Monthly Archives: May 2012

OMG Awesomeness!: 2 Game of Thrones-inspired Tees for Sale Today

I know it’s not Tuesday, but I had to give a shout out about these shirts.  If you are a fan of Game of Thrones and you happen to also like pop culture inspired tees like myself, you may want to grab your wallet.  Both Shirt.woot and Teefury have Game of Thrones inspired shirts up for sale today.  Shirt.woot’s Iron or Gold is a bit subtle in its reference, but quite cool nonetheless.

Iron or Gold

Teefury’s Game of Thrones tee, Black Stag Stout, is just as fun especially if you are a fan of the ale and makes a fitting companion to the Direwolf Winter Lager shirt they sold back in September 2011.

Black Stag Stout

Obviously my husband & I are fans of the beer and Game of Thrones tees. Check out the selection of homebrew we had for the Season 2 premiere:

Game of Thrones brews on tap!

If you have the least bit of interest in either of these awesome Game of Thrones shirts, I advise you not to hesitate as they are usually pretty limited with Black Stag Stout being for sale today only.  Iron or Gold will likely be available for a week (if not more) though at a higher price – so buy today or pay the higher gold price later!

T-Shirt Tuesday #7: Forbidden Future

Forbidden Future!

What’s not to like about this week’s featured tee?  Robots?  Check.  Sci-fi mash-up goodness featuring Forbidden Planet AND Futurama?  Check.

I managed to miss this shirt when it was first featured on Shirt.Woot, but ended up getting it when they had a special sale along with a sweet robot hoodie.  Due to a printing error that had Bender/Robby printed in gold, I received a replacement shirt with the robot in appropriate silver metallic ink as seen above.  I got to keep the very rare misprint and it has a comfy place in my closet where it has not been worn.

Aside from the iconic image of Robby the Robot, it was the fact that it featured Futurama (one of my all-time favorite shows) on it.  I cannot convey how happy I was to discover that Comedy Central had decided to resurrect this show that was cancelled well before its time.  There may be some more of these shirts floating around on the Internet so I highly recommend snagging one if you have a love for Futurama, Forbidden Planet or just robots in general.  Now I just need to find a Popplers shirt that I like.  Until next time, always obey the HypnoToad and always wear tees.

Tequila on a Tuesday(!?) at 400 Rabbits

Tuesday night? Tequila? Certainly!

Last Tuesday, I sauntered over to 400 Rabbits, the fairly new tequila bar attached to the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter location, for a tequila tasting.  I had been to 400 Rabbits before since not only is it located in the same building as an Alamo Drafthouse, but it is also very close to my house.  What brought me out on a Tuesday night was the offer a free comparative tasting of tequila hosted by Bill Norris, Alamo Drafthouse Beverage Director and all around awesome bartender, and a chance to become one of the 400 Rabbits.  What’s that, you ask?  Well first I have to explain where this bar got its unusual name.  From their press release:

The name 400 Rabbits, is derived from the Aztec goddess Mayahuel, the divine personification of the agave plant. According to Aztec lore Mayahuel gave birth to the Centzon Totochtin, which in English translates to The 400 Rabbits. These 400 Rabbits were fed by Mayahuel’s four-hundred breasts that produced fermented agave. The 400 Rabbits are said to be the gods of intoxication due to their strict diet of “tequila.”

As part of their grand opening festivities, 400 Rabbits has been running various contests for locals to become one of the 400 Rabbits.  As a Rabbit, you receive a keychain signifying your status, a T-shirt(!), and last but not least, 20% off your bar and food tab for a year.  Not too shabby indeed.  And there are also a number of Rabbit-only events planned for throughout the year.

If Tuesday’s shindig was any indication of what’s to come, consider me impressed.  And for those of you thinking tequila is only good for over-sweetened and soured margaritas or for that inevitable shot that pushes you over the inebriation ledge, think again.  400 Rabbits is full of tasty tequilas many folks have never heard of.  Sure they have the fancy schmancy cocktails which as also quite nice, but I have learned to appreciate the sipping tequila in recent years.

