What a restaurant should be

For many years now it has been a dream of mine to be a chef/restaurant owner. If that dream were to ever come true, I would follow closely in the footsteps of Hudson’s on the Bend. Not only is the food excellent, but the service is as well.

Elise bought me a gift certificate for a cooking class at chef Jeff Blanks’ house. I decided to attend the class that was to be held tonight from 6 – 9 p.m. The menu is as follows:

Iced Passion Fruit and Berry Soup Topped with Jumbo Lump Blue Crab

Quail Diablo in a Hoisin Ginger Glaze

Grilled Wild King Salmon in an Herbed Sweet Corn Broth

Cinco Leche Cake Topped with a Kahlua Mousse

Not only were we going to be able to watch Jeff prepare this four course meal, the class was also going to eat everything that was prepared.

I have been looking forward to this day for a very long time. This morning I called Hudson’s on the Bend to confirm the class tonight. I left the office for lunch and when I returned, I had a sticky note on my desk that read: “Sara from Hudson’s called. Class has been cancelled. Call her!”

I was pretty upset. I was already upset from earlier because I thought no one was going to return my phone call. I was about ready to boycott HOTB. I called Sara. She apologized and told me she thought she had called me to let me know the class had been cancelled weeks ago. I assured her that I didn’t receive a phone call.

To make me happy, Sara comped dinner for Elise and me at Hudson’s on the Bend tonight. Talk about good PR!

This morning I was thinking I might never eat at HOTB again if my message wasn’t returned. Now, after having been taken care of, I’ll be more than happy to give them my money and recommend the restaurant to any and everybody.

Good job Hudson’s!!!

First fight in 10 years

This past week was very stressful for me. My boss went to Nebraska last week and our numbers aren’t where they need to be. That’s a huge weight on my shoulders. Minus gorey details, work is stressful.

I came home from work on Friday night and relaxed. Saturday was going to be a big day. I took a melatonin on Friday night so I could sleep. On Saturday I fought in my first tournament in 10 years – and only my second tournament since earning my black belt. I took an 8 year hiatus while in college and a few years after graduating.

There were only three of us in the first degree black belt mens division. I won the buy. I got to fight for first. Unfortunately, I had to fight guy that outweighed me by almost 100 lbs. and was 3 inches taller than me. I went in knowing that I just wanted to have fun. But I also went in knowing that I hate losing. Tae Kwon Do is one of those things I take pride in calling my own. When I spar, it’s do or die. And I did. I won first. Talk about a cool way to make a come back! Granted, I only had to fight once but I’ve got the bruises to prove we both beat each other to death.

I’ve always been seen as a ‘head hunter’. In TKD you can kick your opponent from the belt to the top of the head. You can only punch to the front of the mid section. My opponent scored a couple points by punching me. I was having a hard time landing kicks to the head (hence the head hunter reference) so I had to resort to utlizing my arms, which I very rarely do. I did land a good turning kick to his head and a couple punches to the body which gave me a 3 to 1.5 point victory.

It was an awesome experience. I harnessed adrenaline that I hadn’t felt in a very, very long time.

I drove to John and Christine’s after the tournament. John nuked a bowl of ravioli for me and we stayed up late just hanging out. John also gave me 256 MB of RAM for my new iBook.

On Sunday Elise and I picked up some stuff for the cats at Petsmart and scoped out the warehouse sale at Four Hands. We drove over to John and Christine’s where John and I did some prep work on the wall in the living room to hang curtains. Elise and I went to the grocery store and bought a ton of baby back ribs. We went home and I started cooking. John and Christine drove over later and we had ribs, corn on the cob and pinto beans. Jim and Tammy came over to tell me they were going to order sod on Monday morning and asked if I wanted to order any. I ordered a palate that will cover some 400 sq. ft. of bare spots that I have in the back yard and on the sides of the house.

Monday was hell. Work killed me. Luckily I had something to look forward to. On Saturday John and I bought tickets to see Social Distortion at the Austin Music Hall on Monday night. We had an absolute blast. We had been hesitant about buying the tickets but decided that this was a must see show! I’m glad we went, even though we were both not ready for Tuesday morning. I feel sorry for John, he had to wake up a 3-something in the morning to fly to New York. Oh well… it was worth it.

