Archive for December, 2005

Ozone Makes Good

This was “The Bike Christmas” for my nearly 7-year-old son. We picked up a Haro Z20 a couple of weeks ago at Ozone and stashed it at a friend’s house until Saturday night. It was waiting for him when he came down the stairs Sunday morning. He went out for the inaugural ride later that morning with my father and his two dachshunds. One of the training wheels came off before they got halfway around the block. This particular model of training wheel uses a semi-circular clip to hold on the wheel. Somehow, the clip popped off, never to be seen again.

We brought the bike back to Ozone around noon yesterday to plead our case. John, one of the owners, helped us out. He was apologetic for the failure of the training wheels and clearly felt bad that the Christmas morning surprise had been tainted. He didn’t have any of the training wheel sets that he wanted to use as a replacement in stock, so he told us it’d be at least a day, possibly more before we’d have the bike back. To make up for the wait, he offered The Boy some stickers and gave us a discount on the helmet that we picked out while waiting. We headed home satisfied, but a little disappointed.

John called us back at home around 4pm to tell us that the bike was ready. Apparently, he’d tracked down the training wheels at another local bike store, gotten them and installed them. Ozone went above and beyond to make an unfortunate situation right and they did it without much squawking from me. I highly recommend using Ozone for all of your bike needs. Go give them your money. You’re not going to find that kind of service very many places. They rock.

Monday Night Sushi-oke

Sushi PimpNow that Christmas is past, along with its requisite shopping trips, long visits with relatives, and saccharine TV specials, it’s time to have some actual fun. And if you like sushi, karaoke, and bawdy talk from Asian pimps, then there is only one place in Austin to maximize your post-holiday entertainment.

DK Sushi, alternately named Seoul Restaurant (I don’t really get the distinction), started serving sushi back when beating OU was so easy even Peter Gardere could do it. And like Gardere’s Enfield crackhouse, DK Sushi is not much to look at. Those willing to venture inside the South Austin (as in “78745” South Austin) strip mall will find delectable rolls, free-flowing sake, sushi-cam, and occasional karaoke that have propped up this unlikely sushi joint for more than 13 years.

But the real entertainment comes on Monday nights, when sushi chef D.K. Lee adopts a pimp persona that makes truckers and sailors blush. WARNING: if anyone in your group is uncomfortable with sexually explicit slang, and I mean a lot of it, then this won’t be your cup of tea. On our last visit, the pimp’s tongue was loosened considerably after doing sake bombs with any and every karaoke participant, which was massively entertaining, but probably not conducive for celebrating Grandma’s birthday.

Word has it that the sushi pimp may be retiring soon, in which case patrons will have to make due with the food and the tunes. I’ll go back even without the sushi pimp, although it’ll suck having to pay for all those sake bombs.


Traffic is back. Noise is back. The peace and quiet were wonderful, but now they’re gone. Tomorrow all will be as usual. And even more as usual when classes of various kinds begin anew. But this respite has been wonderful.

Everybody got hungry again at the same time

Katz’s, of course, was (and is) open, but with long lines. Nix that. We did make a quick pass at Book People (open until 6 pm today) and burned some of that book money. Cards go on sale tomorrow. Out-of-towners picked up some of that Austin Weird merch. The Driskill Cafe was open and with waits. So it was the Mimosa Cafe on Barton at 2 pm that was the first open place without a line.

And it will be open continuously until 10 pm this evening. It’s also going to open on New Year’s Day, by the way. There were people drinking beer and conversing at the bar. There were people dining outdoors under the trees. There were a half-dozen people at the sushi bar, with two to attend them. There was a party of over a dozen dining with tables pushed together. There were several two-tops and several groups of three, four, and five.

The televisions were on mute and the sound of lively human conversation was a lovely accompaniment. One person at our table ordered seafood tempura and was very surprised to find eleven generous items on the plate, two each of everything but shrimp, of which there were three. The miso, that citrus-dressing green salad, and iced green tea were popular with most. This was a lucky find for us on a day when so much is closed, and very good people-watching for visitors to Austin.

