In November, one of my bestest friends in the whole wide world, Sarah, came to visit. Sarah did a little research online first and asked if we could go to La Condesa for dinner her first night in town. Far be it from me to say no to tacos, guac, and beer!
I asked Sarah…..will you get up and stand in line at 9:30 am to eat BBQ with me tomorrow? Sarah said yes, of course. Yesssssssss!!
I finally got to try Franklin Barbecue!
Franklin’s is known for having some of the best brisket in the country. Just ask Anthony Bourdain. It was delicious, but I liked the ribs even better.
After devouring some meat, we headed off the duck tour of Austin. I don’t think Sarah blew her duck whistle once. But I made up for it for the both of us.
The State Capitol building
During Sarah’s visit, we also took in two concerts. We saw Snow Patrol (great concert!) at Austin Music Hall and Counting Crows at Stubb’s.
I was very nervous for Snow Patrol as I’d read bad reviews about Austin Music Hall. So maybe the reviewers were whiny….or the hall was improved…or both, but I really enjoyed the venue!! The only downfall is that since it’s near condos/apartments, they have to stop concerts at 10 pm. I wish that Snow Patrol could have played longer.
Our other adventure during Sarah’s visit was the Austin Eats Food Tour. I’d been wanting to try the downtown Austin tour for awhile and had a Groupon to boot! The tour met on a Saturday morning the Republic Park farmers’ market.
Our stops on the food tour:
1. Dai Due Butcher Shop
3. Hut’s Hamburgers
4. Haddington’s–I’d already been to Haddington’s twice before, but this was my first time trying a Moscow Mule! Loooooooove!!
5. Walton’s Fancy and Staple — The shortbread cookies are so good!
For Sarah’s last day in Austin, I suggested a Sunday Funday of brunch and bar hopping! We had brunch at Bess Bistro (otherwise known as Sandra Bullock’s restaurant–as is Walton’s). Then we headed over to Kung Fu Saloon and met up with with my friend, Brandi, and her hubs.
To end on a killer high note, Sarah and I had dinner at Uchi. Oh Uchi….I love thee!! Uchi, you are way better than Uchiko (sorry, Paul Qui). If you’re in Austin and you love sushi, you must go to Uchi. Go early (happy hour prices), get the shag roll, get the maguro sashimi and goat cheese…thank me later!
Sarah, I hope you come again in 2013!! Maybe for a little ACL concert action!
Shortly after I got back from Cleveland, I was off to Omaha to spend the weekend with my BFF Chris. I wanted to visit Chris in Omaha before he moved (back to Charlotte). And it didn’t hurt that Bryan Adams was in town for an acoustic concert. I love me some BA!!
It was a weekend filled with food, drink, shopping, and music. My favorites things! We checked out DJ’s Dugout Sports Bar, The Zin Room (yum!), and Upstream Brewing Company. I know we also went to an Irish bar that was in a basement and it kind of freaked me out…like I could see a random fight breaking out at any moment! So, it must have been an authentic Irish bar.
Chris lived right by the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge, which is also known as the Iowa/Nebraska bridge. I loved this bridge and part of town. This was the view from Chris’ balcony. Of course, I made him walk the bridge with me. Wait, I’m in Iowa…no I’m in Nebraska!
After our walk, we went to Aksarben Village to walk around the art festival. Aksarben = Nebraska spelled backwards…Google is a wonderful thing. The first thing on my agenda though was coffee!
I was immediately drawn to Jones Bros. Cupcakes. This place was a-jumpin’ too!
My favorite piece from the art festival.
My favorite stop in the Aksarben Village was by far the Luvbird Boutique. It was so cute!! I could have done a lot more damage in that store.
After trying & failing to get donuts on Saturday night, I still had donuts on the brain come Monday morning. So immediately after Chris got up on Monday morning, I said…let’s go get donuts!!
My last day in Omaha was spent shopping and gambling at the casino. We didn’t win any money. :/
Happy Hour at Roja Mexican Grill before the concert
En route to the concert
6th row for the concert! It was a great show…acoustic is the way to see Bryan Adams. It was my 3rd time seeing him and the best yet. And can’t wait to visit Chris again in Charlotte this time in 2013!
With this being election day and Ohio being a battleground state, it reminded me… I never blogged about my trip to Cleveland! I went to Cleveland in September for a work trip. I came to town 2 days early to meet up with friends.
There was beautiful weather when I visited! I couldn’t get enough of the sky!
