Nom Nom Paleo

Eating Out: Barley Swine & Lick Ice Cream (Austin, TX)

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It’s been over a week since we left Austin, but in my mind, I’m still there, eating my way through the city with my friends.

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Want to see what we ate for dinner — just a few hours after finishing up our fantastic lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe? Then let’s grab some plutonium and fire up the flux capacitor. Hop into my DeLorean, and we’ll travel twelve days back in time to relive my dinner at Barley Swine and dessert at Lick Ice Cream. (No, it wasn’t perfectly Paleo, but neither am I.)

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Ready to accelerate to 88 miles an hour?

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Eating Out: Elizabeth Street Cafe (Austin, TX)

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Despite the full slate of speakers, discussion panels, and cooking demos at PaleoFX, I attended only a few Saturday morning presentations before heading back to our bungalow in Austin to hang with my family. It was hard to sit still when I knew my boys were having fun without me.

Diana and Cathy joined us, and we all took a stroll down to Elizabeth Street Cafe for lunch. 

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You wouldn’t know it from its name, but Elizabeth Street Cafe serves up tasty Vietnamese fare. As I’ve mentioned before, I love Vietnamese food; the dishes always have the perfect balance of savory, sweet, tang, and crunch. Blending Chinese and French influences, the cuisine of Vietnam is pure alchemy, combining flavors, textures, and temperatures to create unique, surprising dishes that really pop.

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I’ve had my fair share of terrific Vietnamese grub, but as soon as we sat down, I knew this place was gonna be good. Why? Because there were bottles of homemade sriracha AND Red Boat Fish Sauce on every table. And you know how much I love both.

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Read on to see our chow!

**Spoiler alert: Continuing with the Paleo People Gone Wild theme, we ate some non-Paleo foods (Rice noodles! Rice wrappers! Sugar!), so skip this post if you don’t want your eyes to explode and melt off your face.**

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Dining Out Paleo: Incanto (San Francisco, CA)

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If you’re looking to gnaw on all parts of an animal in San Francisco, Incanto is the place to go. 

How can you not love a place where butcher’s tools and cans of lard hang on the walls as art?

These days, nose-to-tail eating is old hat, but chef Chris Cosentino was seen as a culinary pioneer a decade ago when he began serving all parts of the animal — including all the nasty bits — to adventurous San Francisco diners. I’m ashamed to admit that when I dined here many moons ago, I was that squeamish patron who timidly ordered platters upon platters of pasta instead.

I’m so delighted that I was able to return and make up for my past sins.

This time around, we dined with a group of adventurous gourmands with the intent of chowing down on a whole cow leg.  

The Whole Leg of Beast dinner is a pre-arranged family-style feast where parties of six to eight meat-lovers descend on platters of antipasto, braised beef shank, salads, marrow, and dessert. Not everything on the pre-set menu is Paleo, but I’m sure you can ask for substitutions if you want to avoid all beans, cheese, and gluten.

In addition to the dishes on the prix fixe menu, we ordered items from the daily specials listed on the Odd and Ends menu, too. You gotta problem with that?

Our meat rumpus began with homemade salumi, roasted garlic, and pickled veggies…

…and a radicchio and arugula salad.

Next, we got our offal on: pork kidney, bacon, sungold tomatoes, capers, and lemon balm.

Then, the main event: A slow-roasted whole beef shank that had been cooked over 48 hours — accompanied by roasted marrow (a.k.a. God’s butter).

However, the waiter wouldn’t shred the meat…

…until the roasted beet salad (and a platter of braised beans, which the Paleo eaters among us ignored) arrived at the table.

I think he detected that there were savages in our party who needed to be reminded of proper dining etiquette.

Everyone was able to mod their meat with freshly grated horse radish, fleur de sel, house-made mustard, and extra jus. 

As if that wasn’t enough food, we demanded three extra platters of vitello tonnato. After all, more bone marrow is always a good thing, right?

For dessert, we had the choice of apricot chocolate cake or vanilla panna cotta with poached pears.

I’m a sucker for panna cotta so that’s what I indulged in.

Good stuff.

Eating Out: Going Paleo at Nopalito

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While the rest of the family was eating overcooked sirloin last night, my husband had dinner at Nopalito:

Man, those carnitas look mighty tasty. Bitch. I’m not bitter or anything. I just know that I have to eat that dry, leftover sirloin tonight at work. Again. Sigh.

Here’s my hubby’s take on Nopalito:

I dropped by tonight to grab some dinner before heading home. Despite it being a weeknight, the place was packed — I couldn’t even manage to talk my way into a seat at the bar. Luckily, the takeout counter beckoned.

Fifteen bucks gets you a fist-sized portion of crisp-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside carnitas. The slow-braised pork is fatty and mouth-filling, and served with a cabbage salad (which could have used a touch more acid), perfectly pickled jalapeños and emerald-green tomatillo salsa. 

My one complaint about the takeout counter: Its tiny waiting area is also where diners queue up to go use the facilities. (You know: Where you pee-pee and/or poo-poo.)  As I stood by the counter to await my food, I was accosted by three different people asking whether I was waiting to use the men’s room. 

"It’s VACANT, you know," a sweaty, red-faced guy said, pointing to the door to the loo. 

"I know," I replied. "I’m not waiting for the restroom. Go ahead."

"GREAT, ‘cause I NEED to get something out of my SYSTEM!" 

Which reminds me: Nopalito offers a wide selection of alcoholic beverages.