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The Sizzling History of Fajitas

Iron Cactus FajitasFajitas have grown from obscure, South Texas roots to become a beloved mainstay of Mexican cooking. The history of fajitas, while somewhat blurred, belongs to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and northern Mexico, where skirt steak was often used as payment to vaqueros (Spanish for “cowboys”). The vaqueros soon became adept at marinating the steak and devouring its various, tasty forms.

The mainstream popularity of fajitas truly began in the 70s as restaurants and concession stands in South Texas awakened the cowboy tradition by grilling skirt steak on sizzling platters and serving them with flour tortillas. Soon, thanks to some very satisfied and loyal customers, their popularity exploded. Ingredients quickly grew to include guacamole, grated cheese and pico de gallo, a combination of fresh onions, tomatoes, peppers and cilantro.

The tradition of delivering them to the table on a sizzling platter certainly did nothing to inhibit their popularity. Many customers can readily attest that it is hard to resist the delectable smell of sizzling, flavorful steak as it passes by your table.

Soon enough, they became a staple at Mexican restaurants across the state, with many variations on this simple dish.

At Iron Cactus, we appreciate the authentic roots of fajitas and have added our signature unique blends of flavors to create our own interpretation, including such evocative dishes as Tequila Marinated Chicken Breast, Tequila Adobo Marinated Shrimp, an unforgettable steak and chicken combination, and the Achiote Marinated Pork Carnitas. Be sure to come and try one of these delightful dishes for yourself. You will be keeping an authentic tradition alive while delighting your taste buds.

COOKING ON LIVE TV IS NO EASY TASK, BUT IT’S OH SO FUN!

I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for many years and have always enjoyed learning every aspect of the restaurant business. One thing that I’ve never done in my years of experience is showcase a dish on live TV, but that all changed last Monday.

Iron Cactus Riverwalk was invited to be part of the local NBC morning show, San Antonio Living, for its July 9th show. Being the general manager of the Riverwalk location, I was asked to be the guest on the show to demo a Tex-Mex dish. Our team decided on the Yucatan Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa. It was an excellent choice since it is a refreshing dish that is perfect for the summer season and can be made by the home viewer.

Since this is my TV debut, I arrived at the studio early to make sure I had enough time to set-up and prep for my segment. I was glad that everyone who worked on the show was welcoming from the camera guys to the director to the show’s host, Shelly Miles. She walked me through how the segment was going to go down.

I was also glad that the San Antonio Living set had its own kitchen. It made it easier to get the food and ingredients prepped before I went on the air. I also quickly learned that nothing ever happens as planned on live TV. Due to lack of experience, I had a couple of minor mishaps during prep time. Thankfully, the live cooking segment went without a hitch.

More important, I was able to share with the audience what the Iron Cactus Riverwalk has to offer including our unique Mexican dishes, award-winning margaritas, happy hour and our recent fundraising for our troops.

If you’d like to view the segment and learn how to make Yucatan Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa, play the video below:
 

See you at the Iron Cactus Riverwalk soon!
Steve Clemens
General Manager
Iron Cactus Riverwalk

Do You Know Your Tequila?

Tequila. Oh, how we love our tequila. Sometimes a bit too much, but with over 100 types to sample in our Agave Room, there’s a lot to love. With that said, it’s best to get to know them a bit first, so here’s a quick guide to the five basic categories of tequila.

Blanco/Plata (white/silver) – Bottled straight after distillation or after sitting in neutral oak or stainless steel barrels for up to two months, this tequila is the most neutrally flavored of the five categories.

Reposado (rested) – After a solid nap in an oak barrel for up to a year, reposado tequilas are not so much “aged” as they are “rested-up and ready for anything.”

Joven (young) – Joven tequilas are the offspring of reposado and blanco tequilas, so they’re literally born for mixing.

Añejo (aged/vintage) – There’s plenty of wisdom to be found in a bottle of añejo. This tequila bides its time in an oak barrel for up to three years, absorbing the worldly flavors of the ancients.

Extra Añejo – The granddaddy of tequilas. Extra añejo tequilas slosh around in oak barrels for at least 3 years, reaching heights of enlightenment that a newborn blanco couldn’t begin to comprehend.

Aged tequilas made with 100 percent agave tend to be mellower and more complex, like a wizened old hippy with a dark past. Younger tequilas like the blanco and joven are often a bit harsher and are best enjoyed mixed into something sweeter.

So there you have it. Each tequila has something to love and is precious and unique in its own way. Stop by the Agave Room sometime and get to know one or a hundred.

