Category Archives: food

Broccoli Bacon Cauliflower Cheese Soup

broccolibacon

I’ve been doing the low-carb thing for almost 8 months now, and the results are great. Sure, there are days when I have a little way too much wine, and my weight goes up a bit, but all in all I am consistently shrinking my waist. One of the biggest downsides of the diet has been that I find myself eating eggs constantly, and I do mean constantly.

 broccoli-bacon-soup

 I was recently craving something that didn’t come from a shell, and recalled the pureed soups I used to make back in my vegan days. I was always amazed at how something could come out so silky and creamy without the use of milk (dairy or otherwise) or cream. I decided to take the idea of a decadent ‘baked potato soup,’ and combine it with the low-carb, veggie-packed elements of those blended soups.

cauliflower-garlic-onion

One of the greatest things about this recipe is its versatility. You can make it vegan/dairy-free if you want, or load it up with cheese and bacon if that’s more your style. It’s very low in carbohydrates either way, and a decadent tasting treat that you can add spinach, and other nutrient packed items to.

   broccoli-bacon-soup-cheese

You can even eliminate the greens, and go straight for the cauliflower for something that more closely resembles a baked potato in a bowl. Essentially: you do you on this soup. ;)

broccoli-bacon

Ingredients:

Fistful size floret of caulilfower

Large broccoli Crown

Enough vegetable/chicken stock to barely cover vegetables

3 cloves of garlic

1/2 white onion

3 slices bacon

Salt and pepper to taste (I add cayenne)

Cheese (I mix 2 different kinds: cheddar and a white cheese made for enchiladas, but anything goes)

Optional: spinach, parsley, jalapeño

Instructions:

Cook the bacon over low/medium-low heat. Boil the stock, and add one of the pieces of bacon to the stock when it looks about 3/4 of the way done. Add the vegetables (chopped) and cook until soft. Remove bacon when it is finished and drain on paper towel before cutting into bite sized pieces. Once the vegetables are soft, remove pot from heat and use immersion blender to puree until smooth. If this mixture is too ‘liquidy,’ add more cauliflower/broccoli and cook until soft, then puree again. Ladel into bowls, garnish with a sickening amount of cheese and bacon in each. I’d recommend a good dose of salt (after tasting) and pepper. Pasley also works well, if you have it.

You May Not Know This About Me

photo
Both of these pictures are of me.

I have struggled with a variety of eating disorders over the years. In fact, I think my earliest memories are of the comforting feeling McDonald’s gave me when my mom woke me up in the middle of the night with the smell of French fries and the scratchy sounds of napkins being pulled from paper bags. (She worked late nights, and I had an obsessive, irrational fear that she would die in a car wreck.) When I smelled late night fast food: I knew she was home safe, and that it was finally time for me to eat.

I won’t begin to touch on the pains of being an obese kid or teenager, but at least you can see a small part of where it all began. I decided to have weight-loss surgery at age 20, and had it reversed (against my wishes) within a year because it became abundantly clear that I had gamed my surgery for bulimia, and lost too much weight, too quickly. I learned the mindset required to starve myself, and continued to shrink without the surgery. I thought I’d be happy when I got to 120 110 98 lbs., but believe me: it’s never enough.

In a weird twist of fate, I won a stack of wine books in a drawing. I wasn’t into wine, but I’m the type that has to read every book in my house, and so I did. I learned that a glass of wine could contain endless flavors and aromas; things that I once ate, which were now a distant memory, were now accessible in a glass that contained far fewer calories than the dishes themselves. Some reds could smell of gamey meats, blueberry cobbler, or even cherry pie. Champagne contained lemon zest and yeasty bread, and Chardonnays were (some would argue unfortunately so) full of butter.

