That Takes the Cake Show 2015: Where sugar meets art

That Takes the Cake Show 2015: Where sugar meets art

Another year of the That Takes the Cake Show in Austin has come and gone.

Location
This year, they found a new location, Round Rock Sports Center. It was a fabulous space! Even though it did make eating in Austin a bit more difficult, it was a great place to have it (And gave us a reason to finally try Jack Allen’s Kitchen, not once, but thrice). The layout was much more open than it has been in the last few years and more like it was the first year we went at the Travis County Expo Center.

Trends
There were many cakes this year—and such good ones. One trend seems to be painting on canvas, which is a technique I would love to try. There were a couple upside down cakes, which I am not too crazy about, since they tend to lean. Also, several Rapunzel cakes were in one category. I didn’t notice as many realistic animal cakes this year as I’ve seen in the past, but the catfish cake was incredible.

Classes
I took a mini Lambeth method class that was supposed to be a beginner’s class, but turned out so, so hard. When my mom and I left, I almost wet my pants I was laughing so hard at how funny it was. The very nice teacher kept asking, do you love it yet? And all I could think was, heck no! I have no idea what is going on! Maybe after I learn some basic piping I’ll go back to the Lambeth method, but for now, it’s a bit over my head. My mom kept looking over at me asking me questions, like I had a clue. Ha. We had no clues. Looking back at our cakes, they don’t look THAT bad, but they weren’t great either (hers was better than mine).

Mom’s Entries
Chef Bren had two entries in advanced novelty multi-tier cakes. One was a forest scene with a little birdie on top and one was an undersea cake. The under sea cake won second place. Her birdie cake did not place, but at least this time the judges did not tell her her bird was too fat. She keeps telling everyone: Everyone tells me my birdie is fat, just like the doctor told me my baby was too fat (that would be me). She said they are hurting my feelings, but I say me and the birdie are both cute as we are!The next cake show is the North Texas Cake Show, so if you’re going to enter, you better get started! Meanwhile, enjoy the cakes below.

National Margarita Day 2015

Hey Spooners!

Today is a special day! In Texas, National Margarita Day is a great reason to stop, relax and enjoy some tequila.

Maybe you need a great recipe for your Oscar party tonight!

Our friends at Milagro Tequila are here to rescue you and make you look like a real mixologist in front of your friends.

Below are a couple of great recipes that I am going to try tonight! Tell us your thoughts on the recipes below!

Agua Verde

Agua Verde

Agua Verde

1.5 parts Milagro Silver

0.25 parts Avocado

1 part Fresh Lime Juice

0.75 parts Agave Nectar

3 Cucumber Slices

1 Lime Wheel garnish

 

Directions: Combine ingredients and blend with one cup of ice. Pour into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

 

Mexican Garden

Mexican Garden

Mexican Garden

2 parts Milagro Silver

1 part Fresh Lime Juice

0.5 parts Light Agave Nectar

2 parts Pineapple Juice

1 Pineapple Leaf garnish

1 Lime Wheel garnish

1 Cilantro Leaf garnish

 

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake, strain, and pour over fresh ice into rocks glass. Garnish with a pineapple left, lime wheel and a cilantro leaf.

That Takes the Cake Show is the Sweetest Event in Austin

That Takes the Cake Show is the Sweetest Event in Austin

This weekend, join the best of the best cake artists at Austin’s That Takes the Cake Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition (I know it’s a mouthful, but it is about cake!).

Technically, this year it’s being held in a new location in Round Rock.

I’m pretty excited to try Jack Allen’s Kitchen nearby, so if you read this—please don’t go there, I’ve heard it’s not that great ;).

We’ve done this before, so here are links from prior years if you’re interested in finding out what this whole cake show thing is all about:

http://ohspooning.com/2014/01/31/coming-soon-that-takes-the-cake-austin-cake-show/

http://ohspooning.com/2013/02/23/that-takes-the-cake-day-1/

http://ohspooning.com/2013/01/06/that-takes-the-cake-art-show-and-mom-takes-third/

http://ohspooning.com/2012/02/22/that-takes-the-cake-feb-25-26-2012/

http://ohspooning.com/2013/03/02/day-2-cake-show/

For more on this year’s event, visit http://thattakesthecake.org/index.php/main/.

