Tasting at PS 35

Let’s talk pizza, y’all.

ps35

More specifically, let’s talk pizza at PS 35.

This is new the spot in my neck of the woods that is creating quite the buzz.

After visiting, I completely understand said buzz.

PS 35 is located in Round Rock, a suburb of Austin. But there is nothing suburban about the vibes of this joint. PS35 explodes with personality and pizazz, from the graffiti-laden walls to the classic video games inside and the patio foosball. Walking inside is an experience all its own, both a throwback to the 70’s and a tribute to New York public spaces.

ps3555

The beers on tap are a-plenty, and I found myself getting happily lost with the chalkboard menus. I’m one of the few and far between that absolutely loves sour beers, and they had not one but two choices for me here. So, before a bite had ever entered my mouth, I was sold on this place.

But then food did enter my mouth and TRUFFLE TOTS and HOT HONEY PIZZA. Excuse the word vomit. PS 35 has been the word on the street lately and those two things alone could justify this joint being the talk of the town.

ps3580

The truffle tots boasted just the right amount of crunch and seasoning, and the truffle salt complimented this combination in the most toothsome of ways.

The Hot Honey pizza is like crack for honey addicts. My friends, I have a confession to make. I AM A HONEY ADDICT. I shriek and run every time a bee gets near me (Don’t ask me how I ever took beekeeping classes. This is still a mystery to me.), but I love those terrifying little creatures for the miraculous substance that they create. Okay, I digress. The point here is that the sweet and salty combo of Mike’s hot honey, ricotta, pepperoni, sausage and tomato sauce was joy delivered straight to my taste buds.

ps351

Another favorite was the Harlem Chopped Cheese. I was a little hesitant to try this one as it reminded me just ever so slightly of a Philadelphia Cheese Steak, which I have a strong aversion to.  In my undergrad years, I performed in a short play in which I was required to eat a microwaveable Philly Cheese Steak for all rehearsals and performance nights. By the end of this experience, just hearing the word Philly Cheese Steak made me want to vomit. It takes a strong sandwich to reverse this feeling, but the Harlem Chopped Cheese did just this. It was juicy and cheesy and filled with fresh veggies and just the right amount of hot sauce, mayo and oil and vinegar. Is your mouth watering?! Because mine is. The sesame seed bun simply perfected this work of sandwich art.

ps358

I cannot forget the New York Sour. This frozen drink stars bourbon, lemon and a red wine float. It was strong but smooth, just a little fruity and absolutely ideal for pairing with pizza or tots. I would go back just for this cocktail. But I could say that about most things on the menu.

ps535

One of the owner’s and head chef of PS 35 Clint Elmore has a story that adds to the uniqueness of this pizza joint. After attending law school and practicing law for a bit, he decided it wasn’t the life for him. Originally from Mississippi, he moved to New York to pursue his dreams of creating art through food. From there, he travelled to Italy for a month to become a culinary expert. Fast forward years later, and Austin is blessed with PS35.

It’s a beautiful and delicious story, but the ending is definitely my favorite part.

Welcome to Austin, PS 35! I will be seeing lots of you. And your honey pizza. And those truffle tots. And your… Okay, y’all get it. I’m obsessed.

Vivel’s Blog Tasting

I’ve never been a big pancake fan. A few bites in, and I’m bored. But crepes? Crepes I adore. Their thin texture paired with their versatility makes for a winning combo in my book/blog.

vivel1

Despite this founded adoration, my experiences with crepes have been few and far between. In fact, until yesterday, I had never tasted a savory crepe. I know, I know, such a food blogger fail. Luckily, my tasting with Vivel Coffee and Crepes changed all of that and opened my eyes (and mouth) to the beauty and variety of LIFE.

vivel2

But, really. The word Vivel translates from Latin to mean “Life.” Owner Ali noted that he thought of this name during construction. While looking at the hills and greenery that Vivel is surrounded by in Lakeway, Texas, the name just seemed to fit. And it does.

egg

Because, y’all, these crepes gave me life.

