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Austin Coffee--some thoughts


I respectfully disagree with your statement " I am rather surprised by the situation, in part because the coffees themselves don't stand up quality wise."

I've been a relatively loyal Texas Coffee Traders customer for years, until Cuvee moved (literally) into the scene. In my opinion, Cuvee is at the top of the heap of local roasters, an opinion that seems to be supported by the fact that the most respected shops in town including Once Over, Houndstooth, and Medici are all serving Cuvee. You can find Cuvee Mezaanotte at Thunderbird Coffee (nee Cafe Clemintine). This is the darkest roast from Cuvee, according to their website. Medici and Once Over use custom Cuvee blends.

For whatever reason, Coffee Trader has either slipped behind or Cuvee has pulled ahead. I'm a little annoyed that Cuvee sells their beans to consumers in a 12oz package for the same price as a pound elsewhere. But I like it enough that Cuvee is part of my regular rotation along with my Coffee Trader faithful.

I don't like really dark roasts for my espresso, and that's drinking it straight or macchiato. Whether that's traditional or not, just happens to be my preference after a lot of experimentation. For me Anderson's dark roast is over-roasted.

It also matters which machine I'm using. The Rancillo is very good with the lighter roasts, but the office machine improves with a darker roast.

In fact I'm drinking a Cuvee Mezzanotte roast right now. Ahhh.....

Texas Coffee Traders
1400 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78702

Thunderbird Coffee
1401 W Koenig Ln, Austin, TX 78756

Mar 29, 2011
tummoi in Austin

Copper cookware - Falk vs. Bourgeat

I have 7 pieces of Falk Culinaire and use them nearly every day for many years. These are remarkable pans, and will outlast me. I don't bother trying to keep my copper shiny (these are working pans, after all). The stainless interior deglazes very well on the stovetop and cleans easily. If you forget to deglaze a little barkeepers friend cleans it right up.

The only disadvantage is they are very heavy, so you'll also need light pans for saute or omelets that you can flip.

I never bought the stock pots since there is no need for copper cladding when heating a large quantity of liquid.

I wish they made a griddle. The closest thing I use is their big casserole pan.

Jan 19, 2011
tummoi in Cookware

Where to get sushi grade fish

I'd never scoff at HEB. I'm always grateful for our Texas chain whenever I get back after business travel. I like small artisan shops as much as anyone, but I'll give the HEB chain the credit it is due. Glad to hear even an ordinary HEB has the fish.

Jan 11, 2011
tummoi in Austin


I realized I'd never posted the results.

I ended up making a mole from scratch using Rick Bayless's recipe:

Despite all the warnings that this is hard or you'd be crazy to do it.... its not. It does take time, and you'll be rewarded if you plan it out and do your mise en place before you start in ernest.

The trickiest part was getting the mole as dark as it was supposed to be. Mine probably wasn't, but it was darn tasty nevertheless. I'd change a couple of the procedures in the recipe, so if anyone wants more details or pictures of the process, let me know.

I served the mole with a home smoked turkey.

Dec 21, 2010
tummoi in Austin


Well, it's time to roast turkeys again. This year, for one of the dinners I do, I'd like to serve a mole. Problem is, I've never made a mole. For better or worse, I do like the dark mole at El Chili. I would call it a success I'd I could prepare something like that. Any guidance from local hounds?

Nov 21, 2010
tummoi in Austin

where to buy whole hog?

I can confirm Jim Richardson of Richardson farms will sell you a whole hog. At least he sold me one last year.

Oct 12, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Best food truck in Austin?

And the wait at Odd Duck isn't incredible? I've tried twice now to eat there, once just last night on a Wednesday, and the wait was 45+ minutes both times.

Odd Duck. They may be mobile but they're not fast.

Sep 30, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Chowhound Dinner at Uchiko

I'd be interested for two people.

Sep 13, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Where to get home-grownish tomatoes?


I live on the West side and can't stick a fork in the "soil" (whatever clay the original builder put down under the sod) without hitting solid rock. I tried a garden by bringing in a yard of good soil from Natural Gardener, but not matter what I do or what varietal I plant, they don't produce well if at all. Suggestions? My garden gets direct sun. When I was a bit further South on clay, I had no problems.

Sep 04, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Hard Hat Report Vol 6

Anyone know what prompted this move? The current run-down "building" and interesting clientele sprawled all around outside it were what made Bouldin creek Bouldin creek. What is happening to the current location?

