austin

What’s In the Box: Plated

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Plated is a delivery service that sends the freshest ingredients to your door so that you can make dinners like a boss. They include just about everything you need from the stars of the entree, straight down to the oils and small packets of butter you’ll want to have to enhance the flavor.

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We decided to try their initial offer, and ordered 3 meals: Thai peanut chicken, portobello burgers, and pollack with fennel and blood orange.

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When you open up the box, it looks a little something like that (above). Even though we’re in Texas, the food was still cold by the time I got it, and the freshness of the herbs was still intact.

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I must admit that the pollack dish, which even contained green olives, was one of my absolute faves. It did need some additional salt, but what doesn’t?

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Plated has certainly made the past 3 nights interesting for me, and it was a lot of fun to watch my partner go all Chef Emeril in the kitchen. Think of it like having a romantic dinner prepared by you/for you every night, and you get all the fun of cooking it. It helped us to break out of our routine ‘go to meals,’ and we really enjoyed the process.

Do We Need Needles?

Stephen_AI’ve known Stephen Andrews of Morning Sun Acupuncture for years, and I’ve always considered him to be a kind, thoughtful, and incredibly down to earth person. He comes across as calm and balanced, whereas generally when people meet me (and I’m quoting a certain local weatherman here) I’m “like a hyperactive squirrel darting around” and it’s obvious that my mind is always racing. After a really bad week, Stephen offered to stab me with his magic sticks give me my first acupuncture session. I was a little skeptical, but I came out a firm believer. (Sorry for the magic sticks joke, I can’t help myself!)

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I was a little nervous, and thought that I might feel pain. Rest assured, there was absolutely no pain, not even for the needles that went into my scalp. Also, I didn’t even realize he was inserting them. He had this calm, effortless, and conversational way of nonchalantly applying them unbeknownst to me. He took great care to address my goals, and concerns: I was looking to lose weight, and also to deal with some rather powerful anxiety.

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The room was warm, comforting, and perfectly zen. In all of my constant worry, I was able to let loose, and he gave me a lot of great advice to help unify my mind and body in reaching my goals. Did I mention that he’s smart? He’s incredibly smart, and seemed totally dedicated to making sure I got what I needed, and had the tools needed to try some exercises at home to help with my constant, needless worry. At the end of it all, it felt like I’d just left either a yoga session or perhaps a really good massage. If you’re on the fence about acupuncture, allow me to tip you in the direction of it. I’m certainly going back for more.

Lucky’s Puccias Opens Brick & Mortar

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Lucky’s Puccias, that locally famous wood-fired Italian sandwich truck, has now moved up the street, and into their own at their first brick and mortar.

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My partner has been a fan of theirs for a while, and even donated to the kickstarter they launched to help them get the restaurant going! That’s dedication, and should tell you just how delicious their hot, crisp bread is; there’s nothing else in town like it.

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With delicious pizzas, bountiful salads, wine, and even gelato from Dolce Neve, this place is ideal for a decadent lunch, or casual dinner just outside of the hustle and bustle downtown.

Lamb Jam Coming to Austin (And I’m Giving Away 2 Tickets!)

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You may have caught our love of lamb meat in my Christmas recipe post, so imagine the excitement my British partner and I had when we found out that there was a festival dedicated to celebrating his favorite, healthy protein!

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The American Lamb Jam promises tastings from 16 of Austin’s best and brightest chefs, along with some of Texas’ finest wine and beer. Here’s the star-studded list of the amazing chefs you’ll get to taste from:

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It’s all happening on Sunday, February 22nd from 3-6 at the beautiful Barr Mansion. You can purchase tickets here, OR enter for your chance to win 2 tickets from me! How? Simple! Follow me, and @FanOfLAmb, and tweet which chef or restaurant you’re most excited about sampling dishes from with the hashtag: #atxlamb. You can enter more than once, and I’ll choose a winner at random to be announced on Tuesday! May the odds be ever in your favor! 

