Spontaneous Outings

It’s never fun when your original social outing plans get cancelled. But that also opens up a whole day to be spontaneous and explore new things. My best friend Siddiqi and I did just that.

We started first off picking up a vinyl player in the Hyde Park area for Siddiqi’s friend whose birthday is tomorrow. Next came the grand adventure at Half Price Books on North Lamar for 50% off day. Sold two overflowing bags of books for $24.50 (a major success) and got a couple CDs for close to $14.00. Siddiqi found two vinyls of Russian classical music for wayyyyy less than that.

We had lunch at MezzeMe in the Triangle. MezzeMe is a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant (I was overdressed for Peace Bakery). Siddiqi got a braised lamb (it’s halal btdubs) pita wrap with spicy tabouli and hummus. I got a Crazy Grain rice bowl with braised lamb, roasted eggplant, hummus, and sprinkled with parsley and feta cheese. It was pretty good. The braised lamb was spot-on. The hummus was amazing too and this is coming from someone who doesn’t like hummus. There was nothing really grand about the rice and the roasted eggplant had too much vinegar. If you get a pita wrap with the lamb, hummus, parsley and feta, it’d be a pretty damn good pita wrap.

Lunch at MezzeMe

He seems to be liking his deconstructed pita wrap.

MezzeMe is located on 4700 Guadalupe Street, #9, Austin, TX 78751.

Our next stop was Goodwill on Peyton Gin near 183. This is the only Goodwill in the Austin area that has a computer store. We browsed through the general area, finding old microwaves and a couple Sony cassette players. We then caroused to the computer store. I am not a computer nerd. I am far from it. I call the Motherboard a flat plate that pricks your fingers. You would think I would be bored as Siddiqi looked for power supplies and cables for a computer he’s building. Actually, I was not. Computer parts are like one big puzzle game with colors and boxes and shapes and weird foreign pieces. During the hour or so we were there I found a cool BG camera that takes lomography for $5.00. Held onto that for dear life. Also found an old Apple keyboard for $12.95. It’s got the USB cord and the traditional clicking sound and everything. The staff was super friendly and helpful (Siddiqi said it was because I’m a girl who was pretty dressed up and girls are rare finds in that part of the store). The supervisor of the computer store knew quite a bit about cameras and helped me look for more film cameras. His mannerisms reminded me of Doc from Back to the Future. Probably my most favorite part of the day. Who knew?

Photo Jul 16, 6 39 32 PM.jpg

Our next stop was Tours Les Jours, a Korean-French bakery in a small Korean plaza on North Lamar in Central Austin. Siddiqi was craving bubble tea and I was craving anything cold (100 degree burning sun is not fun without a cold drink).  He’s never been to TLJ and it was super close to Goodwill. I got blueberry cream cheese bread and a cold chocolate roll. Unfortunately, they ran out of tapioca for the bubble tea. 😦 We weren’t going to give up though! We went to the interwebs and found a place nearby called Snow Monster. We jumped into his Subura and drove off to this 4.6 star place.

Tous Les Jours is located at 6808 N Lamar Blvd B-115, Austin, TX 78752.

Snow Monster is a “build your own shaved ice” joint on Lamar and Braker. It’s relatively new, opened in 2014 by two Taiwanese UT Alumni. Snow Ice is, according to Snow Monster’s website, fruit extracts and fresh milk made into blocks and shaved finely to create flakes. You can add your own toppings, including fresh fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. You can also use soy milk if you are dairy free. It gives the same fluffiness as whole milk. I got vanilla snow ice with a side of strawberries and chocolate chips, topped with  condensed milk. Siddiqi finally got his bubble tea and according to him, it was delicious.

Snow Monster is located at 11220 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753.

It was a grand day full of spontaneous productivity and amazing food. The clouds came in and the wind picked up so it was perfect timing to head on home. Pretty excited to go back to Sno-Mo and the computer store. Hopefully I can come up with a glossary of computer-to-my mind’s version terms of computer parts soon.

