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Best Austin Desserts 2015

Goat Cheese and Red Velvet Cheesecake in a Pistachio Crust from Olive and June

http://austinfoodbloggers.org/2015-city-guide-best-places-to-eat-in-austin/ Dessert in Austin used to be a boys club. There used to be very few pastry chefs. Many restaurants got their desserts off the Sysco truck and the few that did make desserts in house were led by men. But the times they are a-changin’.  As more and more restaurants open and expand to new locations, […]

St. Philip

DSCN2301

Philip Speer, Culinary Director of the Uchi group heads up one of the hottest new ventures in town at St. Philip. I need to go back to do a more thorough review as my 1 trip so far was pre-opening. But I thought I should post my highlights as it is topping many best of […]

Hightower

DSCN2399

I was pleased to be offered an opportunity to try the new lunch menu at the Hightower on East 7th. I always get anxious about finding parking downtown but things were off to a great start to pull up to a reasonably sized parking lot. The inside is full of warm wood and soft lighting. There […]

Snow Monster

DSCN2221

Since this is Texas, we go from sweaters to shorts on a weekly basis. So frozen treats are good on warmer days or even on cold ones to reinforce the short chill. Snow Monster near Braker and North Lamar specializes in bubble teas and snow ice topped with fresh fruits, tapioca pearls, and custards. Choose your ice […]

Sip and Stroll at Central Market November 6, 2014

cmholidayguide

GRAB SOME WINE AT CENTRAL MARKET’S FESTIVE “STROLL” Preview the coming season’s offerings Nov. 6 To get in the holiday spirit, Central Market is hosting a storewide Holiday Stroll. The event serves to highlight Central Market’s holiday items and provides a generous sampling of the foods and beverages CM will be offering this holiday season. […]

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Best Austin Desserts 2015

Gluten-free Flourless Chocolate Cake from Noble Sandwich Co.

Gluten-free Flourless Chocolate Cake from Noble Sandwich Co.

http://austinfoodbloggers.org/2015-city-guide-best-places-to-eat-in-austin/

Dessert in Austin used to be a boys club. There used to be very few pastry chefs. Many restaurants got their desserts off the Sysco truck and the few that did make desserts in house were led by men. But the times they are a-changin’.  As more and more restaurants open and expand to new locations, women are becoming the new face of pastry in town.

Pastry case at Noble Sandwich Co.

Pastry case at Noble Sandwich Co.

 

Noble Sandwich Co. has grown from a tiny location in far north Austin to two much larger shops now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. As much as I love their fabulous sandwiches, I have always been a fan of the eclectic pastry case. In addition to the standard bacon caramel corn and rotating cookie varieties, there is always something interesting like chocolate pate or dried fruit and nut-studded nougat. These creations are the brainchild of Lindsay O’Rourke.

Desserts from Noble Sandwich Co.

Desserts from Noble Sandwich Co.

O’Rourke graduated from culinary school here in Austin and went to post-Katrina New Orleans to hone her skills. After returning to Austin she worked at a few different places until an all-too-familiar chef story happened to her. She knew a chef who knew the chefs at Noble. Like many places, Austin has an incestuous yet friendly and supportive culinary community.

Brioche buns, bacon bread, white and rye. All made in-house at Noble Sandwich Co.

Brioche buns, bacon bread, white and rye. All made in-house at Noble Sandwich Co.

Noble was looking for someone to take over making the bread for their tasty sandwiches as well as make some cookies and other desserts. When O’Rourke got tired of making the same old chocolate chip, a batch of her triple chocolate marshmallow convinced the guys to expand their offerings. Now every trip finds something new and exciting in the pastry case.

Chocolate turtle delice macaron, huckleberry from la V

Chocolate turtle delice
macaron, huckleberry from La V

One of the hottest new restaurants in town is la V. Ladies rule the roost from management to sommelier to chef. Their highly pedigreed pastry chef is Janina O’Leary. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute she worked in New York with such legendary chefs as Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Pichet Ong. She came to Austin to be closer to family and soon became the Executive Pastry Chef at Trace at the W. O’Leary was lured away by a longing to work more with local ingredients including those grown in La V’s own gardens.

Beautiful brioche at La V.

Beautiful brioche at La V.

O’Leary’s other joy is the bread program. As restaurants are going back to having in-house pastry chef’s they are discovering one of the perks is better quality bread. Instead of the same one or two bakeries supplying all of the restaurants in town with mediocre bread, pastry teams are coming up with supple brioche, crusty rolls and hearty wheat breads to fill the bread baskets. In addition, O’Leary also offers an assortment of doughnuts, scones and hand-rolled croissants for brunch.

