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  1. I don't know the answer on the Dr. Kraker-like crackers. They do look and taste exactly the same to me. No one in retail likes a monopoly - it tends to keep things expensive (or lose money for the retailer). Your HEB should still carry both, but it's likely the Dr. K's have been moved to a less prominent location. I find them all to be terribly hard, but I do like the new Dr. K graham cracker ones a lot. Did you see the new CM shortbreads? yum! In the imported cookie section. And not CM, but some heb delis are going to be testing some all-natural ham and turkey items starting next month, so keep your eye out for those.
  2. Thanks for asking. I know because I am paid to know, and can speak authoritatively from the standpoint of training, connections, education, and experience in the retail and wholesale grocery industry, along with personal consumer experience comparable to yours. Thanks for the definition link. Did you see definition #2: "relying on experience or observation alone often without due regard for system and theory." fwiw, Whole Foods had some sashimi grade fish out today. But I tried the smoked fish instead. Tasty. And the guy who runs Quality Seafood is a frequent customer of the CM seafood section and well known to the team that works there. He's a guy who knows his stuff, as is the lead at the CM seafood department.
  3. Wow. we'd love to see your empirical data and graphs on these experiences. An opinion is an opinion, you'd best stick to making statements as such, or folks may start forming opinions about you that you might not like. As for the fish, we're talking a difference of a few hours, max, and possibly not even that between delivery via the airport and through a local distributor. On the days when good fish isn't available, most sushi restaurants don't cut their menu back. What sort of fish are you getting then? Where are the sushi restaurants are getting their fish, if not from the airport or a local distributor? Certainly not Lake Travis! Oh, and CM does get fish (and meat, and produce, and product) direct. HEB has its own fishing fleet in the gulf. Just more data for your emperical evidence.
  4. First off, you assume that the fish offered by HEB, Central Market, and the sushi teams that work there is automatically substandard strictly because it's not in a restaurant. I don't care whether you actually think that. I do care that people reading this thread may have the wrong impression because of that statement. So I respond to provide more background for those who have reserved judgement. Based on conversations with sushi chefs around Austin (most pointedly, Tyson Cole of Uchi) and on the west coast I distrust the consistency and quality of sushi restaurants long before I distrust major chain retailers fighting every day to maintain a "fresh" image in the public eye, with thousands of people every day evaluating their offerings and sharing their unpleasant experiences. One bad health inspector visit, one strongly disappointed customer, one undercover video of employees bleaching old fish (hello, Safeway) and all that effort is lost. Now, to share some facts. CM and HEB (and most likely Whole Foods, Albertsons, Quality, and Fiesta but I don't know for sure firsthand) purchase fish daily from around the globe. That fish is usually already destined for a particular store by the time it hits the distribution warehouse.* The seafood managers in the store have a goal - sell everything through, every day, to maintain a fresh image for the store. They don't order stuff that doesn't move. So the fish you are getting gets to the counter asap. The seafood manager orders for the sushi team as well, so their fish is on the same timeline. All the sushi is made fresh daily, none is held over. If you're buying sushi while the team is there, they can tell you what they've just made. They also will do special orders without requiring you to buy 10 lbs of fish. Have you tried asking the seafood manager to meet a special order? Have you asked the CM guy for a sample? And yes, there's usually a minimum order. To keep prices overall low, they can't afford to toss out 9 lbs of $15/lb fish so that you can buy one. That would be unwise and irresponsible to the customer base. You could go to Uchi and talk to Tyson about buying fish. But be prepared to pay the price. He orders for his business, not for resale. Or you could go to the docks and try your own luck with the fishermen. Neither is efficient or cost-effective on an individual scale. Hope that provides more data for the masses to make their own decision. --LHG * exception is frozen items, as these are not as perishable.
  5. To be honest, I'm glad you don't like 'em. That means there's more for those of us that do. And are you sure you're thinking of the right Pomegranate soda? Seeing as it's a fairly new product and all. And btw, Crown is meant to be enjoyed alone, occasionally with Cola, but not with much else. Probably where you went wrong there.
  6. New product alert - CM Pomegranate Italian Soda. Red. Slightly fizzy. Festive. A potential excellent mixer with the libation of your choice for the holidays.
