a recliner, rush, a road trip + rain

9.29.2013

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I don't typically promote broken promises, but today I'm making an exception since my room isn't prepared for its BOD debut, despite my claim otherwise on Friday via BOD's new Instagram.

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But in the meantime, I'll give you a photo diary of my weekend, which happened to be perfectly suited for the weather conditions.

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It started with my first iPic movie experience, where I enjoyed reclining my seat just as much as the movie William and I saw, Rush.

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{we shared the stuffed piquillo pepper and fig + prosciutto appetizers}
I made the last minute decision to drive to Dallas in celebration of Mollie's belated 21st. We had more than a lot to catch up on, so we did so over a late lunch at a spot just around the corner from her town house, Bistro 31.

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We took advantage of a momentary pause in the downpour and trudged through the puddles to Scoop, all too conveniently on the other side of the same shopping center.  The store's layout made the fall color trends very apparent with oxbloods, royal blues and steel greys having the most presence.

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One store proved to be plenty, but we didn't make it home before a pit stop at Creme de la Cookie (her favorite spot--even over its neighbor and favorite of many Dallas friends JD's Chippery!).

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No telling who takes the award for best cookie, but we these did the trick for an afternoon pick-me-up. They were made all the more enjoyable  in the comfort of her home, warmed up and served with with hot tea.

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The cozy afternoon mood encouraged us to cancel dinner reservations and indulge in the rainy but restful weekend by cooking in.

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She showed me around the SMU Kappa house before we went to Whole Foods to pick up our dinner ingredients, which ended up being a low maintenance meal of white turbot fish, vegetables and mint chocolate chip gelato.

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We ate breakfast at Kozy (home to the best fresh-squeezed juices) and I hit the road in less than 24 hours since I had arrived. A quick trip, but well worth it on this wet but wonderful weekend.

Food Finds II

9.25.2013

Sandeez Hamburger Hut
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Sandeez opened in 1979 and has been the go-to burger joint for Lake Travis residents since. It's fitting that gourmet Hopdoddy hamburgers remain in the heart of the city as these basic burgs fit the laid back lifestyle of lake go-ers.
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It's a come-as-you-are, wipe your greasy hands on a pile o' napkins kinda place. Picnic tables sit under a shaded area in front of the T-shack joint with a drive-thru for those seeking to opt out of lunch rush hour. But, I suggest you make it a true dive-in experience to see the bucket list of burgers menu, tin walls and various maps of the lake showcasing the area's development over the years.
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It's comparable to Southwell's--the burger spot across the way from my high school. There's no Kobe beef, horseradish-infused ketchup, arugula or brie, but there's a mean burger and fries. And sometimes that's all you really need. The only thing missing to make this summer meal complete was the shaved ice from a spot down the road, which William and I were disappointed to find closed for Monday. Next time.
my order: classic hamburger // william's: The Buffalo -- fried chicken, mayo, onion, ranch, lettuce, tomato, onion ring and buffalo sauce
next time: The Gancho (fried chicken, mayo, lettuce, tomato, jalapenos, swiss, and homemade ranch) // breakfast tacos cooked on the same grill as the greasy patties
rating:    
good for: a pit stop on the way to or from a day on the lake, an all-American lunch, or a break from your diet

Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Market  // The Zubik House
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In celebration of the temperatures reaching the 60s Saturday morning (thanks to the Friday showers), my mom and I decided spending the morning outdoors was a must. When thinking of a brunch in walking distance, I recalled to mind the downtown farmer's market put on by Austin's Sustainable Food Center.
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The European style of open air markets has always been attractive to me, and this one was equally as charming with a unique Austin flair. Tents were lined up with local food goods--honey, chocolates, cheeses, frozen pops, coffee, fresh produce, and jams were all available for tasting and/or taking home.
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The market travels to different locations throughout the week, but the "queen bee" of the Sustainable Foods Market circuit is the one at Republic Square Park on 4th and Guad, just about a dozen blocks south from Kappa. We peeked in the tents until we reached a breafast trailer, Kubik House, serving up gourmet kolaches.
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I got a sweet and a savory kolache and a cup of jo from the Texas Coffee Traders tent to wash it all down. That, along with the idyllic weather and the perfect company, made for a spectacular Saturday morning.
my order: gruyere & ham kolache w/ fried egg and blueberry balsalmic kolache // meems's: Czech Benedict - smoked pork shoulder, local fried egg and fresh basil on grilled kolache bread
next time: Truffled Asparagus Benedict // bacon, apple & brie kolache
rating:     
good for: a place to take your pup and have a picnic in the park sitting on the steps of the federal courthouse à la S & B in Gossip Girl, also: a treasure trove for thank you and housewarming gifts

