Thursday, June 19, 2008


614 E. Oltorf St.
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 444-0012

Mariah: Hello fellow foodies. Sorry its been so long since our last post. I feel like we've let you down, like when we don't post, you wallow in bad food at bad chain restaurants, that we're you're only lifeline to a decent tasting meal. But I know its not true, you're all smart people with good taste. and you'll survive if we don't post. So, I take a chill pill and don't worry about posting. It so happens the last few weeks have been a little crazy. Laura's been dealing with personal issues of her own. And in addition to a midterm, and a crazy work schedule, my grandmother's been in the hospital requiring me to make a trip through the Bible Belt Buckle to Nebraska.

Laura: Way to make me sound like a whack job, Mariah. I've just been busy and well getting a little burned out. A much needed break on all non essential things in life was in order. Which meant a break on blogging about good food, but definately not a break in eating good food.

Mariah: Let me vent about that trip for a few minutes (but purely from a food perspective). You would not believe the crap people in the Midwest shovel into their mouths. Everything is deep fried, covered in butter, smothered in gravy, or burned to a crisp. This horrible treatment of poor defenseless food is mostly required to mask the bad quality of the ingredients. For being America's breadbasket, the Midwest sure has a crappy selection of quality food stuffs.

Laura: Yeah I have some relatives in Missouri and I can attest to the blandness of the food. How do the people there cope? I don't know, but I am entertained by watching them recoil in pain at the mere sight of mild salsa.

Mariah: The drive to Nebraska started well, with a quick trip to the Czech Stop for creamed cheese kolaches, but, it quickly deteriorated. There was a failed stop at a Luby's somewhere in North Texas where the fish almondine, normally a safe bet at Luby's, tasted and smelled like canned cat food. I even had a trippy experience in the bathroom where I was accosted by fanny pack bedecked Senior Citizens on a bus trip to God knows where.

Laura: I can't believe you drove to Nebraska. Oh yeah, and I get that a road side gas station that serves baked semi-ethnic goods (Well, you know Texas meets a distant European relative) is all novel and stuff, but as far as the actual kolaches go- I just don't get it. I'm sorry, but in my experience they are not that great. On the other hand, the Jerky Capitol of the World on 45 (halfway between Houston and Dallas) is awesome.

Mariah: Anyway, there was the vomit inducing excursion to an Applebee's in Witchita. I ordered half a BLT and an Asian chicken salad only to discover the BLT had no T's, was soaked in grease and the salad had visibly brown (rotting) lettuce. My mom, the usual Applebee's advocate, had the harrowing experience of having to send her undercooked chicken breast back, not once, but twice, and it still back pink in the middle (though charred to a crisp on the edges). Looking around that middle America Applebee's, I discovered exactly where the obesity epidemic is centered, the Midwest. The restaurant was overflowing with quadruple chins and people so large I doubt if they could move on their own. Between the smoke filled non-smoking section, the grease sodden sandwich, and the gelatinous Midwesterners happily slurping down their ill-tasting swill, I had a moment of sheer claustrophobia and had to retreat to the dirty bathroom.

Mariah: However, my dining experiences went from bad to worse. In Freemont, Nebraska, where my grandmother lives, my mom and I, sick from the crappy food we'd been subjected to, decided to treat ourselves to the best steak house in town. I mean, come on, its close to Omaha, the cattle capital of the Midwest, surely they'd have decent steak. Boy was I mistaken. My Jim Beam steak came out looking suspiciously similar to a smokers lung, the veggies on the veggie kabob were covered in a sickly sweet garlic butter sauce and were burned to an absolutely crisp, and my twice baked potato was covered in a hard crust of what I think was supposed to be cheese. To be honest, the best meal I had all weekend was at Starbucks.

Laura: Meanwhile, I had been hanging out next to the pool being fed amazing grilled Father's Day food by my good friend Jen of Austin Event Co and enjoying lazy brunches at Galaxy Cafe and planning get together dinners at Curra's. Yeah, life this past weekend was pretty good for me. Like I said, I needed the break.

Mariah: After my horrible experiences, you can hardly blame me for being thoroughly disgusted with the Midwest in general. As soon as I stepped off the plane in Austin, I called Laura and said "I need good food." So when she told me that she and her friends were going to Curra's, Bachelor #4 and I made a beeline from the airport straight to Oltorf.

Mariah: We surprisingly found a parking space right in front; usually parking is at a premium. My food luck was starting to improve. When we walked into the funky Austin interior, I felt immediate relief and knew I was home. The first bite I had of queso with veggie chorizo tasted like the best food I'd ever had in my entire life. The hibiscus margarita was heavenly. As I happily munched on chips and queso, my scarred taste buds started to recover and the food started tasting more normal. I realized the previously heavenly queso was of good quality, but was rather bland. The hibiscus margarita was slightly too sweet and light on alcohol.

Laura: Lach ordered the Santa Fe margarita, which was discouraging to him because it was pink and a tad bit emasculating, but he's secure enough in his manhood and the drink turned out delicious. Much better than the hibiscus margarita. The queso was typical Tex Mex, and of decent quality. Very reminiscent of the Trudy's variety. We got an appetizer of the Escabeche - pickled carrots, cauliflower, onions & jalapenos. It looked very appealing, but when I went in for a bite I was surprised. On top of being very vinegar-y, it was cold. I know this was on purpose, and not some sort of weird mistake from the kitchen, but it was still unappetizing. I coldn't bring myself to eat more than just the cauliflower bits. The rest of the concoction sat on the table untouched.

Mariah: By the time my meal arrived, migas smothered in queso, I felt like I had regained my food composure. Which was why i was so surprised that the taste, but more importantly the texture of their migas absolutely blew me away. The eggs were perfectly cooked, neither too wet nor too dry. They were perfectly laced with a spicey and flavorful pepper and onion (and whatever else Curra's uses to make the migas taste so yummy). The fried tortilla strips, usually soggy in most migas, were the perfect texture with a slightly yielding crispness. The previously bland queso made a perfect creamy complement to the spicy egg mixture. I believe Curra's is now the new par of migas perfection in Austin.

Mariah: Bachelor #4 ordered the dinner dish I normally get at Curra's, the Cochinita Pibil, a smokey anise flavored shredded pork dish wrapped in a banana leaf served with sweetened plantains. The Cochinita is served miga style, you wrap the various ingredients into a tortilla to eat. The quality and taste are amazing though. The shredded pork is cooked in thin somewhat sweet sauce that binds the pork shreds into an beautiful dark brown mass of goodness. The large green banana leaf (probably not the one it was cooked in) the pork is served on ads a nice color contrast that adds to the ultimate appeal of the dish. I haven't tried some of the more pedestrian Mexican dishes at Curra's, but if it sounds good on the menu, it will more than likely taste good too.

Laura: I originally wanted the veggie tacos as they came with nopalitos, avocado, mushrooms and veggie chorizo, but when Lach started pointing at the award winning veggie enchiladas containing grilled zuchinni, mushrooms, onion, squash & spinach and suggested to split it, I was easily pursuaded. I pick my battles in life and this was a battle where I figured I would be the winner either way. The dish arrived and we dug in. The zuchinni chunks were a little overcooked, but the rest of the enchiladas worked well (but I wouldn't say award winningly) together. Unfortunately, I was a little bit cheesed-out at this point by the queso dip so I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. Next time I'll fight for the tacos.

Bottom Line: Funky Austin atmosphere, quality Interior Mexican, great migas

Mariah - 9
Laura - 8