Austin Top 10

When I had the chance to go to Austin for work, I scooped it up immediately. I had been wanting to go to Texas (and Austin particularly) for quite some time, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Taylor Kitsch stills lives there after shooting my favourite show in the entire world, Friday Night Lights. Impossible celebrity sightings aside, this trip was one for the books. I absolutely LOVED Austin and am finding any excuse to go back. I did a ton of research before I went (Camille Styles’ restaurant guide was a lifesaver) and I think I did a great job of packing everything into the four days I was there.

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Every morning, I would walk down from the JW Marriott (great location, pretty corporate but still lots of fun people there) and head to Jo’s Coffee for one of the best lattes I’ve ever had. I paired it with their yogurt and fruit because I try to keep it light when I’m travelling and know I’ll be indulging for dinner.

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Another amazing spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner is Elizabeth St. Café. They have incredible croissants (some of the best I’ve ever had) and apparently amazing Vietnamese food. I was just on my way to dinner so I ONLY (note the sarcasm) had a chocolate croissant. I sat on the patio and people watched and had so much fun. Such a cute spot.

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One of the coolest parts of Austin is that they repurpose old buildings and make them fresh and new again. Launderette used to be an old Laundromat and is now an incredible restaurant with tons of veggie dishes and one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, the birthday cake ice cream sandwich (local Austinites: run, don’t walk). My other favourite dish was the Burrata. I drank a nice Côtes du Rhône to go with my meal (mainly veggies).

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The star of the trip (if I can only pick one) had to be Uchi. If you told me I was going to go to Texas and eat mostly seafood, I would tell you to give your head a shake. What about tex mex? Steak? Not in this restaurant. Uchi was by far the best Japanese food I’ve ever had. What was even more fun was sitting at the bar alone, watching the sushi chefs make my food, and talking to them about all of the exotic ingredients. It’s amazing what can happen if you go out of your comfort zone and sit alone at a busy bar in a restaurant. To my right was a Vietnam war vet who then went on to a career in banking and is now retired. I never would have found that out if I was on a date at a table.

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As much as I loved Uchi, nothing was quite as amazing as Josephine House. Perched on a little corner in the middle of a gorgeous residential neighbourhood, this spot oozed charm and elegance. I mean, just look at the interior decor! It’s a farmhouse lovers’ dream!! I was so happy when I found one of my favourite Oregonian wineries, Soter, had their rosé on the menu. If it wasn’t a match made in heaven, I don’t know what is! Put this at the top of your list.

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If you are obsessed with food and want to spend a morning among the highest quality, most delicious and well-merchandised food, go to Whole Foods Austin. As I mentioned on my Snapchat (sophiecaldwellc), this is the mecca of Whole Foods. The office is upstairs, it takes up a whole city block, and is absolutely stunning. I bought tons of snacks for the way home and only wished I could take home some of these beautiful roses (these were only a portion of what greeted you upon entering).

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love to try new workouts (especially spin). Luckily for me, my cousin’s step sister Carly is an amazing spin instructor at RIDE. It was harder than Soul Cycle, but equally as fun. I got an incredible workout and I wish I could take her class everyday!! She even played Justin Bieber for me. Again, reasons I need to go back to Austin.

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I may have been the only person that didn’t know this, but Austin is the capital of Texas. I was only 15 minutes walking distance from the State Capitol, so the first thing I did when I landed was put on my running shoes and go outside to go for a quick run and see it as dusk. I couldn’t have run inside faster (it was 0 degrees) to get my coat and actually walk. It was absolutely freezing but so worth it. Such a beautiful building with so much history.

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You didn’t think I would write a whole blog post about Austin without talking about some Mexican food did you? I was so lucky that La Condesa was just down the street from my hotel. I had the most delicious, tropical inspired margarita filled with fresh pineapple juice in addition to lime juice, and rimmed with cactus-lemongrass salt. I need to recreate it! For dinner I had hamachi ceviche with habanero truffle oil (whattttt). Such a unique combination of flavours that I never could have imagined. Then I had the cochinitas tacos and Mexican street corn (my first time!) I rolled myself back to the hotel and went to bed.

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I can’t talk about Austin without mentioning my new found love for Outdoor Voices. Guys, this workout stuff is amazing. The founder, Ty Haney, started the line a couple of years ago with the intent that “Doing Things” just becomes a part of your day to day life. It’s for active people that aren’t defined by being active (kind of refreshing, isn’t it?) I bought these leggings and this crop top and have since worn both a total of about 20 times since. If you’re there, make sure to check out the store, because in true Austin style, it’s set up in a cute little house surrounded by fun shops and amazing restaurants.

#TexasForever

Summer Berries with Whipped Mascarpone Cream

A few weeks ago, I set out to make a huge pavlova topped with summer berries. When the meringue didn’t turn out (those things are so finnicky!) I was faced with a dilemma: serve berries plain for dessert or try to whip something up with what I had? I decided to try to modify the recipe so that we were still able to enjoy a dessert that I had put together, but one that was simple and delicious. That is when I came up with this dessert: Summer Berries with Whipped Mascarpone Cream. While I am usually averse to adding herbs to sweet things, tarragon has totally changed my mind. It adds a nice herbaceous flavour without overpowering the berries, and the lemon zest really brings out all of the flavours. This is such a great dessert to serve during the summer, when berries are plentiful and the nights are long. I hope you have a fabulous weekend, and make sure to check back tomorrow for my weekend links! Photos by Christie Graham Photography

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Summer Berries with Whipped Mascarpone Cream
Serves 4

1 pint of strawberries, cut up evenly
1 pint of raspberries
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp tarragon (removed from stem)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest

1) Add strawberries, lemon zest, tarragon, and brown sugar to bowl. Let sit for at least half an hour.
2) Meanwhile, add all other ingredients and whip until peaks form.
3) When ready to serve dessert, divide the berries equally among 4 bowls. Top with a dollop of whipped mascarpone. Serve immediately.

Happy Friday!

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies

Don’t get me wrong. I love some classic chocolate chip cookies. Sometimes, though, I like to do something a little different. A lot of incredible cookie recipes have been popping up lately, and I wanted to try to take a fun spin on the classic cookie. I am always looking for the absolute best cookie recipes, and I have to admit, this one might be perfect!

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Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies
makes 12

240g flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
130g brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp molasses
100g sugar
100g chocolate chips
50g caramel squares, chopped
1 egg
165g butter at room temp

1) Preheat oven to 330F.
2) Whisk flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
3) Mix chocolate chips and caramel.
4) Mix molasses and sugars.
5) Cream butter for 3 minutes in stand mixer.
6) Add in molasses and sugar for 4 mins. Scrape down bowl.
7) Add egg and mix for 1/2 minute.
8) Add half of the flour mixture. Mix for 15s. Add the other half. Mix for 15s.
9) Add chocolate and caramel. Mix and make sure all flour is gathered from bottom.
10) Roll dough into 75g each (12 equal portions).
11) Bake for 14 mins (turn after 7 mins).
12) Cool cookies on rack.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!