vivel3

Ali spoiled me with all of the crepes. Like, all of them. I could have taken a crepe bath, and the bathtub would have been full. Of crepes. It was magical. Before I get into serenading my favorites, let me tell you a little story about meeting Ali. As we were emailing back and forth, I assumed Ali was a female. Hear me out. I SWEAR, somewhere I read that his name was “Ally” and not “Ali.” Obviously, the pronunciation in my head was completely wrong. When I met Ali the man in person, I was confused enough to stumble with my words and feel the need to explain myself. “I um. Sorry. Thought you were going to be a woman.” So yes, my first words to this kind gentleman were that I thought he was going to be the opposite gender. Typical smooth talking Christina, y’all.

vivel50

Back to crepe talk now. Ali the man spoiled the heck out of me with these beautiful creations. A gorgeous combination of French, Italian and Mediterranean, I found myself swooning over each and every one. It’s going to be tough, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top five so that this blog doesn’t turn into a short novel. Ahem.

vivel35

  1. Smoked Salmon Crepe – This was my one request at Vivel’s because I have a slight obsession with smoked salmon with all the fixin’s. It was everything I dreamed of and so much more. The lightness of the crepe paired with the decadence of the cream cheese, capers and salmon was DIVINE. I’m salivating just writing this. Sexy, I know.
  2. Citronade – Are y’all ready for this?! Lemon reduction, brown sugar, whipped butter and vanilla gelato. I know, right?! Butter and lemon are two of my favorite things in life, and this pairing was pure happiness. The creamy, homemade gelato perfected an already heavenly masterpiece.
  3. Cannelle – This is simplicity at its finest and most delicious. Cinnamon, brown sugar and whipped butter. That’s all it took to leave me with a crepe crush.
  4. The Marrakesh Express – I’m a firm believer in putting an egg on it. This crepe did just that sunny side up, and added some shredded spiced lamb, cumin and extra virgin olive oil. That runny egg matched with the tender lamb and the light, airy crepe? Words cannot even express the feelings of elation I felt biting into this one.
  5. The Nutty Nutella – Okay, so it’s hard to go wrong with Nutella but Vivel somehow made it taste more right than ever before. The walnuts and toasted almonds made the Nutella feel perfectly at home in the crepe paradise that it so rightly deserves.

Special mention also goes out to the Vivel Latte with the lavender infused milk. I knew by my second sip of this strong and slightly sweet concoction that I had found myself a new beloved latte.

vivel85

Vivel know how to put life into crepes, you guys. Every single bite of every single crepe that I bit into was exquisite. Ali is a worldwide and longtime expert of the food industry, and this is evident in the mesmerizing combinations of flavors he so masterfully creates. Forget pancakes, guys. Vivel’s will have you exclaiming ‘Holy Crepe!’ in no time.

 

Baked By Amy’s Tasting

You walk in, and are immediately hit with the smell of happiness. The sweet warmth of cupcakes and cookies fill your lungs, and there’s suddenly an extra bounce in your step.  It’s like magic. Beautiful, delicious magic.

bakedbyamys

This is how I felt walking into Baked by Amy’s. I was immediately greeted with four seasonal macarons, two cookies the size of my face and three gigantic cupcakes. They sure do know how to woo a girl. I was also immediately charmed by the interior. Bright and merry and full of flowers and gorgeously decorated chalkboards.

bakedbyamys5

I was so excited about all of the things that it took me a while to settle down and actually bite into anything.  But once I started eating, stopping was not an option.

The pina colada macaron had me from first taste. I had forgotten the description given to me by the time I bit into it, but it might as well have been called “summer.” It tasted like a first dip into a swimming pool, like the sweet smell of tropical suntan lotion, like a perfect vacation in the middle of July. Put simply, it was paradise to my taste buds.

Another source of pure joy? The lemon tart cupcake donned a light, whipped topping which was an ideal match for the crumbly, curd filled cupcake. Another addition that pairs wonderfully with a hot, summer’s day.

bakedbyamys50

The rest of the baked goodness did not disappoint. From the Tres Leches cupcake full of fresh fruit and cream to the blissfully sweet cherry and berry macarons, every little thing Baked by Amy’s does is magic.

