Last night, my dad, sister and I had an incredible experience at Cafe Malta in Austin. Now, I realize that the majority of my reader base may be in Portland, Maine but this cafe was definitely something to include.
It was just my dad, sister and I. A treat I haven't experienced in way too long. Cafe Malta is a small restaurant on the corner of Brodie and William Cannon (for those Austinites) that is full of personality. We sat down at a booth and chose our drinks. I got a margarita-esque cocktail, Erica ordered a fun drink called "I can explain everything" (with rum, limoncello, sweet lemon juice and prosecco) and red wine for my dad. There was a table cover of butcher paper, so we whipped out a pen and jumped right into a giant game of "Dots." How do you play? Let's go out to dinner where there is a paper table"cloth" and I'll teach you!
The menu at Cafe Malta was compact but had a great selection of starters, salads and entrees, red/white wine, beer, numerous unique cocktails and more. We chose the quail, pork and, wait for it, brisket ravioli. The quail was perfectly seasoned and raised in Lockhart, Tx (a little town near where I grew up with the highest diving board at their pool ever!). It was served over pancetta-cilantro risotto, with butternut, cinnamon, fig, olive and almond sauce and completed with stir fried green beans on the side.
Next up was the pork; garlic and herb roasted with a honey-pecan crust and a Cabernet reduction, basil-mashed potatoes and the mmm mmm good green beans. Finally, my sister fell in love with the brisket ravioli on sight (on the menu) so we had to get them! These little babies were made with fresh, in-house-made pasta with Cabernet braised brisket packed inside and tossed in a parsley-pecan pesto sauce, then covered in Parmesan. Hands-down, the best things on the table were my quail (seriously, it was perfectly seasoned), the basil mashed potatoes (something inventive and wonderful that I will have to recreate soon) and the sauce on ravioli (because who doesn't love pesto?). Everything tasted fresh and fantastic though!
Should we have stopped there? Maybe. But dessert called and we answered, twice. As they were only $5 each, we just had to try the chocolate-cognac tart (a small sliver but nice and rich) and a chocolate chili crème brûlée. Oh man was the latter delightful! It left your mouth with a spicy flavor but wasn't overwhelming in the slightest. The Texas apple cobbler with pecan crumble would have been on the table as well but unfortunately, it was not served with ice cream. And what is cobbler without ice cream I ask you?!
So that was our evening out. The other meals, as I already mentioned were homemade or at least home-doctored (soup from the co-op with our sauteed veggies, cooked quinoa and chicken tossed in for fun). I also made a "leftovers" soup which included extra items from multiple former meals. See recipe below...
Christmas Eve dinner was scrumptious and consisted of pork tenderloin slathered with Grey Poupon mustard and cooked in a cast-iron skillet in the oven, mom's scalloped potatoes, Brussels sprouts and broccoli sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper. It was all very good and traditional.
Now, Christmas Day dinner was very different. It was also freaking delicious but it was very non-traditional. We made the best enchiladas! Hey, we are in Texas so it's ok. These enchiladas started with a homemade tortilla, then stuffed with quinoa, kale, chicken, mozzarella cheese, toasted almonds and love. Then we covered them in creamy cheese sauce, more mozzarella cheese and then baked. Oh, and then I topped mine in tomatillo sauce to perfect the plate. Roasted root veggies, chips and fresh guacamole were also on the table. Instead of sitting down at the table like proper people, we sat down to watch The 100-Foot Journey. It was so good!!! If you haven't seen it yet, change that immediately!
Now, as if this wasn't enough, my family and I just HAD to make breakfast tacos one morning. Now get this: fresh tortilla piled high with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, bacon, avocado, black beans, quinoa, kale and salsa. Oh hell yes...Go make it now. And then make it a Sunday tradition.
Texas food+Texas family=Texas love!!!
Look into fridge. What do you have? Throw it into a pot and cook.
Roasted root veggies plus chicken stock in a pan.
Cook for awhile and then immersion blender the poo out of it.
Add leftover rice, cut up chicken, pork or whatever else you want.
Sautee kale (and/or any other vegetables) on the side.
Combine all in a pan and simmer for awhile, and add salt, pepper, curry or whatever else would make you happy!
Eat it. Duh.