I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.
Snow fell in ATX last night, which hasn’t happened in more than a few years. It was magical and beautiful and unfortunately, not enough to make a big snowman. Just gotta take what you get I guess. Happy Friday!
The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.
Today is Small Business Saturday. Do you part and help support your local ma and pop shops. They have worked hard in setting up their business and work even harder to stay afloat in the sea of the mainstream brick-and-motors and online giants. Don’t let their hard work and dreams go to waste. If you are in ATX, then I will happily give you suggestions:
Uncommon Objects – vintage shop
Blue Elephant Boutique – women’s clothing
Waterloo Records – music
Toy Joy – toys
Half Price Books – books and music –> ok this isn’t really “local” local but they’re having a 20% off sale and are significantly smaller than Barnes & Noble. It would be wrong of me to not list my favorite place in the world. 🙂
There’s a wonderful French cafe and bakery in Bee Caves. They’ve been in business for several years and serve the most delicious desserts. I recommend the 3 Chocolats. It’s a sweet treat that uses white, milk, and dark chocolate mousse. It’s a chocolate heaven. Think that’s too much chocolate? Try the Versailles! It’s dark chocolate mousse and raspberry jelly…oh and a praline feuilletine. If you want more savory flavors, check out their crepes and paninis (pst! The Parisien Brie is to die for!).
The place is small. It’s very quaint and the staff is super friendly. They close on Mondays, which when you first hear about this place you find it odd. But when you really think about it, who doesn’t want Monday off? 🙂
This is more than a food review. This is a call for support. My sister sent over these screenshots that she took of Baguette et Chocolat’s Facebook page. I am not political and if you want to comment political shenanigans, please think thoroughly or don’t comment at all.
My thought process is use common sense. This below drives me nuts. Why would anyone try to ruin an establishment? Especially a lovely establishment as Baguette et Chocolat. I will let the rest speak for itself. If you are an Austinite or a tourist who has visited this place and loved this place, please support them. Please give them rave reviews on yelp. Please tell your friends and neighbors and family and that odd cousin in Idaho about this lovely staff who work in the cutest joint in Bee Caves and who serve the best French food you’ll ever get in Austin, maybe even in Texas.
2017 marks the first annual Texas Monthly The Edge of Texas. Based off the May 2017 issue, this event is what I like to think of as a all-Texas SXSW in the middle of the Autumn season up in Dallas, TX.
The Edge of Texas will be held on November 10th and 11th, with each day holding a different theme. Friday, November 10 will be “Party on the Edge” at the Fashion Industry Gallery. Think great food, great music and great art as you and your fellow Texans celebrate everything art, fashion, and food.
Saturday is split into two themes. The day events (10 AM-4PM) is “Storytelling on the Edge”. Your favorite Texas Monthly writers and editors will be interviewing various speakers, allowing their stories to come alive from the pages of the mag. Topics vary from medicine to ISIS to movies to magicians to murder! The night portion begins at 7 PM with live cooking and a “futuristic campfire”. The night is finished off with musical performances by Shinyribs, a local Austinite band (“I Got Your Medicine“) and Sarah Jaffe, who is from Denton (“Clementine“, “Bad Baby“).
This place is known by many names. Google calls it HOPE Outdoor Gallery, but it’s also known as Castle Hill, Graffiti Park, and, I recently learned, King’s Hill (I think that’s a new Austinite thing). I call it Graffiti Park because it’s the most self-explanatory.
The last time I went to Graffiti Park was Spring 2014 as part of a “ultimate downtown ATX excursion” with a large group of folks from high school. My friend John has never been so I figured it would be a great time to re-explore the park during the Labor Day weekend.
Helpful advice: Graffiti Park is one of the most colorful places you will find in Austin. Also one of the most packed when it comes to parking. The park does not have an official parking lot and the surrounding shops are strict with their “Tow Away” zones, so that leaves parallel parking on the side streets. If you can get their via Metro or your own two feet, I would recommend it.
Took a few-okay more than a few-pictures of the park, which you can find below. You’ll notice the park is layered. There is no concrete sidewalk to hike up to get to the top level, so I would also recommend you wear sneakers or comfortable flip flops and not fancy boots. I saw a few of those and couldn’t help but cringe. I would describe more about the park, but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. 🙂
If you are ever in Austin, this is a great spot to check out, especially when it’s not 100 degrees out.