In other news – I’m really enjoying my iBook. It’s taking some time to get used to it. So far I’ve been using it for surfing and checking e-mail. I get frustrated when I want to do something new and have to figure it out (which is usually some mundane task). Plus it’s convenient to sit on the couch with a computer and watch the Food Network at the same time!

Our 3rd Anniversary

Elise and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary on Wednesday. We came home from work late and had a late and excellent dinner at the Y Bar and Grill in Oak Hill. Elise had the Seared Ahi Tuna with a mango mustard sauce and wasabi mashed potatoes. I opted for the Grilled Duck Breast with a cilantro butter sauce and southern corn pudding. Both meals were excellent. Our waiter comped a 3rd anniversary chocolate glazed tiramisu.

We came home after dinner and exchanged gifts. I found a nice little boutique in Marble Falls that sells truffles that are made in Bandera – I picked up a 6-pack of random truffles for El. I also treated her to a spa package from Aziz Salon here in Austin.

Much to my surprise, Elise walked out to the Jeep and brought in a big box for your humble narrator. Long story short, she gave me an iBook G4. Pretty cool wife I have.

Learning hardwood the hard way

If you haven’t already and find yourself with the opportunity to install hardwood flooring in your home, here is some advice I’d like to offer as an experienced hardwood flooring installer. First, drive to the nearest Ferrari dealership. Purchase the car that you like best and the car that the salesperson is pushing you to buy.

Next, drive to the nearest proctologist. Have him/her give you a once-over with a fist full of razor wire and some Tobasco sauce.

What I thought was going to be a quick Saturday afternoon adventure in installing hardwood in the guest bedroom turned out to be an all weekend event – with a $650 price tag to boot. And to add insult to injury, the flooring that I bought doesn’t match the existing hardwood in the rest. It took me a few rows before I realized that the color or style didn’t completely match. The floor is from the same company that manufactured the existing floor – same color too – gunstock. But it’s different. I don’t understand. I’m chalking it up to experience.

Crash course in hardwood

I came home from work today at 6 p.m. Work has been very stressful this month. We’re behind – big time. My boss and I decided to shift labor and promote from within to handle certain tasks which now involves a management structure that umbrellas fulfillment and marketing. That’s a big deal for our newly promoted Production Manager (we’re not big on titles but that’s what I’ll probably use in reference to said newly promoted). There’s a big learning curve involved that I’ll have to manage until she can take over and delegate. Short term that means a lot of work for yours truly but will really help out in the end. That will eventually free up some time for me so I can start working closely with my boss again.

Anyway – big stress.

To add insult to injury, Elise and I got home around the same time and decided it was time to stock the pantry and fridge. We went to the grocery store and got home around 9 p.m. I went out to the garage to throw something in the trash. As I was walking through the garage door, I noticed carpet shreddings. I turned on the hall light and saw that the carpet in the threshold of the guest bedroom was
torn all to hell
. Our housekeeper accidentally closed the guest bedroom door after cleaning this afternoon and locked Annie in all day. Her only escape route: under the door. She obviously couldn’t make it but she sure did a number on the carpet.

This weekend, Josh is learning to rip up carpet and install hardwood flooring. A prime opportunity to practice my profanity.

Metallica, Labor Day, Mini Engler, Museum of Art, Furniture

I’ve been catching a lot of flack for not updating the website, so here’s a quick overview of the past two weeks…
Labor Day weekend started out with a bang. I was afraid that the Metallica concert was going to suck on Friday night but it turned out to be one of the best yet:

No Leaf
King Nothing
Turn the Page
St. Anger
Kirk Guitar Doodle
Fade to Black
Master Of Puppets
I Disappear
Else Matters
Sad But True
Enter Sandman
The Four Horsemen
Seek and Destroy

Needless to say, I could barely speak afterwards (singing screaming along with James Hetfield). It was awesome to be able to take Elise to a good Metallica show. A lot of old music that really pleased the crowd.

After the concert, Elise headed home because she had to work on Saturday. Victor and I burned the midnight oil. We met up with Philip and went out. After closing a bar, Victor and I caught an early breakfast at IHOP. I think I got home somewhere around 4 a.m.

