Archive for June, 2007

Subcontinental cuisine southside!

Southies needn’t cross the river for Indian food, thanks to India Kitchen. Today we saw, we stopped, we sampled, and we made a vow to return. We savored everything we tasted at this immaculate establishment in the shopping center housing La Hacienda market (2410 East Riverside, suite D4, telephone 448-7773). India Kitchen is open seven days a week, serving a luncheon buffet from 11 am to 2:30 on weekdays and until 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, opening again at 5 pm every day, and closing at 10 on weeknights and at 10:30 on Saturdays and Sundays. I’m not sure whether there’s a buffet in the evenings, but I know that during evening hours there’s a full menu. Today’s buffet offered two very delicious soups, a sambhar and a dal. The naan was beautiful. Every dish sampled was tasty. I liked it that the ice water was served in giant pedestaled glass goblets. The napkins were cloth and large. Today’s buffet offered several vegetarian dishes, including something delicious made mostly from cabbage that was new to me, as well as many favorites, including dahl makhani (made from small black lentils). There were three chicken dishes, delicious lamb meatballs in a wonderful accompanying sauce, and a dish of curried goat. The iced tea was constantly replenished. The fresh fruits included diced watermelon. An established Indian restaurant from north of the river once tried a branch way south for a while, and years and years ago La Quinta had a stand-alone Indian restaurant that burned down. But it’s been a long, long time since this cuisine was available south of the river. We’re fortunate that somebody’s willing to try again, offering excellent food for vegetarians and for those otherwise inclined. India Kitchen offers catering, too. If India Kitchen has taken out any ads yet, I haven’t noticed them, so I’m truly glad we had an errand at La Hacienda!

Just three more shows

circusThe Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus gives one more performance today (7:30) and two more tomorrow (1:30 and 5:30). Every year it’s different and every year it’s great. This year is no exception. This is the blue circus, and for us the standouts were the Cossack horseback daredevil act, the Chinese acrobat troupe in various configurations, a dynamic chiffon act, and the funny and inventive entertainment starring a troupe of domestic housecats. Your favorites will be different. Nobody’s favorite was the performance of The Star-Spangled Banner by a style bandit taking off on Gloria Estefan as she was about ten years ago. There were more motorcycles in the globe of death than I’ve ever seen before. The before-circus open house shouldn’t be missed. It’s great for kids, with lots of close-up participation. This year the band’s housed aloft (percussion, electric guitar, two trumpets, a trombone, and a saxophone, plus all the synthesized stuff). The number of rings is one. There’s a videographer capturing live action details for the giant live screen. We like to watch the outdoor “back stage.” We saw the poodles from the dog act out running around every which way, watched the queue forming at the pie wagon, and were reminded once again that it takes a lot of cigarettes to keep those equestrians and acrobats going. Bring binoculars along for enjoying every tiny detail.

Private pyrotechnics

American FireworksSparklers are legal fireworks in Austin, as are a very few other items. This stand stocks hens laying eggs and many semi-serious devices, most of which are illegal within the city limits. The guy at the stand says that this year should be good for business: wet enough so that there’s no burn ban or complete ban on sales of some items and not so wet that the shop has to close. Another vehicle kept us from turning into Big Tex, but American Fireworks was just a few yards beyond. The notion of continuing farther along the Lockhart Highway and heading all the way to Lockhart itself was tempting, but it was just a lunchtime sparkler run and there just wasn’t enough time during the noon hour.

When he asked for vegetables

In this week’s letter from Texas (Guardian Weekly, “Have anything to eat as long as it’s meat,” byline John Lee, June 11, page 27), the dateline is Lockhart, that favorite destination for Austinites with a long lunch hour. The reporter visited Smitty’s (in the old Kreuz location) and Black’s, skipping Kreuz in its “new” location and checking out Chisholm Trail, with which I’m not familiar. When the reporter, his inner carnivore flagging, sought “vegetarian options” at the Chisholm Trail, he found okra, potatoes, and onion rings, all fried. I’d never expect anything more vegetarian than jalapeno slices, myself.

Recognition

Ruthie Foster is in the spotlight in the June issue of More magazine (‘Singing Out Proud,” byline Anthony DeCurtis, page 38). The author caught her singing in a Manhattan club, where she’s complimented by Norah Jones. The critic touts her latest CD, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster. >>> Kelly Willis wows Greil Marcus in the July issue of Interview (page 46). In his opinion she tops Amy Winehouse and Feist. The subhead is “why the cool, confident sound of Kelly Willis ultimately blows away the year’s biggest noisemakers.” >>> In this week’s Chron, Virginia Wood remembers Bobbie Covey, recalling El Metate and Salsas and Bobbie Covey’s role in the beginnings of Chuy’s. El Metate was in the building now housing Brick Oven on Red River. The food was great and this was a wonderful place to dine within that brief hour of time allotted. El Metate revolutionized soft chicken tacos in this town; it may have been the first establishment not to use the traditional mystery chicken (either canned or done in the pressure cooker in such a way as to be unrecognizable). The sauces went beyond the traditional “ranchero,” which usually seemed to be about half tomato and half celery in the old days. We were very sorry when El Metate, always busy, closed, and we enjoyed Salsas as well, during its existence. Here’s the notice in the Kerrville paper.

