Snow

There was a record amount of snow on Christmas Eve in Fort Worth this year and I ended up being here to see it.

Kim and I had to quickly change our holiday plans due to an unexpected visit to the hospital for my grandmother. She’s doing fine now, but we left Tuesday morning to come spend time with here while she’s been here being monitored.

Being up in Fort Worth, however, we were able to witness the snow: three inches of it! The snow piled on in classic white blanket fashion.

I’d escaped getting snowed into the hospital right before the blizzard piled it in over the afternoon. The next day, Christmas, it melted away just as quickly as it’d come in. Some patches of snow survived in the shade, but it was just puddles and the occasional snow patch on the roads back to the hospital on Christmas.

Frank – A Hot Dog Review

Frank

At Frank, it’s hot-dog gimmicks and bacon galore, but they’re good eating at not too high of a cost. We have a weird mixture of “hand crafted”/local food and a love of fast-food here in Austin resulting in gourmet food from trailers, burger battles, and now hot-dogs. The “Artisan” hot-dogs are fun and tasty – I like the antelope and rabbit one, the Jackalope. Also, the regular hot-dogs, optionally wrapped in a flapjack (a corn pancake), are delicious as well.

The prices are reasonable, but add up fast, esp. for the sides – $4 for the healthy side option, a broccoli salad is silly. The hot-dogs are appropriatly priced at around $4 depending on the extras you get.

In addition to the usual, short menu, they have a massive list of “daily specials,” so keep your eyes out for that.

Last time I went, I had the bacon infused bourbon and the poutine waffle fries. I’d gone on opening week and they were out of the bacon bourbon, so the bar-tender whipped some up on the spot. This last time, there was no A-Teaming at the bar, and I ordered it neat to try it out. There’s certainly a bacon taste in there, and, sure, it’s worth trying once in your like for $7.50. But, after a few sips your mouth is coated with bacon fat and you’re trying to guzzle down the rest. I wouldn’t say bacon makes the Maker’s better.

Waffle Fry Poutine

The poutine was delicious. I’ve never had proper poutine, so maybe it was a pale imitation, but it hit the spot for me. Poutine is a Canadian drunk-food that’s fries covered in brown gravy with cheese curds on-top. It’s exactly what it sounds like, so if you like that kind of stuff, get on down to Frank, order a Maker’s sans-bacon (or a Modelo) along with poutine and hot dog, and you’ll be riding high on the hog.

Death by GPS

Check out this excerpt from the pretty good report “TORA BORA REVISITED: HOW WE FAILED TO GET BIN LADEN AND WHY IT MATTERS TODAY”:

Afghan villagers who were providing food and other supplies for the Al Qaeda fighters at Tora Bora also confirmed bin Laden’s presence. Fury said some of the villagers were paid by the CIA for information about precise locations of clusters of fighters that could be targeted for bombing runs. The locals also provided fragmentary information on bin Laden’s movements within the Al Qaeda com- pound, though the outsiders never got near the sheikh. The cooperating villagers were given rudimentary global positioning devices and told to push a button at any spot where they saw significant numbers of fighters or arms caches. When the locals turned in the devices to collect their payments, the GPS coordinates recorded by pushing the buttons were immediately passed along to targeting officers, who programmed the coordinates into bombing runs.

The page design in that report is fantastic.

(Report link from No Fear of the Future.)

Austin Roasters Coffee Tasting

Texas Coffee Traders

This past Sunday, several Austin-based coffee roaster got together for a sample-fest over at Owl Tree Roasting. With a $5 donation to Urban Roots as part of Eat Local Week, I crammed myself into a packed old car garage and managed to try coffee from several different roasters and coffee shops: Little City, Third Coast Coffee Roasters, Caffe Medici, Texas Coffee Traders, and Kohana.

Own Tree Roasting is situated on one of the more interesting, run-down sections of the I-35 frontage road: just down the street from a latina strip-club, a tad north of two adult book-stores, and once a near-neighbor of Collier’s Caskets, the last of which seems to have moved. Their roasting operation looks to be in the garage, and they had that small space packed with tables for the local roasters. In the office part of the old shop, baristas competed in some sort of show down that I missed while tasting coffee in the crammed garage. Also open during the taste-off was Franklin Barbecue, a trailer set-up in the parking lot, where I had a nice BBQ sampling later on.

My over all favorite was Kohana’s Organic Ethiopian Harrar. The Kohana guy who served me the sample said it was grown in soil that caused it to have a slight blue berry taste, and it had a nice crispy but strong flavor to it. The main thing for me is that it tasted pretty unique, not just like any old coffee. Kim liked another one of their coffees, the Kenya AA, which was remarkable as she doesn’t drink black coffee. She didn’t exactly slurp down this cup, but she had enough tiny sips to try to it out and react pleasantly. The Kenya AA was much lighter, but it had that same cleanly brewed taste.

I’d heard that Caffe Medici makes the perfect espresso, and since they had an espresso machine there, I wanted to test this out. I’ve had expresso twice at their West Lynn coffee shop, and it was unique tasting for sure – very strong, and the first time the baristra fussed over it, re-making it once. Instead, after Kim ordered a cappuccino, I ordered the same from the cheery baristra who’s just explained Caffe Medici’s philosophy on cappuccino to Kim. I didn’t really catch it all, but there was much talk of milk volume, micro-foam vs. foam, and, of course, some artfulness. And, the cappuccino was good.

The coffee from Third Coast, Little City, and Texas Coffee Traders was just fine as well, with the last two tasting the most “normal” out of the whole batch. All of the coffee were well brewed, and each the roasters looked to be using french presses, single service drips, and espresso machines.

(See some fancy photos of the event over on Dustin Meyer’s blog.)

The Franklin Barbecue is tasty

I had the brisket, which was good: he gave me some slight fatty slices and a bonus end piece on account of me saying I liked the edge. They have three types of sauces: espresso , sweet, and "pork." The last two were pretty good and the espresso was fun.

Their sides were actually pretty good. The mustard potato salad was much better than most such salads are. The cole slaw was a sort of weak version of Ruby’s poppy-seed cole-slaw, which is much better: nonetheless, the Franklin cole slaw was good.

Also, the bourbon pudding actually had a bourbon-y taste to it, which these things usually don’t. Kim had the tempeh frito pie, which was OK, but nothing to write home about.

They’re open Wednesday through Sunday on Concordia & I-35 in a trailer. See their little site for more.

(Posted over as a Yelp review too.)