The night I arrived, I met up with Anita, Amy, and Angie for dinner and drinks at Paladar. If you’re a mojito fan, you’ll enjoy Paladar.
The next day, I put on my tourist hat and hit the town with Angie and her husband, Dave. Angie had told me that we definitely had to have brunch at her favorite place, Lucky’s. Lucky’s is a great, quaint farm-to-table restaurant.
Lucky’s has a small garden on-site. Items not harvested there are from local Ohio farmers.
I couldn’t decide between a hot or cold drink. So I got both…hey, I was on vacation! I had the Hazelnut Mocha Shaker and the Ginger, Peach, and Grape smoothie. They were both fantastic!!!
Omelet with sausage, Ohio sweet corn, and white cheddar…served with strawberry coffee cake on the side. Lucky’s was so delicious! If it were in Austin, I’m sure I’d be there every weekend.
After brunch, we walked around the Tremont area to see the sights and shop.
After walking around for awhile, we headed over to tour the A Christmas Story house!
Angie & I
P.S. I’m short.
Angie & Dave
The infamous leg lamp…..fra-gil-e—-must be French.
Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.
After leaving the A Christmas Story house, we did some more sightseeing downtown. Then we dropped Dave off so he could watch football. Angie and I headed over to Little Italy to explore.
We stopped at Presti’s Bakery for some caffeine and sugar. Yay for chocolate dipped macaroons!
My day of exploring Cleveland ended with dinner at Melt. I was told by several people to go to Melt. A restaurant devoted to grilled cheese!? Yes, please. I love the random Halloween & Easter decor. Even more than the grilled cheese, I was exposed to my first banana bread beer!! I was skeptical of ordering this beer, but SO glad I did! It’s so great. Try it if you haven’t!
I opted for the Big Popper: fresh jalapeño peppers, cheddar & herbed cream cheese, crispy battered & deep fried, mixed berry preserves
Yeah, you’ll want to change into your fat pants after eating this sandwich!! You certainly won’t be able to finish it all in one sitting.
Angie got the Falafel grilled cheese, which was a special item. Dang, I wish that I’d have gotten that one!!
I had a great time in Cleveland and Angie was an awesome tour guide!
And if I’m ever in the market to buy a leg lamp, I know where to go now.
Pumpkin Carving Party at Mary’s. I didn’t carve this pumpkin, but was so impressed by it!
On Saturday morning, I went to a clothing swap party. There was a lot more loot to go through than just in this picture.
In addition to some clothes, I also brought Mimomas & muffins!
The best part of a party from 10 am – 2 pm is that you can start with cinnamon rolls & then advance on to cheese straws and hummus!
Someone also brought kolaches! I’ve had sweet kolaches before, but this was my 1st savory kolache with cheese, peppers, and sausage. So good!!
In addition to the clothing swap, it was also a Stella & Dot party!
I got these jade earrings pictured and 2 necklaces. But at least my clothing swap items were free!
I got 2 tank tops, 2 shirts, and a cute black Express skirt that I love.
Saturday night Halloween party at Jessica’s. I was a black cat. Meow!
Eyeball apps!! Mozzarella and olives for the eyes drowning in marinara sauce for the blood.
Blinged out trophies for the costume contest winners.
This evening, I went over to my aunt & uncle’s for dinner for my cousin-in-law’s birthday. My aunt sure knows how to pour a generous glass of wine!!
Chili & corn bread muffins…perfect Sunday night fall food!
Strawberry cake with strawberry icing & strawberry ice cream, my fave!
Happy Birthday, Cary!
My thoughts exactly!
Ice cream at Lick.
My favorite fall breakfast: brown sugar & cinnamon oatmeal with pumpkin & peanut butter mixed in. Served in my spider web Halloween bowl.
There’s always time for wafflewichs on the weekends.
There’s always time for napping and puppy snuggling on the weekends too.
Finished reading The Soldier’s Wife this weekend. Review to come soon.
Dark nails in the fall are a necessity.
One week ago, I had the best night! Joy the Baker was in Austin at BookPeople to talk about her cookbook and sign books. I was so pumped! Joy is one of my favorite food bloggers. Her podcast that she & Tracy do is hilarious as well!
Jessica & I…picture from FoodFash
So, as typical food bloggers do, I turned to Twitter to make plans. Jessica, Kristin and I decided to meet up for the book signing and go out for drinks afterward. As we were waiting for Joy to arrive, we ventured into fantasy land….
