Category Archives: Themed

Craving Candy? Check Out Campus Candy

Candy as far as the eye can see...

Returning after a rather warm winter, the first thing I noticed on the Drag was the bright-colored sign advertising “Campus Candy.” What in the world could that place be? A candy store on the Drag, very convenient for hungry night owls? This place is going to do just fine.

Campus Candy is the new kid on the block, replacing the previous clothing store Wish. It is a candy store that has opened up on the Drag that is covering some of the latest fads on campus. It sells frozen yogurt, pastries from Cheesecake Factory, and also popular drinks and snacks to pick up in between classes.

You cannot miss this store on the Drag, blasting loud music like it’s a club and showing off its brightly-colored sign. Stepping in, it feels a bit like stepping into Wonka’s factory as the bright colors of the walls, seating, and candy overwhelm the visitor.

The flavors are often changing. My favorite is admittedly the tiramisu

To the right is the frozen yogurt, supervised by an employee ready to explain the system and provide sample cups. A way to monitor the tasting of flavors, I suppose. The frozen yogurt is very flavorful and a wide variety. Flavors range from tiramisu to chocolate chip mint to raspberry. The price, however, is quite high. It is nearly 70 cents/oz. For a half full cup, it cost me about $3.30, a price that could get a lot more at the other frozen yogurt places near UT. However, the flavors match Red Mango in intensity and the tiramisu and crème brulee flavors seem to be very popular.

A variety of toppings are available at Campus Candy, just like you would find at any other frozen yogurt store. There are tons of sauces as you can see in the front of the picture and lots of fruits and chewy toppings like flavored mochis. I think I’ve also found a new favorite topping for frozen yogurt that tasted kind of like chocolate-covered rice krispy treats.

Tons of toppings and sauces, even some I have never seen at other yogurt places.

Another fun addition to Campus Candy is the fact that you can put any candy in the store on top. It’s a great way to try out some new candies you want to check out, but don’t want to pay the $2.89/quarter of a pound for. For the yogurt I bought, I added some of the sour gummy bears on top to try them out. FYI, probably not a good idea to put gummies on top of cold products as it does reduce the chew of the candy.

Some novelty candies sit around the store such as a 27 lb. gummy bear and the gummy skull next to it. When Valentine’s day was coming up, chocolate roses became available. A lot of old school candies are also available on the wall across from the register like Pot o’ Honey and Neccos.

Ooh, Cheesecake Factory right next to UT!

Finally, there are baked goods being sold at Campus Candy and finishes off the college student’s sweet tooth. Most of the baked goods are from the Cheesecake Factory. These pastries include popular cheesecake flavors from Cheesecake Factory like Raspberry Swirl and Godiva Chocolate cheesecake. The cheesecake slices are not as big as the ones you get at the Cheesecake Factory, but they taste about as good as the ones you can get frozen at Sam’s. If you’re dying for a baked good, here is a decent place to go. They also have Cheesecake Factory’s cupcakes that I am interested in trying, but have yet to do so. Flavors seem to be rather standard such as red velvet, chocolate, and vanilla.

Overall, Campus Candy seems like an establishment that will be very popular on the Drag and already it is attracting loads of customers each night. I am excited that more than frozen yogurt is being sold here and I love the variety and customization available for toppings. Also, there is finally a place on the Drag for easy access to baked goods other than cupcakes and cookies.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 ½ for covering every sweet tooth, high prices, and good location.

Advertisements

The Coffee Grind: Cherrywood Coffeehouse

As you can see, coffee isn't the only drink sold at Cherrywood.

It seems appropriate that the first review after a final should be about a coffeehouse. Admittedly, coffeehouses are not my first choice for studying, but this was a good place to chill and study in a place that wasn’t always full of college students. Not only coffee is sold here, but a menu full of real food and strong drinks to marathon your way through another study session.

At least there's lots of room to sip your coffee.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse is located close to I-35 on the East side of Austin. Near to some food trailers, Cherrywood is quite reflective of the Austin spirit. A large patio outside includes an outdoor stage for live music or poetry performances. The place is comfy and cozy with lots of light sources to allow you the pick of your study spots. However, that does not mean the place is the most ideal for a study spot. The music is pretty loud and not soothing and if there were more people, the calling of orders from the counter could be distracting.

Look past the computer to a doorway to peace and quiet...maybe.

