October 29, 2008

The Seedy End of University Drive

I’m sure you’re asking, “Which end is that?”
Good point.
And, you’re right: Pretty much ALL of University is seedy, but I love it. From the so-vintage-it’s-time warp Catfish King to the Pizza Patron, raising xenophobic ire by accepting pesos.
If you take a minute to check it out, you can see (and eat) some seriously cool stuff there too. For Example:
  •  S&S Books – Sure everyone knows and loves Recycled Books – our own purple dinosaur on the square – but have you ever been to S&S? Heavy on the trashy romances, but with a shockingly large collection of vinyl. Go on in; see the videos, comics, and kids’ books too. While you’re at it, why not grab an Italian Ice from:
  • The NY Ice King – Truthfully, I think his ices were better last year, but why not? Lighter than ice cream and, let’s be honest, much less white trash than a snow cone. Stick to the lemon. No matter where you are, that’s always the best ice. 
  • Right in the same scary parking lot, is Royal East Asian Cuisine – Normally I steer clear of ‘Pan Asian’ places, believing as I do that that is code for 'generic brown sauce, warm sushi rolls, and MSG headache – to go'! However, both the sushi AND the Korean food (the home land of the chef) came highly recommended.

And, as if one place for sushi wasn’t enough, University Drive also gives you:
  • I (heart) Sushi – Honestly, I don’t think it’s as good as it used to be, when it was Japango; it’s more of a roll place now. But, in fairness, I haven’t gone in to sit down at the bar and let the chef hook me up. Note to self – Do that!
    Fun fact - It is in a converted Taco Bell – one of the teeny, old ones. You’d never know from the lovely inside!
  • A sandwich shop where the employees are 100% guaranteed to be stoned. And not just high, y'all, high as kites! Don’t know which one I mean? Try ‘em all and see.
    Whaaat? You got something against sandwiches?
  • Tuesday Morning – Enough said. My go to place for wrapping paper and cocktail napkins.
  • The scaaariest $.99 cent store in town – Again, feel free to find it on your own.
  • Sally Beauty Supply – I can’t leave there without buying something, and that’s saying something. As you may have guessed, I’m a bit of a greeniac and a bargain-maven, but their juju is just too strong!
  • The Denton Movie Tavern – Big screen movies. Comfy, reclining seats. New Castle Brown Ale (the beer that drinks like a meal) on-tap-and-delivered-to-you-by the pitcher. What more do you need?!
    OK, I’d like them to add fried cheese sticks to their menu (*hint, hint*), but their little pizzas are surprisingly good.
    You know what else is good? Their customer service, and that’s worth a visit on its own. If you still need to be sold, did I mention the beer?
    I did?
    Well good.
    Did I mention their extensive selection of other beers on tap and in the bottle, which, weirdly, they don’t list on their Web site? They even have wine, and not just red, white, and pink.
    Seriously – this is a great place to relax with an adult beverage and a movie.
    Not feeling so adult? Try the milkshakes.
    You SO need to go see a movie here. Tonight!
  • El Matador – Honestly, nothing special as far as Mexican food goes, but good chips, good beer selection, terrific service - oh and soooo tasty margarita swirls. If you’re looking for a big plate of generically tasty Tex-Mex, with the added bonus of a seriously kitsch gift shop (I'm talking majollica iguanas and sparkle-painted clowns...), this is your place. In fact, I may eat there tonight…
  •  The Flagship Pizza Inn – Who knew? Pizza Inn’s corporate HQ is right here in Denton County, so it certainly is right and fitting that we have a flagship store. It’s weird to think we went years without one. Previously, the last remaining Pizza Inn closed several years ago and the building was converted to another University Drive favorite:
  •  Frilly’sA dive-y Cajun food joint. Cold beer. Tilapia. Crawfish. Lots of fried stuff. Surprisingly good salmon salad. The cheaper, older brother of 3 Fins. Definitely eat here soon, if you haven’t already. I can’t think of one thing I wouldn’t eat.

