10 Shades of Gelato

Whoever said that there was something to do in Austin every weekend was 100% right. A friend of mine, esteemed fellow foodie, and I went to the Gelato World Tour today in Downtown. As I got out of church, I remember thinking – oh my, this is a perfect day…for gelato. I’ll let the event description speak for itself:

Sixteen of the best gelato artisans chefs from the United States will compete to create the world’s best gelato flavour. Catch all the action live while each chef will produce a unique flavor right infront of your eyes. Get a chance to taste and vote for your favourite flavour.

This event is brought to you by Carpigiani Gelato University, Sigep. Gelato World Tour is open to the public, with free entry. You can participate in free gelato demonstrations to learn about the culture of gelato, the difference between gelato and ice cream, and meet the best gelato artisans from the United States!

While entry was free, one had to buy ticket stubs to try the gelato. $10 for 5 stubs – including 2 cups and 3 mini cones. Between the two of us, we could share 10 different flavors (hence the clever title). We grabbed our tickets and made our way around to the different stands!

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STOP 1: Banana Foster. Tasted like…fried bananas. Exactly what the name and description said: bananas, butter, and brown sugar. Nothing more, nothing less.

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STOP 2: Sweet G’s Candied Bacon Gelato. This name took us for a surprise, but we were super excited to say we even tried it! The dude was quite interesting, asked if he could ‘baconize’ us, hm… AWARD FOR MOST ORIGINAL. This tasted like a chai latte for some reason, with the perfect amount of cinnamon and nutmeg. I hate bacon, but I really loved this!

STOP 3: Turtle. Can I just say…so…rich…in…chocolate? The cute little turtle chocolate and the giant pecan chunks were nice, but other than that, nothing too turtle-y about this.

STOP 4: The Great Beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE avocado – I grew up eating it, and I love pairing it with my salads and fish. But this was NOT avocado. It was like, a key lime pie. I took a baby bite of it and immediately handed it over to my friend to finish. Too much basil, too little avocado 😦 #sad

STOP 5: Original Cookie. OKAY, this wasn’t in the ‘competition’ but it was freaking delicious. Tasted a little more like ice cream, though. Worth it!

STOP 6: Pistachio. no words. AWARD FOR BEST TASTE. Every bit of flavor and pistachio cream oozed onto our taste buds from this gelato. Totally wished we got a cup of it looking back – but definitely the best thing I’ve tasted all day. Thankfully, it’s at Cafe Dolce in Houston – holla for summer 2014 treats!

STOP 7: Carmastachio. Exactly what it sounds like – caramel + pistachio. We were hoping it wouldn’t be a disappointment after the previous delicious pistachio one…but it was not! Twas delicious to say the least.

STOP 8: Texas Kulfi. How do I even begin to describe this…mouthful of ginger?! It wasn’t bad, I just don’t like a mouthful of ginger (or the cardamom spice) + I’m not particularly a fan of whiskey to begin with. Other than my personal dispreferences, this was a fun taste!

STOP 9: Chocolate Beer with Caramel Crunch. Since this was located right next to the whiskey one, I was hoping it wouldn’t be the same effects, but thankfully, not disappointed! It was an interesting chocolate -> pecan -> beer aftertaste.

STOP 10: Salted Pecan. I usually love salted + anything sweet, but maybe I had too high expectations? I didn’t like it, but I liked it, but didn’t why I liked it? That’s usually a problem in other areas of my life, but not gelato. Nevertheless, interesting combination.

A little breeze + 90 degree weather + Austin downtown made it a perfect day for a gelato run! Definitely worth doing, if you’re gonna be around the other parts of the world for the other stops 😀

Here I am, 10 shared gelatos later.

Here I am, 10 shared gelatos later.

Foodie’s Guide to Dating in Austin

There are too many instances when I would get a text from a friend asking, “where should I take ___ to brunch this weekend?” or “I have a car today! Where are some good places for dinner?” or “It’s about to be our 6-months and I have no idea what I’m doing.”

  • Disclaimer #1: it’s NOT that I’ve had experiences going on dates, rather, I’m just a foodie that’s explored 100+ restaurants in the area.
  • Disclaimer #2: This guide does not factor in your personal tastes, preferences, or wallet. 
  • Side note: I tried picking local restaurants to avoid chains and whatnots.

So, gentlemen, I have drafted a guide for where to take your lady to eat in Austin. I’ve separated this into three levels:

  1. you don’t even know if this is even a date yet……….
  2. you’re exclusively dating/in a relationship.
  3. major anniversary celebration / special occasion.

Level 1: “Is this even a date?”

