Monday, November 15, 2010

Things I'm Liking Lately

I'm always thinking of things I need to post but lately time slips away. However, that doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed some yummy stuff lately so here's a random assortment.

I've decided we don't go to Stella Sola nearly enough. Last weekend, a late-evening stop at the bar provided positive reinforcement to get me back more often. In addition to a fantasatic cocktail (the name now escapes me but it had Dripping Springs Vodka, lemon-something and blackberries), I grabbed a plate of the Gulf Crab Carbonara Bucatini from the Appetizer menu. The dish screams fresh, creamy and delicious with the house-made pasta and guanciale (a unsmoked Italian bacon made from pork jowl), the crunchy red peppers and the creamy, cheesy sauce. Yum.

I'm also really digging Olivia in Austin. Olivia is Austin's Haven with it's farm-to-table philosophy and extraordinary execution of the glorious product. Love, love, love every time I go. This go-round I tried the perfectly prepared grilled scallops served with butternut squash risotto in a brown-butter sauce. A couple of weeks prior, I popped in for lunch on a Saturday and had the gnocci of a lifetime sat atop the freshest pesto, thin slices of freshest squash and parmigano. This dish could almost make a vegetarian out of me. They are also doing some very interesting "parfaits" for dessert which are essentially layers of godly goodness including various house made ice creams, butters (like apple butter) compotes and crumbles. If you haven't been to Olivia, you need to go.

Speaking of Haven, they have a new dessert on the menu - a Chocolate Ice Box Pie that will remind you of your grandma's chocolate pie (if only she had access to high quality dark chocolate). Oreo cookie crust on the bottom and then a rich chocolate filling with cocoa nibs to keep it being too sweet and provide texture followed by lucious whipped cream on top. Like I needed another dessert to love at Haven when I'm arleady obsesssed with the tres leches coconut bread pudding (made w/ those crazy parker-house rolls they serve when you sit down). I swear, the meringue on top is like a roasted, melty marshmallow and the caramel-y sauce is just over the top. Every time I turn somebody on to this dessert they swear it's the best bread pudding they've ever had. Then there are the daily layer cakes (the current Pumpkin-Spice is off the charts) and the absolutely gorgeous and not-too-sweet pear tart. Oh and I love the ambrosia. Seriously, there is not a bad dessert on the menu. And don't forget about the $10 daily Blue Plate Specials for lunch!

Feeling as though it is my duty to sample any new burger place, I've tried The Counter a couple of times now. I really appreciate the quality of the beef - it truly tastes beefy; wonderful, juicy flavor. I like that they cook to medium as the norm (and will do medium rare which is my preference); vegetables are fresh; great thick-cut pickles. But I've concluded that I don't love it overall - the bun is rather dry and "blah" as are the toppings I've tried so far including the chipotle aoli for example, and the horseradish cheddar - seriously hardly any flavor (and not at all melted as shown in the pic). I like that the flavor of the beef dominates and I'm not really into anything other than a slightly-different version of a regular burger but if I expand my horizons I should at least be able to taste that particular flavor element. The fries are good and the onion rings (thin/crispy) are stellar. Overall it's expensive for what it is and now that Hubcap is coming to the Heights, there's no contest and I'm a little bit afraid of having Hubcap close to me actually.

I must make mention of Rebecca Masson's new website - Yes, I took this project on personally becuase I simply love her stuff and wanted for people to be able to order and buy from her more easily hence my first foray into building a website. I took this shot of her in the process of making the infamous fluffernutters (oatmeal peanut-butter cookies with a layered filling of peanut butter cream and marshmallow fluff ... hello?). These are deadly and sure to be a most-apprecaited holiday gift. Order yours online along with a Thanksgiving Pecan Pie with proceeds benefitting Corridor Rescue. You won't be sorry!

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