Category Archives: Tasty Articles

What’s Up, Drag? 11/03/11

Don't tell me you're not drooling for a Reuben now

Döner kebap, Über yum

Happy November everyone!

Well, it’s been quite a while writing on this blog and it’s going to take me some time to get back into the pattern of writing I did before, but there is food news along the Drag I can’t help but want to share. I’m sorry I don’t have pictures as I didn’t have a real camera on my walk today, but here are some places to check out this coming month:

1)      Co-op Market – The Co-op Outlet site has gone through many changes. Almost as many changes as where Arpeggio Grill stands today. It used to be a sort of outlet store for inventory from the University Co-op, but was slowly transitioned into a store with themed goodies to bring home to family, friends, and strangers. Now, it has been renovated once again, but this is a change I like. It is now a sort of grocery store for all your student needs. Forgot to buy sliced mushrooms for a dish you’re making? Come here. Feel like a glass of wine or a beer for tailgate? Come here. Need some milk or a craving for Bluebell ice cream bars on the Drag? Come here. Admittedly, there are places on campus to buy these kinds of things as well as Wheatsville Co-op or CVS. The prices also are similar in being much higher (about $0.60-1.00) than what you would get away from campus. However, it’s in a nice location right in the middle and just has an extra range of items you may not find at the other stores, especially if you’re off-campus. Whether this place still stays next year remains to be seen, but definitely a place to check out if you’re a little low on some groceries.

2)      Fricano’s Deli – Yay! Finally! The sandwich place I like that was in North campus has now moved near Juicytart. I may never leave that area. I have yet to post a review on Fricano’s, but it is a sandwich place I like to go to now that Katz’s Delicatessen no longer hangs out in Austin. Fricano’s has a similar style with a staggering amount of meats, cheeses, and toppings for sandwiches that are combined together into a delicious sandwich. I am especially a fan of the hot sandwiches they have like their prize-winning Paul’s Reuben. So good, a good size, with some real sauerkraut and crunchy bread. If you don’t feel like making your own sandwich or trying your luck with the Ainsworth (put your sandwich into their hands), there are also hot dogs, pasta salads, and soups to fill you up. Definitely try this place out, especially now that it’s close to campus. It is open now from 11-7 on M-F and 12-5 on Saturday.

3)      Verts – Filling the sad gap left behind by Hot Slice is a new restaurant called Verts. It is an interesting place that is trying to popularize Germany’s Döner kebap to UT students. I’m not exactly sure how to explain it, but I will try my best. It is kind of like sliced meat at Arpeggio’s put into a pita pocket with lots of vegetables and their delicious house sauce. It was a huge serving just to receive half a pita pocket, but it was yummy and I’m glad to have tried it. Definitely, if I was hungry for something different near campus, Verts is a fun place to go. The people are friendly and they do their best with the narrow space, creating lots of sitting room with the benches on the walls.

4)      Qdoba  Though I have a review to write up on this restaurant too, I wanted to make sure you all know that Qdoba has now opened up where Intellectual Properties bookstore used to be. The building has seen quite a few changes too, but the most recent one has divided up the large, two-story building into multiple food venues that include Qdoba, Noodles & Company (a real pasta restaurant the Drag was needing), and the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. All these places are ones I will be writing reviews on, but want to make sure you all know about the multiple new places to eat near campus. Qdoba, specifically, is like another Chipotle with the choose-your-stuff burrito line. However, Qdoba tries to mix it up by emphasizing their other options like nachos, quesadillas, and taco salads. The most interesting aspect of Qdoba, though, is the option of two small portions of the dishes they provide. A popular choice in our group was half a quesadilla and a smaller portion of 3-cheese nachos. Their 3-cheese queso was, by the way, delicious, but definitely salty.

5)      Coffee Bean & Tea LeafA new coffee shop trying to compete for attention with places like Starbucks and Caffe Medici. It definitely tries to appeal to tea lovers as well, giving more tea options than I’ve seen at the other coffee shops near campus. However, if you’re a non-coffee, non-tea drinker like me, I feel like the options they provide are more simple. It may not taste as great as the other branches around Austin, but it is definitely a nice place to stop for a drink right in the middle of the Drag with lots of windows to look out and stare at strangers as they do the same (kind of like Chipotle).

6)     Noodles & Company Finally, the last new place I want to talk about near the Drag is Noodles & Company. Though it has not opened yet, I am eager to try it as I have always felt like restaurants were missing a prime niche on the Drag: pasta. This place looks interesting as it tries to cover all the types of noodles at once. It has Asian style, Italian style, and just plain ol’ American style meaning any other pasta that doesn’t fit those other two categories. Noodles & Company has been opening up around Austin and now it is time to find out if this pasta company can make it or break it here on the ever-revolving restaurant merry-go-round of the Drag. Come try it out with me on November 15!

Well, there you go. There have been a lot of changes in terms of food on the Drag and it’ll be exciting to tell you all about it in the coming year. Hope you had a good Halloween and looking forward to a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Keep Asea With The Seafood Watch App

Do you know how sustainable your sushi is?

