Friday, August 30, 2013

Keeping Cool In Austin In August

Friday, August 30, 2013
We continued our Saturday with an attempt to wait in line at Franklin BBQ, but it was a three hour wait so we decided to try again the next day. Instead we ate breakfast tacos with migas and enjoyed Shiner Ruby Redbird (beer with grapefruit and ginger - so good!). Both migas breakfast tacos and Ruby Redbird are two very Austin-specific things. Migas is leftover bread or tortillas and in Texas is incorporated into the scrambled eggs and other taco fillings. After enjoying that, we went to an ice cream festival! Sounds great right? 
S's face here kind of sums up how we felt in between licks of ice cream. It was so hot, unshaded, and crowded. Not to mention there was a terrible band performing under the largest tent. We sacrificed our ears to enjoy our Good Pop popsicles under the shade which was totally worth the festival visit. Ultimately we decided we had had enough, and ventured to explore the rest of Austin. 
This little old man serving frozen custard in a tiny bow-tie was super cute and was such a sight that we waited in the frozen custard line. 
The rest of the night we don't have any photos of because we went downtown to eat and drink and I didn't want to subject my precious camera to a night on dirty sixth street. I'm not just being rude, they actually call it "dirty six" on Friday and Saturday nights after 10:00 pm because it gets dirty. But it's all part of the spectacle. 
We started at Frank's which is a well known artisan sausage/hot dog restaurant. Both S and I indulged in the "jackelope" sausage which was both antelope, rabbit, and pork topped with cranberry compote, sriracha aioli, and cheddar. It was awesome. They also had an awesome selection of cocktails, and I had a "Ranch House Lemonade" which was made with one of my favorite bourbons, Woodford Reserve, with lemon, ginger, and blood orange. Perfect to cool me down from the hot afternoon ice cream festival. 
After that we stumbled upon an awesome menswear shop called Dandy's where we chatted with the whiskey-sipping owners for an hour. They wowed us with their flaming wallets and ended up telling us about an invite-only massage parlor/brothel turned bar (more on that in a later post). We walked to another place for drinks called Swift's Attic. I had a Negroni to drink which I wasn't crazy about, but then our appetites emerged and we ordered pork cheeks. They served the pork cheeks with sourdough, fig preserves, and whole grain mustard to make a little bruschetta. It was mouth-watering and phenomenal. The sweet and tart spreads paired so nicely against the tender pork cheeks. 
On Sunday morning, we attempted to wait in the Franklin BBQ line again but it was now a four hour wait. By the time we would eat, we would have been so grumpy that I'm not sure if we could have enjoyed it. The thing is, people wait in this line because the brisket is so good it was voted best BBQ by Bon Appetite. They open at 11 am and close when they sell out of meat - which is like three to four hours later. Plus, if Anthony Bourdain likes it, it's gotta be good. Ultimately, we never got to experience Franklin. But there is always our next visit. 
For brunch we went to Hillside Farmacy where I got a croque madame and a a grapefruit/hibiscus mimosa. After that, we ventured to the nearby Pemberton Castle which is where the 90's movie Blank Check was filmed. This is the mansion that was every kid's dream in the 90's and now it is majestically covered in ivy. There is no longer a slide and pool in the backyard (we peeked through the fence) but there is still a ladder on the small terrace that takes you to the roof. 
To continue the beautiful day, we ventured to Mount Bonnell where we walked up some stone stairs to get the best view in Austin. It was beautiful and serene, looking miles over the water and trees. If I hadn't known that these photos were in Austin, I would have never guessed. 
After our nature walk, we made our way to Rainey Street which is known for all of it's houses turned into bars and restaurants. It was past lunch time, so we grabbed a Shiner Ruby Redbird at Bungalow before taking an afternoon break. 
The plan for the rest of the evening was to relax before our drink reservations at the massage parlor/brothel turned bar and dinner reservations at the swine and wine bar I'd heard great things again, Salty Sow. I hope you all have a great weekend ahead! I know some of us have a 3 day weekend and some of us even  have a 4 day weekend with today off! Either way, enjoy yourselves and the last bit of summer! It's September! I can put my boots on now, right?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An Austin Institution

