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Barbacoa. And a donut with bacon. I win.

Posted by Mick on May 23, 2010 – 10:01 pm

I’m sitting here tonight feeling little left out.  Everyone is watching the LOST finale.  Everyone but me.

I got wrapped up in LOST.  In the beginning.  I made it through the 4th or 5th season, I don’t remember.  When they got off the island.  I started the next season, and I don’t know, I got busy, I got behind, I got distracted, I got further behind.  I knew I’d catch up later, there didn’t seem to be any hurry.

At some point, I stopped caring. And no amount of hype could get me to care.  Even now, I’m not at all upset about missing the show.  I’m experiencing the tiniest pang of regret at missing the shared experience.  There’s something nice about seeing a planned culmination of a show you’ve loved.

I just stopped loving LOST.  LOST did nothing wrong.  Do you hear me, LOST?  It wasn’t your fault.  You’re not like HEROES.  I know this sounds cliche, LOST, but it’s not you… it’s me.  You wanted more from me than I was willing to give.  You deserved more than I was willing to give.

I enjoyed watching the show, I didn’t want to “figure it out”.  I didn’t want to “chase the clues”.  I didn’t want to hear your theories about the smoke monster.  I might care who Kate ends up with.  I don’t care who you want Kate to end up with.  It’s just a show, watch it, enjoy it, shut the fuck up about it.  It’s not like it matters.

How come none of you rat bastards got that excited about Dollhouse?

I had some damn fine tacos today.  Tara saw this cart when she was out shopping.  It was parked in front of our neighborhood convenience store.  She was interested because of the guy who runs it.  He’s tattooed.  Heavily.  She was particularly intrigued by his two legs, sleeved with Simpsons characters.  We decided to walk back over for lunch.  We grabbed our stuff walked home, and tucked in.  I took the first bite, expecting good, and was shocked by the explosion of awesome in my mouth.  That was the barbacoa.  I’ve been eating barbacoa for years.  I’ve had some damn fine barbacoa.  This was better.

Then I started done of his beef tacos, with two kinds of beans, carmelized onions, fresh peppers, and all sorts of other goodness.  Also delicious.

I was so excited, I went back over to talk to him.  I had questions, I needed answers.  Clearly, the cat is a chef.  And he’s not afraid to turn all his gourmet kung-fu loose on something ghetto like barbacoa.  Right?

Indeed.  It’s all true.  I wrote a great piece on it for the website, but since we’re still in the switch-over holding phase, I’ll transcribe it here.

I love food. And while you would never call me hard to please, I am difficult to impress. Especially when it comes to tacos.

I grew up in West Texas, and I live in Austin. I’ve been surrounded by good tacos my entire life. I’m not going to waste your time talking about good, or even great, tacos. But today, today my friends, I met a taco that is worth talking about.

The Taco Taxi. I walk up to the convenience store (yes, like most great tacos, these are sold in front of a convenience store), and I see… a tricycle. A tricycle with an electric hotbox on the back, and a small propane stove. And it’s painted yellow, with a few blocks of checkerboard pattern thrown in for obvious effect. As I get closer, I see the proprietor; a tall man, with blue hair, and tattoos. Many tattoos. Including an elaborate neck tattoo.

Clearly, this would be no ordinary taco.

Brian Birde-Mann is no ordinary street vendor. He’s a classically trained chef who has traveled across the country, and the continent, learning the techniques and flavors of the places he visits. And he’s passionate about food. He believes that taking a bite of food should be like making love.

Yes, he actually said that. And no, he wasn’t engaging in hyperbole. He went on to describe how a perfectly seasoned and cooked meal, with proper presentation, should elicit the same release of neurotransmitters and hormones that other acts of extreme pleasure, such as sex, do. When the preparation of food is treated as an art.

True story. The first bite of his barbacoa taco made me weep with delight.

So what’s a cat like Brian doing selling tacos out of a tricycle in front of a convenience store? Shouldn’t he be an executive chef in a fancy restaurant? That depends on how you look at success. He’s done his time in that world (one gig involved cooking for millionaires at a private club in New Mexico), and he says too often he wound up being forced to cater to the least common denominator. Serving sub-par food for inflated prices to people who didn’t appreciate it. Now he’s trying to do something different.

“Gourmet food isn’t expensive”, he told me. “The talent to make it taste gourmet, that’s what’s expensive”. If he works for himself, he can make great food on a small scale and serve it at a price that people can afford.

Great food starts with great ingredients. Brian is proud to offer a completely organic menu. Brian uses produce from local organic farms, 100% grass-fed and hormone free beef from the Bastrop Cattle Company, and locally raised free-range chickens.

The tortillas. How can I explain the tortillas? Fresh, hand-made, flour tortillas. But they’re a little… brown. It was a bit off-putting at first. And then I smelled it. Cumin. The tortillas are made with cumin.

It’s the little things, folks, that make the difference. It’s the little things that push you from good to great.

His daily menu consists of several different tacos, including a vegetarian option, anticuchos (skewered and grilled meat), and a daily special. Today’s special was barbacoa. He tells me yesterday was sweetbreads.

This food is not to be missed. You owe it to yourself to give it a try. Don’t wait.

Seriously, don’t wait. This guy is one of us. He’s cool. And he’s trying to do something a little different. It’s not easy, man. If you wait too long, he might not make it. If you go now, he might be around for awhile. Be a dude.

You can find him at the Texan Market, on the corner of Amherst and Adelphi in North Austin. Pay attention! Currently, he’s there on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am to 3pm, and Wednesday from 4pm to 8pm.

lady lascivious and I have already decided we’re eating dinner there Wednesday night.

It was an excellent weekend all around.  Saturday included a screening of UHF , with Weird Al Yankovic in the house. And donuts.  Wonderfully excessive donuts.

How can a donut be wonderfully excessive?  Check this out.

That’s a giant donut, covered in bacon, and drizzled with lots of maple icing.  It was positively decadent.

Weird Al was wonderful of course.  What wasn’t wonderful was the crowd.  The event was at the Paramount, which attracted an entirely different crowd.  I do not understand what it is about a movie theater that leads people to think I care about what they have to say.

Thank you for pointing out that you know what’s about to happen.  I’m proud of you for knowing the film.  I’m impressed with your memory.  Now shut the fuck up, because as impressive as you might be, I’m actually trying to enjoy the movie I paid money to see.

Perhaps this is the way you enjoy the movie when you’re at home?  Look around you… you’re not at home.  We aren’t your guests.  We don’t know you.  We don’t like you.  And one of us might, just might, be a borderline psychopath who could become enraged at your incessant babbling, follow you home, and make a Christmas wreath from your entrails.

Second only to the movie talkers were the morons who felt that the Q&A was there time to shine.  Thank you, random shout man, your piercing screams of “NYUHHHH” when Al was speaking were just what I was hoping for when I bought my tickets.

That was actually funny in high school.  But that was then.  This is now.  That wasn’t your principal, this wasn’t an assembly.  I can see how you might be confused, since we all graduated and you didn’t.

My favorite Q&A questions were the numerous variations of you should do a parody of XYZ.  Want to know why that’s a stupid question?  Because he’s Weird Al and you’re a moron.  The man is the most successful song parody artist of all time.  His career has outlasted most of the artists he’s parodied.  He knows what he’s doing.

Games People Play.  By the Alan Parsons Project.  Really?

I’m surrounded by idiots.  At least my friends are cool.

And you are.

Be good to each other.

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