Category Archives: Austin

“Crawling” around Richmond

A few weekends ago, Christian and I were invited by our new friend and coworker, Asha, to “crawl” around the various neighborhoods of Richmond, VA, and get to know our new hometown. All three of us being Spanish teachers, we figured a Spanish-style tapeo would be the perfect way to see the city and sample the fine food and spirits of its eclectic neighborhoods.

Salud!

First stop: the Water Grill in Carytown. Like true Spaniards, we each ordered an appetizer to share. Not able to overcome the Southern gourmand in me, I ordered the fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese sauce (nom nom nom). Asha and Christian agreed upon the mussels in coconut curry broth and the lobster dumplings. Double delish!

Lobster dumplings at the Water Grill in Richmond, VA

Fried green tomatoes and Coconut curry mussels

Second stop: Sticky Rice in the Fan. When Asha discovered that Christian and I love sushi, she knew just where to take us. Apparently, she uncovered my secret love for dive bars and nostalgia for all-things-Austin. The sushi at Sticky Rice was not our favorite, but it got the job done. (We prefer Osaka on Cary St. Rd.). However, the atmosphere and the service trumped all previous restaurants Christian and I had visited. Football fans gathered around bright screens, the bar was dimly lit and musky, they had a good craft beer selection, and the place was filled with tattooed hipsters. As soon as we entered, we did a double take. Were we in Austin? Did we enter into a different time-space continuum? (To our dismay, this was not an episode of Quantum Leap).

The tapeo continues at Sticky Rice

Third (and final) stop: Kuba Kuba (also in the Fan). Stuffed with sushi and appetizers from Water Grill, we mustered up the strength to order some vino and a slice of (very rich) chocolate pie. Christian oggled plates of cuban pork and plantains that waiters were hurriedly carrying by. I loved the atmosphere. It was sort of like a 50s soda fountain meets hipster hangout, with deliriously decadent smells wafting from the kitchen window. Kuba Kuba will be a definite repeat in our future.

Kuba Kuba's atmosphere was one of a kind.

We didn’t make it to Shockoe Bottom that night. Our tapeo didn’t leave room for pizza at Bottoms Up. But there’s always next weekend…

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Austin, Food, Friends, Nostalgia, Richmond

Farewell Austin

image

image

image

image

Four years ago, Christian and I met in Madrid, Spain. We were both working for Putney Student Travel at that time. At first glance, sparks flew and birds chirped, and that was the end of our single lives. When we parted ways in the Madrid airport in August 2007, we had already made plans for my visit to Austin — then his hometown, and soon to be mine.

Upon arriving in Austin, the first thing that Christian did was whisk me away to historic Mt. Bonnell. We “climbed” to the top — it’s only 780 feet above sea level — and shared a picnic as we admired the gorgeous view of the Austin skyline on a warm October afternoon.

It seems fitting then that four years and one wedding later, Christian and I visited Mt. Bonnell on our last day in Austin. (As I type, we are driving to Richmond, VA, where we will teach Spanish at St. Christopher’s and St. Catherine’s schools.) This time we made the climb on a hot July afternoon without a picnic in tow. But the view was still as spectacular as ever. Farewell Austin, we will miss you.

Posted from WordPress for Android

1 Comment

Filed under Austin, Hiking, Nostalgia

Giving Thanks for Friends and Asylum

Christian volunteers for the Center for Survivors of Torture, and one of his mentees – and dear friend – Suresh Pokhrel was recently granted asylum by the United States Government. It was a long, difficult road from the mountains of Nepal to the courts of San Antonio, but Suresh and his wife Manju finally won their freedom after years of persecution and struggle. Suresh is a poet and a lawyer, who speaks Nepali, Hindi, English, German, and is learning Spanish and French. Recently, he earned his certification to translate between English and Nepali speakers here in the U.S. He and Manju currently manage a convenience store in North Austin. Within weeks, Suresh and Manju will be reunited with their children, who have been living in Nepal for six years without their parents. Suresh and Manju recently invited us to their home to celebrate this great victory for their family.

Suresh presents us with gifts - journals to record our moments together

Suresh and Manju in their home in North Austin

Christian signs the Pokhrel's guest book. They are collecting memories from all their friends in Austin.

Christian, Manju and Suresh

Suresh drove us (in his NEW CAR!) to an Indian restaurant that Manju’s friend had recommended.

