Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Riding Austin's Eastside Coffee Trail

As Austin’s dangerous crack-ridden eastside quickly becomes the land of condo-buying, young affluent hipsters, the local business landscape is changing very quickly. First thing I noticed were all the coffee shops opening up along the E. 6th Street corridor.

Café Mundi
Most locals already know about the eastside’s coffee oasis, Café Mundi. Open just a few yrs, Jessica and Hans have transformed what was an empty shell into one of Austin’s premier java stops. Serving not only what may be the most reasonably priced coffee on the eastside, but also a healthy selection of entrees and choice beers. With its newly expanded inside and lush relaxing outdoor patio, Café Mundi is an Austin coffee must. Movie night every Monday….don’t miss it.
1704 E 5th St # 100
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 236-8634

Dandelion Cafe
A little north of 6th on 11th, the Dandelion Café is slowly building a regular clientele with good food and strong coffee. Just west of the so very “in” Long Branch Inn, the Dandelion Café is hard to miss with its friendly outside seating area and large front windows. Senora Foodblog is a big fan of the cafes hot breakfast sandwiches and laid back, mellow atmosphere.
1115 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 542-9542

Bossa Nova
Bossa Nova Coffee Shop and Bakery, only open for a few days, has helped fill the void on far East 6th Street. Just down the way from the Pedernales Lofts, on the corner of Robert Martinez and 6th, Bossa Nova is planning to make a real run at long term success. Offering not only coffee, but also fresh baked goods with a Brazilian twist, this place is perfectly located to serve the ever-expanding condo caffeine crowd. Stop on by and say hello to Ray, shake his hand and welcome him to the neighborhood. And while you are saying hello, try a carrot muffin or a meaty empanada/pie. Sorry folks, no web site yet.

Progress Coffee
Progress Coffee has made a real name for itself on the coffee drinker circuit. Located at East 5th street and I-35, Progress is quickly becoming a regular stop for the young creative crowd, looking to plug in the old laptop, drink some coffee and enjoy a good sandwich. Service is with a smile, a real plus for the downtown coffee crowd and a great addition to Austin’s eastside.
500 San Marcos St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 493-0963

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Cheese Tortellini Soup

Recently, Senora Foodblog and I were invited to dine at Cupcake Kittens home. Now Cupcake is a fabulous cook and always servers the best meals. This night she turned us on to her version of Cheese Tortellini Soup. I don’t know if she invented the soup or if she found it in some recipe book somewhere but the soup was the bomb! I liked it so much Cupcake sent me home with enough soup for a second meal the next day. As it turned out, the soup was even better the second day. After much begging and pleading…lots of hands and knees stuff, Cupcake emailed the recipe which I just have to share with you guys.

I substituted some of the ingredients to stay within Senora Foodblogs heart friendly diet.

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2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 package of hot turkey Italian sausage – taken out of casings
1 Onion chopped
6-8 Carrots chopped
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or use less dry thyme
½ tsp dried crushed red pepper
10 cups Low sodium chicken broth
8 cups chopped kale (1-2 bunches)
1 15 oz of butter beans
1 9oz package of mini light cheese raviolis
1 can artichoke hearts in water chopped
1 cup grated Asiago cheese or Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add next 6 ingredients and sauté until vegetables are soft and sausage is brown, about 12 minutes. Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in kale and butter beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer until kale is wilted, about 4 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly; cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Add raviolis and artichokes to soup. Simmer until pasta is just tender but still firm to bite, about 5 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls. Serve, passing cheese separately.
Makes 6 serving.
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This soup is perfect for these cold days of our 2 week winter. When the soup was cooking, its smell was incredible. The Senora and I circled the cooking pot like hungry vultures. This soup is very easy to make and only take a few mins to put together. I hope you give it a try. Enjoy and stay warm.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ikea Cafe - Austin,TEXAS

Dreaming of a new kitchen, Senora Foodblog and I headed north to Austin’s brand new and long awaited IKEA.

