Austin

Food & Friends: Food's Social Aspect (Part 5)

So it is finally time for me to close out the Austin trip! I apologize for the long delay, but life got hectic! :)  So please refer to Food & Friends: Food's Social Aspect Part 4 to refresh your memory on our journey!

So after we purchased our delicious cupcakes from "Hey Cupcake" we ventured out for the day! The day was beautiful with a blue sky and tons of sunshine!  The feeling in the air was much like any Saturday in the southeast, excitement about FOOTBALL! Texas had a home game later that afternoon, so we got a tour of the campus to experience the excitement!  But before our tour, Zach took us to an Austin, Texas landmark since 1977, called "Trudy's". (http://www.trudys.com)

We visited Trudy's central location on West 30th Street!  To the locals, Trudy's is known for their infamous "Mexican Martini", which the establishment limits the locals to the purchase limit of 2! The restaurant prides itself on their powerful martinis, but you should be forewarned about the strength of this specialty drink! The menu had a wide variety of choices to fit everyone's taste!

April ordered the Spinach Quesadilla which was a flour tortilla filled with spinach, spicy black beans, and sauteed mushrooms and onions!

Zach ordered the Fish Tacos which is properly listed under "Southern Specialties" on Trudy's menu! The fish tacos were 2 corn tortillas filled with breaded tilapia fillets, shredded red cabbage, and fresh cilantro. The entree was pair with a chipotle ranch dipping sauce to add a nice punch of flavor!

I ordered the Veggie Combination Plate which consisted of an enchilada filled with mushroom and cheese, a spicy black bean taco, Spanish rice, and beans!  I can confidently recommend this choice to any future visitors to Trudy's, but the spicy black bean taco did not match the same quality and taste that Trudy's represents through their other menu items!

But of all the entrees we ordered, Mike's won the prize for best flavor! Mike ordered the Chicken Flautas plate which consisted of 4 corn tortillas stuffed with spiced chicken rolled and fried. Served with guacamole, sour cream, and queso.

After enjoying this hearty, satisfying lunch we were ready to continue our adventures in Austin!  After hours and hours of wondering around the city, we worked up an appetite and decided to have dinner at a Texas BBQ place with the name of , Rudy's! (http://www.rudys.com) And yes, the name of the restaurants rhyme, but this was not our intention! ha!  I do not have pictures of our meal choices at Rudy's, but in summary we all enjoyed BBQ turkey and brisket, roasted potatoes, white bread, and creamed corn, which was my personal favorite! All items were ordered separately in family style containers!  Rudy's hosted a layed back environment and great tasting food!

This concludes my journey to Austin, Texas but more adventures of Food & Friends continue as I share more recent travels with the NutriFocus family!

Food & Friends: Food's Social Aspect (Part 4)

Upon waking up on day 2 of our mini-Texas vacation, we walked to a unique, coffee “stop” just around the corner from our adorable abode.  Jo’s Hot Coffee (http://www.joscoffee.com/congress/jossouthcongress.htm) is located next to San Jose Hotel, a hip hotel tucked away in luscious greenery, in the funky district of south Austin.Jo’s menu did not include just your ordinary coffeehouse selections. Jo’s menu included fresh baked goods, hot & cold coffee beverages, deli-style sandwiches, side items (potato salad, coleslaw, fresh fruit, chips, and shredded green salad), beer, and cigarettes! Since it was breakfast time, I was focused mainly on the breakfast menu which included breakfast tacos (which seemed to be a popular menu item in Austin), fresh baked muffins, and homemade granola!

The main advertisement on their aluminum siding shack, bragged about an original specialty drink called “Iced Turbo”.  I decided I must go with their original creation to ensure I was experiencing Austin's food genre!  So I ordered a small “Iced Turbo” and picked up a bag of homemade granola.  Since Mike and I planned to nibble on each other’s food, he picked out a freshly baked blueberry muffin!  Both items were absolutely incredible, but the true essence of Jo’s was captured in the funky, eclectic environment that consisted of an aluminum shack, random outdoor tables, non-matching chairs, and the ambiance that encouraged friends to converse and people watch as the city of Austin begin to awaken!

