Coterie Sampler: What’s In The Box?

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Coterie, a locally curated gift service, just launched a monthly subscription box!

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This means that whether you’re in town or far away, you can get (or give) Texas-made crafts, and nibbles.

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My first box came with 7 Austin-made products: Gin & Juice Shortbread Cookies from Skull & Cakebones, Sarah’s Kale Chips, Sway Water, finishing salts from Lenoir (an amazing restaurant, if you haven’t been), blueberry preserves by the incredible Confituras, Lavande Farm’s natural mosquito repellant, and a hand screen printed Texas tea towel by Kimball Prints.

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The Brit in my life approved of the shortbread cookies, as well as the jam. In fact, it’s safe to say he’s Confituras’ number one fan, and has been such for a while. Whether you’re from Austin, or just love Austin, this bountiful box makes a great gift from the heart… of Texas.

The Art of Patrón

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We’ve all heard the common myth that different types of alcohol affect people in different ways, and I don’t care that science says there’s no truth to this: I know for a fact that tequila makes me happy.

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I was invited out to taste some amazing cocktails from some of Austin’s best mixologists at the recent Art of Patrón event. An event that will live in my memory as one of the best I’ve been to all year, and that’s saying a lot.

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The space they rented out was gorgeously decorated, and filled with more food, drinks, and activities than I could complete. Well, almost. 

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After sampling their Roca Silver, Reposado, and Añejo by themselves (all of which being sheer perfection in their own right), I was invited to try their coveted Patrón En Lalique Serie 1. At $7,500 per bottle, which comes out to about $375 per ounce, it lived up to expectations. I like to imagine this is the tequila Beyoncé drinks when she wants to reward herself.

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We tempered the tequila with delicious bites passed around, and even quail, cooked open-fire onsite by Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine and Odd Duck fame. Did I mention their were cupcakes made with Patrón’s XO Cafe line?

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When we needed a break from constantly consuming, we sat down to make arts and crafts. That’s right. It was called Art of Patrón for reason! Not only that, we got to view art, and even take an oculus rift tour of how their tequila is made! We finished the night sampling each and every inventive cocktail offered, of which there were many. I unabashedly will call Patrón my favorite tequila, and hope they come through town again next year!

The Real Wheel: Parmigiano Reggiano

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I want to tell you about a night I had recently, involving everyone’s favorite dairy product. Just imagine a room filled with sommeliers, chefs, and a sickening amount of Italian cheese. Can’t get any better right?

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Photo by Jessica Attie: http://www.jessicaattie.com

Now, imagine that room is housed in Antonelli’s Cheese Shop, one of those sommeliers is Mark Sayre, the chefs are from Italic, and that cheese is Parmigiano Reggiano. It’s as good as it can get, and that’s exactly what I got!

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After exiting the #7 bus just outside of the location, I entered the event space to find a sizable array of aged cheeses in various forms, and dishes. Purely Parmigiano Reggiano all around. There were mature pieces with crystalized crunchy bits inside to be tried on their own, perfectly stuffed peppers, parmesan filled dumplings, and there was even a creamy risotto made with a particularly delicious 24 month old specimen.

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We paired these delights with one of my favorite Italian whites, Soave, and even a slightly effervescent red wine. There were sturdier reds as well, but in the Texas heat, I often linger on the lighter stuff.

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After gluttonously trying everything no less than 5 times, we retired a small room for a private class with a cheese expert. It was here that, if I’d had less wine, I would have gained an incredible knowledge on telling the different cheeses apart. I didn’t have that much, so I still had a pretty good lesson. I came away with cheese to take home, a full belly, and an absolutel obsession with this special type of cheese. I’ve been furiously grating wedges over sautéed greens, and even chicken, ever since.  (I’d highly recommend it over lightly fried kale with olive oil.) All in all, a wonderful night, and I got to walk away with a greater appreciation for a great ingredient.

The Highball: Karaoke Rooms, With Room For Dessert

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If you’re a fan of The Alamo Drafthouse, you’ve undoubtedly visited their sister space, The Highball. Perhaps you came in to see Dale Watson play? Maybe it was to attend a hilarious Action Pack Bingo game? Did you go for the absolutely insane karaoke rooms?