Delicious Alambres at 400 Rabbits

Upon arriving (which I did rather early since only the first 30 attendees were awarded Rabbit status), I noticed 6 glasses set for comparing two tequila maker’s lines.  This could be interesting.  Before the tasting started, the kind folks from 400 Rabbits laid out a fine spread of some of their most popular menu items, including Alambres (skewered NY strip with bacon & poblano), Chicharrones (heavenly pork rinds), and an assortment of salsas with chips, for attendees to sample.

Once we had some food, Norris began the tasting by giving some background on tequila.  Though I thought I was pretty well informed about tequila, having majored in it for a brief time in college (haha), I managed to learn a few things:

  • Despite common belief, the blue agave which is what tequila is made from is NOT a member of the cactus family, but rather the orchid family.
  • There is a lack of bio diversity in the blue agave grown since plants clone themselves.  Therefore, if there is a genetic predisposition for disease or weakness to a certain pest, an entire plantation could be lost.
Comparative Tequila Tasting

Mmm Tequila Tastiness

Finally the actual tasting began with attendees sharing the notes they tasted in the various tequilas.  Not unlike wine, the tequilas tasted had a number of subtle notes such as menthol, pepper, wood and tobacco.  The preferred line according to my palate was from 7 Leguas, a highland tequila producer.  Reasonably priced, I found all three varieties of this line to be smooth, but complex, with a very nice agave character.  Having not tried this brand before, I now have a new favorite sipping tequila.  The night finished with a piece of Quatro Leches cake and two crowd sourced cocktails  made with  Partida Blanco – one included sage, lemon & pineapple; and the other mint, lime, and pineapple.  Not a bad way to spend a Tuesday night.  Not bad at all.

T-shirt Tuesday #6: Caturday!

To say that I have a lot of cat themed T-shirts would be an understatement. I do have quite a few, but this one would have to be one of my favorites.  This week’s sartorial shout out is Caturday.  What’s not to like about a tabby with green laser eyes on a Mayan calendar?   Per the designer’s Etsy page:

The prediction: When the Mayan calendar ends on 12/21/12 it will be Caturday. Cats will take over the world and shoot lasers out of their eyes.

When that day comes, I want to be prepared to let those cats know what side I am on.

I actually came across this shirt at the Austin Flea a few months back and had to have it.  It’s perfect for any day and always gets funny comments from people.  You can get your own Caturday gear (sweatshirts & totes, too!) from the geniuses at Hot Line Design Ink at their Etsy shop.  I think I need to get a new shirt as this one is fitting quite big these days.  Their Austin Bats are Tight shirt is quite awesome (and purple!) as well.

So until next time, watch out for cats with laser eyes and keep wearing tees!

T-Shirt Tuesday #5: Herbsaint

Oh the Sazerac, one of my favorite mixed drinks though I tend to generally be a purist when it comes to spirits (usually neat or on the rocks, thanks).  So for this T-Shirt Tuesday, I chose to feature my recently acquired Herbsaint shirt.  I love the vintage label look of it plus it gives some props to my hometown of New Orleans.

For those not familiar with Herbsaint, it is an absinthe, originally made by a New Orleans apothecary named L. Marion Legendre.  While he secretly made his concoction during Prohibition, it wasn’t until post Prohibition that he was able to release it to the public under the name Absinthe Legendre.  Unfortunately for Mr. Legendre, just months later, the US government cracked down on absinthe due to what was believed to be its “ill effects” on people (haha), so the name was changed to Herbsaint.  It is especially fitting that today’s sartorial shout out is Herbsaint since May 12th marked the 115th birthday of Mr. Legendre.  So raise a glass (and wear a tee) until next time!

Dispatches from Cinematopia: (Not) Dark (Enough) Shadows

This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to see an advanced screening of Dark Shadows.  Having watched a few episodes of the original 60s/70s show, I was interested when it was first mentioned that a film version was in the works.  The show was an interesting, if sometimes melodramatic mix of the supernatural and paranormal – something unprecedented when it aired.  I guess I was hoping that Tim Burton‘s new film would be in that gothic vein.  The trailers that I have seen in the past few weeks were disheartening in that it looked like the film was a broad, almost slapstick comedy with Barnabus Collins (Johnny Depp) as a fish out of water in the early 70s.  The good news is that it wasn’t that bad.  The bad news is that it still wasn’t all that good, paling in comparison to the original show.

