Reveling in Austin’s First Oyster Fest

10 Nov

When I heard Austin was having its first Oyster Fest, I knew we had to go. There is never a time when oysters are on the menu that my husband does not order. I knew he would love it!  Once squeamish at the thought of the raw delicacy, I too now enjoy this brackish delight.

The inaugural Oyster feast was held at the new beautiful Shoal Crossing event center nestled at the bend where Mopac and 183 meet. We were greeted by warm, friendly, and hospitable organizers. Music filled the air with the harmonious melodies of talented songstress, Nikki Jensen.  It was a party, bustling with Austin foodies! Sure there were lines, but what food festival does not bare them? Tell me and I’m there.

Chalkboards lined the ceilings offering up an assortment of oysters, adult beverages, and wit.

It wouldn’t be an oyster festival without the all too popular Oysters Rockefeller, grilled to order topped with panko, parmesan, spinach, and yes, bacon. But my favorite of the grilled dishes had to be the au gratin oyster, savory!

The oysters were fresh. Shuckers shucked away to try to keep up with the pouring in hungry crowd. A variety of raw samplings were offered up on the half shell from the East Coast: Cape Cod, Maine, and Rhode Island as well as closer to home, the Gulf Coast.

Each oyster has its distinct flavor like a fine wine representative of the region. Some people can’t taste it, topping the oyster with condiment after condiment to mask the taste instead of embracing it. Don’t get me wrong when I have tray of the oysters all from the same place like the Gulf Coast I am going to revel in the traditional way of eating oysters, cracker in hand and horseradish and cocktail sauce to boot, but when you have an array from different regions far from home – I am purist. My husband is a traditionalist.

He enjoys the complexity of the customary way. The salty, the bitter, the sweet, and the cut of citrus, all served on a saltine. He describes it as a full spectrum of flavors and textures, which, I too enjoy from time to time. And I did a little last night, as the fest offered a variation of flavorful sauces.

However you look at it, it is something someone should not miss.

This tribute to sea’s tastiest mollusk is sure to be an on-going tradition in Austin.

Falling for Mindy

22 Oct

Source: facebook.com via The on Pinterest

Fall means the faint smell of fires burning, boot shopping, frothy pumpkin flavored coffee drinks, and a new season of TV programming. While I welcome breaking out the sweaters and boot shopping, the thing that I am most excited is the fall TV line-up. The one that I most anticipated was The Mindy Project.

This summer I read the deliciously funny autobiography, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns. The book is by playwright, comic writer, television actress, and author, Mindy Kalling. In this insightful anecdotal memoir, Mindy Kalling offers a glimpse into her childhood, college years, love life, and career. With Chapters like “The Day I Stopped Eating Cupcakes” and “Chubby for Life” I knew I could identify with this other thirty-something. I read it twice in row and couldn’t get enough.

So when I heard about her new show, The Mindy Project, I could not be more thrilled. Kalling is the creator, an executive producer, a writer, and the star of the series that premieres just one year after the release of her book.

Actress, Mindy Kalling shines as single, sharp-witted doctor with a flair for dramatics in the Tuesday night FOX comedy, The Mindy Project that airs 8:30pm CST /9:30pm ET.  After the first episode, I was hooked. Fresh and funny!

Episodes guest star some familiar faces like Seth Meyers and Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live and former office co-star Ed Helms. The 30 minute comedy also has Texas ties. Dallas born character actor, Stephen Tobolowsky plays opposite of Kalling as one of the three partners in her medical practice.

The Mindy Project was greenlit and according to multiple sources, FOX will air an additional nine episodes, keeping my Tuesday nights content and on the couch.

Hill Country Swimming Holes: An Austinite’s Trek to Take a Dip

3 Jul

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A small group of us set out this past Saturday morning excited to finally make the trek out to Hamilton Pool, a natural swimming hole with jade green waters, just 30 or so miles Southwest of Austin.

It’s almost a straight shot down Hwy 71 just past the Hill Country Galleria. Well, until you reach FM 3828/Hamilton Pool Rd, which was another 11-12 miles to the Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve. We turned into the park with much anticipation after our start was slowed by many stops along the way. The sign greeting us read, NO SWIMMING today.

The preserve is often closed to swimming due to high bacteria levels, which are closely monitored. I had thought about calling, but the website I had read said this typically happened after a heavy rain and at this point there had been no rain. My advice, CALL.

It was 2p.m. by this time and it looked like with overcasts skies and the swimming hole beyond our reach, we would have to call it a day. Lucky for us, we had two experienced day trippers in the backseat who knew the hill country is home to nature springs and swimming holes galore.

We grappled with driving another 30 plus minutes to Spicewood, which hosts Krause Springs, Reimers Ranch, and The Narrows.

