Austin

Review: Biscuits & Groovy

In all honesty, I love biscuits and gravy. But as a near-vegetarian, I just can’t order it very often. Few places make a vegetarian gravy and fewer still make a vegan sausage, so needless to say—I crave biscuits and gravy—a lot. While Mexican breakfasts are generally my thing, I’m still a Southern girl at heart.

So … when I heard about Biscuits and Groovy I was so excited! So, so excited! And for some reason, Antonio has not shared in this excitement. I don’t get what he is not getting, but you can buy biscuits and gravy from a trailer topped with goodness all over it in Austin! What is there not to love?

Anyway, I hear about it and yet week after week he takes me to breakfast—anywhere but there. Not that it was a rule or anything, but still. So, my friend Lindsay said she wanted to get together. I was leaving for my parent’s in the morning, but I thought maybe we could meet up for breakfast. She asked where and it took me a few minutes to think before it dawned on me—I knew just the place! Luckily she was game and we met the next morning at Biscuits and Groovy, a trailer in Hyde Park.

Was it everything I thought it would be?

You bet!

I ordered the Biscuits & Groovy ($6) as a meal—biscuits, gravy, sausage (I got vegan) sprinkled with chives—It was heavenly! Such a good meal to eat before a car ride, too, since you know it won’t leave you hungry in an hour. The biscuits were perfect, the gravy—oh-so-good, the vegan sausage could have fooled any meat-eater and the chives added a nice fresh element to the table.

In addition to its biscuits and gravy options, there were also quite a variety of drinks to choose from, ranging from O.J. to pressed coffee.

While I hadn’t thought about how hot the sun would be on a warm July day, we still enjoyed sitting outside on one of the picnic tables and catching up on what was going on in each other’s lives.

I will definitely be going back for more gravy goodness. Whether or not I have convinced Antonio of its greatness … well, we’ll just have to see.

New vegetarian cookbook “Herbivoracious” leads to dining discovery

Last week, Antonio and I participated in Michael Natkin’s book tour stop in Austin for his new cookbook “Herbivoracious” under the same name as his blog. While we haven’t gotten a chance to cook with it yet (look for future blog posts on recipe adventures we have using this cookbook), we were impressed with the color photography, which Michael took himself.

The event took place at Icenhauer’s on Rainey Street and was catered by its new next door neighbor El Naranjo, who supplied us with wonderful food, including some “can’t stop eating it because it’s amazing guacamole.”  If you’ve heard of the just-opened-last-week-on-Rainey-Street El Naranjo it’s because it was formerly a food truck. The fine dining restaurant is open for dinner only for now and describes itself as traditional Mexican cuisine, but I think you, like us, will find it anything but typical of the Mexican fare you find around here. In fact, we thought it might have more of a South American background from its unique blends.

Sorry for the tangent on El Naranjo, but that just shows how impressed we were!

Anyway, Michael was a gracious host answering all of our crazy questions, such as “Who are you? Why a cookbook? Where are your from? Where are you going next?” All of the answers can be found at his blog http://herbivoracious.com.

We were excited to receive a courtesy copy of his cookbook with an inscription to the OhSpooners. If you are new to vegetarianism, just looking to cut back on meat or want some more vegetarian choices to add to your repertoire, this cookbook may strike your fancy. After the intro, Michael goes into detail on some of the ingredients and hand tools that are used a lot in the book and may not be familiar with readers, such as mirin, panko and a potato ricer.

The book, which includes 150 recipes, is broken down by appetizers/small dishes, soups, salads, 4 main courses, side dishes, desserts, breakfast and sauces, condiments and basic recipes.

The Spooners can’t wait to try it out and report back!

That Takes the Cake! Feb. 25–26, 2012

Sweets lovers, unite!

It’s that time of year again. No, not Mardi Gras, although it’s that, too.

It’s time for Austin’s annual That Takes the Cake sugar art show and cake competition — put on by The Capital Confectioners Club of Austin — and the Spooners can’t wait to attend. Last year’s super hero theme was a blast and this year’s Cake-a-lot: Knights of the Turn Table is sure to be another crowd pleaser.

It’s too late to enter the cake competition if you haven’t turned in your registration already, but there’s still lots of fun to be had. General admission tickets are $10 for the day or $18 for both days and allows you to see all the cake creations, watch celebrity and expert demos and shop with national and local vendors.

This will be my third time to attend, with my mom, who drives from Texarkana, to take classes and enjoy the show. Last year there was a really good cake entry decorated as “Angry Birds.” Everyone that went by it would point out, look it’s “Angry Birds!” My mom asked me, “How does everyone know the name of their cake entry? Everyone must really like that one.” I had to explain to her that it’s a game. Mom’s are funny!