Aug 23, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Galaxy Cafe

They've been solid at lunch for me. I frequent the West Lynn location primarily, although occasionally stop by the Slaughter location when heading down to the in-laws in Buda. I like the fish wrap and my wife goes for one of the sandwiches. I had breakfast at the South location once and it was bland and boring. But lunch, yeah, I'd be disappointed if they were gone.

By the way, they also own Zocalo next door in Clarksville. Virtually the same concept but with mexican food. It's OK too, but my wife doesn't like it much, so we usually do Galaxy.

Zocalo Cafe
1110 W Lynn St, Austin, TX 78703

Aug 19, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Achiote paste - recado rojo

How do you prepare your chicken? I've only done it with braised pork (banana leaves and all that).

Also, my blade coffee grinder (used only for spices) grinds the seeds into powder with no problem.

Aug 17, 2010
tummoi in Austin

RIP part III: Austin Restaurant Closings

Wow. Marc Katz, Lieutenant Governor wanna-be? Interesting read, I had no idea of the problems his company had faced. Selling downtown space and leasing back; ouch! Agree about the food, nevertheless, Katz's has been a fixture for me in my 20+ years of Austin living. Mediocre or not, losing it is going to be another reminder is that nothing never changes..... Not sure about the Ikea cafeteria reference, tokyo, that's harsh! :)

Aug 05, 2010
tummoi in Austin

knife sharpening in Austin?

I missed the prophet book, but I did read parts of his book on starting your own knife sharpening business and making 100k a year.

Yes, the place is trippy. The kind of place I like to find myself in. My knives used to come back razor sharp. Once after having them done, my wife committed the cardinal mistake of dropping one into the dish water.... and then forgetting about it. We returned from the ER 5 hours later, and her finger hasn't been the same since.

But the last few times I went (over a year ago, now) it was a couple younger guys doing the work, and it just wasn't great. I ended up doing what I always do when I can't get the service I want: I learned how to do it myself. Besides, shouldn't a chef sharpen his/her own knives, at least once in a while?

FWIW, here is the place I got my kit:
I have the "apex" model.

I would like to take their knife-throwing class, however!

Jun 22, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Espresso in Austin

The Rancilio is the standard machine by which others are judged due to its industrial construction and commercial sized portafilter. Its too bad the temperature control out-of-the-box is so wide due to its use of mechanical switches instead of electronic controls. I added an electronic PID controller to mine, but it takes some effort and probably another $150 in parts to do nicely.

This machine is quite powerful and can produce copious amounts of steam. However, I find pulling consistent shots to be tricky. You need a good grinder, but even though I've paired it with the Rancilo Rocky grinder, I still find it hard to get a great shot every time.

I have a Gaggia Classic here at work, and its a bit more user-friendly and pulls good shots, but can't quite hit the best shots I've gotten out of the Silvia. It also doesn't have near the steam power. The steam wand has a frothing aide that tends to blow big bubbles into your milk (basically its a Venturi tube).

The La Pavoni gets pulled out for special occasions. Mine is old and has no electric controls. It heats until the pressure blows great clouds of steam out the release valve, just like a pressure cooker. It's always impressive at dinner parties.

Jun 02, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Espresso in Austin

It is modified with a Fujitsu PID. I took the same approach as this guy:

Jun 02, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Espresso in Austin

I guess I'm something of a coffee geek, having a modified Rancilio Silvia espresso machine and a manual La Pavoni here at home... Like you, I prefer either straight espresso or at most a macchiato.

The most consistent place in town in my experience is Cafe Medici. Like they actually train their barristas or something. In fact I've heard they also enter competitions, which isn't something I hear of many shops doing.

I've had a good espresso once at "Once Over Coffee". Maybe because they use the same supplier as Medici. They have a nice patio out back, but otherwise I wasn't crazy about the ambiance.

The others I can mention like Green Muse, Teos, Clementine, Pacha, Epoch, Jos. I enjoy them all, but not compare any of them to the product you'll find at Medici.

1206 W 38th St, Austin, TX 78705

Green Muse Cafe
519 W Oltorf St, Austin, TX 78704

May 27, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Where to have a cow butchered/ processed?

Give Jim at Richardson Farms a call. He has all his hogs processed locally, I think in Fredericksburg. I'm not sure about cattle. I'd be curious to know what you find, I thought that cattle required more govt regulation and thus harder for a small processor to do, but that is based on what I've read rather than what I know for sure.