Krause Springs, it was! After all, I had remembered recently seeing it featured in Austin Monthly’s 112 Fun Things to do in the Summer.

Bumping along the gravel road, we had found Krause Springs. Greeted by friendly folks, they gave us the lay of the land and charged each of us just $6. Their words were faintly heard as excitement over took us and instructions ignored. All I heard was I would not take the path with steep metal stairs.

We wandered Krause Springs, which doubles as a camp ground and found the only path we could find at the time – and headed down the steep metal stairs slick with imprints of swimmers’ feet. Unbeknownst to us, the much safer path if we had listened was just a few feet to our left.

Making our way down the pathway we came to giant porous limestone rocks littered with flip flops, brightly colored towels, and an eclectic mix of families, college kids, and other Austin locals. We awkwardly walked the rocky stone beach dodging sunbathers and slippery, algae covered rock.

But, it was all worth it! You could slide right from the limestone beach into the cool waters of Krause Springs. Under the murky spring water, there were many rocks to take a foothold on. Noodles, beach balls, and rafts were prevalent. Young and old leaped from swing ropes and a nearby cliff.

From our side of beach (far left), we could faintly make out a waterfall trickling on the far right side of the beach. Making our way to the waterfall, it was much bigger as we came upon it. It was our own private quiet grotto away from clamor of the rest of the weekenders.

The trip made for a pleasurable little getaway.

What I Think You Need to Know
Free parking
Cash only
Picnic tables & grills on site
Camping available
No dogs
Alcohol permitted, but no glass.

Thank You Wes Anderson for Reminding Me I’m Not Tired of You

25 Jun

By Michael Mason (@ATXMichaelMason)
Contributing Writer/ Guest Columnist

I walked into Moonrise Kingdom kind of with the belief that I was tired of that “Wes Anderson thing.”  You know what I mean.  The quirky teenager.  The awkward close-ups of the awkward stares.  The weird nostalgic clothing.  The dryness.  The mustaches.  You know.  Hipster porn.

So, why did I go see the damn movie?  And why was I excited to see it?  Well, for starters, I’m a true movie fan and I’ll see anything that is regarded highly enough.  How many good quality films are we getting at this time on the calendar anyway?  But I’m a Wes Anderson fan, too.  Despite the fact that I thought I was over his whole shtick.  I loved The Royal Tenenbaums, (the consensus best Anderson film), Rushmore is my favorite of his and I also loved the underrated The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

I thought Moonrise was downright amazing.  It’s funny.  It’s poignant.  It’s incredibly sweet.  In fact, it’s a kid’s movie.  Wasn’t expecting that.  Rated PG-13, this is a movie that actually is what most family films claim to be but almost never are-a movie that adults and kids TRULY can both enjoy.  I know I honestly would have loved it a kid.  The cast, naturally, is great.  Oddly enough, Bill Murray doesn’t steal the show; he’s actually kind of uncharacteristically blended into the background in this one.  It’s actually Bruce Willis that I felt stood out in probably my favorite performance of his to date.  Bottom line, I was entranced from the first impeccably framed moment of the picture and it never let me go.

So, this made me realize.  I wasn’t tired of the “Wes Anderson thing.”  It wasn’t some late 90s/early 2000’s trend that had run its course.  Good filmmaking isn’t a fad.  I was tired of the Wes Anderson rip-offs.  Submarine, Juno, Napoleon Dynamite, The Squid and the Whale, Garden State and on and on and on.  There’s been so many imitations that don’t hold up to the original the whole thing just wore me out.  For instance, take Juno, a movie I actually liked.  I thought overall it was really good storytelling with a great cast.  But the aesthetic was enough to make you sick.  The over-the-top nouveau Punky Brewster costume and the obnoxious “teenager” dialogue was…just…too…much.  Do people who hand out Best Screenplay Oscars for this stuff actually think this is what teenagers are like or is this just what they LIKE to remember they were as adolescents?  Seeing Moonrise just made me remember why all the wannabes are there-because the original was JUST SO GOOD.

With all this being said, I’m not sure he can do this “thing” forever.  There will have to be evolutions and variations in his style.  Regardless, today there is a brilliant movie called Moonrise Kingdom that I really loved.  And Wes, I’ll never doubt you again, buddy.

 

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Blogs I want to write, but just haven’t…

29 May

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  • A review of the cleverly funny book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
  • Is the Season Really Over?: These Masterpiece Short Seasons are Killing Me
  • Kyle Killen’s Awake is Killing It, But Gets Cancelled
  • Sometimes You Just Need a Little Mindless RomCom
  • 30 Trailers in 30 Days: Austin’s Food Trailer Scene
  • Social Media ADD. I Can’t Keep Up
  • EMFs Keeping Me Awake? Diaries of an Insomniac

South By Goes Green at the Bean

15 Mar

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Irie Bean

Celebrate St.Patty’s Day in South Austin on the backyard patio at the Irie Bean Coffee Bar. Kick back with a cold beer and listen to some talented artists from all over the US who will be performing at this Unofficial Free SXSW Showcase in the 78704 playing folk, bluegrass, and Americana.

