Sunday Not-So-Detox: Austin’s Food Trucks

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I was down in Austin this weekend for a friend’s wedding, and spent the entire weekend in beautiful 75-degree weather reconnecting with Austin’s awesomeness.

The strip of outdoor cocktail lounges on Rainey Street, the beautiful running path along the Colorado River, and the line of craft fairs and antique shops on South Congress are enough to fill a weekend.  But, the food trucks made the biggest impression on me.  Unlike NYC where the food trucks are aplenty but typically organized into particular days or parking lots (think Smorgasburg), Austin’s food trucks are peppered throughout the city in the most accessible and delicious of fashion.  While there are a lot of great restaurants in Austin, I was really digging the food truck culture that seems so rampant.  Grab your food from a truck, grab your beer from a bar, and chill out on a picnic bench for the afternoon.

I only had so much time to make the most of the chill vibe, so I spent some time (perhaps more than I’m willing to admit!) finding the best food trucks in town.  Here’s my newly developed cheat sheet.

Paperboy:  My favorite, hands down.  A simple and delicious breakfast menu with sunnyside up eggs, sweet potato hash and chorizo.  A few picnic benches out front.  Sunshine.  Morning complete.

Gourdough’s Doughnuts:  We were chasing this homage to all things doughnut all weekend, and made the mistake of thinking it would be a nice dessert to top off the evening.  It’s more of a full meal — or two — but worth every calorie.  I’ve got a savory palate, so I went with the Mother Clucker (fried chicken with honey butter) but each concoction on the menu looked delicious.

Masala Dhaba:  On the popular Rainey street, Masala Dhaba is tucked inside a few of the craft breweries on the strip.  Delicious authentic Indian food (order the goat curry and garlic naan) on the cheap.

I’m heading back to the east coast bright and early tomorrow morning and already having a little bit of separation anxiety – this food and this weather is going to be tough to leave.

&d

On the Road Again…

 

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My gig usually has me on the road about 60-70% of the time.  By some strange twist of fate, I’ve been on home turf in Brooklyn for about three straight months — punctuated by only a few quick trips to Boston.  But I’m heading back to business as usual and packing my bags for a heavy stretch.

On the docket for the next few months for work and fun — Austin, D.C., Boston, Minneapolis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit — with a few more trips that will likely be slotted in between.

I do really love traveling, and have been at it enough that I’ve learned how to not have it disrupt work and life.  But what I still need to work hard at is not letting the extreme travel wreak havoc on my physical health.

Here are some of the go-tos I’ve developed over the past few years:

ClassPass:  I promise you that this blog is NOT a walking advertisement for Class Pass, and Taryn already shared its joys.  I’m with her.  And while it’s getting pricey in NYC (at $125 a month), I hang on to it because it’s fantastic when I’m traveling.  Each city I mentioned above has CP, and I can continue my mixed routine of yoga, barre, boxing, gym time, etc. while I’m on the road.

You gots to hydrate:  I’m not a big fan of bottled water, but when I’m traveling I grab one of the 1L smartwater bottles (and pay the ridiculous $5 price).  I don’t have a preference for the water itself (we all know it’s tap — sorry smartwater) but I LOVE the bottle.  It’s light and skinny, which makes it possible to carry around when I’m also lugging a suitcase and laptop bag.  I refill it and refill it and refill it, and it’s amazing what a difference it makes in keeping me going.  Better and healthier than all the caffeine in the world.

Buddies:  While it’s sad that not all of my closest friends live in NYC with me, one of the huge benefits of work travel has been being able to catch up when I’m in town.  I get home cooking and some quality down time with friends in other cities in between the crazy meeting packed days at work. And it’s usually during the week, so I get to be part of the evening family routine, which for many of them now includes running after little ones.  Nourishing for the soul.

SkyMall:  Whoever invented SkyMall is my personal hero.  The comic relief this catalog of ridiculousness (squirrel busts, tree faces, waterfalls for your cats) that you find in the backseat pocket of airplane seats has literally added years to my life.  No matter how stressful or busy a trip has been, flying back home with SkyMall and a glass of wine is an instant remedy.  P.S.  To everyone who I’ve sent too many pictures of my most desired items on SkyMall…it’s about to pick up again.

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Eat yo vegetables:  It is really hard to find anything that’s not a processed carb when you’re grabbing food on the go, particularly in an airport or train station.  And I’ve struggled through one too many Amtrak salads (iceberg lettuce, one cherry tomato and carrot shreds) to count on what they do have. So, I’ve started scoping out the farmer’s markets and grocery stores close to where I’m staying and the stops I’m going to in between in order to stock up.  I’ve also tried packing fruits and veggies with me in my luggage, but I got a little gun-shy last year when TSA took away my box of Brussel sprouts.  I know this one sounds like a lot of effort (and maybe a little nutty…?) but it’s probably one of the things that keeps me feeling most balanced and healthy while I’m traveling.

Off I go!  Let me know what you do to keep your health on track while you’re traveling. I need to keep up my game.

And let me know if you’re going to be in one of those cities, so I can cook some veggies with you on a week night…

&d

 

 

Lunchtime Blog Roundup

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Is it me or does this week feel extra long?  Maybe because last week was a short one with President’s Day.  Maybe because I’ve been on the road this week.  Maybe because I keep going to hot yoga at the break of dawn.  Either way, I’m ready to wind down for the weekend.

