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Allison L.'s Profile

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Where to buy "real" lard?

I've seen it at El Rancho supermarket on Berkman & 290 (formerly Randall's)

Dec 03, 2012
Allison L. in Austin

Franklin BBQ - how to keep warm for dinner?

Well I thought I'd let you know how this worked out.

According to the Franklin guys, a cooler with the lid slightly open was what they recommended. This is so that the meat would not get steamed. Then they said to put the wrapped packages in the oven at 170 for 15 minutes just before serving to warm it.

I did exactly as they recommended (this is pretty much what I was going to do anyway) but I also had the meat in a soft sided cooler inside a hard-sided cooler to retain as much heat as possible throughout the day. Also I did have them slice the meat. I don't have the best knife for the job and I didn't want to mangle the brisket trying to cut it against the grain. Also I thought since I'm trying to retain heat, having it sit open on a cutting board as I cut it would definitely release too much heat. I think I made the right decision on that.

Right out of the cooler, the meat was fine but not very warm. We're talking about 7 hours in the cooler so ymmv if you have it in there for less time. We had 6-8 lbs and put it on sheet pans in the wrappers reheated at 170 for 15 minutes. When we unwrapped everything I could still see some opaqueness in the fat - could have gone a little longer. The texture of the meat was 90% fine. Oh, that 10% though - it was the bark. The bark was too soft. No meat candy. I actually enjoyed the leftovers more the next day - we put everything in a foil tray and baked at 350. The meat (mostly just the lean brisket, the fatty was fine) dried out a little, but the ends crisped up and that was really worth it.

Also I wanted to note that in addition to Franklin, we also picked up a few beef ribs from John Mueller's trailer. Unlike the Franklin brisket, the beef ribs held up very nicely, crust and all, from the get go. So those of us jonesing for crusty, peppery bark did have some of the good stuff the first night - just not from the brisket.

All in all I would recommend not waiting as long as we did to eat - I think the cooler method is good for shorter periods of time, but flawed as it will steam the meat if it sits wrapped up long enough. If I had to wait longer, I'd probably unwrap everything and leave at room temp, Also, blast in a hotter oven for less time to try and crisp up edges.

Oct 03, 2012
Allison L. in Austin

Franklin BBQ - how to keep warm for dinner?

You have to e-mail them. franklinbbq@gmail.com

Sep 24, 2012
Allison L. in Austin

Franklin BBQ - how to keep warm for dinner?

Friends and I have decided to pre-order from Franklin and skip the line (if ordering 5 lbs. or more of meat, you can pre-order but need to do so 2 weeks ahead). Skipping the line means picking up the order at 10:15, but we want to eat at 5-ish. I'm the designated picker upper - and I don't want to ruin anything! Putting it in the fridge seems like the wrong thing to do because by the time it cools down it's time to heat it up again. The oven will surely dry it out, even at a low temp. My best idea so far is to wrap in a towel and put it in a cooler to keep warm, then just before serving pop it in the oven for 5 minutes to re-melt the fat.

Anyone have experience with this? I'd love some advice.

Sep 21, 2012
Allison L. in Austin

Besides Amaya's, who has crispy tacos?

I've been a fan of the crispy tacos at Amaya's for as long as I've lived here. My kids, who used to order the least Mexican things on the kids menu have now grown up enough to appreciate them too, and bug me to go there all the time. I'm actually sick of it. So my oldest says to me "well where else can we go for these kind of tacos?" So can you help my little chowhounds branch out?

Also, if we decide to road trip to SA to do puffy tacos, where should we go?

Mar 31, 2012
Allison L. in Austin

The brussel sprouts at La Condesa

What are the chances that I would be reading this post with a plateful of raw prepped Brussels sprouts in front of me? Had to try the V notch trick after reading this, but gotta say I didn't really taste any difference. Thanks for the tip about La Condesa though, just one more reason I need to get my butt down there - I've never been!

Jan 03, 2012
Allison L. in Austin

Where to find N.O. Brew Iced Coffee?

It was at Costco for a short time. It was a one-time thing though - once they ran out that was it. Glad you were able to get some. It was 7.99 (a dollar cheaper than Whole Foods) and it was just the straight coffee flavor.

I looked at their website recently and it lists that they sell it at Fresh Plus. I haven't been over there yet to check it out but I'll report back. Ordering it off the website (even with free shipping) is more expensive than at the store. They charge $60 for a case of 6 large bottles. It's $9/bottle at whole foods.

