Messin' with Texas

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wanderingjew
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2012/05/17 19:21:54 (permalink)

Messin' with Texas

Although this is a new trip report, this is actually a physical continuation of this  trip report .
Although the report title is appropriate, I think it would be cool if I was able to replace it with just a tune as the title to this report.
There are many songs that just remind me of Texas and this is one that comes to mind right now.
 
I landed in San Antonio, considering the two hour flight and that I'm now two hours ahead based on the time difference and then getting my rental it was just after 3pm when I arrived at my lunch stop.
 

 
Chris Madrid's
 
Famous for their bean burgers which have been previously discussed, I wondered if this was going to be another regional  variation of a burger that didn't excite me. 

I thought there would be waitress service when I walked in but there isn't, ordering, is cafeteria style-you order at the counter which is located in separate room from the dining area and you take your own food to the table.
I told the counter lady this was my first time at Chris Madrid's and I never had a bean burger before. She recommended their salsa which is in a separate dispenser at the counter.
 

 
When my meal arrived I could only look in amazement. This was truly one helluva superb burger. I ordered the "macho" size of course. For those who don't know what a bean burger is, it's a San Antonio Specialty loaded with cheese that envelops refried beans and tortilla chips hidden underneath. The salsa was the missing link to this gut busting burger. The burger came with fresh cut fries, however I was so enthralled with the burger I forgot to  get a photo.
 
After lunch, I headed to downtown to check into my hotel which was charging an $18 a day parking fee. Since I wasn't planning on leaving the confines of downtown I decided to park a few blocks away in a parking lot for $8. (I later discovered that evening  just a block away there were 10 hour parking meters in effect til 6pm for 25 cents an hour.
 
After relaxing for a bit to prepare for my 4 1/2 mile roundtrip walk to my dinner stop, I began my walk through the southtown neighborhood, a revitalized urban area just south of downtown with shops, restaurants and residences. 
Passing through La Villita, a block of historic buildings with touristy shops and restaurants I noticed a big block party was going on. Without realizing it I  arrived in town just in time for fiesta week- basically a huge big block party all over downtown with concession stands, bands and other entertainment. Unfortunately they were charging $10 just to walk through La Villita but was told it would be free to walk about in the morning before the festivities begin.
 
My first stop was Blue Star Brewing in Southtown. I got the refreshing Belgian Country Ale and the alcohol infused King William Ale.
 
Finally with another mile or so to walk, I arrived at my dinner stop
 

 
Piedras Negras De Noche
 
Unfortunately the restaurant underwent a damaging fire a few years back and moved into an abandoned pizza hut next door. The original structure with a "closed for renovations" sign is still intact next door.
The restaurant itself was vibrant with both Anglo and Mexican folks.
 
And you know the place is going to be special when there's goat on the menu
 

 
The salsa was really good but I don't remember anything memorable about their tortilla chips.
 
 

 
 
Now that I'm in Texas I ordered their Fajitas. Although the menu noted that the order is for two, the waitress indicated that they can curtail it for a single diner. I didn't realize I was ordering a beef/chicken combo, but that's what came to my table- I guess I should have specified I was looking for beef only.
 
 The parade of accoutrements made my way to the table
 
 

 
(home made tortillas)
 

 
(pico de gallo)
 

 
(lettuce, tomato and guac)
 

 
(rice and beans)
can anyone tell the difference between the beans served in Arizona and the Tex Mex style beans?
 

 
 
and this steaming plate of beef and chicken fajita strips.
 

 
Voila! The finished product.
 
The fajitas were fantastic, much better that what I enjoyed in Oklahoma City two years ago.  
Piedras Negras De Noche is certainly a hidden gem far enough away from the tourist trap downtown river walk area.
 
