Reef Club

Happiness was the intention the founders had when they established the Ocean Reef Club (1945) just north of Key Largo, which is the first of the Florida Keys (or last, depending on your direction into or out of Havana). It’s a place that inspires the kind of prevailing leisure that only a life of extraordinary comfort can provide. By its own account, the ORC "reflects the thoughtful creation of an ideal, exclusive community of like-minded people.” Typically such a display of blatant homogeneity would scare a mutt like me to death, but somehow or another I manage to get on just fine.

The Z and I made a quick sojourn down just before summer. Good to get back to the simplicty, the sportsman's paradise, the appreciation for decorum... sometimes it really is just best to wear the jacket. It's where we've rung in many-a-New Year and where we had our first dance and hopefully where we'll continue going for years to come. Alas, that's not my call, but until they turn me away at the gate I'll be back... happily.


She could be yours.

July 14, 2011

French Legation for a Night

My old bus route used to run me up towards Adam's Morgan past a little Dupont eatery called Bistro du Coin. It was French, as you might have guessed. But French in that unmistakably Disneyworld sort of way (at least, the Disneyworld I've heard about; my childhood never afforded me the pleasure and God willing my adulthood never will either)... just in your face with the whole facade. But brash enough to accommodate large crowds, with a disco ball dripping from the ceiling and year-round Christmas decorations. It was superficial and deliciously tacky, which in the end might just be what kept me going back for more.

Fact is I had a lot of good meals there with some good fuzzy memories to boot. The barflys who'd gather mid-afternoon to burn smokes and drink cheap beaujolais were legit, just as legit as the surly and accented waitstaff, equal opportunity haters all. Every night a full house, but no night quite as full as to-night... July 14th, Bastille Day, when they spin that dormant mirrored stalactite into action and kick the French electronica into full gear. From the bus window was about as close as I'd get, leaving the party to those who knew the what for.

1738 Connecticut Ave, NW
Washington, D.C.  20009

A personal memory, nothing more, with no bearing on the below - seaside propaganda from the South of France; Nice, isn't it? That's Nice, like fleece - save for the common celebration...  

Happy Bastille Day, cheese eaters. 

July 7, 2011

"Ayup, we serve it up local in heeya"

Last weekend in Boston we stumbled upon a place called Savenor’s Market on Charles St. There are two locations, this one and the one in Cambridge, which has been there since 1939 and was, reportedly, Julia Child’s butchery. Lots to love about this place: heritage, discernment, knowledge. It bills itself as a "gourmet butcher shop and high-end grocer," though grocery was a little light. But the meats...

Savenor's hangs its hat on sourcing with a purpose. Local, organic, grass-fed, sustainably-raised beef/lamb/pork/poultry. They know the purveyors, which you really don't see too often outside of that overrun farmer's market. And high-quality seafood (sushi grade tuna, organic salmon... am I the only one who didn't know that fish could be organic?). They’ve also got an exceptional selection of not-your-typical-proteins like like squab and python and kangaroo and alligator, which incidentally all make very nice boots. And if you find yourself in a pinch and fresh out of rendered duck or goose fat, you're covered there too. After all, that cage free chicken ain't gonna fry itself.

One thing I didn't notice was wine, which I assume is the result of a legal prohibition otherwise it’s a glaring oversight because even a small but well-curated selection would go a long way. 

So order up. If you're local, they'll get it to you via bike messenger. If you're not, they'll get it to you some other way at what I can only imagine to be an exorbitant cost but hey, squab boots just a phone call away…

160 Charles Street 
Boston, MA 02114

July 5, 2011

Diving In

I knew the Atlantic was cold as I walked out the pier. Knew it mid-air as I felt its chill. Knew it going in but seriously, how often do you get to dive into the ocean from a 10-ft springboard?  Buzzards Bay was cold. Not lung-cripplingly so, though piercing the surface was a healthful shock to the system... a shocking reminder of the solvency of water. Unfortunately it took more than my breath: I don't know how deep I went but I bottomed-out and kicked hard and up and once I was buoyant I went to put on my sunglasses, still gripped firmly in my left hand, and saw that they had lost their utility. Barring a trip to the West Village in the near future these babies are headed back to Ray·Ban. I had to wear a hat the rest of the afternoon.

July 4, 2011


Washington. Boston Public Garden (June 27, 2011)

July 1, 2011

Dog Days

Last week we snuck out to a friend's ranch near D'Hanis to take advantage of the extended sunlight. I brought beer, he brought pizza. And everything else. Pulled some bass out of the tank, great sunset. We haven't had rain in ages, so the water was low and still and the fish were more sultry than spry and really didn't put up much of a fight. Which was ok, as we weren't in much the fighting mood.

On these warm summer nights everything and everyone just gets a little more tranquil.


from the passenger seat, the other Sam (no relation).