An English Christmas In Austin

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Have you ever roasted a leg of lamb, popped a Christmas cracker, or even made roasties? (Are you wondering, in Gollum’s voice: “What are ‘roasties’ precious?”) If the answer is: Yes, to any of these questions, then this is the post for you!

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I damn near lost my mind when my British boyfriend decided to leave me, the ex-vegan, a @#%@ing leg of lamb, and told me to cook it for our Christmas party last night. Are you kidding me?! I am not a lamb-eater, and I don’t know if I’m eating the hand of the puppeteer from Lamb Chop, or god-knows-what, and I certainly don’t know how to cook it! Needless to say, I texted him in a panic. (Don’t fret, Dear Reader, because I will tell you how to cook a 4.5 lb. boneless leg of lamb in this post.) I was kind of stuck with All British ingredients, and very little knowledge of how to cook them, despite my stint living there which has absolutely nothing to do with this in any way.

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Now, the vegetables I could handle. (Okay, okay, Dear Reader, I’m becoming that Asshole Blogger that I hate so much when I’m trying to Google a recipe, and they bore me to death with the details.)

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The roasties, however made me a bit scared. There’s a trick to them. (Look at me being a tricksy blogger.)

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Which, luckily, I learned. (So tricksy.)

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Here’s a shot of it: The Beast that had me running scared. (F- it. I said I’d teach you lamb, you endure my photos of said lamb.)

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And,of course, we did some store-bought British stuff. (Can Walker’s just sponsor me already?)

IMG_1541Okay, fine. I’ll give the goods:

Leg of Lamb (Assuming Yours is ~5 Lbs.)

  • Remove the bone. Don’t ask why. My boyfriend did, so I don’t know?
  • Rub it with olive oil (I’m not Ina, I’m not saying use ‘good’ olive oil)
  • Stab it a bunch and put garlic cloves in the holes (more than 6)
  • Cover it in rosemary (In the words of Annie Ray: MORE!)
  • Add some water to the bottom, not a lot, like a splash you’d do in a glass of vodka.

The oven will be set for 375, and you’ll want to watch this. It may take 3 hours, just keep track of the internal temp on a meat thermometer (I totally didn’t). It should be 140-160, but my boyfriend came home to a happy 180, and it was still okay. Again, it takes about 3 hours or so, so don’t start this thing at the last minute.

Oh, the roasties (super delicious British delicacy that is not the same as roasted potatoes):

I shoved them in the oven when I figured the lamb had about an hour to go. (I did those roasted vegetables earlier, because I figured people wouldn’t notice the temperature as much – in case you’re wondering, about 30-45 minutes with balsamic and olive oil.)

  • Par-boil some peeled Russet potatoes
  • Shake them vigorously in a bowl (or strainer) – it’s necessary because it gives them a floury exterior: IMPORTANT
  • Drizzle, LOL JK, DOUSE! them with oil of choosing
  • Bake for about an hour

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I hope you enjoyed the recipes, and I hope you have a great year full of empathy, and forgiveness. Why do I mention that? Why not??

Class Pass: A New Way To Get Fit

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Class Pass just launched in Austin, and I am genuinely excited. Have you ever wanted to take a cardio rowing class? Perhaps you hoped to someday visit Ride Indoor Cycling? Maybe you’re more extreme (like me) and are just dying to sign up for a torturous session of boot camp at Heat? Class Pass charges a flat monthly fee of $99 that let’s you take a plethora of classes at places all around town.

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The site is super easy to navigate: You choose your neighborhood(s), activity, time, and date. You can input as much or as little information as you’d like, and once you spot a class you like: you reserve the spot. I’ll be taking my first class on Friday and can’t decide between Zumba and barre. Don’t wait until after the holidays to get in shape! Class Pass gives you so many options that you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll enjoy.

Disclaimer: I will be trying these services free of charge. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Epicured Events: Sausage Making Class

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You know what beats a dinner party? A hands-on culinary adventure where you learn how to do something you never expected to be able to do: a sausage making class. That’s right. My partner and I headed out to Epicured Events in east Austin to make, eat, and drink. Well, I mostly showed up to drink.

