Friday, June 1, 2012

Austin Raw Treats: My New Snack Obsession

I first found Austin Raw Treats at our awesome local convenience store down the street, Live Oak Market. The best way to describe these tasty, healthy snacks is a mix of nuts, fruit and natural sugars and other spices ground together to make a ball or square packed with protein and energy. They are excellent substitutes for granola or a mid-afternoon snack of fruits and nuts. My favorite is the Goji Berry ball, while Tanner's favorite is the Blueberry Cacao square. They also have other flavors like Strawberry Banana, Baklava, Pecan Praline, Mexican Cacao and Coconut Lime.

Strawberry Banana Squares

 You can find these tasty treats at:

  • Daily Juice in Hyde Park
  • The Hyde Park Market and Organic Deli 
  • Epoch Coffee 
  • Monkey Nest Coffee
  • Pacha Coffee
  • Live Oak Market 
  • Royal Blue on 4th 
  • Whatataco Food Trailer in Westlake 
  • 263 Provisions
  • Trianon Coffee

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Austin's Late Night Restaurants

I've always been a night owl, so I've repeatedly experienced the challenge of finding a restaurant that's open late in Austin; most close @ 10pm on weekdays and @ 11pm on weekends. For being a college town, that seems pretty crazy (and not very smart business-wise). I compiled a list of late night restaurants, so if you're up with the late night munchies in the near future, check back. There's sure to be something here to satisfy your stomach:

Open until 11pm

P.F. Changs
This upscale Chinese restaurant is sure to please all palates, with a menu that features traditional Chinese-American favorites, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options. My favorite late night treat is the chicken lettuce wraps.
Open Su-Th until 11pm; F-Sa until midnight; (512) 457-8300; 201 San Jacinto Blvd.

CheeseCake Factory
Cheesecake Factory's menu is like a book, featuring over 200 items, including my favorites Seared Tuna Tataki Salad and Chicken Madiera. Be sure to save room for dessert, as they offer over 50 varieties of cheesecake. Wash it all down with a refreshing drink from their full bar, and you've got a late night feast.
Open M-Th & Su until 11:00pm, F-Sa until 12:30am; (512) 241-0777; 10000 Research Blvd.

Homeslice Pizza
Kinda hipster, this SOCO pizza parlor serves N.Y. style pizza. You can either buy their thin-sliced pizza by the slice or by the pie, but either way, it's a fun place to hang and drink beer with friends.
Open M-Th & Su until 11pm; F-Sa until 3am; (512) 444-7437; 1421 S. Congress Ave.

Located near UT campus, this late night bbq restaurant has been an Austin tradition since 1988. Serving some of the best brisket and ribs in town, they're my favorite bbq restaurant next to Salt Lick.
Open Su-Th until 11:00pm; F-Sa until midnight; (512) 477-1651; 512 West 29th St.

This downtown sushi bar recently added a karaoke bar upstairs. Downstairs, you can find sushi chefs making yummy rolls and sashimi platters, a full bar serving interesting concoctions such as saketinis, and a big projection screen that shows Japanese movies.
Open Su-Th until 11:30am, Fr-Sa until 1:30am; (512) 478-8899; 718 Congress Ave.
Open M-Sa until 2am, Su until 11:30pm; (512) 448-4722; 2400 East Oltorf St.

Open until Midnight or Later

This downtown restaurant is frequented by chefs who get off their late-night shifts at restaurants that close earlier.  They are most famous for their oyster bar, but they have other delights such as raw fish, a wide assortment of appetizers and entrees and of course, yummy desserts.
Open Daily until 12:30am; (512) 474-9898; 301 E. 6th St.

G'Raj Mahal Cafe
Open Tu-Th & Su until midnight; F-Sa until 3am; (512) 480-2255; 91 Red River (in the backyard)

This Greek restaurant doesn't compare to Athenian, Tito's or even El Greco. Located in North Austin next to a hookah lounge, Phara's boasts one of the best patios in town, sometimes transforming into a stage for belly dancers. Best yet, it's BYOB.
Open Tu-Su until midnight; (512) 632-7067; 111 E. North Loop

Open Daily until midnight; (512) 443-5167; 5404 Manchaca Rd.