Jul 06, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

My favorite things from Whole Foods (downtown)

Tried the Burrata yesterday and loved it - it's $5.99 right now. Burrata is a fresh mozzarella that is stuffed with a mixture of mozz and cream. I chunked it up into a salad of tomato and cucumbers with basil and good balsamic. The creamy part dissolved into the dressing which I sopped up with bread. So good. Will definitely buy again.

Some other things I can get only there:

* N.O. Brew Cold Brewed Iced Coffee: A concentrated coffee which I love all year but especially in this heat. Very smooth. Wish they sold it elsewhere.

* Pretzel breads: They don't always have these, but when they do I always pick one up. They usually have a plain pretzel baguette but sometimes they have cheesy ones. So good with mustard, cold cuts, even pb & j.

* Braising mix: In the produce department you can buy heartier greens in bulk. The mix has kale, chard, escarole, frisee - stuff you can saute in a pan (I don't know about braising it - I always do a quick saute). Anyway I appreciate being able to buy a prewashed handful of this stuff - makes for a super quick veggie side.

* 365 almost anything: The private label stuff is almost without exception, reliably good, and well priced. No HFCS, no artificial colors, cans that are coated on the inside, etc. Plus they really seem to pay attention to how things taste. Love all the cereals, vitamin water, condiments, coconut oil (cheap!), peanut butter, and frozen fish in particular.

* Mediterranean Feta Salsa: It's on the bulk bar near the olives. Love this stuff on crackers or even as a pasta sauce - it's feta, olives, tomatoes, herbs.

* Black Forest Bacon: At the meat counter. Good with the aforementioned braising mix. Just sayin.

* Seeduction bread: Just sweet enough, and I love those little pieces of millet that go pop-pop in your mouth when you eat them!

Jun 27, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Raw Milk? Cow Shares? Goat Shares?

No need to drive out there if you can get a spot in Green Gate Farms coop. That's how I get it. Contact Green Gate or visit their farm (969 & Decker Ln).

Jun 08, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Raw Milk? Cow Shares? Goat Shares?

It does need to be sold at the farm. There is ongoing legislation on that point (the dairy farmers would like to be able to sell raw milk at farmers markets for example). The raw milk I buy comes from Stryckly dairy farm.

This is by no means a scientific answer, it's just the way I look at it. Raw milk can certainly be dangerous, but to me it is a very small risk to take. Stryckly is a working dairy farm and raw milk is only a percentage of their business. They also sell pasteurized milk to manufacturers. Because of this, the regulatory bodies are all up in their business. Their equipment must be sanitized and best practices followed for all their milk. The raw milk just skips the pasteurization process. Knowing this is what makes it safe in my mind, but that's a risk you need to weigh for yourself.

Jun 08, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Cuban Sandwich Cafe: Run By Cuban Chef From Miami Florida

Just had a real cafe con leche from there. Made the way it should be with evaporated milk and lots of sugar. Made me miss Miami just a little bit less.

May 27, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Cuban Sandwich Cafe: Run By Cuban Chef From Miami Florida

I just ate here for the first time today and enjoyed it very much. Had a cuban sandwich - figured I should get that out of the way. The bread is homemade and they press it till it's shatteringly crisp. Love that. It was also piled high with ham and roast pork - not really my preference - I would have preferred it to be flatter that way the meat doesn't slide out when you bite into it. But the taste was good and I like that they dress it with mustard and mayo instead of only mustard.

I also ordered the yuca con mojo, which I thought was going to be yuca frita with a mojo sauce (it was listed right under yuca frita on the menu, my own mistake) but it was actually boiled yuca dressed with a very oily mojo which only faintly tasted of garlic. The texture of the yuca was pretty gluey. It's much lighter in texture when fried. Anyway, it also came with some pickled onions were a nice contrast.

I'll definitely be back - I would really like to try some of the specials. Today was ropa vieja, lechon asada... can't remember the rest but everyone's plates looked great!

May 12, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Which Phil's Ice House better for kids??

Ugh - that fish sandwich! When they first opened, it was actually (as described) a real filet - one of the best fish sandwiches I've ever had. It was batter fried, not hand breaded. So crispy and fresh tasting that I was looking forward to it the last time I was there. Then I got the dreaded puck. I'm not a sender backer, but I sent it back. Stay miles away from that thing. So disappointing.

The burgers can be good - charred and juicy. But I've found that to be the exception lately as the last few burgers have been charred and dry. Love the sweet buns (that's been talked about on the boards before) but usually take one cap off. It's a lot of bun. And I think the onion strings are nice - I don't see those thin stringy onion rings too many places.