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Today, I’m talking about none of those things. If you haven’t guessed already, this is all about the food.

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They’ve got items from as little as $4 (mixed nuts) all the way up to $16 (Antonelli’s cheese plate), and everything in between. Is it just bar food? It’s more than elevated bar food.

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I came by with some other bloggers, and tried everything from roasted poblano dip with fresh, crunchy crudité to tender baby back pork ribs.  I thought we’d grab just a few small courses, but we wound up eating everything but the kitchen sink. Their herbed fries with garlic aioli was the hit of the table, and everyone raved about those ribs. Personally, I was all about that cheese plate.

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If you’re heading to The Highball for any of their always entertaining events, be sure to grab a cocktail or 3, and a snack. You won’t be disappointed.

Oyster Fever: Liberty Kitchen

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You know that one song in Sound of Music where Julie Andrews is listing off ‘raindrops and roses, and whiskers on kittens’ as her favorite things? Yeah, I sing that song to myself anytime I think of oysters, and martinis on happy hour. These are a few of my favorite things!

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I recently popped in around 5 to catch a few of the HH deals (as well as the fantastic regular menu), and boy was I impressed.

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There were discounted drinks, and a few reduced food items. Everything served was spectacular! I couldn’t get over how fresh, clean, and flavorful all of their seafood was! My main issue with local places serving oysters is that a lot only do Gulf. I was delighted to find that they have theirs coming from PEI, and all over!

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What’s that shown above? Oh, just in-house smoked salmon with bacon jelly. That’s all. (It’s insanely good!)

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When I looked at the specials, I saw their Friday offering, and knew immediately it was what I was going to have. That was Marseille Bouillabaisse, served in 2 parts. They start you off with arguably the best seafood-saffron broth known to man, then follow it with a fantastic plate of lobster, clams, potatoes, and more!

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I went nuts on the wine list, because hey, I’m me! Of course, I did! But it is worth a mention that their cocktails are insane.

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My favorite involved grapefruit skins, herbs, and a slight effervescence. It looked a little like the rose-in-the-glass from Beauty and the Beast to me, so I guess this place just fills me with movie references all around.

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It’s hard to get a low-carber like me to crumble, but they did it. Luckily, I had a dining partner with me that did most of the damage, but I was extremely happy to taste their fantastic chocolate cake. It was worth the ‘cheat.’ Apart from the food, I’m a huge fan of their decor, staff, and even the sounds of their brunch menu, which I have yet to try! If you’re a seafood nut like I am, this is definitely a place to taste.

Glamping: Austin Alfresco

Austin Alfresco
There are few things that get me quite as excited as the prospect of ‘glamping’ under the stars with Austin-famous (arguably famous-famous) chefs. That’s why when I heard about Austin Alfresco, I completely lost my mind.

Austin Alfresco

Apart from eating and learning from the likes of Jack Gilmore and David Bull, just imagine staying in tents made famous by Project Runway on a functioning 60 acre ranch; complete with yoga lessons, and even butchery classes.

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What more could you want? Actually, if there’s something more that you could want, they probably have that too.

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Can it get any better? Actually, it can! Proceeds benefit the Sustainable Food Center, and they’re running a fantastic scavenger hunt where you, yes you, can win this weekend gourmand experience!

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If you enjoy local businesses like I do, then this is going to be CAKE. You can read all the details here. What are you waiting for?! Buy your tickets, or get ready for that scavenger hunt!

Top Celebrity Chefs In An Airport Near You

With celebrity chefs opening eateries and introducing new dining concepts around the world, it seemed more than fitting for a handful of them to take things international and open new restaurants at some of the world’s biggest airports. Let’s take a look at some of the best airport celebrity chef-run restaurants across the globe.

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Heston Blumenthal’s Perfectionist’s Café
In the summer of 2014, Heathrow’s Queen’s Terminal (Terminal 2) opened their doors and gave passengers two unique experiences that reflected on British culture, one of them being Heston Blumenthal’s establishment known as The Perfectionist’s Café. According to Parking4Less, Blumenthal and his innovative team were very eager to present a menu that showcased British eccentricity – high quality classic dishes with the chef’s usual creative twists.