For those of you who feel similarly and could use a quick break, here’s a list of my favorite go-to blogs for a little pause from the grind of work and life (when I’m not catching up on The Holly & The Folly, of course).

For when you want to figure out what to make for brunch this Sunday…

  • Cookie & Kate:  Cookie and Kate is one of my favorite cooking blogs.  I dig her style – whole foods, not afraid of the occasional indulgence or yummy cocktail, but very afraid of processed or artificial ingredients.  Another great along the same lines is Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks.

For when you’re jaded with the current state of our political system…

#whenyouworkatanonprofit

  • Nonprofit with Balls:  The title says it all.  Author Vu Le shares his take and his stories on the nonprofit sector with a big dose of humor.  While the “balls” in the title actually refers to the many balls nonprofit employees need to juggle, the blog also is written with a fair amount of irreverance and bravery.  You hearty souls that work in the nonprofit sector will love it.

For when you just want a few pretty pictures…

  • The Sartorialist:  Scott Schuman’s blog on street fashion that he kicked off in 2005 hoping to shine a light on the interplay between runway fashion and real life.  He’s a brilliant photographer, so aside from a snapshot of real people’s fashion adventures, you’ll get a lot of soulful shots peering into the lives of his subjects.

What blogs get you through your long weeks?

&d

 

Call Me Joe Biden

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My Thursday commute home today is a trip from Boston to Brooklyn on Amtrak.  I make this trip at least once a month for work and love visiting my beloved Beantown.  A surprising — and slightly terrifying — result of my trips and my love of chatting it up in the cafe car, has been an unusually close relationship with the Amtrak crew.  Joe, Rita and I have had good times over cheap wine and hot dogs.  Over the years, I’ve come to love this ride.  Here are a couple of my favorite, predictable – but never dull – moments between these two cities.

Connecticut Sunset:  I always grab a seat on the left side of the train so I can catch the exquisite sunset over the water in Connecticut.  I tried to take a few pictures as it went by this afternoon, but pictures just don’t do it justice.  It’s really breathtaking and always serves up a much needed moment of calm from the universe after busy days.  AND if you look closely before New London, you can see an ADORABLE little duck family.

GE Employees:  If anyone rides the train more than I do its those damn GE employees commuting between CT and Boston.  Most of them are pretty docile, but there are always a few that cause a ruckus, provide entertainment, and make me feel lucky to be married to someone who’s much nicer than they are.  Whether it’s screaming at each other their various theories why Obama has ruined the world, the true magic behind Jack Welch, or whether Heineken is superior to Bud Light, there’s always a good reason for a solid eye roll.  They don’t notice.  (Disclaimer:  I don’t believe that all GE Employees are republican bros.  Just the ones that ride Amtrak.)

Passing New Haven:  I moved there kicking and screaming in 2010, but I grew to love that town. Now I love when the train pulls into the old Have.  I get a dose of nostalgia for the mash up of pizza, yoga and Gossip Girl gatherings I had with my lady friends during those years.  And then I continue on home for the next THREE HOURS.

Rita:  Rita is my homie.  She staffs the cafe car.  She knows my scene.  Get on the train in the late afternoon — hot chocolate and a granola bar.  Early evening — Sauvignon Blanc to bring it home (she gives me the larger size for free because she is a little angel sent down to earth by the transportation gods).  All I have to do is approach the counter, and she smiles and serves it up.  When she doesn’t have customers, she comes to hang out with me at my cafe car table and helps me write alternative (angrier) versions of the emails I’m sending to clients that have been misbehaving.

There’s still nothing better than arriving home.  Pulling into Penn Station… ’til next time…!

&d

 

 

 

 

 

A New Orleans New Year’s Eve

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‘Tis the season, and we’re getting way ahead of ourselves – skipping right past Hannukah, Kwanza, Festivus and Christmas and planning for New Year’s Eve!  The plan this year:  an intimate New Orleans style masquerade dinner party, complete with poker, masks, and absinthe (if we’re feeling dangerous).

Having a great theme has injected a ridiculous – bordering on unhealthy, frankly – level of excitement around New Year’s Eve.  So, we’ve started menu and event planning.

For the menu, we’re rounding up our favorite New Orleans recipes.  The last time I was in New Orleans, I picked up The New Orleans Cookbook that promises classic meals from the city’s best chefs. So, I’m dusting it off the shelf that it’s been sitting on for way too long and going all out.

To whet our appetite…

  • Muffalata Deviled Eggs
  • Gumbo Dip
  • Okra Hush Puppies

For the main meal…

  • Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

And for dessert…

  • Classic King Cake
  • Beignets (first ever attempt at these tricky, delicious bites – fingers crossed!)

And for the main event… well, poker goes a long way.  But we’re also thinking we need a little something for those of us who don’t have the strongest poker faces (It’s sometimes just too exciting to get matching cards, isn’t it?).  So, we’re going to arm our guests with glitter, sparkles, feathers, and puff paint and have them create their own masks.  The not-so-unintended consequence: everyone will have a mask! No exceptions. I’m still a little traumatized from our Halloween party where only 3 of the 45 guests had costumes.  I’m done with the opt-in approach.

Between now and NYE we’re looking for more ideas to make this shindig as authentic New Orleans as we can get.  What NOLA inspired recipes and party ideas do you have in your arsenal?  Help us make this NYE as fabulous as possible!

We’ll be sharing the final recipes, make-your-own mask plan, and the pictures (all those that are appropriate anyway…) after we’ve rung in the New Year.  ‘Til then, joyeuses fêtes!

&d