Friday, April 29, 2016

Garbo's Lobster Truck - Restaurant Review, AND Chalk Hill Pinor Noir, Sonoma Coast, CA


We were at a friend's home tonight for a birthday party. The backyard is stunning! And I couldn't believe they got the Garbo's Lobster Truck up the narrow (1 car's width) driveway, but they did!

I can honestly say that I've never been to an East Coast Preppy themed party. It was really fun! I wore a white short-sleeve button down shirt and pink Bermuda shorts with pearl earrings and beige and white canvas ballet flats. I love being comfy!


The bartenders were serving just about anything you wanted to imbibe. Knowing that we'd be noshing on seafood, I opted for the Chalk Hill Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. It was light and perfect for the cuisine! I alternated wine with glasses of iced Topo Chico.


We started with the Lobster Mac-n-Cheese. It was wonderful! The mac is made with cheddar and gouda, and D says it's the best he's ever had. It was topped with a lobster claw, which I gobbled down immediately. It would be truly amazing if lobster was incorporated throughout the mac-n-cheese!


Next, I enjoyed a Connecticut Style Lobster Roll. According to the menu, the lobster is warmed in butter. So unbelievably delicious! I had two. Don't judge - they are kind of tiny! 

 


Freshly-shucked oysters? Yes please! The shuckers said that the oysters were flown in from the East coast just for this party - yay!

The big ones were Blue Points from Connecticut, and they were my favorite. They are described as tasting briny, but these were sweeter and just slightly, but freshly, salty.

The small ones were Conway Pearls from Prince Edward Island were okay. They actually tasted brinier to me than the Blue Points. I only had a few of them.

While they had a couple of very nice sauces, including a Mignonette, I am a oyster and fresh lemon girl - just a squeeze and the oyster is perfect!


Here's the food truck menu for those of you who are interested in it.


I don't think Garbo's supplied these cookies, but they are very cute so I thought I'd include a photo of them here!

Cheers to JB on his 40th!


Walton's Fancy and Staple - Restaurant Review



For a hearty and pleasant lunch, Walton's is a great place! I love the Turkey Sweet sandwich, which is what I usually get. Service is usually friendly.

This French Onion Soup (caramelized onion, beef stock, Gruyere, Parmesan, crostini) from Walton's is slightly too salty. However, for a sore throat, it was PERFECT! Service was great as always. Although I had lost my voice and the cashier wouldn't look at me after I pointed to the items on the menu I wanted. I was also trying to explain to her that I had temporary laryngitis, but she just wouldn't look at me. So weird. Good thing I enjoy their food.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Shoyu Ramen Recipe



Yes, I took this photo after I'd eaten most of my homemade ramen. Who could have resisted? It was so good!

I modified this Shoyu Ramen recipe. I've made adjustments and suggestions below:

Ingredients

Soup
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 organic garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ inch organic ginger, minced
  • 2 tsp spicy chili bean paste (or any chili/hot sauce)
  • 4 cups organic low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
  • 4 pieces Nori or 1 large piece Kombu
  • 2 ½ Tbsp organic soy sauce
  • ½ Tbsp sake or Mirin
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sugar (omit if you use Mirin)
  • 8 oz fresh ramen noodles

Toppings (optional)
  • 4 bunches organic baby bok choy, chopped
  • 2 organic soft boiled eggs (or if you don't want to cook the eggs separately, I usually just crack 2 eggs into the soup when I add the noodles, and they are done when the noodles are done)
  • 2 sheets of Nori (dry seasoned seaweed)
  • 1 bunch organic green onion, chopped

Instructions
  1. Prepare toppings. Fresh ramen noodles will be done cooking in a few minutes so you should prepare all of your toppings before you start cooking the noodles.
  2. Mince the garlic and ginger.
  3. Heat the sesame oil in a pot that fits 2 quarts (8 cups) of liquid. Add garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Add spicy chili bean paste and stir.
  5. Add the rest of soup ingredients except for the noodles, and simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Check the flavor and adjust the salt to your taste (most ramen is on the salty side, but I don't prefer mine too salty).
  7. Keep the soup simmering, not boiling. Loosen up the noodles before putting them into the boiling water. Cook noodles according to the package instructions, usually not more than 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately!
Yum! I dare you to remember to take a picture before you consume most of it!