My obsession with wine grew, and I attended every class and tasting I could find. Given that wine is almost always served with food, I think you can see where the story goes. I was slowly reintroduced to eating, and eating well at that; I became less and less afraid of nibbling the bits of cheese that accompanied my Pinot. Over the years I became healthy, then slightly overweight, and then healthy again. My life became a balancing act: I did not want to miss out on the things that gave me pleasure, but I did not want to overindulge and face feeling extremely uncomfortable in my plump, loose skin. These days I try to eat a low-carb diet, and work out every day at lunch. I try not to starve myself. I never throw up on purpose. I wear short shorts because I feel good about my body.

And yes, sometimes I still see myself as incredibly fat. I love food, and I hate that I wasted so much time fearing it. I remember visiting France and only allowing myself a croissant and an Orangina most days, crying and trying to purge it somehow if I allowed myself anything else. My days are spent tottering on a mental tight rope: I never want to be obese again, and I never want to let that obsession with being skinny take hold.

This is a very personal post, and I hope you will all respond with sensitivity. I have been working on an autobiography off and on for many years now, and I felt that sharing this might help inspire me to finish it, and to quit fearing what others might think if they knew this about me.

Food Find: Searsucker

searsucker-cocktail

Searsucker serves some of the best tasting, often locally sourced dishes downtown.

shishitos-searsucker-austin

I’ve had them for brunch in the past, but it wasn’t until a few days ago that I went there for dinner service.

tuna-tartare-searsucker

I popped in at 5:30 to make it in time for happy hour drinks, and loved that the selection ranged from select wines to various, creative vodka and gin infusions. The infusion-based cocktails were tasty enough to make my partner exceed his usual limit of “just one.”

searsucker-art

If you didn’t know already, the decor is absolutely spot on. They even have skylights to let just the right amount of sun in for the perfect romantic setting.

searsucker-surf-n-turf

Chef Louis came out to see what we were in the mood for, and made suggestions that fit in with my low-carb ways. Everything that was set in front of us made our eyes widen, and stomachs growl. (Who can resist tuna tartare wrapped in prosciutto, or perfectly cooked scallops?!) We had some of the prettiest, tastiest food that one could imagine, and our server never let my glass go empty.

searsucker-dessert

My partner finished it off with a beautiful dessert, and I snuck a piece despite all that diet-stuff I normally adhere to. Do yourself a favor and pop in to Searsucker for happy hour, and see if you want to stick around for a full meal; I guarantee they’ll entice you.

All Night Long: Monday’s Best Happy Hours

phonto

If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s being swanky on a budget. Here’s a list of some of my favorite happy hours that last well after the usual 7 o’clock cut-off:

Hillside Farmacy: Enjoy half price east coast oysters, and $5 cava.

East Side Show Room: Fancy cocktails for $5, and discounted snacks (such as pork ribs).

Olive + June: Half off piccoli piatti and wines by the glass.

The W: $6 wines and local spirits, $5 bites, and $4 beers.

Jeffrey’s: Half price bar food, and $2 off drinks.

Peche: $5 cocktails, and half off select menu items.

Eddie V’s: $1 Louisiana oysters, $6 wine and cocktails, and a lot of delicious, discounted food.

Winebelly: Select bottles are half off.

Olivia: 30% off appetizers and bottles. $1 off drinks.

 

Mellizoz: Let’s Taco Bout It

mellizoz-fish-taco

Mellizoz makes some of the best tacos in Austin, and there’s absolutely no argument against that. See that fish taco? You can’t argue.

mellizoz-taco-austin

How about the ‘Escobar’ filled with carne guisada?

mellizoz-tacos-atx

See that little face drawn on the fresh avocado? You aren’t going to tell him to his adorable, little face that he’s not delicious.

mellizoz-tacos-food-trucks-trailer-park

Oh, maybe you’re vegetarian, and you think Mellizoz doesn’t have your back? Think again: Shroom. Tacos.

mellizoz-tacos-food-truck

Have you had one of the greatest green salsas town? Okay, we know Taco Deli has a magical one too, but just look at that stuff up there.

mellizoz-tacos-green-sauce

Argument = won. Mellizoz makes some of my favorite tacos, and often has $5 off PayPal deals. You must try them!