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
We started our Saturday with local coffee at Once Over coffee. We grabbed breakfast tacos at the corner taco truck for our long wait in the Franklin BBQ line (more on that in the next post...).
Our friend knows us so well and especially appreciates food just like we do. She brought us to the flagship Whole Foods which I believe is bigger than the closest Walmart that we have in Florida. It's amazing. This is how Whole Foods everywhere should be. It's seriously a department store/theme park. I can't decide. We visited three times and I enjoyed it every minute!
This Saturday morning we started the day at the Whole Foods for mimosas instead of at a restaurant. Yes, this Whole Foods has a bar. One of our first visits, we all got glasses of wine and shopped while sipping a rose for summer. This time, we took a seat at the quiet bar - only tourists drink before noon. 
Among the great things that this Whole Foods has includes that wine bar, a beer cave, a taqueria, a candy island, a coffee bar, and even a loft area over looking the store for customers who want to eat their food before bringing it home. One of the things that this Whole Foods does is takes the ends or small pieces of cheeses and wraps them to sell for three dollars. I wish my Whole Foods would do that! It would be a great and easy way to try all different kinds of cheeses and to put together a small cheese sampling board for two. I will have to talk to my cheesemonger about this.
This flagship store also has an old cigarette vending machine turned art vending machine. It was actually very cool and we bought two different pieces of wood art. There were other art pieces to chose from like jewelry or mixed media and you didn't really know what to expect from the artist listed. I really adore the mid-century look of this machine. Kind of wish I could have one in my house dispensing chocolates or cheese! 
After our lovely Whole Foods trip, we quickly stopped by the downtown farmer's market. You all know by now how much we love farmer's markets - I mean, we got married in one. However, this one actually has many locally sourced products. Our farmer's markets in Florida are quite lacking and source many of the produce and products from other states. 
I have really grown to adore the Austin downtown skyline. I was never one for skylines because I was raised in NYC and nothing compares to Manhattan. The Orlando skyline never did anything for me, and Paris is so centralized I barely recognized any buildings besides the out of place Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur. However, there is something poetic about the Austin skyline - it has great movement like notes on a clef. 
The Frost Bank building was one of my favorite buildings. It is said that it was designed to look like an owl at certain angles and much of our families know that I adored owls when I was in high school. Owls were always so studious and mysterious, my angsty high-school self could relate to that back then. 
In keeping Austin weird, we not only came upon owl-like buildings but also a couple of people going on a ride to brunch on their horses. We of course stopped to stroke the gorgeous horses, especially after noticing that one of them had the most gorgeous blue eyes. 
Everything in Austin is locally sourced from the soap to the jewelry. You couldn't find t-shirts made in China even if you tried. I really adore that about Austin, and so did my stomach. Every dish and ingredient was made locally and was delicious. That's one thing I will miss about Austin, that there is practically no processed food in sight. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Keeping Austin Weird

Monday, August 26, 2013
To continue our first full day in Austin, we had pizza for lunch at Home Slice on South Congress. It was definitely some good pizza. We ordered a whole pie of sausage, ricotta, and roasted red peppers. You can see that delicious pie on my Instagram
After pizza and beer we decided to cool off with some ice cream. Amy's was just down the street on South Congress, but none of the flavors seemed that interesting to us. Our friend knows us so well, we hopped in the car and she took us to a much more interesting ice cream shop called Lick. There were some amazing flavors there - I can't even remember them all. I tried a fig jam one that was just too sweet for me, and I ended up going with a goat cheese, honey, and thyme ice cream for my top scoop and a lemon and lavender ice cream for my bottom scoop. Both were light and refreshing yet so flavorful. 
At sunset, the infamous bats of Austin come out for the night. Instead of stationing ourselves on top of the bridge, our friend gave us the insight to take the Lake Lady Bird trail to under the Congress bridge. From there we watched the bats emerge.
I'm sure our view of the bats against the sky was much better than the bridge-viewers against the water. Although it was smelly from the homeless men's pee or the warm bat bodies, we stuck it out to enjoy the sight.
For dinner, we decided on Lucy's fried chicken which is known for great cocktails and of course, fried chicken. We like to think that our plan was to eat all of the fatty foods in the beginning, but we pretty much indulged during our entire trip. 
I have been on a corn muffin kick lately. Ever since a Fresh Market opened up a block away from my museum, I've been wanting corn muffins and soup every day. These corn muffins had fantastic bits of jalapeno and came with tequila butter for spreading. Best way to start a fried chicken meal.
We got a bucket of fried chicken to split between the three of us and it was topped with strips of pickles and giant slices of jalapenos. The jalapenos just rubbed against the fried chicken skin ever so slightly to give it some heat, but not enough to offend. It was a great technique.
We ended our meal with a smores pie - chocolate, roasted marshmallow, coffee crumbles, and a scoop of ice cream. Definitely were feeling full after this meal, so we headed to our friends house for the night to rest up for the next day.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Welcome to Austin