 
As I  took the two mile walk back to downtown I took a photo of the Rivewalk beneath me
 

 
All of that walking on top of two big meals (and two craft brews) tired me out- I walked back to my hotel for the evening.
 
much more to come but not til' early next week.
#1

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    buffetbuster
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/17 19:46:57 (permalink)
    Glad you liked Chris Madrid's.  Mariton called it the best burger she has ever had.  She enjoyed it almost as much as the mango margarita.
     
    Did they have any kind of memorial to owner Chris Madrid, who just recently passed away?
    #2
    Foodbme
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/17 21:11:46 (permalink)
    What???
    No Spirit of Adventure???
    No Cabrito?????
    Surely, I thought you would give it a try!
    #3
    mar52
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/17 21:40:23 (permalink)
    Dale, I'm still not quite clear on the bean burger.  Is what you described on top of a beef pattie?  Do you pick it up to eat it?  All that cheese would inhibit my total enjoyment unless I used a fork... I thinik.
     
    Your Texas beans are boiled, although I've had refried in Texas as well.  The rice looks good.
     
    I Love the Riverwalk.  First time I tried Guiness was at a sing along Irish Pub there.  Was also the last time.
     
    Looking forward to more!
    #4
    chickenplucker
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/17 21:58:29 (permalink)
    Wow, I think I would eat the burger like the kid in "The Christmas Story". Just tilt the plate to my mouth and dig in. Beautiful.
    #5
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/18 08:02:52 (permalink)
    Buffetbuster
     
    I didn't see any memorials. I've never been to Chris Madrid's before so to me it seemed like business as usual. I remember hearing about his passing before I left for my trip but forgot about it when I was there.
     
    Foodbme
     
    When I visited El Gallo in Austin 7 years ago, they too had goat on the menu. I had Tex-Mex Fajitas on the brain for months. So I knew what I wanted, besides I had Goat Curry at Kebab n Kurry here in Providence last year.
     
    Mar
     
    Yes there most certainly is a beef patty underneath that molten layer of cheese and the flavor of that beef commanded itself quite well along with the beavy of other ingredients.
    I'll admit, I used a fork and knife at first until it was manageable to lift by hand.
    You are correct about the beans- however I've never seen beans served that way at the Sonoran Style restaurants in Arizona.
     
    chickenplucker
     
    perhaps if I were alone
    #6
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/18 08:31:37 (permalink)
    That Madrid's bean burger looks awesome!  If I could get ahold of some decent refried beans I'd be interested in trying to create a home version...WJ, do you remember what kind of cheese was used?
    #7
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/18 09:15:43 (permalink)
    SC-
    Cheddar.
    #8
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/18 13:26:31 (permalink)
    Brad
     
    Buffetbuster is correct. Once I get back on my diet, I've already planned on a healthy version of this meal , substituting a turkey burger for beef, refried black beans 1/2 of a single serving bag of tortilla chips and lowfat trader joes shredded cheddar- no bun.
     
    Since I have no issues with cholesterol - I'm more concerned with the caloric content and keeping it low carb than the fat content hence the substitutions and no bun
    #9
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/22 18:51:27 (permalink)
    Wednesday April 25
     
    I began my morning at a respectable coffee house, Olmos Perk in suburban San Antonio. Afterwards, I decided to wander around La Villita- an area adjacent to downtown with some of the oldest buildings in San Antonio.
     

     
     

     
     

     

     
    Mostly consisting of shops and restaurants, it was empty when I  arrived in the late morning with the exception of a few workers preparing for another round of Fiesta later on in the day. There were a couple of galleries and shops open, in fact I walked into one shop, and ended up buying a leather cowboy hat that I grew attached to.
    I was talking to the merchant and was telling her about some of the restaurants I had visited in the Alamo City and some places I was planning on visiting. I mentioned Taco Taco, and she was actually the second person who recommended against it stating that only "white people" go there (she was white by the way)
     
    Afterwards, I ventured on to the Alamo
     

     
    Obviously the most popular Tourist Site in San Antonio.
     
    This is an old mission famous for eventually leading to the independence of Texas from Mexico.
     
