Haddington's. Haddington's describes themselves as an "American tavern with rustic cuisine, caringly prepared cocktails and thoughtfully selected wines and beers." This is the perfect description for this tavern, as they provide all the oldest foods in all the newest ways.
This restaurant is the latest creation from restaurateur Michael Polombo who also owns Mulberry, another Austin downtown hot spot. He created this restaurant to pay homage to his grandfather who captained a ship named The Haddington. Using this inspiration and time he spent traveling in Europe he set out to create a traditional old world American tavern that served traditional food in very new and creative ways. The menu that was served to us was a wonderful sampling of some of my favorite old world foods with things like pâté, homemade sausages, and even fois gras. Executive chef Zach Northcutt spent several weeks in Britain creating a perfecting this menu and the polish and effort showed in every delicious morsel that we could get our hands on.
And now for the food – Our night started out with Duck liver mousse with golden raisins. Personally, I love everything about ducks inside and out and all the more so when they are served on crostini. The mousse was smooth but still had a pleasant texture and was complemented perfectly by the sweetness of the raisin sauce. All the Junkies agreed at this point that we were in for one of the best nights of our culinary lives. The next bite that we found was the rabbit rillette with whiskey cherries. Traditionally speaking a rillette is meat cooked in seasoned fat and made into a paste and then served cold. This rillette was not served cold and was amazingly delicious. It had a pleasantly light flavor of rabbit and herbs which was rounded out by the tartness of the cherries and the slight bite from the whiskey. By this point we were commenting on how we could not get enough of the food and were drawing straws as to who would tackle the next waitress and steal all the crostini for ourselves.
Luckily for the staff, Paula came by and offered to order us her favorite appetizer, the Toast Pots. Now I would just like to say, if there were ever world peace talks on which the fate of mankind hung, I hope that they serve this beforehand. This quartet represents charcuterie at its best. From left to right we have a pork rillette, a black truffle egg custard with raw yolk, a duck liver mousse, and a white bean and garlic paste. All of these "pots" are amazingly delicious in very different ways.
The one that surprised me most was the white bean and garlic because most times when you have garlic as a main flavor in a dip like this it usually has a spicy super garlicky flavor. But this was completely the opposite. Instead of being spicy and just slapping you across the face with garlicky goodness, the garlic actually had a sweet and mellow note to it that perfectly rounded out the flavors provided by the white bean.
Now if I had to choose a favorite, and it would be a hard task indeed, I would have to say that I loved the duck liver mousse. The dark gelatin on top was wonderfully sweet and enticed the flavor of the mousse to come out to new heights while still standing out as a flavor of its own. This created a mingling of two flavors, the more mellow and deep flavors from the mousse and the bright sweetness of the gelatin that danced wonderfully on the tongue.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Black Truffle egg custard. When the appetizer first arrived and we saw that there was a raw egg yolk and the platter all of us got just a little giddy. Maybe it was just the wonderful drinks, maybe it was all the incredible food, but seeing this made our eyes sparkle just a little brighter. I was closest to the platter so I reached for the spreading knives first. Much like a surgeon making his first incision the gently, even tentatively, pierced the bright yellow yolk allowing its golden contents to flow out covering the custard. When spreading this wonderful mixture on the toast my immediate instinct was to shove as much of it as I could into my expectant mouth but sadly this was not the case as I decided to follow customary manners and serve the others in my group. When David took the first bite and experienced what I would taste momentarily I understood the look on his face.
Let me preface this part by saying that I do not enjoy the taste of truffles. Now I know, you are all saying, "Alex, aren't truffles magic wrapped in a mushroom? Aren't these the things that chefs buy in the back cellars of their kitchens for $1,000.00/lb from men wearing dark trench coats with brief cases handcuffed to their arms?" and I would reply "The one and the same." You see, I love all sorts of earthy flavors. I love stinky French cheese, the kind that smells like socks and seems to melt all by itself as if it's constantly in a state of decay, but when it comes to truffles I have never been a fan. But this, this black truffle and egg yolk paradise is a whole new ball game. The earthiness was controlled and used to create a wonderful warm flavor in the mouth that is rich and decadent. We all couldn't help but smile and let out a sigh of delight and euphoria upon eating this.
After the food, there is one more ingredient that made this night perfectly outstanding. The man pictured here to the right, Bill Norris. First off, don't call him a mixologist, Bill is a bartender. A really good bartender. Bill's drinks are as creative as the food we dined on and every bit as polished and perfect. But coming from him this is no surprise. For two years running Bill has been named in the Austin Chronicle's readers poll for the best mixologist (don't tell him I called him a mixologist) and has earned the title of Texas regional champion in the 2008 Cocktail World Cup. He was also a member of the second-place team in the 2008 Cocktail World Cup Final in New Zealand and a finalist in the United States Bartender's Guild National Cocktail Competition. Not knowing any of this at the time, I asked Bill which of his cocktails he recommended off of the menu because all of them sounded amazingly fantastic and completely different from what I have ever seen on a normal cocktail menu. Bills response was, "It's like trying to pick my favorite child." After perusing the menu a little more, I decided to start my evening off with a "Duck Fat Sazerac".