Suresh in his new car (a gift from Manju)

We let Suresh do the ordering: Chicken Tikka (skewered chicken cooked in tandoor with spices and yogurt), Goat Biriyani (a savory mixture of basmati rice and goat meat), Masoor Dal (split red lentils, very spicy but very good), Naan (one of many Indian flat breads), Raita (a tangy sour yogurt mixture, perfect for cooling your tongue after spicy dal), and for dessert: Gulab Jamun (deep-friend dough balls in a sugar syrup), Ras Malai (sugary white paneer cheese soaked in cream spiced with cardamom), and Pistachio Kulfi (creamy pistachio-flavored ice cream).

Passing the goat biriyani, mmmmm so good!

Sharing a feast with friends

Thank you for a wonderful dinner Suresh and Manju! We are so blessed to count you as friends!

Leave a comment

Filed under Austin, Food, Friends

Plain and Simple Doesn’t Have to Mean Tasteless

Avenue B Grocery in Hyde Park (Austin, TX) has quite possibly the best turkey sandwich that has ever crossed Sarah’s lips. Last week she had a lunch date with Michelle Gonzalez – a colleague from Quality Seafood Market – and both ladies were strapped for cash and short on time. Luckily, this historic grocery/sandwich shop was in the neighborhood, and it happens to be the only place in Austin (that we know of) where you can get a huge sandwich, a Sarsaparilla soda, and some chips for just 10 bucks. But this isn’t just any sandwich…

The menu is based on a build-your-own, classic approach. Sarah ordered turkey on wheat with the usual suspects (lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo) and added avocado, provolone, and stone ground mustard. The bread, an essential component of a superb sandwich, was perfect: not too hearty, soft, but not so weak that the tomato made it soggy. What really knocked it out of the ballpark was the turkey. It had a texture like a home-cooked bird, sliced so thin that it fell apart when crumbled with your fingers. The taste was out of this world (i.e., OMG turkey goodness). If you’re in the neighborhood, this place is a must-stop for a quick, delicious, and fairly-priced sandwich. Sorry we don’t have any pictures of the interior of the store to share. Although it’s well worth a peak inside (you can buy everything from an antique butter dish to a sirloin steak) we didn’t want to pay the “$500 surcharge for photography.” Sandwich with a side of sarcasm? Yes please.

Leave a comment

Filed under Austin, Cheap Eats, Food, Friends, Review

Meat Candy

Yesterday we hiked the Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve – a natural preserve East of Hwy 360, South of Westlake Dr, and North of Bee Caves Rd. To put it mildly, the preserve was spectacular! The trails, though short, were well maintained, and the grounds were well mapped and marked. The overlooks provided gorgeous views of the surrounding Westlake area, with only minimal interruptions from neighboring McMansions.

There was even a “waterfall” and some very challenging uphill climbs. Sarah was reminded of the “Notch” hike in Western Massachusetts that she and her Amherst classmates used to climb on sunny days and starry nights. According to the Wild Basin website, the preserve was established thanks to the efforts of  seven “little old ladies in tennis shoes.” Thank you L.O.L.’s!

A man who's about to mess up some brisket

And how better to follow up a morning hike than with a gut-bomb BBQ lunch? Initially, we tried to eat at JR’s Texas-style BBQ on Rosewood and Chicon, but the sign listed “sold out” at noon. Either their BBQ was THAT good, or “sold out” was simply a euphemism for “We didn’t feel like working today.” So, we moseyed on down the road to Franklin BBQ at East 11th St. It must have been the hand of God that steered us in the right direction that day, because both of us agreed that Franklin BBQ was hands down the BEST barbecue we’ve ever tasted. And this is coming from a die hard brisket critic (Christian) and a not-so-big-of-a-fan-of-Texas-BBQ (Sarah). We split the brisket and sausage plates.

Meat. Candy.

Sausage = 8.1 out of 10 (not too salty, good texture, nice “pop” feel when we bit into it, good smokey, spicy flavor). Brisket = 10 out of 10 (MEAT. CANDY.). That’s right folks…you read that correctly, MEAT. CANDY. The best darn crust on a brisket we’ve ever tasted. No sauce necessary. Tender and super moist. Delish. As one customer standing in line behind us put it… “I’ve never seen white boys make barbecue like this before. What planet are y’all from?”

Another satisfied customer!

Leave a comment

Filed under Austin, Food, Hiking, Review