Picnik
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Lamar is probably one of the major streets I frequent the most. I had passed by this trailer, Picnik, and it never failed to catch my eye. One day after work, I decided to see what it was all about. I failed to realize the trailer promoted the Paleo, aka caveman diet, in which you only eat fruits, veggies, nuts, meat and seafood.
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I was underwhelmed by the menu options and equally underwhelmed by the food. Its charming name and curb appeal drew me in, but my Picnik experience wasn't all I hoped for. It was also way too pricey to be mimicking the diet of a caveman.
my order: house salad
next time: no next time, but I hear the butter coffee blend isn't half bad
rating:  
good for: cavemen/women?

Elizabeth St. Café
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My brother Chris came over after church one Sunday to make my family bánh mí sandwiches. Growing up on turkey, pb&j or grilled cheese sandwiches, I was unaware of this Vietnamese variety and was just reacquainted with them Elizabeth Street Café this summer.
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I first fell in love with the place with the pink door when Mollie and I stopped in for an afternoon snack during her visit here in July. We quenched our thirst with herbal green tea and shared a refreshing avocado lime tart off the bon-bon menu.
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The decor inside and out is just as vibrant as all the flavors that make up the French-Vietnamese cuisine they serve. Some dishes, like the macaroons and french onion soup, are strictly French. Some are straight up Vietnamese like the pho dishes. And some infuse flavors from both cultures like the pork and shrimp crepe, served lettuce wrap style.
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If you have an eye for detail, you'll appreciate the little things here like the tray of vietnamese condiments that comes with your food, the graphic prints in the menus and matches, and the eclectic dishes your meal is served on.
my order: avocado lime tart w/ guava, blackberries + mango curd // iced jasmine green tea // crispy gulf snapper bün // pork + shrimp crepe w/ bean sprouts, lettuce wraps & nuoc cham
next time: keffir lime fried chicken bánh mí sandwich // house-baked brioche french toast w/ chai ice cream poached korean pears & brown sugar syrup
rating:    1/2
good for: petit déjeuner, lunch or dinner when you've got a bad traveling itch; the boulangerie feels like a sweet escape to Paris and the feng shui of the interior imitates that of any Asian culture

épicerie austin
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Nestled away in the Rosedale neighborhood lies the closest semblance to a small French grocery right here in Austin. Don't let its tucked away location fool you into thinking it's a secret hideaway; épicerie has generated a more than healthy buzz since its opening a few years ago.
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Inside you'll find a supply of artisan products, cured meats, and over sixty cheeses (all beautifully displayed). Coupled with the grocery store is the café where you can dine in the am or pm.
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This combination reminded me of Houston's Revival Market with a Tiny Boxwoods slant when it comes to ambiance. Match made in heaven if you ask me.
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Just as I'm drawn to the open air markets of France, I also find the idea of small groceries to by idyllic. Grocery shopping is no longer a chore but rather, a celebration of fine foods.
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Most dining experiences are generally the same--peruse the menu, place your order, wait patiently, and eat once served; so, it's the little details during your experience that make one establishment stand out from the rest. At épicerie, it was the friendly staff eagerly offering to let Julianne and and I sample their fine cheeses, the transparent dispenser I served my iced tea from, and copper accents that did it for me.
my order: quinoa salad w/ grapefruit and yogurt // julianne's: vermont cheddar cheeseburger
next time: fried green tomatoes w/ smoked shrimp + spicy pickles &amp // beef pastrami sandwich
rating:     
good for: hitting the side patio for a romantic evening date or watching the sun pour through the windows at lunchtime while picking up your favorite cheese (mine's gouda) and bottle of wine for that evening

On a closing note, I'm pleased to announce that BOD has made its Instagram debut. Follow me @bridgetsowndiary for post updates and previews!


Sense Appeal XXII

9.23.2013

for the eyes:
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Coming from a generation that has grown up with the Food Network, it's no wonder that it's budding with young talent in the kitchen. Sam Cade, a sophomore at UT, brings joy to people's eyes and taste buds on their birthdays with her personalized cakes.

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After eating my first Cade's Cake at Caroline's 21st birthday celebration, I was inspired to know more. So, I turned to the source to find out how she started, how it's going, and where she's goin' with it. She first admitted that she just has "the biggest sweet tooth ever" and would eat dessert 75% of the time if that was socially acceptable.

