Newspaper article International New York Times

A Cookery Writer on the Allure of Texas

Newspaper article International New York Times

A Cookery Writer on the Allure of Texas

Article excerpt

Lisa Fain, of the blog "Homesick Texan," talks about some of the dishes she sampled on a book tour between Houston and Marfa.


Lisa Fain's blog, "Homesick Texan," is predicated on food nostalgia. From her New York kitchen, she conjures recipes of the kind of comfort food and Tex-Mex dishes she knew growing up in the Lone Star State. But in June, while traveling from Houston to Marfa on a tour for her new cookbook, "The Homesick Texan's Family Table," she had the chance to check out some new restaurants.

Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Ms. Fain about touring Texas.

Q. While in Houston, did you discover any new spots?

Since Katrina, the Vietnamese population has exploded there, and you can see its influence in the food. I had a dish at this coffee shop called Blacksmith that was like a deconstructed steak banh mi. It was flank steak marinated in a rice vinegar and fish sauce and green onions, served with crusty bread, pate and mayonnaise, a little salad with julienne carrots, and two fried eggs on top. Pondicheri has a really good Indian breakfast. I love breakfast, and Texas is a wonderful place for it.

Q. And in Austin?

A.Odd Duck. The chef Bryce Gilmore used to have a truck by the same name, and he takes the classic comfort foods we all grew up with and reinvents them, like homemade Tater Tots and Coca-Cola cake, with Rice Krispies he toasted himself. It's not precious or anything -- just really delicious food.

Q. Next stop was San Antonio. What did you find there?

A.At Ray's Drive Inn, I got a puffy taco, which is a San Antonio specialty. You take this pressed-out corn tortilla and deep-fry so it puffs up. It's delicate and so airy it shatters in your mouth. There are puffy taco wars in San Antonio, and some say Ray's is the best. …

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