Saturday morning I got up and went for an ear lowering. Tommy came over and we headed to the SoCo Festival to people watch. We met up with Philip and Chris. Chris started feeling ill so we made our separate ways. Tommy and I went to Applebees for some grub. Tommy went home, I hit the hay around 8 p.m. ( I was still exhausted from Friday night).

On Sunday I took Elise to buy a new pair of tennis shoes at Academy. After that we headed over to Philip’s apartment for a
Labor Day barbeque.

On Labor Day, Elise and I went shopping. Before we hit the mall, we had a nice lunch and the Bombay Grill. Elise slammed her fingers in the truck door when we were getting in the truck to leave the restaurant. If you’ve ever slammed your fingers in a car door, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, don’t. We next stopped at Foleys to look for bedding. We wound up buying your humble narrator 6 new work shirts for a steal. Next we went to JC Penney where we didn’t find bedding, but we did find two mighty nice king-sized Sealy Posturepedic pillows that we scooped up.

After leaving the mall we met up with Erin and Cyndi at Zuzu’s to plan John and Christine’s baby shower. I sat there and drank 2.6 gallons of Coke while the girls hashed out the details.

Elise and I went to Bed Bath & Beyond after meeting with the girls where we decided on pillow shams and a comforter for our new bed.

Long, but much needed weekend. We had a lot of fun.

That week: Work. Sucked. Big time. Muy grande. That’s French for “don’t slam your fingers in a Japanese miniature pick-up truck”.

Spiral down to this past weekend…

On Friday I came home from work and played on the Xbox for most of the night. On Saturday I woke up and guarded the TV. I watched Jaws 3-D and a few episodes of season 5 of the Sopranos. Elise was at work for most of the afternoon. We reconvened and John and Christine’s baby shower. Much fun was had. I cooked a ton of hamburgers that Erin’s mom hammered out for me. We played a few games that guys aren’t used to seeing how guys usually don’t find themselves at baby showers. Great turnout and great company.

On Sunday Elise and I headed out in time for lunch at Hickory Street Bar & Grill. That was so-so. I had something that I think was called the banana fire chicken sandwich. It was a grilled chicken breast topped with Buffalo hot sauce on jalapeno bread. Elise had the brunch buffet.

After lunch we headed to the Austin Museum of Art for the Ghost Stories: The Disembodied Spirit exhibit. Very cool. There were some very eery photos, paintings and multi-media displays. We both really enjoyed the exhibit but were both more impressed with the Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba Memorial Project videos.

Memorial Project Vietnam — Two Videos

September 10 — November 28, 2004

Japanese/Vietnamese artist Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba (Jyun Nú-win Ha-tsú-she-buh) creates graceful and otherworldly underwater films. This exhibition features two films which explore current events and cultural traditions of Vietnam and are remarkable for their underwater setting, saturated color, choreographed movements, and hypnotic soundtracks.

Jun Nguyen-Hatsushiba was raised in Japan and educated in Texas, Illinois, and Maryland. The artist now lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. His work
has been included in the Yokohama Triennial and the Kwangiu, Venice, Sydney, and
Sao Paolo Biennials.

This exhibition was funded by The Rockefeller Foundation and LEF Foundation. Happy New Year-Memorial Project Vietnam II was produced by the MATRIX program at UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California, with assistance from The New Museum, New York.

This is my late night post interpretation/recap: The first film consisted of an underwater cyclo race. The second was an underwater interpretation of the Vietnamese new year. I’m so tired right now and would love to write about my initial interpretation and how I was way off after reading the exhibit program, but I’ll find solace in knowing that I had my interpretation and the memory of the experience. Anyway – go to the Austin Museum of Art (if you’re in the vicinity) for these two exhibits. Both are truly awesome.

After being cultured, Elise and I played our role as consumers and swung by Four Hands in south Austin to finally decide on an Indian rosewood dining room table that weights 48 billion pounds. We had our next door neighbors come over on Sunday night to help up put it together.

So that’s it for now. Work is beating the hell out of Elise and I both.

Eric visits from Des Moines

Elise’s brother, Eric came in from Des Moines to spend time with us last week. Elise picked Eric up from the airport Thursday afternoon. I came home from work around 6 and we had a round of black and tans. We treated Eric to a barbeque dinner at Rudy’s. After dinner we headed back to the house for a few games of cutthroat. Shortly after we all went to bed.

