Sunday, July 10, 2011

Adventure day.

Thai Fresh. © Ryan Schierling
Sundays are days off. Typically, historically, it is the only day Julie and I both share as a day together, a day of rest – so we try to create as much unrest as possible. We set out, we adventure. We cross things, locations, off our list.

We were southie Thai in our jaunty beginning today, craving something spicy, fresh and close to home. Just so you know, we bring a wealth of Pacific Northwest experience with "one-to-five" stars when ordering Thai food. So, we were a little surprised that both the green curry and the coconut vermicelli salad we ordered at Thai Fresh were extremely mild. This is Texas, and historically, stereotypically, Texans like things hot. Homemade green curry in this household is a fearsome, fiery beast, that will politely knock on your front door with a coconut milk, Thai basil, fish sauce and palm sugar smile, and then burn the house down and dance in the cinders. While solid fare, I imagine the Thai Fresh cuisine reflects the location and neighborhood, which is, training-wheels-on, exotic take-out experience that one can heat up in the microwave of one's expensive, relatively unused stainless steel kitchen after a long day at work. It is Thai, and it is local and very fresh, but you won't see too many Thai families making a trip to south Austin to eat there. It's certainly a valuable resource for south residents who want very quick Thai food in an convenient coffee shop/deli setting.

Curiosity satisfied, we moved north to MT Market with our A-level shopping list.

(L) Dragonfruit. (R) Goo Fish. © Ryan Schierling
I have friends that would walk through the automatic front doors at MT Market and balk immediately at the smell. It is… a foreign scent, an aroma that you don't associate with American grocery stores. Mostly (mostly) fresh fish, a big smack of fresh pork, beef and assorted offal, and some weird-ass pickled vegetables in tubs that I just can't stay away from. We are there for Vietnamese young green rice (com dep), Julie's strawberry cream biscuits, daikon radish and fat carrots, bird chiles and whatever else looks promising.

Julie gravitates toward fresh-cut-in-half durian fruit, picking it up, smelling it, making me smell it. She relates it to fine, sweet, stinky cheese. I am taken aback, recalling the Andrew Zimmern 'Bizarre Foods' episode where he visibly gags, choking on durian. Rotten onion fruit!?!? Anthony Bourdain apparently digs it, describes it as…"indescribable, something you will either love or despise. ...Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother." I don't want anything to do with that (just yet), so we move on, selecting some beautiful dragonfruit, sweet potato vermicelli and Maggi seasoning. Proper baguettes for banh mi are down the way at Baguette House.

After a bit of a layover at Goodwill in the housewares section, we drive back through downtown Austin proper and then point east on a single digit street with the intention of visiting Bits & Druthers for some English fish and chips and a bit of poutine. Frustratingly enough, the whole fickle food trailer park is closed, again. We tried last Monday, with no luck. Sunday, apparently, is no better, so we wind back downtown. And then as we are driving, after months without, the rains come. Brilliantly, dark blue clouds pull up, pull in, and surprise pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike. The temperature drops 20 degrees, the humidity spikes, and a warm, wet blanket is plunked down on downtown Austin.

Owl bldg. © Julie Munroe

Wipers on, we decide on drinks, and perhaps a sandwich, at the Tiniest Bar in Texas, and Lucky's Puccias. The bar-side trailer, offering Italian wood-fired handfuls, is an unassuming respite with simple, well-thought ingredients. My sandwich is proscuitto-salty, mozzarella-creamy, tomato-acidic and arugula-spicy, all tucked in a smoky, fire-kissed envelope. Julie's vegetarian Rustica is a mild, delicate sandwich with simple flavors allowed to shine without heavy-handed embellishment. 

Lucky's Puccia, w/ Lone Star. © Ryan Schierling
Our garden is being watered for us, we have an open tab at a teeny, tiny bar (perhaps the teeniest, tiniest bar), and the puccias are warm and delicious.

It has been another good, good adventure Sunday, but now it is time to get home to the cats, and the laundry, and to make preparations for the week ahead. 


  1. Awesome! We love Thai food too, and yes, the spicier the better. Asian markets have so very many cool, cool foods. It's hard to walk out of one remaining within set budget limits.

  2. It's SO tempting to bring home new things and then figure out what to do with them. On the other hand, if you have a shopping list, you can often get a lot of groceries for surprisingly little!

    Have you ventured yet to HT Market on Aurora? It was our go-to in Seattle and is very much like the MT Market here in Austin!

  3. A Thai Fresh review: Of all the Thai food I have eaten, this was most recent.


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