Our generation these days can’t seem to fully ask someone out on date. We all know this is true. Plenty of people look back and confess, ‘oh, that was a date afterall.’ Gentlemen, you don’t want to ask her to go to cheap-skate places, rather, you want a classy place that isn’t too intimidating. These are great places for these wishy-washy situations, where you just want to test the waters.

Blue Dahlia – Their happy hour is wonderful. Monday-Friday 3-6:30pm is perfect time to soak up the sunset in the patio and order yourselves some tartines. Outdoor seating is fantastic, take advantage of it! (West Lake location is my personal favorite)

  • Smoked Salmon Tartines
  • Meat & Cheese Platter
  • Belgian Waffles
  • Bread Pudding

 

Galaxy Cafe – The food here matches the slightly above casual ambiance. Great for both lunch and dinner, and they serve an array of options from carbs (pasta, sandwiches, wraps) to burgers to salads. Plus, you order and pay up front, so you could really avoid the whole “I’m paying for you” fight over the check.

Sadly, I didn’t take pictures while eating here three times. But…here are some great stuff on the menu!

  • Galaxy Fish Wrap
  • Buddha Bowl
  • Asian Seared Tuna Salad

Hillside Farmacy – Located in East Austin on 11th street, this is a super cute and dainty place for brunch or late lunch. Their menu is nicely condensed so you don’t have to spend time mulling over what to order, and their options suit meat eaters and vegetarians!

Pictured is the Fried Egg Sandwich (I hate bacon, but I LOVED the crispy bacon that they put in there). PLUS, they serve Coolhaus as part of their dessert menu, nomnomnom (sea salt caramel & coffee oreo pictured)

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Foodheads – Another cutesy, patio-seating Austin place, this cafe is known for its delicious, specialty sandwiches. Another order+pay upfront style, leaving ease for the conversation to flow. Plus, their outdoor seating options > indoor seating, so enjoy the breeze, the sunset, or whatever the weather is throwing at you that day.

  • Fish Torta
  • Chicken Special

foodheads

Level 2: “We’re dating.”

YAY, now you’ve got the lady, and you want to take her out to eat on Friday nights. You’re treading smooth waters at this point, but you still want to keep up your food standards.

Tbh, this is the easiest time to take someone out to eat. You should already know she likes, what she doesn’t like, and what she’s allergic to. Plus, as long as you are great company and she doesn’t get food poisoning, all is well. 

Cho Sushi – near Lake Travis (Steiner Ranch location), the drive to this place…is breathtaking! You get to spend 30 minutes enjoying the view of meandering mountains, curvy roads, and hopefully not too dampened by the Austin rush hour traffic. BEST SUSHI IN AUSTIN (in my opinion + a dedicated sushi post coming in June!)

Their happy hour has the best deals! You can be full without breaking your bank =)

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Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill – Can’t go wrong with the menu, something to cater to everyone’s tastes! Their portions are pretty big, perfect reason to share so you can try different things. Indoor seating is a little chilly and dark, but you can request outdoor seating and risk the mosquito attacks.

  • Buffalo Meat Pie (I hate meat, but I looooved this + it served me for two meals!)
  • Green Chile Macaroni

Downsides: Be prepared for the 90+ minute wait, especially on a Friday night. I came here with one of my best friends, and we had plenty to talk about during the wait. Plus, parking is a pain, so practice your parallel parking skills so you don’t embarrass yourself =)

Le Cafe Crepe – if you’re looking to achieve the Parisian vibe with the decor and cramped space, you got it. Granted, they expanded their outdoor seating, so you have a chance to sit under cute red umbrellas and enjoy the downtown view. Their food portion is pretty big and shareable, so you can try different types of sweet and savory yumminess.

  • Norwegian
  • Vegetarienne
  • Chloe’s Crepe (Nutella + Strawberries!)

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Level 3: “We’re celebrating.”

Serious could mean a lot of different things to different people. Let’s say, you want to celebrate your one year anniversary, or your significant other’s acceptance to law school, or her birthday.

Finn & Porter – This is on the quieter side of Downtown, nested in the Hilton. Perfect for a low-key event. Fantastic service – the waitress recommended all the house specials and checked on us frequently. The restaurant is designed in two stories, with the sushi bar at the first floor and the full bar on the second. Once again, wonderful bathrooms.

  • Appetizers: Grilled Gulf Oyster // Duck Rillete
  • Entrees: Sea Bass // 16 oz NY Strip
  • Dessert: Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse // Goat Cheesecake
  • Drinks: Mojito (a tad more delicious than the ones I had in Mexico)

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Personally, I came here with a small of friends for one of their 21st birthdays. Hence, the fantastic service + complimentary starter champagne + complimentary dessert.

