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Brunch with Team Vicious and Delicious

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it explicitly, but we have some pretty outstanding neighbors.  Monthly happy hour, meet-ups at the neighborhood bar, impromptu wine/beer/whiskey on the patio/front porch/street… and now we can add “friendly knock down drag out no holds barred potluck brunch” to the mix.  We were invited over to our neighbor’s house along with another couple to flex our brunching muscles.

Some of the key details included coming up with a team name (Team Vicious and Delicious), voting on: taste, creativity, presentation, and “bonus points”, and adhering to the theme: Cracker Barrel Chic.  Yep.  With about 10 days to prep, there was a lot of menu planning and email trash talk going on.  But ultimately it came down to the food, so here’s a recap of how things went down.

Team Vicious and Delicious

We absolutely made team shirts.  Bonus points!

Note: Due to the obscene number of photos I took documenting our epic brunch, I’ve tried to reduce the length of this page by creating gifs, slideshows, and self control. Read more

Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Classic Spicewood 71

Classic Spicewood 71 is Cuvee Coffee’s bread-and-butter.  It’s one of the few blends they produce, made up of specially selected beans from their other single-origin varieties.  It’s what they use in their world-renowned nitrogenated Black and Blue coldbrew coffee on tap.  And it’s what I’m drinking!

Bruer Cuvee Spicewood 1

In a serendipitous sequence of events beginning with an atypical stop at Caffe Medici, I received a free 4 oz bag of Spicewood 71 in celebration of their 8th anniversary!  I knew then that it was destined for the Bruer, and so here we are.  The official description from Cuvee is “sweet melon fades into toffee and caramel with an orange citrus balancing a malt chocolate body”.  I get some of that, but overall it tasted a little… generic?  Like not good or bad or exciting or fruity or chocolatey.  It tasted fine.  But that makes sense for a blend meant to be the foundation to the rest of the lineup.  It can’t be too bold.  It has to be crowd-pleasing, and that’s exactly what it is.  So the next time you’re out and want some easy-drinking coffee, Spicewood 71 is for you.

Look for this:

cuvee spicewood 71

On Turning 30

Well yesterday I was 29 and today I’m 30.  It’s not a big deal really.  More than anything it provides a good milestone to use for reflection as, many friends have said, it’s time to enter the best decade yet.  If that’s true, it’s going to have a lot to live up to.  In my 20s I…

::big breath::

…graduated from college, moved to DC, got engaged to my best friend, moved to Austin, got married to said best friend, bought a house, had a baby — and those are just the major things.  I also…

::big breath::

…ran 13 marathons, qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon, completed an Ironmanand read all five Game of Thrones books.  So my 30s have some big shoes to fill.  But based on how amazing the last 12 weeks of Wesley’s life have been, I’m pretty sure my 30s won’t have any trouble taking the title of top decade.

Turning 30 is also a great excuse to make an extravagant dinner to celebrate our birthdays!  After a great brunch in the morning, we reasoned that we only turn 30 once and had to go big.

birthday brunch

English muffins, smoked salmon, poached eggs, fresh fruit, n’duja, smoked whitefish, and Cuvee iced coffee

We took a family trip down to Whole Foods in search of mussels and thick-cut pork chops.  We left with USDA Prime filet mignon and a lobster tail.  Yea.  And before heading home we swung by a local bakery for dessert!  With my recent infatuation with sous vide cooking, that’s exactly what we did.

Two hours before dinner I got the steaks locked and loaded with a little salt and butter before dropping them into a 135° bath and let them come up to a beautiful medium rare.

filet buttered and sealed

I then took my attention to preparing the lobster by first removing the shell (thanks youtube) and then sealing with butter, lemon zest, and thyme.  This only needs a quick 25 minutes in the water, so I popped it back in the fridge while the steak cooked away.

So with steak cooking and lobster prepped Ev and I had some time to play with Wes before putting him down for bed.  After his bath and while he was eating, I turned my attention to preparing a side of spinach and getting the lobster into the water.  Now imagine some magical off-screen cooking took place: prepared spinach, seared steaks in cast iron in a pool of thyme-spiked butter, quick-seared the lobster after splitting in half, and plated it all.

And do to with it we decided a meal of this magnitude required a special bottle of wine that my mom got us four years ago in Napa.  It did not disappoint.  So. Good.

chateau montelena 2003 cab

As for dessert we had some fantastic cupcakes from Capital City Bakery.  I bet you haven’t checked them out yet, and that’s a big life mistake.  Make it a priority.  And whoa buddy, that Peanut Butter Crunch cupcake… amazing.