For these cases, there is also a side room if you need a bit more quiet or privacy and a computer for free internet access. Wi-fi is generously provided free. Happy hour goes from 3-7pm and the place is open ’til midnight, perfect for a late night study group.

😛

My roommate and her boyfriend were kind enough to bring me along to the coffeehouse. Entering the place, there were tons of tables and it was not too busy at 10pm on a Saturday night. Their favorite choices there include the breakfast tacos. They are a good size, ranging in about half the size of a Chipotle burrito. What makes them unique is the potatoes  are not cubed, but more like crispy shoestring potatoes. For less than $5, you can customize a breakfast taco that is both delicious and satisfying. A perfect snack to enjoy with your coffee or strong drink.

Mmm, just the right size.

It was pretty late so I ordered a hot chocolate to keep my brain awake as I prepared the next post for the blog. It was good, but a little more on the sweet size. Fair 8 oz. size and in a nice cup. More sugary than creamy. Chocolate taste was not muddied and quite delicious. It was also nice that they asked for the choice of milk in my hot chocolate. I chose whole milk, but it can range to soy milk and even almond milk.

So many pie slices were lined up!

If you’re feeling like a sweet dessert, there is more than enough to satisfy sweet tooths. I was too full to try anything, but there are pies and croissants and a number of other pastries.

Overall, Cherrywood Coffeehouse is a welcoming place to sit down and hang out for a good long time or enjoy the music scene on the patio. The prices are fair and the food is fair. If Bennu is too busy, why not try another coffeehouse like Cherrywood?

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 for lots of study spots, pretty good food for pretty good prices, and also lots of distractions.

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.

The Coffee Grind: Bennu Coffee

This looks just like a coffee house should. Mocha on the left, cranberry scone in the middle, hot chocolate on the right.

Tempted by the menu of literary-themed drinks, I visited Bennu Coffee, located close to UT on the east side. It is open 24 hours with lots of comfy nooks and corners to settle down and study in an overstuffed chair while sipping on a drink and chewing on pastry. Or Torchy’s tacos. Or Hoboken Pie’s pizzas.

What makes Bennu an Austin creation is its promotion of small businesses in Austin such as the food places mentioned above, Russell’s Bakery and The Green Cart. Bennu sells its own array of coffees (especially mochas) while also promoting local foods you would want to eat, all at one cozy location.

Does this place not look comfy cozy? Look for hanging plugs on the top right.

If you’ve come here to study, quickly find a chair. The atmosphere is really great, having a sort of hipster quality to it that invites you to sit down and soak in a college atmosphere. Bennu is an awesome place to study since there is free WiFi and even power outlets hanging from the ceiling so that even more people can access a power supply. However, even though the coffee house is a good size, it can get full quick late at night or finals time. It is often difficult to find a place to sit down and enjoy your coffee and can be a grind at this particular coffee house.

The cup of hot chocolate was huge!

Now, to the food. I personally don’t drink coffee, but the friends who did enjoyed it and especially the specials that Bennu offers. The coffee is pretty nice and the chocolate added is also pretty nice. Overall, the coffee is a little better than average, but doesn’t wow you. I was THIS close to trying coffee after hearing about the Pride and Prejudice Mocha. However, I settled for a hot chocolate that came in a huge coffee cup and a cranberry scone.The hot chocolate was pretty good.  but mellowed out the sweetness with the scone. The scone by itself wasn’t that tasty either, but combined with the hot chocolate was very good.

Are you tempting because of the chocolate or your literary references? I am quite befuddled.

The mochas seem to be the specialties of the place. What makes this place so quaint are the mochas that pay tribute to literary greats. How can you not want to try a drink called The Raven or Oliver Twist? In general, the mochas are supposedly pretty tasty, but it might depend on the time you drink it because sometimes the chocolate is mixed in well and other times it isn’t. It’s also good to know that you get a huge mug for your mocha as well. It’s just something fun to try once and say you have tried a drink called the Great Gatsby.

How very zen.

I also cannot forget to mention the bathroom. Awesome and clean! I must have looked crazy taking pictures, but not sure if you’d believe me without them. There is also, strangely enough, a blackboard in the bathroom to keep up the literary tradition of the place. There is only one bathroom as far as I remember, but it seems to be pretty well-maintained. Considering how busy the place gets, try to be careful about filling your bladder up too much with coffee and one bathroom.

