Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

Beginner’s Guide to Austin, TX and Oklahoma City, OK

When I started looking at all of the places I have left to travel to I realized that I haven’t been to the Southern States, and I decided to ease myself into venturing to this new area of the country by visiting one of my best friends in Oklahoma City (OKC). I had already been to OKC before, but that was two years ago, and a lot can change in two years. We figured out that neither of us had been to Austin, TX (ATX), so we decided that I would fly to OKC and then we would road trip down to ATX. I’ve always liked road trips, and then it allows you to hang out with a friend and see new parts of the country.

Day 1
When we first arrived in Austin, we checked into our Airbnb- I think that Airbnb’s are a great way to see a city and interact with local residents. After we settled in we headed over to Uchi, for a delicious sushi dinner. We started off the meal with drinks and for our main course we decided to get the signature tasting option- it is five courses which is a good amount split between two people. This allowed us to try a lot of different things. To start off we tried was the Hirame Usuzukuri, which is flounder with candied quinoa, and olive oil. The second course was the Machi Cure, which is smoked yellowtail, yucca crisp, marcona almond, and Asian pear. For the next course, we had the Maguro & Goat Cheese, which is one of the most unique sushi dishes that I have ever had. Then we had the Hamachi Nabe, which is yellowtail, koshihikari rice, soy broth, and an egg yolk. To conclude our dining experience, we had the Walu Walu which is oak-grilled escolar, yuzupon, candied citrus, and myoga. The food was delicious, well prepared, and truly unique. I think that Uchi has some of the best sushi I have ever had, and the unique dishes makes it worth the price.

After dinner, we went back to our Airbnb to relax and plan for the next day.

Day 2
To start off the day we had a relaxing morning and a quick breakfast and then headed downtown to the Austin Visitors Center. We walked around the center and got to learn more about the city, and then we boarded a bus for the Austin in 90 minutes tour. Some things that you see on the guided bus tour are the 360 Scenic Overlook, Graffiti Park at Castle Hills, Bullock Texas State History Museum, and UT- Austin.

Later on, in the day we had an early dinner and did a Bat Cruise. Fun Fact: The Congress Avenue Bridge is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world. During the Bat cruise you get to experience all of the bats leaving the bridge to go find dinner as the sun sets. It is possibly one of the coolest thing you’ll experience in Austin and I would never have guessed that so many bats could fit under the bridge!

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After the cruise we headed to the “Dirty Sixth” or 6th street to go listen to some live music and enjoy a drink. Eventually we wanted a snack so we decided to head to Voodoo Doughnut Austin, and I got a Maple Bacon donut. It was tasty, and I was excited to try Voodoo because it is originally from Portland, OR and I was going there in a few weeks, so it was like a mini preview of Portland.

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Day 3
After our long day 2, we decided to sleep in a little and then grab breakfast at Whole Foods. Now I know that sounds funny, but considering that Whole Foods was founded in Austin and the original location has a lot of eateries, so we figured it was a good way to see the store and grab breakfast. I went to Taco Alley and got a breakfast burrito and it was divine.

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The next activity for the day was to go on the Deep Eddy Distillery tour. We got the tickets that have the shuttle to and from, so we avoided drinking and driving. The ticket is $25, and it included the round-trip shuttle ride, the tour, a cocktail and 20% off all merchandise. I really enjoyed learning about how they make their vodka and eating and drinking after the tour. They have some food trucks there, so you can get snacks while drinking and I obviously had to get BBQ. It is definitely a fun place to go, and it would be a great place to spend an afternoon with friends.

Once we got back to downtown Austin, we headed to the Roaring Fork for dinner. I got the Cedar Planked Salmon- its oven roasted with Teriyaki BBQ sauce and a Chilled Green Bean Salad. It was the perfect meal after spending a lot of time outside in the heat.

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After dinner we headed back to the Airbnb to hang out and go to bed early. Since we were heading back to OKC early in the morning to beat traffic.