The best part of all of this for someone as indecisive as me? I don’t have to choose between cupcakes, cookies or macarons before coming in. They have ’em all! Not in the mood for any of that (you crazy, boo) either? There’s an Amy’s Ice Creams RIGHT next door.

Did I mention yet Baked by Amy’s is ten minutes from my house? Ain’t that the sweetest?!

 

Tasting at La Patisserie

I have macarons on my mind.  Pistachio macarons, white macadamia macarons, rose macarons.  All of the macarons. Also chocolate croissants, lemon tarts and various other French pastries. Who is to blame for my fixation, you might ask? La Patisserie is the culprit. Two weeks ago I had a tasting at this French pastry shop and it’s roughly 75% of what I’ve been thinking about for the past fourteen days.  Obsessive? Maybe. Croissant crazed? Perhaps. Delicious? AN UNDERSTATEMENT.

lapatisserie

The rose flavored macaron, which was light and airy as a cloud, surprised me. I’m not usually big on floral flavors, but the delicately delicious taste changed all of that for me. It was immediately a favorite, though the white macadamia was also in the running. Rich but smooth, this is a flavor that the masses will enjoy. The Funfetti flavor boasts sprinkles and sweetness – I took this one home to my three-year-old (Okay, I took a bite out of it first. For the blog, of course.) and she devoured it and commented, “Mmmm! It’s good.” Food critic in the making, y’all.

lapattiserie4

I can’t not mention the lemon meringue tart. Both tiny and regal, this little guy packs a big and beautiful tart punch. This paired with the buttery flakiness that nearly melted in my mouth have me swooning while typing. And the Millefeuille? Bliss. Chocolate and butter loaded bliss. Need I say more?

lapatisserie2

Actually, I do need to say a little more. Soraiya, the owner of La Patisserie, is such a joy.  It was immediately evident to me both the love and care she puts into everything from her sweet treats to her equally sweet staff. She is an attentive, warm and genuinely kindhearted individual. Speaking with her warmed my soul as much as the delicious Green Tea/ Coffee hybrid I was drinking. In the time I spent at La Patisserie, we talked everything from our kids to travel to the importance of women banding together. All of this while I’m nibbling on the most heavenly of macarons. It was truly a lovely experience.

I’d love to tell you how the idea for all of the loveliness began. After a childhood trip to France, Soraiya told her parents she would open a French pastry shop one day. La Patisserie now boasts both a downtown and a north Austin location on Burnet Road. They are both reminiscent of the quaintest of European cafes. She is truly living her dream, and that is pretty inspiring stuff.

lapatisserie3

Soraiya’s favorite thing about owning a pastry shop? Seeing people’s faces light up when they try macarons for the first time. This was not my first macaron, but I know my face lit up just the same.

Tasting at Coffee Shark

I have a new favorite coffee shop in Austin. Maybe even new favorite coffee shop ever.  It’s called Coffee Shark, and it will change your life in the best, most caffeinated way possible.

pretzel

Don’t let the name fool you. Coffee Shark serves far more than just coffee (also there’s no sharks), my friends. They’ve also got an amazing array of beer, sandwiches, (may I suggest the Pesto Mozzarella Tomato? Because I’m daydreaming about that cheese and pesto filled ciabatta bun right about now.) soups, pizza (from East Side Pies!), and so much more. I’m going to make a suggestion. Order the soft pretzels and the cheese plate and proceed to immediately dip the soft pretzels into the brie. GUYS. I am salivating thinking about this right now.

coffeeshark31

The inside dons the open, industrial vibes that I am learning is something that I like a lot in my coffee shops. Games like cornhole and giant Jenga grace the back patio, which is perfect for drinking a cold beer on a hot, summer’s day. As far as beer goes, the flirty and fruity Hye-Biscus had me hooked from first sip.

coffeesharkbeer

The best part? All is served with a heaping side of LOVE, y’all. Okay, I know that sounds super cheesy, (Speaking of cheese – Coffee Shark’s all comes from the local Antonelli’s Cheese Shop) but it’s true. Both the staff and clientele at Coffee Shark made me feel like family. I spent over three hours at this tasting, and when I wasn’t eating I was probably laughing or lost in good conversation. I hit it off with one group of customers so well that I made them take a picture with me and the owner joked that he had hired them for the day. After that, I spent another hour and a half chuckling and chatting with the Coffee Shark team.