I hope to see you there!

Texas On The Rocks

Serve It Up

Serve It Up

Hey Spooners!

This weekend was a great opportunity to get acquainted with Texas Distilleries.

Texas On The Rocks proved to be one of the best tasting events I have been to in some time. For one night, Austin Music Hall transformed into an emporium of handcrafted booze with names you have heard [Titos] and several names you may not have.

As Spooners, we get invited to events like this on a regular basis. Here are a few lessons we have learned over time

How to handle an Alcohol Tasting

  1. Alcohol tasting events are a marathon not a race. You don’t need to taste everything they give you in your cup.
  2. Ask for smaller pours. This allows you to taste more samples without over committing.
  3. Feel free to ask for another. If you have gone around every table, feel free to go back and ask for another pour at your favorite stops. The server will remember you asked for a short pour initially, and will get you another.
  4. Take water breaks.
  5. Eat well. Have a good dinner. This will help you go the distance.
  6. Don’t make a scene. Keep it classy and don’t be that drunk guy/gal at the event.
  7. Aspirin before bed. You would be surprised how much this helps.

If you follow these simple steps, you can ensure you get the most out of the price of admission.

As for the event itself, I think this was a great first step to getting Texas Distillers on the national map.

Texas On The Rocks 2015 Review

  1. Garrison Brothers is amazing – as always. But I am bias! And they don’t pay me to be.
  2. Moody June Gin is the next best thing since sliced bread! And they are working on a barrel aged gin. If you go to the Bone Spirit tasting room, you might be able to talk Joe into a tasting. Tell him Antonio sent you.
  3. Dulce Vida Spirits has an splendid family of Tequilas. With an Anejo finished in Garrison Bros barrel and an extra Anejo finished in Rombauer wine, I had a hard time walking away from this table. Side Note: I NEED to find their margarita recipe!
  4. Whoever did graphic work for Cat Mezcal and Cat Tequila labels, did a wonderful job! I just wish I was able to taste that sealed bottle of tequila. Hint. Hint.
  5. Craigslist Missed Connections. Dear Balcones FR.Oak Single Malt Whiskey, this is my open letter. I need to know more about you. Your simple taster was not enough. Can we get to know each other a little better? It was Valentine’s Day. Do you remember me? ‘Cause I remember you. Love, Antonio
  6. Distillers, don’t send a marketing rep to an event like this if they can’t answer questions about your craft, process and uniqueness. Bad move. I bet you as a Distiller have a beautiful story of struggle that goes along with each release. Now tag that to your marketing tasting notes. This is what makes your unique and memorable. The Lakarish Brothers from IronRoot Republic showed up to represent themselves with contagious excitement. The brothers talked about how they are so small their mom had to cover the bar at the still house while they represented themselves at Texas On The Rocks. Then they showed me of their mom shaking drinks. We laughed and I mentioned that if I owned a still house and my mom was bartending, it would be a train wreck [I love you mom]. These boys are building a story and brand to remember.

One option for growth is in the food department. Although, Titos hosted a VIP breakfast taco after party with Maudies catering [which was a nice tough], I feel like this would have been a splendid opportunity to showcase the Austin food scene. I would love to see Pink Avacado have a table, along with Paul Qui, the chef from Clarks and the Peach Tortilla team. This would be a great next step to pushing the event to more heavily Texas branded.

Overall, this was a great inaugural evening and I already anticipate next year!

Texas On The Rocks This Weekend

This weekend, we have a number of great things happening in Austin.

One event that has really caught our eye is Texas On The Rocks.

Texas On The Rocks is the 1st annual Texas Distilled Spirits Association Event and claims to be largest Texas spirits tasting event ever! This event is a part of the American Craft Spirit Association Conference and should be a grand ole time!