HOPE Outdoor Gallery is located at 1101 Baylor St, Austin, TX 78703.
Please send your thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. It made landfall about an hour ago on the Texas Gulf and has no intention of going away anytime soon. Buildings have collapsed and trees have been knocked down.
Also, help the local shelters! Major influxes of animals are coming in. Please help out and foster! Austinites, Austin Pets Alive! can use your help, hint hint cough cough.
Fellow Texans: follow your local news channels for live updates.
Everyone else: #hurricaneharvey will give you a load of updates, live Tweets, etc.
My friend John and I decided to do something a little out of the ordinary. We went to a fancy dining spot. Okay, Clark’s isn’t “dress code required” fancy. It’s upscale casual with high dining prices. Well, John and I considered it high dining prices. We’re broke college students. Cut us a little sack. 🙂
Clark’s is a quaint bar located on West 6th Street. Around the area are art galleries, other restaurants, a bakery and a liquor store. Even more quaint homes reside on the side street. The parking situation is not idea, but it’s not impossible to deal with. Depending on the time of day, you can find empty curbsides with no restrictions.
Before you enter, you are standing on the porch with a long high table that stretches to the end before the porch swings around. The high table faces the street. Picnic tables run along the windows. When you enter, you face the bar and kitchen. Above the kitchen is a black sign listing out the oyster selection, cold bar and catch of the day. To your right, past the indigo aquarium, is a long booth with about ten white tables and two chairs on each table. The decor is simple. There is a mix between modern and ultra. Since it was dinnertime, the place was packed. You had folks who were dressed uber nicely and you also had folks who were dressed as if they came out from yoga.
We got three oysters, two from Prince Edward Island and one from Maine (“Mookie Blue”) to start with. Note to oyster amateurs: Canada is the entry level. I went straight to the Maine oyster since it had a cool name. John thought the oysters were good, but could not eat more than two. I had one and sadly regretted it (more on that later). For entrees, John ordered a lobster roll with fries. I got the Catch of the Day, which was Bluefish with a side of watercress salad and a dressing that I believe was smoked paprika with herbs. Whatever it was, it was amazing. I used it on my fish and John used it on his fries. The seafood was super fresh, a plus for any seafood joint that is not near an ocean in my opinion. John’s lobster was not gummy, it was perfect. My Bluefish was to die for. It was crispy on top and it melts in your mouth on the inside. I’ve never seen a fish so white and beautiful!
Now the fun part. As I mentioned earlier, we hardly go to upscale downtown spots. My friends and I usually find the most casual, budget-friendly spot that isn’t a traditional fast food chain. Typical food spots include Torchy’s, coffee shops, or Mediterranean cafes. There’s a certain vibe that comes with places like Clark’s. You can hear it from people’s conversations: dealing with million dollar accounts at work, vacationing in Europe, escaping to the lake house at Horseshoe Bay, etc. They may not be dressed like a million bucks, but I’m pretty sure most of those people, if not all, had more than a couple hundred bucks in their bank account. That being said, here are the six things you shouldn’t do when you are a nicer place:
1. Don’t bring food from another food joint. I managed to get there and find parking at 6 PM. John and I were meeting at 6:30, so I had thirty minutes to kill. The outdoor patio didn’t look packed so I figured there’d be indoor seating. Less than a block away was Sweetish Hill Bakery, which I have heard is a top bakery in Austin. They close at 7 PM, so this was a now or never opportunity. I called up my mum to see if she wanted bread from the bakery. She, as always, says yes to bread from the bakery (grocery store bakery bread just doesn’t do trick). I grabbed a baguette ($1 folks! First time in my life that I have seen a whole baguette sell for $1!!!!! #success) and two “I love Texas” cookies, which were shortbread cookies with a red frosting heart. I thought about putting the treats in my car, but leaving bread and cookies in a car during a 100+ degree day is not a good idea. I had to take the food with me. Fortunately, the wait staff did not say anything since we got outdoor seats. But they didn’t bring us their bread until it after we got out oysters because John had to ask for it (he was on the verge of stealing my baguette).