Friday, August 23, 2013
I am back from Austin, TX and with hundreds of photos! I have so many photos to share with you and I promise they are all worth the numerous posts ahead. Although S and I were both visiting our friend (she did our cupcakes and tarts for our wedding), we arrived on separate flights, and I stayed a little bit longer. This wasn't my first time flying alone, but it's been a long time and I was feeling a little nervous. In the end, I had two awesome flights - I even got to enjoy a whiskey and ginger to start my trip!
When I first arrived, my friend showed me hatch chilies which are in season right now. She grabbed a batch to cook three ways for an article in her magazine, Naturally Fit. I've never heard of hatch chilies before but they are from Hatch Valley in New Mexico and the hatch chile is a prized commodity just like peonies during their season. She made salsa, guacamole, and turkey burgers steamed in collard greens. Be sure to check out the September issue when it comes out on the first! I got to tag along on that cover photo shoot as well, but more on that later.
I thought that the best way to show all of my favorite photographs was chronologically. Our first Austin meal was of course at an Austin institution, P. Terry's. It's a fast food burger place with local and organic ingredients and it was so good. 
Our first morning, we started with bacon, eggs, and roasted tomatoes homemade by our friend. Not only is she a great hostess, but she makes the most delicious meals. Our friend lives right off of South Congress, which is a strip of restaurants and shops, all great and personally owned. The infamous bridge is on Congress, just past all of the shops, and then it intersects with 6th street which is in the heart of downtown Austin. After a good breakfast, we went to Perla's on South Congress, which is a seafood and oyster bar. We dropped in  just for drinks to properly celebrate the vacation. 
S ordered a drink called The Passenger which was made of gin, elderflower liquor, lime, and mint. It was so refreshing and perfect for a warm Austin day. I had the purple one, called a Ravens Feather, made with violet liquor, elderflower liquor, and champagne. Our friend ordered the best bloody mary that I've ever had, made with clamato which is tomato juice and clam broth. The clam really brightened it up and added a delicious kick to it. 
We walked up and down South Congress popping in and out of all of the shops. The first shop on our list was Uncommon Objects, an antique shop made up of vendors and stocked with great pieces. Among my favorite inventory were beautiful wreaths made of human hair. In the Victorian Era hair from deceased loved ones was used to create art as a memorial. As strange as it was, it was one of the most unique pieces I've seen in an antique shop. 
The few things that we did take away were a couple of tuning forks that you bang together and ring for you to tune an instrument. We also bought some lab slides, which reminded me of one of my favorite shows, Dexter. Lastly, S bought six mahjong tiles. Kind of a strange thing to add to the list, but every time he sees old mahjong tiles in a shop, he buys a handful. He has half ceramic and half bamboo ones, ceramic ones, and now some sap-like plastic ones. They all have different symbols on them, and who knows, maybe one day we'll have a whole mismatched set. 
A couple of the shops are well known like this Allens Boots, where all of the tourists buys their cowboy boots in Texas. I was not in the market for any boots, but I enjoyed checking out the print shop, art deco jewelry shop, antique shops, and a record shop. I bought a ring for myself from the art deco jewelry shops, and S  bought himself three records to bring home. This record shop also had a section titled "2000s indie" which made me feel old because there are plenty of albums in that category that I still listen to.
I had many more photos to show you so please enjoy your weekend and come back to see next weeks posts! There are some amazing places that we visited that I cannot wait to share.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Home Cooking With Family

Wednesday, August 14, 2013
One of the best things that we did this past weekend was cooking at my moms house with my grandmother and my aunt. My aunt and uncle from Manhattan were visiting Florida, and my grandparents recently bought a condo in Florida since they sold their farm in Brazil. Their condo is getting updated but they'll be ready to move in in no time!
My aunt made a dessert that she used to always make for us growing up in New York, strawberry shortcake. It's a simple dish of angel food cake topped with a quick strawberry jam, fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, and lastly homemade vanilla whipped cream. It was just as delicious as I remember it being.
The rest of the menu consisted of browned chicken in a cast iron dutch oven seasoned with paprika and red pepper flakes. My grandmother shared the secret to getting the chicken perfectly brown (soy sauce or some sugar).
My aunt also made collard greens which is another dish I haven't had since I lived in New York. She rolled the collard green leaves up like a spring roll, and sliced them into strips. On the stove top, she sauteed them with a little garlic, salt, and pepper, and they were so very delicious. The bitterness wasn't overwhelming, but the greens had the same earthy flavor that I love in brussel sprouts. 
Another favorite that we had was polenta. Growing up, my mom would always make polenta which is made from corn meal. We'd always have a big batch and the next day my dad would take it and saute it in a frying pan making fried polenta, a little treat. I hung around the kitchen while every one chatted, asking my aunt and grandmother how to make these dishes that I've had all my life. We even made some solid plans for our honeymoon in February to Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil with my grandparents advice. We still have yet to book our tickets, but we are definitely on the right track!
We started the meal with a little cheese plate of brie, manchego, swiss, cheddar, and paired it with a champagne toast. We toasted to my grandparents new condo, toasted to my aunt and uncle visiting, and toasted to our wedding in which they were able to finally celebrate with us. 
Tomorrow we leave for Austin, Texas! I don't have any posts scheduled for the week, so you'll have to find me on Instagram to follow along! I'm so excited for this trip and all of the good food, good drinks, and I'm even excited to play assistant as I tote along to my friend's work-related errands. Hope everyone has an equally delicious week like mines about to be!
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