Feb 21, 2010

Adventures with Amar

Our friend, Amar, was here this week visiting. He's originally from Bombay, has lived in Texas, Japan, Morocco, and now lives in Annapolis, Maryland. The blizzards in the northeast stopped long enough for him to leave his snowbound car behind and fly to Austin for a little sunshine and some really good food.

After Amar arrived, we met his friends Samantha and Eric for some Eastside exploration. Eric, on a rare day off from his chef gig at Wink, wanted to check out some places he hadn't tried yet — East Side King and Justine's.

Ordering at East Side King. (Photo: Amar Shekdar)

East Side King is a food trailer on the patio behind Liberty Bar (1618 East 6th). We grazed on Thai chicken karaage (spicy Thai friend chicken with basil, cilantro, mint and jalapeno), poor qui’s buns (pork belly with hoisin and kimchee in a steamed bun), beet fries (with Japanese kewpie mayo and togarashi), curry buns (fried buns with peanut butter, curry, basil, cilantro, mint and jalapeno), and peanut butter cookies kissed with curry. I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite among these. I loved them all.

Curry buns, pork buns and fried chicken at East Side King. (Photo: Amar Shekdar)

(photo: Amar Shekdar)

Then we moved on to Justine's, a little French bistro a short drive away (4710 East 5th). We sampled a fantastic housemade charcuterie plate, a couple of salads, steak tartare, escargot, and a plate piled high with their frites. This is some seriously rich food. I must confess that French food is often too rich for my blood, but every single dish we had was luscious. Despite being really full, we couldn't stop eating the fries. Finally, Eric asked the waiter about them and we found out why they're so amazing... they're cooked in duck fat.

Amar at Sushi-a-Go-Go

Later in the week, Amar and I made a pit stop at Sushi-a-Go-Go. Amar was initially reluctant to try sushi from a trailer, but after chatting with the Japanese chef behind the counter, he was game. We had my favorite, the Sunshine Roll (salmon, mango and avocado) and a veggie roll. All the sushi is freshly made to order and tastes it. I occasionally pick up a sushi roll at Central Market or Whole Foods. These are about the same price, but so much fresher.

Chef at Sushi-a-Go-Go (photo: Amar Shekdar)

That snack powered us through some grocery shopping at Central Market and then MGM Indian market (7429 Burnet Rd.) This was my first trip to MGM and Amar was the perfect guide. We walked the aisles and he showed me his favorite brands of spice mixes, pickles, flatbreads and more. We filled a basket to overflowing.

Amar fakes exhaustion carrying our loot to the register at MGM Indian Market.

Amar was then kind enough to give us a cooking lesson of some of his favorite Indian dishes. I'll share these recipes with you in the next post.

Boggy Creek Farm

And just before heading to the airport, we managed to squeeze in an early morning visit to Boggy Creek Farm to meet Eric while he picked out produce for Wink.

Eric adding up his tab at Boggy Creek.

Amar and Eric at Boggy Creek

I picked out some beautiful tender greens, bright green cauliflower, and carrots. Then Eric introduced us to one of the owners of Boggy Creek, Carol Ann Sayle, and gave us a tour of the farm and a little history into it's background. Boggy Creek is a little farm oasis in the urban landscape of East Austin. They are open to the public on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Pick up some fresh picked goodness to brighten your table.

Boggy Creek carrots

Boggy Creek cauliflower

Boggy Creek Farm

It was an action-packed extended weekend full of some of Austin's best flavors. Thanks, Amar!! Next up, an Indian feast and cooking lesson.

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