Best part is, Texas On The Rocks benefits HAAM [Health Alliance For Austin Musicians] and Sun Radio! Now that makes the ticket price that much more palatable. You can grab your tickets here!

The event promises red dirt music, cowboy tricks, and specialty bars lead by some of the best mixologists around.

Plus our favorite bourbon, Garrison Brothers, is an event sponsor!

The party starts on Saturday, February 14, 2015 at Austin Music Hall – 208 Nueces Street, Austin, Texas 78701.

VIP Pre-Party Cocktail Throwdown
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Texas On The Rocks – Grand Spirit Tasting
7:30 pm – 10:30 pm

VIP Post Party – Tito’s Taco Breakfast
10:30 pm- 12 am Midnight

Now to figure out of John Taffer from Bar Rescue will be around ’cause I gotta hug that guy!

Travel: A weekend in New Orleans

cornerAfter Christmas, my mom, brother and I decided to head to New Orleans for a quick trip away. My brother and I hadn’t been since we were little bitty and barely remembered anything about the trip we had made then. And my mom has great memories of New Orleans from when she was a child, visiting with her father.

We arrived on a rainy, dreary day. After at least six hours of driving, we pulled up to the swank Dauphine Orleans Hotel.

75We headed out into the evening, turning onto Bourbon Street, as I followed the crowd. My mom, who has been saying for ages she wants to go to Mardi Gras quickly changed round to my point of view as she saw just how trashy Bourbon Street actually is—and that on a non-party-hardy night. We enjoy a drink or two, but are definitely not the party-hardy crowd.

We found our way to Acme Oyster House, where we stood in line outside (thankfully it had stopped raining!) for about an hour. Acme and Felix’s across the street seem to be the busiest restaurants around, but know that pretty much anywhere you go in New Orleans includes standing in line. This wasn’t a huge deal for my brother and I, but my mom’s feet have been hurting, so keep this in mind if you’re traveling to NOLA.

Acme could be a post in and of itself, but I’ll try and keep it short. Sit at the bar, if possible, to see them shucking oysters. They said each of the workers shucks about 1,700 oysters a day. That’s incredible. The older man who was working at the bar entertained us with stories as he chipped at them with a knife? Pick? An instrument that shucks oysters! He said the hand he held the oyster with was numb from the cold and the other one was beginning to lock up with pain. I have no idea how he was able to open the things day in and day out.

There was a couple to our right who ordered a dozen oysters and found a pearl in one of the shells. My mom said when she was a girl she had found and kept many pearls, but once, after she moved, they were never found again.

We ordered a dozen raw oysters to share and mom and I split the Fried Peacemaker Poboy, while my brother enjoyed a whole one. The peacemaker combines fried shrimp and oysters complete with Tabasco-infused mayo. All of it was delicious.

It amused me how relaxed everyone was when you got inside, while the whole time waves of people are outside lined up waiting to come in. The place is small but homey and the waitstaff were nice and welcoming, cracking jokes with one another and some of the customers as they went about their jobs.Cafe de mondeThe next morning, we went to Café de Monde, because, well, duh! Everyone else was there, of course and we waited in line again, though the line moves fairly quickly. When you get under the big tent, know that the staff is going to tell you to find your own seat. Essentially they send people in waves, you sit down, a waitress attends to you and then this repeats continually throughout the day and night. Again, we had a great waitstaff both times we went. Yes, it’s hard not to go there each morning, though you know your arteries are not the better for the fried dough, sprinkled, no DOUSED, with powdered sugar and the hot cafe au laits.

We then went to French market, which is nearby, but I would advise you to wait until later in the day when more people are milling about for a more festive walk-through. Also, be hungry! They have lots of food vendors, from bread to cheeses, and of course, seafood.

