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eGfoodblog: Kent Wang


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Howdy!

I'll be your blogger this week and would like to show you my little part of the country. A few things come to mind when one thinks of Texas -- barbecue, cowboys -- but this week I want to share with you some of the lesser known aspects of Texas food and culture.

I was born in Shanghai and lived there until I was six. I moved with my parents first to Baltimore and then a few years later to Galveston, an island southeast of Houston. I consider Galveston to be the home of my formative years of middle and high school.

My mother is a terrific cook, having been cooking since she was thirteen. During the Cultural Revolution in China, her father was imprisoned for being an intellectual and the family fell upon hard times. Her older siblings all had to work to make ends meet, so as the youngest child she learned to cook from her grandmother. (See Food stories from the Cultural Revolution).

When I moved out on my own to Austin to attend the University of Texas, my mother's only stipulation was that I learn how to cook. So, armed with three months of basic lessons and a dozen of her recipes, I moved to my own apartment in Austin. That is when I first began to develop my passion for food.

I'll tell you a little more after I fix myself breakfast, but let's take a look at my teaser photo:

gallery_28661_4880_26704.jpg

Any ideas for a caption?

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VERY excited to see you blogging, kent - i used to live in austin, and miss it every single day, so am looking forward to seeing some of my old favorite places again :biggrin: central market? uchi? maria's tacos? la mexicana bakery? home slice!!

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Hi Kent! Great to see you blogging.

Here's my caption:

Me: Um, there's a fly in my soup.

Hubby: Well, there's none in mine (gleefully drinks it up).

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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Howdy!

I'll be your blogger this week and would like to show you my little part of the country. A few things come to mind when one thinks of Texas -- barbecue, cowboys -- but this week I want to share with you some of the lesser known aspects of Texas food and culture.

I was born in Shanghai and lived there until I was six. I moved with my parents first to Baltimore and then a few years later to Galveston, an island southeast of Houston. I consider Galveston to be the home of my formative years of middle and high school.

My mother is a terrific cook, having been cooking since she was thirteen. During the Cultural Revolution in China, her father was imprisoned for being an intellectual and the family fell upon hard times. Her older siblings all had to work to make ends meet, so as the youngest child she learned to cook from her grandmother. (See Food stories from the Cultural Revolution).

When I moved out on my own to Austin to attend the University of Texas, my mother's only stipulation was that I learn how to cook. So, armed with three months of basic lessons and a dozen of her recipes, I moved to my own apartment in Austin. That is when I first began to develop my passion for food.

I'll tell you a little more after I fix myself breakfast, but let's take a look at my teaser photo:

gallery_28661_4880_26704.jpg

Any ideas for a caption?

I'll take the one on the right :raz:

I'm from Kansas, and I look forward to your blog!

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Here's what I had for dinner last night. I live by myself so it's a bit of chore to cook just for one so I invited my friend Kristin over and we did some simple cooking.

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Salmon roe with sweet peas. Copied from the Dinner! thread. This was trivial to make but a terrific dish nonetheless. The saltiness of the roe combines perfectly with the sweetness of the peas.

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Peppers stuffed with brie and purple basil. I asked the cheesemonger at Central Market for the boldest brie and he recommended Brie de meaux rouzaire, which I loved.

For dessert, I made my first creme brulee. No photos as I didn't do a very good job with the torching.

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I graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelors in History two years ago and have continued to stay in Austin. I'm twenty-two now and work two jobs from home. I operate a web development firm, which I've been doing since I was twelve years old. My clients are mostly small businesses like real estate and law firms.

My other, more "glamorous" job is as a fashion designer. I design and sell pocket squares (those handkerchiefs men wear with suits) and cuff links. You can see some photos from my website. I've also been thinking of making napkins and table linens. After all, a napkin is just a pocket square in a different size. I've also made some silk scarves for women and have a photoshoot scheduled later today for a local magazine.

I just moved into this house in East Austin at the begining of the month. Here is the kitchen:

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It's a bit old but the kitchen has some cool features:

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The spice rack pulls out and rotates for easy access.

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The corner cabinet rotates to reveal storage shelves.

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That big jar in the back is duck confit. I made it about a month ago so it will be delicious once I finally melt it out of the duck fat.

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The bar. I've learned a great deal from the eG Cocktail and Spirits forum over the past two years and have accumulated a modest collection of bottles.

I entertain often and have a printed cocktail menu (PDF).

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It would be rude to show you the bar without offering a drink, so how about a Last Word?

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Hey, this is off to a promising start, and congratulations on your new digs! Neat features in your kitchen, and I trust you will clutter up that fridge soon enough.

Since you're also a fashion designer, can I ask what the significance is of the jeans pocket that is your avatar?

Hankies in pockets? I'm not going there. No siree.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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My friend Charles has been staying with me for the last few days. We've known each other since high school and share a common interest in matters culinary. He took a few classes at CIA a few years ago, I believe. I usually only eat out a few times a week but you're going to see us eat at a lot of restaurants this week.

We're packing up at the moment to go to the city of College Station to eat and drink at Veritas, where fellow eGullet member thirtyoneknots works as bartender.

Later in the week, I'll also be driving to Houston to see my parents and see old friends. I'll be trekking all over Texas.

Since you're also a fashion designer, can I ask what the significance is of the jeans pocket that is your avatar?

It's from my pair of jeans from a Swedish brand called Nudie and that's their backpocket stitch. I've since gotten some newer, more obscure and elitist, jeans that I dig more but the Nudie will always be an old favorite.

Hankies in pockets?  I'm not going there.  No siree.

There's a big difference between the hankie in the breast pocket and one in the back pants pocket.

