I’ve migrated all of my old cookbook reviews from my old book blog to here. Check them out!
That’s my friend Dummo Scoof there on the left and me, Reggo Toots, on the right. This is us pre-crawfish boil as we taste-tested a new cocktail I was working on for the boil that I’m calling a Texas Shandy. It’s not actually a shandy, which is typically beer and lemonade. Instead I sub out the lemonade for Texas’ favorite citrus, Ruby Red grapefruit. I also sub out the whole non-alcoholic part of it. It’s a doozy. One guest at the crawfish boil said he hadn’t been that drunk in 25 years. Fair warning if you try it at home. I find one of these is the perfect amount for an afternoon on the patio. Dorothy Parker would have to rewrite her (apocrycphal) poem for this drink.
One glass of this will have you blissing out on the patio all afternoon.
- 1 can Lone Star
- 2 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- lime twist
Pour 4/5ths of the Lone Star, the vodka, and the lime juice in a pint glass. Stir.
Drink the leftover Lone Star.
Garnish with the lime twist.
This week was my friend Luke’s annual crawfish boil, and it was amazing as always. I’m as Cajun as you can get, so I jump at any chance I have to eat crawfish here in Austin. Unfortunately, usually the serving sizes are not adequate for my Cajun stomach, nor is the seasoning adequate for my taste buds. Luke’s crawfish always manages to satisfy on both accounts. (The amazing picture above is also by him. Thank you Luke!)
Going to Austin crawfish boils, I’ve learned that I need to be prepared to bring my own crawfish dip. Crawfish dip, as in dip that you dip your crawfish in, is not something that exists here. I’ve seen people use butter, which I guess makes sense, crawfish are similar to lobster. That’s not how we we do it in Acadiana though. In Acadiana, we all make our own special concoction of mayo and other special ingredients, creating something not unlike the “special sauce” you put on a burger. Meeting everyone in the kitchen before the boil to each make your unique bowl of dip is one of my favorite parts of a crawfish boil. In Austin, however, this means me meeting myself in the kitchen, and then making enough to supply the party.
Yes, I bring my own crawfish dip to bars and other locations serving crawfish. I bring my own koozie too. That’s how I roll.
As my inaugural blog recipe, here’s my ‘classic’ version of the crawfish dip. It’s about as basic as you can get. This particular one is my go-to Austin-party dip because of the extra spice. It compensates for the fact that I usually find the crawfish to be under-seasoned. The spice it calls for is in fact ‘Crawfish Boil’, the same mixture that is commonly added to the pot of crawfish itself, usually Louisiana or Zatarain’s brand (pronounced Zat-UH-ranz or Zat-UH-rehnz). If you need help finding this in your area, try looking in a store that features international foods. In Texas, Fiesta actually has a very nice section of ‘Cajun supplies’. When I lived in Oregon, I found the same thing in Asian and Mexican supermarkets.
- 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tsp crawfish boil seasoning
Mix all ingredients together. Taste as you go to add more seasoning if desired. If you find it getting too salty, you can try supplementing Low Sodium Tony Chachere's.
I was planning on writing a review this week of my favorite food truck, Don Japanese. Sadly, last Wednesday I learned that they were permanently closing down by Friday. They didn’t give details as to why but their cryptic Facebook posts suggest that it’s because they are planning on opening a brick and mortar.
At first glance, they certainly seem successful enough to do it. Let’s take a look at the line:
That was three weeks ago. On their last week as a food truck, the line wrapped around the entire truck lot. This is a great example of what we call the Franklin Question: does it have a line because it’s popular, or is it popular because it has a line? The answer to that question could determine the future of their restaurant, when they no longer have this level of hype to sustain them.
The food truck had a lot of advantages. It was cheap–you could get a full meal for $5 and upgrading it with extras like avocado or tempura barely bumped up the price. The location was great for food at that price point. Notice all the booksacks in the line. Probably 95% of the customers are students. Will their physical location be close enough to west campus to take advantage of their existing fan base?
Other elements made it a perfect fit for West Campus. There’s a friendly and hot server, a quirky social media presence, and the opportunity for students to practice Japanese. On any given day, you can find several customers practicing their kanji on phone apps during the long wait, then ordering politely in Japanese once they get up to the window. This surely can’t be sustained in a brick and mortar where the owners can no longer wait on each customer. Alas, I will miss how they always knew what I wanted even if I barely visited once a week. I will also miss having my order tracked by playing cards–hopefully they can keep that in their new incarnation.
I’m only now getting to the most important part of it all–the food. A don bowl is rice with some protein and sauce on top, and who doesn’t like that combination? It appeals to everyone. To me, though, fried tofu, rice, and avocado is my Plationic ideal of a meal. I would eat there every day if it weren’t for the line. If I wanted to switch things up–but why would I?!–I could add an onsen egg, a korokke, or spicy sauce. I could take any friend there and know they would find something they like. Where in West Campus will I get my fried tofu and rice fix now (… well, besides Coco’s!)?
I’m excited to see what the Don guys achieve once “the phoenix rises from the ashes.”