Top 5 (New-To-Me) To-Go Eats

I remember telling people in the pre-quarantine days that I feared going insane if this shelter-in-place situation actually became a reality.  Even though I knew that it was necessary, I worried that my social and constantly busy self might shrivel up into a ball of unwanted isolation. Surprisingly enough, that has not at all been the case.  

20200610_093212

I’ve been savoring both the moments of solitude and togetherness. I’ve cherished the extra time spent with my little fam. And I’ve loved the extra time to further explore passions and hobbies that have been on the back-burner.

I’ve had the opportunity to read and write and exercise like it’s my day job (and honestly, it sort of is right now.) For the first time in, well…, ever, I’ve allowed myself to slow down and really reflect on what I want and what matters most. This slowing down and introspection thing means I’ve also had time to do magical things like have a family picnic on an empty downtown rooftop and go on a semi-spontaneous beach trip and, obviously, eat all of the things ever. I thought I’d take some time to list my top five new-to-me takeout eats that I’ve drooled over in the past few months. 

  • Via 313– Pickle Pizza. Pickle. Pizza. Enough said. But I will say a little more. I wasn’t sure if I’d be a fan of Detroit style pizza, as I visited Chicago and wasn’t a big fan of the deep dish. But that caramelized crust had me swooning. Lesson learned. I will never assume that thicker crust pizza is all the same, ever again. 
  • Bird Bird Biscuit – We picked up a couple of these big babes on our way to the beach, and it was absolutely the best way to start a mini-vacation. Hubs and I both opted for the Queen Beak  – spiced and breaded chicken thigh meat with cayenne black pepper honey and bacon-infused chipotle mayo. We added cheese because, cheese. That crispy, juicy chicken paired with the buttery, crumbly biscuit was an experience so delicious that it often makes its way into my daydreams. If you’re looking for drool-worthy eats + local black-owned businesses to support, you definitely don’t want to miss out on these beautiful biscuits. 
  • Halal Brothers – The lamb shawarma bowl is life-changing. Fresh, flavorful, filling and lasts me for dinner and lunch the next day too. (And honestly, I still can’t finish it all because the portion sizes are THAT big.) 
  • Tumble 22 – Hands down the best hot chicken I’ve had in Austin. And that macaroni? There’s something just slightly tangy about the decadent sauce that takes this mac to masterpiece level. This is arguably my favorite local spot right now, and I have some pretty serious chicken withdrawals if I don’t get my weekly fix. Full disclosure? I bought the $20 deal for a family of four tonight. I am the main fan of spicy fried chicken in my family of three, so I will be eating beans, kale slaw and chicken tenders for four by myself for the next few days. I ain’t mad about it. 
  • Big Belly BBQ – This unassuming little North Austin food truck packs a big barbecue punch. The brisket quesadillas left me swooning, and the dirty fried rice with chicken is a delicious way to spend $7. I tried all of the carbs on my first visit, but can’t wait to go back with my Keto husband to try ribs, sausage and brisket by the pound. And also the banana pudding, because your girl is definitely not carb-conscious. This is another incredible black-owned Austin eatery that you’ll want to hit up like, yesterday.

Alright, dish the details on your latest dishes. What delicious things have you eaten recently? 

PS: Just a quick reminder to wear your mask, stay safe and that all lives don’t matter until #blacklivesmatter. 

 

Tasting at Nixtamal

Okay, friends. Ready for a history lesson? Yes? Okay. There’s this little suburb of Austin called Round Rock, Texas. It has a quaint downtown and is such a fun little area to explore. I actually lived in this city as a kid, but my former obsession with the local library aside, I still didn’t know much about this neck of the woods. Until my recent tasting at downtown Round Rock’s newest restaurant, Nixtamal.

nixtamel1

Nixtamal is the process of the preparation of maize, in which the grain is soaked, cooked and hulled. This eatery is appropriately named considering all of the tortillas at Nixtamal are homemade. But I promised you guys a history lesson and now we’re venturing into food science, so let’s jump back to this in a moment.

