Tuesday, October 28, 2014

PCH Road Trip Day 4 {Monterey, Pebble Beach, Carmel, Point Lobos}

Day four was by far the most action-packed one of our trip. I knew the itinerary was a lot to take in for one day, but after three travel-free days in the bay area I knew we'd be up for some adventure. We left San Francisco early in the morning, hit Highway 1 as soon as possible, and started traveling the coast. We had a few quick pull-off stops, all of which proved to be fun breaks, and several places were hours just weren't enough. The highlight for me was Point Lobos State Reserve, which landscape painter Francis McComas described as "the greatest meeting of land and water in the world". While I'm not sure that's true, it was truly fantastic. This day was a whirlwind, but one that I'll never forget.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel - this is actually a real hostel just south of SF that you can stay in, which is pretty adorable. We didn't, but it's just a quick stop along the highway for a picture. The skies on this morning made the whole scene look isolated and moody.
Natural Bridges State Park - a nice stopping point about 1:45 outside of downtown San Francisco. We stretched our legs and took a nice (cold) breezy walk along the coast.
Natural Bridges State Park
Monterey - we stopped for a seafood lunch and a walk around Monterey's Fisherman's Wharf.  It was definitely touristy, but had a fun, slightly cheesy beach-town feel that was different from any other stop on our trip.
Random acts of pastel.
View from the wharf in Monterey
After lunch, we drove to the nearby entry gate for the 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach. There was so much to see around Pebble Beach, and this drive was a really fun and beautiful part of the trip. All in all, we spent about an hour doing the drive.
The Lone Cypress at Pebble Beach

Adam getting an even higher than normal vantage point. We left through the gate through Carmel to Highway 1, so we got to spend a bit of time in the most charming town ever: Carmel.  I didn't take any pictures here, but it's definitely a worthwhile stopping point to see this adorable place.
We then drove on to Point Lobos State Reserve; this was by far the best surprise of our entire trip.  I didn't have any expectations for this stop, but we were both totally blown away by its beauty.  This is Whaler's Cove, the first stop after entering the park; we sat in this exact area for what seemed like hours just taking it all in.
Just dressing like some kind of forest nymph.  {Dress: Free People}
Ugh, take me back.
Have you ever seen a more hipster photo in your life? I doubt it. This was intended to be a photo of Adam but when I zoomed in, I couldn't help myself. #soartsy #notactuallyartsy

More beauty around Point Lobos. There was so much to see in this park, and I have about 1000 more pictures, but I'll spare you at least a little bit.
We popped back out onto Highway 1 and headed for the famous Bixby Bridge.  The first picture on this post is one of my favorites, and you can see just a hint of the bridge, but here's a closer shot. From Bixby Bridge, it was over an hour drive to our lodging at Treebones resort. This drive went through Big Sur, and past many of the sites that prompted this trip to begin with, including McWay Falls and Pfeiffer Beach. Ideally, we would have had plenty of time at these places on this day, but instead we went to Treebones and backtracked just a big during our full day in the Big Sur area.
...that being said, we did stop at McWay falls on the way to Treebones for a few minutes, for the sole reason that I wanted to make sure I got to see it twice; more on that next time.

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. Lamb Chop Fondue {Roaring Fork}: with white wine fondue, chili pecan bread, and roasted butternut squash

    If this appetizer had consisted of the lamb chops alone, with none of the frills, I would have been satisfied.  They were perfectly cooked, tender, and well seasoned... but then... white wine fondue! Butternut squash! Chili pecan bread! Yes. Yes. Yes! Disclaimer: I had to steal this photo from the inter-web, but it was even more fantastic in person.
  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