It’s been quite an eventful weekend and now it’s Star Wars day. Maybe in keeping with the Star Wars theme, I am now presenting a foodie technology article for your reading pleasure.

Well, here’s another food app that’s coming at you. I’d like to tell you about the Seafood Watch App from the Monterrey Aquarium. It’s a free app for your smartphone or a website you can access on your internet browser so you can eat seafood without hurting the environment.

Seafood has always been something to watch for mercury content, sustainability, and overall health as the bigger fishies can easily concentrate heavy metals and other toxins due to their appetites. With the Seafood Watch App, you can figure out what fish are best to eat that are sustainable and are not farmed/fished in a terribly harmful way. Something else to note is that there is a sushi app, perfect if you like to go out and eat that raw fish.

The app is easy to use, but a little low in resolution. There are also other resources that come with the application including links to recipes for the sustainable fish and a way for you to upload your own information. However, these links are limited in not being very well updated or maintained so be warned about that.

To keep the information in the app true, it is reviewed by experts and then you can know best where to get your sustainable and healthy fish. I definitely recommend this app if you are worried about what fish are most sustainable to eat or if you are just a bad decision maker at the grocery store.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 for expert advice, easy to navigate, and limited updates. Just to make sure you understand, this app is good for sustainability but not really mercury content. If you want information on things like that, I would suggest you go someplace like the FDA.

Foodspotting: Best Food By UT

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Hey everyone!

Just want to let you know that I’ve made a new guide on Foodspotting for Austin. It’s called Best Food By UT. It’s open for anyone to add or vote and it’s just a list of places that I would recommend around campus. I also picked foods that I personally like to eat at the place or something that seems to keep people coming back to that restaurant.

There is also a badge available to earn if you are able to spot 5/6 items that are on the list. The badge: a half chocolate-dipped Texas-shaped cookie, yum!

Feel free to add onto the list and it’ll look great with pictures finally on there!

Look through the slideshow up top to get a preview of the food I’m talking about. Good luck with foodspotting! 😛

Have You Ever Dreamed of More Cream In Your Milanos? Think Milano Melts!

Ooh, ahh. You're definitely new around here.

Hey everyone! While shopping around in the college market, I saw a new product in the cookie display: Milano Melts! Yum! 😛

Eager to try something new, I couldn’t resist buying a bag. Oftentimes, I will admit, I eat a Milano cookie and think, “Wouldn’t it be just a little more perfect if there was more chocolate in this?” And I’m not talking about the chocolate cookie Milano’s type of adding chocolate. Now there is a product to answer that need.

Just FYI for those of you who have never tried Pepperidge Farm cookies and in particular the Milano cookies, it seems to be one of their signature cookies that are great to bring to a party or as a small gift to a friend. The Milano cookie is basically a sandwich of sweet oval crunchy cookies (more like biscuit cookies) with a thin layer of chocolate to stick the cookies together. It is a balance of cookie and chocolate, though I have always felt the ratio was more like 60% cookie and 40% chocolate. Now here is where Milano Melts enter the arena.

Ooey gooey chocolate filling waiting to decorate your fingers and face.

First impression: interesting. More than interesting, the Milano Melt does fulfill its duty as having a lot more crème in the middle. The chocolate filling is revealed to be, though, not the best chocolate in the world. However, I would say it is a chocolate that is better quality than Hershey’s chocolate and it is certainly a thick filling inside the crunchy cookie that makes the ratio of taste now 60% chocolate and 40% cookie.

The cookie part is a normal Milano cookie, but instead of a cookie sandwich, you get lots of chocolate crème in the middle. This change of structure, though, appears to have made the cookie less flaky.

So you may see the size of the cookie. Same size as a normal Milano cookie.

Overall, great if you like Milano cookies and have a strong desire to have more crème in the middle. However, don’t expect to have the normal Milano cookie taste and experience because this cookie just is not a Milano cookie. It is a Milano Melt cookie. It may be the overindulgence of chocolate crème or the cookie structure not being quite right. Whichever it is, the cookie also seems to lose a bit of its sophistication when you get that crème all over your mouth and fingers.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 1/2 for achieving the goal of more crème, but leaving the sophistication and cookie structure behind.

I Love Me Some Random Food Fairs

Can you even see the end?

One day after church, my friend and I went to Whole Foods to pick up some groceries for the week. As we drove to park, we saw a bunch of tents and booths right outside the front of the store. Curious, we ventured over and found a mini food event featuring local food vendors that sell products inside Whole Foods. Yum! 😛 Here’s a recap.

Thanks for posing! 🙂

Drinks abounded at this place. We tried teas, coffees, juices, and waters. What impressed me most though was the Pure Rain bottled water. Considered one of the purest waters as it is water that hasn’t even touched the ground. The water was clear as could be and I could actually taste the water as being pretty clean. If I needed bottled water and didn’t mind prices, I wouldn’t mind buying this brand.