Open M-W until midnight, Fr-Sa until 1am; (512) 482-8842; 315 Congress Ave.

This campus original is not for the weak at heart. Pluckers's specialty is wings, and they do it right, offering over 16 flavors, including the infamous "Fire in the Hole". Don't forget to order tons of fried stuff, including pickles, macaroni and cheese and yes, even Twinkies!
Open Daily until 2am; (512) 443-WING; 3909 S. Lamar

Texas Chili Parlor
Open M-Sa until 2am, Su until 12am; (512) 472-2828; 1409 Lavaca Street

Thai Passion
Open Daily until 3am; (512) 472-1244; 620 Congress Ave. Suite #105

Open 24-hours

Star Seeds Cafe
Star Seeds Cafe is a hip little diner located near campus on I-35. It neighbors a hotel (incidentally the one that was used to film). Their coffee is nectar for night owls, and their entrees cover sandwiches, salads, vegetarian options and breakfast. Everything is made fresh

Open Daily 24 hours; (512) 478-7107; 3101 N. I-35

24 Diner
Open Daily 24 hours; (512) 472-5400; 600 N. Lamar

Open Daily 24 hours; (512) 445-0000; 1920 S. Congress Ave.

Kerbey Lane
Open Daily 24 hours; (512) 445-4451; 2700 S. Lamar Blvd.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bon Appetit Names Franklin Best BBQ in Texas, if not America

In a recent article by Bon Appetit, they claim that the East Austin BBQ joint, Franklin is the best BBQ restaurant in Texas, if not America.  Funny how they follow that statement with "Let the debates begin."  I frankly (no pun intended) do not agree.  I have forever loved Salt Lick and Ruby's (NOT Rudy's) and in my opinion, Franklin has NOTHING on these two.  I agree that the brisket is glistening and melts in your mouth, but the flavor is just not all that good.  The espresso bbq sauce helps, but I want meat that can stand alone.  Their sides are pathetic.  No variety, and they are really bland.  And the worst part is waiting in their god-awful line.  No BBQ is good enough for me to stand in the Texas Heat for more than an hour.  Screw that, I'd rather drive the extra hour in the A/C to Salt Lick.  Plus, you run the potential of standing there for no reason (they run out by about 2pm or earlier).  So, anyway.  I know most people don't agree with me.  In fact if you asked my office, they would all disagree.  (Read Korn on the Koby's review of Franklin).

What do you think?

Vital Farms: The Blue Egg

Tanner and I went to the Barton Creek Farmers Market yesterday, and we found BLUE eggs. I was just mesmerized by the color, but the owner of Vital Farms informed us that the eggs were richer in flavor, and b/c they were pasture-eggs, they were higher in nutrients. We needed eggs anyway, so we picked up a dozen and couldn't wait to try them for breakfast the following morning.

Why are they blue?
Chicken eggs vary in color depending on the hen, typically ranging from bright white to shades of brown and even blue, green, and recently reported purple (found in South Asia)
Source: Wikipedia
The Verdict
The first thing I noticed when I cracked the beautiful blue shell was the dark yellow color of the yolk. According to Vital Farms, they raise their chickens in environments where they might eat wild flowers, herbs, onions and even garlic. This kind of diet causes the yolks to be more pronounced in color and more flavorful. The second thing I noticed was the lack of sulfur I usually smelled when cooking other eggs. I could get used to this. Now for the moment of truth - did they actually taste better? I stuck my fork in a piece of egg white and held it to my mouth. After chewing for a few seconds, I noticed the difference in taste. The lack of sulfur made the egg white taste so delicious (almost like custard). I wanted more. I scooped up the runny yolk and noticed how rich and flavorful it was. I got halfway through my plate, and realized I felt so full. This was unusual, as I was usually still hungry after my egg breakfasts on the weekdays. So, all in all, this was definitely a superior egg. After doing more research, I think that the blue color has nothing to do with the better taste, smell, higher nutrients and fuller feeling. I think all of that can be attributed to the way the chickens are raised (pasture eggs).

