Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 04-21-15

Save the best for last.

If you read my stories you know I don't go anywhere without going out to eat at least once. I usually have reservations before I leave Memphis and I absolutely know where I'm going. There's a little place in Austin called "Wink". It has all the right things that I want a restaurant to have. 1. The chef/owner is in the kitchen cooking. I want the guy who owns it and loves it to be cooking and watching what goes out. He's the one that really cares.  2. All the food is grown locally and is in season. This guy actually goes to the farmers market every day to buy vegetables for the restaurant. No calling the produce supplier and telling him to bring over a crate of turnips from Costa Rica. He does another thing that a bunch of great restaurants do. He has a relationship with several local farmers who grow stuff just for him. So not only is it local and in season, it's also the best they have. 3. Austin is not on the coast so all of his seafood is flown in every day from the closest coast he's got, the coast of Texas on the Gulf, 150 miles away. If he's serving it tonight it was in the ocean yesterday. 4. And last, they do small plates, so you can order most things as an appetizer. You get to taste everything but it's a lot cheaper…. Wink is really small, maybe 15 tables.  It has one sign by the front door that says "Wink" but the restaurant is behind another building, so if you don't know where it is, it's hard to find. When we went I started off with some Cauliflower Soup that was pretty good, then it started getting better, a lot better. "Dayboat scallops with heart of palm salad and yellow tomato-sherry vinaigrette"… so fresh, so sweet, slightly browned.. perfect…. They also had Sweetbreads. If I ever see Sweetbreads on a menu, I get it. It's the Thymus Gland of a cow. If it's done right, It tastes like beef except it has a creamy taste and it's very tender. From the menu "Seared veal sweetbreads with herb gnocchi, spring mix greens, and wink bacon".  This one had a salty wilted green under it and a piece of smoked bacon on top. I can't even tell you how good this was. 3 bites, I thought I was going to cry. This dish would be a show-stopper at any restaurant in the world. The waiter wasn't sure if I would like it!!!! If I was a waiter there, every table I waited on would at least try the Sweetbreads. If they didn't like it, then God Bless them and give them directions to McDonalds …. Then for dessert "el rey chocolate cake - warm flourless chocolate cake made with 'el rey' chocolate and zinfandel infused cherries" …. I lost consciousness somewhere after the 2nd bite …. I love restaurants where the food gets better after each course. They save the best for last. Of course that's what you remember…

God's like that: He didn't put us here to save the world. He put us here to influence the people we see every day, the person that sits next to you in the office, the guy at the drug store... everything is local. Things change every day right where you are, you don't have to wait for a big experience, everything is seasonal..  And he saves the best for last, we just don't know it yet.


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

This is so easy and so GREAT!!!!! 

Angel Hair Pasta with Red Pepper Pesto and Basil

This is from Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson a Food&Wine best new chef in 2005. His restaurant is Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder CO. Probably the best restaurant in Colorado.

3 medium red bell peppers
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 small garlic clove, smashed
1/4 cup basil leaves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped basil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
1/2 cup shaved pecorino cheese

Roast the red peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning occasionally, until charred all over. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, core and chop the peppers.

In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat until golden, about 4 minutes. Let cool.

Transfer the peppers and pine nuts to a blender. Add the garlic and whole basil leaves and blend until coarsely chopped. Add the olive oil and puree to a chunky pesto. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and cool slightly under running water. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and toss with the pesto. Season the pasta with salt and pepper. Top with the chopped basil and pecorino and serve at room temperature.

You can make the whole thing in the time it takes to cook the pasta .. This and a glass of wine and you'll think you're in Tuscany sitting on the back porch looking out over the vineyards ..


Posted by Mack Oates at 9:44 AM