Day 4
After a 4-hour drive, we arrived back in OKC and it felt great to get out of the car. We relaxed, ate dinner, and then we went to the OKCLA game (OKCLA is the minor league team for the Los Angeles Dodgers). I love baseball, so it was fun to get to see a good minor league team play.

Day 5
After a good night’s sleep, we woke up and went to breakfast at The Red Cup. I got a Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich and a Chai tea to drink. It was the perfect breakfast for a hot day. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and all of the art.

After breakfast we took a water taxi ride around downtown and we got to see some murals and sculptures.

For lunch we went to Big Truck Tacos, and it was amazing! I got the Okie-Wahoo and Rita’s Chicken Tacos. It’s an affordable and delicious place- highly recommend if you’re ever in OKC!

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Once we were done eating, then it was time for me to head to the airport and go back to LA. It was a great trip to Austin and OKC, and I definitely want to return to both cities.

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An Eggsellent Meal at Eggslut

An Eggsellent Meal at Eggslut

One of my favorite things to do is explore parts of Los Angeles with my friends, and of course, try new restaurants. I think that one of the most underrated places to eat in Los Angeles, is Grand Central Market; however, within Grand Central Market there are a lot of amazing and diverse eateries. I love the produce shops, coffee shops, bread stores, and all the eateries and stores in this iconic location; one of my favorites is Eggslut.

I’m currently trying to make the best egg sandwich when I cook at home, so I’m trying different egg sandwiches around Los Angeles for inspiration. The menu is fairly limited to just egg sandwiches, but they do have an option that’s gluten free and comes with a salad. A friend and I both got the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese sandwich (mine with avocado, because it was national avocado day) and my other friend got a Slut with a side salad. They honestly know how to make the best egg sandwich at Eggslut and I need to know how they do it! I loved the crunchiness of the bacon, and how the cheese melted on the egg. The avocado topped off the sandwich.

One downside of Eggslut is that it is a small restaurant, so there usually is a crazy long line. However, this gives you the opportunity to take turns waiting in line with your friends while letting one explore Grand Central Market. It also allows you to socialize before ordering, so that way you can enjoy your amazing sandwich.  🙂

Eggslut is a great breakfast option, and being in Grand Central Market makes it even more enjoyable. Look out for a future post about my adventures trying to make the best egg sandwich at home. Happy Eating!

Ktown Hidden Gems #3: Bia Coffee

Ktown Hidden Gems #3: Bia Coffee

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My newest edition of Koreatown (Ktown) Hidden Gems is Bia Coffee. Bia in Korean means flower, so the name of the shop translates to Flower Coffee. This is one of the coolest coffee shops I’ve ever been to. On the outside, it just looks very simple and maybe like any other coffee shop, but once you enter you are in a comfortable and friendly shop that mixes coffee and the art of flowers. I love the simple décor in Bia Coffee- the succulents around the shop give it a pop of color in addition to the flowers.

What I love about drinking coffee is the strong coffee flavor, and the instant feeling you get when the rich flavor hits your tongue when I take that first sip. However, at Bia Coffee the coffee flavor feels airier and calming because of the flowers that they put in the coffee. I’ve tried both the Lavender and Rose lattes, and I could taste the hint of Rose or Lavender mixed into the coffee; I love both lattes. The flowers make the coffee feel lighter while you drink it, because Rose and Lavender are light scents and have calming effects. While I do love the strong flavor of coffee, I also appreciate this lighter version of coffee. I like the lavender or rose hint when I take that initial sip- I feel calmer compared to drinking regular coffee. The food at Bia Coffee also looks amazing, and they use natural ingredients that uses flower flavors and which pair nicely with the coffees.

One tip about a Bia Coffee is you should go early, so they have all the ingredients or pastries that you want. Also, parking can be tricky, so make sure to research places to park. If you’re ever on 6th street between Oxford and Western, then you must stop by Bia Coffee!

