Tuesday, August 19, 2014

PALEO IN AUSTIN: FREEDMEN'S & THE HOLY MARY


2402 San Gabriel St. Austin, TX 78705
512-220-0953

Hours: Tues & Weds: 11am-10pm
Thurs - Sat: 11am-12am
Sun: Brunch 11am-4pm; 4pm-10pm

Sometimes eating Paleo at a restaurant isn't about the menu. It's about the chef, or in this case, the pit master. Barbecue is always a great bet when eating paleo. It's my go-to, and I'll admit, I'm a BBQ addict.

Photo Credit Freedmen's Bar
The thing about Freedmen's is that their award-winning pit master, Evan Leroy, is familiar with the Paleo diet. He knows the rules, and is more than accommodating to his paleo guests. He will lead you in the right direction when ordering everything from the main events to the sides and sauces.

There is a beautiful sandwich is called the Smoke Stack. It used to be made with pork belly, but now it is a giant tower of pulled pork, succulent brisket and house-pickled jalapeños. Of course you can order this guy without the bun, which I have done many times.  Anyway, if you are feeling really meaty, order the Holy Trinity, which is a perfect sampling of their Brisket, pork ribs and sausage. 

Photo Credit Freedmen's Bar
Did you know? Besides brisket, I'm also kind of a bourbon junkie, which makes Freedmen's Bar in Austin, Texas, one of my favorite places to eat. They have one of the most amazing bourbon and whiskey selections in town. Not only that, but they have a $5 ($3 during HH and all day Wednesday) selected bourbon of the month AND always a daily muddle that has yet to disappoint me. 

As you may imagine, I get this question a lot-- "What is your favorite restaurant in Austin?" While Freedmen's is definitely at the top of a list like that, I'd rather rank a list of  top epic meals. 

This is one of those meals. 


Last week, I caught wind of a tweet or Facebook message or something from Freedmen's that looked like this. Of course, I screen-shotted it and salivated until my friend texted me Friday morning "Bloody Mary?" I replied with the screenshot and said I'd meet him and my Godfather there asap.  This beautiful, beautiful masterpiece is called the Holy Mary. It is an entire quart of Freedmen's homemade bloody mary, which includes everything from smoked tomato to "magic." It's made with Forty Creek Canadian Whiskey, not vodka, which is a perfect compliment to the smokey tomato and worcestershire. Why every bloody isn't made with Canadian Whiskey, I don't know. The garnish on this mother is a half-pound stack of brisket, a pork rib and a sausage link. When they bring out this hedonistic tower of meat and whiskey, everyone in the restaurant goes "Woah..." and you feel like the god damned champion of lunch. The side of their new sweet and spicy barbecue sauce looks like its in a thimble next to this beast. The Holy Mary is epic. And I am in love with it. It's rare to indulge in something so savage without guilt. But if this is wrong, I don't want to be right. 


Song of the Day: Stompa by Serena Ryder 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

PALEO THAI SEAFOOD AND MUSHROOM CURRY


Warm curries may be totally unseasonal in this hellish heat, but this recipe has been hanging in the queue for a while now. I just forgot to publish it a while back. Speaking of things I forgot about, I totally forgot about a submission I sent to Paleo Magazine a few months ago when they requested recipes for their new cookbook. I guess I thought it was a small ebook distribution or something, because I was taken by total surprise when I discovered this yesterday in the checkout line at Whole Foods. I screamed. Really loud and people were staring at me. I'm just so excited that my story is out there in the world! If you see it, I'm on page 118!! 

Anyway, on to the recipe. When my husband goes out of town, I get all kinds of adventurous in the kitchen. On the list of things he will not eat are mushrooms, scallops and curry. So in his absence, I made a dish focused on all three. I also made a bounty of deviled eggs, which he wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole. 

Thai Seafood and Mushroom Curry
serves 4-6

1 Tablespoon coconut oil or fat of your choice
1 pound bay scallops (the little ones)*
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
2-3 thai chiles, sliced thin**
1" piece of ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup thai basil, chopped
1 heaping Tablespoon curry powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14 ounce) can light or full fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 Tablespoon lime juice

*You could use shrimp or other small pieces of firm white fish like halibut or paiche
**Adjust the amount of thai chiles to your tolerance to spice. I like it super hot!

Melt the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and thai chiles. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the vegetables soften slightly. Add ginger and garlic, and cook one more minute. Add remaining ingredients, except for the scallops. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add the scallops. Maintain the soup at a strong simmer, cooking the scallops until done, 10-12 minutes. 