Commentary from the cookie-bakery

So my chocolate-chip cookies have always been Betty Crocker’s, circa 1960 or so. Another in the household steamed up today to make a different version of these, the one from the package of Nestl

Last-minute buys for last-minute arrivals

fmchoc1.jpgWhile at the Farm to Market Grocery on South Congress for local eggs and a couple of other items, it was easy to find the small souvenirs of Austin that visitors love. Don’t laugh: one is Ruta Maya Coffee in those burlap sacks. Another is a set of PLACENotes, a sort of boxed deck of cards of Austin local attractions, some very well known and others less so. Since the store opened, these have been restocked several times and always sell out. Yet another find was a chocolate bar (can’t wait to try this) by local Chef Keem, labeled “A little sweet – from a sweet little shop . . . ” and with Guittard dark chocolate, pure vanilla, cherries, pecans, brandy, and a touch of habanero and jalapeno pappers” (can’t wait to beg for a square of this one).starz1.jpg The wrapper for the bar, by the way, besides sporting the additional motto of “eat local chocolate,” is printed on very handsome ecru Southworth (once Eaton) laid paper. I also couldn’t resist a nested set of three Lone Star cookie or canape cutters, which are also great tracing templates for little kids (there were Christmas tree shapes also available).

spoonz1.jpgAt K S Oriental Food Market (1729 East Riverside), the purpose was to restock bamboo salt (Korean parched sea salt). Those wonderful wavy-topped bowls for seafood soup are now sold out (the ones with blue freehand rendering, not transfer prints, of crabs, lobsters, squid, and other denizens of the deep). There are many other tabletop ceramics of interest, though: the smallish blue fish plates make excellent desktop paperclip holders, for instance. There are very sharp plastic-cased knives for three dollars containing one blade and a second fold out with two bottle openers. There are also ceramic bobbleheads of various creatures for the dashboard or back shelf. Having resisted the Benriner slicer stocked at a very decent price, deciding instead to keep using one of those ancient and very dangerous Feemster slicers that used to be found being sold at fairs by the hucksters, we did buy some of these wooden spatulas and mixing spoons, a good deal these days at two bucks apiece. They don’t make rasping or scraping noises in cast-iron or other pans, don’t disturb nonstick cooking surfaces, and are easy to clean with a rubber spatula when being used in a mixing bowl. K S is keeping a very tidy bulletin board outside with many postings of interest to the local Korean community.

These quick dashes were made in hopes of continuing to avoid crowded holiday shopping venues. In that regard, the expedition was not entirely successful, but there was no commercial holiday music at either place, and the shoppers, though numerous, were happy ones.

Update: There was no waiting to sample that bar of chocolate. We can return for an unopened one. This is excellent chocolate, almost like eating just ever so slightly more firm chocolate intemperance.

Whence this mailing list?

When Kirk Watson was mayor he never sent me a greeting card. When he went to the Chamber of Commerce he didn’t send one. But now, he and “The Campaign Staff” are offering this holiday-season advice: “Live completely. Love abundantly. Celebrate joyfully.” That’s not bad advice. My friends and relatives haven’t received it, though. Just what list is that?

Not Voiced by Robin Williams

Big Blue GenieThe Christmas Industrial Complex would have you believe there are only 3 days left to endear yourself to loved ones by finding that perfect gift. Even though nothing says “I care” like fighting crowds and paying full retail at the mall, there are still plenty of other options out there for the last-minute shopper.

For those interested in the unique offerings of Austin’s art community, the Blue Genie Art Bazaar might satisfy your shopping needs. Instead of watching enraged parents fight over the last white iPod nano, you can peacefully admire the stunning photography by Blake Gordon or entertain yourself trying on Chia Hats while shopping for all manner of handmade crafts.

Austin’s Blue Genie Art is hosting the event through Christmas Eve deep in the East Side. Hours extend until midnight on Friday, but the seriously procrastinating shopper will only have until 6pm to do their business on Saturday. After that it’s back to the Internet or the mall, or waiting until next year to rub the genie’s artfully homecrafted bottle.

Is there enough coated paper stock?

The advent and continuing survival of all the fancy little shopper mags around town must be very good business for the paper wholesalers. Jewell, subtitled “where to shop locally,” is a large-scale quarterly with plenty of white space and ad sales, although not that many pages. Assuming that distribution is reasonably widespread, a half- or quarter-page ad will garner its share of attention and probably some editorial coverage as well. I found it at establishments along South Lamar and South First. One spot that looks very interesting is Phlox, which seems to show vintage or vintage-style table linens or tea-towels, the ones from the late ‘forties and early ‘fifties featuring splashy prints of fruits or flowers or both. Even though Jewell could use a bit of polish in its copy-editing, it brings information not duplicated in other publications that superficially may seem to resemble it.

We’ll always have Paris aaaannnd Singapore

Starting this week anyway…

Please help me welcome Paris to the Metroblogging family, the 38th member of our not-so-little global community.

Bienvenue, mes amis!

Update: They’re multiplying like rabbits! Singapore became Metblog number 39 today. I can’t keep up!

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