Austin

Coming soon: That Takes the Cake! Austin Cake Show

cake show

By Tiffany Young

So, you’re thinking about entering Austin’s That Takes the Cake Art Show this year? Here’s what you need to know:

1. It takes place Feb. 22-24.

2. It’s got a new location: ACC, Highland Mall, 6001 Airport Boulevard, Suite 1199, Austin, TX 78752 (which is very near the hotel that is always booked for the cake show).

3. Early registration has passed, but regular registration is open until Feb. 16.

4. Entry fees are: divisional competition $25, showcake competition $25, tasting competition $15.

5. Registration info, rules and prizes can be found at Rules.

6. If you enter sculpted cake, it must be made of, well, cake. Otherwise, most entries can use cake dummies.

7. The competition is pretty stiff. Just look at that picture of Willie Nelson above. It’s not really him–it’s a cake. I know, crazy.

8. This year’s theme is cake of ages.

9. Your friends and family can attend: $10 per day or $17.50 for a weekend pass online through Feb. 16 or $12 per day or $20 for the weekend at the door.

10. Celebrities, such as Karen PortaleoMarina Sousa & James Rosselle, Mike McCarey, Dot Klerck, Colette Peters, Nick Lodge & Lauren Kitchens and Dot Klerck will be teaching classes: http://thattakesthecake.org/index.php/classesandevents/celebrity-classes.

11. There are onsite competitions to watch on Saturday and Sunday.

12. There’s a lot more info over at http://thattakesthecake.org.

Below are some pictures from last year’s competition to get your creative juices going. Here are some posts from prior years: 2013 Day 1, 2013 Day 2, mom takes second, my mom wins third, and 2012.

Hope to see you there this year!

 

 

Whisler’s

If you enjoy drinking in candle-lit historical buildings, look no further than Whisler’s in East Austin. This cocktail bar features bartenders who really know their stuff: from the history of bitters to how to make old-fashioned cocktails. With three bars and a food trailer named Dumpling Happiness outside, there’s no reason you can’t stay here for the long haul. Depending on the weather, there’s nice ambiance inside and outside. The bar has plenty of tables, bar stools along the bar and seating on the patio.

1816 E. 6th St.
(512) 480-0781
Daily 4 p.m.–2 a.m.
www.whislersatx.com
Takes cash and cards

Drink suggestions: Noveau Western ($11) and Brown Derby ($9)

When you enter the front, you’ll find low-lit mood lighting consisting only of candles, except for the chandelier directly above the bar.

The bartenders, Justin (Lavenue) and Ben, are friendly and helpful, assisting with a drink based on your tastes. My preference is gin and slightly sweet, while Antonio prefers whiskey.

Justin suggests a house cocktail, the Noveau Western ($11), for me, which is what I had been eying to begin with. It includes gin, aperitif wine, unfiltered sake, cardamom (a favorite of mine) syrup and lime bitters garnished with a sprig of thyme and a slice of lime.

For Antonio, he suggests a Brown Derby ($9) from the classic menu, consisting of bourbon, grapefruit and honey syrup.

Both are just what the doctor ordered—playing to our individual tastes perfectly.

Antonio says his drink reminds him of his childhood when he’d go to the mall with his mom because she’d promise him an orange Julius. To him, this drink offered the same sort of refreshment.

We also tried the Naughty Literati punch, which was the special of the night because a book club had met there earlier in the evening (Lisa, take note! My book club is cool, but no Naughty Literati’s yet!). We also enjoyed this drink of raspberry liquor, sapphire Bombay, orgeat (a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange flower water) and lemon bubbles, while learning about the history of punch, which you can hear for yourself in our podcast from Justin himself.

As for ambiance, friends and couples alike can sit at the bar or at a cozy table. There’s inside and outside seating, depending on your mood, and, of course, the always-changing Austin weather (except in the summer, when it’s just HOT).

 

Spoon this … Feeding you the news: Whole Foods Domain Opens Jan. 15

Domain Cheese Counter

By Tiffany Young

It’s been a long time coming, as you can read about in my article in Community Impact from 2008: http://archive.impactnews.com/pdfs/NWA/issues/NWA-2008-01.pdf, but the Domain’s Whole Foods is finally opening Jan. 15.

After the economic downturn, some of the plans in the Domain Phase 2 were delayed, but hopefully this store will be well worth it, with its Texas Ramen restaurant, The Draft Shack, an oyster bar serving oysters, barbecue shrimp and 45 beers on tap, including some from Austin Beerworks; and many exclusive products, such as Boomerang’s breakfast pies.

