Archive for June, 2005

Uchi Uchi Uchi

I took my mother out to eat at Uchi earlier this week. It’s been my favorite japanese restaurant since it opened a couple of years ago. Tyson Cole, the head chef, used to work at what was formerly my favorite japanese restaurant so I was happy to follow him to Uchi where I’ve never been disappointed by the food or the service. Mom and I started with a tall cold bamboo filled with delicious unfiltered sake (Takara Nigori $12). If you think you don’t like sake, don’t completely write it off until you’ve tried unfiltered sake. You can buy it by the bottle at Central Market too. We whetted our appetite with Brie Tempura Ringo Canapé ($9). These are tasty bites of fried brie topped with sweet apple chutney served with salty sweet potato chips for a nice contrast of flavors. Next we had Sashimi Salad ($12), mixed greens, fresh salmon, macadamia nuts, blueberries, sweet potato crisps and a delicious soy vinaigrette dressing. I want to know how to make both the dressing and the sweet potato crisps which are grated & lightly fried and seasoned. In addition to our salad, we had two types of sushi: Hamachi (baby yellowtail $3) and Binnaga (seared albacore $2.50). Both were incredibly fresh and tasty. And for desert, there was sinfully rich Chai Tea Crème Bruleé ($7).

You can find Uchi on the east side of Lamar Blvd., .2 miles south of Barton Springs Road. Get there early or be prepared to wait, sometimes for up to two hours on the weekends. It’s THAT good.

Tomato peace garden

tomapeac.jpg This is one of the many unheralded landmarks unique to Austin. On a quiet street off Congress south of the river is this monument to peace and to tomatoes.

In each container is a happy, healthy indeterminate tomato plant, vining its way over the trellis on which the sign is wired in electric lights. As the season progresses, the plants grow and grow and grow. So far as I’ve ever observed, “peace on earth” is illuminated only on special occasions and for the holiday season, but the wish is there for every passer-by to see, by night and by day, all the year ’round.

Late lunch at Louie’s

louies.jpg
Louie’s 106, that is. At Louie’s original location, farther east on Sixth and on the other side of the street, I used to eat fish at the downstairs bar quite often, which was much quicker than ordering at a table in the upstairs dining room. Since the long-ago move to the Littlefield Building, though, Louie and I had been strangers.

Until today. But today was an emergency. Lunch was late, late, late, so late that suppertime approached. Not that many places are open the entire afternoon through.

Louie’s to the rescue! The tablemates were at different stages of hunger. First on the table was some good, honest bread, with oil and accompaniments to enrich it. The seafood soup, with tomato in the broth, and calamari rings and mussel, was a happy choice for one diner. A generous bowl of mussels from Prince Edward Island, in the Canadian maritime provinces, made a diner very happy. What came to me was described on the menu as “pepper and fennel-crusted pan-seared salmon filet, with Romesco sauce, bacon shallot vinaigrette, broccolini, and roasted new potatoes.” This was a very generous plate for a luncheon entree. The fish came hot to the table, and the vinaigrette was delicious to the nth degree. Some enjoyed a sorbet of tropical fruits, garnished with strawberry.

There’s an on-line coupon, so next time it’ll be supper.

Rocky Hill Mountain Bike Ranch

A 45 minute drive from Austin will take you to one of the best mountain bike trails in central Texas, Rocky Hill Ranch. For $8, you can ride a 6 mile, 9 mile, 10 mile, 12 mile, or 18 mile loop through the piney woods just outside of Smithville. Boomer runs the shop where you check in, get a map, and talk about the trails. He’ll also be glad to help you with any minor mechanical issues you may be having with your bike. The shop is open from 7 AM until dark, Friday through Sunday, and noon to dark on Thursday. After the ride, you can shower off the dirt & sweat and have a beer and food at the Rocky Hill Ranch Saloon. You can also camp at the ranch and explore the trails after dark.

For more information about cycling in and around Austin, check out Bike Mojo and Bicycle Sport Shop.

Mabel Davis Site Visit

Mabel Davis ParkThe City of Austin was gracious enough to have a public site visit to view the remediation in progress of our neighborhood park, Mabel Davis. The family and I headed over there last night to check things out. There were representatives from the city and the contractors responsible for the cleanup work. I estimate that there were about 10-15 people from the neighborhood and 5-10 city staffers and contractors at the visit. I expected a few more people. The contractor said that they’ve had to turn people away from the pool, which is closed for the summer because of the remediation and they’ve turned away skateboarders looking for the not yet constructed skate park.

