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Andrew Zachary's Profile

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Hard Hat XII

Unfortunately, no.

Apr 04, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Qui Reservation system sucks

Not sure I see your point.

I'm passing along other people's opinions about the cooking, not about the reservation system. I've not eaten at Qui, so cannot offer a personal observation about either one.

Apr 04, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Qui Reservation system sucks

Just to be clear: my earlier post has nothing to do with stocks, Wall Street, or finance.

I wanted to make the point that the inside scoop on Qui was that it isn't worth the price. There are better choices for your hard-earned money.

Mar 31, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Qui Reservation system sucks

There is a website called Whisper Number that supposedly offers an inside look at the best Wall Street earnings estimates. The Whisper Number on Qui: save your money. I haven't been so have no personal opinion.

Mar 30, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

New Oven

Yes. Lead times are long -- between 3 and 6 months, as each range/cooktop is built from scratch. As I said, the range is great, and I much prefer it to my previous Viking stove. You are welcome to try out the cooktop if you'd like. Just let me know.

Mar 24, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

New Oven

We have a BlueStar range and oven -- the range is great, with superb heat and control. I prefer it to previous range, which was a big Viking. At full throttle, I believe the cooktop will boil water as quickly as the best induction ranges, which is helpful when I'm making complicated dishes. And the simmer burner really does provide a perfect simmer.

I also like that everything is analog - no stupid digital boards that burn out at the most inopportune moments and leave you with a useless hunk of metal in your kitchen. The ignition is the only part you might need to replace, and that should be easy to do on your own. (N.B. I haven't had to do this yet, and don't anticipate any trouble when it happens.)

I took a while to adjust to the gas oven, though. It takes longer to heat up than my previous Viking dual-fuel ovens, doesn't brown chicken as well, and the knobs on the stove can get uncomfortably hot. But, on the plus side, the BlueStar oven gives a more even heat, is better at broiling, and gives a moister heat, so roasted food remains extremely moist.

Like most of life, you pays your money and you makes your choices.

Mar 23, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

New Oven

Wilson Appliance in Dripping Springs has an excellent, if expensive selection of convection and conventional ovens and cooktops. Worth a look, anyway.

Mar 14, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Best coffee in the downtown/SOCO & best local speciality food item to puchase

We appear to have orthogonal tastes in coffee! Flying Monkey is good, though.

Mar 12, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Best coffee in the downtown/SOCO & best local speciality food item to puchase

Some ideas for coffee (in addition to Patika, which is excellent)

Houndstooth at 4th and Congress. Excellent coffees, particularly anything roasted by Tweed.

Medici at 2nd and Congress. Also very good coffee, though not quite as good as either Patika or Houndstooth.

Ideas for take-home items that won't melt or require refrigeration:

Cocoa Pura: cocoa and vanilla covered cocoa beans. Delicious and only slightly less addictive that crack cocaine.

Chocolate Makers Studio - very good chocolate bars. I'm partial to the Orange Confit with Cherries, my wife likes the Espresso. Good balance between the inclusions and the chocolate itself. Might have to eat these before you get home to Canada.

Tweed coffees, particularly Timepiece. Available at Houndstooth. Technically, roasted in Dallas, but only available here in Austin (I believe, anyway!)

Barton Springs Soda Company: good sodas, not sure they are worth schlepping across the border.

More ideas as I think of them!

Mar 10, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

RIP VII

Austin Java in Tarrytown closed for non-payment of rent. Not too huge a loss, but was a very convenient place to hang out.

Feb 08, 2014
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Local Grass fed butter?

Good question, I believe grass but you might call and verify before driving all the way to Georgetown.

Nov 26, 2013
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Local Grass fed butter?

One of the dairy farmers at the Barton Creek Farmer's Market used to make a very small amount of butter. I tried it once, but it had turned rancid and was inedible. I've asked Mill King and Full Quiver if they will make either buttermilk or butter and neither one was interested.

Before you despair, you might check with Dyer Mercantile in Georgetown. They sell raw milk, freshly made butter, and superb eggs, chickens, beef, pork and lamb. (I have no business affiliation with them; I just buy their meats and milk.)

http://www.dyermercantile.com/products

Nov 26, 2013
Andrew Zachary in Austin

black truffle

1,000 euros per kg is a bargain! In the US, white truffles from Piedmont are around $120/ounce. Converting from our bizarre, crazy Imperial units to kilos and then into Euros gives me about 3,000 euros per kg.

FYI, Bufalina sometimes has white truffles on the menu; Steven Dilley imports them almost directly from the markets in Alba and they were/are wonderful. And don't ask about the upcharge, just close your eyes, inhale the amazing aroma, and enjoy the splurge.

Nov 26, 2013
Andrew Zachary in Austin

black truffle

I believe these truffles are from Oregon and tend not to have that much taste or smell. The "vrai" truffle smells like old leaves, saddle leather and stinky socks. $300/pound is cheap, actually. The Perigord version usually run closer to $800-$1000/pound.

