Monthly Archives

June 2013

Austin Eats

June 23, 2013

Austin. What a funky, downright awesome city.

So sincerely hot, so thoroughly covered in tattoos, so deeply cool and laid back.

Let’s keep it weird, Austin style, and eat brisket for breakfast. Here are my Austin eating recommendations from our one week stay this past June. Texas!!

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I think it best to start with Franklin BBQ, where you’ll find the most incredible brisket. Be sure to arrive 2-3 hours before opening time at 11am (for real) and avoid weekends if you can. They’re closed on Mondays, don’t make that mistake. There will be tears.

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You simply must visit the WholeFoods store in Austin. This is the flagship store, and it’s giant and extensive and wonderful. I visited for yoghurt, Charmeleon cold-brew (local!), a salad bar date with Ben and for general browsing fun. P.S. Anthropologie is next door…dangerous. You’re welcome/I’m sorry.

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Austin sure knows it’s food truck business! For the very best of food truck tastiness, you cannot beat Paul Qui‘s East Side King. With multiple locations, you’re sure to find one near you serving up crazy delicious bites. Our favourites were the beet fries and brussels sprouts, as well as the chicken karaage and beef tongue lettuce wraps. Mmmmhmmmmm.

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We also liked Chilantro BBQ‘s kimchi fries, though I have to say I didn’t find them to be quite as scrumptious as Namu Gaji‘s version in SF.

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After all this meat, you surely need some fresh veggie goodness. Koriente hits the spot. We loved the vegetable, mushroom and rice bowls, as well as miso-marinated fish. The hummus wraps are delicious too.

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La Condesa is a really popular, chic modern Mexican restaurant, and I really recommend a visit. I loved their classic Margarita, while Ben unabashedly loved his pink watermelon cocktail. Pretty in pink, y’all. Their salsa and guacamole sampler plate? Bananas good. So much smoky flavour, I wanted to happy dance after each mouthful. Other much-enjoyed bites here were the tacos, hanger steak and chicken mole. Really, really good stuff. Book ahead, peeps.

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We had Hut’s burgers one night. While I had heard that Hopdoddy burgers were the business, we simply could not fathom walking 30 minutes in the heat when we found ourselves so close to Hut’s – an adorable 1930s-style Diner that is said to be an Austin institution. In my terribly foreign opinion, I found Hut’s burgers to be similar to In-N-Out. My favourite part of this meal was sharing a shake with my love. What’s sweeter than that? Well, the shake, I guess…

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For coffee, we loved East Village Cafe, which was located a mere minute from where we were staying – win! Their coffee was nice and they had a stack of Chobani yoghurt for a nutritious breakfast, as well as Red Rabbit Co-Op Bakery goods and Coolhaus ice-cream sandwiches. Plus their wifi and air-conditioning ran strong. We loved this friendly neighbourhood joint, what a gem.

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Stubb’s BBQ is another popular Austin BBQ eatery. The closing party of BlogHer Food was held here. While I feel it had nothing on Franklin’s brisket, it was surely tasty and a really fun spot to hang out for the evening. Lots of cool bands perform here (we just missed Of Monsters and Men) so do check out the listing if you’re in town.

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We didn’t try the famous Amy’s Ice-Cream, however we did get real familiar with Jeni’s Ice-Cream one night while watching a House of Cards marathon on Netflix in bed. Brown butter almond brittle…

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Let’s end on my very favourite place to eat and drink in Austin, Justine’s. This French Brasserie is so cool, so busy, so loud and so fabulous. It’s everything I could ever want in a bar and restaurant. We visited twice during our stay and enjoyed delicious cocktails, lovely wine, beautiful buttery swordfish and a crazy good steak and frites. Best, favourite, I want a Justine’s wherever I go.

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Now for cocktail hour! P.S. while in Austin, cocktail hour for Ben and I was any hour past 10am. I blame the heat and cheap prices…but mainly the heat.

