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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Going Places

Hi, friends!

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You may have noticed I’ve made a couple of changes? After nearly eight years as christinadoesitall, I am now christinagoingplaces. Bittersweet. Bitter, because I’ve made so many happy memories and friends as christinadoesitall. Sweet, because I’m slowly finding my niche and place in this world. After years of dabbling in a little bit of everything and loving every moment of that, I am beginning to realize my passions. I’m both an MBA student and a girl who just really loves to explore the world. Education and travel are both so very valuable to me. So in more than one sense of the term, my goal is to be going places.

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So here I am! Doing things! Going places!

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Later this week I’ll be heading to Virginia and Maryland to visit my best friend of sixteen years. Because of Meg and her family, this part of the world has become much like a second home to me. I can’t wait to hug and laugh and dance and adventure with one of my favorite human beings.

When I return to Austin, it will be the beginning of crunch time. I graduate in five months, y’all! Part of me is so ready and the other part just wants time to slow down. The past year and seven months of grad school has been a blur of hard work and magic. I’m not ready for another semester of grueling coursework, but I’m not quite ready for it to all be over yet either.

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Speaking of not being quite ready for things. This month I turn twenty-eight. Like what? When? HOW?! I wonder where all the time has gone, but then I remember. It’s been spent doing really great things. Like building a home and a family with the dude I love the most. And getting lost in happy hours and good conversation and captivating reads. Chasing big dreams, and catching many of them. Trying new things and facing fears head on. (Unless this fear involves getting my blood drawn and then I will definitely turn my head away and also possibly pass out.) Driving through states and boarding lots and lots of airplanes. And learning. Always learning.

And all of that? It makes twenty-eight sound way less scary and much more like a wonderland of possibility. I can’t wait to see where I’ll go next.

Pst –

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By the way, I’m way blonde now! It feels fun and right.

Tasting at Napa Flats

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I recently went to a blog tasting at Napa Flats Wood-Fired Kitchen. Guys, I was so smitten that I barely made it a week before returning for happy hour.

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There wasn’t anything I didn’t love about Napa Flats. I loved the interior, which combined Californian, Italian and Austin vibes gloriously. I felt immediately welcomed into the environment that manages to be friendly, sleek, comfy and classy all at once. I also loved the playground on the patio, as this would be a place perfect to bring my fam back to. My toddler could have a blast while my husband and I could enjoy an air of sophistication that many kid-friendly restaurants lack. Classy in the front, two-year old party in the back.

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But now let me get to my favorite part. The food. Oh, the food. You guys, I’m practically swooning just typing this. They started me off the wood-fired avocado, which was grilled with chimichuri sauce on top of a bed of corn salsa. Y’all, The mix of grilled avocado and salsa and olive oil all mixed together so perfectly. I was drinking the chardonnay on tap while chomping down on said avocado, and all of the flavors together felt just like a masterpiece on my tongue. Recounting this is a struggle because I want more right now but it’s midnight so I CAN’T.

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Next up the was the main dish. I asked my sweet waiter Chris for his recommendations, and he suggested  that I should try both the Mush N Spin pizza AND the Citrus Chicken. I was not one to argue with such a brilliant suggestion. The pizza’s toppings included mushroom, spinach, caramelized onions, whipped ricotta, mozzarella and fried brussel sprout leaves. Pst- Tossed in a white truffle oil. Is your mouth watering? Because mine is. I don’t think much else needs to be said here, except it was every bit as delicious as it sounds.

The Citrus Chicken was pan-seared, topped with a lemon white wine butter sauce and served with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. There is something magical about the combination of chicken and lemon. And butter, of course all of the butter. Napa Flats put together a divine combo of the three.

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Finally, DESSERT. I devoured the salted caramel gelato and the wood-fired Ghirardelli brownie with peanut butter gelato. Oh, and a side of sangria. The gelato was creamy and decadent and nostalgic of gelato hubby and I had in Italy back in 2014. The brownie was gorgeous and rich and the wood-fired aspect gave it an enticingly unique taste. And let  us not forget the sangria. Napa’s Signature Red Sangria was refreshing and fruity and made with whiskey! I’ve never had a whiskey-based sangria and it was surprisingly smooth and just the right amount of sweet.