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With a cold beverage in hand, I watched as our chef, Ben, doled out the workload, and gave us entertaining yet useful cooking tips. (I was successful in avoiding work, which is something I pride myself on.)

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We prepped fresh ingredients (well, everyone but me), and sampled our “test batches” (I pitched in for that part) of the Italian sausage and bratwurst links that we were ultimately going to make.

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You can tell a lot about people by how many penis jokes they make in a sausage making class. Clearly, we were an exceptional group of 6th graders disguised as sensible adults. Chef Ben kept a straight face for 90% of it, and we could tell he’d heard it all before.

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The sausage came out perfect, and we came out stuffed (and buzzed). It was hilarious, delicious, informative, and most of all: fun. I’d gladly re-take this class any day of the week. If you’re looking for something new to do: this is it.

Eating East: Nasha Indian

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Finally! There’s Indian food on the east side! Nasha recently opened it’s very colorful doors, and I’ve already been twice.

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The first time I went, I was a little put off by the harsh lighting inside, but absolutely adored the outdoor patio (warning: acorns will fall on you). On my recent visit, I noticed that the indoor lighting may have been changed for the better. Hurray ambiance!

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Both time I had the Malvani curry, ordered desi hot, and absolutely loved it. It’s exotic, coconut-y, and bursting with flavor.

nasha-indian-austinMy friend grabbed the Millionaire curry, medium hot, and wasn’t quite as impressed, but still ate every single bite. (He can say he’s underwhelmed all he wants, but I saw him lick the plate.)

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The wine and beer are fairly priced, and overall it’s a great spot if you are craving Indian, but simply don’t want to endure the hassle of traveling to north Austin. Did I mention that they made Indian tacos? I’ll just leave you with that.

Beauty Blog: Jose Luis Salon

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You may be wondering how this healthy, happy hair (shown above) happened. Especially considering that with color treatments, and a staunch refusal to lose any length of my proudly grown hair had led us to what you see below.

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Ouch! (And yes, both of those pictures were taken on the same day.) I decided to get over my haircut paranoia, and visit the luxurious (really luxurious) Jose Luis Salon on West 6th.

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It was there that these two magical people transformed my look from Tara Reid ca. 2003 (sloppy makeup, and about a half foot of split ends) into sleek, modern fierceness. Tyler, a master stylist and I presume very talented musician from Minnesota, was well versed in current trends, and happy to talk to me about which direction he thought I should go.

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He understood that I was scared of losing length, but also eased me into what needed to be done: chopping the dead weight off. We discussed blunt, razored edges, and he gave me exactly what he told me he would. (I should mention that he gives one killer scalp massage, and wanted me to disclose that he was only dressed as a cowboy for Halloween.)

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As soon as my hair was finished, they offered to throw in some makeup. What?! I was getting my hair AND makeup done?! I felt a little bit like Cinderella as Sarah worked her magic with the airbrush on me. (Okay, at this point I felt more like Beyonce than Cinderella, which we all know is an even better feeling.) She let me ask a ton of pesky makeup questions, and didn’t bat an eye when I changed my mind for which direction I wanted my look to go in. She was so gentle, patient, and understanding when I complained that my eyes were watering during the eyeliner application that I told her she should be a pediatrician. (I have a hilarious image in my head now of her being a pediatrician for one of the kids on Toddlers & Tiaras, given her makeup talent.)

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You saw how perfect my hair and makeup looked in the first image of this post, but as you can see in the one directly above, my whole look (minus the lipstick I surely drank off between F1 day parties and happy hours) held up. I looked and felt amazing, and had way too many people hit on me that day. (No lie.) If you want to to get your hair and makeup done for an event, or perhaps just to feel so good about yourself on the outside that it pierces your inside, I definitely recommend taking a trip to Jose Luis, and checking in with Sarah and Tyler.

Disclosure: I did receive complimentary services, but opinions expressed are 100% my own.