If you get a chance to attend, send us a tweet pic of your favorite cake with the hashtag #ohspooning.

 

We hope to see you there this weekend!

Saturday, Feb. 25 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 26 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

North Austin Event Center
10601 North Lamar Boulevard
Austin, TX 78753-3461

Date Night: Sagra

On our second date, Antonio kidnapped took me on a several hour date that began at Sagra Trattoria and Bar, an Italian restaurant on San Antonio Street. He was trying to make a good impression after his mistake on date No. 1, where he cut the date short because he had other plans. He claims he was meeting up with friends for dinner, but it sure sounded like he had double booked dates to me.

This was a restaurant where he felt comfortable—after all he used to work there—and we had brunch on the front patio in nice weather.

That’s where I fell in love … with the Sagra pizza. He’ll tell you my love for him grew at a much slower pace, but he was on to something bringing me to a place with such great food. Since that fateful day in January 2011, we have been back many times for happy hour and date nights.

The Sagra pizza includes a classic Italian tradition—an egg atop the pizza. This may not sound like a good idea to you, but that just tells me you haven’t tried the Sagra pizza yet. For $15, you get a whole pie topped with tomato sauce, egg, grana padano, spinach, mozzarella and truffle oil. Their other pizzas are also delicious.

Last month we visited them and got the funghi pizza  for $14 with mushrooms, caramelized onions, fresh herbs and fontin. It was good, but I still missed the Sagra pizza, which we returned to on our date night last night.

I also really enjoy their libation menu, which includes not just creative cocktails, but also apertivos—an appetite stimulator—and digestivos—which helps settle your meal. My favorite so far is the apertivo Perucchi Vermouth Blanc with flavors of chamomile, ginger, lemon, cinnamon and orange blossom for $5. It comes in a tiny, tiny cute glass that I enjoy slowly sipping on before my meal comes. The flavors meld together so amazingly.

We also enjoy the wine selection, which comes in three sizes: a glass, a quartino—about a glass and a half—and a bottle.

Outside of the pizza, we highly recommend the fried calamari and the arugula salad, although I can’t recall us eating anything we didn’t love at Sagra. Also, while we rarely eat dessert at most places, unless it’s a special occasion, we usually do ask for their dessert menu. They change their gelato regularly and have great custard-type desserts featuring fruit.

We hope to see you at happy hour some nice evening enjoying the front or back patio, which reminds me—all the seats in the house are quite romantic. Enjoy!

Sagra Restaurant
1610 San Antonio St. Austin, TX, 78701,
(512)535-5988

Foodie Foto Featurrette /// Eastside Pies

Eastside Pies
1401 Rosewood Avenue
Austin, TX

(512) 524-0933

 

My Favorite Food Find Of 2011 /// The Slayer Dog

The other night I was asking the other spooner about how her part of 2011 was, which led us to start laughing at the silly videos we made for the Slayer Dog at Fun Fun Fun Fest this year. I had almost forgotten that we had even made them.

On the first day of the festival, I noticed Frank’s was promoting something called the Slayer Dog. I thought to myself, “This is amazing! I have got to try this!” But the lady at the table told me to try back tomorrow.

Saturday morning, I visited Franks again. The kind lady behind the table looked worn from answering the same question. “We won’t have them ’til tomorrow,” she muttered.

By the time Sunday came, I was determined to get my hand on this dog. Buzz was stirring at the festival. Rumors were flying that Slayer wanted a Slayer Dog as well. I wish I could find a source to confirm this instance.

Upon arrival at the fest on Sunday, I made a B-line for Franks. The same poor girl told me that Frank would send a tweet when the dogs were ready. I told her that although the idea sounds great, text messages were coming in late due to a lack of bandwidth at the festival. Finally she said, “Just be back around 5 p.m.”

I based my entire day around this moment. At about 4:30, I was the 10th person in line. Quickly, people started to migrate. After about an hour of waiting, our friends at Franks passed out “tickets,” which were napkins with the words “Slayer” written on them in blue marker. If you got a napkin, you got a dog. Everyone else was turned away.

From this point forward, I will let the videos explain how the rest of the evening went!

I hope you enjoy one of my favorite food moments of 2011! Spoon away!

 

 

 

 

Fun Fun Fun Food 2011 Day 2

Antonio with his Steak Frite Sandwich from Aquarelle

Day 2 of the festival was better than the first.  We had the opportunity to taste some great food.

