Archive for July, 2005

Treats to beat the heat

paleta.jpgEverybody had the same idea at the same time: refreshment. This afternoon just at five, business sudenly picked up for La Paletera, at Congress and Riverside. Having indulged in oh so many melons of all types for weeks now, we didn’t place the fruit cups high on the list. As we sat consuming our frozen-fruit treats on a stick, people began appearing all at once: four young European tourists, a Spanish-speaking family with a young child, some students from the School for the Deaf, and several young people in tennis duds.

The lime-juice paleta is no replacement for the Manhattan-brand lime paleta that H-E-B used to stock. It was delicious, but not so tart as my old favorite. La Paleta doesn’t trust to the natural pale color found in old-fashioned paletas. Both the lime and the pineapple varieties, though made with fresh juice and pulp, were tricked out in pretty lurid colors. All varieties sampled were tasty and very intense in flavor, since they were made more of fruit and less of plain water.

Although the prickly-pear growing atop the stone wall on the grounds is prominent for those passing in buses and private vehicles, there’s more to the landscaping than that. Islands amidst the parking lot are bermed and have water-sparing vegetation growing from tall metal pillars. Today’s standout visual treats on the ground were clumps of very fancy and large rain-lilies. A sign credits The Earth Company as the landscape designer.

At the sign of the red radish

Or maybe it’s at the sign of the red beet. Tucked in between Texas French Bread and the 7 bar and seafood eatery is the new Farm to Market Grocery, a convenience store for South Congress. It’s a corner store that’s not quite on the corner and a convenience store that stocks bread, milk, and (soon) beer, but lacks that certain buy-and-fly ambiance.

Farm to Market had its soft opening this week. Hours will be from 8 to 8 daily. The wine and beer aren’t on the shelves yet, but everything else awaits.

Here’s some of what was there today: picture-perfect organic produce picked just this morning, garden-style bouquets, locally produced salsas and condiments of various kinds, a cold case with milk and other dairy products, El Galindo tortillas (four kinds, including the extra-large corn ones) and chips, both salted and unsalted, hard-to-find confectionery items, and much, much more. If there’s something that you’d like to see stocked, let the owners know.

Bazooka

bazooka-art.jpgAustin artist Robert Dale Anderson, whom I’ve always known as Bazooka, has a new web site with a images of his graphite drawings going back to 1998. He’s been compared to Bosch and Breughel, though I think he’s ‘way more complex. I like David Hadlock’s description of his work: Anarchy is presented with discipline; chaos is intrecately and obsessively rendered. Anderson, a Senior Lecturer in UT’s Art Department, was part of Austin cyberculture scene for years via his art-focused BBS, Pair O Dice, which lives on as a LiveJournal. [Link to robertdaleanderson.com]

Let the begging and stealing begin …

ACL-Festival.jpgThe 2005 ACL Festival has sold out of 3-day passes roughly 2 months prior to the show. Anyone recall when tickets sold out last year? I’m guessing the reduced capacity (~10k fewer tickets than last year) and the ever-increasing hype has moved things up by a few weeks.

You can still buy individual day tickets for $50 a pop (+ service charge, + parks fee, + delivery charge … what next, a printing fee?). Mix and match! Collect all three!

The Pier Will Close Unless It Can Find a New Home

contagious.jpg
Austin’s real estate boom may claim another long-time landmark. The Pier on Lake Austin, a restaurant that has served a haven for boaters since it served as a speakeasy during Prohibition was told in March that the current land owners will be terminating its lease effective September 30th.

Owner Larry Spector told the Austin Business Journal that they are actively looking for a new home: “While they have declined our initial offer to operate under the existing name, we are optimistic that they will reconsider. In the meantime, to keep the legend alive, we are scouting new locations, one of which is on Lake Austin.”

Since 1981, Mike Walsh has been bringing in some of Austin’s best live acts (including Los Lonely Boys, Bob Schneider, Monte Montgomery and The Resentments) to play at the Pier, and he plans to close down the place with a star-studded send-off with Leon Russell, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Cross Canadian Ragweed slated to play. To finish things off, Walsh said that Willie Nelson may appear at the Pier’s final show.

Which old Austin haunt will be eaten by condos or surrounded by a high priced shopping plaza or big box behemoth next? Stay tuned. We still have plenty of cultural institutions and aquifer land available for greedy developers to exploit.

