Monday, October 13, 2014

PCH Road Trip Day Three {San Francisco}

After a day trip to Napa, we had one final full day and night in San Francisco before picking up the rental car and heading down the coast. Our morning started with a long, cool walk to the Ferry Building for a coffee, followed by a quick drive around downtown via an interesting form of transportation (see below). Indulgence was the theme of the day, as we stopped for some food in no less than five places. We decided to find a little balance today after the yesterday's vineyards, and by balance I mean switching to a tour of some San Francisco breweries. It was a great full day that allowed us to both relax and see a lot of aspects of the city; by bedtime, we felt we had done SF proud and were ready for the next day's adventure.

Inside the Ferry Building
Delicious lattes at Blue Bottle in the Ferry Building
So, this happened. We took a one hour GPS-guided tour of downtown SF in this bad boy.
When traveling, one thing Adam and I both love to do is find city's best hidden gems, even if they may lead you into some questionable areas like the Tenderloin. In case you can't tell from this sexy photo, Adam literally could not wait until he got outside to start eating his our pork sandwich. My first bite of this sandwich may actually have been the best bite of food we had our entire trip, and for less than $4! A seriously amazing find, and the best Vietnamese food I've ever tasted.

After lunch, we decided it was brewery o'clock. We started at Southern Pacific, where the building was incredibly cool and the beers were just as good.
We then went to try Humphry Slocombe ice cream, because much like my precious Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, I have their cookbook and wanted to try it straight from the source. It was fantastic, especially the Harvey Milk & Honey.
After some beer and ice cream, we took a breather and got ready for dinner.  I took this pic to show off my awesome Brit & Belle jewelry c/o Janice. 
21st Amendment was our favorite brewery of the trip both for the beer and the food. (Note: we wanted to go to Anchor Brewing, San Fran's far and away most popular brewery, but it books ages in advance for tours).  
This butternut squash soup with bleu cheese and candied pecans was everything.

Shirt: Urban Outfitters, Skirt: Anthropologie, Shoes: Shoe Mint, Jewelry: Brit & Belle
After 21st amendment we did a little shopping and finished our night with, shock of all shocks, a third brewery. Since "bears" are kind of a thing with Adam and I, this spot just had to make our to do list. We had a nice dinner here which included samplings of beer and cheese pairings, an idea that I of course loved. The food wasn't spectacular, but the beer was nice and we had a great time. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

99 Things to Try this Fall and Winter in Austin

As a maniacal lover of lists, I have a weird assortment of them tucked away all over my laptop, apartment, office, and anywhere else I can find. I mean, seriously, who has three different bucket lists just for travel? I do. (In case your'e wondering, they're for weekend trips, week-long trips, and extended dream vacations). I have a running list of Austin restaurants I want to try, but every time a night-out comes around, the list seems vague and unfocused. Ultimately, we end up going to a nearby staple.

Enter a new list: 99 Things to Try this Fall and Winter in Austin. I laboriously scoured the menus of about a million Austin restaurants, as normal people do, and created a wide-ranging list of drinks, food, and treats that felt both seasonal and unable to be passed on. I can't bring myself to pull out a DSLR in a public restaurant, so the pics are just iPhone snaps, but I'll be updating the list as I go with photos and reviews. If you don't live in Austin, I'm sorry, that stinks... but if you do, let's meet up and knock another item off the list!

  1. Honey-Nut Latte {Thunderbird}

    This. This latte. A rich, creamy latte meets the flavor of Honey Nut Cheerios in the best possible way. It's definitely more of a treat than a daily pre-workday cup of Joe, but it is mightily delicious.
  2. Rush Creek Reserve {Antonelli’s Cheese Shop}:  a seasonal wash-rind cheese that is only available in limited quantities in the fall and winter
  3. Arabicos Taco {La Condesa}: seared venison, pickled cucumber, chipotle harissa, fennel pollen yogurt, cilantro, bacon fat tortilla

    Did I mention this is perfectly medium-rare venison, with yogurt sauce and harissa, in a bacon fat tortilla? I have nothing else to add except yes.
  4. Coliflor a la Plancha {La Condesa}:  Roasted cauliflower steak, chipotle raisin purée, marcona almond, chile de arbol vinaigrette and garlic-cauliflower soubise

    This dish is one of the more out-there choices for me personally on this list, and I'm so glad I included it! Adam was less than sure about it, because if it's out of my comfort zone then it's way out of his, but he liked the flavor despite not believing that vegetables are a meal. I thought it was super tasty (very grown-up descriptor) and am so glad I branched out to try something new! 
  5. El Cubico {La Condesa}: whole leaf tobacco-infused cazadores reposado, vanilla infused brandy, lemon, grilled pineapple juice, mezcal essence, volcanic-saffron-infused salt rim
  6. Black and Bleu Pizza {Second Bar + Kitchen}: black truffle, bleu cheese, medjool dates, pork belly, and red onion

