P. Terry’s Burger Stand

Is this old news?? I recently tried P. Terry’s Burger Stand and fell in love! I’ve passed by the stand numerous times, but never cared to try it until I decided to check out their website.

Check out their mission

“The whole idea for opening a hamburger stand actually started as a reaction to reading the book Fast Food Nation. We were appalled by the direction the food service industry had taken. We decided that if we ever had the opportunity to start our own burger place, we’d do things the way they should be done. But it’s not just about the food. We wanted to change the way things are cooked, the ingredients, the way customers are treated, and the level of care given to employees.”

This Austin business serves up beef, chicken, and veggie burgers from locally (within TX) sourced meat and produce. They also have fries, milkshakes, and organic coffee from Ruta Maya, an Austin coffee company. And you better believe I’ve had every single one of these.

The burgers themselves aren’t as big as I’m used to (wow! an actual, reasonable portion size!) and the prices are quite affordable. While the chicken burger was kind of plain, it was not bad at all. And it’s a unique solution to those looking for a lower fat burger. The veggie burger tasted like straight up black beans, but the patty actually held its shape, unlike my experience at Terra Burger and Elevation burger, so another +1 there.

Now onto the more sinful part of the menu… the fries are amazing. Perfectly crispy with the skin on, adding texture and taste. And fiber? The milkshake was cloyingly sweet, but good to share. And the coffee… delishhh. I was especially delighted when the coffee came with a cup sleeve made from 100% recycled material. ๐Ÿ™‚

I may just give up all other fast food (AKA Wendy’s) for P. Terry’s. However, it *is* still fast food. Just because it’s natural and local doesn’t mean it won’t give you a heart attack. Dine responsibly, my friends.

Have you ever eaten at P. Terry’s?

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New Year’s Eve, Texas Style

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When I turned 21, the doors to a magical kingdom of fun and play opened. Who knew a glass of wine or a beer could make everything so much more fun?

You know those commercials for Spec’s about the “shock” that people go through when they visit the store? That’s literally how I felt when I stepped inside for the first time. My eyes sparkled like a kid’s in a candy shop when I saw the aisles upon aisles of every type of alcohol imaginable, in all the different colors and flavors and with all their pretty labels. Oh, adulthood.

This New Year’s Eve, whether you will be sipping on champagne or partying like it’s 1999 (or rightfully 2011, if you think the world will end next year), be sure to check out the many Texas (and Austin) made liquor delights. Since the new millenium, the number of Texas owned distilleries has risen dramatically, and many of their products have already become wildly successful for their quality and taste.

Texas Made Spirits

*= made in Austin

Vodka

  • Tito’s Vodka* (Tito’s won the Double Gold Medal for vodka and 4 stars from the Spirit Journal twice.) [My favorite!]
  • Savvy Vodka*
  • Deep Eddy Vodka & Sweet Tea Vodka* (Deep Eddy vodka is made by the founders of Savvy and Sweat Leaf Tea.) [My other favorite!]
  • Dripping Springs Vodka
  • Enchanted Rock Vodka
  • Cinco Vodka

Whiskey

  • Rebecca’s Creek Whiskey
  • Balcones Baby Blue & True Blue Whiskey
  • Garrison Brother’s Bourbon Whiskey
  • Ranger Creek Whiskey

Rum

  • Balcones Rumble Rum
  • Treaty Oak Platinum Rum*
  • Railean Rum
  • Spirit of Texas Pecan Street Rum

Liqueur

  • Paula’s Texas Orange & Texas Lemon*

Tequila

  • Railean Blue Agave Spirit

Gin

  • ROXOR Artisan Gin (Triple Gold Medal – Micro-Spirits Competition 2011)

Let me know about your experiences with these spirits or if I have left any good ones out.

I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year!

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YaYa Cafe & Shaved Ice

Pork & Eggroll Bun

When the Vietnamese craving struck me last Friday, I knew I wanted to try a new restaurant. In comes Yaya Cafe, which opened its doors not too long ago on Guadalupe and 38th street, next to Little Ceasar’s and Starbucks.