Advertisements

La Fête Nationale 2017

Bonne journée de Bastille!

In 1789, revolutionists stormed the Bastille, freeing the political prisoners, providing a symbol to the Revolution and a cannonball to the Old Regime.. A year later, the French government named July 14 a holiday, commemorating the event. To those in the States, this holiday is known as Bastille Day.

“Storming of the Bastille” by Jean-Pierre Houël

Today, we celebrate with food, parades and fireworks. The fête begins early, with articles on food tips, culture lessons and fashion trends. Here are a few articles I found:

How to Celebrate Bastille Day like a True Parisian” – Vogue

Eric Kayser of Maison Kayser is interviewed on his favorite Bastille Day traditions and, of course, food suggestions. Parisien sandwiches made with Parisian cooked ham and Gruyère cheese? Oui s’il vous plaît!

The Best Bastille Day Movies: The 13 Frenchest Films of All Time” – Vogue

This is more of a #FlashbackFriday article, written back in 2015. Movies are timeless. I must say, they should have named 14 movies to match the date July 14th, but their choices are spot-on. My favorite choice was Les enfants du paradis, a 1945 film about a woman being pursued by four men, one of them being a mime. Yes, you read that correctly.

Party like a Parisian on Bastille Day with French food, cinema and activities” – Chicago Tribune

For those of you in the Chicago area, here are a few suggestions to party it up at eateries and bars. There is also family-friendly event suggests, including a Bastille Day Picnic at the Lycée Français de Chicago.

France Remembers the Nice Attacks: ‘We Will Never Find the Words’” – New York Times

Though Bastille Day is meant as a day for patriotic celebration, it (unfortunately) is a sad day for many. One year ago, a horrifying attack was made in Nice where a terrorist drove a truck through a parade, taking 86 lives and wounding 450 people. Men, women, children from different continents with different faiths. Though things have returned to normal and tourism rebounded, the scars of those affected will never vanish. Please have a moment of silence tonight for those who lost their lives, those who were wounded and those who tried to stop the truck.

Eiffel Tower fireworks mark Bastille Day 2017 in Paris, France” – YouTube

ABC News provided a live show of the fireworks in Paris. This is a great way to see the beautiful celebration in France if you are not in Paris…or France. Merci tech world!

 

 

The Oasis on Lake Travis

I have to admit it: I’m a sad example of a Hispanic girl. I can’t salsa dance to save my life. XD

Lucky for me (and you fellow Austinites/tourists/dancers), there is a place where free salsa exists (both the food kind and dance kind!).

The Oasis is a great place to gather friends and family for an evening of fun. Eleven years ago, the Oasis was a restaurant that was falling apart. Now, it’s a paradise with its renovated restaurant, two other restaurants (one of them being Gumbo’s which used to operate in Bee Cave), cafes, boutiques and an arcade. Oh, and some killer views of Lake Travis.



Every Sunday, from 7-10 PM, the Starlight Terrace holds Latin night where the band plays a mix of Latin-genre music, including salsa, merengue, and Tejano (think OG Selena). From 8:30-9 (today lasted til 9:15 since there was a large crowd), a pair of dance instructors host dance lessons. Piece of advice: can we do the lessons first thirty minutes so I can practice my dance skills? Just saying.


The food is pretty good and the drinks are better. Their most popular plate is the bean and cheese nachos, which actually comes with more than just beans, cheese and tortilla chips. In terms of drinks, they are best known for their margaritas. If you aren’t into food coma nachos, they’ve got burgers and tacos. Worried about calories? Don’t be. You’ll lose it with all the dancing. XD

This is a great family friendly event as well as an adults only event. Or if you have to bring the kids along but planned adults only, you can send the kids to check out the candy store or play in the arcade.


The best thing about this place is watching the sun set over Lake Travis. It’s romantic and fascinating and, if you are a nerd like me, question everything about astronomy and the science that brings such beauty to one’s life.