Willie G’s – Located on 4th and Congress, it’s a beautiful place to dine indoor or outdoor. The year-round stringed lights on the trees make it seem like the holidays everyday (personal favorite). Ambiance inside set a romantic tone, but we saw multiple groups of all ages – dressed well of course. Bonus: the bathroom is so nice.

  • Appetizers: Crispy Calamari // Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
  • Entrees: 8 oz Filet Mignon // Blackened Scallops
  • Dessert: Creme Brulee // Macademia Nut Brittle Cheesecake

Personally, I came here with a group of friends (actually the same group as Finn & Porter) for my 20th birthday dinner. We were all dressed for the part, and yay for double the complimentary dessert!

The Bonneville – Love, love, love this location! Sits on Caesar Chavez and Guadalupe and overlooks Lady Bird Lake – perfect opportunity to go for a romantic walk afterwards. Their menu is kind of Asian-fied which is really cool, and their prices are quite reasonable for the quality of food served.

  • Appetizers: Mussels Steamed in Spicy Red Curry-Coconut Broth
  • Entree: Seared Diver Scallops with Scallion Rice Cake & Grapefruit Nage
  • Dessert: Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart

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Now go eat your way through Austin =)

Top 5 Brunch Places in Austin, TX

I’ve always been a breakfast-lover, but when I learned that breakfast&lunch could be eaten at the same time, my world was changed. Throughout my time in Austin, I’ve explored my fair share of food, and these five places make my list to take your parents, date, and friends to eat at.

5. Austin Java

Its 6 locations give flexibility to find them wherever you are, and their menu is filled with all-natural, organic, and heart healthy options. I normally go to the one on North Lamar, for the sake of being close to campus, church, easy parking, and the fantastic outdoor set up. Dog friendly too! My first time here was March 2013, and as of February 2014, I’ve been here a total of 3 times 🙂

What I get here:

  • Tree Hugger Eggs Benedict
  • Breakfast Quesadillas
  • Veggie Chorizo Breakfast Tacos
  • All Natural Yogurt

4. Bouldin Creek Cafe

Located on South 1st Street, Bouldin Creek Cafe has the perfect little set up for your catch-ups. As a meat disliker, I love, love, love that everything on their menu can be made vegan! They have their ‘specials’ of the season, but the rest of the menu is pretty set. My first time was also March 2013 (apparently ate a lot of new food that month), and since 02/2014, I’ve been here twice.

What I get here:

  • The Neal + Tofu Neal (both tacos)
  • Spicy Pesto & Ciabatta Bread
  • Wanna-BLT (made with TOFU BACON, how cool is that.)
  • Raspberry-Hibiscus Iced Tea

March 2013

Lunch Date with Morgan + Wanna-BLT

Lunch Date with Morgan + Wanna-BL

3. Blue Dahlia Bistro

This dainty little place makes you feel like royalty – both the set up, the service, and the food. I’ve been here a total of 3 times since November 2012, and all 3 times in the Westlake location. I’ve recommended Blue Dahlia every time to friends who ask where to take their parents for a day visit or where to take their first date to. They have an awesome happy hour menu from 3:30-6:30pm as well.

What I get here:

  • Smoked Salmon Tartine
  • Meat & Cheese Platter
  • Greek Yogurt + Berries
  • Belgian Waffles + Fruit

Smoked Salmon Tartine Belgian Waffles

2. Upper Crust Bakery

Came here for the first time on Valentine’s Day 2014 with a fellow foodie friend (heh alliteration) of mine, Betty, and absolutely fell in love with the place! The bakery is all laid out with scones, tarts, croissants, cookies, cupcakes, you name it. On the plus side, they have such affordable prices and these people really love what they’re doing.

What I get here:

  • Spinach, Egg, and Cheese Quiche
  • Blueberry Tart
  • Strawberry & Cream Cheese Croissant (had a bite of Betty’s!)
Valentine's Brunch!

Valentine’s Brunch!

1. Walton’s Fancy & Staple

An occasion, long-time catch up, celebration? Always, always, always Walton’s! I actually celebrated my 18th birthday brunch here with a few girls from church, and this has been my go-to place for classy breakfast since. As of February 2014, I’ve been here 3 times, and each time, I’ve gotten something new and added to my list of breakfast loves. Fun fact? It’s owned by Sandra Bullock.

What I get here:

  • Challah French Toast (ah-mazing)
  • Chocolate Croissant
  • Caprese Sandwich
  • Chai Tea Latte
Challah French Toast

Challah French Toast

Fruit Tart 2.0

Fruit Tart 2.0

Blueberry Tart

Blueberry Tart

I’ve always wanted to blog about some of my favorite foods in Austin, so…here it is! Enjoy =)