Ikea, if you have never been, is quite the experience. Big and bold, the first thing I noticed was the blue paint and the giant parking lot. Inside the store is like a mad house, so many people, shopping or just looking and dreaming like the Senora and I. We walked around for and hr or so, checking out the many different kitchen layouts and furniture styles available, salivating and making wish lists for our home. Much to our surprise, as we came close to the end of our tour, we discovered that Ikea has a Café serving drinks, sandwiches and hot food. Intrigued, I just had to see what was going on.

Can you believe it…salmon, meatballs and even mac & cheese? Senora Foodblog and I decided to try one of the sandwiches offered, focaccia bread with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh cut basil. The sandwich, cut in two parts, was more than enough to feed both of us; Senora Foodblog had a hard time finishing her portion. Our cost for the sandwich was just $3.50…watch-out Central Markup. We also had some apple cake/pie and drinks. The food was great. Giant servings! Our total cost came to just over $7. The same meal would have cost twice as much anywhere else in town. Both of us where very satisfied and very pleased with our meal.

One of the guys in my office “ The Gambler “ told me, as I am writing this, that he had a bad experience with the café. He told me that they were out bottled water; the staff was very short when he asked for a cup to use for the water fountain. He had the meatballs, which he thought where not so good. On the positive side he just loved the mac & cheese. He said it was like the mac & cheese mom would serve.

I guess is any given day when you eat out. Sometimes the planets align just right but in some cases people just have a bad day. Senora Foodblog and I both give Ikea two spoons up. We like our experience. The food was good and the service was without incident. As we were leaving, I noticed a big sign on the side of the building that said .99cent breakfast…eggs, sausage and potatoes.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Sullivan's Steakhouse - Austin,TEXAS

We didn't want to fuss, so Señora Foodblog and I decided to enjoy a nice, expensive dinner with Austin 's own Sullivan's Steakhouse, conveniently located in Austin 's thriving Warehouse district. This day, parking was not a consideration. I can say, with much happiness, that most of downtown was empty. The streets were very quit. This was a welcome flashback to old Austin , when you could go anywhere and find a good place to park, without some jerk standing in the street, directing traffic, so his little buddy can have decent parking. The valet was happy to park our car as we made our way into the restaurant.

We had reservations for 6:30pm and with a few mins to spare, we made our way to the bar. Señora Foodblog ordered a Chocolate martini while I had Sullivan's Mojito. The choc martini made Señora Foodblog very happy. The martini was not only tasty but really pretty with choc swirl designs on the glass.

Getting hungry, it was time to head to the main eating area. After another glass a wine and one more mojito, we got down to the hard work of ordering our dinner. Sullivan's operates like a lot of upscale restaurants. Your main dish is ordered separately from your sides. For our starters, we tried the Seared Ahi Tuna and Iced Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. Both were great. The shrimp were large and fresh, while the tuna, which came with a spicy mustard sauce, was to die for. To boot, our server also brought us a Hot Loaf of Bread and each of us an Iceberg Lettuce Wedge with Blue Cheese Dressing Salad. The lettuce and bread come as comp with every meal.

Señora Foodblog went with the Small Filet Mignon 8 oz and I had the New York Strip 16 oz for our main courses. Our sides: enormous Onion Rings, Au Gratin Potatoes and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic were top notch. I love the au gratin potatoes, I wish my home cooked would turn out as well. Both of the steaks were cooked to perfection and tender like butter. The meal was so darn good, Señora Foodblog had to stop me from licking my plate….just kidding, I only lick the plate at home, never in public. We passed on the dessert and settled for some coffee instead.

Señor Foodblog gives Sullivan's two spoons up. Ok, what can I say, the steaks were fantastic as was the service, drinks and the back ground music. I am a huge fan of Sullivan's and will always recommend. Exactly how much did this cost you may ask. Well, keep in mind that Sullivan's is one of Austin 's best steakhouses and its location is the heart of trendy downtown. With tip our meal cost $210 and worth ever penny.

Sullivan's Steakhouse
300 Colorado
512 495 6504

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