Saturday, March 31, 2012

Queenie's Treasury

Happy weekend, my darlings! It's a chilly, rainy Saturday here in New York - which, though a little sad, is probably just right for the season. That sunny, 70 degree weather we had last week was clearly just a tease.

In far better seasonal news, ramps are here! I haven't made it to the Greenmarket to collect my first haul quite yet, but I already have a ramp-themed dinner party planned for next weekend. I'm thinking Gibsons with quick-pickled ramps, some fresh fettuccine with ramps and bacon, lamb chops and asparagus with ramp butter, and maybe a rhubarb galette for dessert. I'm hoping it'll be epic.

Easter is coming up, and if I decorated Easter eggs, I'd be all over these glitter ones from Martha Stewart. They are as of-the-moment as Easter eggs can hope to be, what with their bright neon sparkle. That might make them a squidge harder to hide for the kiddies, though...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


During my most recent visit to Austin, I made not one but two pilgrimages to Magnolia Cafe for their Love migas, which are cooked in spicy garlic butter. I'll never be done with these, as they are, simply, amazing. To the point that I honestly don't even want to try and recreate at them at home, because what would be the point?

Some things are best left to the professionals.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


One of the delights I've discovered during my trips to Austin over the last 18 months or so is the Michelada, a sort of Bloody Mary, but with beer. It's a savory daytime cocktail, and Wikipedia claims that - not unlike the Bloody Mary - Micheladas are good for hangovers. I happen to agree.

Last year, we paid a visit to SXSJ, the Hotel San José's annual music fest, held in their parking lot. The Micheladas we had there were really, really freaking good. So this year, when we had to skip SXSJ (it was rainy and gloomy and blah), we made sure to pick up supplies for a batch of our own when we went to Central Market for dinner groceries.

I did a bit of research beforehand, and discovered that the Hotel San José's recipe was published in Garden & Gun. Its genius element? A dash of soy alongside the Worcestershire and Tobasco.

We tinkered with it a bit; I added a salt & pepper rim, and added a bit of tomato juice for umami and body. The result? An altogether satisfying cocktail that sticks to your bones, cures what ails you, and goes marvelously with breakfast tacos.

Queenie's Michelada
Adapted from the Hotel San José

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
Lime wedges, for garnish
2 oz. lime juice
2 oz. tomato juice
1/4 oz. soy sauce
A couple of dashes of Worcestershire
A couple of dashes of Tobasco
1 12-ounce beer of your choosing

Mix the salt and pepper on a plate. Slit one of the lime wedges and run it around the rim of a 20-ounce glass to coat it with lime juice. Place the glass, rim-down, in the salt mixture and twirl to coat evenly.

Fill the glass 1/3 full of ice, then add all the ingredients (except for the beer). Stir to mix well, garnish with a lime wedge, and serve with an open beer. Folks can mix their own as they go, you see.

Serves one.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A breakfast. Or two.

My last two mornings in Austin were, as always, bittersweet. There's something about those last couple of days of vacation that shock you into doing really wonderful things (long walks along Town Lake with the dogs, grabbing breakfast tacos with your best friend, lounging by the pool with a cocktail) instead of messing about with shopping or doing anything that requires you to adhere to a schedule.

The last two days of this trip were particularly so, because Louisa introduced me to a seriously amazing thing: breakfast at the Elizabeth Street Café.

Elizabeth Street is a French Vietnamese restaurant and boulangerie, and they serve three meals a day, seven days a week - not to mention coffee and pastries to go at any hour. It's a delightfully airy space, all black and white tile on the floor, calming white on the walls, and pops of teal in the banquette and chairs. Saigon and Paris mix in the space as well as in the food: cane chairs, burnished metalwork edging the communal table and a giant fern bring Vietnam, while white-painted wrought iron and black-and-white striped Louis XVI chairs bring the France.

The coffee - I chose French press both mornings - is fantastic. I was unsurprised to discover it was Stumptown, and couldn't help but enjoy upwards of three cups per visit. So sue me.