Overall, Bennu is a cool Austin-exclusive coffee house that pays tribute to the academic institution it owes many of its customers to. Perfect for the college student who studies late into the night, Bennu also supports small businesses and has all you need for a study marathon. With clean bathrooms. How can you beat that?

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 for its atmosphere, average food, and plugs from the ceiling.

Sandwich Fights From The Drag: Potbelly

A distinctive food oasis on the Drag

For the first edition of our Sandwich Fights From the Drag, I had to begin with Potbelly. It is one of the first places I ate at when I came to UT. I first met Potbelly in the DFW area, actually, when I was still trying to figure out where I wanted to go for college. We arrived the day before I was set to tour colleges and it was dinner time. My dad and I were starving as we were figuring out where we wanted to eat. Soon, we came across a small building with the strange name “Potbelly.” I asked my dad about it and he said it was a rather popular sandwich shop some people liked and he knew of some clients that raved about the place. We decided to give it a try.

I'm sorry, I couldn't wait to take a bite

Mmmm! It was yummy! Mostly the sandwiches are fixed (kind of like Quizno’s), but they are made fresh to order with your choice of toppings. I ordered the Wreck on white (the roast beef was calling to me!) and my dad the Italian on wheat. They were both delicious with crunchy toasty bread and warm savory fillings that quickly filled us up. I also think the lettuce and mayo give an added sweetness that is just right with the salty luncheon meats. I have never had their salads, but I am told the Chicken Salad is very good as a salad or on a sandwich.

They're so cute! And tasty!

The cookies ‘n’ cream malt was amazing as well! Very thick with cute butter cookies on the straw. A perfect addition to a yummy drink. It is just the right thickness and is actually drinkable with a straw. I will admit, I’d go to Sonic first for a malt, but Potbelly is a good second! Other desserts include hand-dipped ice cream cones and regular-sized cookies that are also rather tasty. The sugar crystals are big and the cookies are hearty enough for a satisfying, albeit small, dessert. If you like desserts, one cookie may not be enough. 😛

It just looks like a comfy place to sit down and eat

An interesting note is the décor of Potbelly. Potbelly first started out as an antique store that sold sandwiches and soon the sandwiches took over the store! The antique furnishings are a nostalgic callback to the original store’s intent and I feel gives a more comfy feeling with wooden counters and old-fashioned signs hanging around the restaurant. Each restaurant is unique in its decorations and has a general theme, but is individual in tastes. The Austin location has to have Longhorns! I appreciate the warm feeling of the restaurant that invites its diners to rest, relax, and eat well.

When we finally went to visit Austin, we discovered a Potbelly on the Drag as well! Super hungry and in the mood for a sandwich, the sandwich was just as yummy in Austin as it was in Dallas. It was also great to see the unique decorations of the restaurants. There is a small stage in the back for live performances, keeping up Austin’s music tradition. There is lots of seating in the back with cozy booths that are my favorite place to sit.

If you're interested in "how to Potbelly"

The people have always been nice since I’ve been there and are patient in taking your orders for toppings. The price is also pretty great since a sandwich can pretty much fill you up or leave leftovers for less than $5! Awesome for the expensive prices on the Drag these days. You can also order it online and delivery, how fun is that?

Overall, I really enjoy Potbelly and find that, if I have no idea where I want to eat that day, I can always fall back on Potbelly.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 for delicious sandwiches, limited customization, great prices.

Foodie Delight, It’s Austin Restaurant Week 2011

Austin is unique and so is the food.

Hey everyone!

It’s been a while, but I can’t think of a better way to come back than to tell you about Austin Restaurant Week! It’s coming up from April 10-13 and 17-20 (delayed for technical reasons and to allow the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival its spotlight). Two delicious chances to try out special menus around Austin at exclusive restaurants we college students can’t afford every day (or even every month).

To see my previous post about Austin Restaurant Week, click here.

The original point of Austin Restaurant Week is to bring awareness to the Sustainable Food Center as well as highlight the best that Austin has to offer. In a nice package, the week encompasses all of Austin food culture with sustainable food, unique dishes, and support of the community. This year, the charity doesn’t seem to have been chosen, but there will be a wrap party on May 8 to finalize the choice that will receive a portion of the dining bill for the week and award the restaurants who helped out. Either way, everybody wins as Austinites get to check out restaurants they may have never been to, the restaurants get publicity and added revenue, and a portion of your dining bill will go to a good cause. I can’t think of a better reason to go out and try out Austin’s food!

