Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Best Mexican Food in Hays County

Moving to Wimberley from Nashville, I was elated about the prospect of top quality Mexican and Tex Mex cuisine. I had until very recently been disappointed by the local offerings. It seems mediocre mex and dry burgers were the specialty of the region.

That all changed when a new owner took over the small diner in the Shell station here in town. There are 2 specials every day and a list of a dozen or so tacos. They also make there own salsas and pico, with 6 or 8 available for your dining pleasure every day.

The Enchiladas were amazing, as are most of the specials, and the Barbacoa Taco is almost a must have for most visits.

I really hope that they can make a go of it and stick around. I implore you all to support them, just so long as the line doesn't get too long.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Fast is over

Okay, after several months sabbatical I am returning to try and revive the spastic synapse, and possibly expand it somewhat. It has been one hell of a year, and I will be pleased to see the backside of 2009.

That being said the eatin's been good as of late. The Leaning Pear semi-regular Floreani Friday night dinner has proved to be one of the highlights of the week. They don't charge a corkage fee, and Mike has deftly honed the art of picking up on the 12 under 12. In the past month I have had the Broken Arrow wild boar relleno, and sea bass on a bed of puree' cauliflower with lemon. The soups are also absolutely spot on more times than not.

I have pretty thoroughly covered the Hill Country Barbecue offerings, and now seem to be on a quest for the best sandwich. Yesterday I scored bigtime at Fricano's deli on East 31st street in Austin.

The coleslaw was amazing, and it wasn't long before toasted perfection came to our table in the way of their Italian Club on sourdough, and an Ainsworth (which is chef's choice, he makes what he feels) we ended up witha Turkey with Provolone, Fresh Basil, Red Onion and the house Olive Tapenade on multigrain. All of the bread is baked for them locally by Chuy who used to be the head baker at Mandola's. I took their Italian Wedge to go and it was also very,very good.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Orlando, Idiocracy and BBQ

I'm very lucky to have a job that includes a fair amount of travel. I have been blessed to fly on the companies dime over the past few years to Tokyo, Kyoto, London, Paris, Indonesia, Sydney, Munich etc. June of this yearI seem to be getting my comeupance as on the docket in one month are Ft Wayne Indiana and Orlando Florida. This week was Orlando for some meetings and a bit of time at the infocomm show.

There is little doubt in my mind that central Florida and Orlando in particular are on the cusp of becoming Idiocracy incarnate. The 2 leading news stories on the local evening news were:

1 House in Gated Community burns down as fire department didn't have the gate code.

2 Woman after getting in argument with boyfriend becomes upset and sets fire to 4 month old puppy.

It was incredibly difficult to find both non-chain restaurants as well as a place to get a haircut. There were however a tattoo joint and discount disney outlet store on every block.

I was however blessed with the company of Greg Addington. A gentleman and barbecue aficianado from the greater Detroit area. Fresh off the defeat from the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins, the man was eager to bury his sorrows in a plate of pulled pork. He hit chow hound, and we decided on Bubbalou's Bodacious Barbecue. Lockhart has taught me to be wary of bbq joints that brag about there sauce, as it usually means they can't cook their meat for shit. As soon as we walked into Bubbalou's I could smell that the place held promise. They used actual smoke to cook their meats and not liquid smoke as I had feared before arrival. Like all fine dining establishments in Florida, BBB is located in a strip mall. They did go to the effort of fixing a tin roof ontop of the tarred roof, and the seating inside was all picnic benches.

After asking what the cashiers favorite was, I settled on a 2 meat combo plate with the house specialty pulled pork, and lamb. All plates are served with slaw, beans, fries and 2 pieces of texas toast.

The meat was succulent and tasty and stood up nicely on its own. There were 3 house sauces on the table 'Secret Sweet BBQ'. 'Mild' and 'Killer'. The killer mixed with the sweet was the ticket for me, and we quickly dug. Little was spoken and we felt lucky to find something that wasn't crap.

After leaving we saw a specimen sat at the Starbucks, that let us know quickly that we were in fact in the land of idiocracy.