    Inside the alamo there were some cool artifacts
     

     

     

     
     

     
     
    It was now lunchtime and I ended up going where the counter lady at the cowboy hat shop recommended (after finding  glowing reviews on the webs)
     

     
    Taqueria La Huasteca
     


     
     

     
     
    Squirt bottles of red and green are placed on each table.


     
    I ordered two Beef Barbacoa Puffy Tacos.  This is my first introduction to the regional specialty puffy tacos- and these were warm puffy  delights of  smoked/shredded beef goodness. I squirted both red and green on these bad boys . I quickly fell in love. 
     
    I was curious when I saw "corn in a cup" printed on the window, I also saw this at several of the concession stands, downtown  preparing for Fiesta, curiousity got the best of me
     
     

     
     
    I can truly say that this is the first item on the trip that I just flat out didn't like. Basically it's corn, warm sour cream lemon or lime juice, a parmesan type of  cheese and spices. It was just too sour and goopy for my taste and it's doubtful I would seek it out again.
     
    I returned to downtown and ended up parking at one of those 10 hour meters (good to 6PM and free until 8 AM the next morning) when I arrived I was surprised to find there were 5 hours left on the meter- perfect- Parking was basically free with the exception of a couple of hours in the late morning hours.
     
    Something I haven't had yet and I can't leave without now that I'm in Texas
     
    And I found it at the Buckhorn Saloon- another place very similar to a another establishment in Denver with a alot of dead animals on the wall
     

     
    You can't leave Texas without a Shiner
     

     

     
     
     

     
    I then ended up taking a nice stroll around the windy riverwalk.
     
    I'll continue with Wednesday's events later on- there is much more to come.
    #10
    ann peeples
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/22 19:47:51 (permalink)
    Fantastic, my friend, as usual!!!!!!!!!
    #11
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/22 21:00:54 (permalink)
    Wednesday April 25 continued
     
    I ended up at the Spanish Governor's palace. Built in the early 1700's, this was actually the home of a local aristocrat and not the governor
     

     
     
    Some rooms have been added on over the years.
     

     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     

     
    Some say the house is haunted. I didn't see or feel anything, so I couldn't tell you for sure.
     

     
     
    '
     
     
    The Courtyard is very pretty.
     

     
     
    I then decided to join in on the sights and sounds of fiesta.
     

     
     

     
    There were plenty of concession stands however I was still too full to try anything
     

     
     
    As I headed towards the Mercado, Lots of live bands playing the locally popular Tejano Music
     

     
    Basically downtown was just hopping
     

     
     
    I did stop at the touristy (some might say tourist trap) Mi Tierra just to take a look inside
     

     
     

     
     
    I thought about getting something from the bakery but was more in the mood for ice cream- it was 96 degrees and humid!
     
    As I went back outsdie, I could hear 80's dance music coming from a boom box- I turned around and saw a crowd standing around this cretin of a guy - playing air guitar and bopping around to the music- truly one of the oddest things I saw on the trip
     

     
     

     
    I then continued on the Riverwalk again, walking across downtown back to my hotel when I  saw a sign of relief
     

     
    Right on the riverwalk- I walked in- they had some real interesting flavors, 
     
    However for some reason, I decided to go with this.
     

     
    Cream Cheese and Jelly- it was actually very good- and actually tasted like cream cheese with a jelly filling. 
    It still wasn't the best ice cream of the trip- that's 3 chapters away.
     
    After spending most of the day walking, I rested up a bit at my hotel to prepare for...more walking...
     
    About a mile and a half north of downtown in a neighborhood referred locally as the "gayborhood" there's 
    a burger stand that's been around forever.
     

     
     

     
    or at least since 1949
     
    Luther's Cafe
     
    I already knew what I was getting before I arrived
     

     
    Frito Pie
     
    The portion was huge, the chili was meaty, flavorful and not too spicy. My only gripe- no jalapenos and inundated with way too many fritos. It could have been more enjoyable  with an equal chili/frito mix. 
    Luther's Cafe had great atmosphere and even had live music- just tone down the fritos!
     
