• Chef Jacob

I see the world very differently now. In the past as I sped down the road, I often admired the beautiful yellow flowers growing everywhere. But it was a passing thought which hardly even registered in the clutter of daily life. Now I see brassica – a delicious, edible cousin to cabbage and broccoli. I see our vegetable terrine, beef tartar and Floral cocktail adorned.

When Jacob and I first started talking about the concept for Ramble, we talked about native Texas cuisine. We envisioned a place where our guests would leave the restaurant KNOWING what Texas tasted like. The actual grass, air and soil. The terroir.

Along with Alicia Wells (a local Austin-based artist and photographer that I’m lucky enough to call my sister-in-law), I joined Jacob on a foraging expedition on the first day of Spring. It was a beautiful, misty, cool Spring morning. The sunrise that day was spectacularly colored. We followed Jacob as he knelt beside Salado creek. Within 5 minutes, he’d half-filled his backpack with edibles. All within an arm’s reach. It hit me how much bounty there was. Bounty in things I previously would have called weeds.

Jacob walks, talks, and astounds you with his encyclopedic knowledge and hands you things to taste and smell. I joke that every foraging trip turns into me feeling as if I’ve eaten a salad.

I wish that everyone could have this experience. Look closer. See, taste, touch and smell Texas. Ground yourself. Connect.

E Karleskind

  • Chef Jacob

There are few things which seem to calm the collective soul or bind the collective experience. One of them is the dinner table, the heartbeat of commonality and the eraser of diversity as a mantra. The diversity we celebrate is only found in the details of the dinner table, the ingredients, the smells, the aromas may very well be different but the effect on the soul and on memory is uniquely not unique. The whole of our kind smell holidays, smell grandmother’s house, hear the voices of our loved ones in the distant hearth light. Diversity in this sense is an illusion, a mechanism to celebrate nothing more than encapsulated romance, cumin vs. oregano, marinara vs. curry, tagine vs. doro wat. In reality, the vignettes of dinner tables dotting our stories are all romantic, they are all beautiful with one being no more or less special than the other.

Our cultures may be defined and differentiated in a great part by our cuisines, but the effect of our cuisines upon us as individuals remains strikingly similar. It is at the dinner table that we are most prone to share, to receive, to be open to forget the myriad conflicts that divide us and to allow the deepest conflicts of our politics to settle into the background while we explore the hearts of our enemies. And in those moments when we forget all but our most base humanity, our enemy is not our enemy any longer, but a companion.

I am reminded of two people that have dined at the restaurant. They both walked the garden, they both touched and sniffed the various herbs, and they both stopped at one in particular. One stopped at oregano, the other at thai basil, and they both were taken to their grandparent’s kitchen. If we cannot understand this very basic truth about ourselves as a whole then we will remain fractured, only feeling closeness to those whose tables look just like our own, whose choices are defined by the happenstance of terroir like our own. There can be no brotherly love if we do not accept that diversity is often more about detail than kind.

This holiday, our gratitude for family, for our loves ones, if given the opportunity to sit at the dinner table will shine a light not on the differences we are asked to celebrate, but on the commonalities that we often forget. So, this holiday, lets cook with each other, sit with each other, talk with each other.

  • Chef Jacob

Updated: Nov 18, 2018

Even with the sun raining hell heat down onto scorched earth our little garden remains green. A contrived oasis. Often the garden is seen as a place for inspiration, though I understand that I might take a different view.

Bee Balm

I am in the garden every morning and when I look over to the lemongrass occasionally an idea is born, but rarely does the mind provide eureka. Mostly I am comforted by the presence of the garden, the struggling constancy of it. Somewhere in there is a narrative being told about the coalescing of true cooking and basic survival, a place where an art relies on the world directly around its creation to manifest. In order to make a jus flavored with thyme, there must be thyme, and in order for there to be thyme there must be millions of little things happening in concert for it to grow just outside the door. In understanding that and standing witness to the natural world and its great struggle, we are less likely to throw even the tiniest bit of thyme away.

The morning here provides and affirmation. We are here to cook exactly what is around us and to figure out how, at our best, to express the little place we have created. This is not always easy, sometimes the mind and imagination carry us away to far off places. This is ok, even healthy, but we have to go out on those limbs to learn how to climb back to the trunk. The tree grows, the trunk grows larger, and we learn from a stronger and more informed base with rings growing outward to possibilities in minute increments.

Gardens, cooking, and probably life is best curated with patience and observation in harmony. I am learning to let passions and inspirations give way to something less combustible. Go pick some thyme and roast a chicken today. What’s better?