Posted by johngl
Jasper’s at The Domain
Since our visiting dignitary from our EU office is still in town and we had been seriously lacking in the entertainment department during his visit, yet another party of five descended upon the newest small Texas town called simply: The Domain.
They call it that because they own you once you get there.
Okay, for those that don’t know, it isn’t a town at all: it’s a fancy strip mall located at at the north end of Austin.
Since I live under a rock most of the time (well, really, I am mechanically fastened to the Aeron chair in my office), I hadn’t taken the opportunity to visit this latest demonstration of America’s need to exceed.
The Domain is sorta like a visit to Disney World only without that stupid “small world” song (it’s in your head now, isn’t it?…that damnable, insidious song). If you are lucky enough to escape without lightening your wallet substantially or wishing you had scissored your Amex Gold card into tiny rice-sized bits, you are damned lucky.
Anyway, this is about food. Or is it?
The Dai Due Supper Club, pronounced die do-aay, is the brilliant offspring of Jesse Griffiths and Tamara Mayfield and their a desperate desire to serve locally produced fare. In their own words:
At Dai Due we are connecting Austinites with local farmers in an effort to eliminate the harmful elements of a food system gone awry. By illuminating responsible agricultural methods and exposing diners to local food resources, Dai Due is cultivating a more conscientious food culture in Central Texas.
||Jesse Griffiths has worked in restaurants since the age of 17, but experienced a new relationship with food upon his first trip to Italy in his early twenties. The European concept of “terrior,” or “sense of place”, intrigued him in that meals are based around locally grown, seasonably available ingredients, placing an emphasis on upon the communal aspect of cooking and eating.When he is not catching and eating fish or working in the garden, Jesse hunts for new sources of cheeses, vegetables, meats and fruit from individuals around Austin.Tamara Mayfield discovered a
love for farming while working on organic farms in Hawaii, Japan, and Austin. Her innate ability to sprout vegetable seeds led to her full-time employment as a farmer, where she met Jesse while delivering produce to Vespaio, where he worked.Tamara now owns her own Green housecleaning business and functions as the other half of Dai Due. In her spare moments, Tamara tends to the chickens and battles wild Bermuda grass.
These two put on a great show, usually accompanied by some good local musical talent. I have been to three events–Whole Hog (pork), Boggy Creek (seafood), and Dragonfly House (seafood)–and haven’t been disappointed.
I highly recommend checking them out if you can get a seat; they sell out quickly.
The local institution that is the Salt Lick is a necessary stop for anyone, let alone a guest from Brighton, UK who likes Q. So, given this occasion, we grabbed a couple of bottles of wine (a Gnarly Head Zin and a Revolution Shiraz) and another group of five jumped into two small cars (a Civic and Matrix, neither large enough to comfortably seat all of us), and we headed south to Driftwood. Luckily, the Salt Lick is within a 30 minute drive from my house and we arrived before the parking area was full-up (it was a Saturday afternoon after all).
After waiting the twenty minutes or so under the shade of a copse of live oaks at a well-used picnic table, we were alerted that our table was ready. We moseyed (you can help but mosey at the Salt Lick) on over to the main feeding station and took our seats at another “distressed” picnic-type table. To make things easy, we all ordered “family style” and commenced the waitin’. We popped open the Revolution and poured it in order to give this heady concoction time to open up. We waited for our feeding long enough to begin a wonderin’ what happened, and finally, the first plate arrived. Pickles and onions. Hmm. Then the potato salad made it over. Then the slaw. Then the beans. Then, finally, the meat.
A couple of us looked at this paltry plate and one of our party immediately said that a lot more brisket was warranted. The plate had a good bit of sausage and some ribs, but only a couple of slices of brisket.
Damien Mandola’s latest addition to the Mandola Estate Winery Trattoria Lisina, has a lot going for it. Nestled in a shady grove of live oaks, the wide, covered patio has lots of room and great views of the vineyard. The moderate temperatures and light breeze certainly contributed to the ambiance on the Saturday afternoon of our visit earlier this month. It also didn’t hurt that workers were out harvesting large clusters of juicy purple fruit destined for the winery located within spittin’ distance of the Trattoria.
Our party of five arrived within minutes of the noon hour and there was plenty of room available both indoors and out. Since it was such a beautiful day, we opted for a prime location on the outer edge of the patio. As I was seated, I took in the view and I could feel the tensions of the previous week begin to melt away.
Two of our party, members of Austin’s SOB (Son’s of Bacchus) wine group, took the lead and ordered a nice bubbly (Rotari Brut Rosé NV — Trentino Alto Adige). We also decided on a couple of pizzas.
The pizza’s had wonderfully crispy crusts and were sized nicely for sharing among the five of us. The prosciutto/basil was my personal favorite of the two, however, the mushroom/caramelized onion was amazingly good.
Next up was a couple of pasta dishes that again were shared. The pasta itself was prepared to perfection and light marinara sauces were well balanced and tasted like fresh tomatoes were used. Slightly acidic, slightly sweet, these sauces just tasted “bright.”
So far, so good.
For the entrées, each of us ordered something different. Osso Bucco, pork ribs, and a pork chop were among them. I had the pork chop and was disappointed as it was overcooked and pretty dry. The ribs, which my wife had, were slathered in sauce that was w-a-ay too salty. On the other hand, the Osso Bucco was very nicely done as were the other two pasta based dishes.