May 05, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Passover Coke is at Target

Corn is considered a grain. I thought only leavened grains were forbidden, but corn exists in a sort of questionable category. Here's a quote from Mark Strausman in yesterday's HuffPo:

"By the way, why is HFCS kosher, but not considered kosher for Passover, you might ask? HFCS is made from corn. Corn isn't exactly chametz, (which means "leavened," and applies to grains that can be made into flour and baked and so are forbidden at Passover, except in the form of matzoh) during Passover, but corn is on kind of a second tier of Passover forbidden foods, kitniyot ("small things"), which in at least one ancient Rabbi's opinion might be confused with chametz. Observance of kitniyot varies among observant Jews, but I guess Coke isn't taking any chances."

Apr 21, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Passover Coke is at Target

It's probably at other places too, I just happened to see it there. Coke changes their formula back to sugar-sweetened to make a few batches kosher for passover. The passover bottles have a yellow top. "Retro" sugar sweetened soda is around in a few brands now, so I guess it's not a huge wow, but I do always mean to pick up a bottle at this time of year, so there's your reminder!

Apr 20, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Vegan Lasagna

I made a version of this and it was delicious. My family doesn't like eggplant, but I do. I bought some frozen grilled eggplant and added it to the tofu mixture. After a buzz in the food processor no one was the wiser and I think it made a big difference in the taste.

Apr 07, 2011
Allison L. in Recipes

Chinatown-Mopac, Asia Cafe, or Din Ho tonight for excellent food?

I second Pao's - good suggestion for that side of town. But I wanted to add that Pao's normally hands us the standard Americanized Chinese menu (gooey entree/fried rice/soup/eggroll). Their dimsum menu is a sheet of paper which you need to ask for. During the week make sure you ask for the Chinese menu.

Jan 26, 2011
Allison L. in Austin

Mexican Martini better than Trudy's

I second Cedar Door.

Oct 27, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Nova Lox in Austin Somewhere?

I could swear I've seen whipped cream cheese at Central Market - not TempTee but another brand. Wholy Bagel has scallion cream cheese but it's not whipped.

About the nova lox - I hope I don't get slammed for saying this, but try Costco. As someone who grew up having to tear lox into tiny pieces so everyone could have some, it's been one of my adult pleasures to lay a couple of slabs of lox on a bagel with abandon like I do when I buy it from Costco. They have a wild salmon and an atlantic salmon - both are around $20. I think the wild you get less in the package. The atlantic is a pound and a half. The wild is slightly salty - the atlantic is not salty at all, more like nova lox. It's not Zabar's but I think for a crowd it would be perfect.

Sep 16, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Chowhound Dinner at Uchiko

Yeahhh!

Sep 13, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Best ny/nj pizza in austin

No more pizza for Hog Island, btw. Their location at 4th and Lavaca is long gone. I should get out more. Still, give Hoboken a try.

Sep 10, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Where to get home-grownish tomatoes?

Thank you! That sounds so good - and very much like a sandwich I had in Boston at Salumeria Italiana. They drizzle the most wonderful balsamic over your basic caprese on focaccia. Gotta make this soon!

Sep 08, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Where to get home-grownish tomatoes?

Would you mind sharing more about this "baked sandwich thing"? I got some grape tomatoes at Boggy Creek Farm last week that were not so sweet - planned to roast them and make a bread of some kind, but haven't done it yet.

Sep 08, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Friday Afternoon bar-b-que?

If you are traveling, as in, flying - that makes it a whole lot easier to go to Lockhart since ABIA is on the way. You are correct that it may be too late, as places do run out of food. However, I've found that if you call ahead, sometimes you will get lucky and they will save a pound of this or that for you. They have definitely done it for me at City Market in Luling (15 more minutes past Lockhart on 183), don't know about the others, but it's worth a try.

Aug 30, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

S-H Donuts in NE Austin

Just wanted to put in a good word for these hard working folks putting out some better than average donuts in my 'hood. It's run by a super friendly vietnamese family who chose to open a donut shop about 6 months ago on not the most attractive stretch of Manor Rd. (above 51st Street, next to the big yellow convenience store). It's a freestanding building that used to be a gas station, which they painted white with a cheerful hand-printed menu down the side of the building.