Our intentions were to take Eric tubing the Guadalupe River on Friday but had to settle for the Comal because the ‘lupe was too high. We had a blast floating the river. On the way back from New Braunfels, we stopped at HEB for a few things. We went back to the house and Eric cooked burgers and fries for everyone.

Elise had to work all day Saturday so Eric and I decided to install a new tape deck and speakers in my truck. That took the better part of the day. We drove all over Austin searching for the right combination of components. I finally settled on a pair of 4″ 100W Kenwood’s for the front and two 220W Pioneer 6×9’s in the back pushed by a 150W Rockbox amplifier. All pushed by a Sony XRCA350X cassette deck. I wanted a cassette deck so I can listen to the iPod in my truck. So I went from a
truck with one half-blown, barely audible 50W Blaupunkt 4″ speaker to a pretty nice setup that makes the commute to and from work more enjoyable and much, much louder. Eric and I spaced out the installation over the next day and a half with a few trips to the ol’ HoPot and Circuit City. We had to take the dash out of my truck twice because we screwed up the first time. It was a tedious job, but we got it done.

We stayed in on Saturday night. Elise and Eric stayed up until the wee hours of the morning on the back porch chatting it up.

On Sunday we went to the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival at Waterloo Park. We waited in line for an hour and a half to taste the hot sauce submissions. That was horrible. August. Austin. Outside. Hot Sauce. “Gee, I’ve been standing under the blaring August sun for almost two hours… I’m really craving something! Hmmm. A ha! Hot Sauce! That’ll quench my thirst!”

The majority of the red sauces were very good in flavor. Some were not so good (pureed Ancho chilies??) I made it to somewhere around 2/3 of the way down the tasting table. I hit a habanero sauce that knocked me on my ass. The top of my head began pouring with sweat and my eyes teared up like never before. It was rough. I bowed out. Eric and Elise sampled a few more sauces but didn’t make it to the end of the line. It was quite and experience but not worth the wait in the sun.

I picked up a string of peppers and we showed Eric the
on the way out. We hopped in the Jeep and I immediately drove us to the nearest convenience store to buy us all cokes to extinguish palate fires. Since we were in town, we drove Eric around Elise’s and my old stomping grounds. We showed him St. Edward’s and our old apartment.

We drove home to put the finishing touches on the truck’s new stereo. Victor came over and we later headed back into town for dinner at El Arroyo. What better way to start a friendship than a whiff of the pit.

After dinner, Victor headed home because he had to work in the morning. The rest of us took Monday off. When in Rome… take ’em to 6th Street. In my old age, I’ve avoided 6th Street for obvious reasons. 6th Street on a Sunday night isn’t that bad. We started out at some bar for a few games of pool. Along the way to Coyote Ugly, Eric ran into Tubbs. And then Slash! And then his sister. A couple locals. And the poster girl for Austin’s Coyote Ugly.

Next we headed over to Joe’s Generic Bar for a little live music and a sibling spat. On the way back to the Jeep, Eric had another photo op with a local body builder. That ended the night so we headed home.

On Monday we shopped for souvenirs for Kim, Eric’s girlfriend. Luckily our former governor was in the same store and was able to point out a couple of nice gifts for Eric to take back to Des Moines.

We went back to the house and Eric made a cilantro bruschetta and an alfredo prosciutto pizza. Both were excellent!

Tuesday morning came too soon and Elise had to take Eric to the airport. We had a blast while Eric was here and were bummed for the rest of the day as our visit had come to an end and we all had to go back to the daily grind.

Pissed at Dell, Metallica on Sept. 3

It takes a lot to piss me off. What has pissed me off today is Dell. It’s like pulling teeth the get a decent sales person on the phone who works for Dell. I’m assuming the sales staff at Dell aren’t on a commission-based pay structure. I don’t want to think about it anymore but I’m pissed at Dell right now. That is all.

On another note. Elise and I are going to see Metallica at the Frank Irwin Center in Austin on Friday. The last three Metallica concerts that I’ve been to have been let downs. I bought these tickets the day that they came out only because I wanted Elise to experience a Metallica concert. So Metallica, if you’re reading this (which I know they are because they’re big fans of mine): give us a good concert. Lots of energy, lots of old music.