I'll confess, this shit would be awesome with some crusty bread. But don't you dare. 


Oh, and it freezes well. And is perfect to take to and reheat at work. I actually ate it cold the next day, but y'all know how adventurous I am. You may not be into it that way! 


Song I'm loving today: "When It Rains" Eli Young

Thursday, August 7, 2014

SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY THE TEXAS WINE


Let's just dispel the negativity. You say: Wine isn't paleo. I say, its made from grapes. So yeah, it's paleo. Bam.  This post is long and full of pictures, so bear with me. Its all about living the life right in front of you, treating each precious moment as the gift that it is.


Anyway, this post isn't about wine. It's about slowing it all down. I mean all of it. 

Katheryn and me "Hof" to the winery! 
God bless this guy.
If you read this regularly, you know that I am involved with a group of food bloggers called the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. As a member and social chair, I am so lucky to be able to one, call myself a member of this incredibly talented group, and two, be able to get to spend time with the most fantastic foodies in Austin. Just this past weekend, my friend and fellow AFBA member, Kathryn of the blog, the Austin Gastonomist, invited me out to a fabulous evening at Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Texas. We went there for their 2014 Harvest Festival, which takes place every weekend in August. If you have the chance to visit them in the next few weeks, you'll be in for a spectacular adventure.

Anyway, on this fabulous tour out to Bryan, we were greeted with a bus bench seat of charcuterie and a bounty of Texas Wine. The entire night, my glass was never empty.

At the winery, we toured the grounds, the tasting rooms, the bed and breakfast and learned all about the history of Messina Hof. We met the winemakers and their family, sang songs, harvested grapes as the sun set and enjoyed a beautiful buffet dinner with amazing wine. It was a night I'll never forget.




The wine on tap at the Messina Hof Tasting Room: If you go, I highly recommend the Almond Sparkling Wine. It's like nothing you've ever had before!



The evening at the winery was a beautiful, special experience you must have for yourself! If you can take a friend, family member or someone you love to Messina Hof one weekend this month, do it!

Don't eat the grapes... 
While the night at Messina Hof was wonderful, my biggest takeaway from the trip was from a conversation on the way home. Kathryn, a new friend I have come to cherish so much, and I talked about our similar journey in life. We are both taking a hiatus from work, spending this time concentrating on bettering ourselves. It is rare to have the opportunity to take time for reinvention, and I am so glad to have a friend on the same path.



We talked about friends, family, work, and the value we bring to each relationship that corresponds to each. We talked about meditation, self-reflection and ways to find peace in the rat race we sometimes get caught up in. We are both taking time to concentrate on our blogs we love so much. Kathryn is pursuing a workshop in web development while I am spending every possible moment with my son. I have concentrated on slowing down and enjoying the world and the ones I love around me. The past month has been wonderful, letting go of the stress, speed and distraction of the grind. Here are some of the things I've been enjoying to clear my mind and soul:

I'm fairly sure I can be held responsible for all these corks..
1. Drinking great wine with great friends:
    I went to an amazing wine dinner at a beautiful venue called the Sanctuary. My friends, Ross, Cooper and Matt at The Austin Winery hosted this dinner, where their delicious wines were perfectly paired with the amazing Argentinian tapas created by Austin private chef, Carlos Crusco. 


I was beyond impressed with Chef Crusco's dinner. Every single thing he brought out was exceptional. First up was the pear and endive cups with pears poached in the Austin Winery's Russian River Valley Chardonnary, sweet blue cheese (my favorite thing ever) and candied walnuts. Check out the menu above for all the other decadent pairings we enjoyed that night.


The Sanctuary, Austin. Located just behind Gibson Bar on Lamar
The most important part of the Austin Winery/Chef Carlos Crusco dinner was spending it with my husband. This was a surprise date that I planned for us, for the purpose of just being together. If you are part of an old, married pair like us, take the time to just be with each other. Go on dates like you used to! Don't let life get in the way of romance.  Speaking of romantic, when we arrived at this event, we were given crowns of fresh flowers. What a wonderful, magical detail that made the evening extra special. 

Photo credit goes to whoever posted this on the Austin Winery Facebook Page! 

