Allandale: Elevation Burger Closed

Allandale: Elevation Burger Closed

I’m never a big fan of restaurants closing, but the good news here is: Elevation Burger in the Arboretum is still open.

I have to admit, I only visited this location at the Northcross Mall Shopping Center once—mainly because it was next door to Tarka, which I have already said I’m a big fan of. But, I am glad Elevation Burger is still kicking at Great Hills, because they stand for some of the same things I do:

  • 100% organic, grass-fed organic beef
  • Fresh fries cooked in olive oil
  • Recycled waste

Plus, the burgers and fries taste great. They also have two veggie burger options. I’ve talked myself into making a visit. I hope you support them, too.

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The open location is:

(512) 608-4054

South Austin: Chi’ Lantro BBQ

How cute are these?

How cute are these?

Editor’s Note: OhSpooners received free appetizers as part of the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance monthly happy hour.

If you’ve never had Chi’ Lantro BBQ, you’re in for a real treat! This Korean barbecue-inspired joint began as a food truck, bringing kimchi fries to the masses at events such as Blues on the Green and ACL Music Festival. Now the food truck is a full-fledged restaurant at 1509 South Lamar in South Austin and soon to open a location in the former Man Bites Dog location at 5222 Burnet Road, which closed in March.

We recently attended AFBA’s monthly happy hour for free apps. It was a much smaller affair than we’ve had the last few times, which was wonderful because we could actually talk to our fellow food bloggers about what they’ve been up to.

Since we’d only had Chi’ Lantro from food trucks previously, we got to try some new additions to the extended restaurant menu, including kimchi fried rice balls ($6), k-pops ($7.50 for 6; $20 for 20) and guac and chips ($6.50). You can still find their truck locations on their website.

While the kimchi fries are always going to be the main staple for me, I must say the kimchi fried rice balls will be added to the repertoire. Antonio said the chicken wings (aka k-pops) were like butter dissolving in your mouth—and who doesn’t love butter? One was spice, the other not so spicy, so you get your choice between gangnam sauce or honey butter.

It’s kind of a small restaurant, but it wasn’t busy for happy hour, so you should be able to easily chill with a few friends after work.

Love: Kimchi fries and fried rice balls as well as the clean, happy atmosphere and nice staff. And that a new location will be coming to my ‘hood soon!

Allandale: Tarka Indian Kitchen

TarkaThe modern-looking Tarka Indian Kitchen can be found in the Northcross Mall Shopping Center behind Dos Batos Tacos near Ross.

This is one of my go-to places when it comes to grabbing dinner to-go after a long, hard day of work.

It’s casual enough to not feel weird if you’re in your workout clothes, but nice enough to go for a date. They have comfortable bar stools at a counter for those waiting for to-go orders and they are pretty fast. They usually offer a water glass during your wait, too. If you don’t want to wait, order ahead online. You could also order a glass of wine for your short wait.

I pretty much always get the same thing—Dhingri Mattar Paneer. It’s a tomato sauce, with paneer, mushrooms and peas, and, of course, spices. Here you can order mild, medium or spicy. I prefer medium as spicy is really spicy, but the mild almost tastes like tomato sauce.

If you’re feeling really hungry, throw in some vegetable samosas and an order of garlic naan. You’re looking at about $15 for the whole kit and caboodle.

Love: Quick, fast solution that always tastes good and is so easy to take home.

Tarka North Austin
2525 W. Anderson Lane
Austin, TX 78757
(512) 323-0955

Hours
Sun.–Thu. 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.

The Sailor Jerry Gallery at SXSW 2015

I know SXSW is always fun!

But this Sailor Jerry party is a great treat that is not your standard listen to music party that you get at SXSW.

Sailor Jerry’s Rum is hosting an art gallery this week.

Swing in in and see some great American art from a true national treasure!

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Homemade Wheat Pancakes with Chokecherry Jelly

imageWhen you’re a food blogger you tend to get food gifts from people. Not just for Christmas or your birthday, but for other reasons, too. Here—this made me think of you. Here—I think you should try this. Or in this case—Here, I have no idea what to use this for.

That’s how I came across chokecherry jelly from New Mexico. My co-worker, Frank likes to vacay in New Mexico while we’re on break. Recently, he bought a jar of chokecherry jelly and brought it home only to realize he wasn’t sure what to do with it. A few months went by and he decided to give it away—to me. Not a problem. I can find something to do with it, I told him. Then I told him if I were him, I would have made a stuffed grilled pork and drizzled the sauce over the meat (you know, if I ate meat). I could see the internal struggle on his face: Should I ask for the jelly back and make the pork? That sounds really good. But, alas, he had already given it away and he allowed me to keep this interesting gift.

Finally, this morning I prepared some wheat pancakes. A craving I rarely have, but, hey, everyone’s entitled to pancakes on occasion, I suppose. So, I whipped up these babies from Freckleberry Fit.

Then I realized I was completely out of maple syrup. How did that happen? I considered using molasses, but then I did a quick taste and decided that would be a bit much. I wasn’t about to run to the store before 7 a.m., so I kept digging through my pantry. Lo and behold, I finally rested my eyes on the chokecherry jelly. Well, I’ll give it a try, I thought. The consistency was already smooth and runny, so it was soaked up by the cakes immediately. I drenched the pancakes in it, as that’s the only way I eat them, and then I took a bite. Yum. That was just right.

So, in the rare chance someone went to New Mexico and gifted you with chokecherry jelly, no need to fret. Just make some pancakes and you are set!

Sake to Me: The three types of sake and other things I learned from Sushi Zushi

 photo(1)        Editor’s Note: OhSpooning received free food and sake from Sushi Zushi.

The Austin Food Bloggers Alliance happy hour for February was at the downtown Austin location of Sushi Zushi this month. In addition to providing food, the friends at Sushi Zushi also gave a quick Saki 101 class to the attendees.

Sake 101

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There are three different kinds of sake, according to Sushi Zushi: Daijingo, Ginjo and Junmai.

The difference between the three are the amount of rice that has been polished away. The three above are listed in order of most polished away to least polished. You should be able to tell how polished the glass based on how clear the sake is. We used a white sheet of paper held behind the glasses to see which had more and less. We also tried nigori (meaning cloudy), which is less expensive and has a lot of rice left in it—it tastes a bit like rice milk, except with alcohol. You can try sake much like you would try wine, from swirling the glass to smelling the sake with an open mouth—the same rules apply!

I enjoyed meeting Christine from Smoked Salt and Pepper and her friend in graduate school for journalism. Christine is new to AFBA and they were a lot of fun to sit with during the tasting.

Sushi

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When I first got to the happy hour, there were an overwhelming amount of people in the room and many were jumping at the food. Once we finished the sake tasting, the room had died down enough for us to try some of the many samplings that were offered. I couldn’t tell you the name of a single thing that was served, but I can say it was all delicious. Sushi Zushi is good at adding many flavors while still allowing for you to taste the fish. photo(4)They also have some great edamame appetizers with different sauces.

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Whether you’re downtown or in the Domain area, I’d recommend Sushi Zushi as a happy hour spot!

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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!