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Archive | February, 2011

Watermark Grill Closes

Watermark Grill Closes

The exterior of the Watermark Grill

Watermark Grill, 18740 Stone Oak Parkway, closed Monday.

That was the word in an e-mail from Michael Bazar, vice president of operations for Watermark Restaurants, which also operates Brasserie Pavil, 1818 N. Loop 1604 W.

“While we have enjoyed both critical success and much-appreciated support from loyal customers such as you, this closure will better enable our management team to focus our full attention and resources on the growing success of Brasserie Pavil,” he writes. “Watermark Grill gift cards are redeemable at Brasserie Pavil.”

The restaurant was once the home of Reggiano’s.

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Fattboy Burgers Are Fat and Phat, Indeed

Fattboy Burgers Are Fat and Phat, Indeed

The burgers at Fattboy Burgers are fat and juicy.

Fattboy Burgers & Dogs sells, you guessed it, burgers and hot dogs. Big, fat burgers and dogs. It’s simple, yet it works. Beautifully.

The meat for the burgers is Angus beef, never frozen, so it has a fresher taste that seems to burst in your mouth. Plus, you can get it topped with any number of wonderful toppings, including grilled mushrooms, grilled jalapeños, grilled onions and relish. A few others, such as avocado, are available for slightly extra.

If you’ve been longing for the fabled burger that drips down your hands when you bite into it, this is it. Some might call it greasy, but the better word is juicy.

If anyone still remembers the slang word, “phat,” it applies.

The all-beef hot dog is served sizzling hot with plenty of onion, relish and mustard as ordered, and is an old-fashioned pleasure.

The fries are full of real potato flavor, but they are cut in different sized pieces, leaving the larger ones a little limper than the crunchy, tinier pieces.

There’s also a chicken sandwich on the menu, and it may be as good as the burger, but why bother?

One drawback: On both visits, I ordered a burger with bacon and made no mention of cheese. Both times the burger arrived coated with cheese. On the first visit, the owner apologized for the mistake. I realize I’m in a minority on cheeseburgers, which means that I’ll have to be more specific on my next visit, which I hope is soon.

Fattboy Burgers & Dogs
2345 Vance Jackson Road
210-377-3288
Open for lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday
www.fattboyburgers.com

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Chili Is a State of Mind

Chili Is a State of Mind

Chili con carne, a bowl of red, Texas style.

What is chili? It all depends on whom you ask. And where.

Most would agree it’s a stew seasoned with chili powder, but the common ground stops there.

Geography plays a key factor in the answer you’ll get. In Texas it’s a meat stew with chili powder. In the Mid-West and elsewhere, beans are added while the heat has been turned down. In Cincinnati, except a milder blend with cinnamon and chocolate added to the pot.

Vegetarians often use beans and tomatoes to fill the stew, while some opt for a blend of chicken, white beans, onion and garlic with green chiles.

“Whatever one’s orientation or preference as it relates to chili, this special dish, in its many forms and in so many ways, has become part and parcel of the culture of North America, some would even say the world,” writes W.C. Jameson in “The Ultimate Chili Cookbook. ” (I would disagree, at least as far as Germany is concerned. Chili remains a mystery there. I once shared a bowl there with numerous friends and family who had never tasted it before. To me, there was no discernible heat in the bowl, yet all of the others who tasted it complained it was too hot.)

The spelling of the dish sometimes gets a little messier than a chili stain on a white linen napkin. But Jameson clarifies the matter: “Chile, with an ‘e’ at the end instead of an ‘i,’ refers to peppers from the capsaicin family. ‘Chile’ is synonymous with chile pepper, whether red or green. Chile peppers, of course, are a principle ingredient in chili.”

Serve your Cincinnati chili however you want it.

So, let’s get cooking.

We present three variations on chili. One from culinarians Ron Bechtol and Cynthia Guido Williams is an old-fashioned favorite that tastes like the bowls of red one used to find from the Chili Queens in San Antonio’s marketplaces.(Click here.)