Los Angeles Brunch Time: The Church Key

Los Angeles Brunch Time: The Church Key

Recently for a friend’s birthday brunch, I ended up in West Hollywood at The Church Key; this restaurant is a bit outside of my normal geographical stomping ground. I had never heard of the Church Key before, and I was excited to try a new restaurant for brunch; it’s always good to a have a few different restaurants in your arsenal to pick from. To start off, we got the Brioche Donuts. They have a Brown Butter Glaze with a dribbling of Cinnamon Caramel. They were amazing, and something I definitely will get again. Then on the more savory side, we got the Toad in the Hole “Croque Madame.” It comes with two eggs, gruyere fondue, and smoked bacon. It honestly hit the spot to balance out the sweetness from the donuts.

For my entrée, I got the “Another” Avocado Toast. It comes on sourdough with house citrus cured salmon, fennel, oranges, and chives. I added the fried egg added to the dish for extra protein. I loved how all of the different flavors mixed together to make this avocado toast 100% not another basic avocado toast. The combination of flavors in this entrée make it more for someone who’s willing to be adventurous in their food choices, because not everyone loves fennel, but it was truly delicious and worth trying. For the amount of food, you get, I would say that $15 for this delectable entrée is perfectly fine.

 

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Another perk of going to the Church Key, is that they have a great mimosa deal and are very attentive. You get unlimited mimosas for $15.95 vs. $10 for one mimosa- definitely a deal.  They make sure that you always have a full mimosa and if they run out, then they give you other options. For drink service, they have some of the best service I’ve ever experienced. I highly recommend the food and drinks at The Church Key. Bon Appetit!

Chef Time #3: 3 Rounds with Instafood

Chef Time #3: 3 Rounds with Instafood

Honestly, I thought, “how hard is it to bake an egg in an avocado?!” One day, I fell into the deep abyss of Instagram looking at food I would want to cook. I stumbled upon a picture of an egg baked in an avocado. Immediately, I knew that this was the next dish I wanted to master. I found a recipe on All Recipes for egg baked in avocado. In the Instagram pictures, I stumbled upon, and the picture on All Recipes, it looked so effortless to make; however, this was not my experience.

The first time I tried to make it, I didn’t scoop out enough avocado and the egg part over flowed. Also, this happened because I didn’t balance the avocado, so I ended up folding up tin foil and wedging it under the avocado to keep it balanced.

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The avocado over flowing problem also happened the second time I baked the egg in an avocado. This time it happened inside the oven, so I’m thinking the heat affected the baking pan and made it bend or something.

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The third time was the charm. I got my avocados balanced and nothing over flowed. YAY!!!

The lesson I learned from this cooking endeavor was that seeing things on Instagram and thinking that they’ll be perfect the first time you cook them isn’t true. You need to try something a few times, and learn all the hacks associated with cooking the meal.

Here’s the recipe from All Recipes for Baked Eggs in Avocado:

Ingredients

  • 2 small eggs
  • 1 avocado, halved and pitted
  • Any seasoning you want to use

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Crack the eggs into a bowl, being careful to keep the yolks intact.
  3. Arrange avocado halves in a baking dish, resting them along the edge so avocado won’t tip over. Gently spoon 1 egg yolk into the avocado hole. Continue spooning egg white into the hole until full. Repeat with remaining egg yolk, egg white, and avocado. Season as you please.
  4. Gently place baking dish in the preheated oven and bake until eggs are cooked, about 15 minutes.

This is a super easy meal to cook (once you know the hacks for it), and it’s really healthy! Let me know some of your cooking tips below!

Happy Cooking 🙂

Ktown Hidden Gems #2: CottonHi

Ktown Hidden Gems #2: CottonHi

 

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As I mentioned in Ktown Hidden Gems #1, one of my favorite things about Koreatown is that just by walking around you discover so many different places and learn so many different things about where you live. Recently, I discovered CottonHi, which is an organic cotton candy and soft serve dessert place a few blocks away from where I live. The dessert is amazing, and what adult doesn’t love cotton candy?! Seriously- it instantly makes my day better. I’ve had the Tiramisu and Rock’n Pop soft serve cups with coffee flavor cotton candy (it really does taste like coffee). All of the soft serve desserts are under $5; I love an affordable and delicious dessert. CottonHi is always busy when I’ve gone, but the wait is short and you can always get a seat.

