Let’s roast a goat

I’d like to say that I’m an adventurous eater.

My boyfriend may disagree with that, but I’d say that I am open to trying anything once. So when my friend (and local chef) Brian invited me to a goat roast that he was having, I knew I had to go, despite never having tried goat (or cabrito, as he called it) in my 25 years. Now, I’ll be honest – part of me was hesitant. I love me a good burger or venison chili, but other red meats are typically not high on my list (I didn’t grow up with a meat adventurous family unlike aforementioned boyfriend). But like I said, I will try anything once, and knowing that Brian has worked as a chef at some of Austin’s culinary hot spots – like this one – helped cement the fact that if I was going to try cabrito, it might as well have been with him because it was DEFINITELY going to be done right.

The BBQ started around 4, though it’s important to note that the goat had been roasting over an open-fire spit for hours previous to that. I should mention, I have another weird thing about meat – I understand where meat comes from, but I kind of prefer to see it when it no longer resembles the animal that it previously was. So, you can imagine how I reacted to a goat roasting over a spit (not great). To help myself temporarily forget about that small piece of information, I kept busy chatting it up with friends (both new and old), challenging people to games of cornhole, or stuffing my mouth with Sour Patch Kids, my new favorite bad habit.

Even without food, this would have been an awesome BBQ; but then we got to eat. Remember when I said that Brian is a chef? Well apparently he is also a grillmaster. I haven’t the slightest idea of what a roasted goat, or any goat for that matter, should taste like, but my expectations are now set fairly high. Looking back, I’m not sure I could even describe the flavor of the meat, but I do remember how delicious the char and smokiness tasted, and how perfectly it all paired with the taco fixings that Brian had at the ready.

But it wasn’t all about the goat. If you come from the South, you know that no BBQ is complete without some slow-smoked brisket – this one was no exception. And y’all, I’ve had my fair share of brisket from some of the top-rated smokehouses in Texas, and Brian’s version was up there with the best of ’em. The meat had enough fat around the edges to hold in the moisture and flavor, but was lean enough to appeal to freaks like me who cut off every bit of fat on their meat before eating it. And again, the smokiness – spot on. Oh, and it basically melted in your mouth, which is EXACTLY how I like it. To be honest, I ate my brisket plain; that’s right, no sauce. But y’all, us Texas folks will tell you that that’s the way brisket should be eaten, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just plan wrong.

It was a great day overall – good friends, good games, and good food, which is really all I can ask for. Now, I just need to convince Brian to invite me to every single home-style culinary creation festival he ever has in the future…

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chavez- Austin’s newest culinary hotspot

In Austin we have our fair share of restaurants. In fact, I just had a conversation with someone the other day about the fact that you could realistically eat at a different restaurant in Austin for every meal, and would probably still have options left after a full year. But sometimes, that endless array of options doesn’t matter and there are those restaurants who stand out from the pack; whose reputation in the Austin food world precedes them.

chavez is one of those restaurants.

Recently opened inside the Radisson Hotel in downtown Austin, chavez is the latest endeavor from Austin’s celebrity chef Shawn Cirkiel. With a name like that on the door, chavez had some high expectations immediately out of the gate. Though the southwestern-inspired eatery is a bit of a departure from Cirkiel’s other Austin successes, its quality, atmosphere, and flavors are right on par with sister restaurants Parkside, Backspace, and Olive & June.

Before ever eating at chavez, I had the opportunity to sit down with Chef Mario Medina, Chef de Cuisine. Take a listen to hear what he has to say about Austin’s newest culinary hit.

 

Makes you want to try it for yourself, right?

I’ve been looking forward to trying chavez for months, so I was pretty excited to have a date night there with Brandon this weekend…only a few weeks after its grand openingI wasn’t sure what to expect of the space, given that it used to be home to the hotel’s TGI Friday’s, but you better believe it when I say that the place was completely transformed! Beautiful wood cover the floors and the walls, floor to ceiling windows bring in tons of natural light, and touches of Mesoamerican culture accent the entire space. It’s, in a word, beautiful.

The space was so, so chic, but what I was particularly excited about was the food (a statement which I’m sure shocks you all). A friend of mine serves as one of the restaurant’s sous chefs and he has been raving about the menu for months, so I certainly had an idea of what to expect in my mind, and chavez exceeded every expectation.

Brandon and I ordered A LOT of dishes (probably more than is socially acceptable for two people…no judgement, people) in an effort to really try a wide variety of food. Seriously y’all, from appetizer to entree to dessert, every dish was more delicious than the one before it – the food was spiced, but I wouldn’t call it spicy; it was unique without being too crazy; and everything was incredibly fresh (the fish looked as if it had been pulled from the ocean that morning). It’s been a really long time since Brandon and I left a meal without a single complaint about a single dish, but chavez did that for us.

If you go, I encourage you to try as much as you can, but if you do not order the Traditional Ceviche, you are doing yourself and your stomach a major disservice. I love me some seafood, especially when it’s mixed with avocado, but that ceviche was some of the best I’ve ever eaten. I don’t think I’m lying when I say that I could eat it every day and still find myself craving more.

But chavez is more than just the food y’all, it truly has the whole package. Not only was the food and the ambiance spot on, but the service was spectacular. Our server, Preston, was on his game. He made every dish sound incredibly appetizing (even the ones with ingredients I don’t love), and I ordered several dishes based on his recommendation. He was attentive to our needs and enjoyable to talk to, and I imagine that quality extends to the rest of the staff.

Plus, with its location on the corner of Congress and Cesar Chavez, chavez sits right above Town Lake, and is the perfect spot for watching the bats on the South Congress bridge (another Austin favorite of mine).

Seriously, I can talk and talk about how wonderful chavez is, and about how Chef Shawn Cirkiel and crew really outdid themselves with this one, but I think it’s best that you see for yourself. So go. Soon.

Until then, experience chavez through my eyes, and enjoy.

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