If the name doesn't intrigue you and make you want to try it, the ingredients definitely will. This drink is made from Peychaud's bitters, absinthe rinse, and the surprise ingredient duck fat infused rye. That's right ladies and gentlemen it has duck fat. This drink is amazing because for having rye and absinthe in the drink it does not have a strong kick to it or an overwhelming black licorice quality. It's perfectly balanced and being served cold just makes it that much more smooth.
Not wanting to stop my explorations of the libations I decided to go for something a bit lighter and order the Moscow Mule. This refreshingly effervescent drink is comprised of Vodka and their own house made ginger beer (by the way Bill also makes his own Tonic, awesome gin and tonics). The vodka adds a good amount of kick but what really shines is the ginger. This brightly flavored drink is refreshing and perfect for drinking on warm afternoons on their patio.
The last drink that I chose was the Smoking Jacket. Although it wasn't the first drink that I chose, it was definitely the first to catch my eye. Although it kind of looks like a cappuccino it's actually a mixture of anejo rum, amaretto, scotch, nutmeg, and one whole egg. As unknowing as it was, I had saved the best for last. The amaretto and nutmeg blend together to give this drink a warm kind of Christmassy feel while the egg gives the drink a smooth texture with a nice light foamy head. The Smoking Jacket was the perfect way to end our evening at Haddingtons. I
know that I have made Haddingtons out to be the perfect restaurant, with nothing but glowing reviews and heavy handed compliments, but it deserves it. I have been to Haddingtons a few times now and each time is better than the last. The food and drink are amazing; everything is well polished and fresh. This restaurant is a jewel in Austin's culinary crown and is something that should be experienced often. If you haven't eaten their yet, do yourself a favor and stop by for happy hour and give it a try.
Lunch: Mon-Fri 11am-3pm
Brunch: Sat & Sun 11am-3pm
Happy Hour: Mon-Fri 5pm-7pm
1 cup water
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 large onion, minced fine
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 tablespoon sugar
2 pounds ground beef
salt and pepper, to taste
Combine the water, ketchup, chili powder, mustard, onion, horseradish, and sugar in a large pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Crumble the ground beef into the sauce. Bring again to a boil. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the beef.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon the mixture onto buns and top with mustard, pickles, and cheese (or other toppings). Serve immediately.
You cream the butter and sugar, add a bunch of eggs one at a time, sift together the flour and spices, then fold those into the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Simple, not too messy, and you can re-use the medium flour-and-spices bowl to make fresh whipped cream.
TBH it makes perfect sense that George Washington hired Fraunces as his steward/cook in the first presidential residence. This cake is that good.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
A few of my favorite things.
I made a few changes to the recipe. skipped the cream cheese and added truffle salt and a few dashes of white truffle oil to the mixture before baking. To keep it low-carb and healthy, I probably doubled the amount of kale and limited the quinoa to a few generous tablespoons. So I'm renaming this a Kale, Quinoa and Truffle Quiche. It's so DELICIOUS. The nice thing about these egg dishes is they're low-carb, easy to cut and divide into reasonable portions and store in tupperware for every meal. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
Carrot Tea Cake Recipe
Now this carrot cake isn&rsquot quite what you are used to, but its an amazing forebearer of what we typically make today. I love that instead of grating the carrots you cook and then mash the carrots (less labor intensive, I think!). Its a simple, rustic cake, but beyond delicious! Make it this holiday season and share the fun history behind this cake with your friends/family.
This carrot cake is moist and flavorful, but not as overly sweet as some cakes can be. It is best served warm with some fresh and lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Get Your Kids in The Kitchen
- Kids aged 1-3 can help you measure and whisk the dry ingredients together and mix the cake batter.
- Kids aged 4-6 can help you do all the above, plus help you peel the carrots, mash the cooled cooked carrot, prepare hte cake pan, pour the batter into the pan, and whip the cream.
- Kids aged 7-10+ can help you do all the above!
*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child&rsquos skill level. And always, always supervise!