Back in the 1800’s, there was a gang member and train robber named Sam Bass. Sam Bass made his way to Round Rock and decided to rob the town bank, but this plan quickly went awry. When local sheriff A.W. Grimes confronted Bass and his gang, Grimes was shot and killed. Bass was shot as well, and died shortly thereafter. Both men were only twenty-seven years old. Today Sam Bass and A.W. Grimes are two of the most prominent street names in Round Rock. As for that bank? It’s now a restaurant. If you guessed that this restaurant is now Nixtamal, you would be correct.

nixtamal

With the gorgeous floor to ceiling murals and natural lighting of this spot, Nixtamal seems more like an Instagrammer’s dream that an old-timey bank. It’s only the vintage bank vault turned small dining area that gives it away. But let’s be real, that only completes the photo-worthiness of this lovely location.

nixtamel4

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to write about the food, because everything I devoured was absolutely impeccable. The white queso was rich and decadent, and the salsa flight took my taste buds on a journey of flavors and spices. The Mexican street corn was amongst the best that I’ve ever tasted, and had just the right amount of both creamy and tangy.

As for the tacos? Well, they’re just about 85% of what I’ve been daydreaming about for the past few days. I began with the barbacoa taco. The homemade blue corn tortilla paired with the beans, cilantro and juicy barbacoa instantly had me hooked.

nixtamal9

The next taco was carne asada with beans and guacamole. A kind waiter suggested I add queso to the taco, and I happily obliged. The flawlessly seasoned meat paired with guac, melted cheese and warm homemade blue corn tortilla? Seriously, I can’t stop salivating as I write this. It was everything a taco should be and so much more.

As wonderful as the first two were, I would have to say they saved the best for last. The Diego is baja styled fried fish with pico, cabbage and cream sauce. I’m not usually one for seafood tacos, but I was a changed woman after one bite of this one. The flakiness of the fish paired wonderfully with the crunch of the cabbage and luxuriousness of the cream sauce. I was stuffed after my other courses, but I simply could not resist engulfing this entire dish in just a few bites. No shame in my taco game, y’all.

nixtamal 15

I can’t forget to mention the drinks. They completed my feast but at the same time were in a league of their own. The Oaxacan Cure paired mezcal, fresh ginger, honey and lemon, while The Como La Flor combined hibiscus and mezcal. Where the Oaxacan Cure gave a light sweetness from the honey and a zestful kick from the ginger, the Como La Flor provided a refreshingly floral treat. With both of these cocktails, I loved the smokiness of the mezcal combined with the flavors of freshly homemade corn tortillas. 

It wasn’t just the amazing eats, the charming staff or the enchanting and historic interior that made this one of my new favorite places in Round Rock. It was little pieces of all of those things. Sam Bass and A.W. Grimes didn’t have a whole lot in common. But I’d like to think that if they came back to life for just a day, they might put aside differences to enjoy a taco or ten at their old stomping grounds.

 

Burnt Kitchen Tasting

Have you ever been to a restaurant so amazing that you leave just wanting to shout praises from the rooftop? And if the restaurant doesn’t have a rooftop, go find a random rooftop to happy scream on?! That’s how I felt about Burnt Kitchen, y’all.

burntkitchen1

This farm-to-table concept in Leander, Texas was five years in the making, and the wait was more than worth it. Owner Deepak and Chef Greg have created an absolute gem of an eatery, and mark my words on this one. It will soon have every foodie in Austin driving out to the ‘burbs for a feast they’ll never forget. Lucky for me I got to be one of the very first foodies to enjoy said feast.

Deepak explained to me that everything from the bread to the chicken and veggies are locally sourced. In fact, one of the farms Burnt Kitchen uses is only a couple of miles down the road! This tasting had me impressed long before I ever picked up a fork.