On the way back to the house, we decided we better go ahead and pick up cupcakes from “Hey Cupcake” (www.heycupcake.com/) since they were closed the previous night when we wanted to pick up a few treats.  Just like Jo’s, Hey Cupcake was a small establishment, (it was actually a trailer) located on the side of South Congress Avenue.  By the looks of the trailor, you would never realized that located inside was an array of delicious, delectable, freshly baked cupcakes!  Their slogan: “Who You Callin Cupcake?”

As we began reading through the menu, the decision making process became more difficult with each menu item!  So I, the dietitian, make the final decision that a decision does not have to be made because I read a sign that states “The Dozen Deal: Buy 11 cupcakes and Get 1 Free” so that is exactly what I ordered.  I asked for two cupcakes of each flavor and agreed to a sampler party later on that evening with April, Zach, and Mike!  Our "dozen deal" flavors included: Vanilla Dream, Carrot Cake, Red Velvet, Pumpkinator, Michael Jackson, and Sweetberry!

 

After sampling a combination of the Pumpkinator, Sweetberry, Carrot Cake, and Red Velvet, I claimed the Pumpkinator (the Pumpkinator cupcake is the third cupcake from the top in the box on the right-hand side in the picture above) as the winner of my personal taste test. I have to admit that my cupcake taste buds are hard to win over since I am a Birmingahm local with unlimited access to Dreamcakes Bakery (www.dreamcakes-bakery.com)  in Homewood! Although "Hey Cupcake" put up a strong fight with the Sweetberry cupcake (equivalent to Dreamcakes Simply Strawberry cupcake), I still claim Dreamcakes as the champion of strawberry cupcake making!

With a cupcake sampler plate consumed, a tall glass of organic milk to wash it all down, and tired feet from walking the city of Austin all day, it was no doubt the perfect combination to get us all ready for bed!

Austin's laid back environment continues to intrigue me on our visit.  I think the following quote can really sum up the unique and inviting restaurant industry in Austin, Texas! It's good food without the haughty attitude!

"Never trust the food in a restaurant on top of the tallest building in town that spends a lot of time folding napkins."

~ Andy Rooney

Food & Friends: Food's Social Aspect (Part 3)

Imagine this:  it’s late afternoon, the sun is setting, you are sitting comfortably on a balcony overlooking a beautiful lake (Lake Travis) with the sun set reflecting off the water; surrounded by the ones you love, laughing, talking, and taking in this beautiful picture as you nosh on a pre-dinner appetizer and a true Texas margarita!  Sound like perfection?! Well take it from me, it was!! This was the exact experience I got to enjoy with my friends & husband in Austin, Texas as we relaxed at The Oasis on Lake Travis (http://www.oasis-austin.com/).  The Oasis confidently refers to Austin as the “Sunset Capital of Texas” and after experiencing it first hand, I would have to agree! It sits directly on Lake Travis and has 4 tiers of balconies that host numerous table for all guest to enjoy the breath-taking sunset view!  I cannot vouch for the food, as we did not have dinner, but we did enjoy the chips & salsa with a fresh rita!

Our days move at such a rapid pace, that it is such a rare and treasured gift to have the opportunity to sit, responsibilities free, no time limit or time frame to heed to, with loved ones, around a table and simply talk about life, the good, the bad, and the funny! To catch-up, share stories, and laugh till it hurts are the small moments in life that make life worth living and memorable!  When I consider the number of women in the world that make excuses to avoid such social situations because of the potential of food being present, breaks my heart and fires up a passion within to encourage women to reject the “social norm to diet” and to live in freedom.. To allow a calorie to subtract from the memorable moments in one’s life is devastating.

The four of us walked away from that table totally relaxed and excited about the night’s events!  It was on to South Congress Café!!