We then headed to the Aquarium, which is just about 1/2 a mile down the road. We took the trolley, but it’s a quick walk, so save your $3 unless you just want to have the experience (and a bit of a wait).seahorses

The aquarium was fun, but gosh … so many kids. If you’re the one with kids, it’s probably perfect, though. We had a good time, but somehow could not figure out how to get to the parakeets.

churchOne of the things on my list was to see the St. Louis church. When we got near the steps my brother was appalled at a sign on the steps that said $6. “In Italy we saw tons of churches for free,” he complained. My mom, mom that she is, led us in there after asking repeatedly, “Are you sure you want to see the church?” Keep in mind, I never said, “Hey, here’s the church. Let’s go in.” Essentially, they led us into a museum next door to the church (it is hard to tell the difference even though the buildings are HUGE, because you’re under the awning near the steps), which we paid $6 a piece to go into and did not realize until after we left that, “Hey, that wasn’t the church. Here’s the church!” Needless to say, the church was free and indeed pretty cool. Not to say the Louisiana State Museum was bad. We just didn’t know that it wasn’t a church (despite not having pews and all that stuff). museum 2

We’re blaming the mishap on the jazz band in front of the square that had everyone paying attention to them (and not where we were going).

bandjazz

This is already a lot longer than I had planned on posting, so I’ll sum up the other places of interest I’d recommend:

The Audubon Zoo is on your way out of town, so hit it up also. This would have been more fun in the spring, but they still have lots to see. You can get a pass for the aquarium and the zoo for a discounted price.

Gorilla

Cooter Brown’s Tavern in Uptown New Orleans has great poboys and cheese fries. A very fun and quirky bar with tasty food. (Ranked 3rd for Best Bar Food of New Orleans by Gambit Magazine.)

Deanie’s Seafood is where all the locals told us to go and it did not let us down! Try the barbecued shrimp and the seafood platter and enjoy boiled potatoes in butter instead of bread before the meal.

Named “Best Seafood Restaurant”  by the Times Picayune and “Best Place for Crawfish”  for Tops of the Town 2014, New Orleans magazine.

Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter has the best bread pudding and it’s gumbo is pretty good to boot. It has won the Best Gumbo category in the Best of New Orleans poll every year since 1999. So, you should probably order gumbo. They have a vegetarian option, so don’t let not eating meat keep you away!

bread puddingPat O’Briens is famous for its hurricane drinks. There are several bars rolled into one, so whether you want to hang out on a patio, or karaoke, it has a little bit of everything. Just know that if you don’t want to keep the glass, you can get $3 back. I know most people probably want the glass at the time, but remember: You’re going to have to carry it around all night and then when you get home, you’ll probably think, “Why did this seem like a good idea?”

me mom and bobThat’s the highlights of the trip. Don’t forget to sample hot sauces and pralines at all the shops, listen to music and enjoy the art galleries along the way!orchestra

 

Nat’l Hot Toddy Day

photo(1)Happy National Hot Toddy Day!

This is likely the first time in history Austin has been cold enough to partake in this important holiday. With that in mind, I leave you with a hot toddy recipe that’s easy, yummy and quick to enjoy.

Red Hot Toddy

  • 1 c hot water
  • Shot of Brandy
  • 1 tbsp red hots
  • 1 package spiced apple cider (unsweetened)
  • Optional: cinnamon stick and orange slice

Add a package of spiced apple cider and a tablespoon of red hots into a glass of hot water. Stir. Add brandy. Using cinnamon stick, stir brandy in. Slide slice of orange onto the cinnamon stick for decoration. Enjoy the hot, delicious drink with your choice of Netflix shows or a good book.

 

Looking Back at 2014

YearinReviewIn an attempt to see where we’re at with OhSpooning and what we’ve been up to this past year, I have categorized all our posts. Sometimes it’s hard to answer that seemingly easy question, “And what exactly do you blog about?” we get repeatedly asked at food blogging events and in general.

We typically go into a long drawn out monologue about how we mainly focus on cocktails. Or we do a quick murmur about how it’s a little bit of everything.

