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  1. And I thought Three Olives was scraping the bottom of the barrel with root beer flavored vodka. Who drinks this stuff?
  2. I've not only seen it, but read many of the reviews in detail, since Austin is a city in which I enjoy eating out. But you guys are *savage* to some of those places. Every sacred cow in sight: slaughtered! Ouch!
  3. I think Smith & Wollensky, or at least the bar downstairs, is nothing but a crowded pick-up joint. My preferred steakhouse is Pappas Bros. It has good, expensive steaks and a soothing '40s ambience.
  4. I recommend Mi Tierra Cafe and Bakery for Tex-Mex. Especially good for breakfast, or just for having a pastry and coffee outside at a table and watching the world go by.
  5. I second the Saltwater Grill, downtown across from the opera house. Oh, and Clary's, back near the causeway bridge.
  6. Mexican food: El Tiempo Cantina (either one) pizza: Fuzzy's (in the Village) or Star Pizza (either one) BBQ: Goode Company (either one), or Luling City Market sports bar: Griff's There are better in each category, but not unless you want to drive all the way across town. These are the closest-in choices.
  7. None of this is exclusive to Japan, of course--you find examples of all these things everywhere.
  8. I'm not talking about judgments. And I'm not talking about functionality--of course food is ultimately meant to be eaten as well as appreciated visually. I'm saying that food, especially at the highest levels (finest restaurants) can convey a message, and that message is non-representational, non-verbal, and as difficult to articulate as a "philosophy of art" or a "philosophy of sculpture" would be. More so, because the gustatory descriptives are more subjective.
  9. Whoops, sorry, I had your comment confused with theisenm85's.
  10. theisenm85 wrote: "Art is the ability to give people what they want." Is it? I think the highest-level cuisine challenges the person who experiences it as much as a painting or a sculpture does. Food is ephemeral, meant to be consumed, therefore temporary. It gets used up in the process of experiencing it. Art is not always "comforting." It can be challenging, confusing, even disgusting. Consider the delicacies of other cultures that are considered delicious by their indigenous cultures but which are disgusting to us (e.g. durian).
  11. I want to clarify that when I said "abstract," I wasn't talking about "non-representational" as used in painting. I mean, a Carvel ice-cream cake in the shape of a whale is "non-abstract" by that definition, but a cube of chocolate in the middle of a white plate is "abstract." I didn't mean visually abstract, I meant "intellectually abstract." I wasn't opposing "abstract" and "functional" as opposites, either--of course, food is primarily intended to be eaten, rather than just looked at, so it's necessarily functional. There are specific adjectives used to describe various tastes, but the tasting (as opposed to the cooking) is definitely qualitative rather than quantitative, therefore "abstract" as opposed to "concrete."
  12. I would call it abstract because it conveys a message indirectly. Also, not *all* art is as abstract as a Mondrian. Some of it is very straightforward and representational. When I called cuisine "abstract," I was talking about its qualities across the board, qualities that *all* high-level cooking has as art. In that sense, any "theory" of cuisine, anything that it tries to "say," has to be conveyed obliquely. Consider the whimsicality of some of Thomas Keller's dishes at The French Laundry, for example.
  13. Food, especially food on the cutting edge as served in the finest restaurants, is arguably the most abstract of all arts. Provided we are in an open frame of mind and not too exhausted at mealtime to be receptive to new ideas, a fine meal can convey not only gustatory information but also emotional, expressive, historical (and maybe even philosophical) information to us. This is where background reading can broaden a wide experience with food from different cultures (in particular the kind of focused-on-food reading you can get at eGullet and a few other sites). Food does more than nourish us physically. It can also nourish us spiritually, emotionally, and even on occasion intellectually. We bring, or should bring, our imagination and intuition to the table as well as our taste buds. Eating in this frame of mind allows up to tap into the social, cultural, and aesthetic traditions of other cultures. It's an excellent way to begin an exploration of those cultures and frames of mind. For the duration of a meal, we can be learning about other cultures, other socio-economic levels, other neighborhoods, that we might not otherwise sample. We become aware of our shared humanity (since everyone eats). And it's simply fun to enjoy a good meal, it can be inexpensive (though not always), we can do it by ourselves or with others, and most cities have numerous cuisines to enjoy, depending on your mood at the moment. Any thoughts on or additions to this?
  14. <ul><li>either of the El Tiempo Cantinas (Richmond Ave. or Washington Ave.) <li>either of the two Pico's Mex-Mex (Bellaire and I-10) <li>Noemi's Tacos (Park Place just south of the Gulf Freeway -- great barbacoa tacos) <li>any of the La Tapatia Taquerias (many locations, extensive menus, fine-tune your meal with exactly the kind of meat you'd like on anything you want to order) <li>Otilia's (Long Point)</ul>Most of these places are authentically run-down, but don't let that stop you, because the food's uniformly excellent.
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