Adventures in Eating & Cooking
Blacksmith was definitely the coolest place I’d visited in Houston – hip without being too hipster-ish. Breakfast with a twist served all day with an awesome espresso bar and nice people running it all. Blacksmith was that effortless “cool kid on the block.” The one who didn’t need to try, but just was… well you know, cool. It didn’t need to have “a concept” (that most hipster food places do, such as specialized cotton candy or vegan-paleo sushi). It didn’t need to have some heart-wrenching back story plastered on the wall. It didn’t need to have insane names for its dishes, or even an extensively long menu. It was just good. And this is how:
Pate so Sammy = Viet-Western breakfast fusion done right. It’s a slab of Saigon pork sausage, bed of fresh slaw, over-easy egg – all on top of a light, flaky pastry puff. It seems like such a simple combination, but the textures and flavors meshed together perfectly. The Saigon sausage was savory and meaty, on the leaner side for a processed meat. One could really taste the charred spices classically found in pho. The slaw was super-crispy and fresh, lightly dressed with a vinegar-base. Somehow, this combination left the dish flavorful yet light~
Vietnamese Steak & Eggs = Another effortless Viet-Western fusion (except you have to mix up the eggs and meat, so perhaps not that effortless). This dish resembled a soy-sauce based beef-egg scramble, something reminiscent of a simple stir-fry pork my mom would make. This really felt like home-style eggs for me, something familiar in a foreign city. This erred on the salty side however, likely due to the strong soy-sauce base. However, I’m pretty sensitive to salt (ironic since my parents are from Beijing, the capital of salt in China). But for all the soy-sauce-addicts out there, this makes for a well-balanced breakfast!
Scratch-Square Biscuit with Creme Fraiche & Marmalade – This was jaw-dropping deliciousness packed into one solid biscuit-scone-concoction! Probably the best biscuit I’ve had in my whole life so far… or at least in the top 3. I cannot believe how buttery and fluffy the innards were, blossoming out of a thin, crunchy shell. It exuded buttery, doughy flavor but never felt too dense or oily. It was magic compacted into a quickbread. The creme fraiche was fresh and marmalade solid, but even without them, this biscuit stands on its own. Pure Southern love contained in one single square. Yummy!~
As for the espresso bar, that barista is a genius. He made this amazing cortado, which is Spanish for “stain.” This is essentially a shot of espresso “stained” with milk. Quite silly, since one usually thinks of coffee as the perpetrator of stains. Really it was the quality of the espresso that spoke to me. It was rich, dark, and powerfully bitter, but not overwhelmingly so (which espressos can be). It was just bitter enough to bring out the sweet scent of the coffee bean. And it had just the right amount of whole milk to slightly soften the espresso. I absolutely loved this, and can only aspire to brew something as amazing as this someday~ Someday…!!!
Because I was so enamored by the espresso bar at Blacksmith, I ordered a second coffee drink and sang praises to the barista (who in retrospect, probably found me to be an annoyance of incessant questions). Oh well, I was super-hyped on caffeine and impressed by the cortado. However, the Valrhona mocha fell short of my expectations. It was a bit too much sugar and not enough coffee/dark chocolate. When I hear a name like “Valrhona mocha”, I’m imagining a deep, dark tango between the coffee bean and the cacao bean… dueling for dominance!! But this one, just kind of tasted like Swiss Miss hot chocolate. Sadness. Maybe it’s purposely made this way to ease rookies-caffeinates to the world of coffee. But for coffee purists out there, stick with the espresso-based drinks!
What really made Blacksmith that cool kid you look up to (rather than the “cool kid who bullies others”) was the nice people who worked there~ They chatted us up a little after seeing how excited I was about the coffee, even giving us coupons for free drinks. But after finding out we were only in town for 2 days, one of the guys just offered a free bag of air-tight coffee beans for the road. (Can’t wait to try these at home!!) As a disclaimer, I never revealed myself as a food blogger, Yelper, or any form of influence. Just a traveler and coffee-enthusiast, but the hospitality was all the same. I would definitely stop by for some fusion-breakfast and expert espresso if I’m ever in Houston again.