Domain Ramen SignageDraft Shack Oyster BarPublic Domain Container Bar

The OhSpooners were invited to a food blogger preview party last week to try gumbo, a brat bahn mi and barbecued shrimp along with some beer from Austin Beerworks. Based on the food and beer there, we think this spot will be a good place for Austin Northerners to grab a drink with friends on weeknights and even into the weekend.

The jovial food production manager, Matt, was very passionate about the food being served at the new location, saying that several of the foodies from the current North Whole Foods will be relocating to serve up delicious, creative meals to hungry customers. But most importantly, the store will be selling fresh tortillas made daily–always a plus!

It will serve you well to check out the store early, as the new store will have a bread breaking ceremony at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 15, followed by the first 500 customers receiving a bag full of goodies from the 365 Everyday Value brand.

They’ve also got a week of plans to bring everyone in and benefit the community by hosting a series of 1 percent giving days to the following nonprofits:

Wednesday, Jan. 15 – Jewish Community Center of Austin
Thursday, Jan. 16 – Emancipet
Friday, Jan. 17- Austin Creative Reuse
Saturday, Jan. 18 – Girlstart
Sunday, Jan. 19 – Back on my Feet

A full list of events can be found at wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/domain.

Photos provided by Whole Foods

 

Whiskey without the E ’cause there’s no E in Scotch Whisky

Note: The whisky tasting was free for OhSpooning, courtesy of Glenfiddich.

Last week, the Spooners got a chance to taste several Glenfiddich  Scotch whiskys at a tasting at Freedmen’s, 2402 San Gabriel St. near UT’s campus.

First off, let’s start with how to pronounce it: Glen-fid-ick with a hard “ch.” So raise your glass, and make a toast before we begin.

If you’re not familiar with the brand, Glenfiddich, Gaelic for Valley of the Deer, was founded in 1886 by William Grant in Dufftown, Scotland, and is still family owned. Grant, his wife, and his seven sons and two daughters built the distillery by hand and served its first spirits Christmas Day in 1887.

They claim to have the best dram in the valley. What’s a dram, you ask? Basically, a small glass of whisky.

10302013_ATX_Freedmans_Glenfiddich_031If you’re not familiar with drinking Scotch whisky, the best way to taste it, we learned from Glenfiddich Ambassador David Allardice, is to drink it neat and then add drops of water to suit your taste (cutting the whisky). Chew it up and roll it around until your mouth waters for best results.

Glenfiddich is a single-malt whisky (the best-selling single-malt in the world), which means they are made from only malted grain, 100% barley. While single-malt is clearly defined in Scotland, there is no definition of single malt in the U.S. law.

I think there were six tastes, maybe seven. I lost track after the first few. There was definitely a favorite, but I lost track of that as well. We were the first in Texas to try the 19 year old Glenfiddich, which will be available in limited supply at select bars and restaurants in Austin.

If you’re interested in trying Glenfiddich, the 12 year is on special at Freedmen’s this month for $3 during happy hour.

Make sure to listen to our podcast to learn more about Glenfiddich from the ambassador himself.


 

 

 

Imperia Changes Up Menu to Pull in New Customers

Editor’s Note: OhSpooning received free food from Imperia as a promotion to bloggers.

Imperia Austin recently revamped its menu to pull in a bigger audience, including fancy jello shots for the UT crowd.

In order to let people know about its new offerings, we got an invite to taste some different offerings, ranging from sushi and fish to Thai cabbage slaw and Thai soba salad.

This sushi restaurant has a nice friendly feel, with dark lighting, plenty of tables and a nice lounge, for … you know … lounging.

After one of those previously mentioned jello shots, we started with Asian-fried Brussels sprouts. My thoughts on Brussels sprouts? Unless you boil them, you can hardly go wrong. These were no different. They had just a bit of spice that pleased the palette—delicious!

Next was a beautifully presented array of sushi:

  • The Hot Lips Roll, a California roll with escolar and spicy garlic miso
  • The Red, White and Bleu, consisting of Snapper sashimi with yuzu Bleu cheese and bacon apple marmalade

Arguably the best dish was the Yuzu dusted crouton with yuzu caper aioli with seared beef and persimmon seasoned with salt, pepper and 15yr olive oil, micro herb salad and watermelon radish. All of the different flavors at once just worked. Some people thought there was too much crouton. I say hogwash.