Be A Star

Be a Star in the next Iron Cactus Commercial!!

Ever dreamed about being marginally famous? Now’s your chance! Iron Cactus is doing a commercial and we’re asking for your help. Yes, you, reading this blog. If you’re reading this post, you’re worthy of a starring role!

Just like our food, we’re trying something a little different. Iron Cactus is a unique dining experience that attracts unique people like yourself – people passionate about our food. That’s kind of our thing. Well…that, and tequila. Oh…and our happy hour…you get the point. So, we wondered, why not celebrate these unique people by putting them in our commercial?

This is where you, reader and presumed eater/drinker, come in. Come into any Iron Cactus with your friends and enjoy your favorite food and drinks, as per usual. This time, though, record it. Take pictures or get it on video, the weirder, happier and more delicious, the better. Go nuts, whatever you want. Then email us your collected works of art at BeOnTV@ironcactus.com.

That’s it. Sit back and wait as the trappings of fame gradually overwhelm your life and your only solace is lobster tacos and happy hour margaritas, which isn’t really so bad, if you think about it.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Caterer

We’ve been catering since 1995. We know it can be overwhelming to find a caterer that fits exactly what you want for your party or event. It’s not an easy task, so we put together some things to think about when hiring a caterer.

How is the food presented? Are we talking china & silverware or disposable plates and utensils? Make sure both parties understand completely the level of presentation provided. Do you want servers present at your event or do you just need the food dropped off?

Quantity vs. Quality?  For many cuisines, freshness is everything. How much food do you need for your event? Will your guests be starving or just need a light snack. (Tip: If you are serving alcohol at your event, you may want to consider going heavy on the food.) Many restaurants will offer very inexpensive menus. That usually means you are sacrificing either quality or quantity. Be aware of both.

Will you need bar service for your event? If so, what are the fees associated with bar service? Many places will charge extra for bar service, sometimes they will even charge you for ice. Make sure you ask very specifically about any charges associated with a catered bar. (Tip: Many venues will require a copy of TABC license for bars. Make sure you are certain your caterer can provide the pertinent documents.)

Have you read the contract? THOROUGHLY? Many caterers ask that you sign a long, sometimes involved, contract. Make sure you read every line of anything that you sign. If something is not clear, ask about it. (Tip: Make sure your caterer has liability insurance, for example.)

Do they cater only to limited occasions? Some caterers specialize in specific meals or times of day. Make sure they can deliver for your event at your time, and your meal.

Do they clearly state the costs up front? Catering costs should be clearly defined, and any additional costs should be made clear and agreed upon. For example, not every caterer will provide utensils, napkins, cups, etc. free of charge. Make sure you communicate your expectations clearly and receive a detailed estimate of how much everything costs.

Your event should be unforgettable for both you and your guests. Iron Cactus delivers a wide range of distinctly flavored, freshly served and beautifully presented catered events that include our unmatched tequila offerings. To learn more about how to make your catered event truly memorable, contact us.

Mezcal

Mezcal is a word that conjures up evocative images of old Mexico. It’s yet another reason why Mexico is unlike any other place. Like the land around it, Mezcal is a world steeped in myth and legend; an experience that connects us to a past realized in smoky wafts of oak and agave.
 
Describing it is like trying to describe the sound a cello makes to a deaf person. It has a fullness and subtlety that emerges slowly. Mezcal is as close as you can get to experiencing pure Mexico in a glass. It’s a mystical, earthy concoction, with roots deep in native culture. Its genius is in its unique creation, as true Mezcal is produced in small towns, located mostly in the state of Oaxaca.
 
Whereas Tequila is only produced from one type of agave plant, Mezca can be produced from different varieties. These differences, along with the closely-guarded recipes and secret preparation techniques are the primary reasons Mezcal has wildly varied tastes.
 
The most important difference from tequila is the smoke. After years of cultivating the agaves, which are grown on the sides of mountains, the pina, or the heart of the plant is buried and smoked over a bed of oak wood for several days. The oak-imparted, blackened heart is then crushed by an old stone wheel pulled by horses and donkeys to extract the precious liquid. The liquid is fermented, then distilled, usually twice, in copper vats, and secret ingredients are added. The Mezcal is then allowed to age in antiquated oak barrels, which provide further flavoring.
 
The result is nothing less than miraculous. The taste is everything Iron Cactus stands for: distinctiveness, authenticity, a spirit that can only be experienced and never quite explained.
 
Right now, Iron Cactus is proud to serve Wahaka Mezcal. Made by 5th generation “mezcaleros” from the small town of San Dionisio Ocotepec, in the state of Oxaaca, it’s as real as it gets. Come sip a a precious glass–you will be transported.
 