    Just look at this list of ingredients; is there anything that could possibly go wrong? The answer is no, but somehow Second Bar + Kitchen makes it even better than I imagined. This pizza is an assault of amazing flavors, but is so rich that I recommend splitting it and something else on this fantastic menu with a friend. Otherwise, it could become overwhelming.
  7. Cinnamon Roll {Second Bar + Kitchen}: with bourbon caramel and cream cheese frosting

    Bourbon caramel. Cream cheese frosting. Bourbon caramel! I loved this treat so much that I've ordered it twice. The only critique I have is that it isn't served as hot and melty as it could be, but it's utterly fantastic.
  8. Tableside S’mores {Halcyon}
  9. Ol’ Skool Ramen {Ramen Tatsuya}
  10. Congress Burger {Bar Congress}: house ground brisket and chuck, shallot confit, gruyere, and horseradish pickles

    The geniuses behind Congress, Bar Congress, and Second Bar + Kitchen are well known for their Bar Congress Burger, and with good cause. This is just a perfect take on a basically classic cheeseburger, at least as far as gruyere and shallot confit can be considered classic. Adam and I both agreed that it was simply a really damn good burger that we look forward to ordering again. (Disclaimer: we actually ate this at Second Bar, but it's the same burger).
  11. Baked Brie {Bar Congress}:  with apricot mostardo, basil, roasted garlic, and toasted bread
  12. Butterscotch Budino {Foreign & Domestic}:  with whipped cream, caramel, and cacao nibs
  13. Benton’s Ham & Warm Cornbread {Foreign & Domestic}: with tomato jam
  14. Iced Vanilla Latte {Patika Coffee}

    This is my favorite fancy coffee drink so far in Austin (I consider fancy coffee anything that's not your basic cup). It's a perfect blend of coffee, creaminess, and just enough sweet flavor. The fact that it is served out of a tiny, almost unnoticeable trailer in a random parking lot is just bonus. PS - you'll see a lot of iced drinks on this menu, because Austin in fall is perfection.
  15. The Finn & Porter {Finn & Porter}: 7 oz. center cut filet tenderloin & poached lobster creamed spinach, fennel orange beurre blanc
  16. Lobsteryaki {Finn & Porter}: vanilla butter poached lobster tail, cucumber and dried cranberry rolled in saffron rice with seared foie gras and truffle balsamic teriyaki
  17. Beet Salad {Mettle}:  with cashews, white chocolate, and charred apricot vinaigrette
  18. Fried Blue Cheese {Mettle}:  with apples and honey vinaigrette
  19. Vegetable Tart {Arro}:  Roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms and goat cheese
  20. Saint Arnold Pumpkinator {Saint Arnold Brewery}
  21. Malaysian Carrots {Dang Trailer}: served with toasted coriander and peanut sauce
  22. Brisket Curry Wrap {Dang Trailer} served on grilled paratha bread with house pickles and fries
  23. Kimchi Fries {Chi’Lantro}

    These. Fries. I do not even like kimchi, and these are like crack to me. I've had them twice, and it's still not enough. They needed to make the list for a third go-round. This food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant pretty much nails every item on its menu, and you can find it parked all over the city. I can't possibly explain the flavors, you'll just have to try them.
  24. Flaming Salmon {Soto}:  Salmon sashimi that is cooked over flame before your eyes
  25. O-Toro Sashimi {Soto}:  on a bed of shaved truffle companied by creamy sushi rice risotto with wild mushroom
  26. Shroomed Sandwich {Chico & The Fox}: 12 hour smoked pulled pork with roasted garlic aioli, piled high with sauteed mushrooms and swiss
  27. Spiked Bacon Jam {Chico & The Fox}: bourbon-laced bacon jam served with cinnamon sugar pita corners
  28. Dine at Eden East at Springdale Farm: menu changes every weekend
  29. Chicken Tikka Masala Platter {Asiana}: served with rice, naan, saag paneer, and tarkari-do-pyaza
  30. Half Moon Latte {Summermoon Coffee}

    This was my favorite fancy coffee drink prior to Patika. Both iced lattes are great, but this one is just a little less coffee and a little more sweet cream. Summermoon's famous "moon milk" is a magical mixture, but I find the full moon latte to be too much. The half moon latte cuts the cream factor, making for an amazing iced treat.
  31. Texas Brisket {Franklin’s BBQ}

