NOVA Launches New Menu

NOVA Launches New Menu

OhSpooning recently got the chance to check out NOVA’s new menu, which is launching just in time for hot summer nights on its outdoor patio. I hadn’t had the chance to visit before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but I would recommend NOVA for a date night or happy hour.

Located along Rainey Street, the restaurant has nice, big windows and a decent sized patio. I like that you could move around its space and get a completely different feel depending on where you’re at. Downstairs, a bar and bar tables stretch the length of the room, which is bright and sunny during the day. Upstairs is darker and more intimate with a see-through walkway along the area above the bar. The patio is light and airy and has the feel of a friend’s backyard with metal tables and chairs scattered along its pebbled path.

The chef is young and energetic and his excitement about the food spreads. We were given dishes to share throughout the evening. The night brought us NOVA’s double macaroni, risotto, flat bread pizza, veggie tacos and hummus. The restaurant makes its own ham in house, which I found out means it cures its own ham (I wondered where they hid the pigs…).

The chef takes chances, making every day food with a bit of a twist. The veggie tacos are unique in their use of asparagus and arugula and a yummy dressing, along with other tasty tidbits. The hummus was very unique, with the addition of coconut and ginger, making me feel like I was on the beaches of Hawaii instead of Austin, Texas.

For drinks, try the Tudor 77 for $12: Aviation gin, hibiscus syrup, lemon, cava rose and lavender bitters. Not too sweet, this drink has a delicate flavor that will go with a variety of foods.

Give NOVA a try and let us know your thoughts!

NOVA tudor 77

Dinner and a Movie

Dinner and a Movie

This past weekend, I got a chance to hang out with my friend Grace for dinner and a movie. Grace has a projector in her living room and we’ve been talking about having a Shirley Temple movie night for a while. However, she had the BBC version of “Emma,” so being a proper Jane Austen fan, I jumped at the chance to check it out. I had heard it was better than the movie that came out several years ago and was curious if this were true (I didn’t like the movie, so I figured I was hopeful). I’m afraid I can’t give a final review on the BBC version yet, since we’re not through watching it—it’s a whopping 230 minutes long—since I started snoring at some point in the night, most likely induced by the yummy plum wine I had with dinner. But, I can say I’ve enjoyed every minute we’ve watched so far!

Grace was having a salmon craving, and since that is by far my favorite fish, I was pro that idea. She wanted a fish salad, so we took a tour of the Asian market off Braker Lane, which seems to have the freshest fish selection of any of the super markets around. They slice the fish off while you wait. We also picked up some limes, spinach, pineapple and plum wine.

When we got back to her house, we split up duties. She got to pick basil out of the garden and cook the fish, while I was in charge of cooking the pineapple and making a salad dressing out of the limes, orange, basil, honey and olive oil.

It was a fairly quick dinner and turned out splendid! Not only did it taste really good, but it was a colorful salad that surely had lots of vitamins and minerals, too! When’s the last time you enjoyed dinner and a movie?

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Eating in Texarkana

Eating in Texarkana

Last month, I took a trip home to good ol’ Texarkana. As you can imagine, most of what we do in our family is talk about where we’re going to eat next. However, in Texarkana, there are few places to eat. Restaurants close there frequently as residents leave whatever restaurants are there for whatever the latest chain has opened. Even chains like Johnny Carino’s have closed, but the original restaurants especially have a hard time staying open.

On this particular trip, we didn’t have much of a plan, so for lunch my mom and I had a hard time to decide where to eat, but ultimately chose Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant. It’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in the area. Located in downtown Texarkana, it has a good atmosphere, great queso and good veggie fajitas. My mom and I shared the fish and the veggie fajitas and had plenty of leftovers, both of which comes with a bowl of soup.

Later, we got a bit hungry again and decided to make cheese and wine plates. Who doesn’t love a good cheese plate? Ours included dried apricots, grapes, crackers and cheese, alongside a glass of red wine.

And then there was Twisted Fork. Twisted Fork is a pretty modern “foodie” place in Texarkana, with specialties such as quail and waffles, shrimp and grits and seared duck breast. It’s a bit overpriced given the city. After all, it’s cocktails are priced the same as some of Austin’s best cocktail bars, even though everywhere else in Texarkana charges about half the price of drinks in Austin. But they do have Hendrick’s gin and you know how we feel about Hendrick’s! (You can listen to our podcast with Hendrick’s here.) However, the food was very tasty and the atmosphere was fun, using none other than twisted forks to decorate.