So maybe you’ll catch me dancing here again and hopefully not as a complete two left feet dancer. 

The Oasis on Lake Travis is located on 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732. You can also check out their website here.

Argentina Bakery – Irving, TX

Every Memorial Day weekend, my family and I try take a mini road trip. We’ve done New Orleans once, Houston various times, and Fredericksburg once. This time around, the family and I went to Dallas. A family friend is in from California and my little sister’s best friend is staying with us before she goes back to Korea for the summer.

The first time when we went to Dallas, about 8 years ago, we coincidently found a bakery called Argentina Bakery. It had delicious pastries and a nice atmosphere. After that, we could never find it. Until now!

The place is just liked we remembered: cozy, small and the bright colors of the pastries popped against the dark wood.

My plate is the bottom one, a cannoli and an alfajore. First, a review on the alfajore. An alfajore was is an Argentine Oreo cookie. Two shortbread cookies are glued together with Majo Blano, a carmelized condensed milk. You can cover it with powdered sugar like a think blanket of snow, or roll the border with coconut. It wasn’t that great, which is unfortunate (Le sigh). The majo blanco is supposed to be soft and gooey goodness. This cookie’s majo blanco was stiff. The cookie could have used a few more minutes in the oven also. 2/5


My guess is the cookie was not fresh.  I took a bite of the cannoli which instea of cannoli cream, it was filled with majo blanco. The majo blanco in the cannoli was the soft warm gooey goodness that is loved by all pastry lovers. The shell gave a nice flakiness. The proportion to of shell to majo blanco was nice (no hollow air). The ends had dark chocolate which countered the sweetness of the majo blanco. 5/5

My sister and her friend got tiramisu mini cakes, which were the size of a CD and the height of my Anna Karenina book (on its face). I, sadly, couldn’t get a picture because they devoured it in a hot second. I did manage to sneak a spoonful. That was goooooooood stuff. If you are a coffee lover, you’re in luck. The tiramisu had a punch full of coffee. It was creamy and fluffy. They didn’t use lady fingers but cake and mousse. 4/5

Overall, it was pretty good and nice to finally find the place that we thought was lost so long ago.

Want to try it for yourself? Check out Argentina Bakery in IRL at 3401 Airport Fwy # 112, Irving, TX 75062 and online at http://www.argentinabakery.com.

Curtis Ramstedt

Curtis Ramstedt, local ATX artist and founder of Esplosivoism, is at it again! For those of you who don’t know Ramstedt or Esplosivoism, you are in for a treat as the two go hand in hand. Esplosivoism, in my mind, is taking a pound of Salvador Dali with a couple gallons of modern psychedelic strokes, a pinch of political statements and a whole lot of bold style. For a concrete definition from the founder himself, please read:

“Esplosivoism I describe as [the] pragmatic marraige between the modern and the classical. I use modern techniques such as emphasis on shape and bright color. I do have the same birthday as Henri Matisse [December 31st], but I also use philosophy, symbolism and Renaissance-esque themes like classical art.”

Ramstedt is taking the ATX by storm, even been recently featured in Gorrie’s Perspective.

(For my ol’ Your Way With Words followers, you may know this man by a different name with a different art skill: Curtis Des Marias, the poet. Remember “I, Sisyphus”? How about that villanelle, “Pour Ma Jolie”?)

***

The quirky man with a crazy sense of fashion and art has revealed his latest painting, “Catholica Scientiam”, one of the biggest projects he has undertaken. I at first thought it was multiple canvases that he cut up and glued together but boy was I wayyyyyyyy off. It’s a build-able canvas that makes a statement between Catholicism and science.

The cover. (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

I feel like I’m in 1970s galactic disco with a bunch of floating grapes (this is why I’m the writer/math in the group and not the art curator hahaha).

The right inside flap. (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

I feel like I’m on the border of three different dimensional wormhole portals. The contrast between the left and the right is quite significant. I wonder if he meant to put the creative side on the left and the logical, black/white side on the right to match the personalities of left-handed and right-handed people. I asked him and he had this to say:

“[It’s a] relation between culture and economic systems and human rights and scientific progress.”