    There is just no way to make this massive platter of meat look pretty for a picture. That's a fact. Franklin's is nearly unanimously known as Austin's best BBQ joint, as evidenced by the fact that lines are several hours long every single day by 8:00am. I wanted to believe there was no way it's good enough to warrant that wait, but it is 100% worth the hype. Do not miss the brisket first and foremost, but the ribs were also so succulent that the meat fell off the bone as I tried to pick one up. This was hands down the best barbecue I have ever had, in any state, and I can't wait to pack some chairs and a cooler of BYOB drinks to tailgate the next line-waiting session.
  32. Hama Chili {Uchi}:  Baby yellowtail, ponzu, thai chili, orange supreme
  33. Walu Walu {Uchi}:  oak-grilled escolar, candied citrus, yuzupon, myoga  
  34. Creme Brulee Steamer {The Steeping Room}
  35. Chai French Toast {The Steeping Room}
  36. Hail Mary {Star Bar}: a bloody Mary so full of “stuff” that it includes its own cheeseburger
  37. Butter Coffee {Picnik}
  38. Pumpkin Latte {Picnik}
  39. Brussels Sprouts {The Hightower}: brussels sprouts, peanut butter, golden raisins, sambal and lemon
  40. Chicken & Waffles {The Hightower}: fried chicken thighs, grit waffle, ginger honey syrup, hot sauce, whipped butter
  41. Cortado {Houndstooth Coffee}
  42. Peanut Butter Oatie Firkin {Pinthouse Pizza}: oatmeal stout with nutella, cocoa, and nutter butters
  43. Lobster and Sweet Corn Orzo {Blackbird & Henry}: with cornbread and sausage streusel, tarragon and corn powder
  44. Cambridge Burnt Cream {Blackbird & Henry}: baked vanilla custard, caramelized sugar
  45. Pumpkin Pie Smoothie {Daily Juice}
  46. Bruin Fall Seasonal {512 Brewing}: made with chocolate and crystal malts, this brew has notes of raisins, dark sugars, and cocoa
  47. Waterfall Pork {Thai-Kun}
  48. Beef Panang Curry {Thai-Kun}
  49. Grilled Bread with Peanut Curry Sauce {Thai-Kun}
  50. Sweet Potato Pancakes {Josephine House}: with maple syrup, toasted Texas pecans, whipped cream
  51. Dine at recently opened Olamaie
  52. Sweet Potato Vanilla Vodka {Buzz Mill Coffee Shop}
  53. Brisket & Ribs {La Barbecue}
  54. Papadulce Taco {Tacodeli}:  Oven roasted sweet potatoes (camote), grilled corn, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, toasted pepitas & a chipotle camote sauce
  55. Tomato-Brie Soup {Annie’s Cafe & Bar}
  56. House Made Iced Chai {Cenote}: made from scratch in house
  57. Butternut Squash Cappellacci {Taverna}:  butter, sage, tomato fondue & fresh parmesan
  58. Goat Cheese Beignets {Cru}:  with honey and cracked black pepper

    Did I seriously just say goat cheese beignets? I did. I really did. I have absolutely no idea how these qualify as beignets, but who cares? They are little balls of battered and deep fried goat cheese... covered in honey! They were melt in your mouth delicious. Adam didn't totally love them, but he doesn't love goat cheese. So, a prerequisite for this dish is being a normal human loving goat cheese.
  59. Ranch-to-Table Steak {Jacoby’s}: choose whatever cut you like, it's all fresh from Jacoby's ranch
  60. Roasted Carrots {Jacobys}: with coriander, honey, and arugula pesto
  61. The Flying Pig {Gourdough’s}:  a Gourdough’s donut with bacon and maple icing
  62. Granny’s Pie {Gourdough’s}:  Caramel, Pecans, Bananas & Graham Cracker
  63. Cajun food at newly opened Sawyer & Co. Diner
  64. Coriander-Maple Pork Ribs {Lamberts Downtown BBQ}: part of Lamberts weekend brunch
  65. The SXSW {Max’s Wine Dive}:  a bowl of jalapeno cheese grits with spicy pulled pork, fried egg, fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, pickled jalapeños and cilantro

    The grits were really yummy, and I never say no to adding sweet corn to something... ever.  The pork was just spicy enough, and the dish overall was really good; it just didn't blow me away.  The SXSW was really good, but not great, and thus was overshadowed by the Fried Chicken Benedict (below). The benedict's blue cheese hollandaise sauce was the tastiest thing across all of our plates, and the fried chicken is moist and delicious.
    Bonus Pick
    Fried Chicken Benedict {Max's Wine Dive}: fluffy biscuits, Max's famous southern fried chicken, fried eggs, topped with buffalo blue cheese hollandaise, served over home fries 