Mom and I shared a pizza—basically a margherita pizza, which they call ‘The Mean Green.’ Dad chose a burger with an egg on top. It looked delicious! They have a pastry chef on staff and next time I definitely want to give dessert a try (the lemon-honey panna cotta to be specific!) as well as sit on the bar side of the restaurant for a view of the kitchen—I think food tastes much better when you see it prepared!

So, if you happen to be going to Texarkana, these are my suggestions: Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant and Twisted Fork. If you happen to make the journey, let me know what you think! I’m also taking recommendations for my next visit. 🙂

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Brunch at Grace’s

Brunch at Grace’s

In case I haven’t already said it (too many times), I love brunch. Recently, my friends and I have begun enjoying the much cheaper version of brunch at home. Not only is it a more cost effective way to eat brunch, but no one is going to kick you out because there’s a two hour wait outside. Brunch at home allows you to catch up on your own time. I also enjoy watching other people’s cooking process.

Last week, I was invited to yoga with my friend, Grace, and her sister. Since it’s kind of a tradition that we go for brunch after, Grace invited me to her house to have brunch with her siblings (2 of them anyway).

I had never seen an omelet maker, but I really liked the simplicity of it. It doesn’t seem like you have to worry quite so much about flipping it just so to keep all the stuff inside.Of course, I never can decide if a kitchen tool that is specific to making a certain thing is worth it, since you have to find a place to store it and really a pan works just fine, but it did look awfully easy.

I also got a house and garden tour, getting to pull a baby carrot out of Grace’s just-now blossoming garden. Her backyard is just as cozy as can be. Since I’m looking for a house or condo, I’m paying close attention to what makes a home cozy, and Grace has that down completely. From her art studio to her garden, you feel completely at ease just hanging out. I can’t wait to have my only little space so I can reciprocate!

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Pin it. Make it. Eat it. — Spinach Rolls

Pin it. Make it. Eat it. — Spinach Rolls

The joke among people on Pinterest is that they pin lots of things, but never actually make any of the things they pin. However, I’m proud to say I take my obsessive pins to the next level by trying to make at least some of them happen.

Since most of my Pin experiments have turned out well, I plan on posting them here and then linking to the recipe so you can try it yourself.

For instance, these Miniature Spinach Parmesan Puffs helped me get rid of fresh spinach I had on hand and tasted delicious. I’d recommend them as an appetizer or for a potluck since they are so quick and easy to make and hold up well even after they come to room temperature.

If you’ve had great success with recipes you’ve pinned, be sure to share them with us! Happy pinning!

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Book Club Brunch

Book Club Brunch

In May, the monthly (ish) book club I’m a part of decided to add brunch to its menu. Personally, I thought it was a fabulous idea.

What is unique about our book club is that no one dictates what anyone reads. It’s a free for all. We all read whatever we feel like and then we get together and tell the others what we loved, hated, and everything in between, about the books we read since we saw everyone last. I think this format works well when you have a group of friends who like to read, but aren’t all obsessed with a genre (Twilight, romance, Sci-Fi, etc.). I’ve been a part of many book clubs with different measures of success and this one stresses me out the least, since I don’t have to go along with the pace of the other readers at all. Prior I would read the book really fast and then forget what it was about by the time we met again or I couldn’t finish it, so I felt guilty about going and just listening in on the conversation.

Books aside, the brunch aspect was great. We had quite a collection of foods, from bagels to quiche and fruit to crock pot French toast. Eric made us lattes, which was nice touch, and, of course, there were mimosas.

Baby Bea listened intently, as she realized just how intriguing book talk can be. I’m looking forward to meeting again soon as I’ve been pretty busy reading this month—everything from Fifty Shades of Grey (decidedly overrated) to My Life (so far) Without a Date (pretty amusing).

Cheers to readin’ and brunchin’!

 

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AFBA Happy Hour: Trace

AFBA Happy Hour: Trace

Tonight the OhSpooners got the chance to try Trace‘s happy hour* as part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance monthly pow-wow. Trace is an upscale dining establishment located within the W hotel in downtown Austin. The weather was great, the cocktails were spicy and the food was delicious. I especially enjoyed the cheesecake with grapefruit on top (not pictured), although everything was excellent.

Our friend, Emily Teachout, promotes the restaurant, so we were especially excited to check it out. She did not let us down. The staff was very helpful and you really can’t beat the view—perfect for people watching. The prices for happy hour, I’m quite surprised to say, are very reasonable. Crab cake for $7? Yes, please! I’ll definitely have to go back.

Crafted cocktails are $7 during happy hour.
We recommend:

JALAPENO & CUCUMBER LEMONADE
Deep Eddy vodka, jalapeno, lemon juice, cucumber water

Until we meet again!