I’ve posted photos from the visit as a Flickr set. Those interested in keeping up with the progress and any new information on the park remediation should check out the Yahoo Group. On a related note, there’s also a group focused on the Country Club Creek Trail, which would connect Mabel Davis with Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park.
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Malaga

Sometimes, it takes a special occasion to get you to try a new place. Tonight was one of those occasions. My wife’s college roommates are in town this weekend. They were three of the four bridesmaids at our wedding and one was my wife’s roommate when we first started dating until she moved back to the Washington D.C. area.

Anyway, we had babysitting for a few hours tonight and headed out to Malaga for an early dinner. It took a google search for the place’s website for me to realize that it’s named after a city and province in Spain, appopriate for a Tapas bar, I suppose. The place was nearly empty when we arrived around 6pm. We quickly ordered some drinks and our first round of tapas which included the Atun Mallorquino, cracked black pepper crusted tuna with horseradish cream, seared and served medium rare, Piquillos Rellenos, Spanish fire roasted piquillos peppers stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with Spanish olive oil and capers, served with herb bread, Aceitunas Ali

Tragedy at Tacoland

Ram - Photo by Mark Greenberg (from nightrocker.com)
I just had this report forwarded to me by a bandmate. We played Tacoland a couple of months ago with Sons of Hercules and had a great time. It was immortalized by the Dead Milkmen almost 20 years ago and countless local bands have played there over the years.

Ram was a great old guy and didn’t deserve to be gunned down in his own place. Nobody deserves that. I hope they catch the bastards who did this and my sincere condolences go out to Ram’s family and friends. I don’t know what’ll happen to the bar in the aftermath, but I hope they can find a way to keep it open. It won’t be the same without him.

(I snagged the photo from here with credit to Mark Greenberg)

Update: Two people are in custody in connection with the shooting. Score one for the good guys.

Update 2: Another person has died as a result of this shooting.

The sister publication of our local daily, the free weekly tabloid

The Real World: Blow by Blow

real-world-austin.jpgI was non-plussed by the whole deal, honestly. Never drove by the house trying to get a look. Never hung out at some ass bar to witness their underaged shenanigans. Didn’t read the inordinant fawning coverage in the Statesman. Yet here I was – someone who hadn’t watched an entire season of the Real World since Puck was pissing in everyone’s Cheerios – glued to the premiere of Real World Austin. I have to admit, it was better than I expected …

9:02 Man, they sure make Austin look pretty. I mean, “purty.”

9:04 Mt. Bonnell, Auditorium Shores, the Capitol … all nice, iconic meeting spots.

9:12 Wow, that warehouse has some crazy ugliness going on inside. Glad I didn’t rush down to the post-show garage sale to buy some used retro-chic crap. And just think of the stains … *shudder*

9:15 Pretty stereotypes all in a row. In a hot tub. “We’re best friends!!!” Uh huh …

9:20 I remember when it used to rain here, and I vaguely remember complaining about it a lot. Stupid! [runs away awkwardly]

9:28 Ass flashes are a classy way to introduce yourself. Whoever jumps Melinda first better be wearing a brick wall for protection.

9:34 Drinking, stupidity, macking. Wash, rinse, repeat. Drifting off …

9:47 Whoa!!! That dude just CLOCKED Danny! I am now officially interested in this show.

9:49 I’m not sure what looks worse; the belligerent 6th St. drunks, Danny’s humiliating shiner, or the ineffective APD cameo.

9:56 A broken cheekbone is definitely more reality than I expected from this MTV pimp-fest.

All that, and an arrest in the next episode? I may end up watching, just to see whether its the cast or the locals who embarrass themselves more.

If you ever met him, you own at least one of these

pickle.jpg If there’s a constituent he never met, it would be surprising indeed. Jake Pickle was everywhere in his district, appearing at every possible event. He rode in every parade, spoke at every little gathering, greeted everybody on the Avenue as an old friend. If he’d ever met you once, he usually remembered your name and he certainly remembered your face. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” And thanks for all the pickle pins. Your memory lives on in the old Tenth District of Texas that you represented so well for so long.

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