Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bola Pizza

Judging from my Facebook wall, I think somebody around here might've had a birthday or something. No, I'm not changing the name of my blog.

I could not think of a better way to celebrate than at one of the fabulous pizza parties thrown by my friends Christian and Jamie. They have been throwing these pizza parties for a long time (which I previously blogged about here), but there is a recent new twist - the addition of a wood-fired pizza oven (which just happens to be on a trailer!) - and the launching of a pizza catering business, Bola Pizza, so that you can throw your own pizza party - with their help, of course.


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This could be the centerpiece of your very own pizza party!

Christian and Jamie are my friends, but I can honestly say that their pizza is the best in town, hands-down. First of all, the crust - a recipe that took them years to develop - is perfect. Just a little bit chewy, just a little bit crunchy, and just a teeny bit sour - in other words, delicious in every way. And they've added some new, seasonal pies to their menu that are out of this world. Their pizzas just keep getting better and better, and I can't get enough.

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Witness: the fig & pancetta pizza, made with pancetta from Salt and Time.
(Much better photo by Christian here).

Why was the mushroom the life of the party? Because he was a fun-gi. This mushroom pizza is the life of the party: Minced criminis cooked down with thyme, garlic, shallots and white wine, then lovingly sprinkled atop sweet ricotta, mozzarella and black truffle oil.

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Friends don't let friends tell fungi jokes.

I'm hard pressed to choose a favorite, but where garlic is involved, I'm tempted. This pie, called Garlic Two Times, should be renamed 'Gasm Two Times. But then the Texas Board of Education would probably try to ban it, and vampires would take over the state. Olive oil poached garlic cloves are mixed with shaved garlic and arugula atop sweet ricotta and mozzarella. Garlicgasmic.

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Somebody attacked this pizza before I got my photo shoot in.

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Scratch 'n' sniff!

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Magic in action

Skip the catered lunch with dry chicken breast. Be a hero and book a Bola Pizza party today (if you need my address so you can invite me, let me know).

Shout out to my dear friend Carla, who brought not one, but two amazing cakes to the party from Sweetish Hill to help me mark another year, and to Jennie, who brought me a gorgeous batch of tipsy ispahan macarons!

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Thanks, too, to friends and family too numerous to mention who make getting older worth every minute. Love you all.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

Steak Night at the Hotel San Jose

Many years ago, before this blog was but a twinkle in mah belly, the Hotel San Jose hosted regular steak nights. I'd heard about them and kept meaning to go, but before I made it, they discontinued them.

So I was thrilled when I heard that Steak Night was making a comeback. And I was even more thrilled when I won reservations for two to their maiden meal, courtesy of Thrillist Austin (if you don't subscribe to this terrific e-mail publication, sign up now; it's a great way to learn about new eateries in town, and the writing is excellent, as well).

I had already planned a girl-date with my friend Liz that evening, but luckily, I was able to convince her to join me in a rare (for her) meat-feast. The meals are prepared by Chef Larry McGuire of Perla's and Lambert's fame, and focus on the use of local ingredients. Cost is $40 or $45 (depending on what cut of steak you choose) for three courses.

For our starters, we got to choose between a wedge salad with Pure Luck bleu cheese, local pear tomatoes, and sherry vinaigrette, or late summer gazpacho with pearl couscous, Texas crab, and basil oil. I chose the wedge salad:


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And Liz chose the gazpacho:
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The wedge was good, but man...the gazpacho! So fresh, so crisp, and the couscous provided just the right amount of chewiness. Like a tomato pearl tea, only better.

The entrée choices included McAllen Ranch NY strip with seared mushroom and shallot relish, Niman Ranch ribeye with fennel salsa verde, certified angus beef filet with hollandaise and fresh horseradish, or ahi tuna steak with smoked paprika chimichurri. All entrees were served with grilled asparagus, steak house potatoes and crispy shallots. Both Liz and I ordered the ribeye, but with different preparations (they'll also let you mix and match the sauces) - I got the mushroom & shallot relish, and Liz got the hollandaise.

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Holy meat. This was the day after the BBQ Festival, by the way.

The ribeye was wonderfully prepared and deliciously marbled, although once again I was jealous of Liz's order; I thought the mushroom sauce was a little too vinegary and wished it was a little saucier (something I also wish of myself). Nevertheless, it was a delightful plate overall, and there was enough left over for another meal.

I did, however, save room for dessert - Mexia pear and blackberry cobbler served with homemade vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream. 'Cause you can never have enough cream.

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Of course, part of the pleasure of a great meal out has to do with your surroundings and the service, and the San Jose excelled on both counts. A big steak just tastes better if you're enjoying it on the San Jose's perfect patio, particularly in the midst of this amazing fall weather.

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These photos were taken before I met my new toy. Obviously.

The next Steak Night will be on October 18th. Menu details/reservation info here.

Huge thanks to Thrillist and the Hotel San Jose for a lovely meal!

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Monday, October 4, 2010

New Toy!

As most of you know, the large majority of the photos for this blog have heretofore been taken with a four-year-old ultracompact camera, my beloved Canon SD800 IS. Despite the fact that - back in February - the flash started to emit puffs of smoke, I couldn't quite bring myself to part with my trusty friend.

But with a birthday on its way, I finally decided that it was time to treat myself to a new toy. I picked it up on Thursday night, just in time for a visit from my dear friend Andi, whom I had not seen since 9th grade (thanks, Facebook!). Between eating my way through Austin with Andi and our Supper Club's October meeting, which consisted of a food trailer tour, I had ample opportunity to play with my new baby. It's still a compact camera, because I need to be able to throw it in my bag and go - but it is still SO much more powerful than my old one. Here are a few shots from its maiden weekend.


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Corned beef hash at Zax.

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Shot at Lambert's on Auto mode without a tripod. With my old camera, this photo would have been a terrible blur. This camera handles low light shots extremely well for a camera of this size.

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Lambert's pork ribs with a ah-ma-zing fennel & coriander rub and a hint of maple glaze. Served with apple & roasted fennel slaw. ($16)

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Calamari at Fonda San Miguel.

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Lengua tacos at Taqueria Arandas. One of the best bargain meals in town at a ridiculously low $1.60 apiece.

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The fragrant Fish Malabar at G'raj Mahal.

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Seared Yassa chicken served bunny chow style at Cazamance.

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Army of sliders from Along Came a Slider.

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Poor Qui buns from East Side King.

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Chicken karaage at East Side King.

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Brussel sprout salad at East Side King.

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The terrifying Baby Rattler, featuring fudge icing, fudge Oreos, and the largest gummi-anything I've ever seen, at Gourdough's.

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The Razzle Dazzle (raspberry filling, chocolate icing, chocolate chips) at Gourdough's.

I have high hopes that this new camera will help me bring you a whole new level of food porn. Stay tuned!

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