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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

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Entries in Food (28)



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.


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.


Glenmorangie Scotch Dinner

Have you ever considered pairing Scotch with food? Until a few weeks ago, I had not. At the time I was eating dinner with some friends at Perry's Steakhouse & Grille in downtown Austin.


This was my first time at Perry's, and I kinda wanted to hate the place -- just a little. Perry's seems fancy. It's part of a chain of restaurants, and on the surface seemed like it might lack soul. Adding to the effect, there was even a Lamborghini parked outside the front door (yes, I'm jealous). It was just a gut reaction, a prejudice, and it was wrong of me. The pork chop changed my mind.

So, there I was at Perry's, poking around with my camera like I do, and one of the very nice staff told me about a Scotch dinner they were doing in a few days with Glenmorangie. My buddy Chris and I immediately signed up for the dinner. Never underestimate the power of pork to reverse first impressions.

Bank Safe Dining Room at Perry's

One dining room at Perry's is located in a former bank safe.

Glenmorangie Lineup

The Scotch dinner was hosted by Gregor Mina, also known as @ScotchGregor on the Twitter. He told us wonderful stories about Scotch and Glenmorangie. You can see the Scotch lineup above.

Seared Duck Breast with Gingered Cranberry-Pear Marmalade

Above you see the Seared Duck Breast with Gingered Cranberry-Pear Marmalade. This was paired with the Glenmorangie Artein.

Brasied Pork Belly and Brussel Sprouts with an Apple Fig Chutney

The Brasied Pork Belly and Brussel Sprouts with an Apple Fig Chutney. This was paired with Glenmorangie 18 Year Old. This Scotch would have voted if I had not consumed it.


The delicious beverage itself.

Fun stories about the distillery:

  • it is located on 500 acres on the coast of Scotland
  • the water source is a secret hidden somewhere on that land, and even VIP tours must wear blindfolds on their way to visit it
  • The stills are the tallest in the Scotch industry at 5 meters
  • Some of the stills were purchaed from Charles Tanqueray and moved from London 
  • The design on the Glenmorangie bottle comes from the signet stone on their property, carved by the Picts.
  • Glenmorangie makes it's own barrels with wood sourced from it's own forest in the U.S.
  • Before using the barrels, Glenmorangie leases them to bourbon producers for four years

For more interesting reading, I suggest the Wikipedia entry on Glenmorangie



The Dessert Project #4

Shrimp and Corn

Philosophers, scientists, and theologians have wondered for centuries: "what would happen if pastry chefs were allowed to prepare every course of a meal?" Of course, none of them ever attempted the experiment. It is far too dangerous!


Technology and culture change over time. Perhaps the violence on TV has numbed our senses. What once was dangerous and shocking now seems tamer and more reasonable. These gradual changes have finally created an environment where the experiment was possible, and so the Dessert Project was launched. 


Chefs Steven Cak of Parkside, Backspace, Olive & June; Philip Speer of Uchi Restaurants; Plinio Sandalio of The Carillon; Jodie Elliot of Foreign & Domestic; Callie Speer of Swift’s Attic; and Janina Amezcua of Trace joined forces to create a six course meal. The plates look like gems, don't they? They tasted wonderful too.

Imagine that: the experiment was perfectly delicious. Thanks to the Dessert Project for hosting me!


Sandwich in Little Saigon

I'm in San Francisco for WWDC, which means I get to eat Banh Mi. I love Banh Mi, especially when the bread is soft with a light crunchy crust. This meal cost less than $4.