A second recipe comes from chef Scott Cohen, who’s chili take is from the heart. The award-winning recipe played a savory role in the early days of his romance with his wife, Jamie. (Click here.)

Last is Cincinnati-style chili, which is made and seasoned very differently from any other chili you may have tried. This unorthodox is made with boiled beef and is seasoned with cinnamon. But once you acquire the last for it, you’ll include it in your rotation for the rest of your life. (Click here.)

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Scott Cohen Puts a Lot of Love in His Chili

Scott Cohen Puts a Lot of Love in His Chili

Chili powder offers heat for your bowl of red.

Scott Cohen of the Cordon Bleu in Austin has a fond place in his heart for his chili.

“This dish is a tribute to my wife, Jamie, whom I met while I was working at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas,” he writes in “The Texas Hill County Cookbook” (ThreeForks. $24.95). “On our first date, we had a chili contest in her apartment complex. I offered to make it with fresh pasta, which I did for the restaurant, but Jamie, a native Texan, thought that was sacrilegious. She never saw kidney beans in chili, either, but I won her over, and it became the thing that we do together whenever we can because it reminds us of our first date.”

The story doesn’t end there. “This dish also won first place in a James Beard chili cook-off,” say Cohen, formerly of San Antonio’s Brasserie Pavil, Watermark Grill and La Mansión del Rio. “Make this chili ahead of time, and use a big pot. Serve it with some fresh crunhy bread and a dark beer, such as Shiner Bock.”

Jamie’s Chili

16 ounces dried kidney beans
6 cups water
3 ½ teaspoons chili powder
4 ancho chiles, soaked, seeded, and finely diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
½ tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Salt, to taste
4 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ pounds canned stewed tomatoes, finely diced
5 ounces tomato paste
2 smoked ham hocks

Wash beans in cold water, drain. Cover in mixing bowl with cold water, about 2 inches over beans and soak 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans and add 6 cups water, chili powder, ancho chiles and bring to boil in sauce pot; simmer 2 hours. Add poblano pepper, jalapeños, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cracked black pepper and salt to taste (about 3 teaspoons to start). Cover and simmer 3 hours. Let mixture chill about 6-8 hours or overnight.

In large sauce pot, sauté ground beef until golden brown; add onions and garlic and cook until onions are soft. Remove from stove and drain excess grease. Add beef-onion-garlic mixture to bean mixture in large sauce pot. Add stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and soaked ham hocks. Bring to boil and simmer 2 hours. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and spices and water, if chili is too thick or not spicy enough.

Come and get it!

From “The Texas Hill Country Cookbook” by Scott Cohen and Marian Betancourt

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Cincinnati Chili Ain’t Like No Other

Cincinnati Chili Ain’t Like No Other

Plenty of shredded cheese covers the Cincinnati chili at Skyline.

One of the wonders of the Internet is that you can sometimes reconnect with friends you haven’t heard from in ages. That happened recently when I received an e-mail from Bob Dial, a former journalist and an ex-roommate during those starving artist days that made the setting of “Rent” seem like the Taj Mahal.

We lived in Catskill, N.Y., where the snow can fall when you least expect it. One year, a storm arrived in late September, but the law stated landlords didn’t have to turn on the heat until Oct. 15. So, for more than 10 days, about seven or eight of us gathered around a kerosene heater in the center of the living room, using alcohol and body heat to try to keep warm. I remember adding more layers of clothing before going to bed.

I also remember making pots of rib-sticking Cincinnati-style chili. This is nothing like Texas chili. It has Greek roots and is flavored with cinnamon, coffee and chocolate, and it’s sold on most every street corner in the Ohio city, from chain restaurants with names like Skyline and Gold Star. A serving starts with a layer of pasta covered with chili and topped with shredded cheese. That’s a three-way. A four-way traditionally adds raw onion to the mix, between the chili and the cheese, while a five-way includes kidney beans. Oyster crackers on the side are another common feature.