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Wolfgang Puck Express
The Austrian chef is making a huge statement in the travel world with his Express restaurants, located in hubs such as Indianapolis International Airport, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and Denver International Airport. At each branch, you’ll find many of his signature dishes, from Japanese favorites to Rosemary chicken. To-go options are also available for those who wish to upgrade their onboard meals.

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Cat Cora’s Kitchen
The first and only female Iron Chef on the Food Network is currently running several branches of airport restaurants across the United States. Using fresh, locally sourced ingredients for her cocktail and tapas lounges, travelers can expect the healthiest and sustainable dishes for all meals throughout the day. At Cat Cora’s Kitchen, they also like to emphasize their dedication to the environment by using eco-friendly and biodegradable materials for the to-go plates and boxes. The restaurants are open at 5 am for breakfast.

Marketplace Development

Michael Symon’s Bar Symon
Sometimes all you need to relax before your flight is some good old comfort food, which is exactly what Michael Symon offers at his eateries in Washington Dulles International Airport and Pittsburgh International Airport. Choose from any of his savory signature meals like the Fat Doug and Pulled Pork sandwiches. Every table is equipped with power outlets and flight status screens so that you can keep tabs on your flight.

 

This is a guest post.

Dining Downtown: Stella San Jac

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I live a pretty good life, and as a blogger I’ve been to some very amazing events.

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Though all places I have visited have been incredibly kind, I do have to tip my hat to the wonderful folks at Stella San Jac for the super-cool night they gave me last night.

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The newly opened restaurant, housed in the Westin, brought a ton of local bloggers in for a happy hour with some complimentary appetizers, and even a cooking demo! (More on that later. Actually, seriously, the straight up video for you below.)

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The space was gorgeous, and the food was delish! (Who says ‘delish?’ Oh god, did I just say ‘delish?’ Sign me up for pink sweaters, and tennis lessons STAT.)

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Naturally, I ventured to the bar. (Me?!?!? BAAAAAAAAR????) I asked if there were any happy hour specials, and the bartender replied, “Every hour is a happy hour.” I like it! He poured me a glass of rosé that I was convinced would cost $2508582094821, but it was only $8.66, so you know what? He was right! Every hour is happy hour when good wine is fairly priced.

Now, for the biscuits! If you check out my amazing-super-awesome-cinematography (sarcasm) video above (it was Periscope) you’ll see a demonstration from the chef on how to make his famous #16 Biscuits. He calls them ’16’ because it took that many tries to perfect the recipe, and they’re reportedly good enough to make low-carbers crumble. Fret not, dear reader, I crumbled not (“Not today, Satan!”), but I plan to soon. I spent most of my night eating his delicious salmon spread, and put all of my carbs in through pink wine.

Texas Conference for Women Discount & Giveaway!

Academy Award Winning Actress, Keynote Speaker
Patricia Arquette – Academy Award Winner, Keynote Speaker

Are you ready for inspiration, professional networking, and personal growth? The Texas Conference for Women is going to give you just that! There will be keynotes from celebrities like Patricia Arquette, and speeches from well-known locals like my friend, Lani Rosales. The event has it all, and will be held at the Austin Convention Center on October 15th.

Robin Roberts - Co-Anchor on Good Morning America, Keynote Speaker
Robin Roberts – Co-Anchor on Good Morning America, Keynote Speaker

I know I’m ready to meet like-minded, passionate women, and supercharge my drive for success. I’m not kidding! If you’d like a discount on your tickets, I’ve got you covered! Here’s a code for $10 off on all new registrations: TXBG15. The code is good from now through the date of the event! If you’d like to score a FREE ticket, and sit next to me at the conference, I have an awesome contest! Just tweet what’s on your bucket list with the hashtag below, and we’ll select a winder at random! I think mine would be ‘Visit Willie Nelson’s ranch,’ but you can put whatever you’d like to do in Texas!

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