Harry Craddock

April 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

After walking up and down 6th Street for a few minutes, looking down at my map and back up at the bars, I wasn’t sure if I’d find the elusive red light above the unmarked door of Austin’s new speakeasy, Midnight Cowboy. When I made the reservation, I was told to look for the red light and press the button marked, “Harry Craddock,” to gain entry.

Owned by Alamo Drafthouse, Midnight Cowboy exists to bring you an experience. They power washed and gutted the original Midnight Cowboy Oriental Modeling brothel, taking it from a run-down whore house to a classy, exclusive establishment.

The menu is overwhelming, but picking something adventurous and possibly random is part of the fun. I’ve learned that I like whiskey, rum and tequila, but at this stage in my life I’ll pretty much try anything and find something that I like about it. When we asked the bartender if he had any favorites, his response was something like, “I’m not one to pick a favorite because I like different drinks at different times and I think you choose drinks based on your mood.” I thought that was the perfect way to look at it and it encouraged us to make our own decision based on how we were feeling at that moment. He made our drinks table side, with his impressive little cart, and was fantastic about explaining the different components of each drink. He even took time to give us a recommendation for Fino, sharing that on Tuesdays, cocktails are $2 off, allowing you to try different types of liquor and develop your taste.

He’s also real handsome. In that, “I have a mustache and I’m a man”, kind of way.

Our drinks:

  • Carmine Swizzle – navy strength rum, campari, velvet fulermon, fresh grapefruit, crushed ice (I may have only ordered this one for the “navy strength rum” and the grapefruit juice. It was pink and tasty).
  • Lindsey’s Lament – single-barrel bourbon, becherovka, maple, salt tincture, orange zest (This one tasted like Christmas. Probably the maple).
  • Smoke + Mirrors – 12yr scotch, duque de carmona, Benedictine, sarsaparilla bitters, flamed orange (I can’t remember what this one tasted like, but it was fascinating to watch the bartender make it. And it involved fire – p.s. grown-up boys and little boys have the exact same reaction around fire).
  • Clavos de Tejas – rhum agricole, drambuie, mescal, xocolatl, mole bitters, orange twist (When I ordered this, the bartender, hostess and another bartender came over and told me that it was served room temperature and “really aggressive.” Possibly because my first drink was pink and I looked like a sissy? It was top notch. Each sip felt like a wave of different flavors, without any after taste. Oh and rum was spelled like rhum, so I figured it’d be extra good).
  • Old Pal – rye whiskey, campari, dry vermouth, cloves, flamed orange zest (I think this was my friend’s least favorite, but it was still good. And again, the preparation involved fire).
There’s a strict, “no phones rule,” which I loved, leaving me with only a few discreetly taken photos of the drinks. There’s also a ” no guns rule” and you aren’t allowed to make unwelcome advances to other tables. Hands to yourselves, folks.

A few people on Yelp said that it was the perfect setting for a first date, but they must be pulling men from a different pool than I am. Most first dates are the absolute worst. I wouldn’t want to ruin such a magical place with a boy who thinks the Simpsons is hilarious or who can only hold a conversation about football. Midnight Cowboy is captivating and your company should be, too.

The atmosphere lends to something along the lines of celebrating a promotion or possibly a friend’s engagement. I snuck back to look at the private rooms and they seemed like they’d give you that “I’m just sitting cross-legged in my living room with my best friends” feeling. You can make reservations for up to a party of eight, but it’d also be perfect for an intimate evening with your sweetheart.

If we were in a movie and if it were fifty years ago, I probably would have been smoking a cigarette while enjoying my cocktails. In fact, I kind of wish I had been simultaneously smoking, if only for the romantic aspect of it. Minus the coughing and gagging.

Midnight Cowboy left me under its spell and I want to bring all of my favorite people back to fall in love with it too. We need a little more fancy in our lives and I think this tucked away gem is a keeper. Take a look at their photos on Facebook or enjoy the initial surprise of stepping into the perfect place.

Go on, make your reservation: http://midnightcowboymodeling.com.