I have mixed feelings about YaYa Cafe. If I judged it solely on the food, I would come back again. The spring rolls were exceptionally delicious. The entrees were OK, but I don’t need much to fill my Vietnamese craving. The bun itself was lower than average. No onions, the eggrolls were soggy, and the pork overcharred. However, I really liked the broth with the pho. The shaved ice, a giant bowl of shaved ice doused in condensed milk and topped with fruit and (green tea!!!) ice cream, was a nice treat to share with my boy at the end of the meal.

Small Shaved Ice with Strawberries & Green Tea Ice Cream

Everything else tells me not to come back again. While the owner was quite friendly, the service was awful. After our orders were taken, we never saw the server again. We had to flag down another for water and order our dessert at the counter. When we got our dessert the server tried to take my drink– which I was not done with yet. Also, my bun wasn’t made with vermicelli. It was made with white noodles. Ruined the dish for me but luckily Navid didn’t mind, so I traded for his pho. Obviously there are quite a few inexperienced people working here.

The prices were a little higher than the other pho places I’ve been to. I wouldn’t have minded if the portion sizes were not also smaller than normal and they weren’t incredibly stingy with the meat.

Would I come back again? Yes, but I would avoid the bun like the plague. This place has the potential, it just needs the right people… and bigger portions. This is Texas, baby ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Plastic Bag Ban?

Cute tote bags galore!

Since July, the Austin City Council has been debating how to implement a ban on single-use plastic bags. In the ban proposed by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, retailers would not be allowed to offer plastic bags at check out counters anymore.

Interestingly, the city of Brownsville already implemented such a ban at the beginning of this year along with… wait for it… San Francisco, CA and Portland, OR. Leffingwell must be embarrassed that our green city is so behind! Some whole countries in Europe have also instated bans.

According to the Solid Waste Services Department, plastic bags cost our city $850,000 a year to put in landfills and clean up as litter. In addition to polluting the environment, plastic bags clog drains, take up landfill space (where they take only 500 to 1000 years to disintegrate!), and harm wildlife. Think of the baby squirrels! And don’t forget about that giant blob of plastic and debris floating in the Pacific.

A poll released last week shows that 72% of of Austinites want an alternative to an outright ban. The same poll revealed that the majority know that they can recycle plastic bags at many retailers like HEB and Target, and that 46% already use reusable bags as their primary way to take groceries home.

As much as I agree with what the ban stands for, I don’t want the government telling me what to do! Implementing a nominalย  five cent or so fee for bags, however, would probably decrease the use of plastic bags almost as much as a ban would. When Ireland introduced its tax in 2002, the use of plastic bags dropped 90%.

For those looking to use more reusable bags, I recommend cloth bags over the cheap plastic ones sold everywhere. You can easily find ones made right hurr in America, not China, and they are much more durable. Also, they are WASHABLE. One study showed that reusable bags can harbor bacteria.ย  Cute graphics are also a plus- it makes me more likely to use them.

Reuseit.com has tons of reusable bags for sale and is a great resource for anyone looking to reduce waste in all areas of the home. Check ’em out!

What’s your take on the proposed ban? Do you use reusable bags regularly?

photo from reuseit.com

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Birthday Dinner

Woop! Wednesday was my 21st birthday! To celebrate, I had some friends meet me at Clay Pit for dinner before heading to sixth with some friends from work.

Even though I’ve never eaten there before, I chose Clay Pit because it has good reviews and I was craving Indian food. I’m basically always craving Indian food.

I had a reservation for 8 set up but when Wednesday came, I needed to add three more people. They said it was not a problem. I’m glad it was so easy.

After everyone arrived, the server waited a long time before finally taking our orders, but once that was done she was great. Other people came up and refilled our drinks constantly so noone was ever thirsty.

For an appetizer, I chose the coriander calamari. With the lemon and garlic-cilantro sauce, it was amazing. All of my friends loved it as well. They also had baskets of the cracker-like papadum with sweet and savory chutney dips. Papadum is made with a thin, spiced batter that’s cooked in a pan. It was tasty but we didn’t finish any of the baskets.