Skyline makes it own hot sauce to spice up its bowl of red.

Whenever I visit Louisville, I get my own three-way at Skyline. No pasta, but plenty of onions. And of course, a few healthy splashes of hot sauce on top.

Bob reminded me of those days when “we were too stupid to know we had it good” and of the chili. “I still remember your Cincinnati chili – yum,” he wrote “We have tried to recreate it several times with no success. If you still have the recipe, please send it to me.”

Here is my version as I remember it, Bob. I haven’t made it, well, since I moved to Texas.

What I remember is that a few people have told me they never tasted coffee in their Cincinnati chili; but I like the richness of flavor it adds, so I use it. Others have said mine packs a little too much heat; if your a little nervous about that, cut way back on the cayenne.  You can always kick up the heat with some hot sauce when you serve it.

Serve your Cincinnati chili however you want it, with or without beans, onions and spaghetti.

Cincinnati Chili

2 pounds ground beef
1 (16-ounce) can crushed tomato
2 medium yellow onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals (optional)
2 teaspoons cayenne, or less, to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or more, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Dash or 2 Worcestershire sauce
1 generous tablespoon tomato paste (optional)

To serve:
Cooked spaghetti
Diced onion
Kidney beans
Finely shredded cheese
Hot sauce
Oyster crackers

Place beef in a quart of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Skim off the foam.  Add tomatoes including juice from can, onion and garlic. Stir to break up the meat and allow all to be fully incorporated. Stir in chili powder, cocoa, coffee crystals, cayenne, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Leave on low and let cook for 3 hours. Season with Worchestershire sauce. You may need to add water, if the mixture has become too thick. Or add some tomato paste if it is too thin.

Refrigerate over night. Skim the fat off before heating.

To serve: Place a layer of spaghetti on the plate. Top with chili, then onion and kidney beans, if desired. Cover entire plate with shredded cheese. Serve with hot sauce and oyster crackers on the side, if desired.

From John Griffin

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Beer Dinner Tuesday at Brasserie Pavil

Beer Dinner Tuesday at Brasserie Pavil

Brasserie Pavil will host a beer dinner featuring the Beers of the World, with featured guest Travis Poling, author of the book “Beers Across Texas.”

The evening begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday and there will be a five-course meal and a reception with passed appetizers.

Enjoy these drinks:  Sunner Kolsh,  Koln (Cologne) Germany; Filnsburger Dunkel Schleswig-Holstein, Germany;  Southern Star Bomb Shell Blonde, American; Triple Karmeliet, Belgium; Southern Star Pine Belt Pale Ale, Texas;  Southern Star Buried Hatchet.

A beer-friendly Texas  meal will include: Medjool Date with foie gras mousse, duck pastrami and a port reduction; Curry Butternut Squash Soup with a goat cheese and crab dumpling and chipotle oil; Mediterranean full-on Sardine Tempura and a jicama, cilantro salad; Roasted Quail Cordon Blue with Manchego cheese and prosciutto, herbed red quinoa and a brown butter mustard. Also, Almond and Portabello- crusted Veal, Pale Ale-ginger emulsion and a white bean ragout. Dessert is Kaffir Lime Cheese Cake with ginger sauce

Price is $49 per person.   For reservations, call (210) 479-5000 or visit www.brasseriepavil.com.  Brasserie Pavil is at 1818 N. Loop 1604 W.

Irish whiskey tasting at Kirby’s

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the monthly Scotch tasting at Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse takes on a whole new profile. The feature on the first Tuesday of the month, March 1, will be four Irish whiskies from Jameson Distillery.

The Not Scotch Tasting will include Jameson Standard, Jameson 12-Year, Jameson Gold and Jameson 18-Year. The Jameson ambassador will also be on hand to answer questions.

The tasting runs from 6 to 8 p.m. and is priced at $25 a person. Kirby’s is at 123 N. Loop 1604 E. For reservations, call 210-404-2221.