Delicious Ingredients for Fall Salad Recipe’s
- Squashes like Pumpkin and Butternut Squash
- Dried Cranberries
- Blue Cheese and Sharp Cheddar
- Seasonal Fruits like Apples, Persimmons, Pears and Pomegranate Seeds
This Wine Country Fall Salad is a farewell to summer, as the heat starts to leave us and things cool down. The crisp Fuji apple has a nice sweet finish without being overly dry at the end to help compliment the tart and creaminess of the blue cheese. With the dried cranberries and pecans to help balance the nutty and sweet. All this to only complement the chicken breast that is brined with fresh herbs and garlic.
Finally, to round off the palate, the cornbread croutons offer a mellow heat that warrants bite after bite. Let’s also not forget the bits of freshly cooked bacon sprinkled on to surprise that savory side. Plus what is a salad without a bit of bacon? As the weather changes each bite changes adding colors of Autumn into the lush mixed greens.
Owner Michael Polombo on How Haddingtons Has Changed
Restaurateur Michael Polombo has seen his restaurant Haddingtons undergo several changes since it opened six months ago, including the addition of a new head chef and a shift in the cocktail program's management. Below, he talks why the changes had to happen, why so many people from Brooklyn love Austin (and vice versa), and what's next.
I know Haddingtons has undergone a lot of changes (James Corwell replaced Zack Northcutt as chef, Bill Norris left to run the Alamo Drafthouse's beverage program) since opening. What's the story?
On the food side, or back of house, we initially lacked kitchen management, which led to a chef change, which is never fun. Our prior chef was a great guy, but really kind of had no direction there. Our new chef, Jimmy Corwell, he was hired originally to consult and now is on full-time. He's an expert on kitchen management. He creates incredible dishes in line with the elevated tavern concept of Haddingtons. So since mid-May our food offerings and ability to offer food have improved dramatically.
We now have a kitchen full of motivated people back there working towards a common goal. I'm very grateful for all their hard work. A lot of them are the same people we had prior, just now they have direction and they have a common goal and motivation. I feel like our food has been elevated by leaps and bounds. My hope now is that many of the folks who visited us previously will give us another chance. An opportunity to show the food that we're now creating consistently.
Another major change — we have an excellent drink list. We have had an excellent drink list from the start thanks to Bill Norris who was with us for some six months. We now have an all-around friendly, capable bar staff. All around friendly for the first time. One of the past problems we had was numerous complaints about some of the bar staff, and now I feel like we have a very customer service-oriented bar staff. Which is what I always wanted to be key and core to that aspect of the restaurant.
So in becoming more "customer service-oriented," are you still concentrating on the intense, bartender-driven craft drinks or is this a step back from that?
One of our current bartenders who has been there the beginning, Brandon Burkhart, has kind of assumed the head bartender position. He's done a lot of great there, he's done a fantastic job creating new cocktails to add to the list. He's fantastic and a great person to work with, too, which is key. I honestly can say now that our entire bar staff is great. You'd really be happy to sit down with any one of them and discuss cocktails, how the bar's going, et cetera.
I feel like we really did 180 degrees in terms of food production. I think the drinks were always good but we now have structure and accountability in the bar staff. Really grateful for that.
Would you say that all of this marks a readjustment of the concept of the restaurant or is it a move towards getting closer to the original idea?
If you're talking about overall offerings, and I'd say specifically towards food — I say that because our craft cocktail program has pretty much remained what it is and I feel like we've always executed great in that space. Our wine list has been constantly strong. What my idea for the concept was — and I think some people may have adopted something similar but it's certainly been found in other cities around the country — the elevated American tavern. So you have elevated cuisine, and by doing that it shouldn't be pub food, it should be elevated. And that was always the aspiration.
I can think of a new restaurant in New York City that executes in that way extremely well, been there three times in the past couple months, called the Dutch. Helmed by Andrew Carmellini. It's an American restaurant. The food there is fantastic, it's very much like what we aspire to and I think that James executes very well. There's a place called Longman & Eagle in Chicago, which I love and I've mentioned many times.
It's similar food. It's not so fussed over. It's really well-executed, well-thought out dishes. It's not just a big ham hock or quantity as the major attraction to each dish. Well thought out food in a tavern setting. What's supposed to happen with the overall tavern feel in the tavern concept is you have an environment where it's very nice and yet not so refined. You don't have the tablecloths or place settings, your very rigid staff etiquette. Things like that. A little more neighborhoody. We follow all those parts of the concept, but at the same time you elevate the food. People should be like wow, this food is amazing. Someone unfamiliar with the concept would be surprised how good it can get.
You have a couple restaurants in New York (Bin 71 and Barcibo). What are the major differences between the New York scene and the Austin scene?
I'm a part of a few restaurants in New York City, and also have sent my chefs here to New York to cook. Mostly recently I sent chef Jacob Weaver from Mulberry to cook at Diner, Marlow & Sons, he also trailed at Gramercy Tavern, one of Danny Meyer's restaurants. I would say there's a very strong parallel between the sensibilities in Brooklyn and Austin. I love Brooklyn like I love Austin, and just the kind of atmosphere. The feel.
