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Sunday, February 24, 2013


I never thought I would start a conversation with 'corned beef', and even less, to contain the sentence, 'the best corned beef hash', but Texas has, indeed, changed me. 

Much as I do not use these posts to advertise, I believe in giving credit where credit is due.  Of course, my idea of 'the best' anything is purely my opinion, and I tend not to take too much notice of 'reviews'.  Most movie evaluations are given by people much younger than myself, whose opinions are 180 degree in the opposite direction to mine.  Similarly, those that report reviews of good value for money, are not of the same generation.  I like to make up my own mind.  That being said, in my opinion, the Corned Beef Hash at Moonshine Restaurant in Austin, is the best I have ever tasted.  Not that I am an expert on corned beef hash.  In fact, up until I came the the USA, corned beef was off my culinary list of things to eat, ever!  However, before I go further, perhaps I should mention that the two items are completely different on each side of the pond.  In England, corned beef is, for want of a better description, mushed and squashed together meat, which is generally sold in cans.  I was possible to have some 'carved' on the meat counter, but it still remained the same.  It's origin, apparently, is more like the American corned beef, which is what us English would call either salt beef or boiled beef.  I am sorry if I am giving explanations where explanations are not due, but when I grew up, the thought of this mushy, smushy, fatty gunk (and again I apologise to the lovers of Fray Bentos, and my sister!) mixed with anything, was more than my stomach could take.  However, boiled or salt beef, shredded, and mixed with potatoes and onions sounds far more appealing.  I am not sue what Moonshine do to their 'corned' beef, but it appears to be smoked, and mixed with potatoes etc, etc; it is delicious. 

My week had ended with a severe dose of allergies, from which Dana had been suffering all week.  Not only could I not smell anything, but I had lost my sense of taste.  Sunday morning had me craving the delicacy from Moonshine.  Being sensitive, and knowing that it is not the favourite eatery of Dana, I suggested we try another outlet.  It did not take long for him to search for 'the best corned beef in Austin', and a list of restaurants flooded his screen, none of which mentioned the aforementioned restaurant.  I was already starting to become apprehensive.  Their idea and my idea, etc, etc.  Not wanting to take anyone at their word, and wishing to experience the experience, I looked up and down the long list, and saw what I considered to be a possibility.  It was the Original Pancake House.  Their hash was, perhaps, one of the best in town.  The rest of the menu looked rather inviting, and it was the entry of 'potato pancakes', that secured the deal.  Whether I could smell, or taste, would be irrelevant.  I was sure that the texture would suffice!

Our week, although successfully in a work related way, had been the opposite in most else.  As I said, Dana had been very sick, with continual fevers and horrendous coughing fits.  By Wednesday afternoon he was so weak, that he curled up in the back room and went to sleep for half an hour.  Dana, like several of his variety, tends to overplay the 'sick card', but very rarely needs to tear himself away from his desk.  I knew he was, indeed, not very well!  In addition, in an attempt to obtain a repeat prescription, he was told that his application was denied, as his doctor had moved to a place far beyond our city walls.  My failure was of  less life threatening source, but for me, just as dramatic.  My new sour-dough starter had to be 'put down'. 

To take things in personal order of importance, (before returning to the corned beef saga) I had decided to start a new 'dough starter'.  It had bubbled, and grown, and become live, but had started to smell slightly like wallpaper paste, instead of beer (as my usual starter does).  I decided that perhaps it would turn from a decorator's tool to a brewers delight, and left it for a couple more days.  By Thursday, my house was filled with an obnoxious gas that I had no doubt would explode if it were not destroyed.  Down the waste disposal it went, with half a bottle of lemon juice, just to half the ghastly aroma.  My decision to wean half my successful starter, away from sugar, would be my next this space!   The lesser problem of Dana's doctor was still to be resolved.  Unfortunately, a mistake had been made, and bureaucracy together with red tape made it a more difficult situation than it should have been.  As his doctor had been unavailable during his appointment times on his previous visits, he had been referred to her assistant.  Unfortunately, when the assistant moved on to her own practice, so did Dana's record.  When he called for the second time on Friday, the receptionist retorted that it may take up to the middle of next month to sort the problem.  It was the question, 'to whom does my wife complain when I die in the meantime', that got the call transferred to a nurse.  The doctor's secretary returned his call within the hour, an appointment was made, and an emergency repeat prescription was sent to the pharmacist.  All's well that ends well.  Well almost!  

Our visit to the Original Pancake House was an interesting experience.  The line was fairly long, and the wait was at least 20 minutes.  This seemed quite reasonable.  It was long enough for Dana to discover that he had failed (Dana rarely fails) to bring his wallet.  Fortunately, I had my bag, which I do not always carry.  We realised, too late, that we had been overlooked, and had to remind the hostess that we were still waiting.  She assured us that we would be next to be seated, but it may take a little while.  She had assumed no one was outside, enjoying the sunshine.  Our waitress was delightful.  I ordered the 'House Special'; Corned beef hash.  I decided to swap the option of 'fluffy' to 'potato' pancakes.  Eggs had to be sunny side up!  I was thankful for the chef's recommendation.  To ask directly for the hash would have gone against the grain.  Dana chose bacon and eggs, with banana 'fluffy' pancakes. Upon its arrival, I looked at the hash and knew I had made a mistake.  It didn't look much different to everywhere else in Austin.  However, I was willing to try.  I do not remember Dana enjoying breakfast so much.  The bacon was perfect, as were the eggs, and the pancakes were delicious.  I am sorry to say that my diagnosis of reviews once again proved to be correct.  I was not impressed.  Although it was not reminiscent of the processed stuff of which my sister is so fond, it was a little too greasy for my taste, as were the potato pancakes.  The sour cream and apple sauce did little to hide the fat.  I know, the traditional hash is not dry, but I was hopeful, after all Moonshine's does not slide.  Fortunately (for Dana as well as the restaurant) there were plenty of items on the menu that I would like to try another time.  My search for another perfect corned beef hash would have to continue.

The bill arrived, and I paid.  As we walked back to the car, I could not resist saying, rather loudly than necessary, to Dana, 'Ask me out for breakfast, and then tell me you have forgotten your wallet.  Is this what I can expect for future dates?'  He bundled me into the car, whilst trying not to laugh.  The English accent always makes things sound so much more dramatic.

I shall probably wait a while before trying the corned beef experience again, but I can highly recommend the Original Pancake House.  The corned beef has would have to be on a personal taste basis. 

There was some relief to the allergies on Sunday, and I hope that the week sees less pollen and mold in the air.  Tomorrow, dinner will be good, old fashioned, stew, with regular stewing beef, with regular vegetables.  No 'corn' in any shape or form.  Whether we will suffer any more from pollen or the likes will remain to be seen.  A hectic week is ahead of us, and I am sure I can find......
another story.

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