Lunch at Kyoten

Mazu at Kyoten
Austin doesn’t just “do” food trucks; Austin does food trucks. A couple of chefs with Nobu, Ramen Tatsu-ya (I still haven’t been there!), and Uchi on their resumes have opened an upscale sushi food truck called Kyoten.

During the drunken stupor that out-of-towners refer to as SXSW, I passed by this place and convinced my harem of equally inebriated friends to try it with me. Having lived on free Kind bars, Tito’s vodka, and somehow cheese, I was ready for some real food. I wanted something nice, fresh, unpackaged, and containing vegetables (if you’ve been to SXSW you know what I mean). My hopes for Kyoten were so high that I was afraid they might not meet expectations. Spoiler alert: They did.

The food isn’t cheap, and I’d avoid the painfully salty miso soup, but everything else is diviiiiiine. It was clear to me upon asking a few questions about the menu that the staff was truly passionate about the product, and I love that they chimed in with which fish dish was going to be the best. I completely ignored their advice because I had salmon on the brain, but I still appreciated the knowledge.

I’m a known sushi enthusiast, but not everyone in the group was. The beef tongue braised in red wine (not shown) did the trick for them.


If you’re jonesing for an Uchi excursion, but don’t want the hassle, or maybe even want to dine in the soon-to-be-boiling-hot outdoors, then this is for you. They have a ton of Japanese lanterns, a fenced in zen garden, and more than enough picnic tables. Grab a bottle of wine, or sake, and prepare to be amazed.

Media Tasting at Kenichi

Hamachi with Kung Pao Chili Oil
 You know who’s a big, fat jerk? I am. I enjoyed this beautiful media tasting at Kenichi over a month ago, and just now got around to writing about it. (I promise I live-tweeted the whole thing though.) My crazy life, which includes seeking a new day job right now, may have put blogging on a temporary hold, but no longer! Let’s talk about the amazing food I got to try.
Escolar
 The hamachi was the clear hit of the evening for me. If you make anything even slightly spicy I’ll be turned on by it. The escolar, and delicious pre-meal bites (they even had shishitos!!) were all top-notch. Zero complaints here, and I’m rather picky.
Seared Tuna
 The caramelized onions added a sweet element to the proscuitto-wrapped tuna.
Sea Bass
 I normally love sea bass, but my only hesitation on this was the sauce. I still enjoyed it immensely, but would’ve preferred to have the fish’s flavor shine through more than the sauce.
New York Strip?
Dessert was the perfect wrap-up to a perfect meal, that featured more courses than I have decent photos of. That’s right, there was more!! I loved that the dessert was served like a flight with many different tastes and textures. The ice cream egg in the nest was my favorite, my dining partner loved the chocolate, and the rest of the table went nuts for the cheesecake. There was truly something for everyone, and everything went beautifully – without ever being cloyingly over-the-top sweet. Each course had a sake or wine pairing, and I couldn’t have asked for a better dinner. 
Get thee to Kenichi tout de suite!

East Side King at Hole in the Wall


Squid Ink Ramen at East Side King
I’ll bet good money that you’ve heard of East Side King more than once. I’ll double it to say that you’ve heard the word, “ramen” thrown around more than twice in any food review you’ve read lately about Austin. Too bad. I’m about to tackle both, fancy-style. This is my take on East Side King’s only ramen-serving joint which just so happens to be at my early-20’s stomping ground, a dive bar called Hole in the Wall.

Sapporo Beer Bacon Miso Ramen
 My favorite part about this whole get-up is that I get to have drinks, wonderful, dirty bar drinks while I wait for my food (or gaggle of friends who are running severely late!).

Poor Qui’s Buns
 We ordered the world-famous crispy beets which technically aren’t that crispy, but ultimately delicious beyond my expectations. In fact, I didn’t think much of mayo before trying them, but damn that Kewpie mayonnaise. It was something else. Something delicious. The brussels sprouts, equally famous, were every bit as magical as they claimed. I think it was the fresh herbs included that really did me over. A mouthful of fresh basil leaves is all it takes to push me over the edge of tasty orgasmic-ness. It did just that. Happy hour at HITW (Hole in the Wall) goes until about 8 or 9, and that includes things like Shiner for $2.50. I’m disappointed to report that Live Oak Hefeweizen is listed for $5 a pop (normally $3, or at most $4 at other places) but at least they have it, right?