2. Google “How to eat (insert food here)” before you go into the restaurant. I’ve seen oysters before. I never ate one and neither has John. John said you should slurp them but I didn’t believe him. Or, I was too afraid to slurp them since oysters are slimy. So I got the tiny fork that came with the plate, put some cocktail sauce on top of it, picked up the white part and ate it whole. I highly recommend you don’t do that, unless you want to be borderline gagging. It was after then John Googled “how to eat oysters”. First, you have to make sure it’s detached and then you–you guessed it!–slurped it. Hm, I wonder if slurping it would give a better taste than bland mixed with medicine flavored cocktail sauce…
3. Warn your friends about dressing up. I’m guilty of this 100%. I love dressing up and find every moment to doll up. I had a Banana Republic short summer dress that ruffled on the bottom with flip flops and earrings. I thought John, who works at an immigration law firm as a legal assistant, would be coming in his work dress (collared button downs and dress pants are much the dress code at his office. I, on the other hand, work in a place that has no dress code). John did text me asking if he had time to put on shorts. I responded sure why not, failing to mention I had an above-average dressy dress on (this is why you should call and not text at the stoplight). When he got there, I gave myself the face palm. He came in a shirt and basketball shorts. We laughed it off obviously and he won the award for most comfortable in summer heat.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter what the guy behind you ordered. Again, I’m guilty for this. There was an old couple who sat behind us. The man ordered a plate and when it arrived, John and my jaws dropped. The man got a whole fish! We figured he ordered the catch of the day, so I got pretty excited and slightly intimidated at the thought of eating such a huge thing. When my plate came, we were confused. It was a filet, not a whole fish. Then we put logic to it and $29 was not going to be enough for a whole fish at that place. I didn’t care. I loved that filet. But yes, don’t try to act like you know what you are ordering. It never hurts to ask.
5. Don’t get excited when you get dinner and a show when the show is a car accident. I’ve been in fender benders but I’ve never seen one happen in front of me. John and I were talking about how changes to the immigration process had made things more complicated at his work. I see a white SUV, a Ford Explorer I believe, turning onto West 6th from Blanco. The Explorer slowly accelerated when the sedan came from behind at a higher speed and rear-ended the Explorer. The whole block could hear the windshield glass shatter and the front of the sedan smash into the back of the SUV. The SUV had some minor scratches. The wait staff and restaurant-goers rushed to the scene to make sure everyone was fine and information was exchanged. Fortunately, all parties involved did not get hurt.
6. Never ask to take only the butter to-go. Okay, this didn’t happen but there was a 95% chance it was going to happen. The butter that came with Clark’s bread was the best butter you can get at any restaurant. It was light and fluffy. It had the perfect balance of saltiness. You couldn’t stop eating it! John even had it as a dip for his french fries. He loved it so much that he wanted to take one to-go! The only thing stopping him was the fact he finished the butter (you can find it on the picture of the lobster roll).
It was the most fun nights I had in a long time. Sure, I didn’t act on my best behavior, but I didn’t care. The food was great, the weather was not too hot and I had great company. Who could ask for more? Definitely want to get into the habit of treating myself to the above-average budget experience. John, where do you want to go next? xD
I’ll give Clark’s an 9/10.
I’ll give Sweetish Hill 10/10. That bread was totally worth it.
The last Downtown Travels Mix Tape was about exploring different groups from around the world. For Volume 4, it’s more about traveling through time. We start off with a trip five years ago before high-tailing it to the 1980s with a song about an event that occurred in the 1960s after which we jump back to last year with the Avett Brothers who sing a cover song written back in the early 1910s. From there we jump around this decade and last century before taking a trip with the 1980s again (because who doesn’t want to be part of the 1980s music scene?). Enjoy!
Now Is the Start – A Fine Frenzy
Got this song for free on iTunes around 2012-2013 [does iTunes still do that? I get all my music from the radio stations (Radio is not dead!)]. It’s a nice way to start a playlist, not because of the title, but because it’s fun and dance-worthy. It’ll get you in a happy mood by mid-way, not matter how hard you try to resist.
2. December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night) – The Wonder Who?/The Four Seasons
3. In the Garden (Charles Austin Miles 1912 cover) – The Avett Brothers
It’s a 2016 folk band singing a 1912 song. You can’t get better than that.
It wasn’t until recently I learned that the song The Avett Brothers sing was a hymn. As in gospel music. It totally makes sense when you actually read the lyrics. I’m not one for gospel music, but I will happily make an exception for this song.