So how does Austin Restaurant Week work? Well, special prix fixe menus are offered by participating restaurants for dinner and possibly lunch and brunch at a set price. Make your reservation at the restaurant you want to try and just let them know you want to order off the special Austin Restaurant Week menu. You get the opportunity to try out a new restaurant and what it wants to show off to you and the restaurant gets business and publicity. A portion of the dinner bill will go to charity and you can dine happily knowing that you are supporting your Austin community. Lunch is offered from $10-15 and dinner is offered from $25-35. This year, there is also brunch available at some restaurants like Carmelo’s with a $16.95 brunch, buffet style, and 360 Uno Trattoria with its included cocktail.

Advice: Make sure to make reservations! Restaurants fill up fast during this time and it’s best you guarantee your spot. Sometimes there are special wine accompaniments with meals and substitutions may be a little more difficult at this time. With so many new people coming to try out the restaurants, service tends to get a little more frazzled so please be patient. It’s a busy week for everyone so be prepared for a crowd!

New surprise this year for those of you with smart phones, there is an Austin Restaurant Week app that has been developed to let you take the menus with you on the go. Now you can easily access the menus for Restaurant Week and decide whenever and wherever what you want to be eating that week. It is a pretty application, but freezes sometimes and doesn’t seem to quite fit the dimensions of the smart phone. However, it’s a solid application to use for this short period of time. Perhaps, who knows, the app may update itself for every Austin Restaurant Week!

Now, the question every year is what is the best deal? It’s hard to say, but it seems like Uchi and Uchiko, Fabi & Rosi, and the Carillon are never a letdown. The Brazilian steakhouses also seem to be a good deal with their usual buffet style dinners getting $10 off. The best thing to do is go through the menu and see what sounds like something you could order. Or surprise yourself and go to a restaurant you’ve heard is fabulous and see if it lives up to the expectations!

So, take a little time for yourself and your friends. Go try some new restaurants (or enjoy discounted meals at restaurants you love). You’ll help support the Austin food culture and a good cause. Have fun and hope you all had a good Spring Break!

P.S. It’d be fun if you could put in the comments your own review about Austin Restaurant Week menus and let us know what you think! 😛

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Madrigal Dinner Is A Must-Attend Event

Prepare for a Madrigal night

I have heard much about the UT Madrigal Dinner and have always been just on the edge of actually going since my freshman year. Finally, from just a stroke of luck and the culmination of coincidences, I have finally gone and I am so happy I did!

Now what is a Madrigal dinner you ask? Perhaps some of you have attended one in high school, but for greenhorns like myself, I had no idea what ‘Madrigal’ meant. Looking it up on Google, some great sites are the Madrigal Dinner website and Wikipedia’s entry. Basically, though, a Madrigal dinner is a sort of dinner theater in the style of late Middle Age to Renaissance times when nobles would get into the holiday spirit over good food and good entertainment. The entertainment consisted not only of singers, but also jesters, magicians, fortune tellers, and the like. Both a mix of more bawdy and earthly songs would mix in with the classic Christmas songs to create a unique blend of holiday cheer.

Reading about the event, I found an article in the Austin Chronicle that did a good job of summing up the experience of UT’s Madrigal Dinner. From first impressions, I figured the event was a decent deal. Sure, the food may not be great, but the whole entertainment factor would be fun and it’s always great to get into a holiday mood. What really struck me in the article is that the writer, who seems to be a slight cynic, was actually touched enough to start feeling ready for Christmas and I just knew I had to go.

Sorry it's a little dark, but you can see the choral group on the balcony area

Before the actual show begins, the cash bar opens and you can make your time a little more jolly with some libations before the event. However, refillable pitchers of tea and water sit on every table and you definitely don’t want to miss out on the wassail. The event starts with the chorus on the fourth floor of the Union, looking down into the Atrium. They sing a number of songs to get you in the mood for dinner and then into the ballroom you go with those very singers as your escorts.

Sir Gallant stops by after his dastardly schemes

Every year, the Madrigal Dinner Committee picks a new script for the play so you’ll never get the same thing twice. This year’s story was rather funny with a knight trying to take over the kingdom. However, complications obviously arise and pop references ensued. The cast was totally in character and it was awesome that, between acts and during courses, they came out and interacted around the tables. Extra parts of the story and background of the characters would come out during this time and it was funny to see more about the characters we couldn’t see on stage. They would also interact with the audience and I applaud their improv abilities. Crazily, if you were a little too quick to accuse people of murder or other similar things, you would actually be taken to the stocks! It was crazy, but quite funny too.