Yep, I’m off. But that’s the joy of art. You can interpret it any way you like.

The inside (Courtesy of Curtis Ramstedt)

When you open it, the relation is made much more clear. Though I still feel like I’m in a fancy palace with naked pregnant lady that is being observed by a bunch of scientists.

***

Curtis Ramstedt is an interesting guy. He’s come a long way from his start in 2013. He is inspired by things in his life and, according to Ramstedt, the random “thoughts [he has] at the day…[his] brain never shuts off.”

“Jazz Party” – Ramstedt

Fun little fact: the girl in the paining is moi. Yes, moi. Back in 2014, Ramstedt was looking for something to paint and I told him to paint a jazz party. That was one of the last conversations we had for almost two and a half years (aka my “disappearing act”, a story for another day), so I didn’t get to see the painting until we reconnected in March. A few weeks later, I bought the painting. Don’t go criticizing or judging on vanity. You’d do the same. 😉

***

Want to see his art in person? You can check it out at the Kasbah Moroccan Lounge in West Campus.

Like what you saw? Follow/Like Ramstedt on Facebook. Post about it on your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Make sure to use #ramstedt and #z&h when you share. 😀

Want to buy one of his pieces? Check out his website, http://ramstedt-art.com/. Please note he also does custom paintings.

Curtis Ramstedt. Once he’s in your life, no matter how hard you try to disappear, you can’t seem to get rid of him. He adds color to life with a stroke of a paintbrush…and a corny joke or two :).

 

Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ Joints

It’s here! After months of patiently waiting, the list is finally here! Texas Monthly, the National Magazine of Texas, unveiled it’s “Top 50 BBQ Joints” today as part of the release of their June 2017 issue, aka The BBQ Issue. Theories have been swimming around Texas BBQ joints as well as around the office since forever. For those of you who are Franklin fanatics, you are in for a treat.

(Read the full article at http://www.texasmonthly.com/food/the-list-the-top-50-barbecue-joints-in-texas/)

But wait. There’s more! Yes BBQ lovers and connoisseurs there is indeed more!

Local ATX favorite YETI partnered up with Texas Monthly to create the beautifully designed wormhole of everything Texas BBQ related: the YETI BBQ Passport. This includes short notes from Texas Monthly staff members, including BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn and everyone’s favorite Texan, the Texanist (aka David Courtney). There’s wonderfully created map and challenges brought to you by YETI to complete for your chance to win YETI prizes (coolers and mugs and hats oh my!). You can grab a passport by buying the June 2017 TM issue at your local bookstore or grocery store, visiting one of the Top 50 BBQ joints on the list, or, for any of you Austinites, at the YETI Flagship store in Austin.

(Don’t have access to a print copy of the mag or passport? Click here to get your own passport: http://features.texasmonthly.com/sponsored/bbqpassport/)

Also, don’t forget to check out the stories in this month’s issue. There’s an inspiring personal essay from John Nova Lomax about his son joining the US Army (“The Green Machines”), an interesting story on Dallas Police Chief Brown during the moments of the Dallas shooting (“The Empathy of David Brown” by Michael J. Mooney), and a story on a hippie Catholic Church in Southeast Austin. Yes, you read that right, hippie Catholic Church. I’m talking a priest who has a hubby, women being ordained and the awesome feeling of being truly all-inclusive (“Critical Mass” by Robyn Ross).

If you need me, I’ll be in my car driving all the way Lexington, Texas for some amazing ass BBQ (hint hint cough cough :D).

Share and comment below your experiences with these BBQ Joints and don’t forget to follow Texas Monthly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Slake Cafe – ATX

Working in Downtown Austin has many perks, including easy access to some pretty cool lunch spots. Yesterday, my coworker and I decided to venture the two blocks to Slake Cafe for lunch.