La Vieille Ferme Rosé 2015, France - $8



I was chatting with the Glazer's rep at Central Market, and he pointed out the La Vieille Ferme Rosé, which he mentioned is the house rosé at Justine's. It's only $8 a bottle at Central Market, and is light, fruity, food-friendly, and just slightly bitter. A very good value, and how can you go wrong if one of Austin's favorite French restaurants serves it as one of their house wines?


Passport to Mexico at Central Market - three red wines from Bodegas Santo Tomás, Mexico


Bodegas Santo Tomás Misión Tinto 2013 is $14 a bottle at Central Market. It is made from Carignan and Tempranillo. It's light and dry with a bit of acid. Seems that it would be very food friendly.


Bodegas Santo Tomás Tempranillo-Cabernet 2013 is $17 a bottle at Central Market. It tasted of rich red fruit and was dry with medium tannins. Very good.


Bodegas Santo Tomás Unico Gran Reserva 2009 is $60 a bottle at Central Market. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It tastes of dark fruit and is very dry with strong tannins. I thought it was quite nice.

I think the wine rep mentioned that the Unico is available at Central Market only during the Passport to Mexico event. Go grab these wines now if you want to try them!


True Food Kitchen - Restaruant Review #2



I truly can't get enough of True Food Kitchen! Today I went with my lovely friend, SI, and her 1 year old daughter. I had made a reservation but it was for the wrong day. The hostess was kind enough to get us in as soon as possible, and the service continued to be excellent throughout our meal.

This is the kind of menu that I could eat anything from. Seriously. I told SI to choose anything she wanted because I would eat it all! I ended up suggesting the Shiitake Mushroom Lettuce Cups ($10) which I had the last time I ate here. We decided to split that dish and the Grilled Asparagus Salad ($13). SI also requested a little fruit cup ($4) for her daughter, and the restaurant prepared one with bananas and strawberries even though it wasn't listed on the menu - so nice.

The Shiitake Mushroom Cups included Shiitake mushrooms, Romaine lettuce, tofu, jicama, scallions, and cashews, all topped with sambal. They are so good, and it's amazing to think that they are vegan. We had to ask for more lettuce, which they brought promptly.

The Grilled Asparagus Salad included grilled asparagus, roasted cauliflower, wax beans, broccolini, mint, Manchego, and pistachio in a Sicilian vinaigrette. It was absolutely delicious.

Our bill came out to $31 before tip. The only thing I would have changed would be to order dishes that would enhance each other better. Having one Asian-flavored dish and one with Manchego in a Sicilian vinaigrette wasn't the best combination even both were absolutely yummy. They didn't clash - they just weren't complementary.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Carayon La Rosé 2014, Languedoc, France - $6

      

Carayon La Rosé is a wine from Languedoc, France. It is $6 a bottle at Trader Joe's.

The wine is such a pretty color of pink - darker and more pink than most (which tend to appear orange to me).

It tastes fine - light, fruity, and dry, but with a bitter aftertaste that I don't love. This seems to be the taste profile for rosés sold at Trader Joe's around this price range. It'll do in a pinch, but there are better rosés for just a few dollars more.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Chicken Noodle Soup Recipe


This is a GREAT chicken noodle soup recipe. I've made a few adjustments and suggestions to the original. If you want to follow the original from Tyler Florence of the Food Network, you can find it here.

I made an organic soup, but if organics are cost-prohibitive or hard to find, at least try to purchase organic stock and chicken breasts.