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Scrappy and Single

April 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, I read a blogger’s top 10 list of her favorite food bloggers where she highlighted what made them so great and talked about how they got their start. Her list was spot-on and I completely agreed with the bloggers she mentioned, but something she wrote about one of the women hit a chord and inspired me to evaluate my thoughts on falling in love and eventually marrying someone. (Was I reading too much into it and over analyzing just a few words? You betcha.) I couldn’t find the post, but she said something along these lines: “So-and-so learned to cook around the same time that most of us did – when she walked down the aisle. She picked up her pots and pans and started cooking up a storm when she had a husband to feed and later honed her skills when she had a bustling family of three.”

This mindset makes me absolutely crazy and infuriates the heck out me. I think marriage is a wonderful, beautiful thing, but the idea of putting on an apron and heading to the kitchen as soon as you have a ring on your finger is archaic. One of my favorite parts about being in a relationship is cooking with that person. There’s excitement around trying new recipes, eating things that the other person grew up with and bonding over burned meals and silly cooking mistakes. You get to go to the grocery store together and have conversations like, “You don’t eat turkey?! I don’t even know who you are anymore!” and engage in full-on debates about whether fajitas should be made with beef or chicken. Serious, relationship-altering stuff.

As a single girl, I’m guilty of putting cooking on the back-burner. I know how to cook and still dust off the ol’ oven occasionally, but it’s easy to eat cereal straight from the box or snack on a granola bar in the car when I’m running off to kickboxing or a dance class. However, to remind myself that I can indeed cook for one person, I set off on a Sunday cooking spree. This is not and never will be a food blog (I’ll leave that to the likes of Orangette and Joy the Baker), but these simple and pretty dang fast recipes will keep me fed for the next week and give me something to look forward to when I open up my lunchbox tomorrow.

For some reason all of my images are showing up as slightly cut-off, but just pretend like they’re centered.

Everything I needed for the four things I planned on cooking.

Banana Nut Muffins from a mix. I added in a few raisins that were left over from a camping trip. Who actually eats plain raisins in real-life?

While the muffins were in the oven, I hard-boiled a few eggs for the week. They’re not the tastiest little things in the world, but aren’t they supposed to be healthy? Maybe? I’m no health nut.

This doesn’t look all that delicious, but it’s one of my favorite things to make and lasts me all week. Brown ground turkey, cook frozen peas and corn and boil rice. Once everything is cooked individually, mix it all together and stick it in the fridge. Toss it with soy sauce when you’re ready to eat it.

At some point while I was browning the ground turkey, I started a small kitchen fire. Did I say I was a pro at this? No, no I did not. After a quick phone call to my mother and a few seconds of panic, all was well and the only thing that didn’t make it was the photo that fell onto the burner. Apparently, it’s not a good idea to keep a picture above my stove. Moving this Rooster elsewhere:

And because kitchen fires call for glasses of wine:

After calming down a bit and cleaning off the burner, I moved on to pasta salad.

I think hard spinach is kind of gross, so I always toss it in a bit of olive oil to soften it up.

You can pretty much make pasta salad however you’d like, but I boiled some pasta, cooked up some chicken, threw in peas, tomatoes and spinach and tossed it with Italian salad dressing, followed by a few handfuls of parmesan cheese. Really big handfuls of parmesan cheese.

These recipes aren’t my best or my most complex, but they last a while and make excellent leftovers. I’m looking forward to someday cooking dinner with my husband and enjoying our final product together. As for now, I like to think that he’s off somewhere cooking up Sunday supper of his own.

P.S. Kitchen dancing is pretty much essential to making this whole cooking thing fun. If you get a hankerin’ for some kitchen dancing, let me know and I’ll share the playlist with you on Spotify.

