Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Finck's 2nd Annual Lone Star Cigar Bash April 2013!

Finck's Cigar Factory Outlet just announced that the 2nd Annual Lone Star Cigar Bash will be April 27th at 3pm at Pedrotti's North Wind Ranch.

Tickets will be available soon!

Here is a link to our blog posts about this year's cigar bash.  The Finck's say that this one will be even better!

Be there or be square


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tasty German Food and Pastries

Fork & Spoon
651 Interstate 35 Business
New Braunfels, TX

Monday - Tuesday 7am - 3pm
Wednesday - Friday 7am - 3pm, 5-10pm
Saturday - Sunday 8am - 3pm, 5-10 pm
Food: 4.5/5
Service: 5/5
Atmosphere 4.5/5
Overall 4.7/5

Hello! Val here! We had noticed this place, and the attached bakery a couple months ago, on one of our trips to Tobacco Haus, however they were always closed on the nights we would go by there, because we tended to get there late. However a nice person we met at Tobacco Haus (Toby of Toby West's Auto Repair) encouraged us to make a point of trying it.

She said:
Today we decided to go out to dinner with our daughter, Goggles, and I remembered the suggestion. We went in, and were sat down right away. The interior was rather charming, much like New Braunfels itself, it had a mixture of old world feel and new construction, natural polished wood and corrugated metal.

Our waiter Roger was energetic, enthusiastic and very funny. He was happy to explain, with some amused sarcasm, anything on the menu. Really, we had a lot of fun chatting with him, and he was always quick to make sure we had everything we needed. The drinks were refilled promptly, and Uwe, the owner, was also ready to jump in and help out.

People like Uwe are why we do what we do here at "...and that is what he/she said" - people who work hard, create a business doing what they love, and share their dreams with the community. He is very knowledgeable as a person and as a chef, and his son works with him as a talented chef himself.

Jaeger Schnitzel
I had the Jaeger Schnitzel, which tends to be the first meal I order at any German Restaurant. It was very tasty, it came with steak fries and a brown gravy with onions, chopped pieces of bacon and mushrooms in it. It was a thinner sauce than the gravy-like sauce I see at many places, but that meant it soaked into the steak fries well, which was rather tasty. At first I was unsure of the sauce, as on its own it tasted different, but once tasted on the meat, it complimented the crispy breading and the tender pork quite nicely. A very balanced flavor with just enough salt to not need any, nor to taste overly salty. The only thing that would make it better would be to have some delicious German fried potatoes with onions, and I think next time I will order the golden Yukon roasted potatoes and see how that tastes.

Goggles here:

Curry wurst
I had the Curry Wurst -
It was very very tasty. Or as I put it at the time, OMNOMNOMNOM
The serving size was good - 2 pieces of bratwurst, they were cooked well without being dried out, and the sauce was excellent. The sauce was a dark golden curry sauce, that was savory and slightly spicy, with a nice warm feeling in my tummy. Very tasty.
The steak fries were lightly salted and very good when dipped in the sauce.

Okay... last time I hand the keyboard to a teenager (sigh)

Pumpkin Turtle cheesecake
This is Val again...
I wanted dessert, as I had been sitting across from the bakery counter throughout the meal. I tried the Pumpkin turtle cheesecake. Thomas got the bienenstich, and Uwe also brought us some of his cream cheese mandarin orange cake and his punch cake (his personal favorite) to try.

I loved the pumpkin turtle cheesecake. It had a softer, creamer texture than I expected from a cheesecake, almost like mousse. It was delicious and had a good balance between the spices, sweetness and the pumpkin, and the caramel and pecan topping complimented it nicely. The cheesecake was more expensive than the other desserts, but it was a very large slice. I would say it is definitely a dessert worth splitting with someone special.

 I thought the bienenstich was a bit dry, but I have never had it before, so I would not know what to compare it to. The almond topping was excellent with a carmelized flavor, and Thomas and Goggles seemed to like it.

mandarin cake on the left, punch cake on the right
I thought the mandarin cake was light and tasty, with an interesting blend of flavors.

I have to agree with Uwe's assessment though. The punch cake is incredible, and I wish I had ordered a cup of coffee to go along with it. It was a wonderful mix of flavors, with vanilla and chocolate and marzipan and some type of alcohol, but I am not sure what. It made me want to sit outside with a cup of coffee and a fine cigar, and I plan on doing so some Saturday afternoon.

Uwe mentioned that the mandarin and the punch cake are much lower in sugar than the other cakes, that I believe he said it would take 43 pieces of punch cake to equal one piece of the Italian cake's sugar content. I thought that was interesting, because both of these cakes were sweet, but without the sinful richness of the other cakes. If you want a smaller dessert that won't leave you feeling guilty about over indulging, I would recommend one of these.