But then I did pick up a fork and it was pure magic. The menu is relatively small and changes by season, which is a testament to the quality of everything served. As the plates arrived for my viewing and eating pleasure, it took a lot of self control not to immediately face-dive into all of them.

shrimpandgritsburntkitchen

The shrimp and grits were truly love at first glance. This was by far the most gorgeous presentation of the dish that I had ever seen, and arguably the most delicious too. Gulf shrimp, blue corn meal grits, heirloom tomatoes and shaved parmesan combined to make a harmonious and beautiful meal. I commented to Chef Greg that, though I love shrimp and grits, it often leaves me feeling overly full and bloated after eating. Not this time! Those fresh ingredients made all of the difference. I also loved that the shrimp had an ever-so-slight lobster-y taste to it, and that the grits were blue. Trust me on this. Blue grits are bomb, friends.

burgerburntkitchen1.jpg

The burger with a farm egg and green chili was another favorite of the evening. Deepak noted that at Burnt Kitchen, they rely very much on the quality of the ingredients and very little on the seasonings. For the most part, they only use salt and pepper to season. I was amazed and curious when I first heard this, but once I bit into this burger, I understood. The fresh farm egg paired with local beef and green chili was all that was needed to create an incredible array of flavors.

burntkitchen20

The dill and peppercorn brine fried chicken sandwich and the carrot and beet salad with feta were two more plates that left me captivated. Chef Greg and team have this incredible ability to quickly cultivate simple items into culinary masterpieces, and it flabbergasted me in the very best way possible.

Another thing that had me happily awestruck? The 512 Pecan Porter Float. This float made with a popular Austin porter and vanilla ice cream was a sweet, creamy, boozy taste of paradise. The Pecan Porter is just one of the local brews that Burnt Kitchen offers on draft, and the options pair perfectly with their beautiful menu.

I ended my evening with smores. But these smores were not your regular, every-day smore. Nope. The chocolate stuffed inside the graham cracker and paired with a marshmallow was made from 70% cacao, making it a decadent, grown-up take on a beloved classic.

burntkitcheneat

While there, I texted my best friend about how blown away I was with this spot. Burnt Kitchen eats are inventive, flavorful and so very fun. While I can’t guarantee that you will have the same exact menu items as I did, I do know that your meal will be made from the highest quality and locally grown ingredients. Soon word will spread like wildfire and Austin foodies will be flocking to the suburbs. A little birdy also told me that this restaurant plans on expanding to Austin proper in the next few years. But for the time being, Leander has a pretty big one-up on us Austinites, and it’s in the kitchen. The Burnt Kitchen.

 

The Great Medicine Park Break-In Of 2018

It’s after midnight and my family has nestled into our lovely little cabin in Medicine Park, Oklahoma. My daughter is fast asleep. My husband heads to the patio and I follow shortly behind. Our deck overlooks the Wichita Mountains – There are twinkle lights and stars in the sky and a fire burning. It’s just absolutely perfect.
medicinepark

I close the first door leading to the patio but it’s dark and now I’m feeling my way through the laundry room, trying to get to the door that will take me outside. I can’t find that handle so I try to get back to the kitchen, but the door knob won’t budge. At this point I feel claustrophobic and bang on the window until my bemused husband lets me outside. This is when we realize that the door back into the kitchen is, in fact, locked. As is the only other entrance at the front of the cabin. Oops.

My husband attempts to get the laundry door open to no avail, and we begin mulling over our options. There aren’t many options. Here’s what we’ve got: A. Traumatize our four-year-old for life by banging on her window until she wakes up and can open the door for us, or B. Sleep on the deck. It’s a beautiful night and all, but neither of us are really feeling option B., partly because our child would still be traumatized if she woke up and we had seemingly disappeared.  We eventually settle for option A., and both of us take turns banging on her window and yelling her name. The kid will not wake up. We huff and we puff and I swear we could have blown that cabin down, and our child is still dozing away peacefully.

