ATL –> ATX

Let me just be clear. I love Atlanta and always will, but Austin has stolen my heart. I went to visit my good friend, K, for Labor Day Weekend. Of course, when I booked the flight a few months ago, I neglected to check my calendar, and chose a returning flight for Sunday. Therefore, I actually spent Labor Day in rainy Atlanta, which was a total buzz kill after being in splendidly sunny Austin with friends for the four days prior.

I flew out to Austin on Thursday afternoon, and by the time I got downtown from the airport (the bus was only $1!), found K’s apartment building, and unloaded my luggage, I was long overdue for an iced coffee. First stop: Halycon. This place had air conditioning, so it was already winning in my book. I ordered a regular iced coffee, and it was strong, and cold, and exactly what I needed.

Halcyon Iced Coffee

Caffeination station

After refueling, I met K at her office and from there, we met up with our friend I, who also happened to be visiting from DC. We headed to Polvos for dinner with our friend R. The four of us shared some strong margaritas, yummy Mexican food, and lots of laughs.

I cleaned my plate. No regrets.

I cleaned my plate. No regrets.

On Friday, K had to go into work, so I and I (ha) started off our morning with the breakfast of true champions: breakfast tacos. We went to Torchy’s, which is an Austin staple–and for a good reason. These breakfast tacos are cheap. They are filling. They are delicious. I got just one egg and cheese taco on account of the fact I was still stuffed from the night before. It was so incredibly good. Ugh. I wish I had one right now.

Good Morning! Doesn't this just look like a ray of egg and cheese sunshine?

Good Morning! Doesn’t this just look like a ray of egg and cheese sunshine?

Afterwards, I walked to Jo’s for my morning cup o’ joe.  Jo’s is known for the iced turbo, which is made up of  coffee, espresso, hazelnut, chocolate, and cream, and it tastes like liquid heaven. So, that’s what I got. As you can probably guess by now, calorie counting and general healthy eating rules go out the window when I’m on vacation. In my opinion, one of the best parts of visiting a new city is trying all of the culinary highlights that make that place unique. I can never truly relax and enjoy a vacation if I’m restrictive in what I eat. So anyways, I sucked this thing down so fast, I almost considered ordering another, but then I figured I should save room for lunch, which, by the way, we enjoyed at K’s place of work: the Austin Facebook office. How cool are my friends?

I <3 Iced Turbos

I ❤ Iced Turbos

For when you need to take a minute and chill in a swinging chair at work.

For when you need to take a minute and chill in a swinging chair at work.

Super cool break room with plenty of coffee.

Super cool break room with plenty of coffee.

I and me posing with this awesome Facebook sign.

I and me posing with this awesome Facebook sign.

Ending the office tour by making it Facebook official.

Ending the office tour by making it Facebook official.

After lunch, I and I went to the Texas State Capitol and did a little self-guided tour. I works for the State Department (again, how cool are my friends?), so he probably knew more about what we were looking at than I did, but even with my lack of government knowledge I could still appreciate the aesthetics of the building. Also, it was air conditioned, so that was really nice too.

Lone Star State Capitol looking beautiful

Lone Star State Capitol looking beautiful

view from the top

View from the top

Inside the Capitol

Inside the Capitol

We ended the day with a spinning class, smoothies, and a trip to the flagship Whole Foods Market. The only photo I have is of my much needed recovery smoothie from Daily Juice. Spinning is no joke, y’all.

Berried Alive smoothie to go along with the way I felt after spinning class. Oy.

Berried Alive smoothie. A fitting name for the way I felt after spinning class. Oy.

Saturday, K, I, and I got our breakfast taco on again at Juan in a Million, where I could not finish juan taco (teehee), as it was the size of my face and piled high with egg, cheese, bacon, and potato. Thankfully, we saved room for iced mochas from Cenote on the way home. By this time, I expected to have a mediocre cup of coffee because that’s just the way of the world, but no. This iced mocha exceeded my expectations. It was the perfect balance of espresso and chocolate, which is difficult to come by.

The mocha to top all mochas.

The mocha to top all mochas.

The rest of Saturday was dedicated to a movie outing and BBQ at County Line. I was too ravenous by the time we got to dinner, I didn’t have the patience to take any photos, but let me just tell you that the BBQ in Austin is on point.

Sunday morning, we rounded up the troops and went to get–you guessed it–breakfast tacos. I was a little emotional because these were the last authentic Austin breakfast tacos I would have the pleasure of consuming for the remainder of my visit. We dined at Taco Deli, which, in my opinion, was definitely the best breakfast taco installment.