Kitchen Dancing Playlist:

  • Give A Little Love – Rilo Kiley
  • Breakin’ Up – Rilo Kiley
  • Call Your Girlfriend – Robyn
  • Country Girl – Luke Bryan
  • Countdown – Beyonce
  • Wild’n Cuz I’m Young – Kid Cudi
  • Sunrise – Childish Gambino
  • Call It Off – Tegan and Sara
  • Make Me Proud – Drake
  • Hot-n-Fun – N.E.R.D.
  • You Da One – Rihanna
  • Bad Day – Chiddy Bang
  • Paris – Kate Nash
  • That’s Not My Name – The Ting Tings
  • I’m Good, I’m Gone – Lykke Li
  • Feel So Close – Calvin Harris
  • Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Nothing But Our Love – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
  • Dance Away – Smith Westerns
  • Hong Kong Garden – Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • I Might – Wilco
  • When Will You Go – The Dodos
  • Why Don’t We Just Dance – Josh Turner
  • Goodbye Earl – Dixie Chicks

The night David Sedaris made me stop drinking coffee

April 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

A few nights ago, I was lying awake at 3 a.m. for the umpteenth night in a row, re-reading my favorite David Sedaris book, “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim,” and I came across the few pages where David details his mother’s addiction to coffee and her reliance on late-night infomercials to entertain herself when she wasn’t sleeping. She passed this erratic behavior onto her children who would stay up with her for hours and were never forced to go to bed like the rest of the suburban drones on their block. As I was reading, nothing was making much sense and my rational side had fallen asleep allowing my irrational side to take over.

My thought process went something like this until I eventually tired myself to sleep:

“IF I DON’T STOP DRINKING SO MUCH COFFEE I’M NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO SLEEP AT NIGHT.”

“THEN I’M GOING TO HAVE TO START WATCHING INFOMERCIALS.”

“OMG. MY KIDS ARE GOING TO BE LIKE DAVID SEDARIS.”

“OR WORSE. AMY SEDARIS.”

Any David Sedaris fans out there? Anyone? I am fairly certain no one else other than my father and maybe two of my friends will fully understand this fear. But alas, as nifty and funny as David and Amy are, I don’t want Sedaris-like children and must reign in my addiction to the black magic.

Before I give up the gold, I thought I’d share my very favorite coffee shops in Austin. I make my own coffee at home these days, but still frequent these hot spots (get it?! Coffee is hot!) all the time. Speaking of at-home coffee, I recommend picking up a bag of Cuvee coffee from Whole Foods or Café Medici. This stuff is so smooth you’ll never go back to Folger’s. Ever. Even if you’re broke and should really not spend $10 on a small bag of coffee, you’ll give up lunch AND new shoes for it.

It might just be because I grew up watching Gilmore Girls where Lorelei was obsessed with Luke’s coffee and I associate romance with diner coffee, but I really can’t get enough of unlimited coffee in a chipped mug from one of my favorite brunch spots. Bouldin Creek Coffee House, The Omelettry and Magnolia Café all offer a plain and simple, comfortable cup o’ Joe. I’m bound to burn my tongue on the first sip and drink at least eight cups while I’m enjoying my pancakes, but that stuff is good.

Working long hours at a desk job is really what created the coffee monster inside of me and there are a few places within a five-minute walk of my office that I visit in emergency situations. While Texenza is closest, it’s really not where you should be getting your coffee. They make an okay Americano, but their plain coffee cannot be trusted. I’ve heard they make good fancy drinks, but that’s not my style. If you’re in the area, take the extra five minutes and walk to the adorable little coffee truck, Patika. The nicest boys ever work there and they make the best coffee in the whole world. They use Cuvee coffee, but they also are just perfectionists and excellent baristas. And the coffee is strong. Thank goodness. If Patika is busy or closed, walk across the street to Café Medici. They also use Cuvee and have fancy, pretty machines. That doesn’t necessarily make for good coffee, but sometimes it’s nice to feel like you are a classy professional woman who drinks coffee from high-end establishments.

Because breakfast tacos are probably second on my list of essential things to my happiness, I frequent Taco Shack and Torchy’s at least once a week. They make a mean taco, but their coffee isn’t too shabby either. And you kill two birds with one stone. Or two vices with one debit card. However you want to look at it.

For now, I’m attempting to limit myself to one cup a day in hopes that my future children will have a fighting chance. Enjoy your coffee and drink responsibly.

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