Things I miss from University:
  • The Southern Fried Pie CompanyAnyone know what happened to them?
  • Metzler’s BBQWhere even your beer tasted like BBQ. Think I’m joking? Go buy a sixer (and some ‘que, of course) from their remaining location on Londonderry. Drink from the can or bottle. If you have a cat, beware, it may never stop rubbing up on your beer.
  • The Actual Rayzor Ranch – How great was it to pull off of I-35 onto University Drive (and into Denton) and see actual long horns? I particularly hate the razed, flood-prone landscape that’s left. Wonder what the hold up is? Ask these folks or your council person.
  • Payless Video – The last independent video store in town is closing (and selling off their stock), right now.
    Not only is it within walking distance from YFND’s, its slightly grotty ambiance caused us to refer to it as “Outlaw Video”, and that was just fun to say in conversation around the house.

What's your favorite bit of University?

October 22, 2008

Blue Grass Beer Tasting

This isn't necessarily a best of - because I haven't drank it or done it yet. In fact, it hasn't happened yet, but I really wanted to give loyal (and accidental) readers a heads up.


Here's what the nice folks at Hannah's and St. Arnold's say:

"Join us at Hannah’s on October 23rd for a St. Arnold’s Beer Tasting event. We will have a number of beer themed Chef prepared delicacies such as Beer-Cheese Soup, Chocolate Ale Cake, and a Marbled Guinness and Cheddar Cheese Plate. A St. Arnold’s Beer representative will be on hand to answer any questions about the beer selections and sample everyone on the various portfolio of St. Arnold’s. The tasting will be from 6-9 on our patio (weather permitting). Featuring live music from The Boxcar Bandits as seen in the New York Times. There is no price to attend and everyone is welcome."

I absolutely plan on checking this out!

October 16, 2008

The Cupboard

If you're a regular at health food or natural grocery stores, the size of Cupboard Natural Foods, "The Cupboard" to locals, won't surprise you. But the first few years I shopped there, mostly for Aubrey Organics, produce, and milk, I thought, "How do they stay in business? They're so small!"

Well.. Years have passed, my Dr. tells me my lab work looks good, and I find not only should I eat organic, whole foods, I want to. Frankly, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils freak me out. (Though I will not argue against the deliciousness of a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie - even if there are like no actual food ingredients on the label!)


Turns out you can shop very nicely at The Cupboard. With the exception of fresh meat, they have everything. And they DO have meat - it's just frozen, but you know I get my meat from Burgundy Pasture.

I think the Cupboard has just gotten better and better over the years. And as my reliance on, and preference for natural food has grown, I find they DO have pretty much everything I need - even Ketchup and sweet pickle relish.

What do I buy there? Well, besides the aforementioned:

  • Mychelle 
  • Wolf Creek veggies and herbs; they're local! 
  • New Chapter Vitamins 
  • Boar's Head and Applegate Farms cold cuts (and bacon!) 
  • Bulk nuts, seeds, and cacao nibs - for my trail mix and just for hand-to-mouth snacking 
  • Nature's Baby conditioner - not just for babies! 
  • Burt's Bees moisturizer 
  • The occasional chair massage - from the good folks at the Kneaded Touch 
  • Rice Crackers - gluten free! 
  • Ezekiel Bread - low glycemic index! 
  • Lindt dark chocolate - just delicious! (OK - it's an anti-oxidant too.)

  • I know Target has a selection of organic produce and frozen food, and while I applaud them, it's way the hell across town, has one of the worst parking lots in the city, and it isn't a local business. And I love that about the Cupboard. Even the hippies, sweet or sour, working the registers are - say it with me - local. And their parking lot? Lovely.

    I know I've mentioned the cafe in a previous post, and now they have a new menu! Breakfast Panini? Bison tamales? Oh man! How can you go wrong? If you're feeling like a grab and go, you can always hit the soup and salad bar. Sure, you always feel virtuous getting soup and salad, but now you can feel superior and righteous - eating organic and natural. And y'all, with the heavy vegetarian audience, you know this is a bad ass salad bar.