Nov 25, 2013
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Where to get sourest sourdough bread in Austin?

The ex-bakery, Flour, had the best sourdough around. But they closed on Labor Day - a victim of their own success - so that information doesn't help you.

Easy Tiger's breads are pretty good, but not up to Acme Bread standards.

Nov 15, 2013
Andrew Zachary in Austin

High Quality BYOW Restaurant

If you'll be in NYC, Gotham, Gramercy or Union Sq should fit the bill quite nicely (I see that Gramercy has several vegetarian entrees on the current menu.) All allow corkage. I've heard good things about the Modern, though I haven't eaten there recently. Bouley and Jean George may/may not allow corkage, but the food is spectacular and well worth the effort. A recent lunch at Bouley was relatively inexpensive, and the chef kept sending over new items for us to try, ultimately turning what was supposed to be 5 courses into 10 or 11.

Austin's restaurant "scene" is still very much a work in progress, driven as much by the needs of the hard-drinking, meat-loving, "more is better" crowd as by the need for sophisticated restaurants. And don't get me started on the !(@*&%*&^ wine restrictions.

Apr 20, 2013
Andrew Zachary in Austin

High Quality BYOW Restaurant

Turns out the big restriction is the Texas ABC, as any restaurant that has a license for hard liquor cannot allow patrons to bring in wine. (That is why you got turned down at Congress) That said, here are some restaurants that will allow corkage.

Uchiko
Great cooking, not particularly vegetarian friendly. Lots of bacon everywhere. I see your comment about the wine matches, and agree that their food would be a better match with either a great older Riesling or a mature Corton Charlemagne. Well, I wouldn't turn down a mature Chevalier or a great Chablis from Raveneau either.

Wink
Somehow overlooked. Intimate, very friendly staff. Very good cooking if not quite at the Uchiko or Congress level. Desserts are superb and one or two would pair nicely with your '67.

Olivia
Has a 2 bottles limit, menu typically relies on lots of meat. They do have a few vegetarians-friendly options. Cooking can be superb or indifferent, often at the same time.

Lenoir
Not the fanciest setting, but the food is very very good, and the menu is extremely wine friendly. Hard to get reservations.

Other oenophiles will chime in, I'm sure!

Apr 15, 2013
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Overall view of dining scene in Austin

Mike, The wine list at Pappas is truly spectacular. Unfortunately, it looks like many of the treasures come straight from Rudy's cellars.

Mar 16, 2012
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Overall view of dining scene in Austin

Ah, we should define our terms about wine.

1) Because of the arcane, idiotic and down-right ridiculous liquor laws, restaurants cannot buy older gems at auction.
2) Not many of the great Burgundy producers make it into Texas; still fewer are available in Austin and a much smaller set are available for restaurants.
3) By local standards, hell, by any standards! a list with Dujac, de Montille, Barthod, Bonneau du Martray, Mugnier, F. Jobard, Lafon, Liger-Belair and Lafarge is a great list. Add in some reasonably priced DRC's (hah! That's an oxymoron.) and the list looks pretty amazing. Sure, it would be nice to see some older wines and more depth, but see 1 & 2 above.
4) In California, tastes are finally moving away from "more oak + more alcohol = a great wine." There are Chardonnays from Hanzell, Stony Hill, Littorai and Mayacamas, who collectively have been making wine for nearly 2 centuries. These are mostly minimally oaked, moderate-alcohol wines at very reasonable prices.

That said, we probably disagree about "hidden gems." That's fine. I'll keep the rest hidden. They are there, but usually in the arcane areas from off-beat producers.

Mar 14, 2012
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Overall view of dining scene in Austin

So - let's talk about wine here in Austin. Most places have very simple lists that look like a wine rep suggested the wines and the descriptions. Even Wink, which I think has pretty good food (and superb desserts!) has at best an indifferent wine list.

There are, however, a few restaurants with great wine lists:

Olivia: First place in town that carried Occhipinti, Texier, and Paolo Bea. Stephanie Childs is the sommelier and she does a great job of matching the wine to the cooking.
Congress: June Rodil's list has no equal in Austin. Truly wonderful, with lots of great producers at all price points.
Uchi/Uchiko: Also great wine list. Not in the same league with June's list at Congress, but interesting in its own right.
Paggi House: Lots of high-end Burgundy and Bordeaux, including plenty of DRC, Dujac, etc. Prices are reasonable, though not cheap by any measure.
June and Olivier: Good list with some excellent possibilities. Have only been once and reserve further judgement.

Everywhere else you're better off sticking to beer.

Mar 13, 2012
Andrew Zachary in Austin

RIP V

One quick phone call verifies that Olivia is alive and well. Do you suppose they were cleaning?

Feb 22, 2012
Andrew Zachary in Austin

nantucket bay scallops

Very short season even in my former haunts in New England. I haven't seen them anywhere here, though I would very much like to have them. In desperation, you might try Browne Trading Co in Portland Maine. I would expect them to be very expensive. http://www.brownetrading.com/fish/fre...

