ACL Paper Boat Report: Chef Blaine Staniford

By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 10.05.14
 The dishes: Chicken & apple sausage on a potato bun ($9), chorizo stuffed dates ($8)
 The vendor: Chef Blaine Staniford (above center, in white chef's coat) of the Fort Worth restaurant Grace
 The report: Blaine Staniford’s chicken sausage began its handmade journey in Fort Worth, where the chef runs his restaurant, Grace. It landed at ACL on Sunday (for one day only, as part of the Austin Food & Wine Chef Showcase), with surprising power for chicken, usually the quiet one in the classroom of sausage meats. Whole fennel seeds left a distinctly German accent, amplified by chile flakes for some heat in the middle, bookended by a seared snap case and a sweet echo of apple and caramelized onion. Staniford is a man of layered flavors, so this sausage also got a brace of super-tart pickled cabbage, hot mustard and a cohesive tide of whole mustard seeds. A dense, stiff potato bun bogged down the flavor party but gave the sausage the support it needed.
The fact that chorizo comes out swinging should surprise no one, but pack it inside a date and wrap it with bacon, and it becomes the Matrix pill that compels you choose the real world, because the real world tastes like fire and smoke and salt and sweetness. The dates came half a dozen to an order, resting on a charred chile sauce with a thatch of arugula on the side. Extra points for rolled bacon that was cooked firm and crisp on the edges. Devils on horseback, angels on horseback? These deserve a name of their own. I’ll start: Swine Dates (because some of the best relationships start that way).
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
More ACL food coverage