The main dish was an entire Thai snapper. That’s right—it was one giant fish! The fish was marinated for 48 hours, then deep fried until crispy accompanied with fresh cucumber, Thai basil, fresh sambal chili, Thai sauces, Crisp Bibb and romaine lettuce, marinated cherry tomatoes and fried basil.

To cool our lips, we were each presented with an Edelflower ice pop—light and cooling—perfect for the end of a big, spicy meal.

Whether you’ve been to Imperia or not, I’d say it’s worth the visit. Next time you’re downtown, stop by and have them fix you something up; They say the chef loves coming up with new dishes.

 

 

Hope Farmers Market relocated to Plaza Saltillo

Sign

By Tiffany Young

Last weekend was the last day for Hope Farmers Market to be located at Pine Street Station. I was lucky enough to be there to see the announcement or I would have been disappointed when I showed up and no one was there.

My mom and her coworkers had come in for the cake show and wanted to visit the farmers market. They had missed the one downtown, so I brought them to Hope, forgetting that my Austin-eclectic taste might be a bit much for the Northeast Texans. (I’m from there, so I can say that!)

I’m not sure they were as impressed with the hippy-ness that I am, but they did have a great appreciation for Flour’s smart tarts that I introduced them to. The honey nutella smart tart is amazing. I’ve also had the pecan praline and loved it, too, despite not being a huge fan of pecans. My mom raved about the raspberry, saying “I didn’t even share on the ride home it was so good!”

All that to say — while Hope is no longer at Pecan Street Station, it has not closed, but relocated to Plaza Saltillo as of today, March 3! I didn’t get a chance to go check it out, but one of the vendors was telling me that it was originally made as a farmers market, was on the rail route and would no longer have to relocate during the SXSW craze.

Band 2 band 3 band 4 Band Bread Buttons Clothing Couliflower Farmers market Flour market blurry Musician Sandwich board Smart tarts Unicorn bagVeggies

Day 2: Cake Show

DSC_0391

By Tiffany Young

As promised, I took my Nikon to the Austin That Takes the Cake! show on day two. I love seeing the cakes up close and personal with my zoom lens and it’s much more reliable than my iphone for clear pics.

This year, we weren’t at the show as long as in year’s past. There was a lot of food to introduce my mom to: Hopdoddy’s and Elizabeth St. Café. Still there were numerous fine-looking cakes at the show! Here are some of my favorites!

Congrats to Chef Bren Young!

Bren Young with coworkers congrats

By Tiffany Young

It was such a big weekend, I’m going to have to break this into a couple of posts! But for starters, I must congratulate my mom, Chef Bren Young, for her second place medal in the Adult multitiered novelty intermediate cake. Last year she took third in the beginner’s division. This year she moved up a division and was shocked when she found more than 20 other contestants in her division with some really spectacular cakes. I can honestly say I think she was very surprised to hear her name announced. My mom became a chef in her early 50s. Became a pastry chef instructor just a few years ago. And made her first fondant cake just last year. Recently she has begun selling her cakes for birthday parties, specializing in novelty cakes for children, such as sock monkeys and some pirate I’ve never heard of, but who is popular with the young’ens. Her years of art classes and selling crafts have been great preparation for decorating cakes and each one gets better and better! Way to go! I can’t wait to see what you come up with next year!

That Takes the Cake! Day 1

2013-02-23 12.57.35

That Takes the Cake Art Show and mom takes third!

Lots of families have traditions, and one of ours has become attending the That Takes the Cake! Art Show in Austin, Texas. This year’s contest is quickly approaching (Feb. 23-24) and I’ve been thinking a lot about my entry (which I hope I don’t back out on!). Our cake will be themed “Jump Little Cake, Jump!” to go along with our cupcake book of that name. It’s going to be fun! I have never entered a cake before (or really decorated one, so it will be interesting!).

Last year, my mom entered for the first time and won third place in the beginner’s division for her Princess and the Pea cake. I was so proud of her!

 

Bren Young’s princess and the pea entry won third place in the beginner’s division of That Takes the Cake art show in Austin, Texas in 2012.

 

Close up of Princess and the Pea bed

 

Princess and the Pea close up

 

A close up of the woodwork and pea for Bren Young’s Princess and the Pea cake entry.

 

If you’ve never been to the show, you should check it out. Entry fee is only $20 and gets you into the show for free. Otherwise, entry is $8 for a day pass or $14 for the weekend if you purchase online in advance. There are onsite competitions, demonstrations and of course lots of beautiful cakes to admire!