“What if Joy came out to drinks with us afterward?”
“What are you going to say when you meet her?”
“I have to think of something witty.”
“Wait, so what if she actually DID come out with us?”
“Should we ask? Hmmm, how do we ask? Where would be a good place to go so she’ll want to come?”
Joy & I
After Joy’s talk and Q&A, it was go time to line up to have our books signed. Kristin and I both invited her for drinks at Contigo after she was done. We threw in that we were food bloggers, so ya know….she’d know we were good people. :)
We settled in at Contigo and started chatting. I had no real reason to think Joy would come to Contigo. She’s tired! She just had to sign a bunch of books and make small talk with strangers.
But you guys….she came! I was OVER.THE.MOON! i seriously got to chat with Joy for over an hour over gin drinks. She was so gracious and lovely and answered my non-stop questions with patience. Such class that Joy the Baker!
And so, in sharing my glee with you…
I’m giving away a copy of the Joy the Baker Cookbook! You WILL want this cookbook. Hello….Coffee Bacon, Baked Chili Cheese Fries, Carrot Cake Pancakes, Chocolate Malt Bread Pudding, & Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies….just to name a few.
To enter: Leave a comment!! It came be about anything. Have you met food bloggers in person before? Did you act like a star-struck fool like me or did you keep it together??
Contest ends Friday night at 11 pm.
Winner will be drawn on Saturday morning.
***edited: Contest has ended. Congrats to the winner: Maureen!
My last day is living in Wichita, I finally had my 1st blogger meetup! I was thrilled when I found Veronica’s blog when living in Wichita. Although you have a common bond with food bloggers in other parts of the country, having one in own city is even more awesome!
Veronica and I met up for lunch the Copper Oven. It was so fun! We had a ton to talk about. I’m pretty sure the waitress started to think that we were never going to leave! I just had so many questions about her blog and just getting to know her better in general.
Left: Veronica; Right: Me
Veronica has such a good heart too! You can just tell that she’s a genuinely nice person. She was so thoughtful to get me a going away gift too! She gave me a cookbook, sheet cake pan, and her recipe for chocolate sheet cake.
She wrote a sweet note that said: ”You can’t go to TX without a fabulous TX sheet cake recipe & a pan to make it in! Enjoy them. I wish you much happiness on this new path & adventure.”
I made the cake yesterday and it is SO yum!!!
Texas Sheet Cake
Recipe very slightly adapted from Veronica’s Cornucopia
For the cake:
1 cup water
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
For the icing:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup Hershey’s cocoa
6 tablespoons milk
16 ounce box powered sugar, sifted (Don’t forget to sift the powdered sugar or you get lumpy frosting like I did!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
*I omitted pecans from the icing as a family member has a nut allergy.
To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. With non-stick cooking spray, spray a 18″ x 12″ jelly roll/sheet cake pan. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the water, butter, oil, and cocoa. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from the heat. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Beat in the eggs, sour cream and cocoa mixture. Add the vanilla. Mix until very smooth, about 2 minutes.
Pour the batter into your sheet cake pan. Bake for 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the the center appears firm and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan.
To make the icing:
In a medium saucepan, add the butter, cocoa, and milk. Stir and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the sifted powdered sugar. Beat until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.
You can pour the warm icing on the warm cake and spread quickly.
Serve warm or cool.
* I serve mine with a scoop of ice cream.
** I also love to eat leftover chocolate cake in a bowl with milk poured on it. Sort of like cake cereal….anyone else do that??
After my dinner at Soul during my vacation in Charlotte, Sarah took me to Amelie’s French Bakery for dessert. I’d heard about Amelie’s when I lived in Charlotte, but sadly never went there. Sarah had recently raved about the salted caramel brownie and said I HAD to go.
Salted caramel brownie. Are there 3 better words in the world??
Amelie’s is in the NoDa area and was only a few minutes from Soul. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I was seriously experiencing foodie visual overload. Oh to be young again! Wouldn’t it have been awesome to WORK there and learn how to make all of these things?
I wish that I would have had more time to make a decision of what to order. It was 10 pm on a Thursday night and it was still PACKED and there was a line, so I had to hurry.
After we ordered, I looked around a bit. Amelie’s is so fun and eclectic. There were no seats in the front room, nor in the room to the left. I figured that we may just have to eat our treats at home. Amelie’s is actually HUGE though. So many small, cozy areas with a few seats for romantic conversation…a quiet place to read/blog….or most likely…a place with tables for students to stay up all night, caffeinated & sugared up to study.