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We loved East Side Showroom for its classy, cool vibe, old movies on show and it’s delicious chartreuse cocktail, The Last Word. Lovely.

I highly recommend you visit The Driskell bar to revel in this gorgeous historic hotel, its fast wifi and air conditioning, its cow skin-covered seats and its splendid cocktail, The Batini.

Hillside Farmacy serves a super refreshing strawberry, basil and balsamic lemonade as well as an array of cocktails. As a bonus, the store is super cute and was conveniently located just around the corner from us.

Justine’s, as listed above. You’ll feel really cool if you turn up here and order a cocktail or moody glass of red.

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Other places I’ve heard are ace in Austin:
* Easy Tiger – I’m still upset we didn’t fit this in.
* Contigo – same with this one…
* Banger’s
* Handlebar
* QuiPaul Qui‘s latest venture. We missed the opening, but it’s surely fabulous.
Hopdoddy burgers
* Rainey Street bars

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Austin Notes

Length of stay: 1 week – a nice time for a laid-back visit. I also went to the BlogHer Food conference for 2 days during this time. I’d recommend at least a couple of days when visiting Austin, to see the city and get some good eats in. Accommodation is cheaper here than in other parts of the USA, so it might be a nice spot to break up your trip, chill out for a bit and eat some Texas BBQ, like we did.

Accommodation: we stayed in an Air BnB rental just east of Downtown. To get to the city centre was 20-30 minute walk (depending on how hot it was). We loved this residential location, and it was super cost friendly. Our little cottage was $55 per night and was a lovely little sanctuary.

For fun: bar hop down Rainey street, try the above eats, visit Barton Springs for a dip, play in WholeFoods and see a movie. Not necessarily in that order. Check out Austin Chronicle to learn what’s up, from music to food to things and stuff.

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Heidi xo

 

A Bagel Date

June 18, 2013

It’s a tough choice, deciding what to order when visiting Russ and Daughters in New York City. Do you want a plain bagel or maybe one with poppy seeds? What type of cream cheese do you fancy? How about scallion cream cheese, or horseradish or lox? And don’t even get me started on the array of beautiful smoked salmon to choose from. Oy!

What I like about Russ and Daughters is how chewy their bagels are and the quality of the salmon. After visiting with my girlfriends two years ago, I knew I wanted to take Ben for a bagel date when we returned. And so, this morning, I did just that.

We shared the following breakfast, washed down with some green juice for good measure. It was completely delightful.

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♥ A plain bagel with plain cream cheese and pastrami-cured salmon, and

♥ A pumpernickel bagel with scallion cream cheese and Gaspe Nova smoked salmon

♥ Green juice

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We’ve been bagel spoilt on this trip, having enjoyed even more bagel lovin’ at Barney Greengrass (what particularly grabbed me at this Upper West Side institution was their whitefish. I’m still dreaming of it…) I’ve come to realise that bagels with cream cheese and cured fish make the perfect ‘anytime’ meal. Bagels for dinner…why not? But today, our Russ and Daughters bagels made the perfect breakfast for our Wednesday Breakfast Club.

What did you have for breakfast today?

 

Heidi xo

 

My New York City Window

June 15, 2013

Hi, friends.

Here I am with a little peek, opening the window ever so slightly into our  New York City visit. Think of it as a nice, gentle introduction. There’s a lot to speak about here. We’re talking white fish on my bagels and balsamic in my cocktail. We’re also talking dark brown squirrels and giant rats, true story. There’s been some rain and really good coffee, too. For now, some pictures. We’ll talk about the squirrels later…

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East Village, West Village, it’s all good.

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There’s been a lot of gelato and ice-cream going on.

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Lovely wallpaper.

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We’ve found more good coffee in New York City…

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Hey, lady.

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I’ve got a crush on The Breslin, April Bloomfield and her seafood sausage *blush*

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Why yes, I’ll have some bagel with my cream cheese. At Barney Greengrass with Mich.