And then, of course, there's the food. You can order a pastry (Nick loved his almond croissant) or a French crepe, but I went savory and Vietnamese both mornings, figuring it was the best way to use my limited visits. My first choice: Saigon noodles with peppers, roast pork and fried eggs. The noodles were short, skinny and full of delicious curried flavor. The roast pork was rich and tender, with a wonderful balance of sweet and savory. The eggs were just runny enough to sauce things up, especially when I added a dollop of hoisin and a squirt of fish sauce. And man alive, were they spicy.

That first morning, we gathered up a few pastries to try later, at home. I snagged a butter croissant, a Nutella éclair, and a canelé. I really enjoyed the croissant, which was flaky enough to be authentic, but not so flaky that ended up wearing it. The butter was sweet, the pastry was tender, and the whole thing was just about perfect smeared with some strawberry jam.

The éclair was good, but not great. The filling was straight-up Nutella, so it was an incredibly rich treat, and I loved the hazelnuts on top. But the pastry was a bit gummy - possibly my fault for letting it sit for a few hours before enjoying it.

The canelé, while awfully pretty, was disappointing. It was undercooked, with a not-crunchy-enough exterior and a too-gummy interior. The vanilla flavor was nice, though, and canelés are super tricky to make, so these could definitely improve with time.

All canelé-related sins were forgiven the next morning, though, when we returned for breakfast number two. I ordered the sticky rice with poached eggs and ginger pork sausage. This bowl of perfect goodness arrived, topped with a tarragon and parsley salad. The eggs were perfectly poached, and their yolks mixed with the hot sauce on top of the rice to make a rich, tangy sauce. The pork sausage patties were spicy in both senses - gingery and hot. An ideal bite included a little of everything, and was, truly, perfect.

So, you know: go to there.

Elizabeth Street Café
1501 South First Street
Austin, Texas

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Queenie's Treasury

Happy weekend, my lovelies! It's been a crazy couple of weeks for me, what with work and SXSW and visiting Louisa, but I'm back in the swing and ready to share some goodies with you. Let's get started, shall we?

Baggu, who make my absolute favorite re-usable shopping bags (I own an obscene number at this point, but they are invaluable when the Greenmarket is in high season.), have started making iPad and laptop sleeves. I can't justify buying the adorable blue-and-white sailor stripe laptop cover (since both my work and personal laptops are already well cared-for in this department), but maybe you can?

The Selby's photo essay about Mathias Dahlgren (a chef with an eponymously named restaurant in Stockholm's Grand Hotel) is making me crave a trip to Sweden like nothing else. The architecture, the food, the gray, windswept skies. Give it all to me, with a side of strong black coffee.

Finally, a little something nerdy to finish off this edition of the Treasury. The Museum of the City of New York is currently featuring an exhibition called The Greatest Grid, all about the history fo the grid system in Manhattan. I love seeing how this tiny little island has evolved over the years, and I plan to pay a visit to the museum very, very soon. Time to get my geek on.

Friday, March 23, 2012


A cocktail (a signature Queenie's Gimlet) and a pup - not a bad way to spend an afternoon or two, don't you agree?

I knew you would. Look at that punim!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


My first day in Austin, I took care of business. I got down to the convention center good and early to grab my badge, which came with a super-cute tote bag - a huge improvement over last year's thoroughly creepy number. And then, my friends, then - then, it was time for tacos.

Before my two weeks were out, I would sample many a taco. Some good, some bad, some somewhere in between. But few (save for Taco Deli's Vaquero breakfast taco, which is remarkably delicious) can touch Torchy's Dirty Sanchez. It's a giant, ridiculous thing, filled with scrambled eggs and topped with pickled carrots, a fried poblano pepper, guacamole and a smattering (more than a smattering, really) of cheese. It. Is. Heaven. Something about the pickled vegetables and the contrasting textures just takes it to the next level, something not many of the tacos at Torchy's manage to do.

Their queso, though, is pure, trashy goodness. It's just messed-with-enough to pass for more than Velveeta, and the hot sauce makes it extra awesome. There's guacamole in there, too. Oh, yes.
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