Alamo Attempts Novel Way To Raise Moving Cash

As Alamo Drafthouse Downtown prepares to face its last week at the Colorado location before they close down for the summer in anticipation of the move to the Ritz, they’ve made the news for another reason: the South Lamar location had computer problems this week and has overcharged customers, some multiple times.

That’s one way to raise money for the move. ;)

On another note, former Metblogger, Marc Savlov has an Alamo Downtown remembrance in this week’s Chronicle and Jette Kernion is running an Alamo Downtown blog-a-thon on Monday. Be sure to get your posts to her.

Local Reporting on the Car Accident and Beating Death

There’s a lot of local and national coverage of the beating death of David Morales, passenger in a car that apparently hit a 2-year-old yesterday. The child was described as having non-serious or non-life threatening injuries.

Initial coverage, including the APD press release seemed to imply that there was a huge mob of 1,000 or more involved. It now appears that there were only 20 people in the immediate area and only 5 or fewer were involved. A larger crowd from a nearby Juneteenth celebration may have formed after the incident and were merely spectators to the aftermath, but the updated APD press release is very careful not to associate the incident with the Juneteenth festivities at least 2 blocks away.

The News8Austin story says that our incoming new police chief pushed for the more moderate update of the press release. This is the last thing APD needs given recent events and their current reputation in the community, especially East Austin. The city has been making a big deal about the selection of the new police chief, Art Acevedo. It looks like he’s got his work cut out for him.

Free VIN Etching

I caught this in the Chronicle. The first session just started at the Federal Building downtown. There’s another session this Saturday and then three more after that.

FREE VIN ETCHING Preventing crime is always preferable to reacting to it after the fact, so Austin Police Department is hosting several workshops this summer in which you can have your vehicle identification number etched on your windshield. Doing so will make your car more easily identifiable and therefore less likely to be stolen.

  • Thu., June 21, 10am-1pm: Federal Building, 300 E. Ninth.
  • Sat., June 23, 10am-1pm: Target, 11220 FM 2222.
  • Thu., June 28, 5-8pm: St. James Baptist Church, 3417 E. MLK.
  • Wed., July 11, 10am-1pm: Wal-Mart, 9300 S. I-35.
  • Sat., July 21, 10am-2pm: Dolores Catholic Church, 1111 Montopolis. 974-5017.

Paper or Plastic or Neither

A month after San Francisco became the first US city to ban plastic shopping bags Austin’s own city council toyed with the idea of a similar ban.

Whole Foods Market and Wheatsville Coop already give you a 5 cent credit on every bag of your own you use. Reusable bags, although they are available for purchase from many supermarkets in Austin, currently garner as much loyalty as a third-party candidate in a presidential election. Compare that to England, for example. When I was there last year, I noticed most shoppers stowed groceries in canvas boxes that fitted easily into the trunks of their cars without falling over.

Now England has upped the ante in the eco-bagging trend with morsbags–sociable guerilla bagging. The idea is to get a group of friends together, take some recycled material (curtains, bedspreads), make shopping bags, and GIVE them away. Currently 79 Morsbag groups have sprouted up all over the UK and the idea is spreading around the world. There is one in the capital city of packaging waste, Tokyo. And there is even one in Las Vegas, (the last place I’d expect any eco-consciousness; trust me, my family lives there.)

While the politicians are debating whether to mandate change and while people are arguing about which truly is more environment-friendly, perhaps Austinites should extricate themselves from still another either/or choice. Maybe the answer isn’t paper or plastic.

Jorge’s quick-lunch

Casita Jorge's truck: Kerry Awn
Following up on the Chron review of Jorge’s on Hancock, we checked it out ourselves after the Juneteenth parade. This combined well with burning some vacation time and checking out the Yarborough library branch in the old Americana after its remodeling. The waiter was confused about the margarita order, which was “straight up, with no salt,” and kept wanting us to choose between “on the rocks” and “frozen.” One must be thankful that there was no mention of the dread “Mexican martini.” Despite the preliminaries, as it came to the table the margarita was perfect, and an excellent value. It was the Chron description of “bite-size chunks of pork loin stewed in a mildly spicy green sauce of tomatillos, onions, and Anaheim and poblano chiles” that lured me there, and I was not sorry. The wheat tortillas did in fact seem to be handmade. They were wonderful, and so was the pork dish (on the menu as “carne con chile verde”) and so were the two salsas. The rice was nothing special, but the beans were smoky and tasty. The others at the table were very happy with their food as well. The verdict is that we will return. There were televisions to be seen, but they weren’t on. We saw several people in uniform over from Mabry. I hadn’t been in this establishment for years and years and am very glad that the Chron prompted a return after all this time and so many changes. I think that breakfast is available, but the large menu was spirited away before we could read both sides. I like the hum of conversation at Jorge’s. The image above is from a hand-painted depiction on the side of a truck parked out back. That is Jorge himself. In the background are depicted, among other items, an avocado and containers of “cerveza” and “taco sauce.” This art is signed by Kerry Awn, and I read the date as 1976.

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