The film does follow some of the general plot lines of the original show, namely the main conflict of the film, Barnabus’s spurning of the witch Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) and her subsequent revenge (though even that seems to be played rather broadly).  The set pieces  are quite beautiful with the interiors of Barnabus’ home, Collinwood, being way more elaborate and detailed than the original low budget soap opera version.  Overall, the cast was quite good (particularly Chloe Moretz as disaffected teenager Carolyn Stoddard and Helena Bonham Carter as the pill popping alcoholic Dr. Julia Hoffman); though I felt  that Depp and Green were a bit hammy and over the top in their performances. I don’t know how the late Jonathan Frid would feel about Depp’s Nosferatu-eque caricature of Barnabus Collins.  Frid’s Barnabus was the original vampire crush of many girls and women in the 60s and 70s, not unlike what we see today with a certain pale modern vamp.  If given the choice, I would choose the cool Barnabus as played by Frid over the lame, sparkly Edward any day.

I had two big issues with the film, the first being the plot – or lack of one.  Like so many big budget films these days, I didn’t really feel like it had a strong plot.  It was more of scenes that were strung together for entertainment’s sake, but nothing cohesive comes out of it.  At no point did I ever really feel compelled by the story.  Sigh.  This is more the norm than it should be in cinema today.  At least I didn’t pay to see it.

My other issue was that it seemed like it wanted to be a dark comedy but didn’t quite make it.  At times it reminded me of one of my favorite dark comedies, Death Becomes Her (1992).  Though it wasn’t adored critically, it remains a guilty pleasure of mine with a perfect mix of pitch black comedy, the supernatural, and camp.  Burton and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith seemed like they weren’t comfortable going full throttle dark comedy, relying on the source material alone for the darkness.  Despite the melodramatic nature of the show, the film did not go that route either.  Again, if Burton had hearkened back to some of his earlier work like Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands, where there was definitely a gothic bent, but there was strong characters and a true genuine sense of oddness and glee, Dark Shadows could have been a success.  Latter Burton films just seem artificially weird.  And though I still like Johnny Depp, I feel like so much of his work as of late is him as some sort of oddball character (Jack Sparrow/Mad Hatter/Willy Wonka/Sweeney Todd/Tonto) chewing scenery under tons of make-up.  If you dig that sort of thing, you may like Dark Shadows; however the best thing I can say about it is that the 70s soundtrack is quite groovy and that it has made me want to watch more of the real Dark Shadows on Netflix.

Dispatches from Cinematopia – The Avengers Assemble!

Like so many other people, I saw The Avengers last weekend.  I went in pretty cautiously optimistic , because I have to honestly say I wasn’t too excited.  I know.  I should have been itching to see this film.  Joss Whedon? Of course.  The Avengers? Well yes.  But for some reason I had been left cold by the trailers.  Perhaps it had to do with being utterly disappointed with Thor.  OK to be honest, I saw Thor opening weekend in 3D (ugh) after a couple of Mint Juleps (getting my Kentucky Derby on), so maybe that had something to do with it.  I also was pretty lukewarm on Iron Man 2. If you asked me what it was about, I couldn’t even say.  It was THAT forgettable.  I did like Captain America a fair bit.  But then again, it could have just been Chris Evans’ abs blurring my perception.

The trailers did little to whet my appetite as well.  I just couldn’t get excited about The Avengers.  Despite this, I wanted to see it to make up my mind before the hype machine went into overdrive and my expectations grew.  And guess what?  I liked it.  No, I LOVED it.  Maybe it was due to the fact that I saved my Mint Juleps until AFTER the film this year.  Or maybe it was just that good.  So good, that about 30 minutes in, I thought, “Hmm when can I watch this again?”  This truly was the culmination of all the other Marvel films that came before it.

