Iron Works BBQ Austin TX

I attended BlogHerFood16 last weekend. It was a very informative conference, and I’ll post about all I learned next.  But first, here’s my restaurant review of Iron Works BBQ, Austin TX.

I definitely wanted to taste Texas BBQ when I got to Austin. And just a few blocks from the Hilton hotel stands Iron Works BBQ, offering “Official Texas BBQ.”

Iron Works BBQ Austin TX

The history of Iron Works BBQ can be found here. It’s the story of a German ironworker looking for a better life for his family in America.

Iron Works BBQ Austin TX

When you walk into Iron Works BBQ, you are immediately struck by its charm, not to mention all of the yummy items on their chalkboard menu.

Iron Works BBQ Austin TX

Choosing your beverage includes plunging your arm into an ice bath. It’s worth the chill. They have two coolers with a very nice assortment of beer and soda.

Iron Works BBQ Austin TX

I opted for the BBQ beef brisket plate with a side of cole slaw and creamed corn.

Iron Works BBQ Austin TX

Yianni chose a slab of BBQ pork ribs and potato salad. We were not disappointed! Iron Works BBQ is absolutely delicious. And it’s no wonder Jay Leno, and Leonardo DiCaprio are a couple of its biggest fans. When you visit Austin, put it on your “must-have” BBQ list.

Chef Larissa goes Whole Hog

My dear friend, Chef Larissa Florica Popa recently held a pop up event at The Menagerie Kitchen in the Indian Hill District of Pontiac Michigan. The Chef and this event were featured on Fox Detroit  TV.

Chef Larissa was raised in a Romanian, Hungarian and German household and Eastern European cooking is organic and purely natural to her extremely sophisticated palate. She is a graduate of Schoolcraft College Culinary Arts program. She also studied the art of whole hog butchery and charcuterie in France.

The evening began with a crispy pig ear salad with warm vinaigrette, local greens, and poached quail egg. Next came  a charcuterie board trio of pigface rillette, whipped lardo or “pig butter”, and pate with assorted pickles and mustard. This amazing charcuterie board was my favorite course, and it was absolutely decadent and delicious. Chef Larissa’s amazing house made and house cured meats, butcher boards and ploughman’s plates can also be consumed at The Republic Tavern in Detroit.Chef Larissa goes Whole Hog Charcuterie

Before our main course we cleansed our palates with Linden flower granita. The Chef’s flavorful main course was crispy porchetta, scape pesto, stuffed sausage, and mushroom sauce. Scapes are the soft, lime-green-colored stems and unopened flower buds of garlic.

Chef Larissa goes Whole Hog Stuffed Porchetta

Dessert was an apple hand pie with pork frosting and bacon jam.  I could have gone for a few more of those!

Chef Larissa goes Whole Hog Dessert

Stuffed to the gills and extremely content with this wonderful, whole hog, nose to tail banquet, we had to snap a photo with our amazing Chef at the end of the evening.  Brava my friend! Brava!

Chef Larissa goes Whole Hog

Ocean Prime

Recently we dined at a nearby restaurant that we’ve never been to before called Ocean Prime.
Ocean Prime Lobster Bisque w/ Sweet Corn Fritter

To start, I ordered the Lobster Bisque topped with a sweet corn fritter. If you like lobster bisque you will like theirs.

Ocean Prime Caesar Salad, w/ Crisp Romaine, Parmesan Garlic Dressing, Brioche Croutons

John loves a good Caesar Salad. He ordered one with crisp romaine lettuce, Parmesan garlic dressing and brioche croutons. He asked for extra and they didn’t skimp on the anchovies.

Ocean Prime Alaska Halibut w/ Lobster Gnocchi, Spring Peas, Lemon Jus

For my main course I had Alaska Halibut with lobster gnocchi, spring peas and lemon jus. It was very tasty.

Ocean Prime Sea Scallops w/ Parmesan Risotto, English Peas, Citrus Vinaigrette

John opted for the Sea Scallops with Parmesan risotto, English peas in a citrus Vinaigrette. It was delicious.

The service was good. The room was beautifully appointed. We will definitely dine there again.  Here’s their menu.

Kalofagas Toronto Weekend

Yianni and I recently took a road trip to Toronto. On our itinerary was meeting food bloggers Peter Minaki and Paula Costa at 420 Smokehouse for dinner, as well as seeing Nia Vardalos in Theatre 20’s production of Sondheim’s musical Company.VictoriasMansion2
We stayed at Victoria’s Mansion, an adorable Inn & Guest House.

Gloucester Street, Church Street and the area around it has been home to the Toronto gay community for many decades. This “geighborhood” was fabulous! We also visited Toronto’s Botanical Gardens.

TorontoGardensHere’s a pic of Yianni and I before heading out to meet Peter and Paula for dinner.

YianniKitoulaWe were delighted by the casual atmosphere of 420 Smokehouse, its delicious food and the Cabbagetown neighborhood.  Cabbagetown, now very gentrified, was once one of Toronto’s poorest neighborhoods, inhabited by many Macedonian immigrants. Some say the area got its name then, when cabbage was a staple food of  its struggling working class and many grew it in their gardens.420SmokeHouse (2)We started our dinner with some delectable oysters.

420 SmokeHouse Spinach SaladWe also enjoyed sharing macaroni and cheese with bacon topped with a warm baby spinach salad with walnuts.

420 SmokeHouse Smoked ChickenI ordered the smoked chicken dinner with aligot ( garlic & cheese mashed potatoes) and sauteed kale.

420 SmokeHouse Ribs glazedYianni chose St Louis ribs glazed with ale sauce with 420 Caesar salad.

420 SmokeHouse Ribs rubbed

Peter went for the St Louis ribs with dry rub and a side of aligot.

420 SmokeHouse WingsPaula ordered the Southern Fried Chicken wings & hot sauce with slaw.

Peter & PaulaDanforthIt was so nice to meet fellow food bloggers Peter and Paula that I have known for years online and now know in real life! Internet FTW!DanforthAfterward we went to the Danforth Greektown neighborhood for dessert and coffee and a little window shopping. Here’s a shop that was proud of the Greek soccer team’s performance in the World Cup.StLawrenceMarketThe next day we headed out to visit Toronto’s famous St. Lawrence Market. National Geographic’s “No. 1 food market in the world” was overwhelming to say the least. Next stop… Theatre 20.CompanyWhat a wonderful show! I am so glad we got the chance to see it. The cast was full of extremely talented theatre actors.

NiaTheatre20All in all a great weekend in Toronto. I recommend you dine at 420 Smokehouse when next you’re there and check to see if you can catch a show.