I chose kabuli chicken as my entree. The menu describes it as “boneless chicken cooked in our Korma sauce from the Curry House & infused with a paste made with pureรฉd nuts, raisins & cherries.” The chicken was perfectly cooked and the sauce was creamy and sweet. Overall I liked it but it was almost too sweet. It was served with basmati rice and we ordered naan to go with it. Naan is soo good. It’s fluffy and has a great texture and taste. If you’ve never had any, run out and buy some now! I love eating it warmed up as a simple snack. All the entrees and sides came in their own bowls and we were given an empty plate to eat off of. It made it easy to share food and I suppose so you can scoop up your entree with the naan, which is the traditional way of eating Indian food.

I was also given a complementary dessert for my birthday. A slice of mango cheesecake!

I had a great experience at Clay Pit and look forward to visiting again soon. They also offer a lunch buffet at a reasonable price which I will definitely check out soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Green and Crunchy

What’s green, crunchy, and delicious with anything?

Seaweed! I will be talking about the roasted and salted variety.

Since my mom is Korean, I’ve been eating seaweed since I was a little girl. I remember bringing the roasted and salted sheets into kindergarten for some cultural project and, not yet knowing the difference between salt and sugar, telling everyone it was covered in sugar! I must have been quite the cutie ๐Ÿ˜‰

I still eat seaweed in the same ways I always did when I was young.

The simplest way to enjoy seaweed is by itself. It’s not very filling, but nice when I’m craving something salty or just want to munch on something. One serving of the algae has only 25 Calories but has 2 grams of protein, 100% of the RDA for iodine, 35% of the RDA for vitamin A, 20% of the RDA for vitamin C, and a small amount of calcium and iron. Kind of beats potato chips any day.

Kimbap (literally seaweed rice) was probably my favorite meal when I was young. Nothing is easier than eating chunks of sticky rice (cooked in a pressure cooker) wrapped in seaweed. Bonus points if you can do it with chopsticks! I still use my hands though… Nowadays kimbap is more of a snack but to beef it up I like to add lunch meat or avocado. Rice + avo + salty seaweed = DELICIOUS!

Now that I’m older, I mostly eat seaweed in egg rice, or my mom’s simplified version of bibimbap. This dish is perfect for when I’m short on time or short on groceries, because I almost always have the ingredients on hand. So, basically, this dish is perfect for any college student. OK.. any ASIAN college student.

Egg Rice
1 bowl rice (sticky is best but any kind will do)
1 egg (two if you’re really hungry!)
1 package roasted seaweed, cut or torn into pieces
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon (reduced sodium) soy sauce
Kimchi or sriracha sauce, to taste

Fry the egg ensuring maximum runny egg yolk amount. This is key! Then, simply mix everything together in a bowl and eat with a big spoon. Bask in the glow of cheap, easy, fast, relatively healthy, and mouthwatering goodness. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Pecan Street Festival

Hey, everyone!

Long time no talk :>

Did anyone go to the Old Pecan Street Festival this weekend? The arts and crafts festival occurs twice a year on 6th street. In addition to art vendors there is also lots of food and music!

I went with Alexis (my mentoree from BBBS) and had a blast walking around the cobblestone streets and checking out the cool art. We ended up getting matching rings. ๐Ÿ™‚ The heat wasn’t so bad with free samples of Ciao Bella blood orange sorbet and some breaks in the shade.

I also got samples from Blue Star Farms (whose organic wheat crackers weren’t bad), Dagoba organic dark chocolate (pretty good), and my favorite, Healthy Indulgence (dark chocolate with vitamins and minerals in it). How cool is that?

The food vendors sold all types of food including corndogs and hamburgers, barbeque, greek gyros, kettle corn, kebabs, dumplings, pizza, and even stuffed crepes. My mouth was watering from the delicious smells coming from all the stands! I didn’t actually buy any food because I had already eaten.

I did get to taste some Texas Tea just as I was leaving. I tried the Poteet Strawberry White Tea flavor which had just enough sweetener and a light strawberry-esque flavor that wasn’t artificial. I found it super refreshing in the 100+ degree weather!

I am looking forward to going again in the Spring before it gets hot. And this time I’ll be sure NOT to eat beforehand.

If you’ve never gone before you should definitely check it out ๐Ÿ™‚

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