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  • Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
    Crafting Beer with (512) Brewing Company
    by John M. P. Knox

    "Definitely worth adding to your collection – it’s as good a visual record of the brewing process as I’ve ever seen." -Dave of 33Beers.com

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Monday
Feb252013

Views of TEDxAustin

This year's TEDxAustin picked The Circuit of the Americas to host the event. The scale and unique layout of the venue allowed the TEDxAustin team to build an incredible experience. To enter the theater, attendees entered through a labyrinthine "playground" behind the stage, and actually walked over the main stage to take a seat. The theme of "Fearless" really crystalized in my head as I pondered if I was allowed to invite myself on the stage to take this photo.

View From the Stage TEXxAustin Playground The Track

After the event I was able to capture a few photos of local chefs from Uchi, The Carillon, and Swift's Attic preparing the Speaker's Dinner. Thanks Jennie!

The feast must have been delicious because one of the speakers visited the kitchen to charm the chefs and request seconds of his favorite courses. That must be the kind of fearlessness that gets results, because he ate his seconds.

Kitchen Window Plating The Speaker's Dinner Speaker Food

Monday
Feb182013

Scraps

Imagine how you would feel if you got to eat a meal prepared by Tim Dornon of Uchiko, Paul Qui of East Side Kings, and Tatsu Aikawa of Ramen Tatsu-ya. Did you guess that you would feel pretty lucky? That is how I felt when Jennie and I were invited to the Scraps dinner at Ramen Tatsu-ya.

Rope Monster

Much of this meal was prepared from what many Americans consider scraps: snapper heads, chicken skins, and so on. Delicious! We dined on a Kushi Yaki of chicken skin and duck tender from Tim Dornon. Paul Qui prepared a course of Jamon Kimchee, Cabbage & Sprouts, and Yukke. The Snapper Ramen was prepared by Tatsu Aikawa. If the ramen looks different from what you normally see at Tatsu-ya, that is because Tatsu adopted a different regional style for this recipe.

Scrap Salad Snapper Ramen Jamon Kimchee, Cabbage & Sprouts Chefs

Thanks to Ramen Tatsu-ya and all of the chefs involved for hosting us. These folks seem to love collaboration almost as much as delicious food. Our food community thrives because of it.

Monday
Jan212013

The Lovely Details of New Orleans

Every city has a little something that sets it apart from other cities. One city might sidewalks everywhere and funny-looking traffic lights. Another city might have buildings with lots of brick and wood accents. New Orleans has a lot of little somethings that make it different.

I love these tiles which mark the street names on the sidewalks of New Orleans. The idea comes from another era; these days, at best, a city might paint the name on the sidewalk, or impress it in the wet concrete.

St Louis

Tiles? What if they crack, or get stolen? Practicality and fear often wins over charming and beautiful. New Orleans isn't afraid of a little impracticality for the sake of loveliness.

I also relish the design that went into the tiles. Look at that wonderful yellow outline. Look at how the width of the space and the 'I' are smaller so that the word lays out as if it were in a magazine. Lovely.

I wonder how many people have treaded over these markers without appreciating their beauty and uniqueness. You can read a bit about the tiles from the current manufacturer.

My New Camera

Since mid December, I've added a new camera to my aresenal. You can read my review and impressions of the Sony NEX-6 on Engineering Adventure. The above photo, and my photos from Journey to the Beast's Castle were taken using it. Let me know what you think!

Monday
Dec242012

Journey to the Beast's Castle

My brother and I drove to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday to explore the new areas of Fantasyland. After a couple of hours, we were dying of hunger. Unlike Austin, food in the Magic Kingdom suffers under a curse of mediocre food. It makes even hamburgers taste like soggy newspaper.

Even if we weren't excited by the food, starvation still demands eating. We had only one shred of hope: we heard a tale of one dining hall that beat the curse. We crossed our fingers and set out to visit it in Beast's Castle.

The tale also said that the castle had traded one curse for another. One dark night, it's prince was rude to a witch. She turned him into a shaggy beast, and his servants into an ensemble of enchanted kitchen utensils and gadgets. Always use your best manners when witches visit!

We were too hungry to worry ourselves with such nonsense. One curse I can believe, but two stretches credibility.

We started near the border of the Enchanted Forest, where a small town lives in the shadow of the Beast's Castle. I would call this town peaceful and pretty, but it seems to celebrate drinking beer (or is it a kind of soda?) and throwing things as it's only recreational pastimes. The local tavern is thorny with poorly-aimed darts and arrows, the work of the champion drunk, Gaston. He must occasionally hit an unlucky badger or deer during celebrations because mounted animal heads cover the walls. Partying is so celebrated that the fountain in the town square immortalizes the local drinking team. I didn't get a photo of the town because I was too busy photographing the view of Beast's Castle.

Approach to Beast's Castle

The castle rests alone atop a picturesque mountain, but the trip took far less effort than appearances suggest. From the spot where I took the photo above, it was only a few dozen steps to the castle entrance. I can only think of explanation for the short trip: magic. This was our first hint that the tales of two enchantments might be true. Hopefully we would eat lunch, not be lunch for a beast.

This scary creature guarded the bridge across the castle moat. When you see lots of skinny princes and princesses roaming a kingdom it says "bad food". This guy looks well fed. Heck, he even looks like he goes to the gym.

Lamp Monster

The line to enter the castle stretched the entire length of the bridge and more. We talked to a servant who confirmed we were looking at food line. The servant also mentioned that lunch service would probably end in thirty minutes. We were both famished, so we got in line and crossed our fingers that it would move fast.

A Heavy Weight

We witnessed many more activities at the castle that only magic can explain. Empty suits of armor chattered and snored in the hall outside the ballroom, and stone statues like the cheerful fellow above grimaced under the weight of the walls. The food line even moved with magical speed.

We ordered food by simply touching a magical menu, and the serving staff (who were not in fact enchanted kitchen utensils) found us with the aid of a magic rose we carried. Even the climate seemed magical: outside the castle the weather was warm and bright but the view from the ballroom looked permanently dark and snowy.

Chatty Armor

The Magic Rose

My brother and I shared a croque monsieur and a grilled steak sandwich with pommes frites. We also tried a French onion soup. We found the food quite enjoyable. The curse had been lifted and the kingdom saved from flavorless dining. The preparation wasn't perfect, but it easily beat every mean I've ever had in the Magic Kingdom. If only the crostini in the soup was still crunchy when it arrived, the food would have been dumbfounding. My days of eating a Publix sub in the Disney parking lot are over.

Be Our Guest Ballroom

As for the cursed prince turned beast, we found convincing evidence. One of the halls has been wrecked with inhuman strength. Tapestries and paintings appear torn as if by giant claws. Along one wall of that room there is a dark shrine sheltering a glowing, floating rose, see above. This can only be the rose from the stories, said to measure out the term of the Beast's curse.

Despite the curses and enchantments, the experience was enjoyable and we left quite happy. No beasts or witches ate us, and lunch didn't taste like greasy Styrofoam peanuts. Also, the castle looked beautiful and enchanted just like the stories told. If you need to eat in the Magic Kingdom, you'll probably have a good time here.

Sunday
Dec162012

Two Curves

Two Curves

Gnarled branch curves around
Dark bridge arcs over water
River unimpressed