If you’re ever in Koreatown in Los Angeles and you’re looking for a unique dessert place, you definitely need to check out CottonHi!

Chicago’s Hidden Gluten Free Cafe

Chicago’s Hidden Gluten Free Cafe

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When you think of food in Chicago, you typically think of meat and potatoes, not a gluten free café. When one of my friends took me to Wheat’s End in December, I was in awe that such a place existed and that it was absolutely delicious. Before I went to Wheat’s End I knew that certain brands of gluten free products were good, and that items on a restaurant menu could be decent, but I never expected to crave gluten free food. I have a pretty sensitive stomach and I recently decided to cut out as much gluten as possible to see if that helped keep things calm; I also can’t have a lot of dairy or rich foods.

When we went to Wheat’s End, I decided to have a yolo moment and order and eat anything I wanted to. To start off our feast I ordered a mimosa and a soy latte, because you can’t have brunch without a mimosa and coffee. Next we each got a Popover with mushroom gravy, which was AMAZING! I couldn’t tell that I was eating gluten free, and the gravy perfect- it wasn’t rich and had the right balance of mushrooms and gravy. We split the breakfast potatoes and nitrate free bacon (probably some of the best bacon I’ve ever had). To top off our meal we split a pumpkin cinnamon roll, which hit the spot. It tasted and had the same consistency of a non-gluten free cinnamon roll, and the pumpkin flavor made it the perfect cinnamon roll.

During this meal had more food than I typically eat in two meals, and I didn’t feel stuffed or like I over ate. The food was amazing, and I have been dreaming of it since December and I can’t wait to go back in April! If you’re gluten free and live or are traveling to Chicago, then you definitely need to go to (or live at) Wheat’s End!

Let’s Talk About Goats

Let’s Talk About Goats

2016 was a big year for the City of Chicago and goats. The Cubs FINALLY WON THE WORLD SERIES, breaking the curse of the Billy Goat, and it was the year I discovered Girl and the Goat and Little Goat.

Girl and the Goat

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During my time home, I went to Girl and the Goat with my BFF and her BF, and it was probably my favorite foodie adventure with her. When we initially sat down, it was 10:15pm, and we were just eating dinner. Seriously who eats dinner at that hour- my parents thought we were crazy, but the craze about this restaurant was worth the late dinner time. I immediately noticed the vibe of the restaurant, modern but comfortable, and I knew I was going to like it. Our waiter was probably the most helpful waiter I’ve ever had, he thoroughly walked us through the menu and marked his favorite dishes under each category. This made the experience for two newbies much more pleasant and less overwhelming.

We ended up ordering the Sautéed Green Beans, Roasted Cauliflower, Escargot Ravioli, Pig Face, Goat Belly, and Caramel Corn and Malt Balls and the Dark Matter Pot De Crème for dessert. All the food was AMAZING! Every bite is designed to please each taste bud, and balance each type of flavor (sweet, salty, bitter, etc.). I have never enjoyed each bite of a meal like this before, so it was worth it to wait until 10:15pm to eat. For the amount of food, we ordered and one drink per person, the bill was quite reasonable- which surprised us! Since I loved this experience so much, I made it my goal to go to Little Goat when I came home for the Holidays in December.

Little Goat

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Flash-forward a few weeks, and I’m back in Chicago, and ready for my next exciting dinning adventure. This time my friend and I went to Little Goat, which has more of a rustic diner feel. We arrived a bit early, and went to the bar on the other side of the restaurant to wait. I got the Moscow Goat and my friend got a Pinot Noir. The menu at Little Goat is even more overwhelming/expansive since they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I knew that we had to get the Tempura Mashed Potatoes, but really had no idea for how to tackle the menu. We decided to each find an entrée and then we found some sides that we were intrigued by and just selected three. We ordered the Bi Bim Bop Breakfast Bowl, Bull’s Eye French Toast, Tempura Mashed Potatoes, Goat Chili Cheese Fries, and the Hot Crab Dip.