There is one catch (isn't there always). The price. At $6/dozen, these are NOT the most affordable eggs. They had regular brown eggs for $5/dozen, and as I said, through my research I don't think the color has any difference in taste. Still, Tanner and I go through 98 eggs (!) in one week, so this doesn't QUITE fit into our budget yet. :) (That would be $45 a week on eggs instead of $15). I'm not sure if they're THAT good. It's definitely a nice treat from time to time, though.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Move over Yogurt, Siggi's Skyr has arrived

Siggi's Skyr. I'll let the comparison to Horizon Plain Fat-Free Yogurt speak for itself.

Nutritional Information
1 cup (8 oz.)

Horizon Plain Fat-Free Yogurt Siggi's Plain Skyr
Calories 80 160
Saturated Fat 0g 0g
Trans Fat 0g 0g
Cholesterol < 5mg 5mg
Sodium 120mg 93mg
Total Carbohydrate 12g 8g
Dietary Fiber 1g 0g
Sugars 11g5g
Protein 8g 22g
Calcium 25% 25%

One pro of Horizon's yogurt is that is has half the calories. However, because you are getting more nutrition out of the Siggi's Skyr with the lower sugars and higher protein, the calories are actually good calories. The higher protein count comes from the way Skyr is made.  Skyr is strained through fat free milk THREE times, where other yogurts are only strained once.  If you are a already a fan of yogurt, I really recommend substituting this yummy Icelandic treat!  The higher protein count is worth it. It's thick and sour, but it only takes a couple of times to get used to it.  And, I love pairing it with a Pink Lady or Lady Alice Apple to add some natural sweetness to it.

Fun Fact:  Skyr is actually considered a cheese.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Central Market's Butcher Santa

There used to be a butcher that worked at Central Market. He looked exactly like Santa Claus, so Tanner and I called him 'Butcher Santa.' He constantly tried to convince us out of what we ordered, but it never worked. Silly Santa. Sometimes he walked around the store and handed out Reese's Klondike Bars to all the patrons. Straight. out. of. the. freezer. I have to admit, that's pretty bad ass. I can only assume when asked about the Klondike bars that his response would be, "I'm Santa, BITCH!"

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Congress: An Absolute Delight

Congress opened less than three weeks ago, and I can safely say, they are already emerging as one of the best restaurants in the nation.

It doesn't hurt that they have an all-star cast: Chef David Bull and Chef Rebecca Meeker, both formerly of The Driskill Grill, Sommelier June Rodil from Uchi, and Bartender Adam Bryan, formerly of Eastside Showroom. This crew works together to make the most magical dining experience you will ever have.

The menu has a three- or seven-course meal, each with a wine pairing option. Our waitress informed us that the menu will change monthly, and if you're curious, it's published online. The restaurant itself is nice. It's located in The Austonian, the tallest residential building in Texas. The atmosphere is upscale, but not snooty.

We opted for the three-course meal. The waiter surprised us with an amuse bouche from the chef, which was a warm serving of parmesan custard with spinach foam on top. It was savory and delicious. The first courses came out. Tanner had bone marrow brulee, which was lined with cinammon sugar honey crisp apples and smoked almond crumble. It tasted like really rich butter. I had Hamachi Sashami, which was served playfully with soba noodles, hearts of palm and white miso. Mine was a very light dish, that was very refreshing.

For the second course, Tanner and I had the garlic and chive potato gnocchi served with a side of braised oxtail topped with a fried egg and parmesan crisp. Again, amazing.

For the third course, I had escolar wrapped in chicken skin. YUM. Tanner had the rack of lamb.
We ordered foie gras as our appetizer, and of course, since we were splurging, we couldn't forget dessert. We got the sweet potato beignets served with butter ice cream. OMG, these things just pop in your mouth in one bite. Totally addicting.

The chefs surprised us one more time with a dessert amuse bouche. It was a frozen version of the first amuse bouche. So clever. And so tasty.

When it was all said and done, our meal was a couple bills and over 3 hours long. Quite the experience. I definitely felt like I was on an episode of Top Chef, being served the finest food by these amazing chefs and they just kept delivering and delivering. The best part of the meal was telling our waitress we were ready to leave, and she hands us our car keys and says your car is waiting outside. The valet had signaled the car when they saw us paying the bill, so that it was ready as soon as we left. Very cool.

If you are looking for an awesome restaurant for a special occasion or just because you feel like splurging, I definitely recommend treating yourself to Congress.