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Meanwhile, on the Brooklyn bridge

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…some crazy lady was dancing in the rain. Weirdo.

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A New York slice.

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Subway tomfoolery.

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Olive oil cake for breakfast. Yes.

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Riding bikes in Central Park. Just the very best.

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Not heading some just yet…

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Heidi xo

Friends, Park City, Mountains, Air.

June 11, 2013

One of my best friends, Denita, lives in Park City, Utah. While it’s a truly gorgeous place, it’s a little far from where I live in Australia. Humph.

It’s been fifteen months since my wedding, where De was one of my bridesmaids, and until a couple of weeks ago, this was the last time we had seen each other (flashback: two years ago I was lucky enough to come to America to be a bridesmaid in her stunning Wedding in New Hampshire). Needless to say, the week Ben and I spent with De and her husband, Tim, (two of the greatest human beings ever, that’s for sure) was beyond special.

Here’s a snapshot of the sights we saw, from breathtaking hiking to general calamity and a dose of doughnuts. I miss my friends. They were so sweet and welcoming and accommodating. Thanks De and Tim, for the friendship, Park City, the mountains, the air…

Spiro Trail. Like a fairy land.

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High West Distillery for cocktails and elk. And a gourmet, housemade s’mores. Oh yeah.

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So many games of Big Two.

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Visiting Snowbird and taking a peek into ski world. It is so so foreign to me, and so so awesome. We caught the tram up  the mountain and just took it all in. Snow and sun. It was completely unreal.

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Red Iguana in Salt Lake City for outrageously delicious Mexican. Mole madness.

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New Hampshire pure maple syrup. Somebody hand me a straw. For real.

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Steak night with homemade ricotta doughnuts. This was a lovely meal at home.

 

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Sweeney Switchbacks Trail. But not the whole trail. Hiking solo. I did not see a moose. Damn Phew!

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Hot chocolate made with on their retro stove-stop (you should see their microwave) using ginger Mexican chocolate.

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So many delicious popsicles – from coconut Greek yoghurt to watermelon and agave.

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Seeing this world where one of my best friends has, for so many years, lived and thrived and flipped and excelled… just being there was SO special.

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We made De and Tim some peanut butter eggs as a “thank you for having us”. I do believe they enjoyed them. These bites are crazy delicious and quite wholesome, too. They are most definitely a favourite in our household (and I’m guessing also De and Tim’s now, too!)

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On our last night we had ginger Margaritas at the St Regis. This place gives a stellar view of the Deer Valley and is a lovely place for a cocktail. The burgers are said to be delicious, also. There is nothing quite like tucking into a burger while sitting in a fancy hotel, in my opinion.

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Thanks for having Ben and I stay, De and Tim, and being such wonderful hosts. We could not imagine a more perfect stay, truly. You guys are so special to us. This was a real treat. Don’t look in the fridge, I may have stolen your maple syrup. Kidding. Or am I?

 

Heidi xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Love

June 7, 2013

A day of hiking, treading amongst the Californian Redwoods. Grounding ourselves after a whirlwind month, we left smothered in clean air, revitalised, and with fresh, green hunger. There’s nothing like standing next to, or within, an ancient tree to help you reassess your life, your goals, your hesitations and questions, and garner some direction.

Our morning started bright and early, with Craftsman and Wolves baked goods (collected the day before). We shared a carrot cacao muffin and a Thai green curry coconut ginger scone. They were delightful.

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As well as swigs of almond milk as we drove 1 hour and 30 minutes to Big Basin.

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We were welcomed to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park by this spunky fellow. Hey there..

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I have big love for Big Basin. This place feels special to me. It feels like home. I would have extended our stay and camped here in a second if I had the chance. Ben and I discovered the meteor trail, and were afforded the most perfect morning. We barely saw another soul. Besides the squirrels, the banana slugs and the trees…

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Yep. They were big.