  7. Tonight's dinner destination: Matt's Famous El Rancho After yesterday's signing over 1/6th of my annual income for a new roof (they got done before the torrential thunderstorms! yeah!), and today's normal unpredictable and unusual day working at the gorcery store (today I sanded down and started painting our main meeting room, helped a customer order a turkey - who eats turkey in August?, and moved plants around the front entrance) I was exhausted and ready to just chill. A pal of mine suggested 'ritas. I suggested Matt's as I had worked up a big appetite! A few months ago, a bunch of us met up after a Cookbook signing at BookPeople and went to Matt's to experience the perfect Puffy Taco. Today I went and enjoyed a perfect Rita - the Matt's Especial. Muy especial, indeed! The waiter suggested we could order a pitcher. If we had been 3 instead of 2 needing to go to work tomorrow, we would have gone for it. Instead we ordered single ritas and I got food, he just snacked on chips. First off, Matt's has great chips. Thick, able to scoop up large quantities of salsa, and no fear of dramatic breakups on the way into your mouth. Yum. The salsa has good zip, I wish it was a bit chunkier (I'm a pico gal) but the bowl was cleaned by the end of the meal so we liked it. I had a bowl of Chicken Tortilla soup - another great one, and so FAST on the service. For an entree I had the Enchiladas Poblanitas. I would have had the Camarones, but the aforementioned payment for a new "Weathered Wood" roof with state-of-the-art ridge vents had me thinking cheap. A tasty filling of portabellas, poblanos, onions, and cheese with verde sauce and Charra beans. Yum! I considered dessert, but pretty much the only option is sopapillas. I have never cared for them. If only there had been Alamo drafthouse blueberry pie. Ah well, there's always hope!
  8. If you're looking for a deal, HEB has birds on "Meal Deal" this week. Buy a bird and some green beans, get a bunch of other stuff free (Coke, rice-a-roni side, chips, and fresh-baked baguette).
  9. Lunch/Dinner today Alamo Drafthouse* Today's big event was "Charlie and the Chocolate Facotry" - the 3:45 showing. My viewing companion and I were seated at about 3:10 and immediatly served a free "Wonka bar". We anxiously unwrapped ours, hoping for that elusive Golden Ticket - the ticket to a free tab!!! Sadly, we were denied that pleasure of limitless buckets o' beer on the house. I had purposely eaten nothing since breakfast besides a couple of samples at 7-11 and Central Market. So I promptly ordered the Violet Beauregard Chewing Gum Dinner. Creamy tomato soup ("I can feel it running down my throat!") with foccia bread, Roast Beef (actually prime rib) with a baked potato, sour cream, and some spinach leaves for color, and Blueberry lattice-topped pie with whipped cream. Now, the meal was not up to, say, Sullivan's standards. But for a place that is best skilled at pizza, fried stuff, and beverages, this was not bad at all. I'd put it on par with a Vegas buffet - edible, reasonably flavorful, and kept warm. The soup was very Campbells-esque. The foccia bread had a nice coating of parm and herbs - tasty! The prime rib was a generous portion, but definitely Choice grade, not anything better than that. The baked potato was tasty, although I would have liked some pepper. But the pie, oh the pie.... man, that was a darn good blueberry pie. It didn't even need the whipped cream to make it perfect. It was flaky, gooey, sugary, and fruity. I loved it. Does anyone know who supplies their pies? Earlier, I had taken a bite of my Wonka bar and disdained it as "cheap chocolate". However after viewing the chocolate river in the movie, I happily ate it all, thinking "it's the only factory in the world where the chocolate is mixed by waterfall." And no, I did not turn into a giant blueberry. But after that huge feast, I did have to be rolled out of the theater by oompa-loompas. It's 7 hours later, I'm still not hungry! --LHG * ok, technically I ate this up at the Alamo on Anderson Lane. But you could eat this at the one on South Lamar so it's not completely out of place. My ongoing Alamo favorite meal is the Asian Chicken Salad. mmmmmm. But now I'll get blueberry pie if possible.
  10. well, yesterday I was planning to eat "the world's healthiest breakfast taco" at People's Rx but I was so underwhelmed by them that I turned around and left. So then there was a dilemma - where to eat? Taco Grande Yesterday's breakfast - fresh made breakfast tacos at the drive up sheet metal trailer on Lamar, between the Genie car wash and the Starbucks $1.50 gets you your choice of 2 ingredients, extras are $0.25. The tacos are freshly assembled to order which I like. They are friendly, the tortilas are fresh, and they use a generous portion of cheese. 2 Thumbs up based on value and solid quality.