Overall we found the food and the company to be delightful, and it's location makes it the perfect place to have dinner or brunch before heading to the Tobacco Haus for a cigar. We will definitely be returning.

Old World  charm with a Texas twist.

He Said:

We've been looking for a good place near the Tobacco Haus to grab dinner on our occasional night out and were interested in The Fork and Spoon/Theis Bakery for awhile. They were just closed fairly early.

Like Val said, we met Toby having cigars and he let us know his friend Uwe was going to be open later. We were popping up to New Braunfels to do some research for one of her Architectural reports and stopped in here for dinner.

I have to be careful at dining establishments to avoid beef or seafood exposures. They have a varied menu and follow great food hygiene. Robert (our waiter) was ready with information about the dishes and was very entertaining. My glass never got empty and he was conversational without being intrusive.

Speaking of the menu: it was a great mix of some fusion dishes and Old World cuisine. I got the vienna schnitzel to contrast the jaeger schnitzel Val was having and the curry wurst Goggles got.

Vienna schnitzel
Thomas and the bienenstich

This schnitzel is schnitzel at its purest. Just a quick squeeze of lemon and the pork steak.

The crust was just crisp enough and kept the pork moist. Uwe's balance of spices were masterful. The only thing that would have made this better would have been some German fried potatoes instead of steak fries. However, even the fries were well done: very crispy without being over cooked.

This plate came with a salad of greens with croutons and a great Bleu Cheese dressing.

After enjoying our main dish, dessert was in order. All the cakes, pies, and pastries were sitting there beckoning us to eat them. So, after getting the lowdown on everything, I decided to get the bienenstich. Two layer of firm cake with a toasty almond topping separated by whipped cream.

To be honest, it was different at first. But, after a few bites I was hooked. Taking a bite of everyone else's dessert settled it, come here at least for the bakery. Uwe sent us samples of a couple of his desserts to try. This man knows his baking!

As I paid the bill I nearly got some cheese or bacon rolls that were over at the bakery side of the restaurant. But decided I needed to save something for next time.

Goggles really liked the cheesecake

We got a chance to chat with out Host and he is truly a great guy. He came to Texas from Germany and loves his community. He has worked hard to get where he is and still loves his job. Another reason to try and eat local.

Fork and Spoon on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 19, 2012

CAO Concert Event at Finck's Cigar Factory Outlet

Val here!

We had a wonderful time tonight at Finck's Cigar Factory Outlet on West Ave. They hosted Ricky Rodriguez of CAO cigars, promoting the release of the CAO Concert.

The place was PACKED!
I forgot to get some pictures outside while it was still light...
 I was too happy enjoying the brisket and goat.
Thomas seemed to enjoy the Shiner they had on tap.
 I have never had much of a taste for beer,
but lucky for me Finck's sells soda, so I was a happy girl.

CAO was generously giving customers samples of the new cigar, and once I ate, I sat down with some good friends to enjoy it. The wrapper was smooth, with fine veins, no obvious flaws. The wrapper is a Ecuadorian Habano Rosado, with Connecticut broadleaf binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. The Concert is an homage to CAO's roots in Nashville, TN.

The pre-light draw was mildly sweet, and when I lit the cigar, which lit easily, it had a nice draw.  The flavor was interesting. It started out mildly spicy and earthy, with an odd flavor coming up towards the end of the first third. It turns out, I had never tried a cigar with a hay-like flavor before.  During the 2nd third, the hay-like flavor came and went, weaving under and around the strong earthy flavor.  I was not sure how I felt about it all, until I got to the last third. The last third was just fabulous. The flavors all came together just right and the Nicaraguan earth and leather flavors came to the fore.

Pros: The last third had an incredible flavor, the first two thirds were pleasant and a bit different from my every day cigar. This is smack in the middle of the medium range in strength and flavor, so it should please a wide audience.

Cons: Note - I believe most of these cons will disappear once the cigar is aged for a while in our humidors. We will try another one in a couple of weeks and give more information then. The cigar was a bit moist, as it is very new, and towards the last third mine split a bit.  It didn't split so much that I couldn't finish the cigar, but it might have been an issue if it was further up the cigar. Also because of the moistness, I had to relight it a few times, and others in the room seemed to need to do the same.

Overall: Overall I feel that the flavors in the last third show the promise in this cigar, and I look forward to trying it again. This needs some time in a humidor to age a bit, not uncommon with newly released cigars I have tried. Out of all of the non-flavored CAO cigars, I like this one the best.

We had a wonderful time, thanks again for hosting a fine event!  If you want to know what is going on at your local Finck's, check out their site at: http://www.finckscigarfactoryoutlet.com/

Thomas: Trying to catch up...

I was running late getting to the event because things had been busy at work.

By the time I arrived the parking for Finck's was full and I had to park in the lot behind theirs. Be aware if you go, don't park on the street to the side of the shop. The Castle Hills PD will ticket you.