Ramen with Vital Farms Egg

 How does the ramen compare to the recent crop of ramen places in town? Simple. It’s less simple. They’re more innovative and risk-taking, abandoning tradition for something that might be tastier than the predecessors of yester-years. The richness of the broth, speaking of the squid ink ramen in particular, is nothing short of legendary. I love the fresh tomatoes, and fried tofu sinking into the tar-like liquid abyss. It’s one of my favorites! The $1 extra Vital Farms egg is a must. 

The overall take on East Side King’s Hole in the Wall location is that you should go for a nice bowl of ramen, maybe some crispy beets with a tall, cold beer, or maybe just to try something new one night after work.


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Lunch at Tam Deli


Vegetarian Banh Mi
 If you ask anyone in Austin where the best place to find banh mi is, they’ll likely name Tam Deli.
 Vietnamese Spring Rolls
 With some of the cheapest prices and freshest vegetables, who wouldn’t love Tam? Did I mention that they’re BYO?
Vietnamese Spring Rolls

 We decided to start with Vietnamese spring rolls. I normally hate jicama, but the partner generally doesn’t give a flying f–k about what I want, so he ordered the Vietnamese spring rolls with jicama. (He totally had the option to order them without jicama, he even could have added shrimp! I love shrimp!) When I reluctantly tasted those bad boys, I wanted more. In fact, I got in trouble with the partner for eating more than my share. At just $3.75 for two, we could have easily ordered more.

Banh Mi with Egg
 Looking over their extensive menu I saw pho, stir-fries, and other tasty-sounding options. In fact, the menu is a lot bigger than I expected. Knowing that banh mi is what they did best, we went that route. We ordered one roasted pork and one vegetarian sandwich. At under $5 a pop, I was happy to spend the extra $1 to add fried egg. Let me just say, you must add the fried egg!

Vegetarian Banh Mi
 I normally try to avoid bread, but theirs was irresistible. I’m talking fresh, delicious, and perfect. Once that yolk broke and started running through, it was just wow!

Cream Puff
I talk about not being a bread person, and I guess I should confess I’m not much a dessert person either. The overwhelming amount of times I saw Foursquare tips and Yelp reviews mentioning the cream puff, not to mention my friends on Twitter… I had to try it. It was only 65 cents. Why not?

Let me put it to you this way, next time I go, I’m having two.

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Happy Hour at Olive & June


Torta Napoletana
Olive & June offers half-off antipasti and cocktails from 5-6:30. Its location near 34th Street means you don’t have to stress about parking; the complimentary valet means parking is a snap.

Farm Egg
 The farm egg was one of my favorite dishes. It had enough butter to make Paula Dean go “Whoa!” and it tasted too good for me to worry about the calories. The mushrooms added a nice earthiness. This is something not to be missed.

Aperol Spritz
Negroni. Obviously.
 The cocktails were well made, but some were on the smaller side. Trust me, I sampled just about every cocktail they had. (I was doing it for science!)

White Anchovy Crostini
 The crostinis are just $2.25 each, and we really enjoyed the anchovy ones. A lot of the dishes under Piccoli Piatti section had impossible to understand Italian names. My dining partner, that I brought out for her birthday, had previously lived in Florence. Even she had trouble deciphering what some of the plate names meant. It made it a little awkward when talking to the server. “Can you tell me what one means? And that one… I also would like to know what the heck this item is…”

Torta Napoletana
I almost forgot to mention the torta! Also delicious. I think I was more excited about the garnishes than the dish itself. I love olives.

Overall, I like Olive & June. It has the most perfect of perfect patios, and the food really is good. We only had an antipasti plate and a crostini each, but we were full. Despite items being 50% off, I still wound up spending over $50. Maybe I shouldn’t have had all those cocktails?