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Her pride and joy to date are her Game of Thrones and Shark Week cakes, but she's open to all the "crazy" suggestions she gets, taking each on as a new and fun challenge. See all her creations via Instagram @samcade.

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As for the future, she hopes to find herself at the French Culinary Institute someday; but, for now, she's content with school by day and baking by night (and often that means all night).

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Every girl wants to own her own bakery (if she doesn't want to be a vet, fashion designer, Beyonce or boutique owner). Looks like Sam just might be the one to take the cake on that career path.

for the mind:
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I've completed 16 years of school at this point. With senior year around the corner, it's slowly but surely sinking in that my education will soon be coming to a close. I've always been diligent about my school work (at certain points to a fault), but I hate to end on a bad note, so I've proposed a small challenge for myself this semester: ask more questions.

In physics class, my professor stressed how important larger issues are and how we often shy away from asking questions about them. And since the sad truth is that the board in my physics class resembles the photo above, there will be a lot of questions needing answers.

for the ears:

Entering my third year of sharing close living quarters with another person, I came in fully aware of the many benefits it offers. Beyond pillow chat and sharing closets, sharing music libraries has led me to discover new songs. Meghan did just that early on in the year with this song, Stolen Dance, by Milky Chance. If you're feelin' it, check out Down By The River by the same band.

fashion for feel:
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Simplifying your life can be as simple as cutting out all the clutter. Cleaning out my purse--a weekly ritual--involves creating a mess, but it's nice to be reminded there really are only a few necessities I need with me at all times.


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{left to right: Reese Hudson Siren Mini Bag in white // 3.1 Phillip Lim Small Ryder Cross Body Bag in black // J.W. Hulme Co. Tiny Legacy bag in oxblood // 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli Mini Satchel in jade}
With those items being my flat wallet, slender iPhone, keys, and maybe Chapstick there's really no reason to lug around a small carry-on to for my daily routine. That's why I'm all in favor of the mini-bag trend. Sure, cross-body bags are nothing new, but y'all I mean mini.

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It completely eliminates the issue of your keys hiding in the only crevice in your purse your hand didn't dig into. Another feature: it allows you to buy a high quality bag for less as you can make six of these with what usually only makes one hobo bag. So, spring for the snakeskin and go mini this fall.

for taste:
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Tables turned this weekend when my mom showed me the hot spot in Austin when she came to visit.

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Clark's Oyster Bar has been on my restaurant bucket list for awhile (and moved to the top after I tried sister restaurant Perla's this summer), but I never made it partially due to the fact that reservations are near impossible to come by less than two weeks out.

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So, we planned ahead and made a happy hour + early dinner out of it with my rush adviser Cathy to treat her for hosting me, mothering me, and constantly entertaining me.

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Always inspired by Cathy's appetite for adventure, I figured it was time I give raw oysters a try. As one who tends to not take well to certain consistencies, I wasn't sure how well this was going to go. The waiter gave me a starter's sampler and well, LOVED 'EM.

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Anticipating plate envy, I ordered the same as my mom--the Crab Louie salad, which was to die for. The rich thousand island dressing and salty caper taste was just as extravagant as the gold utensils I ate it with.

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It's the small details like that and turquoise bar stools and striped yellow awnings that make an evening at Clark's not just dinner but a truly fabulous dining experience.

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The special for the evening was a Cathy sandwich, which was the best treat of all. The dreary start to the weekend was redeemed with a cool breeze and clear sky all of Saturday and Sunday. It was another great weekend to rejuvenate me for another busy week!


Food Finds I

9.10.2013

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There are two kinds of people in this world: those that eat to live and those that live to eat. I was raised by a family of food fanatics, thus I've inevitably become one myself. When I wasn't studying for spelling tests or practicing my multiplication tables, I can recall flipping through the Houston edition of the Zagat food ratings book to help my parents come to a decision on our Friday night restaurant of choice. Youngest child syndrome, much?

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That foodie in me hasn't in the least bit faded; if anything, it has only developed with matured taste buds.

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Much in thanks to food blogs and

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foodstagrams, I'm always seeking the next best dining adventure and crave discovering new twists on old favorites.

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{interior of winflo}
Austin--I'm happy to report--is extremely accommodating to the foodie type with new restaurants opening regularly, each always making a bold statement with the menu, interior design, dining atmosphere or a combination of these elements.

