My excitement with home ownership has quickly morphed this once social little creature into a ghastly, fun-forgoing mutant that never leaves the house. Sure, the temporary halt from my usual Austin activities is partly to blame on a sudden draining of funds (house down payments and repairs don’t come cheap and neither does dining out and date nights), but I’ve also backed out of attending one or two freebies without having much of an excuse other than a strangely irresistible desire to choose nesting over nightlife.
Por ejemplo: I realized that despite last weekend being my birthday weekend, an occasion usually celebrated with fancy dinners and elaborate outings, I didn’t leave the house once between the time I got home from work on Friday night and left to go back on Monday morning. Yes, there was house partying in celebration of said birthday (so I’m not to J.D. Sallinger level yet), and yes, I was slightly preoccupied over the weekend working on an freelance piece, but those aren’t really good excuses for bailing on social interactions and general merriment (I backed out on a Halloween house party, Fun Fun Fun Fest night shows and Sunday Brunch at the Dog Majal just to name a few). No offense to the new house, but after confining myself to to our mini piece of property for some 60 hours this weekend (ICK!) I can’t help but feel a little disgusted with myself.
So in service to the blog (which, let’s face it, has been a little lackluster lately) and in service to my mental health, I vow to step out on the town in one form or another every night this week. Look at me, I’m so brave.
When fireworks are banned across Central Texas, the only logical substitue for outdoor explosions is to watch Independence Day projected onto a sheet in your backyard while enjoying sliders, potato salad and watermelon. That’s what we decided to do, anyway. What’s more American than mini sandwiches, and excessively large TV screens? Nothing, that’s what.
The Menu: Chips and salsa, watermelon and peaches, turkey sliders, BLT dip, curried potato salad and lots of beer.
Friends–also an important July 4 ingredient.
Happy b-day, America.
The Highball is a ’60s themed bowling alley/karaoke/ski ball arena/lounge that is just awesome. We spent most of November 5 causing damage to the bowling lanes, wrecking havoc on the ears of anyone passing by our karaoke room and scoring major tickets on the ski ball machines. Don’t believe me? Have a look.
Every year, to celebrate the anniversary of my birth, Heath surprises me with a dinner to a fancy restaurant. This year’s treat: Uchi. I’ve long heard of the wonders of this magnificent Japanese/sushi restaurant, but never had a chance to experience its greatness until now. It won’t be my last visit.
The restaurant is located on South Lamar, maybe a mile or so from downtown. It’s really a prime location, just minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown festivities, but close to the hippy chic areas that make Austin weird. But the location is probably the least interesting part of this little gem.
The red patterned wallpaper and dim lighting lends Uchi a welcoming ’60s-like quality. As an avid Mad Men fan, I appreciate this nod to eras of the past. The menu spans multiple pages and is painted with unfamiliar words and combinations of ingredients. Lost in the bewilderment of exotic entrees, we asked the waiter for suggestions, which turned out to be one of the better ideas we’ve ever had.
Under the direction of both friends and our waiter, Heath and I opted to go the appetizer route, ordering small portions of many dishes on the menu so that we could sample the widest variety possible of Japanese delicacies (how American of us). We began with a cold dish, maguro sashimi and goat cheese, which we devoured in under 2 minutes, even armed with chopsticks, which severely slowed down our ASE (average speed of eating). Then we moved on to bacon steakie followed by two different plates of sushi. The zero sen is yellowtail with avocado, crispy shallots, yuzo kosho, golden roe and cilantro. Heath’s favorite, the shag, is also a house favorite and is made up of a delightful and equally unexpected combination of salmon and tomatoes and is tempura fried. We ended the night with a dessert independent of any flavors and texture I’ve encountered, a brown sugar sorbet and ginger consomme.
After 2 hours, 2 Japanese beers and an unfortunate chopstick mishap (a neighboring table got out of control with the dinner utensil which concluded with a chopstick down my shirt), Heath and I left with food in our bellies, smiles on our faces and a delightfully tasty sensations still dancing on our tongues.
I suppose it’s time to shed some light on a recent event that caused both Heath and I to experience a hefty amount of shock and awe, The Cheap Beer Taste Test of 2010.
The taste test was the brain child of our friend Eric of Red River Lighthouse fame. As a part of his birthday festivities, he decided to organize a massive blind taste test of some of the cheaper beers we all shamefully indulge in from time to time. The competitors included the following:
- Bud Light
- Corona (no lime, as not to hinder the blind aspect of the test)
- Keystone Light
- Lone Star
- Miller High Life
- Miller Light
- Natural Light
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Shiner Blonde (the most elite of the bunch)
- Steel Reserve
First, a panel of about 15 or so beer aficionados sampled the beverages, giving each a score between 1 and 5 based on body, overall flavor and other beery things. The scores were tallied and averaged out to provide us with a numerical winner (to be announced later). Then the testers stacked the 16 brewskies against each other through a bracket system to determine an additional favorite.
To say the results were shocking would be an understatement. Grown men looked to be on the verge of tears as the identity of each of the beers (originally labeled with names A through P) were revealed. Brands that people swore by were quickly outted as being some of the worst beers in the competition, while others surpassed the reputation that proceeded them.
“So what were the winners?” You ask.
The numerical winner, receiving a score of 3.25 was Schlitz.
And in last place in both the play off and numerical systems was my fav, Corona. Although, without a lime, I can’t say that it was a fair fight (it’s like ordering chocolate milk without the chocolate). But those were our not-so-scientific findings of the Cheap Beer Taste Test: a night well-spent.