Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Update on Yesterday's Post

I just got an email from Rene' and Danny Britt informing me that yet another Austin resteraunt is jumping on the band wagon. As I said, gotta LOVE this town:

The Cannoli Joe’s “Tex-Italia Wine Celebrations” have been such a success, the owners of Cannoli Joe’s have decided the “Tex-Italia Wine Celebrations” will run throughout 2009. The wine events are held on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6 – 9 p.m., with free wine tastings, jazz music and food.

Cannoli Joe’s has chosen Artz Ribhouse to be the beneficiary for four evenings. (March 4
& 5) and (March 11 & 12). Artz Ribhouse will receive 100% of all profits from each night.

Four wineries will be represented each night, offering free wine tastings (two wines or one wine and one Texas Spirit). Bottles or “by glass” purchases of their wines/spirits will be offered at highly reduced prices for all guests. Wineries, wines and spirits include Robert Mondavi, Clos Du Bois, Llano Estacado, McPherson Cellars, Messina Hof, Fall Creek Vineyards, San Angelo, Esperto, Flat Creek Estate, Capezzana, Centine, San Juan Capistrano and Tito's Vodka, among others.

The wine events are open to the public, and there is no additional charge for the wine event or the wine tastings.

Free performances include: Larisa Montanaro Jazz trio (March 4 & 5); Sarah Temple trio (March 11 & 12)

Guests will also enjoy Cannoli Joe’s’ new menu items, some of which include more heart-healthy and vegetarian options. New menu items include Bruschetta dal Giorno (Bruschetta toast topped with garlic-white bean puree and roasted wild mushrooms); Pork Medallions Fiorentina (grilled pork loin cutlets topped with a wild mushroom, sage cream sauce, served over sautéed spinach); Spicy Pasta “Texinara” (whole grain penne pasta, mushrooms, scallions, zucchini, red bell pepper, and broccoli florets tossed in a spicy roasted jalapeno marinara sauce); grilled salmon; Stuffed Polenta Cake (Italian cornmeal cake filled with basil pesto, sun-dried tomato puree and a blend of Italian cheese) and Grilled Vegetable Lasagna Verde (mixed grilled vegetables between thin layers of pasta and a creamy pesto filling).

These events are in addition to Cannoli Joe’s extensive wine list that features 30-plus wines (with 17 of those from Italy), chosen by Bob Hauser, Cannoli Joe’s chef /owner and graduate of New York’s Culinary Institute of America.

Cannoli Joe’s is located at 4715 Hwy. 290 West in south Austin, near the Berger Center. For more information, contact Bob Hauser at (512) 892-4444 or, or visit the website at

CANNOLI JOE’S: Cannoli Joe’s has seven separately themed dining areas, each with its own eclectic Italian personality, ranging from the Marco Polo Room with its giant mural of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to the Mambo Room with the walls plastered with photos of the Rat Pack—Dean, Sammy and Frank. A fully stocked bar features an extensive wine list with 17 Italian wines, Italian and domestic specialty beers, and signature cocktails like Joe’s famous Texas Bellini Swirl, and the Caesarita margarita.

Cannoli Joe’s is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekday lunch is $9.99. Monday through Thursday dinner is $13.99. Friday dinner is $15.99. Saturday brunch is $13.99 and Saturday dinner is $15.99. (Extra items are added to the list of offerings on nights and then more on weekend nights). Sunday brunch is $13.99 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. and then regular offerings from 3 to 9 p.m. for $15.99. Children three and under are free; those 12 years and under are half price. There is no additional charge for the wine event or the wine tastings.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gotta Love This Town

Having lived in a couple of 'music towns' and spent time in several others, I can say with a little bit of authority that there is no place like Austin and the music community that makes its home here. Despite of all the changes and growth taking place here, the heart of this community within a city still beats strongly. Whenever a musician is in need, it pulls out all the stops and comes together in ways that I have never seen anywhere else. It seems that there is always as benefit for someone happening somewhere and I have attended quite a few of them. The one I went to last Sunday stands out from the others in several ways.

One of my favorite funky South Austin spots is ARTZ Ribhouse. This place is so cool that even some vegitarians I know go there. To a rib joint!!I have been going to ARTZ since before I moved to Austin and it is one of the first places I took Stephen to when he moved in with me. It was also the first place he played here. Paul Barker made a place for him on the Bummer Night schedule. This happened because Kerry Polk was kind enough to give him some time from her set. ARTZ is special for so many reasons. It is South Austin funk at its best. It is home to interlocking circles of music and barbecue fans who show up on different nights to support their favorite musicians, enjoy each other's company and chow down on some of the best babybacks around.