After much debate and after facing the very real possibility of being trapped outside for the night, we turn our attention to the windows. Surely they must all be locked, right? But wait. Could it be?! Is this window MOVING? Just as we’d almost lost all hope, the miraculous stain-glassed window nudged open, and next thing I know I am diving head first onto the kitchen table.

medicinepark4

Afterward, when we were safe and cozy back inside our cabin, I couldn’t help but laugh. “Hey Robby…. Remember that time in Venice?” He smiled because he did. Four and a half years ago my husband and I were wandering the streets of Italy when a massive storm suddenly decided to let loose on us. To top it all off, we soon realized we were completely lost. By the time we finally made our way back to our hotel room, we were both soaking wet from our heads down to our sloshing shoes. But before we had found our way back, I found myself giggling. Robby, probably thinking his at-the-time seven month pregnant wife had completely lost her mind, asked me what was funny. “You know, this is going to be a great memory for us some day.” And it is. As are so many other misadventures made while traveling with my favorite guy. So too will be the great Medicine Park Break-In of 2018.

 

Crushin’ on my City

Hi, friends!

Did you hear that Austin was named the best place to live  in the US for the second year in a row? I have to agree. I feel fortunate to call this place my home and personal playground. Here’s what I have going on in this lovely city as of late:

goatyoga5

  • Along with my full time job, I am now a freelance blogger and social media editor for Free Fun in Austin and Austin.com. It keeps me busy in the best way possible.
  • I am also a fairly new member of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. I’ve been doing food tastings in the area for years now, so it’s amazing to finally meet up and feast with my fellow local foodies.
  • If you know me, you probably know that I love traveling and that I go somewhere new every chance I get. But this past January, I took my first completely solo trip to Chicago. It was liberating and inspiring and I already can’t wait to do it again. It’s also motivated me to go on even more solo-adventuring in Austin. Whether that’s a happy hour or a hike, I am finding all of this extra alone time to be both meditative and indulgent for my soul.
  •  Speaking of solo-dates, I turned 29 a few weekends ago and took myself out for an Austin goat-yoga date. (If you haven’t tried this goat yoga thing, I highly recommend it. I’m not the biggest yoga fan, but baby goats? They’re cool with me. Even the one who pooped on my mat.) I spent the rest of the day with friends who spoiled me, and the next day with my little family who spoiled me some more. There was a lot of pizza from Stanley’s Farmhouse and plenty of cocktails from Upstairs at Caroline’s involved. So yeah, I’m a pretty lucky twenty-nine year old. (I refuse to say almost thirty because, dangit, I’m claiming every last second of my twenties.)

wall

  • I’m on a mission to slowly but surely visit all of the pretty walls in Austin. There’s so many of them. Wish me luck. (This one’s on 101 W. 5th)
  • My husband and I recently learned that our house is worth almost 100k more than when we first bought it. Say what?! This blows my mind. Austin real estate is a force to be reckoned with right now. While we’re not looking to move out right this moment, it’s definitely one of those exciting future things to think about. There’s a few of those types of things on the horizon right now. (Definitely non-baby related exciting things, y’all. I feel the need to clarify that since I’m almost thirty now. Er… I mean, since I’m twenty-nine now.)
  • Hey, Austinites? Congrats to us for keeping it at #1. We may be famous for being weird, but we’re good at other things too. Like eating. And adventuring. And kindness. I’m proud to call you home, weirdo.

Mouton’s Southern Bistro

Years and years ago, I had one of my very first blog tastings at a little Cajun café in Leander, Texas named Mouton’s. I was treated like family and feasted on course after course of Southern delights. Since then, I’ve partaken in more food tastings than I could possibly count. But I still smile with nostalgia thinking back to that early tasting. It will always be one of my first memories of my history with food blogging, and it’s such a delicious memory to have.

moutons

Fast forward six years later and Mouton’s has opened a second location in Cedar Park. Owner Ben greeted me when I walked in, and it felt a little bit like coming full circle.

moutons3

The new location has a cozy patio perfect for the beautiful weather we’ve been having. So I pulled up a chair and mused over a menu that made me very happy indeed. Of the many appetizing additions made since my last visit was a cocktail menu that had me swooning.

