Thursday, March 27, 2008

He is Risen

Yet I have not updated. Because I decided to continue my dairy-free experiment indefinitely.


Happy eating!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chowhound debate: best enchiladas in Austin?

The food message board Chowhound features a topic all about who serves up the best enchiladas in Austin - put in a word for your favorite!

(Having tried only a fraction of the possibilities, I'm going to have to say Polvo's cheese enchiladas with poblano sauce, or - shock, horror - Doc's cheese enchiladas with chipotle sauce, which contains brown sugar.)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Guest blog: Captain Shalini reviews Montezuma's, Cairns, Queensland, Australia, 02/06/08

We drove down to Cairns from Port Douglas on Saturday, February 2. The drive is amazing! The Captain Cook Highway lead us all the way down the coastline (with spectacular ocean views not marred by high rises and condos) and into the city of Cairns. Now, this is much bigger than either Port Douglas or Alice Springs, but is comparative in size to say Round Rock (but not as cookie cutter), outside of Austin. The Captain Cook Highway actually turns into the street that spits us out in front of Montezuma's. It's got an open-air feel that lets you remember the ocean is close by, and even though it is about 10 mintues after the official start of the lunch hour, we are going to be the first ones there to eat. We love the atmosphere, as there is a lot of color and "Mexican" decorations (colorful parrots, huge fake flowers) We get a nice table and proceed to devour the menu.

We know that we must partake of the appetizer (queso fundido); it was really good and creamy, the chips were perfect (I can't stand overly salty chips), and, as you can see, my two and a half year old didn't let us have much.

We then proceed to order. Dennis orders the steak fajitas, I order the cheese and onion enchiladas. Again, here in Australia they do have weirdo varieties of enchilada stuffing, but I request just the cheese and onion.

I get two enchiladas; one does look slightly deflated, but the taste is quite delicious. The onion and cheese has melted together. The enchilada is a bit crispy - as is the rice, but it melds well. The flavor is not very cheddary, which is what I am more used to back in the States. The sauce on the beans and the flavor of the rice complement each other well. I had a lemon iced tea (not brewed there), and it cooled off the meal. Yes, this place had many more spices in their sauce than our last Australian foray into Mexican food, and it wasn't as bland. But I guess the next time I need to carry my own hot sauce with me.

45 Sheridan Street
Cairns 4870
07 4050 4600

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Lenten hiatus

Dear friends, Romans, countrymen:

I have decided to today on a whim to give up dairy for Lent (I always give up something for Lent, though I skip the fasting and "believing in Jesus" part), so this blog will suffer a resultant reluctant 40-day pause.

I welcome any guest blogs in my absence. My only criteria are that they are about cheese enchiladas (any topping you like), and at least one close-up photograph of the dish is included. I reserve the right to edit the shit out of your writing.

Please submit them to thefieldmarshal at gmail dot com.

See you on Easter Sunday (when I will celebrate bunny sex and the resurrection of daffodils by eating a huge plate of cheese enchiladas).

Little Mexico, 02/04/08

After much deliberation, and even a quick consultation of the Fearless Critic, Deputy Mike and I decided to try the cheese enchiladas at Little Mexico, on South First. We met there at 6:30, and managed to sit out on the colorful patio - yes, in February (reason no. 3,904,288 to love Austin).

Now, I've been to Little Mexico once before, on Easter Sunday, 2006. T and Jason and I went there for Easter lunch, and I had cheese enchiladas with regular chili con carne sauce, and they were good.

This time, my vegetarian brain noticed that their menu featured three different types of vegetarian, cheese enchiladas: regular (with ranchera sauce), queso fresco (with ranchera sauce), and Monterey Jack and poblano pepper (with ranchera sauce). My stupid, hungry brain mistook "queso fresco" for "queso blanco", so I ordered them, hoping the cheese would approximate the warm white meltiness of La Hacienda queso. Of course, when the enchiladas were delivered, I could see immediately that they were not queso blanco, but nevermind: they looked very tasty nonetheles, with their crumbly white cheese and pool of ranchera.

Meanwhile, Mike had joined me in an act of solidarity and ordered the Jack and poblano enchiladas, which, upon arrival, looked just like a typical Tex-Mex enchilada plate, all melty cheese and gravy-like sauce.

I dug into my dinner, and was immediately disappointed. We got three enchiladas, which was great (although they were small, and I wasn't really full after my meal - which I attribute mainly to the flavor void which I shall describe next). The first bite was only tortilla, and the tortilla wasn't great (though it was soft and had that prominent maize flavor I look for). The sauce proved thin and without courage. The cheese was flavorless - it might've been soy cheese, honestly. Looking at it, seeing its ricotta-like crumbliness, I had expected something fresh, sweet, creamy, maybe even a little tangy to complement the expected piquantness of the sauce - but it was nothing more than a tasteless mucilage swimming in a rust-colored, dilute pool of savorless anemic liquid.

Then there was the cheese. I assume it was actually cheese, though it exhibited few qualities of that fine, fine foodstuff. Each rolled up tortilla, usually so teasingly full of greasy promise, was filled with a mysterious, spongy stick of whiteness that I can only assume was baked queso fresco. It was dry, slightly rubbery, and - yes - devoid of flavor.