coffeeshark35

coffeesharkteam

Though mine was more of a beer and food tasting, I can’t not mention the coffee. I had a regular drip coffee but this was far from any ‘ole regular drip coffee. Coffee Shark uses a steampunk coffee brewer. This is a hybrid (trybrid?) of the French press, siphon and pour over. They make their delightful drip coffees by using temperature, time, volume and water agitation.  So basically this coffee is pure MAGIC.

metasting

I almost wish I could keep this place a secret, but that would be nearly criminal. I must share this good with the world. So, here you go, world. Coffee Shark is where it’s at.  Prepare to eat good food, drink good drinks, and make new friends.

Nate’s Coffee & Cocktails

nate4

Last week I had a cocktail and cake ball tasting at Nate’s in downtown Buda. I’ve worked in this Buda once a week for years, but have only recently become smitten with the downtown area. Nate’s only made me fall so much harder.

nate3

Before Nate’s was a cocktail bar, it was an auto part’s store. I adored the open and airy feel that was leftover from the past, and that they’ve kept some of the rustic warehouse vibes too.  Oh, and have I mentioned the spacious wooden patio? All of this goodness makes for such a charming environment, friends.

nate30

The cocktails just put the cherry on top of all of said charm. Nate’s has this drink-making stuff down pat, y’all. Strong? Check. Unique and magical flavor combinations? Check. Delicious? Check, check, check. Probably my favorite drink was the Main Street Smash, which consisted of Deep Eddy Ruby Red, Starlite vodka, fresh lemon, cucumber and mint, St. Germain. Sipping on this was refreshing and delightful and reminiscent of the perfect summer day.

Nate’s also offers an extensive beer and wine menu, coffee, sandwiches, snacks and CAKE BALLS which, if you can’t tell by my all caps there, are amazing. Their coffee comes from the local and loved Cuvee and their eats from the delightful Crema Bakery.  The in-house created meat and cheese plate is also delightful and was the perfect match for my cocktails.

nates30942

Being at Nate’s solo was wonderful, but this is such an ideal spot to laugh and chat with people you like a lot. Living in North Austin, this is a bit of a drive for me. But, man, oh man. It’s worth the drive. I would more than happily daydream about cocktails and cake balls for the entirety of this little road-trip.

This Right Now

Hello, friends!

marfa

It’s been a hot minute.

Grad school is cray, but guess what?! I graduate in THREE months. I’m currently on a short (but much needed) break, and when I start back up it will be for my last semester. I’ll spare you the that-makes-me-a-little-weepy-because-I-love-my-cohort-SO-MUCH-and-what-the-heck-where-did -the-two-years-go, but really I won’t because there it is. HA.

What else?

marfa2

So far this year I’ve traveled to Seattle, Vancouver, DC, Maryland and Marfa, Texas. I somewhat unexpectedly fell in love with West Texas and am already trying to plan a trip back. Think the culture of Mexico/New Mexico but with the hippie/artsy vibes of Austin. I was instantly smitten. I’m lucky my little fam rolls with my whims and was down for a quick weekend trip and, you know, fifteen hours of driving in three days. They’re champs, my people.

marfa3

For our Capstone in this last semester, our cohort has been assigned the task of becoming consultants for a local Austin business of our choosing.  It’s quite the undertaking, and I am slightly terrified but mostly excited for how this program is helping to shape my future.

marfa50

It’s hard for me to not constantly be asking myself, “What’s next, what’s next, what’s next?!” This is a monumental point in my life, and I’m aware of that. But I’m also aware of the fact that I’ll never be twenty-eight again. My daughter will never be three again. She won’t sing herself to sleep or ask for my help finding snails for too much longer. My husband and I will only celebrate nine years of togetherness, just this one month of this one year. I’ll only be sitting in a classroom, laughing with my cohort fam and sometimes sneaking in boxed wine for one more summer. This is the last bit of time that I’ll take weekly walks through the gorgeous campus that has now become my second home. It’s a special time, this right now. I’m just trying to remind myself to slow down and cherish the heck out of it all.