Ingredients
  • 4 quarts organic, low sodium chicken stock
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 medium organic onions, chopped
  • 6 organic garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 medium organic carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 6 organic celery stalks, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 T corn starch, dissolved in cold water
  • 8 to 12 ounces fresh wide pasta (fettuccine, pappardelle, or tagliatelle) either homemade or from the store; cut into 2" lengths
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Bring the chicken stock to a boil.
  2. Add the thyme and bay leaves.
  3. Add the chicken and cook at a rolling boil for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop onions, garlic, and vegetables and add vegetables as you finish chopping them.
  4. When chicken breasts are done, remove them from the stock and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. With the soup still boiling, add the corn starch and stir until well incorporated.
  6. Dice the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.
  7. Add the chicken back into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Add the pasta and cook for 2 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

Options

  • This is a really chunky soup. If you like soup that has more liquid as opposed to solid, then add another quart of chicken stock, or omit some of the ingredients in proportion (omit 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks, 1/2 an onion, 1 chicken breast) and use only 6 oz of pasta.
  • If you like a soup with stock that is less thick, then omit the corn starch.



Thursday, April 21, 2016

Titaya's Thai Cuisine - Restaurant Review

 

Titaya's is so great! The restaurant is clean, the service is friendly and the food is so fresh! I've enjoyed eating there immensely.

This time, we ordered to-go - Titaya's Signature Wings ($8), Gang Garee (yellow curry) with chicken ($10), and Pad Thai with Shrimp ($11.50). Titaya's adds 50 cents to each to-go order - very inexpensive, and pickup is easy.

All three dishes were fantastic!

The wings were marinated in garlic, peppercorns, and lemongrass before being fried. They were crispy on the outside without being overly greasy, and were served with a sweet sauce, iceberg lettuce, and julienned red cabbage. Only about eight wings came with the order.

The mild and delicious yellow curry included potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and yellow onions in coconut milk - we added chicken (they only use chicken breast). It is served with about three scoops of white rice.

We added shrimp to the basic Pad Thai, which already included thin rice noodles, fried egg, preserved radish, bean sprouts, green onions, sweet tamarind sauce, raw bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, and a small slice of lime. I would have preferred a few more slices of lime.


La Promenade Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France - $10

 

La Promenade Rosé is lovely, with only a slightly bitter finish at the end. Food friendly, light, and fresh, it can be found for only $10 a bottle at Trader Joe's.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Argyle Pinot Noir 2014, Willamette Valley, Oregon - $20



Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is a popular choice for this varietal. It's light and food friendly, and just slightly tangy. It sells for $20 a bottle at Central Market. Fun and easy!


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Domaine Val d'Astier Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France - $16

      
Domaine Val d'Astier Rosé from Côtes de Provence is a really wonderful, fruity, light, and dry wine. It went great with chorizo, shrimp, and veggie paella tonight.

I have to admit that in addition to the fact that this rosé was from Côtes de Provence, I also purchased it because it's such a pretty and unique bottle, and the price was right at $16 a bottle at Costco.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Aimé Roquesante Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France - $12

Aimé Roquesante Rosé from Côtes de Provence is a nice wine. It is light, fruity, and dry, with just a hint of bitterness. It's okay, and tasted good with our Asian-inspired dinner tonight (salad with sesame soy ginger dressing; spicy peanut butter udon), but I probably won't buy it again because I prefer a fruity and dry but not bitter rosé. It was $12 a bottle at Whole Foods.


In the Coconut Food Truck - Restaurant Review

In the Coconut is a Hawaiian food truck that just opened at 828 Airport in East Austin. The owner, Jessica, is a fabulous chef and so sweet and friendly! The food is all local, fresh, and so enjoyable!

The food truck is located in the Moontower Design parking lot. Four outdoor tables are furnished with enough chairs to accommodate at least 16 people, as well as overhead canopies to protect from sun and rain.


I ordered the Brussels sprouts with bacon and Parmesan, an Ohana Taco (Kalua pork with pineapple and cilantro), and a Tere Taco (blackened or grilled shrimp with piña colada sauce).