 

 

Irie Bean Coffee Bar
2310 S. Lamar
Austin, TX 78704
www.iriebean.com

The showcase will kick off at 2pm on Saturday, March 17th and end at 6pm.

Check out the line-up:

2:00 pm Special Guest
2:45pm Railflowers
3:15 pm Rakosi
4:00pm Jen Hitt
4:45pm Dave Mulligan
5:15 pm Joy Kills Sorrow

Don’t forget to try their signature drink, the Irie Bomb (frequenters’ beverage of choice), a shot of expresso dropped in a tall glass of Guinness.

The CliffNotes of Austin Food & Drink: A Guide for SXSW Goers

9 Mar

My highlights whether it’s their food, notoriety, cocktails, or just its pop culture lure

24 Diner – (6th & Lamar) – Gratifying southern comfort food by Season 9 Top Chef cheftestant, Andy Curren

Alamo Drafthouse (6th Street & multiple locations) – How ‘bout dinner and a movie? Entertainment Weekly named Alamo the best theater in the country

Baby A’s (1628 Barton Springs Rd.)Potent purple margaritas have you seeing pink elephants

Barley Swine (2024 S. Lamar) – Bryce Gilmore, named one of the Top 10 Chefs by Food & Wine magazine – delectable small plates, which I describe as PERFECTION.

Bess Bistro(500 W. Sixth Street) – Sandra Bullock’s basement bistro

Congress (200 Congress) – Named Bon Appétit‘s top 10 new restaurants in America

Contigo – (2027 Anchor Lane) In Top 10 of Texas Monthly’s Where to Eat in 2012

Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden (709 E. Sixth) – Season 9 Top Chef Cheftestant, Andy Curren’s new venture

El Arroyo (1624 W. 5th Street) – This local Tex-Mex restaurant is not just famous for being mentioned in the lyrics of Pat Green’s popular song Carry On, but their marquee sign has entertained the Austin masses for years with its sometimes controversial humorous blurbs.

Food Trailers – A blog for another day, though a couple are mentioned – Food trailers have blanketed the city and are emerging with spectacular innovative foods.

Frank (4th & Colorado) – Hot dog lounge featured on a recent Google commercial

Franklin Barbecue – (900 East 11th Street)Named Best BBQ in America by Bon Appétit magazine, did I mention it’s a trailer?

Gourdough’s (1503 S. 1st) – Eat yourself into a self-induced sugar coma with these heavenly gourmet donuts. Also featured on No Reservations.

Home Slice – (1415 S. Congress) – A little slice of New York in the ATX

Hult Hut (3825 Lake Austin Blvd.) – This lakeside restaurant definitely has its allure with a menu of food items described as “Tiki-Tex-Mex” and outdoor bars perfect for kicking back and watching the sunset on Lake Austin.

Juan in A Million (2300 E. Cesar Chavez) – Man vs. Food’s Adam Richman’s stomach was no match for their “Don Juan El Grande Taco Challenge.” Is yours?

Kerbey Lane (multiple locations) & Magnolia Café (multiple locations) – Both local eateries serving up everything from gingerbread pancakes to queso to late night diners.

Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue (401 W. 2nd Street) Located in the newly emerging 2nd Street District, this barbecue joint offers some savory pulled pork and other palatable dishes including their mac ‘n cheese.

Perla’s Seafood & Oyster Bar (1400 S. Congress)Also featured on No Reservations, this SoCo decked restaurant offers freshly flown in seafood daily.

Salt Lick (18300 FM 1826) – Worth the off the beaten path excursion to Driftwood, TX – BBQ done right!

Top Notch Hamburgers (7525 Burnet Rd.) – An old fashioned drive-in restaurant where some scenes of Richard Linklater’s cult classic, Dazed and Confused were filmed.

Trudy’s (multiple locations) – Knock you on a** Best Mexican Martini

Uchi (801 S. Lamar) – Try contemporary Japanese dishes from James Beard Award-winning Chef, Tyson Cole.

Uchiko (4200 N. Lamar) – Executive Chef & Top Chef Winner, Paul Qui created exquisite looking cuisine on the show, now see what he can do in his Austin kitchen.

This is does not even begin to showcase the many other worthwhile restaurants here in the Live Music Capitol. This is just a mere snapshot.

Happy Dining!