Jan 21, 2012
Andrew Zachary in Austin

LA Hound coming into town; any help would be greatly appreciated.

Couple of observations:

A) Uchi/Uchiko are musts. Truly wonderful fusion of Japanese and Western influences. In particular, any of the daily specials are worth a try as is the sashimi. The wine list is very very good and quite fairly priced.

B) Congress is also very good, but I have a few caveats. First, the wine list is truly world-class and prices are very fair. The sommelier, June, really knows her stuff and even the inexpensive wines are hitting above their weight. That said, I think the food and the dining are all a bit too precious, and I keep finding some residual sugar/sweetness in the food. Expect to pay well north of $200/person with wine.

C) I personally like the coffee at Patika, a small trailer at 2nd and Congress. And they have croissants from Barrie Cullinan who is Austin's best baker. Just smelling her almond croissants will add 2 inches to your waistline. Houndstooth also has superb espresso, but their pastries are only decent. [Royal Blue also carries croissants from Barrie Cullinan.]

D) Olivia also has a superb, fairly priced wine list. The cooking ranges from fair to great, sometimes both at the same time and in the same dish! The setting is very pleasant and the service quite professional.

E) Pizza varies from execrable to superb; without too much effort, you can always find Domino's or its near equivalent. At the high-end, many people like Home Slice, others East Side Pies. I like the pies at Backspace, a small 6-8 table place right behind Parkside. But stick with the pizzas, as the rest of the menu isn't in the same league.

Hope these suggestions are useful!

Jan 04, 2012
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Real Sourdough?

Village Baking Company as at the Barton Creek Farmer's Market every Saturday. Clint Cooper worked at Acme Bakery in SF and his sourdough is among the best I've ever had. His stand at the BCFM does not have a sign, so look for it carefully. He also makes a multi-grain boule that my friends think is equally great, but I haven't tried it yet. His croissants and cinnamon rolls are good, but not in the same league with the sourdough.

Oct 22, 2011
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Bakery suppliers?

There are two good bread bakers: Barrie Baking Company, run by Barrie Cullinan; and Village Baking Company out of Dallas. Barrie's breads are available at Antonelli's Cheese and she also sells at Boggy Creek Farm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Her ciabatta is very good; her croissants are extraordinary. The croissants are available at La Boite, Patika, Royal Blue and perhaps a few other places around town.

Village Baking Company comes to the Barton Creek Farmer's Market every Saturday. Their baker trained at Acme Bakery in San Francisco and makes superb sourdough that it is the equal of the best from Acme. My friends also like his multigrain boule, but I haven't tried it yet. His croissants and rolls are pretty good, but not in the same class with Barrie's. [Note: their stand lacks a sign so you just have to keep hunting for them.]

On the sweet side, La Patisserie makes very good croissants and macarons. And farther afield, Baguette et Chocolate has superb croissants and pastries, but they are all the way out in Bee Caves. Get there early as they sell out very quickly. They have a small selection at the Sunset Valley Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.

The breads at Whole Foods and Central Market are acceptable in a pinch but are otherwise undistinguished.

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Central Market
4477 S Lamar Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78745

Antonelli's Cheese Shop
4220 Duval Street, Austin, TX

La Boite
1700 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Oct 17, 2011
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Authentic Dan Dan Mian?

Try the one in Delf's wonderful cookbook. You'll never again be able to eat in a Chinese restaurant here in Austin.

Oct 07, 2011
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Authentic Dan Dan Mian?

I've tried them. Fair-to-middling, and not a patch on what you can fairly easily make on your own.

Oct 05, 2011
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Authentic Dan Dan Mian?

Two sources: Fuschia Dunlop's Land Of Plenty has two excellent recipes. They are rather different from each other, but both good. Then Robert Delfs in "The Good Food of Szechuan" has a wonderful recipe that I make all the time.

I have yet to find decent dan-dan here in Austin.

Oct 04, 2011
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Sourcing duck!

Sebastian at the downtown farmer's market breeds ducks and sells them. You should check with him about availability, price and size. He also sells duck eggs, wild hogs, and geese at Christmas time.

Jul 18, 2011
Andrew Zachary in Austin

Lunch in Austin

Actually, the point is that compared with New York, San Francisco, Washington and Chicago, we are a sad place to find high-end dining at lunch. For example, Jean Georges offers a wonderful 2-course $32 lunch and 11 Mad does a 3-course for $56 lunch. But in Austin, our top restaurants are closed for lunch except a few that do Sunday brunch.

And for ethnic restaurants, most the Austin ones are a poor, distant cousin to their counterparts in DC. Yes, I know that Lamberts, La Condessa, and East Side Cafe offer decent meals. But they aren't a patch on the best available in other cities. [And I forgot about Haddington's. Haven't made it there yet.]

Jun 20, 2011
Andrew Zachary in Austin