Food Porn of the Day: Sushi Rainbow

Lucky Robot Austin Sushi

Presenting the Voltron Roll: crab, shrimp, avocado, pickled cucumber & carrot, topped with tuna, salmon & yellowtail, and served with sesame, spicy mayo, and soy lemongrass glaze. Whew! The color of the fish is beautiful, and the soy lemongrass glaze is made in-house and is one of the better condiments I’ve put in my mouth. This is from Lucky Robot Japanese Kitchen in Austin, TX.

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Food Porn of the Day: The Porkiest Belly

Odd Duck Pork Banh Mi Buns

Pork belly is definitely a thing these days. So much of a thing that I’m almost… dare I say… over it. (Gasp!) Every menu in Austin, and probably in the country, is full of the stuff. It takes a veeeery special pork belly to catch my eye these days. All that being said, the pork belly at Odd Duck in Austin does it. “It” being “catches my eye and makes me care about pig again.”

The above is Odd Duck’s pork belly banh mi buns, which I devoured at lunch a week-ish ago. The meat is perfectly prepared and intensely flavorful. Chewy, yet somehow also melts in your mouth. By the way, next time you’re in Austin? Go to Odd Duck. You won’t regret it.

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Endless Road Trip Marfa: Hotel Paisano

Marfa Paisano Margarita

Marfa’s Hotel Paisano is a very special place. Not only is it a gorgeous historic building with an ultra-classy patio & bar, but it’s also the location/headquarters of the 1956 film Giant, starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Film, architecture, and a stiff drink? Count me IN!

As I mentioned, Paisano, on the National Register of Historic Places, is a beautiful building. After its silver screen heyday it sadly started to fall into disrepair, but luckily it was purchased by new owners and restored to its original splendor, plus renovated to include modernized rooms, shops, etc. Just look at it:

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Endless Road Trip Marfa: Padre’s Bar & Grill

Marfa Highway Welcome Sign

If you haven’t heard of Marfa, Texas, I can’t blame you. I didn’t know much about it until I moved to Austin a couple years back, but then I learned quickly enough: Marfa is a little town in the West Texas desert which has turned into an art enclave in the past few decades. It has some glimmers of weirdness because it was the setting of an old James Dean movie way back in the day, and it’s also home to the Marfa Lights, a mysterious phenomenon in the sky… basically, if you are looking for a scenic, artsy, and perhaps slightly creepy wild west desert roadtrip, West Texas (and specifically Marfa) is the place for YOU!

And the place for ME. I loved our trip so much. It’s funny because Marfa really is a teensy town, but I felt like there was way too much to do in the short amount of time we spent in the town (2 days out of the 4 we were in West TX). And by “do” I mean “eat” obviously, because Marfa actually has a great (albeit small, I mean come on, it’s like a 4-street town) food scene! So many cute food trucks and hole-in-the-wall spots only open for breakfast or lunch. There are like three “fancy”-ish restaurants and three bars as well. At least five days’ worth of solid eating and drinking, is what I’m saying.

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Endless Eating at Austin Food & Wine Fest

Austin Food & Wine Festival was three weekends ago, so this recap is definitely a little later than I would like, but to be honest, it took about three weeks to recover! I attend a lot of food events these days, and AFWF is the mother lode of all food events here in Austin. I ate and drank more in those three days than I did in the rest of 2014, I swear. There wasn’t a moment I wasn’t stuffing some sort of caloric goodness into my mouth. So much wine, specialty cuisine, celebrity chefs, fanciful tacos, sugary sweet macarons… I could go on, but you get the idea.

Austin Food Wine Fest Republic Square Park

I’d rather show than tell, though. Here are some highlights from my three days of gorging:

Georgia Pellegrini Rock Your Taco

Georgia Pellegrini‘s “Dough a Deer” taco from the Rock Your Taco competition. Green plantain tortilla with parsnip puree, venison tossed in a Cuban oregano vinaigrette, pickled jicama and carrot, tomatillo salsa, smoked Adobo sauce and pickled mustard seed. SO creative and delicious.

Jeni's Ice Cream Sundae

The “Not Enough” (salted caramel ice cream, pecans, and bittersweet chocolate) ice cream sundae cup from Jeni’s. Have you had Jeni’s ice cream? It’s seriously some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. It’s a little pricey, but worth hunting out. You can find it in upscale groceries and specialty markets.

TRACE Croque Madame Austin Food Wine Fest

Croque Madame from Chef Lawrence Kocurek of TRACE, made with duck bacon and quail egg. Disclaimer: I work for TRACE, too! But my completely unbiased opinion is that this was one of the best bites I had in the entire Grand Tasting inside the fest.

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Is This the World’s Spiciest Burger?


At Star City Kitchen in El Paso, Texas, Chef Sarah Kosravani recently introduced “The Ghost Burger.” It consists of five separate elements, each designed to light your mouth on fire.

1. Bun brushed with cayenne-infused butter

2. Burger patty seasoned with secret-recipe salsa, pepper flakes, and raw, diced habanero

3. Pepperjack cheese laced with he notorious ghost pepper!

4. Roasted habanero and garlic aioli.

5. Battered and fried toreados (jalapenos that have basically mated with onion rings).

Would you try it?

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Of Cookbooks, Blog Posts, and E-books


When looking for a recipes these days, there are so many, many, many options. When I have a particular recipe/ingredient/meal I am looking for, I will often just turn to a good ol’ google search and see where the interwebs take me.  I will often land on someone’s blog, and this may be what brought you, dear reader, over to Endless Simmer in the first place.  Blogs can be good for browsing, too, but when I am really seeking inspiration from out of the blue, nothing beats an actual paper cookbook, preferably weighing a few pounds and liberally strewn with pictures.  On a side note, I have recently discovered the joy that is library cookbooks, but I’ll save my extended thoughts on those for another day.

Somewhere between these two media, the blog and the cookbook, lies a strange beast: the cooking e-book.  Like blogs, e-cookbooks can be produced by more or less any dude or dudette with a stove and a computer.  They can serve many purposes: some are just like traditional cookbooks; others are blog spinoffs.  The two categories of e-cookbooks that I have found most useful are mini recipe collections (think “30 savory pies”); and e-books that focus on just one recipe, but one that is longer and more complicated than can be contained in one blog post, like “authentic Pad Thai.”

I was recently sent a review copy of Kolaches – Amazing & Easy! which fits solidly into the second category of my kind of e-cookbooks. For the uninitiated, kolaches are a slightly sweet Czech pastry often filled with fruit or cheese.  This book contains a brief history of the pastry, followed by instructions on how to make the dough, make the fillings, and assemble the pastries.  Also included are many variations on the initial recipe and what to do with leftover dough.

But…these were a freakin’ lot of work.  Perhaps it’s just my baking ineptitude, but despite this book’s exclamatory title,  there was nothing easy about making kolaches.  And in the end, after all my (long) hard work, the end result tasted like biscuits with jelly.  Good biscuits with jelly, but I’m not sure they were worth all the extra effort.


If you are more bakingly inclined than I am (and you certainly are), you may want to check out this e-book on Amazon.   In addition to making kolaches, the book includes instructions for some great little rolls, or “little ducks” as the author calls them, that you can make with the leftover dough.  These were less work, and still super-delicious.

So what about you?  Do you prefer cookbooks, e-books, or blogs? Any little known favorites to share?

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