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I took full advantage of the foodie playground that is Austin while living here this summer. My friends and I added new favorites to our list of old habits like Whole Foods, Zocalo, 34th Street Café and Hopdoddy.

Here are five of the favorites with more to come in this three week Food Finds series.

Fresa's Chicken Al Carbon 
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Some of the freshest fast food you'll ever consume. You'll come hungry and leave happy as this Tex-Mex walk-up/drive-thru joint will never leave you with that unavoidable way-too-full feeling that say, Maudie's, Matt's, or the like is notorious for.
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The fresh aesthetic of the menu coordinates well with the curb appeal of Fresa's, which stands in what once was a photo finishing drive-thru. The restaurant earned serious streed cred from the start coming from the same owners of Perla's, Lambert's and Elizabeth St. Café. Loyal clientele and newcomers alike will agree the hype was well deserved.
my order: Jerez Salad / #2 Wood-Grilled Chicken Meal
next time: Classic Torta + Mexican street corn
rating: ½
good for: a Saturday morning outdoor picnic (excellent bfast tacos) with the Duncan park in walking distance // sippin' on an Agua Fresca and sharing a fresh charcoal chicken order curbside while people/car watching on Lamar

Walton's Fancy + Staple
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The more laid-back of Sandra Bullock's two Austin spots, Walton's Fancy + Staple, is as charming as its name makes it sound. It's the kind of place where the ambiance enhances the taste of your food,  and it just so happens the food ain't half bad either.
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So, people like me who are suckers for that kinda stuff (a plant shop in the back, curved glass cases full of sweet fetishes, tin ceiling tiles and chalkboard menus) keep comin' back.
my order: Challah French Toast (my word, this stuff's insane) / Ham on Pretzel sandwich
next time: Roast Beef Bleu sandwich, honey almond bee cake
rating: 
good for: ladies who lunch or just people who brunch and enjoy the perks of a perfectly pressed cappuccino and the feeling of a fresh issue of the Wall Street Journal wedged between your fingertips

Winflo Osteria
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Upon our visit, Meghan, Peyton and I weren't sure if the restuarant was named after the neighboring street or vice-versa. Either way, this Italian spot (which I've found are few and far between compared to other cuisines in Austin), is nestled under lit trees which simply beg you to request a table outside on the patio deck.
my order: beet salad + fettucine al pesto
next time: gorgonzola salad + rigatoni
rating: ½
good for: a casual date night when the weather is cooperating // a GNO with several bottles of wine for all to share

Burro Cheese Kitchen
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Sometimes it's the simplest foods that we find ourselves falling in love with over and over again. Personally, I've found this love affair with cereal, a good  PB&J, and a grilled cheese. While most are more than satisfied with Kraft wedged between barely grilled Miss Baird's, I've been spoiled with more gourmet versions lately. After William confessed he was envious of my sandwich at the Meltdown on 40A in Seaside, I promised to wait for his return to the states to try Burro--a food trailer on South Congress. Well worth the wait.
my order: Croque-Madame -- sour dough, smoked ham, fontina + pesto aioli, topped w/ a fried egg & dulce de leche
next time: Via 206 - beer bread, cheddar, gruyere + balsalmic apricot fig
rating: ½
good for: a Friday lunch after a Thursday downtown // a unique place to show a visitor to our lovely state Capitol that will leave them with something to talk about when they return home

Lick
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I saved the best for last with dessert. Though I'd acclaim myself (and several of my best friends) a certified fro yo critic, the occassional trip for the real deal, like Amy's, never fails to satisfy my late night sweet tooth. This specialty flavor ice cream shop on South Lamar, Lick, has been on my radar for quite some time now and I finally tried it with my friend Olivia last night. I ended up trying the more offbeat flavors (goat cheese thyme honey, pb&j, roasted beets and fresh mint) as testers and ordered more conventional flavors when it came to decision time.
my order: dark chocolate w/ olive oil + sea salt, milk & cookies, mint chocolate chunk
next time: lemon lavendar / caramel salt lick
rating: ½
good for: "honest" ice creams that don't shy away from combining the world's best flavors (goat cheese, balsalmic, hill country honey) into the world's best dessert. bonus: it's not terribly rich, so feel free to sample 3-4 scoops and spring for the waffle cone

Not to hate on the "eat to live-ers", but sometimes I think your enjoyment of food can be a direct reflection of your overall enjoyment of life. It's one of the few things that ties this whole world together, and remains one of the finest forms of art as chefs are constantly finding new ways to convey the spirit of food. Until next time, bon appétit!