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SO big.

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It was a bit overwhelming.

Snack time. A Clif Bar (Oatmeal, Raisin and Walnut, my favourite flavour) and cold, steamed asparagus.

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After our morning hike, we scooted to the fantastic Cafe Brasil in Santa Cruz. Here we refuelled with omelettes, potatoes, chicken and beans, as well as fried plantains and acai smoothies.

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We then cruised down to Big Sur, rolling over Bixby Creek Bridge

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…and enjoying this wonderfully scenic drive.

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Once in Big Sur we hiked Pfeiffer Falls and then moved onto another view point, the name of which escapes me. Though I’ll surely never forget the view.

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The light, the light…

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Dinner time. If you visit Big Sur, please book a table at Big Sur Bakery, oh yes, please do. Their roasted chicken with gravy is truly delicious and very much warranted after a long day hiking. We shared the bread board, soft shell crab and the chicken as well as some local Monterey wine.

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I just love this.

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We then drove back to San Francisco, exhausted and energised, sated but hungry. And thankful.

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So much love, big love.

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A little video, shot with my iphone using the 8mm app. It’s wonky and imperfect (just like my braid) and I love it.

Heidi xo

 

Franklin BBQ

June 4, 2013

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I’ve got a bit of a different Wednesday Breakfast Club post for you today. It involves barbeque . Barbeque for breakfast. Hold on to your belts. But first, let me ask you a question.

Would you wait in line for 2 and a half hours for brisket? What if it was reported to be the best barbeque in all of Austin? Maybe? Yeah, of course you would, right?

This morning, Ben and I did just that. We got into our sports gear and set off, jogging to Franklin BBQ, the slow-cooked meat lovers’ paradise, to see what was up. With already three groups in line ahead of us at 8:30am, we knew we had to leave one of our men behind. Bravely, Ben stayed on while I scooted home, showered and then swapped places with him. In line (heavily sun-screened and hydrated – Austin is hot) I read a book and Ben replied to emails while we waited…

…and waited…

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…and waited. Water from the balcony graciously misted us hungry, hopeful patrons. From the start of the line we watched it grow…and grow…and grow… until this crazy line of barbeque-lovin’ peeps entirely wrapped around the side of the restaurant. It was not even 10:30am at that point. One lady even showed up at 10:45am and took the place of a lady a few spots down from us. She had hired this lady to wait in line for her. It was a legitimate business transaction. For real.

Why all the drama? Well, people have been reported to have shed tears when arriving late (or even on-time, at 11am) and hearing Franklin’s has run our of brisket. The only tears we wanted to shed that day were happy tears, and so we arrived early. P.S. this was a Tuesday.

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At 11am, the crowd let out a hungry *sigh* as the doors to Franklin BBQ opened. Filing in and placing our order, we watched these crafty gents and ladies slice up pound after pound of brisket, ribs, sausages and pulled pork…

♥ Ben and I went with a pound of brisket (a mix of lean and fatty cuts), and a plate of two meats (ribs and more brisket…what?), with a side of beans, slaw, bread, pickles, onions and sweet tea. Oh, boy.

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So how was it? Was it worth the 2.5 hour wait?

Yes. Yes. With all of my heart, YES.

So flavourful, so melting, so well-seasoned, so tenderly delicious. This was, without a glistening shimmer of a doubt, the best brisket, the best barbeque meat, we have ever had. The ribs were tasty as well, most definitely. But that brisket… The beans were so scrumptious, as was the slaw and pickles and tea. But that brisket…

Ben and I did not even bother with the bread (I mean, really, it’s just a waste of stomach space at this point), and we still needed a take-home pack for all that brisket. Was it worth it? Are you kidding me? Of course it was. That brisket…

What did you have for breakfast today? And would you wait in line for almost three hours for brisket? Don’t lie, you totally would.

 

Heidi xo