A Special Guest for a Special Cause

This past week, we had a very special guest at the Iron Cactus on Sixth Street. Maddie joined us on Wednesday afternoon on our outdoor patio for a margarita and chips. While that doesn’t sound terribly unusual, Maddie is actually a Yellow Labrador, and she was there to help create a great new TV commercial for our friends at the Austin Animal Center.

Austin Animal Center is trying to impress upon people the importance of tagging and microchipping their pets, so if animals get lost, they can be returned to their owners. The idea of the TV spot was to feature Maddie whimsically enjoying popular, iconic Austin locations, and finally being returned to her owner, thanks to her microchipping and tags. So Maddie spent a day getting a trim at Birds Barbershop, catching a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse, paddle-boarding on Lady Bird Lake, listening to a lively street musician on South Congress, and enjoying chips and an afternoon drink from her “margarita bowl” with us at the Iron Cactus. (Animal activists relax; Maddie’s marg was actually just water; although, the ones enjoyed by the creative team from MOSAK Advertising & Insights were very much the real thing and very much enjoyed!)

Maddie joined us for a couple of hours upstairs on the rooftop patio being served by Danielle. Besides working at the Iron Cactus, Danielle is an actress, and she smoothly delivered her lines and margaritas with the friendly service upon which we pride ourselves. Everyone else, from bartenders to managers, also contributed. As animal lovers, we are always happy to help out for a good cause, and the Austin Animal Center is certainly making life better for these animals, their owners and our fellow Austinites. The spot should be running soon and will be posted at AustinAnimalCenter.org.

Austin Animal Center recently opened their new location on the east side at 7201 Levander Loop, and you can have your pet tagged and microchipped there. It’s easy and painless. You’ll also be able to view the spot on the Austin Animal Center Facebook page, as well as our Facebook page. Look for the spot and we’ll look for you on our outdoor patio overlooking Sixth Street enjoying a tasty marg. As Maddie can attest, “it’s a great place to hang out.”

Lobster Tacos

Lobster Tacos, TV and Iron Cactus

On a recent KXAN Tasty Thursday, Gary and Adam from Iron Cactus stopped by to share their recipe for lobster tacos.

Lobster Tacos Recipe

Ingredients

4 oz diced Lobster (portion bag)
0.25 oz Soy Bean Oil (1/2 Tbsp)
0.25 oz diced Jalapenos (Deseeded) (1/2 Tbsp)
1.5 oz prepped Lobster Sauce
1.5 oz shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
1 oz White Wine Cooking
0.5 oz julienne Fresh Spinach
3 ea 4.5″-5″ Flour Tortillas
0.5 oz prepped Veggie Baste
1 oz prepped Pico de Gallo
2 oz prepped Red Pepper Coulis
0.5 oz. prepped Chiffonade Spinach

Directions
1. Pre-heat a saute pan, heat the oil, add the lobster, jalapenos.
2. Saute for 3 minutes, deglaze with white wine, reduce the wine by half and add the lobster sauce
3.Simmer sauce for about 1 minute, remove from heat, and stir in the cheese, then add the spinach.
4. At the same time, brush tortillas with baste and grill making diamond marks. Then fill the tortillas with equal
of the lobster mixture.
5. Place pico at point of tacos on top of lettuce.. Place a 2oz ramekin of red pepper coulis on the plate
beside the pico.

Have you tried the recipe? What did you think?

Give Your Loved Ones a Gift Card From Iron Cactus River Walk!

 

Iron Cactus gift cards make the perfect Christmas gift for your loved ones. This year Iron Cactus introduces “Give Back” gift card this holiday season. Iron Cactus will donate 20% off all gift card proceeds to Soldiers’ Angels from December 1st-December 31st, 2011. For your convienence, you can now order the gift card online: https://onelink.quickgifts.com/merchant/iron-cactus/        Merry Christmas!

Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant Is the Perfect Wedding Venue

Let Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant be your wedding venue on the San Antonio River Walk

Looking for a place to book an upcoming wedding event this year? The Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurants in Downtown San Antonio should be the first place you call. We can accommodate small private wedding parties or larger groups up to 350 people. And we have several private event rooms to choose from.

Plus if you book your event with the Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant on the Riverwalk in 2011, you’ll receive a complimentary champagne toast! Email Rhyann for exclusive details at Rhyann@IronCactus.com and mention this month’s blog!

Your special wedding event will be even more memorable when you choose the Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio as your wedding venue.