I started a new job recently and, believe it or not, today was the first day I’ve cooked a single thing in nearly two months. Between business travel and the 3 tasty, healthful meals we’re served at work each day, I just haven’t had the time or the motivation to fire up the stove… and, actually, even this isn’t a recipe post. Kinda ridiculous, I know. Still, even though I haven’t had the time to cook, I figured I could still share a bit about all the tasty adventures I’ve been having.
Last week, for instance, I went on a business trip to Austin, Texas. If you’ve never been to Austin, it really is a fun town. In fact, in some ways it really reminded me of my hometown of Chapel Hill, NC: maybe it’s that ‘Keep Austin Weird,’ vibe that gels with the ‘Paris of the Piedmont,’ designation of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro area, I don’t know. Regardless, there’s definitely a similarity there, and I liked Austin almost immediately.
When we first got to Austin, we had lunch at a restaurant near our hotel called Jo’s Coffee. The food was just okay, but the vibe was great and I had some fancy Mexican sparkling water:
The next notable culinary adventure we took was to a restaurant called Jack Allen’s Kitchen, where we were invited to a #GoTexan tweet-up and 4-course wine dinner (to support Texas wines).
The first course was probably my favorite: an Herb-Crusted Fried Green Tomato with a Smoked Water Oak Farm Ricotta Cheese Pico:
It was paired with the 2009 Fall Creek Vineyards Chardonnay.
Next came a Spicy Gulf Jumbo Shrimp and Strawberry Salad with Animal Farms Arugula and Blistered Serrano Vinaigrette:
This was paired with the 2009 McPherson Cellars Rosé of Syrah.
The main course of the evening was a Sous Vide Strube Ranch Waygu Tri-Tip, served with Texas Kitchen Pride Portabellas and Oak Hill Farms Blackberry Demi:
This was my favorite pairing of the evening– the 2009 Messina Hof Cabernet Franc from Cedar Crest Vineyards:
I actually liked it so much that we rushed to Spec’s (the local liquor store that closes promptly at 9:00 P.M.) to buy a bottle to share at our BYOB dinner the following night. It wasn’t quite as tasty, but it was still pretty good:
Our final course of the evening was a called a peach “tart,” — even though it was the consistency of a key lime pie. There was no wine pairing with this course, but the caramel sauce was a nice contrast to the sweetness of the peaches:
The next morning, we went to a local joint called Juan-in-a-Million (they won us over with their cute name) for some breakfast tacos. Lord knows how we managed to finish ‘em, but we each got 3. I chose the Machacado with egg, tomato, onion and chile jalapeño, the Migas with onion, tomato and cheese, and the Chorizo with beans:
As long as you only have breakfast tacos like, Juan-in-a-Million years, you should be okay. Any more frequently than that and they’re gonna have to wheel you out of there.
I also discovered this tasty green pepper sauce in the Google Austin cafeteria. I picked up a bottle to bring back to New York, but they confiscated it at the airport:
Some TSA employee is now happily dousing his breakfast tacos in it. Le sigh.
We saw this yummy looked food truck, The Peached Tortilla, outside the Google Austin office, but we were still too stuffed full of breakfast taco to partake:
(Next time, Peached Tortilla, you’re mine.)
In the afternoon, our lovely hostess (Google Places’ Austin Community Manager, Whitney Francis) took us to Barton Springs, Austin’s swimming hole. We didn’t have time for a swim, but it looked so darn cool and refreshing that I just KNOW I’ll be heading back to Texas:
Finally, on our last night in Texas, Whitney took us to The Salt Lick Restaurant, a Texas BBQ joint in Driftwood, Texas, not far outside of Austin. On the way there, I educated everyone about the various different styles of BBQ in the Southern United States, via the BBQ song, from fellow North Carolinians, Rhett and Link:
While the restaurant is BYOB (it’s in a dry county), there’s a vineyard there and they recently opened Salt Lick Cellars, where we did a tasting flight:
We started with some bubbly, then tasted a bit of one of my childhood favorites, hot pepper jelly (it’s great with crackers and goat cheese):
Finally, it was time for the main event: BBQ. Remember, Texas BBQ is all about beef– brisket, ribs and sausage, mainly– and boy, was it delicious:
We ate nearly a metric ton of beef. My favorite parts were the burnt ends (the crunchy little pieces of brisket). The mustard-based sauce they served alongside it was pretty amazing as well.
Finally, it was time for a night cap back at our hotel, The W. I had a cocktail called the Rio Grande:
I can’t quite remember what all was in it, but it was tasty (and strong!). We got up to fly back to New York at 4:15 the next morning– oof! — but, mark my words, Austin: I’ll be back.