So the verdict? Mmm, yummy food and so much fun just because I love musicals. Also, I really like the Texas Renaissance Festival and it was kind of like a rehash in play form. The play was quite silly and sometimes random, but it was fun and my roommate and I really enjoyed it.

The decorations were awesome and the Texas Union Ballroom seemed perfectly set up for a  Madrigal dinner evening with metal chandeliers and banners about the wooden appliquéd room. The cast, though, must be given their due as they were the heart of the whole entertainment. Without their enthusiasm for the whole event, the evening would not have been half as fun as it was.

Tasty, tasty bread

It was nice that the play occurred in between courses of food because it allowed some time for the stomach to digest as well as allowed one to concentrate on eating instead of fiddling around in the dark with a fork and knife. Smartly, the knife was not really needed except for buttering bread in the beginning.

The waiters and waitresses who also made up the chorus actually went around and sang at the tables too. You had the choice between clean, slightly dirty, and dirty ditties. Our table ended up having the more dirty songs being sung to us and they were not actually too bad. It was mostly the implied stuff like the *clap claps* for other possible words or bawdy analogies. It was quite funny, though I wouldn’t have minded hearing the other songs like Carol of the Bells.

As you can see, entertainment is provided in both a show as well as floor entertainers during courses. Not only were there the choral groups bouncing between tables, performing songs to entertain us as we ate, but there was also a juggler/jester person and a magician. Both were cutely entertaining and a fun way to break up the different entertainments available through the night.

Our delightful program menu

The dinner theater consisted of 4-5 courses, depending on your counting of appetizers. After the opening carols and first scene inviting us to the dining room, we gorged ourselves on the delicious bread. Not only were there blueberry and cranberry breads, but also good French bread that tasted fresh. Now, this may sound totally messed up, but the vinaigrette dressing for the salad later turned out to be quite delicious with the cranberry bread that was provided. Literal butter balls were passed around and also spread on the warm bread and were enjoyed until the next course of salad with the sweet and sour vinaigrette on the table. Full of a variety of leafy greens, the salad was tasty, but nothing special.

Wassail! wassail! all over the ballroom

Wassail actually came as its own course with its own choral song, a special characteristic of Madrigal dinners. Wassail is basically a cider or punch that is spiced with such things as nutmeg and ginger. The wassail came in a warm metal pitcher and was absolutely delicious! It was slightly sweet and sour and no cinnamon, which was perfect for my roommate who does not like cinnamon. It also kept the cider from being too sweet and drowning out the yummy taste of apples. I really enjoyed it and I only wish there had been more than one pitcher served to us. It stayed warm for a good long while in the glass goblet and I happily sipped it through most of the courses.

Yum, yum. This is how you should eat in olden times!

The main course was the beef bourguignon or pot roast as I would call it. However, it was delicious, especially with the vegetables that were perfectly cooked. Rosemary baked potatoes and steamed veggies went well with the gravy of the beef bourguignon and the delicious bread helped sop up any leftovers. I was feeling full, but we had yet to see the dessert! The last course was chocolate chip bread pudding and I’ll admit, a slightly demure way to end a fabulous night. However, it was warm and big and tasty and a good way to warm up people’s tummies before the cold night walk home. As we left, the cast gave a last singing send-off and it was time to go.

The only detriments to the experience were the goblets that were not thoroughly cleaned and the show could get quite corny. It was fun corniness though. Also, seating is definitely important. You don’t want a seat where you have to crane your neck every 15 minutes to watch the show. Some people on the wrong side of the spotlight were blinded at times as well (try to get seats facing front or stage left). I thought it was worth the extra $4 to get seats right near the front so we could see and hear everything as well as see the actors more when they came off the stage.

The cast and crew are what really make the Madrigal Dinner stand out

Overall, a super fun night and an experience you should definitely try once before you graduate. I am absolutely amazed that these people are complete volunteers and not at all paid for putting on this production. It was good, it was fun, and truly would not have been the same without such an enthusiastic cast and crew.

Rating: 😛 😛 😛 😛 😛 for enthusiastic cast and crew, yummy food, and just a fun way to transition to the holidays.