On the way to find a record store, Greg turned me on to the rating system that he has implemented in Michigan. It is a simple yet effective system that I plan on stealing and using on this blog and my greater life in general. It's a 3 point system as follows:

* Worthless, don't go back

** Worth eating at if you're in the area

*** Worth the drive or any excuse to return

BBB was a ** by the way.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


It's refreshing when your memories of a restaurant hold up after several years, and Carlitos came through in the biggest of ways. Located on Melrose near Fairfax in LA, Carlitos Gardel is an amazing Argentinian restaurant that is family owned. Max is the one that owns and runs the place with his brother, and his mom makes most of the desserts.

I know that this might sound strange, but the fries from this place would easily make my last meal list. They are perfectly cooked and then tossed with garlic, sea salt, parsley and garlic. I can't begin to explain how amazing these things are. They are simply the best fries on the planet, and I'll stand by that statement until proven different. Crisp outside, buttery-creamy inside, with impecable seasoning.

Who in their right mind would put that much garlic on anything? A genius, that's who!

For the main course, I went with which is their signature steak Ojo de Costilla a La Criolla, they use grass fed Argentinian beef that they fly in. The steak is grilled to perfection, and finished off with their signature chimichurri sauce that I've been trying to recreate unsuccessfully for years. It's served with steamed vegetables (still crisp) and a puree' of yukon gold potatos. The beef is far superior to any that I've had, and we are blessed to have grass fed, organic beef here in Wimberley. There is however a taste and texture that is more complex than any I've had anywhere else.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

A rose by any other name, or even the same name should be treated as suspect

Never have I looked so forward to a bbq experience and been so soundly disappointed. Knowing what Coopers in Llano is capable of, it's horrendous that whatever this thing in New Braunfels is that it shares the same name. We left right after work on Friday, and our first clue should have been how empty the parking lot was upon our arrival. The second clue was that the atmosphere was all wrong, and there was no smell of smoked meat curling its' way through the dining room.

The barbecue looked right, but looks can be deceiving, as instead of the usual rub, everything tasted as if it had simply been covered in road salt. But at least it wasn't overcooked, wait, actually it was. Defunct of all natural juices, this was more on the way to jerky, and well past the tender barbecue that we had come to expect.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bacon + Chorizo + Bacon + Smoke + BBQ Sauce = Bliss

It had to be done I suppose, just like the kernel of every good idea that gets taken too far. I guess it all started about 3 weeks ago when someone forwarded me a link expecting me to be horrified. Hell I was even warned by the roasted nut docent at Whole Foods, who admonished me about the average American having 8 to 10 pounds of undigested red meat in their colon. But it had to be done. My only real regret is that Mike forgot the deep fat fryer so that we could not batter and deep fry the delectable rings of pork goodness.

We started off on Friday afternoon with a trip to Hut's in Austin, and then off to Whole foods to buy the finest ingredients that we could find for our Wimberley iteration of Bacon Explosion. We ended up with:
1 Pound Applewood Smoked Bacon
1 Pound Peppered Bacon
1 Pound Chorizo

Edmond expertly wove the strips of bacon into a lattice that would form the outer shell for the core of fried bacon and chorizo core, and dusted it with a homemade cajun rub.

The Chorizo after great deliberation on technique was placed onto the blanket of woven bacon.

A healthy (meaning large) portion of fried bacon was placed across the median of chorizo layer.

This was then doused with a Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce.

The contents were then rolled into a cylindrical package.

As the bacon log would take 2.5 hours plus to cook, we prepared a pair of steelhead filets for the smoker as well with crushed chili-lime pecans procured the previous day.

After a short period of time, the smoker had reached the prescribed temperature and both samples for the animal kingdoms were lowered into place.

It wasn't long before the steelhead was ready to come off the smoker, and while Edmond looked for forks in the kitchen, Mike and I piled in with our fingers for the first round of appetizers. I'm still unclear as if it's a sea trout or salmon, but either way it proved delicous!

I had never seen Mike so pensive, and he pondered his fate carefully before deciding to take off for a poker game with his children before the bacon explosion was ready to be delivered.

It was just as I was beginning to tire of the steelhead, that Edmond's friend Kyle showed up with chicken and jalapenos wrapped in bacon that he had grilled and thoughtfully brought over. This held us over nicely until the main course was ready.

About 20 minutes before the pork log was ready to come out it was brushed with a coating of the same KC BBQ sauce that graced the bacon crumbled innards.