Before trying any place, it is always best to check their menu. Common sense I know, but just saying. When we found out they had delicious sounding tacos (brisket tacos anyone?), we had to try it (we’re going through a major BBQ phase and tacos are always a must).

Slake Cafe is a basement cafe as you had to walk some steps down to get to the counter. It’s decor is modern and colorful. They have a bakery case with baked goods including giant cookies, cupcakes and doughnuts. Their daily specials are displayed on the back wall. They serve Austin Roasting Coffee, FYI for anyone who is a fan. 

I was in the straight-up mindset of tacos. Then I saw the board. “Mac of the Day: Brisket Mac.” :O

The world caved in. The indecision and doubt flooded my mind. Do I go with the taco or the Mac? Decisions decisions. I asked the cashier for recommendations. I was stuck between the Pollo Boracho taco- a grilled chicken taco with corn slaw, melted Gouda, avocado and red pepper on a corn tortilla – and the Brisket Mac – mac’n’cheese with brisket, green onion, collars greens, tomato sauce and cheese. The cashier wasn’t much help as she had trouble deciding too. She mentioned the Mac came as a side so I made the ultimate decision: I got both.

Do you want the good news or the bad news? Let’s go with the bad news: the taco was not at all impressive. The chicken was bland. It was also hard and took wayyyy too long to chew. There was no cheese. It was a decent sized taco but it was not worth paying $5.95 plus tax. I can make a better taco at home for free. 4/10


Now the glorious news: Brisket Mac was the holy grail of mac’n’cheese. It’s fighting with lobster mac’n’cheese for my top Mac. The side was the perfect size for me because it filled me up. The pasta was cooked to perfection. The brisket was shredded but the flavor it provided made little cherubs sing “Ode to Joy” in my ears. The creaminess of the dish! Not a single dry spot. The side came with two mini loaves of bread and I dipped that stuff and ate it as if it were chips & salsa. My coworker had a bite and she said she was going to call Slake every day until they have that dish again. The only thing I would change about the dish is the size. I wish I got the bowl instead of the side. I was in a damn good happy food coma for the rest of the afternoon. 10/10

Agree? Disagree? Have any Slake recommendations? Comment below!

Slake is located at 120 E 7th St, Austin, TX 78701, past the Intercontinental Hotel.

ACL Announces 2017 Lineup

It’s finally here ladies and gents! The 2017 Lineup for ACL Fest has arrived! Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, Gorillaz, Spoon and more!

ACL Lineup 2017

Interesting lineup. I am slightly disappointed Temples won’t be playing this year but c’est la vie. Thanks for KUTX for providing non-maintstream music because this is the first time that the majority of bands I want to see are actually not in the first three rows. Middle Kids, Skip Marley, Hamilton Leithauser, The Revivalists, and Angel Olsen I am looking at you. 🙂

KGSR Announces First BOTG Show

If you are in the Austin area, then you must know about Blues on the Green, the free concert series at Zilker Park hosted by 93.3 KGSR. This should be their 24th year running (correct me if I’m wrong fellow reader).

According to culturemap, “no Austin summer is complete without Blues on the Green.” True dat.

The 2017 series will fall on May 24th, June 14th, July 12th and Aug 2nd. This morning, it was announced that local favorite Jamestown Revival will headlining the May 24th with Texas artist Walker Lukens as the opening act. As mentioned before, the show is FREE. There’ll be food trucks, vendors and, if you prefer the luxurious amenities like catered meals and shade, KGSR hospitality passes, which KGSR is giving away on their website.

The concert is a great way to kick off the summer with friends and family. Hope to see you there!

BOTG KGSR

Blues on the Green’s first show is at Zilker Park on May 24th.

The 30 Most Colorful Beach Towns Around the World – Harper’s Bazaar

For those of you who want to take a breather from American and now French political madness, check out this cool article from Harper’s Bazaar on 30 colorful beach towns around the world. Anybody else want to take a plane to Tunsinia?
https://apple.news/Au7uj0zayPF-k4yeBPub9_A