 

South Congress Café (http://www.southcongresscafe.com/) is located on South Congress Avenue and was conveniently located within walking distance of our vacation home!  Upon walking into this venue, I knew we were in for a treat!  The atmosphere is eclectic, but chic and full of life! The cuisine was impressive due to its ability to be casual, yet elegant all at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April enjoyed a warmed goat cheese salad topped with scallops!

Mike enjoyed Grilled Pork Chop served w/ truffled mac’n cheese, vegetables du jour, spiced apple demi-glace. Mike and I shared a warmed goat cheese salad prior to our meal!

 

Zach and I ordered the same entrées and were both VERY impressed. We enjoyed the Five Spice Crusted Pork Tenderloin served with blue corn bread chorizo stuffing, a spicy ranchero burgundy sauce, and asparagus!  The flavors and textures really played off one another well and the meal was satisfying. I would highly recommend this dish to everyone that plans to visit Austin in the future!!

This concludes DAY ONE of my adventures in Austin, Texas! More to come very soon!! So I leave you with this:

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" ~ Julia Childs

Food & Friends: Food's Social Aspect (Part 2)

Recently I’ve had several travel experiences with friends, including a recent trip to the capital of great state of Texas, Austin!  Austin is a hot spot for creativity, in fact, the city celebrates being different which is evident by the city’s slogan - “Keep Austin Weird.” As most people know, Austin is the home to the Longhorn named Bevo.  What some of you may not know is that Austin is also home to some of the country’s best kitchens of Tex-Mex!  You won’t find many chain restaurants in Austin since the locals mainly support local and organic food establishments!  The restaurant scene is an accurate reflection of this creative, unique, and lively city which seems to be the very pillars Austin prides itself on!

My best friend (April) invited us to visit her and Zach in Austin for the weekend so Mike and I jumped on a plane not really knowing what to expect since it was our first visit to this quaint city.  We were excited about the chance to have quality time with our friends.  When you work hard during the week, it is important to make time with friends to relax, unwind, and refresh the soul!  Time spent with friends are moments to be cherished and are truly unique experiences that make life rich.  I think Julia Childs said it best when she said

" It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about - enjoying things."

We had the privilege of having an Austin local (Zach) as our tour guide!  He loves Austin which was evident in his displayed pride and excitement towards his hometown  which was displayed throughout the weekend!  Zach treated us to some of the best Tex-Mex I’ve ever consumed! Once we arrived in Austin, Zach was gracious enough to take us to a great Tex-Mex restaurant called Guero’s Taco Bar (http://www.guerostacobar.com).

Guero’s Taco Bar is located on South Congress Avenue, an eclectic area of Austin made up of unique clothing shops, quaint homes, and sidewalks lined with locals and visitors alike.  After reviewing the menu, I decided to have the “Poquito Fajitas” (one fajita taco topped with guacamole and jack cheese and served with rice and beans) which was out of the ordinary for me. I’m usually a quesadilla type gal! But I wanted to make sure I experienced the most out of the cuisine in Austin!  The dish was phenomenal due to the quality ingredients the restaurant served which gave the food a fresh, clean flavor.

After lunch, we decided to stroll into the shops (Mike had a Jessica Alba sighting!) before we ventured into a nostalgic candy shop named Big Top Candy Shop!  This candy shop was every child’s (and adult's) dream come true!  Just to give you a slight indication of the magnitude of this store, Big Top’s slogan is “The Most Amazing Candy Shop the World Has Ever Known” The walls are lined with every candy imaginable and the cases are filled with homemade treats that range from a variety of truffles  to chocolate covered bacon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My chosen treat was a white chocolate peanut butter cup which melted in your mouth! The chocolate was smooth and decadent. The peanut butter was creamy and sweet which added a powerful flavor punch when paired perfectly with the white chocolate!  Each bite was truly divine experience all within itself!  April enjoyed a chocolate covered pretzel and Mike enjoyed a coconut haystack which both received positive reviews as well!

After consuming a portion of my peanut butter cup, we traveled on to continue our adventures in Austin. I look forward to sharing our dinner experience with you, as well as, the rest of our trip in upcoming blog entries!