    I then walked back to downtown actually following the riverwalk which I had no idea extend north past downtown.
     
    I stopped at one of the "you name it bars" on the Riverwalk for a ...
     

     
     
    pitcher of margarita.
     
    A great way to end my last evening in San Antonio...
     
    more to come later in the week.
    #12
    Foodbme
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/22 21:52:56 (permalink)
    Great Report!
    "The Corn in the Cup" looks a little bit like Jazzed Up Grits.
    The Coffee Cup in Pensacola serves a similar dish of Grits called Nassau Grits made with a Caribbean Red Sauce. I could see skipping the sour cream & Parmesan cheese adding Salsa and Mexican Cheese to that dish and calling it Mexican Grits!
     
    post edited by Foodbme - 2012/05/22 21:57:17
    #13
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/23 07:49:42 (permalink)
    Thanks Ann
     
    Foodbme
    That was grated Mexican Cheese that was covering the corn, but it had a very similar texture and taste to grated parmesan.
     
    I just didn't care for it at all-
     
    There were a couple of other items I really didn't care  for (minor stuff- thankfully no flat out rotten tomatoes)  they will be coming up in the next  two chapter
    #14
    easydoesit
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/23 08:53:04 (permalink)
    They let you take pictures inside the Alamo!?  When we were there in 2004, we were told no pictures were allowed, and the reason was respect for the ones who had died there.  That was quite an unpopular policy, according to comments we heard from others.
    #15
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/23 12:50:12 (permalink)
    easydoesit
     
    Unfortunately the same policy is still in force. I typed too quickly,   the photos I was allowed to take were inside the Alamo's courtyard. No interior photos were allowed.
    #16
    kozel
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/23 14:55:41 (permalink)
    As I recall, the mood was more subdued than in St Pat's Cathedral in NYC.  I was afraid to even smile.
    #17
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/24 20:15:33 (permalink)
    Thursday April 26
     
    After another decent cuppa joe at Olmos Perk in San Antonio, I was on the road again.
     
    About 75 minutes later I found myself here
     

     
    J Mueller BBQ 
     
    J Mueller sets up shop a couple of miles south of downtown Austin
     
    With nothing more than a truck and trailer
     

     
    and a few picnic tables
     

     
    The smell of smoke permeates the lot- surely a good sign
     
    I arrived a little before 11 AM to ensure that I avoided a large crowd.

    J Mueller is the grandson of the original Louie Mueller
     
    and his Q is from what I understand very similar to the original standards....
     
    All the meet is ordered by the pound, or half a pound..... 
     
    I already knew what I was getting
     

     

    luscious fatty brisket
     

     
    A succulent smokey link 
     
    and my favorite of the bunch
     

     
    The most tender beef rib I've ever had enveloped in smokey bliss...
     
    Wow do I miss texas Q
     
    The sides were merely an after thought
     

     
    Pinto Beans
     
    and
     

     
     
    Chipotle Slaw

    Unfortunately the slaw was the 2nd item of the trip that I didn't care for at all- It was full of onion- and I do not care for onion in my cole slaw at all. I would not order it again.
     

     
    Like Louie Mueller's a small container of a peppery marinade is also included- it's really inconsequential considering how extraordinary the smoked meat is.
     
    Other than the slaw,  J Muellers was truly a home run.
     
    I was  a mile away from my motel, which was only a 15 minute walk to downtown.  too early to check in- I was able to let them hold my luggage, I would only be staying there for one evening. There was a food and wine convention in Austin that weekend which drove the prices of all the downtown hotels up and many of which were also sold out.
     
    I parked my car and walked across the river to downtown.
     
    Just past the center downtown was my "tourist" stop of the day.
     