The beans, however, were very good - clearly containing some sort of swine byproduct. The rice was slightly better than average, and gave hints of having been fried, which is a method that improves pretty much any dish. Also, the salsa was great - hot, cilantro-infused, with some surprising sweet undertones. (Looking back on it, I probably should've drowned my whole sorry plate in the stuff.) The chips were of Polvo's quality - i.e. thick and crap (but fresh-ish).

Nevertheless, after twenty minutes, my plate was empty.

I would be tempted to give this plate only one star, I was so disappointed, except for the fact that Mike's Monterey Jack and poblano enchiladas were rather good (not great, but solid). They had the requisite melty cheese, a slightly more serious sauce, and the addition of the poblano peppers provided a slight twist on the typical Tex-Mex version. I would be willing to give Little Mexico a try again in a few months, to try a different dinner.

Rating: 2/5

Little Mexico
2304 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 462-2188

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Guest blog: Captain Shalini reviews Tortilla's Cocina Mexicana, Port Douglas, North Queensland, Australia, 01/29/08

It was so funny. While we were sitting there and eating out on the patio, there were three women who came speaking Spanish (the Texan in me recognized it) and the owner of the restaurant was intrigued. He asked them where they were from and they said Argentina, and they kept giggling looking at some of the ingredients in the menu. I looked at their vegetarian enchilada before settling on the shredded beef enchilada plate and saw that it included pumpkin, and potato and other things that don't make any sense in an enchilada, but then again it might have been good.

And the sign says it all. It's not all spicy. It really isn't. That was the drawback, and YES I could have added whatever sauce I pleased after they served it to me, but I am lazy.

The plate came, and it was a great serving, but here in Tropical North Queensland (in Australia, folks) in Port Douglas this will cost you about 24 dollar (AUD) about 22 bucks (USD); a little pricey in my humble opinion. The 2 enchiladas had generous amounts of cheese and onion which you could taste in every serving and the shredded beef was cooked til it melted in your mouth, but I like a little bit of spice in my food, and this was on the boring side. The beans and rice, for me, are usually the mark of a good meal. The refried beans were excellent and just the right amount of cheese and tomato graced it. The rice was a little bit undercooked, but it was a good flavor.

The BEST part of the whole meal were the "dessert nachos" as they called it (it was churros with cinnamon and mango puree dribbled over it) - think "crunchy sopapilla". This dessert was excellent.

Would I go here again if I lived closer by? YES. I have to say, for Australia, this was a good first enchilada for me.

~Captain Shalini

Rating: 3/5

Tortilla's Cocina Mexicana

43 Macrossan St.
Port Douglas
Queensland 4877

Monday, January 14, 2008

Taquería Arandas #3, 01/13/08

After a Sunday afternoon drive back from Houston, followed by a devastating loss by the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs, it was time for some cheese enchiladas. Guaranteed to make it all right again.

After considering several spots along the Burnet/Allandale corridor, some of which were closed by 8:00pm on a Sunday night, we settled on the #3 Taquería Arandas. It's one of those brightly-lit, brightly-tiled places with lots of posters with advertisements for American beers featuring Mexican pop stars. The menu was pretty standard for its genre, and included all the usual tacos, tortas, enchiladas, lengua, and imported Mexican Coca-Cola. It was conveniently printed in both Spanish and English - a great Spanish lesson while your mouth waters.

I ordered my 2005/06 standby, enchiladas verdes, and I was not disappointed.

These enchiladas were great - not excellent, but solidly, predictably great. The sauce/cheese ratio was just about right. As you can see, they were very cheesy, but the sauce swam around the rolls, and the cheese was the white Mexican variety, rather than the Tex-Mex processed-American-cheese-product variety. The cheese inside was a little chewy, but this was more than made up for by the fact that the cheese in question was so good. The salsa verde was excellent - not the flavor-masking, overly hot type that you often run into when eating breakfast tacos on the street. It was warm, not hot, but still had a typical verde flavor to it - and it was pleasantly tangy, as well. Great texture, great color, great taste. So even though these were straight-up cheese enchiladas, without even the crunch of onions, they didn't bore the Field Marshal. She ate all three of them, save one bite.

The sides were, as usual, not really anything special. Although I think the Arandas beans have the edge over most other run-of-the-mill restaurants. They had a little more flavor than the bare minimum, and complemented the rest of the plate nicely. The rice was just right, as well - typical Spanish rice, with added vegetables (corn, the odd pea, etc.).

Despite suffering the substandard tortilla chip affliction, Arandas' chips and salsa were excellent. The salsa was hot, chunky-yet-liquid, and had visible cilantro sprinkled throughout each bite. This is the type of place that pours salsa out of plastic gallons, and probably the type of place that sells the stuff by the gallon. And it would be worth buying.

They also serve gigantic glasses of Dr Pepper - probably 50+ ounces. And the service was good without being intrusive.

Rating: 4/5

Taquería Arandas #3

6534 Burnet Rd
Austin, TX 78757
(512) 452-9886