Tiffany and I made our way to the Handshake tent at the “top of the afternoon.” Although the weather has been cool here in Austin, the mid-afternoon sun was hot enough to justify a milkshake. After working through our choices, we agreed to an oatmeal shake with chocolate chips and blueberries. Sadly, our mix-ins got left out, but hearts were filled with joy when we tasted this shake. You couldn’t come closer to an oatmeal cookie wit out… well… err… eating an actually oatmeal cookie. The service was fun and we are definately heading to Handshakes for their grand opening next week!

Between Donald Glover, Ra Ra Riot and Kool Keith, Tiffany reminded me that this was going to be the only time in our schedule to get a decent meal and relax for a moment. Tiffany chose to wait in line for Crepe Crazy. Crepe Crazy may have the largest selection of items at the festival, divided into sweet and savory selections, for whichever your heart desires in the moment. While she really wanted the Banana Nutella, she chose a proper dinner item – the Sun-dried Tomato Veggie Crepe, smothered with monterrey jack cheese, sliced tomatoes, spinach, sauteed mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoe pesto. Before you order, know that you will be pointing out what you would like on the menu unless you know sign language. This trailer is impressive with their fluid efficiency – despite being one of the more popular tents, the wait is not long and it’s fun to watch them expertly make crepes and fold in the fresh ingredients.

For myself, after waiting in line for 10 minutes, I learned that Franks had run out of bratwurst. I was offered a hot dog but I thought I would wait for the much anticipated Slayer dog, offered only on Sundays!

In a moment of desperation, I hopped over to the Linda Chan’s. The line moved fast and service was quick. In the end, I picked up the chicken with fried rice. This was a game time decision which I began to second guess myself as the words fell from my lips. I managed to order the one food that is often under-seasoned and quickly dries out. But Chan’s surprised me in all the best ways.

By the end of the evening, Tiffany and I needed a pick-me-up. We swung by the Progress Coffee tent for two cups of joe.  However, we were the last cup – as in singular cup. The staff at Progress was nice enough to grati our cup for the inconvienence.

A few bands later, I was hungry again.

In a hunt for a nibble, I selected the Steak Frites Sandwich from Aquarelle. This Sandwich was over the top and bursting with flavor. Who can say no to stripped steak, pom frites, covered with pepper and parmesan all stacked between a bun. I submit that you cannot. Plus, this late in the evening, the staff at most places are tired and severly overworked. But not Aquarelle, our server Kylie was over the top! Good job, guys! Tiff and I need to stop in soon for a full dinner!

All in all, it was a good day for food! Let’s do it again at Fun Fun Fun Fest. These spoonies are ready!

Aquarelle Restaurant Français
606 Rio Grande Street, Austin, TX
(512) 479-8117

Crepe Crazy

Handshakes Trailer
1104 East 6th Street, Austin, TX 78702

Linda Chan’s Chicken

Progress Coffee
500 San Marcos Street, Austin, TX
(512) 493-0963

Festivals Galore

The Gypsy Picnic has its own festival trailer at the entrance.

This weekend has been filled with festivals for Austin, Texas. The Austin Film Festival, the Texas Book Festival, the Cedar Park Fall Festival (where Antonio and his band Dear Science played!), and, of course, the second annual Gypsy Picnic Trailer Food Festival at Auditorium Shores.

We lined up a mere 45 minutes early—just to be sure we got all the best stuff. My mom kept trying to sneak in; I’m pretty sure that was her favorite part of the day.

By the time 11 a.m. rolled around there was quite the crowd gathered. Trying to be a bit too much like ACL, they played the “Star Wars” theme song as they opened the lines. But that’s where the cheesiness ended and the fun began.

While everyone stayed to the left of the park, I headed across the field, rogue-style making a quick stop at Tenderland for a portabello sandwich, followed by The ZubikHouse for a caprese kolache and then to Holy Cacao for a frozen hot chocolate. Yum yum.

The ZubikHouse's kolaches are made of sweet bread.

Tenderland’s portabello sandwich was good, but not great. It was a good call adding grilled onions, cheese and some sort of sauce, but it could definitely use a little something else for pizzazz—tomato slices? Basil? green chiles? I also think they would make a better impression with homemade buns. That being said, I appreciate their vegetarian option and it was good sized for the price.

The ZubikHouse’s caprese kolache was very yummy, with a very sweet bread, topped with cheese, basil and tomato.

Holy Cacao's frozen hot chocolate is scrumdiddlyumptious!

But the winner of the three from my point of view was the frozen hot chocolate by Holy Cacao. ‘Holy Cacao!’ is right! This drink has all the tastings of hot cocoa except for the temperature. We were all blown away and dear Antonio drank about half of mine, even though I was really just trying to share a sip with him.

Tips for next year:
• Get there early
• Map your route
• Don’t dilly dally
• Grab a few things at once