Archive for October, 2009

Sweet Stitches

In honor of my very favorite holiday, I embroidered a set of cocktail napkins using Wild Olive’s Trick-or-Treaters patterns. I love their expressive little faces.

Happy Halloween!

halloween napkins 1

halloween napkins 2

halloween napkins 3


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When I started telling people I was taking a business trip to Shanghai, Yang’s Fry Dumplings was the first thing a lot of them mentioned. So, it seemed like a logical choice for our first night there. We were feeling pretty jet lagged and dumplings seemed like something that might revive us a bit.

But despite its popularity among westerners (as they refer to us in China), our cab driver seemed pretty unsure of where the place was. I soon learned that this is pretty typical of the cab experience in Shanghai. Maybe it’s just too big to know where everything is, but the drivers always react to hearing your destination with some combination of confusion and aggressiveness.

So he dropped us off on what felt like Mars, pointing in the direction of a busy pedestrian street. We didn’t see Yang’s, so we started wandering down the street, well aware that with each step we were a little more lost. Right as I was pondering how exactly we’d manage to communicate with a cab driver without the benefit of the hotel doormen, we spotted Yang’s.

Yang's Fry 1

After getting in the wrong line twice, we finally figured out their process: order, pay, show receipt to dumpling scooper, get dumplings, sit, show receipt to waitress, get soup. As you wait in line, you have a clear view of their tiny kitchen. This place had quite the assembly line going. Here I could draw some connection between the rise of Chinese manufacturing and dumplings, but I’ll resist.

Yang's Fry 2

Here are the beauties. In the US, you often choose between deep fried dumplings and steamed. But as you can see here, these dumplings are the best of both worlds: pan fried on the bottom, but retaining that steamed doughiness on top. They’re also filled with broth, so you really need to slurp the suckers before taking a bite. And even though I had read about this before hand, I still managed to make every dumpling explode on my face or pants with steaming hot broth every time I took a bite. Such sweet pain.

Yang's Fry 3

Yang's Fry 4

Nothing like a little hot soup to ease the pain of 20 hours of travel time. This stuff was pretty amazing. I’m not a big fan of cilantro and I devoured this soup despite the fact that it was swimming with the stuff. It was also a great example of how chinese food takes the tiniest bit of meat and gets every possible bit of flavor out of it. Apparently, you don’t always need a half a pound of meat to feel satisfied at the end of a meal. Who knew?

Yang's Fry 5

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Little Man

This little guy was waiting for me when I got home from Shanghai last night. His name is Stevie Wonder, but he also goes by Little Stevie and Little Man. He responds to none of them so far.

After deciding to get a second dog, we needed to find one that would get along with our other little stinker, Jaxon. A rescue organization called Small Chance Rescue couldn’t have been more helpful. They recommended Stevie, part Yorkie and part Chihuahua. He’s pretty great. So far, he and his big (much bigger, actually) sister are getting along swimmingly.


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Lulu B’s

It’s no secret that Austin has fallen in love with food trucks, a trend that we welcome with open stomachs. Lulu B’s is one of the finer examples, serving up some serious sandwiches. This was another one of those “what took us so long to eat here?” places.

Lulu B's 1

Lulu B's 2

Lulu B's 3

I told Eliza this could be her album cover.

Lulu B's 4

I don’t eat a lot of sandwiches, but when I do, I like ’em warm. This one had it all: fresh bread, lemongrass pork and raw jalapenos for some kick.

Lulu B's 5

They have salads, too, but the sandwich is where it’s at.

Lulu B's 6

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High + Low = Central

Following Jeff’s advice, Eliza made reservations at the James Beard Award winning Central Michel Richard. I was lucky enough to tag along with her and some folks from the foundation she works with.

central 1

The menu was interesting, with a lot of high-end takes on low-end food. It was also surprisingly long, with something like 15 entrees available.

central 2

Once again, we took advantage of our proximity to the sea. Though oddly enough, these oysters were all from the west coast. They were smooth and buttery. Blew us all away. Off to a good start.

central 3

Before our mains showed up, Eliza’s mom disappeared. Eventually, we found her perched in front of a large window near the bathrooms, where you could watch the massive kitchen in action. It was an impressive operation.

central 4

Plenty of cast iron. Me likey.

central 5

Perhaps there’s no better example of Central’s high-low approach than the cheese puffs. These little guys were pretty tasty. Nice presentation, too.

central 6

The highlight of the evening was the charcuterie plate. That pate in the middle with the rosemary on top was like a gift from another planet. Add a little prosciutto and there’s no need to order entrees. But we soldiered on.

central 7

Eliza had the beef cheeks and tagliatelle. I was so proud.

central 8

Also in the high-low vein was an entree I had an absolute responsibility to order: the lobster burger. There was simply no other option for me. I didn’t even feel like having a burger, but I’d had lobster twice already during the weekend and it would have been a betrayal of my values not to complete the trifecta. Sadly, despite its rave reviews on Yelp, I thought it was awful. It just doesn’t work. The lobster was rubbery and the bun was airy and dry. It’s a cool idea, but I prefer for a burger to be dripping with grease, and this sucker was dry as a bone.

central 9

There comes a point in a meal like this where you body begins to plead for mercy. That’s when we ordered the Kit Kat. How could you not?

central 10

There was also a chocolate mousse involved. Sadly, it did not get finished. It was great, but my pants were busting at the seams. By this point in the meal, our hearts were beginning to atrophy and I’m pretty sure I was developing diabetes. And while we were feeling lucky to have been to such a swank place that served cheese puffs and Kit Kats, we went back to our hotel and dreamed of that charcuterie plate.

central 11

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