4. Hourglass – Catfish and the Bottleman
Hourglass. Time. Think about it.
It’s a great song. A sad song when you think about it (he wants his girl to come back), but sung in a pretty catchy tune.
5. Closer – Tegan and Sara
I think of the pilot episode of Young & Hungry where Gabi (Emily Osment), the feisty chef, and Josh (Jonathon Sadowski), the ridiculously rich tech guy, sing their own rendition. It’s adorable, it’s funny, it’s amazing.
6. Bitter Heart – Zee Avi
The time aspect with this one comes in the second verse where Zee Avi says “it’s been two hours now / and you’re still somewhere in town”. It’s an angry song (not even angry…more like annoyed) sung in a such a catchy, sunny tune you can’t help but sing along.
7. Bend & Break – Keane
Going to the early years of the millennium with this Keane hit (at least I consider it a hit. It’s the best song on that album). Timothy James Rice-oxley said back when the song came out that “Bend & Break” was about getting past the darker state of mind and into the light. It’s a song of overcoming the paid and suffering and meeting on the other side where peace is to be found.
8. Wild – Royal Teeth
Royal Teeth, a band from New Orleans, came out with this song in 2012. It’s one of my favorite songs on this mix tape. It’ll put a smile on your face and lift you into a blissful state. The song, though it’s open to interpretation, is about the band leaving their normal routine to pick up their instruments and heading on tour. Rather than growing up, it’s about living in the present and enjoying everything that is heading their way.
9. Run-Around – Blues Traveler
Let’s jump back 18 years to 1994. Since this mix tape is time-themed, it would be rude not to add a song that is from the year I was born. I could have put Céline Dion or Mariah Carey, but they just don’t fit the rhythm of this mix tape (or my music taste in general). Hence, the Blues Traveler! Have you heard of them? Yes? No? They’ve been around for over 20 years. I think they’ll make it. xD
10. Danny, Dakota & the Wishing Well – A Silent Film
Yes, there are a lot of songs from 2012. 2012-2013 was the enlightenment period for my music taste. New group of friends, college, and the ability to break the spell that trapped my head in the “super big corporate radio” (yes I mean you KISS-FM!) were all big influences in exploring the not so mainstream music (and the classic hits).
This song goes through a passage of time. It starts off with two kids who have feelings for each other but the boy never admits it. They grow up and grow apart and somehow find each other years later. It’s a great song. It’ll make you dance and feel sad at the same time. Gotta love the Brits.
11. Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears
Of course everybody wants to rule the world! Power and money and control? I find this song fitting to be at the end of the playlist since it was the last song on Tears for Fears’ album, Songs from the Big Chair. According to the Take Two podcast, Roland Orzabel, the band’s co-founder, thought the song was too “light” for the album, wanting to change the lyrics to “everybody wants to go to war”. Luckily for the band (and us fans), he was convinced out of that idea.
It’s never fun when your original social outing plans get cancelled. But that also opens up a whole day to be spontaneous and explore new things. My best friend Siddiqi and I did just that.
We started first off picking up a vinyl player in the Hyde Park area for Siddiqi’s friend whose birthday is tomorrow. Next came the grand adventure at Half Price Books on North Lamar for 50% off day. Sold two overflowing bags of books for $24.50 (a major success) and got a couple CDs for close to $14.00. Siddiqi found two vinyls of Russian classical music for wayyyyy less than that.
We had lunch at MezzeMe in the Triangle. MezzeMe is a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant (I was overdressed for Peace Bakery). Siddiqi got a braised lamb (it’s halal btdubs) pita wrap with spicy tabouli and hummus. I got a Crazy Grain rice bowl with braised lamb, roasted eggplant, hummus, and sprinkled with parsley and feta cheese. It was pretty good. The braised lamb was spot-on. The hummus was amazing too and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like hummus. There was nothing really grand about the rice and the roasted eggplant had too much vinegar. If you get a pita wrap with the lamb, hummus, parsley and feta, it’d be a pretty damn good pita wrap.
MezzeMe is located on 4700 Guadalupe Street, #9, Austin, TX 78751.