I started off with Rachel’s Greyhound, a stunning mix of Deep Eddy’s Grapefruit, Elderflower Liquor, lime, lavender, vanilla and soda. The lavender was made in-house, and by that I mean I was sitting right across from the lovely little pot of lavender. This immediately made me fall even more in love with this strong but subtly sweet concoction. Speaking of strong, I ordered the Frozen Hurricane next and y’all, they do not play with the drinks at Mouton’s. They use quality ingredients and do not skimp on the alcohol, and this made me feel momentarily like I was on vacation in paradise.

The crawfish dip arrived next. Bell pepper, onion and cream cheese mixed heavenly with the crawfish, and dipping all of this goodness into the buttery French Bread was pure joy. I don’t know that I’ve ever had crawfish dip before, but it immediately tasted like a comfort food to me anyway.

moutons5

The Grillades and Grits followed up that joyful introduction. Let me break this down for you, Cheesy grits with tenderized flat iron steak mixed, braised gravy, tomatoes and the Trinity of Cajun food. What is the Trinity of Cajun food, you might ask? I asked too. It’s onion, bell pepper and celery. And, guys. These three seemingly innocent vegetables make for a deviously good addition to the best of Creole meals.

The Catfish Jambalaya gave me a little taste of the best of Cajun cuisine. This was blackened catfish combined with chicken and sausage jambalaya and topped with a cup of shrimp etoufee. This mesmerizing mix melted in my mouth while the flavors danced on my tongue. I’ve adored Cajun food since I met my Boudreaux of a husband, but this meal just made that adoration grow even stronger.

moutons8

I finished off this feast with homemade key lime pie that was decadent and creamy with just the right amount of tang. The crumbly crust was the tastiest way to end a flawless four-course meal.

Pair all of this down home, delicious eating with great conversation and good company of Ben Mouton and team, and you have yourself one gem of a restaurant.

If you happen to find yourself in the North Austin area and feel yourself craving quality Cajun eats, I can now vouch for Mouton’s two times around. It’s a place to make memories, to enjoy a happy hour with good friends, and to dine like Southern royalty.

 

Still Austin Whiskey Tasting

A whiskey distillery has officially arrived in Austin, y’all! Still Austin is the first since the Prohibition to arrive in our great city, and I was all too happy to partake in a tour and tasting of this new establishment.

stillaustin

To tell you the truth, I am not a big fan of straight liquor, nor did I have much knowledge of whiskey prior to this tour. I’m still far from being a connoisseur, but after a lesson in this sophisticated spirit, I have a newfound respect for whiskey.

stillaustin5

The tour was informative and fascinating. I don’t want to give away all of the fun facts, as it’s really better if you go experience it yourself, but I was blown away by the knowledge of the staff and the intricacies (and the machinery) that go into whiskey making. I will say this – Knowing that this whiskey is made from scratch and aged in wooden barrels right here in Austin had me instantaneously smitten with Still Austin.

stillaustin10

The tasting followed the tour, and gave an idea of the variety that Still Austin has to offer. I am not usually much of a straight whiskey sipper, but I definitely didn’t mind making an exception in this case. Each of the four samples offered a unique and distinguished taste, and allowed me to appreciate the art of the drink. The New Make whiskey was the regular, non-flavored of the four, and surprised me in being clear. Made from corn, wheat and barley, I swear I could nearly taste the Austin-style love put into this. Then came the flavored whiskeys. The Daydreamer Whiskey is made with citrus and had me daydreaming of summers in this great city ; the Mother Pepper is made from three different types of pepper and provides a satisfying slow burn paired with a light smokiness. Finally, the Old Fashioned was a slightly sweet and oh-so-tasty rendition of a classic.

whiskey

Bonus – Cocktails are also available in their tasting room, and although a distillery, they have made the space into an inviting and modern spot for sharing drinks with friends. Outside there is a food truck and a spacious patio with games like giant Jenga. I have a slight giant Jenga obsession and cannot wait to go back when it’s warmer out!

stillaustin50

All in all this is a fun and unmatched experience that we Austinites are lucky to have the chance to explore. My only regret is visiting right after Christmas – Still Austin whiskey would be a perfect gift to both give and receive. I already know what I’m asking Santa for next year, y’all!