For instance, Jacob's first time in New York was going to cook at Diner. He had a great affinity for Brooklyn, I feel like Austin people really respond and vice versa, Brooklyn people really respond to Austin. They love it and they talk about Austin restaurants. With Manhattan, you have a little bit of a departure, you have a little difference in prices. I mean, you want to provide value in both places, we certainly strive for that. But you would be a little more finer dining. Those type of places are more welcomed I would say in Manhattan versus Brooklyn. And certainly I think there's a place for that and I enjoy it too, but I particularly like a number of places in Brooklyn. Like Carroll Gardens is a great neighborhood in Brooklyn, it has Prime Meats and Frankies. I love those restaurants and love to take my staff there and show them those restaurants.
So what's going on at Mulberry these days?
Our chef, Jacob Weaver, who has really been helming the kitchen there for about a year, He's doing a fantastic job. He has a chef's series he does the first Monday of every month, he creates a menu specific to that day. And he's been doing an incredible job with that. We start reservations for those a few months in advance. Also we're working on a late night menu there, chef Jacob and I, which should be released in the next month. So we're still a little ways off on that. Mulberry's doing great.
What's next? Any new projects in the works?
You know, helping out a little bit with the most recent New York restaurant. Here, really my focus is on Haddingtons. Getting that to continue to improve and fine tune each service. I suspect that'll take me several more months at least to just really get to the point where everything is really operating properly and then we'll see. I have another part of the same lot that Haddingtons is on, and I've been in talks with people on some nascent concept stuff. But that's my real focus, is to just keep making sure Haddingtons and Mulberry deliver properly.
The First Cocktails
People have been mixing drinks for centuries, often to make an ingredient more palatable or to create medicinal elixirs. It wasn't until the 17th and 18th centuries that the precursors of the cocktail (e.g., slings, fizzes, toddies, and juleps) became popular enough to be recorded in the history books. Though it's unclear where, who, and what went into the creation of the original cocktail, it started out as a specific drink formula rather than a category of mixed drinks.
The first published reference to the cocktail appears in the Farmer's Cabinet (Amherst, New Hampshire, April 28, 1803). The spoof editorial tells of a "lounger" who, with an 11 a.m. hangover, "…Drank a glass of cocktail - excellent for the head…" In his book, "Imbibe!," David Wondrich attributes the first known printed cocktail recipe to Captain J.E. Alexander in 1831. It called for brandy, gin, or rum in a mix of "…a third of the spirit to two-thirds of the water add bitters, and enrich with sugar and nutmeg…"
The formula for the original "cocktail" recipe lives on. The brandy cocktail, for instance, is a mix of brandy, orange curaçao (the sweetener), and bitters, shaken with ice (the water). Since it's served most often with a lemon peel, it's technically a "fancy brandy cocktail." Replacing the base spirit creates other classics like the gin cocktail, rum cocktail, or whiskey cocktail.
A third-generation restaurateur with over four decades of culinary experience, Chef Walter Staib is an author, Emmy Award winning TV host, James Beard-nominated chef and culinary historian. He was just awarded the 2012 Distinguished German-American of the Year.
Walter Staib has made numerous appearances on local and national cooking shows, such as the Today show and the Food Networks Best Thing I Ever Ate and Iron Chef. He is the host of the Emmy Award winning show "A Taste of History," which just received the 2012 James Beard Foundation nomination for Best TV Show On Location. The show is a vehicle for Staib to share 18th century cuisine with a growing audience. Currently, he can be seen nationwide for the fourth season on PBS and on national cable on RLTV, bringing the 18th century to life on A Taste of History, which was awarded three Emmy awards in its first two seasons.
As founder and president of Concepts By Staib, Ltd. (est. 1989), a global restaurant management and hospitality consulting firm, Walter Staib has opened more than 650 restaurants worldwide. He is currently the driving force behind one of the nations finest dining establishments, Philadelphias City Tavern, a faithful recreation of an original 18th century tavern and Concepts By Staib, Ltd.s flagship operation.
In addition to being a top chef, restaurateur and consultant, Chef Staib has also authored several cookbooks. His first, City Tavern Cookbook (1999, Running Press) sold 34,838 copies. Then City Tavern Baking & Dessert Cookbook (2003, Running Press) sold 25,000 copies.
Black Forest Cuisine (2006, Running Press) with recipes from his homeland, sold 16,600 copies.
His most recent cookbook, City Tavern: Recipes from the Birthplace of America (2009, Running Press) is in its fifth printing, and has sold 22,000 copies.
More from Walter Staib