Our next stop was Goodwill on Peyton Gin near 183. This is the only Goodwill in the Austin area that has a computer store. We browsed through the general area, finding old microwaves and a couple Sony cassette players. We then caroused to the computer store. I am not a computer nerd. I am far from it. I call the Motherboard a flat plate that pricks your fingers. You would think I would be bored as Siddiqi looked for power supplies and cables for a computer he’s building. Actually, I was not. Computer parts are like one big puzzle game with colors and boxes and shapes and weird foreign pieces. During the hour or so we were there I found a cool BG camera that takes lomography for $5.00. Held onto that for dear life. Also found an old Apple keyboard for $12.95. It’s got the USB cord and the traditional clicking sound and everything. The staff was super friendly and helpful (Siddiqi said it was because I’m a girl who was pretty dressed up and girls are rare finds in that part of the store). The supervisor of the computer store knew quite a bit about cameras and helped me look for more film cameras. His mannerisms reminded me of Doc from Back to the Future. Probably my most favorite part of the day. Who knew?
Our next stop was Tours Les Jours, a Korean-French bakery in a small Korean plaza on North Lamar in Central Austin. Siddiqi was craving bubble tea and I was craving anything cold (100 degree burning sun is not fun without a cold drink). He’s never been to TLJ and it was super close to Goodwill. I got blueberry cream cheese bread and a cold chocolate roll. Unfortunately, they ran out of tapioca for the bubble tea. 😦 We weren’t going to give up though! We went to the interwebs and found a place nearby called Snow Monster. We jumped into his Subura and drove off to this 4.6 star place.
Tous Les Jours is located at 6808 N Lamar Blvd B-115, Austin, TX 78752.
Snow Monster is a “build your own shaved ice” joint on Lamar and Braker. It’s relatively new, opened in 2014 by two Taiwanese UT Alumni. Snow Ice is, according to Snow Monster’s website, fruit extracts and fresh milk made into blocks and shaved finely to create flakes. You can add your own toppings, including fresh fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. You can also use soy milk if you are dairy free. It gives the same fluffiness as whole milk. I got vanilla snow ice with a side of strawberries and chocolate chips, topped with condensed milk. Siddiqi finally got his bubble tea and according to him, it was delicious.
Vanilla snow ice topped with condensed milk and with a side of chocolate chips and strawberries (a few bites taken of course).
Milk Bubble Tea, with a few sips taken.
Snow Monster is located at 11220 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753.
It was a grand day full of spontaneous productivity and amazing food. The clouds came in and the wind picked up so it was perfect timing to head on home. Pretty excited to go back to Sno-Mo and the computer store. Hopefully I can come up with a glossary of computer-to-my mind’s version terms of computer parts soon.
I have to admit it: I’m a sad example of a Hispanic girl. I can’t salsa dance to save my life. XD
Lucky for me (and you fellow Austinites/tourists/dancers), there is a place where free salsa exists (both the food kind and dance kind!).
The Oasis is a great place to gather friends and family for an evening of fun. Eleven years ago, the Oasis was a restaurant that was falling apart. Now, it’s a paradise with its renovated restaurant, two other restaurants (one of them being Gumbo’s which used to operate in Bee Cave), cafes, boutiques and an arcade. Oh, and some killer views of Lake Travis.
Every Sunday, from 7-10 PM, the Starlight Terrace holds Latin night where the band plays a mix of Latin-genre music, including salsa, merengue, and Tejano (think OG Selena). From 8:30-9 (today lasted til 9:15 since there was a large crowd), a pair of dance instructors host dance lessons. Piece of advice: can we do the lessons first thirty minutes so I can practice my dance skills? Just saying.
The food is pretty good and the drinks are better. Their most popular plate is the bean and cheese nachos, which actually comes with more than just beans, cheese and tortilla chips. In terms of drinks, they are best known for their margaritas. If you aren’t into food coma nachos, they’ve got burgers and tacos. Worried about calories? Don’t be. You’ll lose it with all the dancing. XD
This is a great family friendly event as well as an adults only event. Or if you have to bring the kids along but planned adults only, you can send the kids to check out the candy store or play in the arcade.
The best thing about this place is watching the sun set over Lake Travis. It’s romantic and fascinating and, if you are a nerd like me, question everything about astronomy and the science that brings such beauty to one’s life.
So maybe you’ll catch me dancing here again and hopefully not as a complete two left feet dancer.
The Oasis on Lake Travis is located on 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732. You can also check out their website here.