Be More Pacific Tasting

Guys, I have a brand new obsession. Should I be more specific? Be More Pacific, which started as a food trailer in 2011, has just opened there first brick and mortar off of Anderson Lane.

bemorepacific

I recently blogged about Eldorado Café, a new Mexican comfort food joint that instantly went on my top ten of favorite in Austin. Be More Pacific is only a hop, skip and a jump away from Eldorado Café, and this Filipino soul food was another instant favorite.

To be totally honest, Be More Pacific was my first time trying Filipino food in Austin, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I’m happy to report that it was better than my wildest dreams could have conjured.

bemorepacific85

I was smitten nearly as soon as I walked through the door. A staircase led to the restaurant, but along the wall of said staircase was an array of photos and a sign that read, “This Is Us.” (Coincidentally also the name of the television show that I’m currently binge-watching and ugly-crying over.) These pictures of the owners and family members throughout the years had me smiling as I made my way up the stairs.  That smile only got bigger as I reached the top and my eyes were instantly drawn to the spacious rooftop patio.  I made my way out there as soon as I could, and my friend Becca joined me minutes later. And then, we feasted. We feasted so hard, y’all.

Mark, who owns Be More Pacific alongside his wife Kristine Luna and Gia Cuchapin, explained to me that Filipino food is the melding of Chinese, Malaysian, Indian and American cuisines. But because the Philippines were colonized by Spain, Filipino food is also Asian food with a Spanish influence. As if this isn’t a unique enough offering to Austin, Be More Pacific is extra special because it’s Filipino soul food. And I swear to you, I could taste the soul in every single bite.

bemorepacific15

One of my absolute favorites was an appetizer called Sisig. This is crispy pork with onions finished with an egg, lime garnish and house made chips. Mark explained to me that, in the Philippines, this is a social dish that you eat while drinking beer with friends and family. Each person takes a turn with beer pours while all enjoy good conversation and dig into the Sisig. This sounds like my ideal night. This savory, decadent appetizer is definitely great as a drinking buddy, but I couldn’t help thinking that it would also be perfect for a hangover. At twenty-eight, I try really hard not to be hungover. (Because it never goes away. Like ever.) But next time I am, I know I’m going to make my husband pick me up about seven orders of the divinity that is Sisig.

Another dish that left me captivated was the Kare Kare. This is brisket with bok choy, long beans, and – wait for it – eggplant in creamy peanut sauce with a side of shrimp paste. Underneath all of this magic is the white rice that perfectly complements all of it. The shrimp paste seems like a small addition, but adding tiny bites of this to the rest of the dish accentuated every flavor exquisitely. Writing posts like this at night is so dangerous because I make myself so hungry thinking about the food porn and have to make an effort to not drool all over my computer. That is what is happening right now. I really do wish I was exaggerating.

The SCCLBFR is an acronym that make for the loveliest of dishes. Want to know what those gorgeous letters stand for? Spicy Curry Coconut Lime Bacon Fried Rice. Yes. And all of these things combine into a subtle yet striking array of perfectly paired flavors. What a time to be alive, am I right?

I could go on and on, and I will. (That’s a Taylor Swift lyric. I sneak those in any chance I get.) The chicken in the tangy Adobo fell off the bone and just about melted in my mouth, and the Longanisa Tots were perfectly crispy and covered in queso and Spicy Banana Sauce. Speaking of Spicy Banana Sauce, this striking combination of sweet and spicy also made for one of the best Bloody Mary’s I’ve ever tasted.

bemorepacific32

Dessert was the Halo-Halo, which you can find plastered all over basically ever food blogger’s Instagram feed in the Austin area. This gorgeous delight features Ube ice cream which is homemade purple yam swirled with Amy’s ice cream. This is specially made by Amy’s for Be More Pacific, and the taste is truly one-of-a-kind. Also in the Halo-Halo is shaved ice, fruit, jellies, flan and evaporated milk.  It’s what Austin never knew we so desperately needed. Hats off to Chefs Salvador “Buddy” Melgarejo and Tony Dominguez for being the culinary saints that they are.