     
    The Texas State Capitol Building

    A guided tour was given 
     

     
    The statues in the background are of Sam Houston and Stephen Austin
     

     
    And of course this is Davy Crockett.
     

     
    And this painting depicts the Battle of San Jacinto and the Surrender of Santa Ana- the guide told us that everyone wants to see the Alamo- where the Texans lost- however the Battle of San Jacinto was the actual victory.
     

     

     

     
     

     
     
    Looking up at the dome.
     

     
     

     
     
     

     
    We also got to see where the senate and the house congregate to pass legislation
     
    After the tour I walked the Capitol grounds.
     

     
    Afterwards I made my way back to my motel to check in.
     
    Since it was a very warm muggy day, the heat really got to me- that's all I've been dealing with for almost  a week now between Arizona and Texas- first dry heat and now muggy heat.
     
    I spent a couple of hours cooling off before dinner time.
     
    My next stop is nearly 7 years in the waiting. During my visit to Austin back in 2005 for CAT duty for hurricane Katrina, I visited not once, not twice but THREE times!
     
     

     
    Hoover's Cooking
     

     
    my meal began with a complimentary bread basket
    which was fine however I already knew what I was going to order before I even planned this trip.
     

     
    This is the perfect plate
     
    Chicken Fried steak and very real mashed potatos ladled with cream gravy and jalapeno creamed spinach...
    Just as good as I remembered. 
     
    I finished off my meal with dessert.
     

     
    blackberry cobbler- it was anti-climatic compared to the main meal. I've had better.
     
    Hoover's is going to end up on a top 10 list for 2012.
     
    I drove back to my hotel for a few hours after dinner, I then walked back to downtown. 6th Street to be exact to relish the sites and sounds, the live bands and the local beer. I found one bar that had some good live Blues. I don't remember the name of the band.
     
    Afterwards, I turned down one of the side streets, I passed this place earlier in the afternoon.
     
    http://www.shinerssaloon.com/home.php
     
    The Shiner Saloon.
     
    Not just Shiner Bock, but a variety of different beers that Shiner produces- What could get more "regionally appropriate" After enjoying just one more beer I walked back to my motel for the evening...
     
    much more to come....after the holiday weekend.
     
    #18
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/24 20:47:45 (permalink)
    Love the Texas State Capitol!  And the photos of the bbq are outstanding!  Keep up the good work and looking forward to more.
    #19
    billyboy
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/24 20:51:02 (permalink)
    Loving this continuation report, WJ!  Puffy tacos, CFS, Frito Pie, Brisket...!!  Great scenery too!  
     
    I've had that corn before at Latin street fairs here in NYC, but in a different presentation...on the cob.  I think that makes all the difference.  You get the crunch of biting the corn right off the cob and the juices come out from the kernels at that point rather than having a chance to pool in a bowl/cup.  This is what I had from a Latin food truck at a food blogger meet up in Red Hook Brooklyn a couple of years ago:

     
    Looking forward to the rest!
    #20
    tcrouzer
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/24 22:11:19 (permalink)
    Fajitas, tacos, BBQ, and chicken fried steak? Oh, my goodness! What to choose, what to choose? I've got to make my own Frito Pie someday and eat it out of the bag - a walkin' Frito Pie as it were.
     
    What..... no ball field or ball game? Great report, WJ!
    #21
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/25 09:14:49 (permalink)
    wanderingjew

     


    I couldn't help but notice that depending on where one starts, the word can be "TEXAS" or "ASTEX"...and the Aztecs were the ancient rulers of Mexico, from whom Texas was won.  Interesting.
     
    Oh, and the J Mueller barbecue doesn't look half-bad, either.
     
    Brad
    #22
    wanderingjew
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/25 09:18:46 (permalink)
    Billyboy
     
    I never would have guessed that there was an "on the cob version" . I guess it's no longer "corn in the cup" at that point. I would certainly give your version a try if I came across it.
     
    tcrouzer
     
    Thanks
    My main goal on this trip was to see the Arizona Diamondbacks in the open air, since they close the roof when it gets too hot- that's why I went in April. Unfortunately they were only in town two weekends in April- the first weekend was Easter weekend- I figured all the Roadfood restaurants would be closed.
     