The crowd changes from night to night. Sunday afternoons they host the Central Texas Bluegrass Association. Monday night is owned by Sarah Elizabeth Campbell and the Banned. They play a long set and then there is a break set called the bummer set played by a guest artist. Tuesday is the Old Time Fiddler's Jam where everybody plays. Wednesday is usually Shelly King and Carolyn Wonderland. They bring the south Austin hippie crowd with them. The other nights are booked with semi regular artists such as John Emery, Eddie Collins, Danny Britt, George Enzle and many others. Each night is a little like going to Cheers. If you make it a habit to go on a certain night each week, pretty soon, everybody knows your name. Monday night has always been my favorite. ARTZ closes at 10:00 and you can go on over to Don's Depot after that and hear Chris Gage and the same people will show up there as well.

Due to some tax problems, the sagging economy and huge medical expenses for Z (Art and Z are the owners), Art had to close the place down. It closed on a Sunday and by Monday night, the first benefit was in full swing. The staff went in to work for free. They prepared and served what food was there. Musicians lined up to play. There were way too many people showing up to get into the place or to be able to park so at one point, there was a woman on the parking lot with a donation bucket t so that folks could drive by and contribute. This raised enough money to keep the place open temporarily. Meanwhile, a larger venue was searched for so a bigger benefit could be held.

Here is the really cool thing about this particular benefit. It was hosted by Scholz Beer Garten, another food, beer and music venue. How cool is that? Scholz' could have said no. After all, Scholz and ARTZ are competitors in a way. I every other town in which I have lived, that is how they would have viewed each other and there is no way one would have hosted a benefit for the other. Make non mistake, Scholz did very good business for itself. The money for the benefit came from the door charge and the silent auction and other sales activities. I took my massage chair and started to do massages to raise money but the place was soon so crowded that I had no room to work and had to put it away after making only $40. This was OK with me because that meant that there was going to be a huge take at the door.

I have yet to hear an amount for the day but I am sure that it is sufficient to keep this treasured piece of South Austin afloat for a while longer. ARTZ sits on what I am sure is prime real estate right now and some developer would most likely love to get it and turn it into yet another condo complex or trendy, generic restaurant the likes of which we already have plenty around here. It seems that the places that helped make Austin the city to which everyone wants to move are being rapidly torn down in favor of the kind of places that the people are leaving behind when they move here. At first glance, the ramshackle building that houses ARTZ doesn't really look like much. A closer look and a trip inside reveals its character and a piece of the soul of Austin. I am glad that we will have it around a while longer and am I even more happy that things will be a little easier for Art and Z.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tres Sopas

My great uncle used to say that he was fixin' to put the little pot in the big one and make soup out of the dishrag. I feel like that is what I have been doing today.

One of my closest friends had an emergency(is there any other kind?) appendectomy day before yesterday. I have not gone to the hospital or called because I remember what abdominal surgery feels like and from what I hear, she has had plenty of people stopping by when she would most likely prefer to be left alone to navigate her morphine dreams as they come and go.

She will be coming home late today or sometime tomorrow. She is fortunate that her mother can come and stay with her. Just the same, I doubt that they will feel a lot like cooking and she needs some healing foods that will go down easy and not tax her digestive system. Therefore, I spent the day making soup.

The soup on the right is a mushroom/barley concoction loosely based on a recipe I got from an issue of Eating Well magazine. I loaded it up with portabellas, shitaki, porcini and white button mushrooms along with onion, sage, and celery. I saved the water that I used to rehydrate the shitakis and porcinis in and, after straining it through a coffee filter, used it for stock. It has a half cup of sherry in it to cut the earthy taste of the 'shrooms. The barley is cooked seperately (small jar on the left) and added to the soup when you heat it up.

The middle jar is tomato soup, the easiest to make. I used canned tomatoes, diced and crushed, that I added to the pot after I had sweated the onions and added dried basil, a tiny bit of turmeric, a kiss of cinnamon, four scrapes of nutmeg, and a hint of cumin along with salt and pepper. Then I added a fresh bay leaf and let it simmer for about fifteen minutes. After that, I took out the bay leaf and blended it with the stick blender until it was just a little bit chunky.

The soup on the left is traditional chicken and veggie. Carrots, celery ,onion and garlic were sweated in a little olive oil then chicken stock was added along with salt, pepper, lots of thyme and sage. This simmered until the veggies were tender and the chicken that had be cooked to make the stock was chopped and added back in along with some left over ginger tea with some small pieces of the ginger still in it. Lemon juice will be squeezed into the bowls when the soup is served.

These soups were specifically chosen and put together with ingredients that have specific healing properties. The begonias are going with the soup.

There is plenty of soup left for us. Some of it will surely be frozen for a time when we don't feel like cooking.