  11. Thanks for the tips, I love recommendations. today's destination: Alligator Grill - cajun style South Austin. I was in desparate need of a margarita after consuming waaaay too many samples of organic food. I needed some toxins to offset all that healthy junk! So we headed down to Alligator Grill. They had live music on the (shady!) deck and plenty of space. We started out on the deck, but since service was very busy, decided to move inside to the bar. The waitstaff and bar staff were all very friendly. I was sitting near the server's station at the bar. Most places, this is not a good spot, but here it was great - I got three different opinions on what to order (all claiming a different favorite) and we learned about a new liquor (more later). Menu choices: we got the blackened chicken quesadillas - met all my requirements - adequate ratio of cheese to filling, plus the cheese extended to the edges of the tortilla. I HATE dry no-cheese quesadilla edges. The quesadilla was at least 3/4 of an inch thick due to the size of the chicken chunks. A solid representation of cajun-tex-mex fusion. Shrimp and ?? Stuffed Mushrooms. I know there was some other yummy in the mushroom, I just can't remember what. These were an appetizer that I ordered for my meal. 6 good sized shrooms with yummy filling and rice. mmm! I would get these again. Fire Roasted Vegetables (a la carte side): My dining companion, a self-avowed veggie-hater, liked these. I quote, "they have a good smoky flavor". I concurred , these were tasty as a side with the two appetizers. Drinks: Marqaritas - rocks, salt, lime. mmmm. Tuaca - a vanilla-citrus liquor. We had "sippin' shots" and were glad of the discovery. we learned of them from an order that one of the waitresses had, and the friendly bartender and waitresses explained what they were and got us a fresh chilled bottle to taste. Very tasty.
  12. So... y'all are famous. Seriously. Well, at least within the world of HEB. Today at work I opened a company-wide presentation about CM and Organics, and there, in the middle of the presentation, is a page of "consumer quotes about CM products." And it was you guys - Nacho, Irodguy, Fifi, going into raptures about chips and blood orange soda. I was cracking up! My boss asked, what's so funny? And I said... I KNOW these people! She thinks I'm nuts. :) If you wanna eat a bunch of free CM Organic products, go to HEB Friday between 10 and 3. Every HEB out there is supposed to be running demos.
  13. Recently I relocated to South Austin and now have ready access to a variety of old standbys and new restaurants. Just thought I'd start sharing, as it's much nicer inside in the a/c than it is working on the yard! Flipnotics - This morning, Bosco and I took a leisurely walk up the street to Flipnotics for a breakfast taco. This interesting spot is a cafe on the top floor, and indie/punk clothing and accessories on the ground floor. The cafe sports a nice shady deck, a small amount of indoor seating, and some picnic tables around under the trees. I think you can sit with your dog as long as you are not on the deck. However, I didn't push it on my first visit, just parked B in some nice cool grass while I ate. The menu looks good - fresh empanadas, samosas, breakfast tacos, wraps, and sandwiches. They serve coffee, tea, beer, and wine, and have live music every evening. The morning service was friendly and fast. I got some delicious Guatamalan coffee and a Veggie breakfast taco. I'd never heard of such a thing (gotta be that 78704 influence). It was big, with a fresh tortilla and a nice layer of queso fresco sealing it up tight. Zukes, mushrooms, bell peppers, and eggs. The salsa was good too. Inside there was not much in the way of decor, but I was impressed by a tv fish tank. I'll be going back, it was a good spot, decent prices, and a nice scene. A good place for a casual friendly chat and to just feel comfortable. You can find it at the corner of Barton Springs and Kinney Ave, just west of Lamar.
  14. mmmm... Tuxedo Cake. Rather Sweet, indeed. C797 made this cake for my birthday. She is a very very very good friend. Then she gave me the remainder of the cake to take home. This makes her a very very very bad friend. I got home, stashed the cake in the fridge, and took the dog for a walk. Then I completely destroyed the benefits of the walk by having another piece of cake! She went all out - 3 thick layers of dense, dark, chocolate cake, coated with sweet bright white whipped cream and a dark drizzly layer of chocolate glaze. 3 layers makes for a very very very tall cake. I can see making this cake even more impressive if the layers were sliced in half creating a 6 layer cake with black and white striping. The cake wasn't as rich as her Mexican Chocolate Cake, and had a good crumb still. It was denser than a cake-mix cake but not as dense as a pound cake. The glaze was a bit thin at initial application, but the time spent in the fridge at my house caused it to set up into a carmel-snickers-bar-inside consistency - chewy and almost "stretchy". And I mean stretchy in the best gooey-candy-bar way. That must be from the Lyle's syrup. I am now wired on sugar , but luckily I am upstairs and far removed from the temptation to eat more cake. This is a great birthday cake - a special indulgence for a big day. --LHG p.s. We also had some sort of salad out of the cookbook. But the cake has wiped out all memory of the name of the salad. But it is a good salad, I swear!
  15. Thanks for posting the photos. The salad was really tasty. I will note that the leftovers were a bit dry the next day, probably because we cut the oil down. So if you're making this one a day in advance, you might want to use a bit more oil than we did. Or you could do a taste test just before serving and add more than you originally planned. Oh, one other change - we used dried cranberries in place of some of the raisins. I have a raisin aversion, and Rebecca said in that class that she likes to sub in craisins for things. So we took that to heart!
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