The dessert chips were amazing with the unique salsas from Dread Head Chef

There were also a lot of salsas. It’s Texas. One that struck me as quite interesting was the mango salsa from Dread Head Chef. Specializing in dessert chips and sweet salsa, it was a sweet and savory snack that tasted delicious. I could also imagine using the mango salsa like I use my corn relish on hot dogs and chickens that need a little something extra. It was sweet and you could see the mango chunks in the salsa.

We meet again, cocoa nib

Ooh, cocoa nibs! These things are absolutely delicious and something we encountered at the Farmer’s Market in downtown Austin before. Basically, they are cacao beans that are covered in chocolate and a pretty unique snack that just screams organic and Austin. It’s crunchy and perfect bite-sized pieces that will sate your chocolate cravings. Expensive, but a great gift, I am definitely buying some one day.

Low in cholesterol, low in fat, completely vegan, and still tastes like queso? Yes!

I must say, I am impressed by the vegan queso. Though I am not vegan and would prefer a queso made out of queso, I know some people have dietary needs that this vegan queso can fill. It’s not only gluten-free, there are no animal products like milk or eggs and it’s low in fats and cholesterol as well. Heated up and on a chip, it tasted surprisingly familiar and even had the right texture. Mixed in with some salsa or into a taco, I bet you wouldn’t miss regular queso too much. I even ended up buying some, hee hee. 😀

A booth just for pets! 😀

As always, Austin is a pretty friendly place for pets and there were some dogs with their owners checking out the fair. It’s nice how animal-friendly Austin is and there was even a booth with special all-natural pet food for the dogs to try out.

One of the most unique foods I tried at the fair: Pao de Queijo or Brazilian cheese balls

Some other places of note are Kohana coffee with its cold coffee brew in a bottle, Kerbey Lane’s pancake mixes, and Lana’s Egg Rolls that I could imagine buying and keeping in my freezer until I had an Asian food crave. Whole Foods is always full of surprises and this food event is kind of a reminder of the many unique and tasty food vendors that have taken root in Austin. Be brave and try something new, especially at one of the biggest organic chain grocery stores: Whole Foods.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 for random food fairs with delicious local food.

REVIEW: Grass Jelly Drink Or The Chewable Syrup

I did not know you could drink grass...

I remember when I first heard about this strange drink. I saw one of my friends in high school drinking it and I was amazed that such drinks existed. Was there grass in it? Tiny chewy bits of grass? And then the picture…did she literally drink that jelly instead of chewing it up?

Definitely need a big bubble tea straw to suck up the jelly

What a strange concoction. Admittedly, I thought it’d be like sippable jello that was all mushed up like a smoothie, but the drink turns out to be a simple syrup with grass jelly chunks chopped up into almost swallowable sizes. Sweet, but not overly sweet, and what really strikes you is the interesting texture. Not that great at quenching your thirst, but it’s on par with coke quenching your thirst.

Simple and drinkable

Overall, something new and fun to try. If you like texture in your drink like bubble tea, then you will probably enjoy this drink too. If you’ve seen it, be brave and try a sip. It’s not going to kill you. 🙂

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 for being not too sweet, not thirst-quenching, and perfect for those who are into texture in their food.

Spotting a Yummy App, Just For You

Here are some dishes I've put up on Foodspotting like this sticky rice appetizer and Vietnamese spring rolls

Hey everybody! Just thought you might like to hear about this cool iPhone/iPad app called Foodspotting. I’ve been using it recently and really like it. It’s a great way to get pictures of the local food scene and does a better job letting you know what dishes are good versus if the restaurant/service/whatever is good. It’s all food.

Yes, information about ambience, service, reservations, group friendliness, etc. is important, but that’s what places like Yelp and Urbanspoon are for. If you just want to know what looks good around you or want something to eat, but aren’t sure what, then you should check out Foodspotting.

My first dish on Foodspotting!

You can also use it with your internet browser. Recommended by many well-known publishers like Time and WSJ, this at least guarantees some viability for the app’s continued participation that really keeps the app running. A lot of people are on it, but it is true that the app is better applied to well-known food places or major cities than others are. However, Austin is quickly becoming one of these places. Recently, it was used at SXSW to show off the food trucks and there are numerous guides suggesting places to eat while you’re visiting in Austin.

In signing up, you get a limited number of “noms” and “tips” for signing up. The “noms” are supposed to be your input on what you’ve eaten and what you think is the tastiest, hence the limited number of “noms.” The “tips” is to show how much you’ve contributed and participated and may get you some unknown prize in the future. However, at the moment, it is just to show off that you do something on Foodspotting. You can also let people know if they took a great shot, “want” something so you remember to get it in the future, and make comments of your own on people’s shots and the food.

I do find the program to be buggy sometimes like freezes while looking for food or posting a comment, but overall it works smoothly to spot something and check out new restaurants that pop up that have been spotted.

You knew sushi had to come up some time

Overall, Foodspotting is a pretty cool app and you can easily increase connectivity by connecting it with Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, etc. I really love the app whenever I feel like something to eat and I’m not sure where to go. If you join, look me up, quotid!

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 for participation, some bugginess, and ease of use. Great if you love to eat out and/or take pictures of eating out.