(Pictured at right: Zack Rosicka of Contagious Blues Band at the Pier during last week’s Lake Austin Blues Festival)

Tacodeli

Tacodeli
I had my second trip to the new Tacodeli at Burnet and 183 Mopac this afternoon. It wasn’t too crowded a week or two ago, but it was packed today. I was alone this time, so I shared table space with the IBM’ers, St. Davidites, and Yoga Yoga moms. The new shopping center which houses the second Tacodeli location includes a Mangia, whose pizza for some reason always gives me the shits, Yoga Yoga and a Ben & Jerry’s, the second location for the interloping northern hippies. I’m still mad at them for discountinuing Cool Britannia. Long live Amy’s!

Anyway, I recommend the Blue Plate Special, which gets you rice, beans and two tacos of your choice. I’ve gone for one Al Pastor and one Adobado both times. I’m a sucker for Adobo sauce and they do it well. Their specialty is apparently the Fundido Taco. I’m not a big fan of the poblano, beef, onion, jack cheese combo, but it’s popular. Like any self-respecting taco place, they’ve got a salsa bar. There’s three options, a mild green, a medium red, and a hot green, called Dona. The Dona is just hot enough without being unbearable. Their menu claims there’s a habanero salsa as well, but I didn’t see it on my two visits. I’ll have to ask next time.

I’ve never been to the original location off of Spyglass, but the people who took me to this new location spoke of it in revered tones. It’s a welcome addition to the lunch rotation. Check it out.

Cool Wynn?

Austin’s Mayor Will Wynn has been on a tear lately. I posted earlier this week about all of the recent Mabel Davis skatepark PR. The Chronicle contributed to the media frenzy in this week’s issue where our Mayor was described as wearing “a faded T and surprisingly tasteful camo shorts”.

In addition to hanging out with the skaters, I just found this video of him jumping off the Pfluger pedestrian bridge via Translucence. Of course, jumping off that bridge is illegal for the rest of us, but I guess the Mayor can do what he damn well pleases. I doubt you or I would have Austin Fire and Rescue divers waiting both in the water and in a dinghy to tow us to shore.

Homemade for the homegrown

The USDA zone maps aren’t really all that helpful for Austin gardeners. They deal more with low temperatures in the winter than with high temperatures in the summer. The Texas Gardener Texas-specific zone breakdowns are much more useful. Austin is at the edge of a lot of different weather patterns and is also part of two eco-systems and two different soil-type regions. If you’ve ever wondered why most of the pecan trees and so many of the beautiful gardens are east of IH-35, it’s all thanks to the much better soil that predominates there.

Because of Austin’s peculiarities, we’ve found that locally produced fertilizers work better for us than anything with a Major Brand Name. Rose Mix, prepared by and sold at Austin’s Sledd Landscape Nursery (on West Lynn, in the beautiful former Texaco station across from Jeffrey’s) is wonderful for anything that appreciates slightly more acidity than our limestone and caliche. This is what the Tarrytown old-timers use on their roses, azaleas, and camellias.

Whatever Rose Mix doesn’t take care of, the fertilizer from P/2 Organic Farm does. Tony and Suzanne from P/2 are the people who organized the South Congress Farmers’ Market, open every Saturday from 9 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon. Tony almost always has some of that secret magic mix on hand.

Yesterday evening it just felt as though rain would be coming through, so we made wise use of our Rose Mix and of Tony’s magic. Rose Mix, in particular, should be watered in. The rain did arrive and now we expect wondrous results.

The “Turd” Hits the Fan at the Statesman

Managing editor Fred Zipp of the Austin American-Statesman announced today that like 10-12 other American newspapers, the Statesman pulled Monday and Tuesday’s Doonesbury comic strips referring to “Turd Blossom,” George W. Bush’s pet name for advisor Karl Rove. In today’s strip, Bush says, “Here’s my problem, Karl. I made it clear I would fire anyone found leaking the identity of one of our spies. And now it turns out it was you! So what am I going to do with you, Turd Blossom?” Zipp explained why the editorial staff made the decision:

We publish a newspaper that strives to appeal to a broad audience. The gratuitous use of profanity is a hot-button issue for many of our readers, so we generally avoid it.

I asked humor columnist John Kelso if he had ever managed to get the word

Mystery Photo Contest #1

Photo Contest 1
So, I thought I’d try out a new game here on the Austin Metblog. It’s already being done on a somewhat regular basis in LA and Houston. The idea is that I post a photo of some location in Austin and you try and guess where it is. The first one to correctly identify the location in the comments wins a prize. I’m not sure what the prize is yet, but I’ll figure something out. I’ll let the contest go until Monday, at which point, hopefully I’ll have found something to give away. If nobody guesses it by Friday, I’ll add a hint. All you other Austin Metbloggers keep quiet. Let’s let our vast readership have a chance first.

Hint 1: It’s downtown (north of 1st, but south of 12th).

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