But the lack of glitz the from the outside will not prepare you for the sparkles that are sure to be coming out of your eyes as you take in what's in the two giant cases of baked goods. To the left, sweet. Donuts, eclairs, cinnamon rolls, apple fritters. Donut holes got into my bag through no request of my own. The star for me was the cinnamon crumb donut. I wanted to try EVERYTHING, and there was a LOT! All lined up in neat, shiny, rows.

Oh no, right side of the cabinet - I didn't forget about you. You are refrigerated. You have kolaches, and things called kolaches that look like buns. Rows of breakfast tacos! Egg - cheese- sausage - chorizo, oh, I can't remember it all, I only had eyes for left side of the cabinet today. Tomorrow, right side of the cabinet, you're all mine.

A couple of boxes of these babys on the way to work and there would be no greater hero at your office. I love that they are here, and I want them to stay!!!!

Aug 30, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Wholy Bagel carries Manhattan Special

Re the lox, I ordered nova lox on a bagel with cream cheese and tomato. He asked if I wanted thinly sliced onions, capers, and do I want that to be scallion cream cheese... yes, yes, and hell yes. I nearly cried - this guy is speaking my language! I love that this place is here. As to the authenticity of the bagels, they are acceptable. I love the crusty outside, and for that reason, will always return - because you just can't find that anywhere else. But the flavor of the bagels and the texture of the inside don't really measure up to my Brooklyn memories, nor to the might-as-well-be-Brooklyn bagel shops near my parents house in Boca Raton. The dough is undersalted and the texture of the inside is too fluffy. Will I still eat them? With pleasure. But I'm happy with frozen H&H ones from Central Market too, which I think taste better. I just like the experience of being able to get a decent hot bagel, and all his other NY imports - the Manhattan Special, etc.

Aug 24, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Blue Bell Ice Cream

We just went to that tour yesterday! It's nothing super special, but it is fun if you like seeing giant machines, a la "unwrapped" - which I do. At the end of the tour you get your choice of ice cream, and it does taste better there. I don't buy it in the store because I'm not really into Bluebell - I like denser ice cream - but at the factory it sure tasted good. You can sample all the flavors you want, too. They are not open for tours on the weekends. If you go, you must hit up the mighty Country Inn #2 for lunch/dinner. Awesome homemade food. Even my kids' (usually nasty) chicken strips were hand breaded. Skin-on mashed potatoes, non-frozen fried okra, thick, chargrilled burger - lunch was better than the factory tour!

Aug 21, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Sweet Tea in Austin

I got a sweet tea at Chick Fil-a the other day and it was toothache sweet. That's to me though, I didn't grow up on the stuff so I'm curious if that's the level of sweetness that people here are talking about - is it sweeter than that?

Aug 02, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Whole Foods - Lunchtime Best Kept Secrets and Deals?

I've been in this situation many times - I used to work there years ago and even with the discount it still took a chunk of change to eat lunch every day if you weren't careful. Here's what I did, and still do.

They have a sandwich at the sandwich counter on a ficelle (a long very skinny baguette) - they don't display them in the case anymore, or even have them on the menu, but they used to be $1.99. They will still make it for you - I got one recently and I think it may be $2.99 now. It's goat cheese, pesto, and roasted tomato. That and a fruit or a yogurt is definitely enough for lunch and comes in under $5.

Also, you can make your own fancy salad for less than the packaged ones with items from the store. A bag of salad, a small chunk of blue cheese, and dried fruit and nuts from the bulk section. Grab a cup of dressing from the salad bar or just keep olive oil and balsamic at your desk like I do.

The soups at the back of the store near the meat counter are pricey but really filling. There is a cheesesteak soup that is nothing but a cupful of heart attack - heavy cream, cheese, brisket, with a couple of peppers in there for decoration. That is one of my favorites.

One more thing to try - this is something I do for my kids often - you don't have to get the meat & two at the counter. They will sell you any of that stuff by the pound. So you can get a small cup of mac & cheese, or roasted vegetables, or whatever - and it usually comes in around $2.00.

Aug 01, 2010
Allison L. in Austin

Wholy Bagel carries Manhattan Special

It's the only place I've ever seen it for sale in TX. Manhattan Special is a coffee soda that's actually made in Brooklyn, not Manhattan. It's strong, black, and not too sweet. I personally can't stand the stuff (my kind of coffee drinks lean closer to the milkshake category) but my husband misses it terribly and orders cases from time to time. Glass bottles - expensive shipping. So I am glad there's a place to get it locally now! And darn it I forgot to ask how much they were - just added it to my order, so I apologize for not having that information.

Jul 16, 2010
Allison L. in Austin