Everything at Little Goat felt more like eating creatively made and presented comfort food. It was delicious and we definitely over ordered for two people. I would say my two favorite items at Little Goat were the Bull’s Eye French Toast and the Goat Chili Cheese Fries. I loved the combination of flavors in the Bull’s Eye French Toast- sweet, salty, and savory all in one bite. As for the Goat Chili Cheese Fries- I a) had never had goat on fries before b) loved how all the flavors just made one amazing bite. Little Goat is also affordable- just make sure you don’t over order 🙂

If you’re going to be traveling or live in Chicago- I highly suggest that you make reservations at one or both restaurants. If you want to go to Girl and the Goat at a normal time, then you definitely need to book it months in advance. Both restaurants have amazing food, and I suggest that you pick one based off either your desire to try something completely different or if you want more unique comfort food. Happy Eating!

Chef Time #2

Chef Time #2

As someone who’s trying very hard to learn to cook, I thought I would share two of my new favorite recipes.

 Tuna Fish and Noodles

I know this recipe seems a bit bland or unusual, but for me it tastes like home. It possible is my favorite dish that my mom makes.

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Ingredients
8 oz. wide or extra wide noodles
6.5 oz. tuna fish (you can use 2 small cans or 1 large can)
Cream of Mushroom soup

Steps
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bring pot of water to boil; add noodles and stir.  Cook until done, drain & rinse with hot water.
Drain tuna and break chunks up.
Add ½-3/4 cup milk to soup.  (I usually put soup in 1 qt. pot over low heat and gradually stir in milk.)
Grease casserole dish with butter or margarine.
Layer noodles, tuna, soup (thin), & repeat, ending with soup.
Cook 1 hour.

*If you want to add peas or another veggie to the recipe, you definitely can!

 

 

Eggplant and Mozzerella

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Ingredients

Eggplant Recipes – use a rimmed cookie sheet for both
Eggplant Sorrento Style
2 medium to large eggplants (approx. 2 lbs. total), sliced about 1/4-inch thick
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced approx. ¼-inch thick
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
24 large basil leaves

Steps
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place eggplant slices on lightly oiled baking sheets. Brush both sides with olive oil (you can use olive oil spray instead).  Bake until softened, about 10 min.  Turn & bake until almost tender throughout, about 5 min. more.  Remove from oven.  Add salt & pepper (I don’t use this). Top with 1 slice of tomato, 1 slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf. Bake until cheese melts (5 min. or so).  Serve immediately.

 

If you have an easy recipe you want me to try, please share it! Enjoy!

Ktown Hidden Gems #1: All Angolo

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One of my favorite things about Koreatown is all the hidden gems that you can find if you just look for them. There are hidden restaurants, coffee shops, stores hidden in quarters or malls. One of these hidden gems is a restaurant called All ’ Angolo, located on 3rd Street and Kingsley. It is an amazing affordable Italian restaurant, and everything that I’ve tried there has been delicious. I’ve had the Quattro Formaggi pizza, Squid Ink Pasta, Lobster Ravioli, Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken, Penne alla Boscaiola, Brushette Miste, and Tiramisu (pictured above). Each dish is classic, homemade, and affordable, which is an awesome deal for anyone looking for delectable food at an affordable price point ($11-$30). My favorite dish is the Lobster ravioli because the flavors in the sauce complement the ravioli so well, it just makes me smile while I eat.

Another thing that I love about All ’ Angolo is that they do carry out, and it tastes just as good as if you ordered the meal at the restaurant. I know all restaurants should be this way, but it’s not always the case. They also give you good bread with any meal- carry out or eating in. If you’re ever in LA or if you live here, then you definitely need to try All ’ Angolo in Koreatown for fresh Italian food!