Another amazing part of this evening was sitting next to a kindred spirit, and connecting instantly with a new friend. It was another one of those conversations that makes you step back and reflect on your life, your ambitions, values, accomplishments and abilities. This new friend, Jessica, plans events at this beautiful space. This space is gorgeous, as you can see from the photo above, but it is also a space whose events benefit the Amala Foundation. They also host yoga classes there throughout the week. I went to one last week and it was wonderful, which brings me to another rejuvenating addition to my list: Yoga. But first, more wine:


Another event we attended this month was the 2nd Annual White Linen Night in Downtown Austin. I'm currently on a quest for the perfect rosé, and this one was exceptional. The Belleruche Cotes Du Rhone. I will be picking up some of this refreshing porch-sipper for these hottest days of the summer. The Bordeaux Blanc in the background was my other favorite of the night. It was dry and minerally, but fruity enough to fight back the sweltering heat of Texas nights,  just the way I like it. 

And my final thought on wine was this: This is the first Montepulciano Rosé I've ever tried. Having already loved the classic Montepulciano De Abruzzo, my favorite Italian wine of all, the rosé was a wonderful surprise. What made it even better was enjoying it with my best friend at my favorite place in the world, Whole Foods =)


2. Yoga. This one is without pictures. There is no way in hell you are seeing me in a downward dog. But I have found that taking an hour for yourself each day to meditate and strengthen your body is an amazing way to thank God for what you have. To honor your day, your life, your body and connect with yourself in the most peaceful and respectful way. Whatever it is that helps you find that mind-body harmony, do it. I have also been listening to great podcasts like Madelyn Moon's Mind-Body Musings, Jillian Michaels and Body Do-Over to focus on a balanced, healthy life. 

3. Being outdoors: I am tan. Like brown tan. I love Austin, summer, and especially, the heat. The more time I spend outside, the happier I am. I have been going on picnics, camping with my son, hiking, swimming, going to my river house, walking everywhere I can, etc. Check it out:
Sunshine Selfie at Lake Austin

My brother and I have had some wonderful bonding time in Leakey, Texas this summer. Look at that river!

My son and I cooked breakfast during our camping trip in Leakey. Then we took a bath in the river!
4. Adventure! On that note, we have done a lot of exploring. Whether its a nature hike, museum trip or zoo visit, there are tons of ways to explore your own city! 
Hunting for awesome rocks and fossils on the Greenbelt in Austin
Feeding the zoo animals near Dripping Springs
Checking out the dinosaurs on the UT campus with Uncle Bowie!

5. Food Blogging: You may have noticed that I have been posting a lot more recipes lately. I really do love doing this. Writing about food, learning about paleo, and getting to know the food community in Austin is what I love to do most. I have so enjoyed time at home to develop recipes and share them with my family. Furthermore, I've had more time to devote to my position with the Austin Food Blogger Alliance. Check out our latest gathering at the Hightower! The Hightower is one of my favorite new happy hour spots on East 7th. I love it when places in town open their hearts and menus to our group's expertise. 

While not technically "strict paleo," there were a number of amazing happy hour offerings I enjoyed so much that evening, especially the peanut butter brussels sprouts and the roasted pork jowl. Their gourmet bar offerings are incredible. Check it out. 

The Austin Food Blogger Alliance at The Hightower

6. DIY Projects
    Who has time to actually do the projects we pin on Pinterest? No one. That's who. But I've reverted back to a simpler time, when living in Virginia, when I surrounded myself with glue guns, sewing machines and the like. I love crafts and projects. In the last month, I have completed two needle point projects, renovated my dining room, painted rocks and worked on other various pinterest crafts. And it has been very fulfilling, whether it sounds dumb to y'all or not. It makes me happy.  

Vases, chandelier, new blue walls and TWO china cabinets from IKEA. Allllll my doing. Sorry, Cameron. 99% mine. <3
Glitter: The herpes of the craft world. But look at my beautiful new dining room chandelier! 
Yeah I made this out of a tshirt. What what.
So. Whatever it is that brings you peace, go do it. As my best friend, Christine wisely says, YOLO. 


Song of the Day: Inaudible Melodies "Jack Johnson"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

CURRIED CHICKEN & SHRIMP PINEAPPLE SALAD


This is a fantastic tropical salad. It is a refreshing, light lunch for these hottest days of summer. It is easily portable, so bring it with you to the pool or the beach! It is a great use for leftovers and a perfect lunch to pack for work or school. It's just awesome. It is as good and easier to make than my other favorite lunch salad, the Austin Club-inspired Seafood Salad. 