For dessert, I ordered the Kukui Nuts (deep fried coconut cream dough with almonds, coconut, and salted caramel sauce) and the P.F.O. (plantain fried objects). They were absolutely yummy and perfect!

 
The menu has lots of variety, and Jessica makes everything to perfection!

In the Coconut is open every weekday for lunch. I'll post here as soon as they announce additional hours!


Friday, April 15, 2016

Chicon - Restaurant Review, AND Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence Rosé 2015, France

Just a month ago, Chicon was a restaurant called Gardner. I really enjoyed our experience at Gardner, and were sad to hear that it was closing. The food, service, and atmosphere were all exceptional.

Chicon looks very similar to Gardner, except that it feels a little more southwestern with the Mexican blankets and the terracotta and steel blue color palate. The menu is also a little less appealing to me than Gardner's was, but everything we ordered was really wonderful and all of us were very happy.

    
We ordered a couple of bottles of the Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence Rosé 2015 ($36 per bottle). It was the most fragrant rosé I have ever experienced, and I savored every single glass! In the mouth it was light and refreshing with a little bit of citrus and fruit, very food friendly, and dry.

For dinner we ordered the Grilled Kale ($9 - bright green and slightly smoky), Roasted Carrots ($15 - with seared Bucherone, hazelnut vinaigrette, and greens), Sirloin Cap ($21 - with the most perfectly fried fingerling potatoes, cipollini onions, and burnt tomato vinaigrette), Burger & Fries ($17 - on a challah bun with aïoli, pickles, cheese, and bacon), and the Grilled Half Chicken ($34 - with grilled green vegetables, romaine hearts, camp bread, buttermilk ranch, chili de arbol, and chili guajillio). All of the plates were divine, except that we didn't see many carrots in the carrot dish! The rest of my party chose the burger as their favorite plate, although the patty itself was too salty for me. I really enjoyed the sirloin caps and the grilled chicken best. The chicken was served with these fluffy flour tortillas and we made little wraps with the meat and veggies. Just delectable!

The total bill for four of us pre-tip was about $191, which included all of the dishes above, a cocktail, and two bottles of the rosé.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

J.L. Quinson Côteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé 2014, France - $10

Sassy Wine Belly - J.L. Quinson Côteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé 2014

This J.L. Quinson Côteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé 2014 is lovely. I purchased it for $10 a bottle at Trader Joe's. I have to admit that one of the reasons I bought it was because I thought the bottle's shape was very pretty.

This wine is fruity and dry, and is extremely food friendly with only the tiniest of a bitter aftertaste. I would purchase it again in a pinch.


Bitter Rosé Wines



The Chateau Bonnet Bordeaux Rosé (can't remember the vintage) was about $18 a bottle at Central Market.


























The Les Domaniers Rosé Cotes de Provence 2014 was about $19 a bottle and I also purchased it from Central Market.

Both were slightly bitter, which is not something I'm looking for in a rosé. I won't purchase these again, even though they weren't bad. I just didn't prefer them.


La Ferme Julien Rosé, France - $6



La Ferme Julien Rosé is $6 a bottle at Trader Joe's. It is light, fruity, and dry with a bitter finish. Not terrible, but not my favorite. It's fine for the price, but there are some rosés for just a few dollars more that are much better.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Julie's Handmade Noodles - Restaurant Review



This is the third time I've gotten takeout from Julie's Handmade Noodles, which is located in the West Campus Food Trailer Park. The food is delicious. The parking is usually pretty challenging.

I love this place even though the food is a little greasy and it's a one-woman operation! Allow for at least 10 to 15 minutes per order, since she takes down what you want and then goes and cooks it immediately. Julie is warm and friendly, and she makes her noodles by hand each day. The noodles have such a great, chewy texture without being rubbery.

The Egg Chow Mein has noodles, a nice brown sauce, and shredded lettuce, carrots, and fried egg. Definitely a treat, not an everyday meal!