*Food  and drinks were courtesy of Trace.

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Kate Payne’s “Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen” is Out

Kate Payne’s “Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen” is Out

By Tiffany Young

Despite the fact that I’m not entirely a do-it-yourselfer, I still love reading about other people who garden, live on farms and enjoy making their own “stuff,” for lack of a better word.

I mean, I bake. I cook. I make DIY body scrubs … that sort of thing. But growing veggies and raising chickens I leave to the experts. It’s not that I’m not interested, I just know my lack of follow through at this point.

One of the blogs I follow such as this is the Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking. Kaye Payne just came out with her own book, “Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen,” which I aim to get just as soon as I buy a house or condo, which, hopefully, is real soon. The Spooners had the opportunity to go to a cookbook event last week at Springdale Farm, in which Payne explained how to ferment veggies. I’m not sure the Spooners are at that point where we’re planning on fermenting (not to mention I’m not a huge fan of vinegar), but the cocktail bitters were definitely intriguing. Perhaps we’ll stick to drinks!

If you get the chance, Kate has several events coming up before she goes on tour here in Austin, so check out her new book.

Also, if you get the chance to go to Springdale Farm, you should totally go! It is serene and the ducks following each other, (No wonder there’s the saying, “Get your ducks in a row.”) are adorable.

A Salad in Thyme

DSC_2932By Tiffany Young

At work, we have a monthly potluck. It’s probably my favorite part of my job. Everyone in the department—from translations to communications brings a dish to share with others.

Since we don’t have any way to heat up food, except for a microwave, it’s always difficult for me to determine what to bring. Will cold mac ‘n cheese really taste all that great? So much of the time I bring a cold salad or pasta.

This month I brought a delicious cucumber, tomato and feta recipe altered from a Pinterest recipe by Five Heart Home. Their recipe can be found at: http://fivehearthome.com/2013/06/28/tomato-cucumber-salad-with-olives-and-feta/.

A main change to mine is that I used thyme in place of dill, because it’s what I had on hand. I loved it!

Dressing:

  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c white wine vinegar (the original recipe used red, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  •  clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper ground to taste

Whisk together all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.

Salad:

  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber, cubed
  • 1/2 c kalamata olives, drained, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 c feta cheese
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss. Garnish with sprigs.

DSC_2926

Take pics, refrigerate for a few hours, eat!

 

I thought I’d have plenty of leftovers after the potluck, since there’s usually so much food, but, alas, I did not. But I’m glad everyone seemed to enjoy it.

After we eat, we usually play a game. This time we played Catch Phrase.

Two of the best moments were:

1) When a lady whose first language is Spanish got the word cop out, she described it as a police officer who is not in. We were super confused, but realized it was a brilliant description once she told us what it was.

2) Just before our boss popped his head in because we were laughing so hard, the same lady as above had given this clue: It’s in your pants! None of us could think of a G-rated answer so we just burst out laughing. Turns out it was pocket change. That was so not what any of us were thinking …

If you want a pick-me-up at work, try planning a potluck. Bring food, bring a game and just enjoy each other for a change!

 

 

NTCC Culinary Arts: Friends & Family Spring 2014

NTCC Culinary Arts: Friends & Family Spring 2014

By Tiffany Young

I always mention my mom Chef Bren Young in my posts. She is a culinary arts instructor at Northeast Texas Community College in Pittsburg, Texas.

Last week, I finally got to see her at work and in action! She invited me to the school’s Friends and Family Night, where the students show off what they learned and then the ones graduating or getting their certificates get recognized in front of everyone.

Mom wanted to make sure I saw the behind the scenes, so she asked me to come a couple hours early. I’ll say the students must have been trained well, since there wasn’t a ton of running around left to the very end. Everything went off without a hitch and the desserts and food all tasted great!

My favorite things were the risotto balls and white chocolate bread pudding. However, the churros and the tiramisu were also great!

The sliders looked delicious, but unfortunately I don’t eat them. I felt really bad telling the students no to anything without meat since they don’t all know I’m pescetarian.

It’s inspiring to see my mom at a job that she loves, knowing that she went back for her culinary degree well into her 50s, when most people give up on trying new things, especially new careers. I know that the students respect her and they’re lucky to have such a great instructor. Her coworkers Chef Kat and Chef Reeves seem great to work with and I know they make a great team!

If you ever get the chance to go to one of their buffets, do! Or if you know of anyone in the Northeast Texas area interested in culinary arts, send them to www.ntcc.edu. They’ll learn a lot and have a great chance at an even greater career!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

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