We waited for the center to reach the prescribed safe temperature to avoid a myriad of ailments that are apparently fairly nasty and left the log to rest for a bit.

Edmond then sliced into the monstrosity of bacon and pork products and served us in turn. It proved to be fairly amazing. After some discussion it was decided that next time that it should perhaps be a mixture of italian sausage and chorizo as the chorizo was spicer than anticipated and continued to gain heat. Later today I am going to try and either work it into an egg scramble or perhaps an omelette. I now have what can only be described as a meat hangover, and am convinced that as good as this is, it must be relegated to no more than once or twice a year for special occasions.

The pecan encrusted steelhead however will be placed into the repetoire, and will now need a Costco membership.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Phil Spector's Wall of Sound and Phil Spector's Wall

I got a chance to get back to LA this week and spend a couple of days at Infrasonic Sound Studios where they really do still make records the old fashioned way. Pete over there who runs the mastering side of things seems to be the youngest person on the planet that still masters to vinyl. He has a gorgeous old Neumann lathe, it seems that the interest in records is on the rise. When he first told me this, I got excited, and then he stated that last years highest selling vinyl album was Radiohead's 'In Rainbows' and it mustered 28,000 or so in sales. The upside is the trend of indies releasing in download and vinyl only (no cd). Time for me to get a new cartridge for my Sansui.

The studio is in Alhambra and just around the corner from Phil Spector's Pyrenees Castle which is his converted compound that was once a swanky hotel. I can remember as a kid listening to my parents Righteous Brothers album, and then a decade and a half later learning about Phil Spector's 'Wall of Sound'. It seems that all these years later that things have come full circle, as I have now seen Phil Spector's 'Wall'. Please note actual Tiger Cage just behind fence.
If only Wimberley had a Poquito Mas.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bread and Circuses

Give the people want they want and they'll ignore the obvious. As Obama took office, I find it interesting that the first unicycle football game of the season is in place.

This is an amazing game played on an abandoned parking lot, with injuries almost guaranteed.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Unicycle Football!

Many more pics available at www.flickr.com/joshmas

Saturday, January 24, 2009

John Wayne Dressed to the Left

It was a confusing journey as the Airport is known as Orange County, Santa Ana and most importantly John Wayne. It was after spending an inordinate amount of time at the Hertz counter with a needy D&D player in his early 30's that must have just had his mother throw him out of the house that I spotted the magnificent statue of John Wayne (insert Repo Man reference here). There was a huge American flag drapped behind the Duke, and as I grabbed my camera to take the iconic shot I quickly realized the inevitable-John Wayne dressed to the left.

I was stuck for a week in Anaheim which ac best be described as the lesser Disney surrounded by miles of strip malls. The regurgitation of the american dream in all of it's lackluster glory.

There were a number of outstanding outfits on display, and I got to meet Lemmy from Motorhead, who it turns out is a genuinely nice down to earth guy.

We were stuck for 4 days across from the Vestax deejay booth where we had to endure nonstop wicka-wicka-shunk, this has to be worse than anything doled out in Gitmo. The people watching however was absolutely stellar.

Hair gel-Check
Sleeveless shirt-Check
Elven Leather Utility Belt-Check
White Linen Bell Bottom Capris-Check
Toe Shoes-Check
Orange to ward off scurvy-Check
Okay, ready to roll.

The highlight was discovering Thainakorn restaurant which was one of the best Thai places I have been to in the last few years. It was very authentic, always busy and clientele was about 90% Thai. This was about the hottest food that I've ever enjoyed. I have certainly had hotter, but not with such balanced flavor. Perhaps second only to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. Fish Cakes, Satay and Beef with Green Chilis are all highly recommended.

What I'm Reading


What I'm listening to lately

  • Ben Kweller-Changing Horses
  • Trojan Country Reggae Box Set
  • The Grand Archives
  • Sun is Shining- Bob Marley vs Lee Scratch Perry
  • A.C. Newman-Get Guilty
  • Justin Townes Earle-The Good Life
  • Bon Iver-Blood Bank
  • Breathe Owl Breathe-Ghost Glacier
  • Noah and the Whale
  • Conor Oberst
  • Frightened Rabbit-The Midnight Organ Fight

Smitty's Barbecue

Smitty's Barbecue