Dish after dish was presented and each was unique, delicious and big enough for two or more people to stuff their faces with. The dishes are all family-sized, so lucky for me I came prepared (and by prepared I mean hungry.) I am so glad Mark advised me to bring a plus one, as my food coma would have been a food coma and about fifty food babies otherwise. It was a food coma that I cannot wait to relive again and again. I’d even take the fifty food babies.

Be More Pacific is the best of additions to the Austin food scene. You’re going to hear a lot of hype about this place, and every single word of it will be true. Now excuse me as I go dream about creamy eggplant sauces and fried rice acronyms.

 

My Fuel

I’ve tried time and again to start this blog post, to begin personal blogging again after months and months of a hiatus, but keep failing to write more than a few paragraphs.

grad

It just seems there’s too much to say, and I fear my words will be inadequate in describing what has thus far been one of the most monumental and beautiful years of my life.

But I think it’s time I at least give it the old college try.

Speaking of college, I’d just really love to give a quick shout-out to my eighteen-year-old self. The girl who never even thought she would step foot inside a college campus. Who nearly failed her freshmen level geometry class as a senior. Who was so awkward that if someone was to say something that she didn’t know how to respond to, which was often, she would simply giggle manically in response. Who worked as a waitress, and a cashier at Blockbuster and a lunch lady with a hairnet until she saved up enough money in a plastic baggy to buy her 1997 Toyota Avalon.

I’d like to give a shout-out to my twenty-year-old self too. Who was newly married and wildly in love and did not have a clue what she was doing with her life, or really, about life at all. Who had peers taking bets on how long her marriage would last. Who was once called “Some stupid girl that I don’t even know.” on the internet by someone that she, in fact, did not even know. Who would soon be accepted to her first four-year college after applying on a whim. Who would find a spark for learning and living that she didn’t even know could exist up until that point. Who would soon let this spark turn into a flame that would change her entire life.

graduation

And then there’s twenty-five year old me. Who was a new college graduate and a happy but terrified new mom. Who loved her family more than anything but still cared about her own passions too, and wondered how this might fit in with the expectations that society has placed on women. Who worried that the dreams she had worked so hard for would be put on pause indefinitely.

If there is a reoccurring theme to be found here, something that has bonded all of these years into a cohesive story, it would be always finding a way to fight back.

It took time, but eventually I learned that I shouldn’t just attempt to ignore my doubts and insecurities, the opinions and judgements of others and the standards that our world sets for women. That I should listen to every single negative word, every self doubt, every ridiculous expectation. And that I should let all of these things fuel me. To be stronger, to chase my dreams harder, to love wilder and to live based on not what anyone else says I can or should do, but based on what I know I can and should do.

roadtripdc

So do y’all mind if I fast forward to my twenty-eighth year? Because this is kind of my favorite part so far.

A few months back, I flew back to Austin after completing a road-trip from Texas to Washington D.C. with my best friend. She spent the entire summer with me, and much like the previous few months, we spent hundreds of miles laughing and exploring and laughing and dancing and laughing and arguing about things like “Should the Easter Bunny be classified as an animal when playing 20 Questions?” After adventuring and eating our way through Alabama, North Carolina, and a handful of other states, we made it to DC where I got to love on my second family for a couple of days.  I left on a Monday with a killer cough and had a few hours before I had to rush to my university, where I stayed up until nearly one in the morning with my MBA group. We were practicing for our final presentation that would be delivered the following day, and we practiced until we were nearly delusional and until I was gasping for breath between my coughing fits. But we also spent the night drinking wine and playing piano and taking goofy photos and reminiscing on the past two years and dissolving into bouts of laughter at various random interludes. I told them that night because I already knew in those moments, “Guys. This is going to be such a great memory for us one day.” And for me, it already is.

nc

By Tuesday morning we were all sleep deprived and I was still miserably sick, but the show must go on. And that it did. We presented to The Alternative Board, a CEO support group that we had been consulting for the past semester. They loved it, and the owner even requested a separate meeting with me afterward. If you would have told eighteen-year-old Christina that she would one day be giving business advice to CEOs, she would have giggled manically in response. But then, a lot of things would surprise that girl.