Capital City Bakery Cupcakes

And so I’d say Evelyn and I have entered our 30s in style.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store between now and my “ohmygodImturning40″ blog post.

Sous Vide Short Ribs

Sometimes I get overly appropriately excited and take on a big culinary project, like homemade English muffins or home-ground burgers.  Ev is a great sport and doesn’t even roll her eyes (in front of me).  Recently I came across an amazing website called Chef Steps, which puts together extremely high quality videos and guides for some seriously impressive recipes.   I decided to leverage my recent fascination with sous vide cooking and one of their fantastic videos for sous vide beef short ribs, and an idea was born.

Short Rib on board

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Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Santa Rita

I’m a sucker for “Limited Edition” and “Special Release” items.  I’ve had to make a conscious effort to stop seeking out rare / seasonal / one-time-only beer, for example.  But when Cuvee announced a seasonal peaberry variety, I couldn’t resist.  Peaberry, by the way, refers to a less common (about 5% of all coffee beans) where there is only one seed in the coffee fruit (instead of two), which is smaller and pea-shaped.  Enter: Cuvee Coffee Santa Rita.

Bruer Cuvee Santa Rita

The official tasting profile on the bag says grape-like acidity leads into strawberry sweetness and a dark chocolate finish.  I totally kind of sort of get that.  It certainly has some upfront acidity, but without being as harsh has the Huckleberry coffee from a few posts ago.  The beauty is that it balances itself with some more full-bodied chocolate-y flavor.  It took a few sips to decide if I liked it.  And then I decided that it’s great.  If you come across one of these fair ladies, grab it and thank me later.

Coffee Break: Mozart’s FTO Quack’s

I’ve been using my Bruer coffee maker almost daily and love it!  As I mentioned in my review, I want to showcase and keep track of the different varieties I’m cold-brewing both to share the goodness as well as remember for myself.

The newest bag of beans making the drip trip is from a local shop called Mozart’s Coffee Roasters.  They have a great setup on the lake with lots of delicious treats (including homemade ice cream) to enjoy with your coffee.  I grabbed a bag of their Fair Trade Organic (FTO) Quack’s Blend, which is a special blend made specifically for Quack’s 43rd St Bakery across town in Hyde Park.

Bruer Mozarts Quacks

It’s hard not to compare to the other coffees we’ve brewed so far, so I’ll at least say I don’t like this as much as the Cuvee Fazenda Pantano.  It’s along the same rich, chocolate-y flavor profile (as opposed to the fruity, acidic style of the Huckleberry).  However, it has an over-roasted flavor and reminded me a lot of hot coffee poured over ice.  It’s not totally unpleasant, but it’s noticeable, and a little disappointing.  We’ll certainly work through the rest of this bag, but will try a different blend next time I stop into Mozart’s.

Sous Vide Steak Fajitas

About a year ago I backed a project on Kickstarter for the Sansaire Sous Vide machine.  It was a purchase of passion and took a little convincing to a certain rationally-thinking wife that it was going to be amazing.  It arrived, I tried it out without much fanfare, and put it in the cabinet.  Well I recently got re-excited about it and have had lots of success, so I thought I’d share what came out of our kitchen!

Sous Vide 136

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Postmates to the Rescue

It’s the little things that you don’t think about when your whole routine gets flipped on its head.  With the arrival of Wes we quickly learned how little time we had to plan out meals, go grocery shopping, and spend a relaxing evening cooking dinner.  Thanks to our incredible friends and neighbors bringing over prepared meals, we haven’t starved to death.  But there are times when there’s just no chance we can get out the door to even grab some takeout.  Enter Postmates.

Logo-Postmates

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Caffeine: A Parent’s Best Friend

Whoa.  My first blog post as a dad.  It’s been tough.  As Wes sleeps (or doesn’t), we sleep (or don’t).  These past few weeks have been rough, so to combat the morning … and day … and night … exhaustion, we’ve dialed up the coffee intake quite a bit.  And in the Texas summer, iced coffee is really the only option.

Bruer Vertical

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Waffle Brownies

Some nights after dinner you find yourself with a craving for something more than what the four pints of ice cream in your freezer can offer.  In a moment of sheer brilliance Evelyn simultaneously thought of, searched for, and found a recipe for brownies made in a waffle iron.  So we got to work!

waffle brownie plain

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