    Also, don't forget to check out the community bulletin boards and hilarious customer comment cards, conveniently located by both sets of doors. Be sure to find the note from the guy I refer to as The Barefooter. You'll know his comments when you read them. And then you'll think, "Oh, I've seen this guy!"

    And I hope I see YOU there, my dears.

    October 7, 2008

    Burgundy Pasture Beef

    If you're serious about your health; If you're serious about the environment; If you're serious about the humane treatment of the animals you will eat; If you're just serious about taste - you want to get to know the folks at Burgundy Pasture Beef.

    Now, they are not in Denton, but they DO deliver to Denton County. Not, sadly, into the city proper, but as far north as Corinth. Happily for me, I have a friend in Corinth, and we order together.

    Happily for you, they have a delivery spot in Lake Dallas, at Swisher Rd., I believe. Who knows though, if enough Dentonistas and Dentonistos call and ask for deliveries, maybe they'll widen their delivery area. Even once a month would be great.

    If you already eat organic\free range meats, you'll know that their prices are in line or cheaper than what you find in the stores, and they're local-ish. Hey - most of my organic produce comes from California or Mexico, so this feels really good to me.

    And it tastes amazing. You think you can't tell the difference? Well you can. Maybe not with the ground meats, unless your feeling of confidence (you know, in that you're not fearing e.coli) counts. But with the bigger cuts? You'll be shrieking Hosannas!

    Go on, get some ground beef (and lamb!) and that sirloin tip roast. Make the recipe they give you - for company even; it's idiot-proof - and feel the goodness of whole, home made food fill you.

    Don't forget to check out the pork, lamb, and chicken they also provide. (And y'all - that's really good lamb.)
    Don't know what to do with lamb?
    Don't feel like the Lone Ranger, and do try Giada De Laurentis' recipe for Rack of Lamb with Mint Pesto. It is fool-proof, and can be made with other, cheaper lamb chop cuts.
    And for your ground meat, why not try this chili recipe. Handed over to me by my mother-in-law:

    In a large soup\stew pot brown:
  • 1 lrg white onion (I usually use red and white)

  • Remove from pan and, in same pan, brown
  • 2lbs ground sirloin (I use whatever - sometimes half lamb, half beef, and I use salt, pepper and red pepper)

  • When browned, add:
  • 1 bell pepper (green or red)

  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes (or same approx amount chopped fresh)

  • 1 can tomatoes and green chiles

  • 1 can chicken broth

  • 2 packages Williams Chili Mix

  • Simmer an hour or so, then add:
  • 1 can kidney beans

  • 1 can Ranch Style Beans

  • 1 can other beans (I just use 3 cans of Ranch Style Beans with jalapeños)

  • Heat through and adjust seasonings as you like. I usually add some more jalapeños. (Of course I'm using the jarred, sliced kind.) You add whatever! Half the joy of this recipe is how forgiving it is. Seriously! No tomato sauce? I've used tomato paste and more chicken stock. Still divine. Play around with it, you'll see.

    Serve up with your choice of shredded cheese, sour cream, red, white, or green onions, crackers or Fritos. I think you will love it.

    And now my dears, the Dentonista would like YOUR help with 2 things.

    1. Ranch Style Beans - I can't seem to find an organic substitute for these b@stards. If anyone can help - please shout out. Please don't suggest I make my own, unless you can provide a recipe that that involves opening a can of organic beans. The other half of the joy of this recipe is its ease.

    2. And, finally, if there are any kitchen-savvy vegetarians reading out there - how would you change this recipe? I have the one odd vegetarian sister, and I would love to make this for her next visit but without, you know, the pesky meat. The fact that her brother-in-law, and grill companion, refers to meat as 'the flavor' hasn't swayed her. Yet.