  66. Duckabush Amber {North by Northwest}:  Pilsner, Caravienne, and Chocolate malts give this beer its beautiful, deep amber color
  67. Roasted Garlic Bulbs {North by Northwest}:  with goat cheese and black pepper crostinis
  68. Skillet Fried Cornbread {North by Northwest}:  served in a rich chicken broth with portobello and cremini mushrooms, topped with goat cheese
  69. Fusion Tacos {Fork & Taco}:  new taco restaurant opening mid-September by Uchi alum Casey Fannin
  70. Red Chili Braised Pork Cheeks {The Noble Pig}:  picked fresnos, green tomato, and cotija cheese
  71. Margherita Pizza {Bufalina}:  tomato, mozzarella, basil and parmesan
  72. Mushroom Crepes {Blue Dahlia Bistro}:  mushroom crepes in a bleu cheese parmesan cream sauce and mesclun greens
  73. Chinese BBQ Tacos {The Peached Tortilla}:  chili garlic marinated chicken or braised pork belly, asian slaw, chinese BBQ sauce, and cilantro
  74. Bacon Jam Fries {The Peached Tortilla}:  belgian fries tossed with our signature house made bacon jam, fried egg, sriracha mayo, and green onions
  75. Daily Tasting Menu {Qui}:  nightly selection of seasonal offerings
  76. Butcher’s Burger {Salt and Time}:  topped with aioli and pickles, served with beef fat french fries and tomato jam
  77. Chef’s Selection Tasting Menu {Barley Swine}
  78. Dan Dan Viet Mi {Elizabeth Street Cafe}: housemade egg noodles, ground pork, chile broth, pickled mushrooms, herbs and toasted cashews
  79. Iced Vietnamese Coffee {Elizabeth Street Cafe}
  80. Roasted Beets & Warm Cambozola Cheese {Perla’s}: with Pumpernickel Croutons, Mache, and Aquavit Honey
  81. The Cadillac {Via 313}: gorgonzola cheese, fig preserves, shaved prosciutto, shaved parmesan, balsamic glaze
  82. Pork Spare Ribs {Stiles Switch BBQ}
  83. Gnocchi {Epicerie}: with cauliflower, wild mushrooms, chervil, and basil
  84. Beet & Barley Salad {Epicerie}: yogurt, mint, pumpkin seeds, tarragon vinaigrette
  85. Chicken & Waffle {24 Hour Diner}: Marinated, boneless, skinless fried chicken breast & thigh, brown sugar butter
  86. Pork Belly Slider {Three Little Pigs}: with maple soy glaze, sliced green apple, and fried onion with a side of sesame coleslaw
  87. Soft Pretzels {Easy Tiger}: house-made soft pretzels with smoked gouda, homemade beer cheese, mustard, and salted whipped butter
  88. Frito Pie {Micklethewait Craft Meats}: a heartier version of the classic frito, chili and cheese dish, Mickelthewait tops their pie with two large lamb-chorizo sausages
  89. Lavender Latte {Vintage Heart Coffee}
  90. The Fall Bowl {Blenders & Bowls}: pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, banana and acai, topped with walnuts, granola, strawberries, dates, red apples, and honey

    I really wanted this list to be as well-rounded as possible, including health foods if I absolutely must; enter this Fall Blender Bowl. What does that even mean? I'm not sure. There were so many seasonal flavors in this bad boy that I knew it had to be on a list of things "to try". This bowl is a fruit puree base bursting with fall spices, topped with granola, apples, honey, dates, and inexplicably strawberries. The flavors were strong and really tasty, but ultimately I just don't think the bowl concept in general was something I'd go back to again and again. I guess I'd rather have food or a smoothie, not both.
  91. Toasted Apricot Cocktail {Frank}: house-infused toasted almond and cinnamon Old Forester Rye Whiskey mixed with a touch of house-made vanilla simple syrup. Topped with apricot nectar.
  92. Chocolate Bread Pudding {Frank}: with Maker’s Mark butter sauce and candied bacon
  93. Pumpkin Soup {Bess Bistro}:  with maple bacon jam, spiced creme fraiche, and toasted pumpkin seeds
  94. Cornbread {Black Star Co-Op}: buttermilk-serrano cornbread with honey thyme black peppercorn butter
  95. Black Star Burger {Black Star Co-Op}: locally sourced 44 Farms brisket ground in-house daily, with house made beer mustard, sharp cheddar, bibb lettuce, tomato and onion
  96. The Scarecrow Taco {Torchy's Tacos}: October's taco of the month with pumpkin seed breaded chicken tender, roasted poblano peppers, topped with escabeche carrots, queso fresco, cilantro, and creamy chipotle ranch.