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Haymarket Chili: Deep, Dark, Real Chile Flavor

Haymarket Chili: Deep, Dark, Real Chile Flavor

Use a variety of chiles to make Haymarket Chili.

San Antonio culinarians Ron Bechtol and Cynthia Guido Williams served this dish at a gathering we attended recently. What a treat it was. They took no shortcuts; the chili looked and tasted like what might have been served at the downtown San Antonio Haymarket so many years ago.

Haymarket Chili

2 pounds lean chuck or shoulder roast, cut into small cubes (save trimmings for rendering and/or ask for beef fat [suet] from the meat market)
4 cloves  peeled garlic (or more to taste) toasted
1 teaspoon whole comino, toasted
¼ teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican, if possible), toasted
1 ½ teaspoons  salt, or more, to taste
6 tablespoons ancho chile paste (see below for preparation)
1 ½ tablespoons pasilla chile paste (see below)
2 teaspoons canned chipotle chile in adobo, or more to taste, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste
1  (14 ½ ounce) good-quality, low-sodium beef broth
¾ cup water
½ cup Shiner Bock beer
4 teaspoons Quaker Masa Harina toasted and mixed into ¼ cup hot water

Trim the beef of all gristle, tough skin and loose fat, saving the fat. Cut into small (quarter-inch) cubes or have the butcher do it for you. Cut into ¼ inch cubes—or have the butcher do this for you.  Brown in batches in rendered fat and additional suet (some canola oil also OK.) Put aside, but do not clean pan

For the spice preparation: Toast the garlic, comino and oregano in a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) until the garlic blisters slightly and the seeds have begun to darken—do not let burn.  Blend together with the salt in a blender, adding just enough water to facilitate blending
Set aside.

To prepare chiles: Wipe clean the dried ancho and pasilla chiles (some guajillos may also be used, but be sure to have at least a portion of pasillas) and toast separately in a dry frying pan until chiles begin to puff and blister. Turn frequently to keep from burning. (1 ancho = about 1½ tablespoons paste; one pasilla chile = about ½ tablespoons paste, but amount varies with size.)

Remove chiles from pan, split open and remove seeds and obvious interior veins. Cover chiles (separately) with boiling water and let soften for 15 minutes or more. Purée separately, using just enough of the soaking water to facilitate blending. Set aside.

Note:  Recipe may be done ahead to this point. Keep ingredients refrigerated for a day or two.

To assemble: Using the frying pan in which the meat was browned (add a bit of canolaoil  if necessary), fry the garlic mixture briefly, than add the chile pastes (reserve any extra), the chopped chipotle and the tomato paste and fry a few more minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the beef broth and water, cook briefly to blend, than add the browned beef. Simmer, partially covered, until the beef is tender and the flavors have blended, 30-45 minutes.

Taste and add more chile paste or chopped chipotle if desired (a little paprika may also be added.)

Add beer and cook a few minutes more. Taste for salt, adding more if desired. Toast the masa harina in a dry skillet, stirring frequently, until it begins to darken. Mix with ¼ cup hot water to make a slurry and add to chili.

Simmer until the chili “binds” and the masa flavor is absorbed. If chili is too liquid at this point, simmer, uncovered, until desired consistency is reached. If too thick, add more beef broth or water

Serve with beans (if you must) on the side, along with chopped green or white onion and (optional) grated cheddar.

Serves 4-6.

By Ron Bechtol & Cynthia Guido Williams

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We Missed You!

We Missed You!

Technical difficulties have plagued us for the past month, but we are happy to welcome readers back to SavorSA.

John Griffin and Bonnie Walker will be bringing you more restaurant news and reviews, events, food news, tips and recipes. Look for some new features and promotions in the weeks to come, too.

Please contact us at griffin@savorsa.com and walker@savorsa.com, and let us know what you most would love to see on the website in the weeks and months coming up.

Thanks for reading, and please pass the word about  SavorSA.com on to your friends and fellow foodies.

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