Oh I wish that there had a place like this when I was in college! My studying was just done at the Borders coffee shop. I want to study in a French bakery!!
So what did we order??
Sarah went the (award winning) salted caramel brownie:
And I went with…..
Wait for it…..
Hazelnut Chocolate Tart!
It was simply….perfection.
Happy Friday everyone!
A few weeks ago, I went to Charlotte, NC for my birthday and to visit friends.
And to meet this little guy.
My friends, Kelly & John, had their son, Conley, in November. He’s so cute! And Kelly’s already lost all her baby weight plus some. Whaaaaat?!
First up, after a SIX HOUR delay, I finally arrived in Charlotte. My bestie, Sarah, picked me up at the airport and we immediately head to Soul Gastolounge for dinner.
Soul is a very chill, tapas restaurant in the Plaza Midwood area. It’s been voted one of the best restaurants in Charlotte. It was such a nice night out (in January even!) that we were able to eat outside at 8 pm. I immediately needed a drink after being in airports since 5 am.
Sweet Heat cocktail: tequila, jalapeno simple syrup, fresh squeezed lime juice.
Jalapeno simple syrup!!!!!! This cocktail was so rocking! I need to figure out how to recreate it. Ah-mazing.
I also ordered the white bean & goat cheese dip. It was good, but not worth giving up the stomach space.
That was reserved for:
Pork belly tacos topped with watermelon & balsamic vinegar.
I’d never ordered pork belly before. But they talk about it on Top Chef all the time, so I knew I needed to try it.
DELICIOUS!! If you haven’t tried pork belly before, go for it. Immediately.
Sarah ordered another complete winner too:
Polenta & mushrooms. I was skeptical of this one. I’ve never been a fan of polenta/grits. But maybe I’ve just always had them cooked poorly. This dish was so creamy and yummy. I could have licked the bowl clean!!
Finally, Sarah and I split some sushi. I really can’t remember which roll we got. I believe it was the Crunch roll. A+ for presentation on it!
If you’re in Charlotte, rush out to eat at Soul!
And don’t forget to Cheers! me with your Sweet Heat cocktail for telling you about this place.
Shortly after New Year’s, my friend Amy & I went to dinner at Luciano’s in Mulvane. It was our delayed Christmas get together. I’ve long heard that Luciano’s is a great Italian restaurant and worth the drive from Wichita to Mulvane. It is a small restaurant, so I would advise that you make a reservation.
The restaurant has a nice decor, but a bit cramped. I’m glad that we were placed in the back room so that I didn’t feel on display to the diners that were waiting for a table. Now, when I think of a restaurant that does reservations…I think dress nicely! But it pretty much ran the gamut of attire; jeans & nice tops (Amy & I), dress up folks, and a guy in a sweat suit next to us (which highly annoyed me).
Since dining at Luciano’s was a holiday gathering for Amy & I, we took advantage of the 5 course meal. I did the added wine pairing with each course.
Course 1: Formaggi Trio
Cheese plate featuring Parmesan, Romano Pecorino, & fresh Mozzarella with Kalamata olives. I love cheese, so this was right up my alley. I combined the cheese with the bread we had. I’m not an olive fan, so I gave those to Amy.
Course 2: Pappa al Pomodoro
Tuscan Tomato Soup. Very tasty…it was chunky, which is how I like my tomato soup. And the small portion size was perfect.
Course 3: Pasta Salmone
Flakes of salmon blended with cream & farfalle pasta. I do love salmon and it was cooked well, but I wasn’t too thrilled with it added to my pasta. I would have preferred a plain pasta. The sauce was wonderful though.
Course 4: Pollo Con Crema
Pieces of chicken breaded and sautéed served in a cream sauce and paired with asparagus. This chicken course was why I choose the 5 course menu. Chicken is not on Luciano’s regular menu. The waiter said that Luciano rarely does chicken, but when he does it is phenomenal. How could I say no to that?? It was so delicious!!!! I’m not sure why they sliced the asparagus so thin though. It was hard to stab with my fork.
Course 5: Dolce Della Casa
Chef’s choice of dessert–chocolate mousse. Delicious!
I highly recommend Luciano’s for a special occasion. Make a reservation and for goodness sake, don’t wear a sweat suit.