    You guys... one of my favorite tacos ever is back at Torchy's this month! You absolutely must run to Torchy's immediately and order October's Scarecrow Taco. By run I mean drive, but get there fast. Pepita crusted chicken tenders, people. You can't miss that.
  97. Charcuterie and Cheese Board {Henri’s}
  98. Fried Chicken {Red Star Southern}: buttermilk-marinated Tennessee chicken, breaded and fried, seasoned with cayenne, lemon and thyme
  99. Pulled Pork {Red Star Southern}: pecan chip smoked Boston pork but with Duke’s mayonnaise coleslaw on a house-made brioche bun; served with cornbread

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fall Salad Mixer

I made this  Fall Salad Mixer diagram last year, but the sad thing is: I can't find that I ever actually posted it even though I'm 98% sure I did... Oops. Well, 'tis the season again, so here's some serious inspiration for fall. As I'm making a valiant effort to up the nutrients in my diet from approximately zero to a semi-respectable amount, I've found this blast from the past to be helpful. When throwing the salad together, the images provide a visual that helps with mixing colors and textures because, duh, food needs to be pretty and tasty. If nothing else, this is an excuse to eat bacon and brie and call it salad.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Thai Curry Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

I have a new love in my life; it's actually bordering on an obsession. It's my new Vitamix. I spent the longest time harboring a lingering curiosity about what could possibly warrant the outrageous cost of a blender, but I finally bit the bullet after doing a lot of research on everything this mighty little machine can do. Soups, smoothies, nut butters, nut milk, frappe coffees... and on and on and on. I was so excited to make my first soup that I actually had the ingredients ready and waiting for when UPS made their delivery. Needless to say, you'll be seeing a lot of crap thrown into a blender in the near future.

I've had a Thai curry twist on butternut squash soup before, but as I see myself making that a lot in the future, and sweet potatoes are perfectly in season, I decided to switch it up just a bit. This soup is crazy easy to make (even with a normal blender, I dare say), and was crazy delicious. Like, a new favorite delicious. It's spicy and sweet and rich and velvety... in other words, make a lot because it will go fast.

Me committing a crime against the rooster by using anything but real Sriracha. At least it's Trader Joe's though.

Thai Curry Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup


1 T. coconut oil
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 jalapeno, chopped with seeds removed
3.5 T. Thai masaman curry paste (can also use red or panang curry paste)
1 large sweet potato (the bigger the better, or two mediums of course), peeled and chopped
3 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
14 oz. can of coconut milk
1/2 t. salt
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
Cilantro for garnish, if desired
Sriracha for garnish, if desired


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan (one that has a lid) over medium heat. 
  2. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it begins to soften. Add curry paste and stir to coat onions.
  3. Add garlic and jalapeno, sauté for about a minute. 
  4. Add sweet potato, 2.5 cups of broth, the coconut milk, and salt. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Add the soup to your blender (bit by bit if using a normal blender, all at once with Vitamix). Add the peanut butter and blend until smooth. Test the soup for texture, and blend in remaining broth if desired.
  6. Garnish with cilantro and Sriracha.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

PCH Road Trip Day Two {Napa}

Following a full day in San Fran, Adam and I headed up to Napa to tour a few wineries and drink some vino. Full disclosure for this part of our trip: I would not say we had a full Napa experience. Both of us decided that we would reserve a more luxurious trip through the wine country for its own separate weekend getaway, and that this day would be spent relaxing at a few small vineyards sampling wine and eating good food.

We booked the tour last minute and decided to keep it pretty low-cost, but I only have good things to say about the experience with Green Dream Tours. They picked up and dropped us off at our hotel, the guide was great, the stops were fun, and all tastings were included in the price. We also stopped at Oxbow Public Market for an awesome lunch. That being said, we didn't go to the large estate, luxurious vineyards with sweeping views of the valley. All in all, it was a great intro to the area, and we ate and "tasted" ourselves silly. It was an awesome day, and I look forward to joint Napa and Sonoma visit in the future.

Hagafen Winery had the cutest layout and decor
This maxi dress (Anthropologie) is a little manic, but I kind of love it.
Absolutely delicious tacos from Oxbow Public Market, even by Texas standards
Judd's Hill Winery - the point where my camera battery died, and I became even more thankful for my iPhone
Thank you, Mario Andretti and family for feeding the beast


Green Dream Tours
Oxbow Public Market
Hagafen Cellars
Judd's Hill Winery
Andretti Winery