Once inside it was like a family reunion. Old friends and new friends, free food (BBQ brisket and slow roasted goat), free beer on tap (Shiner Bock) or can (Budweiser) and plenty of deals to be had.

The Guys and Gal from CAO were uber friendly and ready to talk details about their new cigar, the CAO Concert. Ricky was very outgoing and ready with cigar knowledge and quips. THE give away was a Concert table top amp that was iPod/MP3 player ready. Way cool!

The cigar itself was interesting. Had some earthy notes with a bit of grassiness or hay notes that kept it interesting. Flavour and strength were smack dab in the middle of medium while flirting with mild for a few puffs and then Full a little later. The Concert would be great with a little age on it and with a strong coffee I think.

Thank You to the fine folks of Finck's and CAO for pulling off a great party!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pho Hai An- When you need your Pho Phix

She Said:

Thomas brought me to this restaurant on one of our early dates. We have been eating here semi-regularly for the past 2 years and find it to be a great place to go when we want a quick, inexpensive, but tasty meal.  We usually get excellent service, and they are very willing to tailor the food to your tastes. Most recently I had some fried rice and summer rolls, but my usual is the sesame chicken which is crisp and mildly sweet (I know, not Vietnamese, but still tasty).

The biggest downsides to this restaurant are the hours - they aren't open very late, and the atmosphere.  They have been around for a while, and their look is very cafeteria-like in respect to the tile floor and cheap furniture, and I could certainly do without the television playing sports. The lighting tends to be very dim, and they rely mostly on the windows and mirrors to keep the place lit.  On one hand, kudos for energy efficiency, on the other, it would feel less dingy with more light. Still, the delicious food makes up for the lack of atmosphere, and while I would not choose this location for a romantic evening, it is definitely good for a meal and a good conversation.

He Said:
This post is a little late. We've been busy about the house for various reasons and have been remiss on getting the blog updates.

This is one of the first restaurants I ate at after moving to San Antonio 15 years ago and still keep coming back for the "at home" service and food. I love Pho. But, with the onset of my beef allergy, I can't indulge in it anymore.

If you've never had Pho, it is a thick, rich full flavored beef  soup with fresh veggies and noodles with a variety of meats available. Pho Hai An does it right. With the little side tray of additional herbs, lemons, peppers, and other garnishes so fresh you'd swear they were picked fresh that day.

Now days I get the other items on their menu and sometimes dip into their Chinese selectons (all of which has that Vietnamese/French colonial twist).

Mostly I get Bun, which is as close to Pho as I can eat. Fresh tender noodles with crisp veggies and lemongrass and your choice of different meat stuffs on top. If you want a quick, fresh, flavorful meal that is a little lighter than the Pho, this is your dish. I recommend bun with the grilled pork meatballs on top.

Don't forget to get the cafe su da or Iced Vietnamese coffee: strong chicory coffee served with sweetened condensed milk stirred in and then poured over ice! It's earthy, cool, sweet flavor is the perfect counter note to sriracha laced Bun...

I'll keep coming here as long as I live in S.A.

Service 4.5/5
Atmosphere 2/5
Food 4.5/5

You can find Pho Hai An at
4934 Windsor Hill
Windcrest, TX

Pho Hai An on Urbanspoon

Pinar Del Rio Event at Finck's

Val here:

We had a great time at Finck's (okay it is always a great time at Finck's) at their event for Pinar Del Rio Cigars. Abe Flores came out to talk about his newest blends, (for more information), the Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserves.  Abe shared his passion for cigars with humor and genuineness that made him a delight to speak with.

The Finck's as always were excellent hosts, providing beer, a friendly relaxing environment and top-notch customer service. The place was packed! Still though, everyone went out of their way to be helpful.

We looked forward to trying out the new Small Batch Reserves, as we very much enjoyed the PDR 1878 Reserva Dominicana and the Finck's Commerce Reserva Privada.

Thomas, loving maduro wrappers tried the maduro, while I took Abe's advice and had the habano wrapper. Both were very enjoyable smokes, and we picked up a few more to share with friends later on. It was hard to get a full impression of the flavor of these smokes, as it was very crowded and smokey (though not as bad since they added the new ventilation system - Thanks!) so a full review will have to wait until the next time we smoke them, but overall, I would say that these are definitely cigars we want to smoke again.

Thanks for a lot of fun, and we look forward to the next PDR event!

Thomas here:
Great time!!! Thank you, again, Finck family for making all of us feel at home. This was a great event. Having Shiner Bock on tap was a wonderful addition to your Hospitality.

The new PDR's were great. The Maduro was a full flavored, full powered, balanced and tasty cigar.

Abe and crew were a riot and informative.

Like Val said, a full review is forth coming as it was smoky and we couldn't get the full pallet of these cigars. Looking forward to the cooler weather and trying these with a late night Rebecca Creek Whiskey soon.