But, if we’re honest, we don’t really have a great explanation. So, here’s my attempt at grasping what we’ve written to see where we’ve been and what we want to focus on a little more this year. We’ll be taking a look to see what interested our readers most, so if you have any ideas about what you’d like to see more of, please leave a comment below. We’d love your feedback!

Note: Some are repeats because they fell into two categories.

Recipes

All About Cocktails and Drinks

Events

Cooking & Baking

Food Adventures

Reviews

Food News

Childhood Memories Series

The most surprising thing I found in all of this? That we posted so much! In 2013, we were struggling to get any posts up, but this year, we rocked it. We’re looking forward to bringing you more food adventures in 2015. Cheers!

Recipe: Crockpot Italian Chili for Cold Days and Nights

This recipe I came up with by mistake. I was planning on making plain old vegetarian chili, but after I got back from the store I realized I was missing the main ingredient: Chili powder. How did I not have chili powder? Have you seen my spice drawer??

spice drawer

Anyway, I did not want to go back out in the cold—it’s too cold in Austin right now. I know. I know. Us Southerners can’t take the cold. That’s why we live here!

So, I decided to take the recipe I had and use the seasoning I had on hand, which were mainly Italian spices and it turned out really well.

So, here you go: Crockpot Italian Chili for Cold Days and Nights

Crockpot Italian ChiliCrockpot Italian Chili for Cold Days and Nights

  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 large can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 packet of Grill Mates tomato, garlic and basil marinade (or make your own seasoning with  a mix of basil, oregano and garlic powder)
  • Salt to taste

Pasta (optional): Choose a pasta, such as angel hair, and cook according to directions just before serving chili.

Optional toppings:

  • Grated cheese
  • Sour cream

Throw in all ingredients in a crockpot, except toppings, and mix well. Leave in for 3 hours to do its thing. Serve in bowl over pasta and serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and grated cheese (if using). Serve with crackers, cornbread or your bread of choice.

Notes: You can saute the onions in garlic before adding if you want, but I found the onions turned out well without this extra step.

I ate the chili with and without the pasta and loved it both ways, so it just depends on whether you want it to feel like a spaghetti sauce or more of an nontraditional chili.

This recipe is sure to warm your spirits on a cold day and the smell in your home as go you about your chores is wonderful. Enjoy!

How to Keep Your Foodie Resolutions

NewYearsGoalsandResolutionsUs foodophiles love to add things like “cook more” and “bake more” to our list of things to do more of in the New Year. Or maybe you just want to try some new foods in 2015. Whatever your goals, they’re probably totally doable. The hard part is putting an action plan in place.

This is how to go about making your goals, resolutions, whatever you want to do, come true this year.

1. Make it specific. Do you want to go through the whole Joy the Baker Cookbook? Do you want to eat five new fruits? Do you want to visit every gastropub in Austin? The choice is yours, but you have to know exactly what you are wanting to do or it will be very difficult to accomplish your goal.

2. Now that you know what you want to do, figure out how to do it. Say you do want to make every recipe in a book. Count how many recipes are in the cookbook and divide by the numbers of months or the number of weeks to determine how many recipes you should make each week or month depending on whether you want a very strict plan or more of a guideline. You know yourself better than I do, so you’ll be able to figure out which is needed on your own (Trial and error helps).

3. Share your goal. This really helps with follow through. Maybe start a blog to show your progress and let friends follow along. Maybe start a Twitter account for your resolutions or goals.

I know I’ve been using goals and resolutions interchangeably, but here’s the difference:

Goals are something you want to accomplish and have a beginning and an end.

Resolutions are something you want to start doing or quit doing. More like a habit.

I think it’s great to have both.

Take a little time today to think about what you’d like to accomplish in 2015. To get you started, here are a few ideas:

  • Take a foodie trip.
  • Try an exotic dish you’ve never tried before.
  • Eat the required amount of fruits and veggies per day.
  • Stop eating milk, cheese, meat or grains.
  • Read 12 foodie books.
  • Watch the all-time top 10 foodie movies according to epicurious.

Happy New Year. I hope you all have the tastiest, sweetest, juiciest year ever!