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My friend Charles has been staying with me for the last few days. We've known each other since high school and share a common interest in matters culinary. He took a few classes at CIA a few years ago, I believe. I usually only eat out a few times a week but you're going to see us eat at a lot of restaurants this week.

We're packing up at the moment to go to the city of College Station to eat and drink at Veritas, where fellow eGullet member thirtyoneknots works as bartender.

Later in the week, I'll also be driving to Houston to see my parents and see old friends. I'll be trekking all over Texas.

There are restaurants in College Station? Seriously, my middle sister just graduated from Texas A&M after 7 years there, and I never once visited. I feel a little bad, but also a little triumphant. I've spent a lot of time in Texas--Houston, Galveston and Corpus Christi areas but not really since I was a kid. I'm very interested to see your take on Texas. Also, my husband loves pocket squares and cuff links, so I'll be keeping your site in mind for the holidays.

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Hi Kent,

Austin is high on my destination wishlist (mostly for a non-foodrelated reason - because my favorite artist in the whole wide world (Patty Griffin :wub: ) lives there... ), but also because I´ve heard the food is so good! I´m looking forward to sharing your week with you.

Your kitchen looks extremely neat and tidy!

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Kent, this looks to be a really interesting blog for this here New Yorker. :wink:

I'll miss most of it in real time, probably, because I, too, will be on the road, in California, undoubtedly with limited internet access. Have a great time.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Kent,

Will you be wandering through San Antonio? I've got people out there on work in September, and if you have some good spots for eating and drinking, I'll be happy to pass it on to them (I like to get good quality for my expense accounts).

Cheers,

Peter

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Photos from Veritas coming soon.

There are restaurants in College Station? Seriously, my middle sister just graduated from Texas A&M after 7 years there, and I never once visited.

The restaurant scene has gotten a little better over the years. Veritas only opened a year ago. Overall, the scene is rather abysmal. At the moment, we're trying to decide if we should try to get lunch here (probably at Madden's) or just go back to Austin.

Will you be wandering through San Antonio?  I've got people out there on work in September, and if you have some good spots for eating and drinking, I'll be happy to pass it on to them (I like to get good quality for my expense accounts).

I rarely ever go to San Antonio. Usually my friends in San Antonio come up to Austin and not vice versa as there are just more fun things to do here. The best restaurant there is probably La Reve, which was nominated for the James Beard for the southwest region.

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Will we be treated to any Texas 'cue on this trip, BTW? You're not that far from the the Texas BBQ belt, IIRC.

(I now recall a foodblog that I can't seem to dig up which was a zig-zag tour across this territory. It also introduced me to one of the most vivid descriptive phrases for weather I've ever run across: "napalm summer breeze." Judging from what I've seen on TV, heat isn't the weather problem besetting Texas this year.)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I'll put up the photos from Veritas tomorrow.

I live in East Austin, an old neighborhood with some low-income areas but due to its proximity to downtown is beginning to be gentrified. The East Side is filled with a variety of working-class restaurants along side newly opened "hip" restaurants and bars that take advantage of the low rents and appeal to the artists, avant garde types and yuppies that have moved into the area. This eclectic mix of affordable restaurants was one of the main reasons I decided to move out to this neighborhood.

For dinner tonight, we went to one of my favorite restaurants, Nubian Queen Lola's Cajun Kitchen. It's located just a few blocks away, at a high-crime intersection where one can readily buy drugs off the street. Lola's building, though shabby, is festively decorated.

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This sign just came up recently. I hope the roof won't collapse in on us while we're eating.

The Austin Chronicle article explains a bit about the history and background of the place. The restaurant can seat only about 15 and she does all the cooking and service. Despite the name, the cuisine is really Southern, the only cajun items being the gumbo and etoufee.

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The dining room is decorated in festive Mardi Gras colors and filled with knick-knacks.

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Lola is very religious and is devoted to charity to the poor. During the course of our meal, a few homeless persons came in and she gave them some water and a bit of food. The restaurant is closed to the public on Sunday so that she can feed the homeless.

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Looks like the late former Texas governor Ann Richards was a fan of Lola's.

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Fried pork chop, red beans and rice, collard greens. The pork chop is lightly dusted in flour, salt and spices and does not have a thick batter. Both styles have their place, this style emphasizes spice and flavor while the heavy batter style is about the crispy texture of the fried batter.

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Fried catfish and beignets. The beignets were delicious, fresh from the fryer.

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We shared a large eight-person table with another group. It's not often that this happens in most restaurants, but it can be a great way to meet some terrific people. Tonight we had the luck of sharing a table with Alan Graham and his family. Mr. Graham is the founder of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a Christian charity that takes catering trucks directly to the streets to feed the homeless. The charity was founded in Austin and now has chapters in a few other cities in the country.

Our group had a great time talking with Alan and his family about Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Austin neighborhoods and even a bit about the latest motu proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI -- Catholicism being a minor interest of mine. Although I'm not religious, I greatly respect their charitable attitude and selfless work for the poor.

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Lola with my friend Charles.

Even aside from the excellent food, I'd have to say that this was one of the most memorable dining experiences I've ever had, sharing a table with positive people in the intimate dining room of a cozy neighborhood restaurant.

More about Lola's and other Southern cuisine restaurants in Austin.

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Will we be treated to any Texas 'cue on this trip, BTW?  You're not that far from the the Texas BBQ belt, IIRC.

I think I would lose my Texan citizenship if I did not. Here's the tentative schedule for the week:

Wed lunch: Ben's Longbranch BBQ for Soul Food Wednesdays.

Wed dinner: Uchi, contemporary Japanese.

Thur-Fri: a few meals in Houston.

Sat: Drive back from Houston, some barbecue on the way.

Sun: Back in Austin. Dim sum at Shanghai restaurant.

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