If you can’t tell, I have a new found crush on Napa Flats. They spoiled me with their heavenly eats, amiable staff and welcoming atmosphere. I’m attending grad school right across the street from my new crush, so I may or may not make it to sangria stalker status soon.

Leave it to me to make a food blog creepy, y’all.

360 Uno Trattoria Tasting

I walked into 360 Uno Trattoria and for a moment I was back at a little café in Italy.

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Overflowing with charm and wine, sitting down for a food and vino tasting at this quaint restaurant was an experience to be had. I immediately loved the option of sitting near the wine and coffee bar for a casual feel or of going into the next room for more of a fine dining experience. I chose the casual seating as I figured it would be easier to chat with the staff and write down notes like the nerdy blogger chick that I am. But I’m already planning a return with the hubby, because this is the perfect spot for a romantic date night.

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The sous chef at 360 Uno was kind enough to spoil me with a five course tasting, and his tasting portions were generous in that each was actually a full meal. My stomach was ready to explode from overeating and pure joy by the end of said tasting. But I can honestly say that not one bite went into my mouth that wasn’t absolutely phenomenal. I am part Italian, but my taste buds won’t accept that I’m not full-blooded because my mouth just wants all of the Italian foods all of the time. My poor husband is not a huge pasta fan but he married me and thus has to eat spaghetti and meatballs roughly once a week. I would live off of the stuff if it wasn’t for him. So eating pasta in Austin is no new thing for me. That being said, I think I have found my new favorite Italian restaurant. In Austin, definitely. But 360 Uno was also on par with many of the incredible bites that went into my mouth in Milan, Florence and Venice back in 2014. Seriously. It was that good.

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Where do I start?

The shrimp scampi appetizer was lemony, buttery goodness and is what food dreams are made of. I wouldn’t let the chef take the leftover sauce away because I just wanted to dip it into all of things. Like I could have dipped it into cardboard and gone to town, y’all. The antipasto misto was a refreshing blend of cheeses, olives, salami, and other goodness. It’s left me constantly longing for the interesting (but incredible) combo of fresh goat cheese, beans and eggs ever since.

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The Di-Lisch, deriving from the sous chef’s last name Lischko, was probably the most intriguing pizza I’ve ever tasted. Toppings included fig spread, arugula, prosciutto, crushed red pepper and walnuts. It was spicy, succulent,  sweet and salty all at once. I can’t stop thinking about it because it really blew my mind that much. But in the best way possible. The pepperoni pizza— oh the pepperoni pizza. The pizza of the gods. Soft and cheesy and exploding with flavor and nearly melting in my mouth. If melting in one’s mouth sounds odd for a pizza, you may have just not done pizza right yet. 360 Uno does pizza right.

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The pasta didn’t disappoint either. Carbonara is always a classic favorite of mine, and this “breakfast pasta” was a mouth-watering addition to my mind-blowing meal.

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For dessert I was given crème brulee and the profiterole. The profiterole was a heavenly combination of chocolate and vanilla laden cream puffs. As for the crème brulee? It was amongst the most divine of desserts my mouth has ever had the honor of devouring. Fresh vanilla bean and caramelized sugar make for a decadent mixture, y’all. To pair with the desserts, I was treated to a white port. I didn’t even know white ports were a thing! It reminded me slightly of Crown, but without the intense aftertaste and oh-so-incredibly smooth.

OH. Did I mention they have wine on tap?! WINE ON TAP. Can I please just live here? I’ll clean up after myself and everything. From buttery chardonnays to rich cabs, I was handed the perfect pairing of wine for each dish. Basically guys, I was in my own personal paradise. I’m head over heels and feeling a little heartsick that I haven’t had the chance to go back yet.

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I didn’t have a moment (aka I would have exploded had a drop of any other delicious thing so much as touched my lips) to try their coffee, but I hear it’s superb. And this wouldn’t surprise me. From the super fun and friendly staff to the delectable eats and cozy environment, everything about my night spent at 360 Uno was an experience to remember. And uh, to relive again and again.

So worth the food coma, y’all.