Jan 27, 2010
tummoi in Austin

R I P part II

I am sort of wondering if Primizie will honor those gift certificates in any way. Or if anyone had booked their New Year's eve dinner (did it happen? I'd considered it). Having been jilted out of a gift card at Barbecues Galore after their bankruptcy, despite the fact the stores remained open, really really upset me. I mean it is one thing to go out of business and disappear, and quite another thing to just continue on in some other form and stick it to the very people you expect to patronize your business. Sorry. End of rant.

Anyway I'm going to miss them. I really liked the place. And although maybe it hasn't going perfectly for everyone, I like the changes that have me coming to the East Side more often and not just to the East Side Cafe. Best of luck, as long as they pay Amy.

Jan 10, 2010
tummoi in Austin

Turkeys - Fresh or Heritage

Has anyone tasted heritage vs usual turkey? I understand the heritage take a lot longer to reach maturity and are thus more expensive, but is it justified to spend over $85 on the bird?

Also, fresh vs frozen, since even "fresh" are shipped lightly frozen (26 - 28 degrees), is there a difference?

Nov 17, 2009
tummoi in Austin

El Chile Northwest

That's the one. It is the second (I think) location for El Chile, the other being on Manor road on the way to Mueller.

As for me, I _love_ the salsa.

The owners also own El Chilito, a taco shack a few places down on Manor, with a new second location on Barton Springs @ 5th (Dawson). Unfortunately I worry for this second location; I was just there this AM and I was the only one. I figured they'd be slammed due to the Silicon Labs Relay just across the green at Auditorium shores (and I know I'm not the only runner that craves tacos after a race!) It hasn't been busy the other times I've been there for lunch, either :(

So, I really like this stuff, it is different than what you get at the usual tex-mex places, and IMO, the flavors are more interesting.

The owners also own the Red House, I think, and sadly the now-closed Stortini at the front that used to serve good affordable Italian.

Sep 27, 2009
tummoi in Austin

Nau's Burger

It's ok, they haven't cleaned in 10 years either.

Sep 17, 2009
tummoi in Austin


Cafe Clementine on Manor has just switched to Cuvee as well, so you have a third location :)

Aug 11, 2009
tummoi in Austin


I'll second Texas Coffee Traders if you need to buy beans. They will also sell you unroasted beans if you roast at home. I've bought beans from a number of roasters in town, and the coffee trader is our favorite, and has become the new standard among my co-workers for the office machine as well. RC the owner is always happy to talk and will pull you an espresso. They have a huge selection of beans from all over the world.

Aug 11, 2009
tummoi in Austin

el chilito replacing gypsy!

They may not be authentic, whatever that is, but when it tastes that good, who cares?! I love the barbacoa and cochinita pibil.
The new location is kinda close to their other downtown location. I hope they don't grow too fast or too far. For me, I _like_ the east side vibe and making the trip is a special treat. Even when busy, I get my food in a few minutes. Not sure why people get turned off when a place gets popular. Seems like the "taco journalism" guy won't even mention it by name for the same reasons.

Jul 20, 2009
tummoi in Austin

Personal Cooking Classes

Not a day goes by without dreaming of quitting my job and enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu and really learning the science and skills behind cooking. Alas, there are bills to pay before I go...

A friend of mine in Seattle has a compelling arrangement. He has a local chef give him and his wife personal classes once a week at their home. I've asked one chef here, and while he was interested, we never were able to make it happen. So, the question to the board, does anyone know of someone who might be willing to do this? I live in S. Austin, and perhaps if some others on this board will willing to commit, we could split the cost. I think 2 - 6 people over several weeks would be about right. Contact me at public at peapod dot net if interested!

Jul 09, 2009
tummoi in Austin

Wine Store / Merchant

Up until recently, sadly, I enjoyed getting personal wine recommendations at Vinosity on 35th by the owner, Myrna. Her prices were reasonable, her selection interesting, and her recommendations good. I'd tell her what I'd liked from last time, or what I was cooking, and she'd fix me up. Vinosity is now closed, and I'm left alone and sober with an empty wine "cave".

I'm looking for a wine merchant that can give me a little personal attention and who comes with some recommendations. Help?

Jul 09, 2009
tummoi in Austin


Does anyone know where Myrna has gone? I used stop and buy my wine there; her recommendations were always great. My little secret wine seller, a little too secret I guess. In all, it wasn't a great location for her, too easy to miss. I remember her and several patrons seated around her bar one night saying they lived in S. Austin. Would love to see a new location open up down here - but probably wishful thinking. Well, I have a few bottles left that have "vinosity" written on them. I'll raise my glass to Myrna when they are opened.

May 27, 2009
tummoi in Austin