    Unfortunately neither of the minor league teams in Austin (actually Round Rock) and San Antonio were in town when I was there- In the early stages of the trip- I thought about heading to Dallas for a day trip to see the Rangers play, but I decided I wanted to do less driving on this trip than I've done in the past so I can enjoy taking in the sites- besides I wanted to spend as much time in Austin as I possibly can so I can really take advantage of the BBQ there.
    Brad
     
    Interesting point- I wonder if  the founding fathers of Texas were playing scrabble when they decided to name the state
    post edited by wanderingjew - 2012/05/25 09:20:50
    #23
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/25 15:06:40 (permalink)
    wj,
    The corn concoction, whether in the cup or on the cob, is called elotes (Spanish for "corn on the cob").  It is sold on street corners all over Chicago, along with chicharrones, fresh fruit sprinkled with hot salt, and snow cones.  The usual recipe is corn, mayonnaise, squeeze margarine, lime juice, grated cotijo chees, and a sprinkle of chile powder. I always get mine stripped from the cob and served in the cup.  I've watched others try to eat elotes from the cob and, let's just say, it's not "first date food".
     
    My main gripe with street cart elotes is the quality of the corn.  The vendors are either using frozen cobs that have been sitting for ages in water, getting soggy to the point of mush, or they're using what I call "horse corn"; the flavorless stuff usually reserved for animal feed.  I've done home made versions of elotes using peak of the season, sweet, fresh ears that are worlds apart from the cart stuff.  Still. if I see somebody busting their butt trying to make a living, and if I'm looking for a snack, I'll pick up a cup of elotes off the street.
     
    Nice report, looking forward to more.
     
    Buddy
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    Foodbme
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/25 20:02:19 (permalink)

    Buddy,
    I believe the "Corn in the Cup" that WJ pictured is a different dish than the Mexican Corn on the cob you described.
    WJ's was hulled corn with the outer shell removed - What's commonly called Grits. It's the inside of a corn kernal. Yours is the whole kernal of corn
    #25
    billyboy
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/25 20:30:14 (permalink)
    Foodbme, I might be wrong but I think WJ's "corn in a cup" is whole kernels.  I think all of the grit-like stuff on top is the cheese.  It would seem that the combination of the corn, cheese, sour cream and lime/lemon juice gave it the creamy/goopy texture.  WJ, what say you?
    #26
    BuddyRoadhouse
    Filet Mignon
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/26 00:59:42 (permalink)
    Yup, that "grainy" stuff on top is the grated cotijo cheese.  The whole kernel corn is underneath.  I've seen (and eaten) enough of them to know.
     
    Buddy
    #27
    Foodbme
    Porterhouse
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/26 03:32:07 (permalink)
    BuddyRoadhouse
    Yup, that "grainy" stuff on top is the grated cotijo cheese.  The whole kernel corn is underneath.  I've seen (and eaten) enough of them to know.
    Buddy

    My Bad, you're right. Sure looks like grits. Guess I don't know my grits from Groceries!
    #28
    wanderingjew
    Sirloin
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/26 12:03:13 (permalink)
    Billyboy and Buddy are correct
     
    It's whole kernel.
     
    Buddy
     
    Thanks for clarifying the type of cheese that was used and the spanish term for the dish-
    It was definitely Sour Cream that was in mine, I didn't taste any mayo.
    #29
    Ralph Melton
    Double Cheeseburger
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    Re:Messin' with Texas 2012/05/26 12:43:19 (permalink)
    wj, thanks for posting that picture of the corn in the cup. I had noticed that for sale at a street festival near La Posta de Mesilla when we were there on the 2010 Roadfood tour, but I hadn't had enough appetite to sample it.
    #30
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