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

Where To Eat Tonight: España Restaurant

Last weekend at Cornucopia, I had the opportunity to sit down to a five course lunch (with wine pairings) put on by España Restaurant on Denman St. I had wanted to try it for a while, and I’m so glad I got the chance in such an intimate setting.

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One of my favourite dishes of the lunch was a roasted fennel with spanish ham. It was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and a perfect little appetizer.

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The fish stew was next and I never knew a stew with fish could be so rich, but this was velvety with full flavours and absolutely delicious.

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I loved the simplicity of the roasted pork loin. It wasn’t trying to be anything fancy, but the flavours were incredible!

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This was the view from our lunch. It was absolutely spectacular.

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The dessert was refreshing yet rich. It was a vanilla bean custard with a tangerine jelly, served with sherry. Talk about decadence!

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One of my favourite red wines from the lunch, plus a gorgeous dining room table that has since gone on my must-find list!

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The food, the wine, the people, and the setting, were all equally amazing. I highly recommend checking out España in Vancouver. While you won’t be sitting looking over a mountainous terrain, you will be enjoying some of the best Spanish food in Vancouver.

 

Where To Eat Vancouver: Tableau

A few weeks ago, my friends and I had plans to go out for dinner. We wanted to go somewhere fun, but not too busy…delicious, but not too pricey. Tableau Bar and Bistro fits the bill on all accounts. The menu is small, but offers a variety of options, including a special of the night. On Fridays, the special is Coq Au Vin (delicious). We decided on mussels, frites, and steak. The ambience, food, service, and drinks were all amazing and it will definitely become a regular spot in our rotation. A bientôt!
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I love the typography of the menu, the wood tables, and the simple linen napkins. It’s the little touches that go a long way.

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We all decided on different cocktails: Joie Rose for me, which was delicious as usual. Rose is one of my favourite varietals because it pairs with so many different items. I was deciding between chicken and mussels, and I knew that the wine would work well with both. My friend had the 1181 cocktail, which was so deliciously refreshing. I highly recommend both!

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The mussels came in traditional fashion, full with flavour and broth. There were tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and white wine in the broth. The mussels were so fresh and tasted amazing with the rose (and not to mention the crispy frites below).IMG_1508 IMG_1509 IMG_1511I would highly reccomend Tableau for a dinner with friends, a date night, or even a group night out. The cocktails, ambience and food all leave you wanting to come back ASAP!

Have a great week!

Incendio Pizzeria

On Tuesday night, a good friend and I went out to support a local non-profit and women’s networking event, YES! which supports Dress For Success. It was a great night of mingling, catching up, and eating some delicious pizza paired with craft beer. I had never been to Incendio before, but we all know my love for pizza, so I was definitely ready to try it out! It is a warm little nook in Gastown that provides a wonderful respite from this awful weather we’ve been having. The women that ran the event were so nice, and we learned lots about beer and its pizza pairings from local Cicerone, Adam Henderson (of Copper and Theory). If you don’t know what a Cicerone is, you are not alone. It is a sommelier, in a sense, for beer! How cool is that!

I would definitely recommend checking out Incendio when you have a chance.

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This was their pulled-pork pizza, which was amazing. I don’t believe it’s on the menu, but if it does get on there, try it stat! It was paired with a dark beer (below) which was very mellow, but brought out the chocolate notes of the pizza (yes, there was chocolate in the BBQ sauce – incredible!)

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The decor is equal parts cozy and pub-like. Perfect for a night out with a group of friends!

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The best part of the night: the open concept (copper!) kitchen and watching the pizza being made in front of you! And, if you’re wondering, I did a massive workout at the gym the next day!

Mosaic Bar and Grille

When VanEats invited me to sample the newly re-designed Mosaic Bar and Grill at the Hyatt Regency, I was really excited. I did a little bit of research and learned that they try to source their food 80% locally (which is incredible for a high-end chain hotel) and change their menu seasonally. Having just finished reading Life On The Line by Grant Achatz, I was excited to experience Chef Heinrich’s spring tasting menu that combines molecular gastronomy with seasonal flavours for an incredible experience. He came to our table to explain every dish, and it felt like we were long lost friends catching up, chatting about the best restaurants in the world (many of which are on my bucket list) and the experience of his cuisine. And, I have to say, the Mosaic Bar and Grille is just that: an experience. The service is out of this world: our waiter Mirko was so attentive, and the staff were so nice. The re-design of the restaurant was perfectly elegant and visually very appealing. I will definitely be checking out their new bar Grain Tasting Bar for happy hour very soon. If you go to Mosaic, the two dishes you must order are the beef carpaccio and the banana split.

wearing a new top c/o e-shakti (thank you!)

wearing a new top c/o e-shakti (thank you!)

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Food Books

I love reading books about chefs, and food in general. Sometimes I want something more than a cookbook…I want a story to get enthralled in. Here are some books I loved and books I’ve been meaning to read.

What are your favourite books about food/cooking?

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Top row from left to right:

Life On The Line: I’m currently reading this book. Grant was a chef at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, did a stage at the infamous El Bulli, and eventually went on to run his own restaurant. If you love food and great restaurant experiences, you’ll love this book.

Yes, Chef: This was a book that I read over my winter holiday. It was a page-turner and an absolute pleasure to read. Learning about Samuelsson’s life through his own words and experience made me want to go to his restaurant in Harlem ASAP (not that I need another reason to pine for NYC).

Kitchen Confidential: Probably the harshest of all three books, Bourdain tells it like it is. It’s graphic, intense, and a completely accurate portrayal of kitchen life.

Bottom row left to right (I have yet to read these):

French Kids Eat Everything, My Berlin Kitchen and The Table Comes First

Don’t forget to keep voting on the right!

Have a great week.