Mba

That girl who was too young to get married? She just celebrated eight years of happiness and laughter and wedding vows (and fights and tears and gross inside jokes) with her very best friend.  That girl who would have to choose between being a mom and living her dreams? She’s hustling as a social media director, training for a full marathon, forever having dance parties to new Taylor Swift songs with her three-year-old redhead and recently returned from learning to surf and getting her finger stuck in a zipline in Costa Rica. (But that’s a story for another time.) That same girl who never even dreamed she would go to college? She just graduated with her Master’s in Business.

kisses

I write this partly because I like to record how I am feeling and what I am going through at certain moments in time, and this moment in time is a big one for me. But I also write this because, maybe one day my daughter will be doubting herself. Probably someone will say something unkind to her. Most likely the world will be telling her what is or isn’t a possibility for her. Or maybe another soul will wander onto my blog and be experiencing these same things. I write this because I want that person to know that I have been there. I have been there, and I once never thought I would get to where I am right now. But here I am. So please, love, dream your biggest dreams. Work towards them ferociously and without apology. When you feel like you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, most of the time you probably don’t. Keep going until you do. Focus on the good stuff. Let everything else be your fuel.

5 Things To Know About Batch – Craft Beer & Kolaches

  1. Did you know that kolaches and beer are a magical combination?

I didn’t either, until Batch – Craft Beer & Kolaches showed me the light. To be honest, before this week, I was never a huge fan of kolaches.  Despite my previously held neutral feelings on these pastries, Batch has been making the rounds in the Austin blogging world, and I was excited to see what this place was all about. I was most definitely not disappointed, y’all. Here’s four more things that made me the happiest, and that I would be remiss not to share.

batch5

  1. The patio is incredible. Spacious, covered with string lights (I love string lights) and covered in picnic benches that are perfect for sharing good conversation over kolaches and beer.
  2. Inside is a wall covered with beer. Or, more accurately, a wall covered in refrigerators that store ALL OF THE BEER. You can feast your eyes on this glorious image and then proceed to buy and take it home with you. Isn’t life grand?
  3. Of course, there’s no reason to wait if you don’t want to. Drinking beer on the beloved patio, I quickly fell in love with the vast selection and the unique choices presented to me.  Probably my favorite was the Live Oak Lichtenhainer. The smokiness paired with the slight tartness made for a quirky and perfect pairing with my brisket kolache.
  4. Yes, that’s right. Brisket kolache. Actually, klobasniky if I’m being totally accurate. Fun fact – Kolaches are sweet, klobasnikies (would that be the correct plural?) are savory.  My brisket klobasniky was also stuffed with swiss and pickles. The jalapeno, cheese and sausage was stuffed with the gooiest, creamiest cheese that had me ooh-ing and ahh-ing the entire time I ate. The apple streusel kolache added just the right amount of sweet to my tasting. It reminded me of Thanksgiving a little bit, and I loved it for that.

applestreusel

As I sat on my picnic bench taking in the patio views, sipping on a Lichtenhainer and savoring my savory klobasniky, one thing was clear to me. I was madly and deeply in love.

batch

I’m still over here feeling starry eyed over my tasting at Batch, and can’t wait to plan a visit back with my friends and little family. I love that this spot is great for groups, date nights or family outings. And for breakfast,  lunch, or snack! The versatility just means I get to plan all the more trips to the only kolache joint that forever has my heart.