24 April 2013

the second time we went to austin

You might remember that I gave Jeremy a trip to Austin for his Christmas gift. I was so proud of coming up with such a creative gift that was SO HIM: a tour of Shiner Brewery, trapeze lessons for him, a ghost tour, good restaurants. I had so much fun planning it. Though we're almost a full four months from Christmas, let me tell you about my gift from him.

Our tradition for now is to open gifts from each other on Christmas Eve. I was dying for him to open his gift. I made cute little cards with hand-sketched pictures: a beer bottle, a trapeze bar, the logo for Uchiko. As proud as I was of throwing this gift together, the cards MADE the gift. But he wanted me to open my present first. And I don't argue when someone wants me to open a gift. Imagine my surprise when I pulled an envelope from my stocking with "A Weekend in Austin," written on the front. I was so very confused. I don't have the best poker face, so I'm sure that my confusion was evident. Not to mention, it completely overshadowed any excitement.

My reaction was not what he expected, I'm sure. I fumbled through thanking him, looking at each part of my gift, knowing that when he opened his gift, he would understand. Though my gift to him was cuter, his was no less impressive. He is such a great gift-giver, and this one was no exception.

Thankfully, our trips to Austin were a month apart. And quite different. We drove down to Austin in time to make the matinee performance of The Lion King. I've wanted to see it for several years, but haven't had the chance. We were wowed by this musical! The puppetry and costuming, choreography and music is phenomenal. It totally lived up to it's hype.

After The Lion King, we headed to an early dinner. For some reason, we'd both decided on Mexican food. Though I'm sure there are hundreds of Mexican food places in Austin, we decided on a restaurant that's more familiar to me, Serrano's. (Only because I knew exactly where it is and where to park.) When I organize trips to Austin for my students, we always eat at this restaurant, but always order fajitas. This time, though, I decided to stay away from safe options like fajitas and enchiladas. Instead, I had fried oyster tacos. And, oh my gosh, they were great!

The next day, Jeremy had tickets for a food tour along South Congress in Austin. I was only mildly excited about this, hoping it wasn't a bust. And, perhaps, wondering if it was such a great tour, why didn't I come across it in my planning his trip? Boy, was I wrong. This was the highlight of our trip, and included several restaurants that I'd wanted to try. You should know that when I talk about this in person, I've been likened to Stefon on Saturday Night Live. It's actually a compliment.

We met our tour guide--and owner--from Austin Eats Food Tours at Jo's Coffee. He had an option of iced or hot coffee waiting for us, along with morning buns from La Patisserie to munch on while we made introductions among the 15 or so members of our group. Then we headed off to our first restaurant stop: Snack Bar. We were able to meet the owners who were so very passionate about their restaurant. We tried the Tamago Yoko; the description is in the menu picture below. It was so very different from anything I've ever had, and I loved it. It's highly likely that I'll eat almost anything with a fried egg on top. Snack Bar is a restaurant that we'll return to the next time we're in Austin.

Jo's Coffee | Snack Bar

Our next stop was up a slight hill at Guero's. We were seated around a grill where corn tortillas were being made. In front of us, plates with halves of tamales and queso. (If you're not from Texas, "queso" is cheese dip, not just the word for "cheese" in Spanish.) We also had mini margaritas made with fresh-squeezed lime juice. Which made me feel a little better since we were downing them at 10:45am. It's close to fresh-squeezed orange juice, right? Then they wrapped up some warm corn tortillas that we shared as we walked out the door.


After Guero's, we headed to Hopdoddy. I claim the hamburger as my favorite food, so I was super excited to try this restaurant! It did not disappoint. Before the food came, we were able to order an adult beverage (Dutch treat). Jeremy and I shared a Black Cherry Hard Lemonade; it was refreshing for the 70 degree January day outside. The burgers that arrived at our tall tables were perfect and paired with Kennebec fries and three dipping sauces; my favorite sauce was horseradish honey mustard. For dessert--because who doesn't need dessert at this point--we had a mini caramel & sea salt shake. They were heavenly. 

hopdoddy: the classic burger

Honestly, I was a little concerned at this point that I was too full. But we continued on our journey to The Woodland where we had shrimp and grits. This was only my second time to have shrimp and grits; the first was in Savannah which clearly has the market on shrimp and grits. Again, these were delicious. I mean, really, if we'd just had one thing that wasn't good, we'd have been much better off at this point. After a peek at the menu, I decided that if we returned for a meal at The Woodland, I'd order the butternut squash ravioli. That's right up my alley.

And then? We had a bit of a break. The guide apologized for a delay, but I think that we were all happy for some down time. Actually, I'm pretty sure the break was caused by Texas liquor laws. Since our guide was about to buy local beer to drink at our next stop, he had to wait until noon to make the purchase. (We all know that purchasing alcohol before noon on Sundays is frowned upon by the Lord.) Once the beer was packed to go, we headed to our final destination: the food trucks. I was so excited.

Our first food truck was Hey!...You Gonna Eat That or What? It may have been my favorite stop of the day. We had a Shiner Bock beer battered Monte Cristo with cherry-fig jelly for dipping. To say that I wanted to lick the remaining jelly from the little cup would be an understatement. 

Our second food truck and final stop of the tour was Little Big Mikes. It's a personal pan pizza place and was new to the food truck scene. We had thick slices of Veggie Mac & Cheese pizza, covered with caramelized onions, macaroni and cheese, and sriracha aioli. It was delicious, but at this point, I was overly stuffed. So when I took two bites, and then dropped the rest of my pizza, I was only a smidge disappointed. I'm sure it was the Lord preventing me from being even more gluttonous. 

clockwise from top: local beer, Hey!...You Gonna Eat That or What?,
Monte Cristo with cherry-fig jelly, "i love you so much" outside of Jo's Coffee

Once the tour ended, we strolled along South Congress. Since it was "my" trip, Jeremy willingly went into a couple of junky antique stores before we headed back to the hotel to read and sleep off some of the food. For dinner, we decided ice cream would be enough. And it was. 

As wonderful as I thought Jeremy's trip to Austin was for him, this was for me. We had such a memorable time.

1 comment :

banana_nut_bread said...

By the time I got to the end of this, I didn't think I could eat another bite either.