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mcdowell

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    Austin Texas
  1. I'm not so sure. It's not just state codes that vacillate. Go browse around ttb.gov (treasury's alcohol tax division) and you'll find that there's a pretty even split between spellings, though where definitions are offered it seems that "whiskey" outweighs "whisky" in the code. ATF is similarly confused. I'm not sure I know where to look for the "official American spelling", given the rampant inconsistencies in the federal code. Wikipedia, I think, is using authoritative tone where it might not be so appropriate (imagine that).
  2. Note the spelling. Much of the pertinent legal regulations may be found here, in 27 C.F.R. PART 5—LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF DISTILLED SPIRITS. ← Unless, of course, you're in Kentucky and looking at the language of the code there, where "whisky" doesn't seem to be the preferred spelling, as example: Note the spelling. As in most things language, ambiguity and inconsistency rule. Keeps it fun.
  3. mcdowell

    Big Bend Area recommendations?

    If you're on the Terlingua side, there's a little place called the Starlight Diner on the hill with the ghost town and the general store. The menu was surprisingly sophisticated and the food surprisingly fresh (given where we were). It's called the 'starlight' because part of the roof is missing and you can see the stars. The night I was there, they had live jazz. The night before, when I tried to eat there, I found a hand written sign "gone exploring in Mexico, back in 2 days". Your mileage may vary. You don't say where you're coming from, but try and travel through Marfa. If you haven't been there, it's a real treat. Have some wine at the Marfa Book Company, and meal at Jett's Grill at Hotel Paisano. AND you can see the Marfa lights, decide for yourself whether Texas was settled by aliens.
  4. mcdowell

    Fast Food French Fries

    To force a fresh & hot fry at McDonald's, ask for an order without salt.
  5. mcdowell

    Alan Richman's House

    For what it's worth, I loved your original write-up. I think it's asinine that any of us here, in these forums, would stoop to critiquing anybody's dinner party based on pictures and ingredients. I'm a little embarrassed for the writers of some of this feedback. Food, when not used as fuel, should be about pleasure. And a dinner party should be about creating a shared experience that brings both emotional and sensual pleasure. If you were paying for the experience, then the host might have different obligations. But this guy was there to share the night and help you indulge in a little distraction from life, and it sounds like that happened here. If those made-from-pilsbury pigs-in-a-blanket felt right on your tongue, then none of us should question that.
  6. mcdowell

    The Death of the Cookbook

    I've fallen asleep in front of a computer screen more often than I'll ever admit, but then I work in technology. I work on the the side of the business that is enabling these sorts of gadgets, getting paid to live five and ten years in the future. I'm a fan of these sorts of devices, and I think they really will change the way we go about the business of living. If I were simply reading, I can easily see a day in the very near future where an eBook reader might be my primary choice. And if I were just using a text as a reference, looking for a recipe, say, then I often use the internet, and can see using the eBook. The problem is, I rarely use cookbooks as reference -- I use them as inspiration. I don't always know when I grab one off of my shelf what it is I'm looking for. I see my cookbooks very much as analog to my art and design books. In that regard, I think that the technology is failing us. While I can use an electronic text and scan through pictures and bold face titles looking for something to light my pilot, it's far more enjoyable to take a fat book to my most comfortable chair and flip through it. I'm almost always surprised by what I find, and I relish the intangible feelings I get from the tactile experience of touching the pages and holding the book. I could do that on the computer, but it all just seems a little soulless to me. I want the feel of the paper under my fingertips. I want to flip the pages and be surprised. I want to navigate without a map. eBooks don't let me do that yet. All that said, we've done some studies on the impact of these classes of technology. The "tweener" generation, the one right behind most of us, doesn't have the nostalgic and emotional ties to these physical objects. I little doubt that phsical books will go largely go by the wayside within a couple of generations, cookbooks included. I'd say sooner, but newspapers have proven that we'll support the printing business long past their need. Me, I'm going to miss them. I'll read a novel on epaper without complaint, and already largely use the internet as my reference library, but I want my art printed, and sitting right over there on my kitchen shelf.
  7. mcdowell

    Alan Richman's House

    Forget the food, anything public to share, from the dinner, on why he's out at Bloomberg?? And, FG, your visit made gawker.com yesterday (so says my girlfriend, as I'd -never- read a gossip site) w/ the headline "sad restaurant critic burns food": http://gawker.com/5002921/sad-restaurant-critic-burns-food
  8. mcdowell

    Private Dining

    It's not clear where you're located, but here's a list that might get you started: http://killtherestaurant.com/findings.html
  9. mcdowell

    Smoking chefs

    There's an interesting exchange w/ Anthony Bourdain on-topic in this past weekend's "The Onion", full text online here: http://www.avclub.com/content/feature/anthony_bourdain, and excerpted by me, below: ... AVC: Do you ever feel like your sense of taste or smell was diminished by your drug use? AB: Who knows? I think, technically, male palates start to decline very early anyway, around 27 or 28. That's what God made salt for. AVC: Do you feel like your smoking has affected it? AB: Oh, I'm sure it has. But most chefs smoke. I always love reading on the foodie blogs, these complete idiots who say, "I would never eat food made for me by a smoker." Listen, asshole: You've been eating food made by smokers your whole fucking life. Most of the three-star chefs—at least half of them—smoke. ...
  10. mcdowell