Last and best BT of the weekend.

Last and best BT of the weekend.

After enjoying every last breakfast taco bite, we ventured to Barton Springs pool, which is fed from a natural spring. This place is the best. The water is freezing, which is amazing to jump into after spending any time at all in the 100 + degree Texas heat. It was the perfect ending to a perfect long weekend.

Barton Springs

Barton Springs

Can I go back yet?

Can I go back yet?

I cannot wait to get back to Austin to see more of the city, hang out with friends, and most of all, eat more breakfast tacos.

Until next time, adios.

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How Far Does Your Stick of Butter Go? Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels

You guys, I have to get something off of my chest. I made seven Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels from one stick of butter.  That would be a ratio of 8 tablespoons of butter to 7 pretzels and therefore 1.143 tablespoons of butter per pretzel. Just the thought of that makes me want to hightail it to the gym until I realize running with a stomach full of brioche wouldn’t end well. All I can say is thank goodness I have a family who likes to eat what I make because there is no question in my mind I would have polished off the whole batch–and, consequently, an entire stick of butter– if left alone with these things.

I need to work on my pretzel-forming skills

I need to work on my pretzel-forming skills

The recipe (which is supposed to yield eight pretzels, so a meager one tablespoon of butter for each–practically health food!) is from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman, and I found it on TheKitchn after coming across the image a million times on Pinterest. The brioche dough was almost too much for my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer. I had to put some serious elbow grease into unlocking the bowl from the stand afterwards, as it had been wedged so far to the right by the ten minutes of kneading. Other than that little challenge, the recipe is quite simple. As always, the hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise.

filled with chocolate, butter, and love

filled with chocolate, butter, and love

Of course I was only able to restrain myself from sampling for about 10 seconds after pulling them out of the oven, and it was worth the burnt fingers. These Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels were wonderful because they weren’t too sweet, and the melty chocolate combined with the soft, buttery brioche texture was perfection.

I know I’m not doing anyone any health favors by making these, but it was worth it. The whole stick of butter and all.

Peach Scones

It’s been raining nonstop here in Atlanta. I think I could count the days I would qualify as perfect “summer” days on two hands. I am so pale. My rain boots are always by the door. Seriously depressing stuff.

Pouring.

Pouring.

It turns out buttermilk peach scones offer a little brightness to the soppy gray color palette outside. Peaches have been on sale recently, so I decided to whip up a quick batch of these easy scones from  Turnips 2 Tangerines–a lovely blog that a friend turned me on to a couple of weeks ago. I left off the white chocolate chip glaze, as I wanted to let the peaches really dominate the flavor. And did they ever.

Little Rays of Sunshine

Little Rays of Sunshine

These scones were light and crumbly and peachy and delicious. I can’t wait to try the base dough recipe with other fruit. I’m thinking strawberries and blueberries for a start.

I’m crossing my fingers for the sun to come out soon.  In the meantime, I’ll be in the kitchen making scones!

I Dream of Cupcake

I haven’t been in D.C. since the first week of June. Up until then, I temporarily called it home, as it was where I attended college for four years. I was ready to get out by the time I graduated, but I will let you in on a little secret: each day I feel myself missing it just a teensy bit more. I miss my friends and the way the city is so pedestrian-friendly. I do not miss the price of living or the constant WMATA repairs and inconveniences. Of course, some of the things I miss the most are related to food. Jumbo Slice for the biggest, best slice of pizza one could ever imagine. Open City for casual, yet hearty brunches and coffee complete with animal crackers on the side. Most of all, I miss Baked & Wired–the outspoken yet laid back bakery and coffee shop perched just up the hill from the Georgetown Waterfront. I was lucky enough to work within walking distance from B&W, which, on the weekends, would have lines of locals and tourists alike snaking out the door and up Thomas Jefferson St.

An Americano because why not get wired and patriotic?

An Americano because why not get wired and patriotic?

Upon entering, there are two options: right for coffee, left for baked goods. My plan of attack is always wired first, baked second. I’m a rebel. This way, I can prepare my coffee sans bag of precious cakecups, bars or cookies that needs to be carefully watched. Once I’ve got my drink in hand, I turn the corner and get in the baked line to choose which sugary treat I will take home; though, rarely do I make it even a few steps up Wisconsin Avenue before devouring everything.