Bullfight - Restaurant Review

Sassy Wine Belly - Bullfight Restaurant, Austin
Bullfight is a gorgeous tapas restaurant with an indoor-outdoor feel. The large glass doors between the dining room and patio slide open so that the dining areas feel seamless.


We began with the Jamón croquettes ($6) which were served in a cone of red and white paper. There were four total, shaped like tiny cigars. This is the leg that the Jamón (ham) was carved from. They were crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, but quite small compared to traditional croquettes.

Sassy Wine Belly - Bullfight Restaurant, Austin - Escalivada, peppers, eggplant, rosemary, boquerones
I ordered a glass of the Monastrell 2013 Torre Castillo ‘Alegre’ Jumilla ($10), which was delightfully fresh, light, and dry. I chose it because I knew we were going to order a lot of seafood for dinner. It was perfect with everything.

Next, the Escalivada with peppers, eggplant, rosemary, and boquerones arrived (roasted veggies with white anchovies on top - $12). Smoky and flavorful - yum!


We then shared the Duck meatballs with orange and chili ($11). There were four meatballs, and they were tender and delicious with an interesting mix of flavors. This was D's favorite dish of the evening.




The Seafood Paella with clams, chorizo, shrimp, and saffron was an extremely small portion for $30. The taste was wonderful and the texture was dry (in a good way). Each of us had a clam and a shrimp and a few bites of rice and veggies. This was by far the best dish of the evening for me.


We finished our meal with the Spring Tortilla ($7), which included asparagus, peas, and charred tomato. This was the entire small plate - two little slices. We each got a bite of the dish. It was fine, but I probably wouldn't order it again - I just don't think it's worth it.

Bullfight was beautiful, very delicious, and expensive. For about $120 pre-tip, the four of us enjoyed all of the above and four glasses of wine. One downside - when D and I got home, we ate a little more because we were hungry again.

I will definitely go again to try some of their other tapas.

Xian Sushi and Noodle - Restaurant Review


This is a takeout review for the Xian Sushi and Noodle Mueller location since we didn't actually eat at the restaurant.

Our friends brought over the Cold Sesame Noodles and the Dan Dan Noodles. Both are made with hand-pulled noodles, according to the menu.

The Dan Dan Noodles were salty, tangy, and spicy. The marinated beef slices were substantial, and the pickled vegetables and baby bock choy completed the dish. The wide noodles were perfectly chewy, just the way I like them!

The Sesame Noodles were lovely - refreshing with that slightly nutty sesame flavor. The noodles themselves were tender and so good! Very thin slices of veggies and chicken breast were incorporated into the dish.

Looking forward to trying more of this restaurant's offerings!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Gérard Bertrand Crémant de Limoux Brut Rosé 2013, Cuvée Thomas Jefferson, France - $20



This Gérard Bertrand Crémant de Limoux Sparkling Brut Rosé 2013, Cuvée Thomas Jefferson is a dry, sparkling rosé. I purchased it at Central Market for $20 a bottle based on the advice of the Glazer's representative working there.

I really loved this wine! It was fresh, light, delicious, bubbly, and I would buy it again in a heartbeat!


Blason de Bourgogne La Réserve Rosé Brut, France - $11


Sassy Wine Belly - Blason de Bourgogne La Réserve Rosé Brut
This Sparkling Burgundy Rosé is such a value at only $11 a bottle at Trader Joe's. It's my current daily favorite. Super food friendly, fruity and dry, it is really the perfect wine for me almost any day!


Friday, April 8, 2016

Château Trians Rosé Vin de Provence 2015, $15


Sassy Wine Belly - Château Trians Rosé Vin de Provence 2015 Sassy Wine Belly - Château Trians Rosé Vin de Provence 2015

The Easter bunny (initials MS and SD) left this fabulous rosé at our front door. It was just perfect! I loved it so much that I went immediately to Central Market to purchase every rosé vin de Provence that I could find. It is fruity, dry, and very food friendly! More to come! :)