    [Austin] Tex-Mex

    Matt's is to Tex Mex as Salt Lick is to BBQ. Something like that. Trying to categorize all of this is a slippery slope, I really hate that term 'authentic', and I'm usually dragged kicking and screaming to places like Matt's or Maudies (unless tequila is involved at some level)... all that said, my two favorite places in town for Mexican-inspired fare are: Curra's Grill, Oltorf just west of I-35 (think there's a north location as well, but have never been) is a favorite lunch place, modestly priced, but with a really good selection of moles, and more variety and surprises than you might find at your typical cheesy enchilada & taco shack. Fonda San Miguel, up on North Loop and a little higher-end, is one of my favorite restaurants in the city, and also one that I think sits well outside the classification of Tex-Mex (though it is definitely Mexican, more Diane Kennedy than Rob Walsh). Their menus are up online at http://www.fondasanmiguel.com. What I'd really like to find in Austin is a 'new mexico-mex' place, with the sorts of great chili sauces that you find throughout that state...
  11. mcdowell

    Foodie dating Picky?

    By and large relationships are about sharing passions, especially this passion that many of us have around things epicurean (almost by definition a shared experience). My partners don't have to have tastes that match mine, or even what I judge to be a sophisticated/educated palate, but they do have to have a willingness to indulge and experiment. And to not be judgmental. Two quick anecdotes: I lived with a woman once, not long ago, who initiated and took me to an amazingly innovative Thai restaurant just outside of San Francisco. She had the pad thai (of course), and I ordered a spiced frog leg dish. She watched me eat, then she stopped eating, pushed her plate away, and told me: "it makes me sad and disgusted that you would eat that". She stole my joy with that simple sentence, and it ruined the night for both of us. A recent girlfriend, I took to a relatively high-end and experimental sushi restaurant here in Austin called Uchi. One of the best in the country. And I spent about $200, including the sake. She told me that it was good, but she just couldn't "appreciate food that cost more than about $20". That took away, for me, much of the joy of sharing my favorite restaurants with her. We'd still go, but less and less often. It created a dead spot for me. Fortunately, we liked to cook for each other, and that compensated. I love wine, but can (and have) dated alcoholic women with no problem. A girl who's idea of ideal sunday brunch is waiting in line at the IHOP, and turns her nose up at Fonda San Miguel (or my eggs on my deck), different story. I'd like to, but I don't have to, share my books, my art, my porn, the things that feed my inner life... but food, drink, socializing with my crowd, that's an important part of my outer life, and I need a partner who fits. I've been around long enough to know that, given my lifestyle and tastes, 'has food issues' is an important indicator as to the kind of person I'm with, and whether I'll find ultimate compatibility. Which is what it's all about, because eventually you have to sober up, put on your clothes, and exist with this person you've chosen for yourself. What's important enough for you to keep that connection?
  12. I buy nearly all of my tools at local Acemart Restaurant Supply. For non-mainstream stuff it usually comes in extremely competitive, and lasts forever. Recent example, needed a new chinois (china cap). $20 bought me a 10" steel tool at the restaurant supply store, whereas at the more traditional outlets they start north of $50USD (you can do this experiment yourself online). Also a goldmine for things like baking hardware and squeeze bottles... wander the aisles and you'll find things you never knew you needed. My pans & knives are high end and pretty, but stockpots, etc, all from restaurant supply, including a cache of inexpensive but quality saucepans to handle the busy nights in the kitchen.
  13. Totally agree with melkor. And while I find Bourdain (one example in the original slate article) oft projects a little too much affected machismo, I can read John Thorne or Jim Harrison all day long, satisfying my urges. In fact, Harrison & his Raw and Cooked column in Esquire back in the late 80's heavily influenced my early culinary attitudes, while I'd only flip through Gourmet, looking at the pretty pictures. Even so, browse the food-heavy section at the local Barnes & Noble and you'll find that flowery prose still far out-numbers the macho writing by a couple of orders of magnitude. If anything, there's not nearly enough Hemingway balancing out the plenitude of Nicolas Spark's out there, on any shelf or subject. And aren't we long overdue for another Thorne collection??
  14. mcdowell

    London Ontario Restaurant

    [edited to say Whoops - wrong London]
  15. mcdowell

    Indian Food in Austin

    I agree - I'm not a big fan of the Clay Pit. It's not bad, but mediocre. I think it attains its hype level strictly on the merit of it's location. One place I do like is Sar-o-Var on Burnett, just south of 183. It's in a strip center on the west side of the road. I've eaten there 3 or 4 times this year and have always been satisfied. There's another place on Anderson, in strip mall adjoining the Alamo Drafthouse. I don't remember the name, but had the lunch buffet there a few weeks back. It's passable, but not a destination. Sadly, I've not found a place on the south/soutwest side of town, where I live and work. If you have recommendations, speak up!
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