The reason I sometimes wake up drooling.

The reason I sometimes wake up drooling.

I haven’t had one item from Baked & Wired that didn’t lead to me repeating “ohmygodthisissogood” a million times. The most memorable cakecup (yes, they refer to cupcakes as ‘cakecups’) I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming, however, is the lemon blueberry with lemon cream cheese frosting. There’s something otherworldly about the perfect combination between fluffy cake and rich, smooth frosting. Bite after bite is pure bliss. I dream about this cupcake (okay, ‘cakecup’) not infrequently. I miss D.C. a little, but I miss Baked & Wired a whole lot. The next time I visit, there’s no question where my first and last stops will be.

I’ve yet to find anywhere that even remotely compares to Baked & Wired in Atlanta, so if any of y’all have suggestions, hit a girl up. Until then, I’ll have to settle for baking my own version of the LBC w/ LCCF.

Homemade version of the LBC w/ LCCF Until B&W opens a location in Atlanta...

Homemade version of the LBC w/ LCCF Until B&W opens a location in Atlanta…

Eating my way through Durham

This past weekend, my friend K and I went to visit our very best M in Durham, NC. M just started grad school at Duke (smarty pants), and she had a short break after finals. It was a no-brainer that we would take a road trip to hang with our main squeeze. And let me tell you, M’s superb taste in restaurants combined with the fact that Durham has a wonderfully local palette of places to choose from ensured maximum gastro-delight for the extent of our stay.

After snacking on gas station offerings for the 5.5 hour ride up to Durham, K and I were ready for some real food. And it was real food we got at Bull City Burger and Brewery. I’m not big on red meat, so I opted for the Market Burger, which was composed of friend polenta, roasted red pepper, and a bun that was to die for. M and K both got the real deal with fries on the side. You know when you’re so full that it hurts to laugh? That was us by the end of the meal. BCBB, you rule.

check out those cuces

check out those cuces

The next morning for breakfast, it was donut and biscuit time at Rise Biscuits and Donuts. I don’t know if there’s anything better than a scrambled egg sandwich on a fresh buttermilk biscuit. Oh wait. Yes there is. A scrambled egg sandwich on a fresh buttermilk biscuit accompanied by a strong cup of coffee AND A CRONUT. Or, in this case, a Cronie (because the word Cronut is trademarked). You guys, I was in heaven. I can’t tell you how badly I have wanted to try the donut/croissant hybrid since the craze started in NYC.  And want to know the best part? I ordered the very last one. #BLESSED, y’all.

That is what I'm talking about. Yassss.

That is what I’m talking about. Yassss.

After a day of straight maxin’ and relaxin’, we headed to dinner at Geer Street Garden. K’s fried chicken plate with green beans and fries looked the best. M got some tasty fish tacos, and I had an eggplant parmesan sandwich. Everything was excellent. Again, we were exceptionally full. But hey, it’s okay when you’re on vacay.

Errybody wanna piece of my chicken

Errybody wanna piece of my chicken

All in all, it was a great weekend with best friends and bomb food. What else could a girl ask for (other than maybe just one more Cronie)?

simply the best chocolate chip cookies ever

Everyone has their own favorite CCC recipe, and this one happens to be mine. We found each other one night on Pinterest. I was half watching TV, half browsing through the Food & Drink pins. As soon as I saw the image of these chocolate flecked beauties, I knew it would only be a matter of time until a  batch of them was sitting pretty on my own cooling rack.

NYT CCC

The recipe comes from The Other Side of Fifty, and it’s a variation of the New York Times recipe adapted from Jacques Torres. You can never go wrong with something from Jacques.

The key to these little doughy discs of heaven is refrigeration time. This one was difficult for me because I like instant gratification. You’re telling me I have to prepare this dough that smells (and tastes…whoops) amazing, but I can’t use it for 24 whole hours? It better be worth it.

Trust me, it is.

There are three types of chocolate used in this dough: semisweet baking chocolate, semisweet chocolate chips, and unsweetened baking chocolate.

Hello perfect chocolate trifecta. Meet sea salt.

So anyway, everything in this recipe ends up getting together and chilling for at least 24 hours (and up to 36) to make a truly beyond delicious cookie. Just make sure you have people to share with. Or eat like ten in one sitting like I did. Either way.

Disclaimer: my inept photography skills do not even begin to do these justice.

NYT CCC

longest 10-12 minutes of my life

to share or not to share...

to share or not to share…