Some of my favorite moments were those when  Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk),  Robert Downey, Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) were in the same scenes.  Ruffalo and Downey killed it with their jargon-y banter while Evans plays Cap with an earnestness that I adore.  The fact that all three are easy on the eyes is not to be underestimated as well.  I feel like Chris Hemsworth makes a decent enough Thor, but in my opinion, he was given little to do in the film besides look good.  The same could be said for Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.  I’m not a huge fan of hers, but I felt she was OK in the film.  I’m guessing that Whedon had to dial down his desire to make her the ass-kicking hero of the film.  As a fan of Jeremy Renner, I had hoped for a bit more Hawkeye, but overall I enjoyed his performance.  By the time he had his hero moments, I felt he had been Legolas-ed (hang around until there is something awesome to do with a bow and arrow).  I don’t want to leave out Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and the always entertaining Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) as they were all pretty damned awesome.

The strength of this film (and what I often find lacking in other blockbuster type films) is that it had a snappy, well-written script.  Thank Odin for that!  I know I should have trusted that Joss Whedon would deliver, but as I get older my tendency is to not get my hopes up, else I’ll be disappointed.  Of course my expectations are rather high for Prometheus.  Maybe too high, but if The Avengers is a harbinger of what’s to come, I have a good feeling about this summer.

Cool As a Cucumber In a Bowl of Hot Sauce – RIP Adam Yauch

Like so many people my age, I have a love for the Beastie Boys.  Their music has played like a soundtrack throughout my life.  So I shouldn’t be surprised that Adam (MCA) Yauch’s death has made me feel pretty melancholy.  In the days since his death I have seen numerous tributes, all of which reinforce how much of an effect Yauch had on our world.  Sure we have lost other musicians, but this was not an accident or an overdose.  Cancer.  That equalizer of a disease that has taken far too many far too soon.

So in the sadness, I found this video and it made me smile.  Hope it does the same for you.

T-Shirt Tuesday #4: Black Star Co-op

For this week’s T-shirt Tuesday, I felt the need to share one of my many Austin-related beer shirts.  While I have a serious love for all of my local breweries, Black Star Co-op gets this week’s sartorial shout-out.

You see, back long ago, I was in 4-H.  No, I did not grow up on a farm or raise animals (aside from the occasional cat).  I did, however, compete in various 4-H speaking contests at the state and local level.  One such category I competed in was Co-op Public Speaking.  Despite the title, this was not a contest where two people gave a speech together though that would have been  interesting.  This was a contest where you gave a speech extolling the virtues of Cooperatives in general.  So needless to say, I learned a whole lot about cooperatives.  Aside from some food co-ops which usual specialize in whole and locally grown foods, the most common co-op that most folks will encounter is the credit union.

Fast forward to 2008, when I heard about Black Star Co-op, the world’s first cooperative pub and brewery right here in Austin.  At that time, Black Star didn’t have a physical brewery, but the idea alone intrigued me.  Cooperative Brew Pub?  Sign me on!  So I am a member-owner of this fine establishment.  Aside from just the general coolness that is a Co-op Brew Pub, Black Star is committed to paying workers a living wage – meaning no tipping allowed, serving locally sourced, sustainable food, and brewing delicious beers. So, good for your conscious and your taste buds.  Win-win, I say!

If you’re in Austin, give Black Star Co-op a try on principle alone, though the beers are pretty top notch too! Until next week, raise your glass and sport your favorite tee!

Dispatches From Brewtopia: Off-Centered Film Fest 2012 Part 2 – Great Food, Leone, and More Beer (Oh My!)

Though it has been almost two weeks since I attended this event, I couldn’t go without a blog post on it even if it is a bit belated.  I have mentioned that I like good drinks, good food and good films, often at the same time.  The Once Upon A Time In the West Dogfish Head Beer Feast is a prime example of some of my favorite things all wrapped in a delectably decadent night.  An epic Sergio Leone western with a six course, Italian themed feast?  Yes!  With eight beer pairings? Yes, Yes, a thousand times Yes!  The film-crazed, foodie, beer aficionado in me was like a giddy child on Christmas Eve in the days preceding the event.  I studied the menu imagining the deliciousness to come.

Finally, the night of the event was upon us.  Seated in the theater, we waited as a western-themed pre-show played on the screen.  Soon, the first beer appeared, Ta Henket, a brew from Dogfish Head’s Ancient Ales series.  Light and refreshing, Ta Henket was a perfect introduction for the evening.