I first had this "salad" at the Lyford Cay Club in the Bahamas. It was called "Salad Danielle" for some reason. My mother-in-law and I agreed that I needed to recreate it on my blog.

Curried Chicken & Shrimp Pineapple Salad
serves 4
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder*
1 1/2 cups cooked Shrimp, chopped**
1 cup cooked Chicken Breast, chopped
1/2 cup celery, minced
1 cup pineapple, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

*I buy my curry powder from the bulk section of Central Market or Whole Foods. 
I like the spicier styles of curry powder, but you can just use what you like! 

**You can cook the shrimp yourself or buy it pre-cooked at the fish counter


What I love about this dish is that it is only 6 ingredients, so it's easy to make. The flavors are all bold and unique, and come together in such a perfect way! Spicy curry, creamy mayo, sweet pineapple, meaty chicken and shrimp, and crunchy celery-- this thing is loaded with flavor and texture. Plus, it is its own beautiful serving dish if you hull out the pineapple!



First you have to chop the pineapple hot-dog style, right down the middle. Then, you need to make the halves into beautiful bowls that will later hold the finished dish. 


Next, cut 1" chunks into the pineapple and scoop them out with a spoon. 


Get a rugrat to season some shrimp and cook it up for you. Or you can just buy pre-cooked shrimp at the store. To cook my shrimp, I tossed it with about 1 Tablespoon of melted coconut oil, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and baked it at 400º  for 12-15 minutes. 


Mix everything in a bowl.


Serve in your pineapple boat. How beautiful and impressive it this!? What a great dish to bring to a potluck, block party or barbecue! 


Let me know what you think of this recipe! 
It tastes best the day its made, but you could serve it the following day as well! 

Song of the Day: Jason Mraz "Hello, You Beautiful Thing." You can't not smile at this uplifter. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

PALEO IN AUSTIN: SALT AND TIME, FOODHEADS, NOBLE SANDWICH CO.

Here is a little secret for eating a paleo lunch: sandwiches. What? Sandwiches are so easy-- just order one without bread. Usually, restaurants will increase the amount of filling if you order without the bun. I'm not sure if that's a policy or just a subconscious inclination to make your pile of meat the same size of an entire sandwich, but I have found this to be true a lot of places. 

Foodheads
Three gourmet sandwich shops are on my list for #PaleoinATX. Did you know that is my hashtag for this series? So if you are out and about, looking for paleo food porn in Austin, just search that on Instagram or Twitter. Anyway, Salt & Time, FoodHeads and Noble Sandwich Co. make my list of favorite places to eat a paleo lunch for two reasons:

1. They all seek out real, high-quality ingredients. They focus on natural proteins without hormones, antibiotics and nitrates.  They all make many of their ingredients in-house and they all use Vital Farms organic eggs, which, in my opinion, are the most delicious eggs in Austin.
2. Their menus are flexible.  Each place will send out your meal without a bun, as a salad or as a wrap. They will all gladly leave off the cheese or customize whatever you'd like. 
Austin is becoming more and more gluten-friendly every day!


1912 E 7th St. Austin, TX 
Hours: Tues-Sat 11am-10pm
Sunday Brunch 11am-3pm

The Cuban, no cheese, plus a fried egg. I didn't eat the bun! 

616 W. 34th St. Austin, TX 78705
512-420-8400
Hours: Mon-Weds 7am-5pm
Thurs-Sat 7am-9pm
Great outdoor area! Bonus: its BYOB.
The Gypsy Grove: Pork Tenderloin, grilled ham, jalapeño relish, tabasco slaw and a fried egg.
You can easily order it as a salad without cheese. 
The Chicken and Eggplant: Grilled chicken breast & roasted eggplant with goat cheese, basil pesto, spinach, tomato, & blackberry balsamic vinaigrette..
4805 Burnet Rd. Austin, TX 78756
512-666-5124
Hours: Mon-Thurs 7am-3pm
Fri-Sun 7am-5pm
Spicy Thai Chicken Salad as a wrap
House made German Style Bologna at the Austin Food Blogger Alliance "Big Chill" event

More Thai Chicken Wrap with sriracha! 
Duck Pastrami with house made pickles as a wrap. Yum yum. 

Song of the Day: Beauty Beats by Beats Antique. Its what my son calls "the Perfect Sandwich Song." No idea why... Anyway, I'm really excited to see them at ACL this year!

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