The first course, Roasted striped bass in fennel broth with leek & tomato, along with the second beer of the night, 2010 Burton Baton, arrived just as the opening credits of the movie unspooled.  This pairing was interesting, though I felt like the Burton overwhelmed the delicate fish in a light broth.  On its own though, the beer was sweet and boozy (10% ABV) with a nice woodiness that came from being barrel aged.  Taken separately, these were both very good, but I felt as a pairing, it missed the mark.

As with the first course, by just looking at the second course, you would think it was an odd pair: Raison D’Etre with a grilled oyster topped with goat cheese, crushed red pepper, and moscato.  Raison D’Etre is a robust, sweet, Belgian-style brown ale which I thought would overpower the oyster.  Of course, I did not consider the element of goat cheese.  The oyster itself had a nice briny flavor, but the addition of the goat cheese elevated the dish to go head to head with the paired brew.  Overall, a successful pairing.

Next, the rather rare 2010 Olde School Barley Wine appeared in front of me. Fermented with dates and figs, this heady 15% ABV brew lingered on my palate. The pour was only a couple of ounces, so I wanted to savor every sip.  And it was a good thing I did as I found it paired extremely well with the third course, cured duck breast, cherry white balsamic vinaigrette, grilled rhubarb confit, Gorgonzola on a pine nut crisp.  Yes, a whole lot going on there, but oh how it paired with the complex, fruity barley wine.  The cured duck breast was smokey and salty which played against the sweetness of the brew.  The tart, creaminess of the Gorgonzola tied all of it together.  A second beer was paired with this course, Indian Brown Ale.  This is one of the most common Dogfish Head beers, and since I am not much of a fan of brown ales and it paled in comparison with the Olde School, it served as a palate cleanser.

The fourth course was my favorite overall: 2011 Immort Ale with lamb meatballs and semolina-artichoke gnocchi in truffle cream.  Ooh la la!  Even a week and a half later, my mouth waters just reading the description.  The Immort Ale, like so many beers served at the feast is an unusual, strong, slightly sweet brew.  Paired with the gamey-ness of the lamb meatballs and the creaminess of the truffle sauce, it was near perfect.

Bitches Brew, the very unusual brew inspired by the Miles Davis masterpiece was paired with Spaghetti Carbonara for the fifth course.  Bitches Brew is a combination of an Imperial Stout with an African style honey beer.  The result is something very unique.  While many of the earlier courses were small plates with a couple of bites each, this was a full on bowl of very tasty pasta.  However beautiful this dish was, I was nearing maximum density in terms of food (there’s always room for beer!)  The pairing was OK, but I felt the beer was truly the star this course.

The final course included one of my all time favorites from Dogfish Head, 2011 120 Minute IPA, paired with a ricotta-rosemary cake with almond meringue and candied strawberries.  Again, I felt despite the very tasty sounding description, this dish played second fiddle to the hoppy nectar that is the 120 Minute IPA.

But what about the film?  I am ashamed to admit I hadn’t seen Leone’s 1968 masterpiece before this screening, but the opening sequence won me over  immediately.  It was the kind of film, that despite being nearly three hours long, felt just right in length.  Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, and Jason Robards were particularly incredible.  As I mentioned to my husband afterwards, the sixties really were the golden age of beautiful Italian women in film.  Claudia Cardinale is simply gorgeous as Jill McBain.  And to think, she was 30 when this was released!  If you haven’t seen it and you have any interest in Westerns, see it now.  DVD and BluRay versions are available and relatively cheap.

NOTE – For those of you expecting pictures of courses and beers, I’m sorry to disappoint.  No food porn here.  The Alamo Drafthouse has a strict no talking, no cellphones out during screenings policy.  This is something I really appreciate and it is a prime reason for choosing the Alamo Drafthouse to see movies. Of course, some folks in the audience couldn’t control their urge to take a snapshot and repeatedly took photos during the service.  This wouldn’t have tweaked me so much if there hadn’t been a completely badass movie playing and the repeated flash behind me was quite distracting.  I complained at the time and was given a couple of rainchecks (that did not cover the full ticket cost) but I will think twice about attending a movie themed feast if some idiot has to take a picture of his food and drink throughout the night.  I get it.  Lots of people blog/facebook, etc but if everyone who has a camera on their phone took a picture of their food, the flashing would never end. 

/steps off of my soapbox.