Goat Cheese and Red Velvet Cheesecake in a Pistachio Crust from olive and june

Goat Cheese and Red Velvet Cheesecake in a Pistachio Crust from olive and june

Erica Waksmunski has worked literally from coast to coast. From Tennessee to Chicago to San Francisco. She came to Austin via the chef’s network- she met someone who used to work for David Bull. Before she knew it she was relocating once again to be the pastry chef at Congress. Like many pastry chefs, survival means versatility and Waksmunski does savory as well as sweet. She opened a food trailer Red Star Southern famous for its hot chicken and social media personality Ol’ Shitter Jim.

Rustic loaves at olive and june.

Rustic loaves at olive and june.

But sweet came knocking on the door once again. This time as Executive Pastry Chef for parkside projects, Shawn Cirkiel’s family of restaurants that include parkside, olive and june, and coming soon- Bullfight, a tapas restaurant slated to open in the Spring. Waksmunski spends her days bouncing between restaurants supervising a team that helps her execute desserts, breads as well as handmade pastas. Evenings are back to the trailer to relieve her partner at Red Star Southern. And she could not be happier.

Handmade ravioli at olive and june.

Handmade ravioli at olive and june.

As the culinary scene changes and expands here in Austin it has been fascinating to watch the pastry scene grow. I am so glad for the fresh faces and innovative desserts. Do not forget to save room next time you go out. You will not be disappointed. And check out my fellow food bloggers posts in our 2015 AFBA City Guide.

2015 AFBA City Guide

2015 AFBA City Guide

St. Philip

DSCN2301Philip Speer, Culinary Director of the Uchi group heads up one of the hottest new ventures in town at St. Philip. I need to go back to do a more thorough review as my 1 trip so far was pre-opening. But I thought I should post my highlights as it is topping many best of lists for the year.

St Philips occupies part of the space that used to be Cannoli Joe’s which was an all-you-can-eat Italianish food. Although better than many buffet places, the pizza there was flabby and greasy. So the beautiful pies that Speer’s crew are turning out are truly tasty. We had the Wild Mushroom with Ricotta, Baby Kale, and Umami Sauce ($14) Not sure what was in the umami sauce but it is my new favorite condiment. I think it would easily make catsup its bitch.

DSCN2305Forget Chicken and Waffles and try the Churros and Chicken. I don’t think this is still on the menu but I really liked the spicy and creamy dipping sauces with the boneless chicken breast and mini churros. The menu updates often with seasonal items and the creative whims of the chef. Had to mention this one though with churros coming up as a new hot item, I really liked the creativity of the savory sweet pairing.

DSCN2294The restaurant seems small but that is most likely due to the eager anticipation that still packs the place on a nightly basis. Tables are close but great for people watching. There is also a huge bar with a long list of Texas beers and wines on tap. Yes, even many of the wines are on tap. There is also a nice porch area outside for the inevitable wait if you try to pop in. Service is friendly and attentive, even bringing us cold ice water outside on a warm day while we had a brief wait on our table.

DSCN2311Speer is still one of my favorite pastry chefs in town. Although he may not be baking on a day to day basis, you can bet he is training and guiding the crew filling the huge pastry case that has its own dedicated area. One of the main reasons I need to return is because there were only slim pickings left on our visit but we did enjoy a rootbeer snickerdoodle, a soft oatmeal cookie, and a puckery sweet lemon chess pie.

So for Uchi dining standards but with wholly new flavors check out St. Philips and see what’s new.

 

DSCN2399
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Hightower

I was pleased to be offered an opportunity to try the new lunch menu at the Hightower on East 7th. I always get anxious about finding parking downtown but things were off to a great start to pull up to a reasonably sized parking lot. The inside is full of warm wood and soft lighting. There […]

December 6, 2014 0
DSCN2221
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Snow Monster

Since this is Texas, we go from sweaters to shorts on a weekly basis. So frozen treats are good on warmer days or even on cold ones to reinforce the short chill. Snow Monster near Braker and North Lamar specializes in bubble teas and snow ice topped with fresh fruits, tapioca pearls, and custards. Choose your ice […]

November 29, 2014 1
cmholidayguide
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Sip and Stroll at Central Market November 6, 2014

GRAB SOME WINE AT CENTRAL MARKET’S FESTIVE “STROLL” Preview the coming season’s offerings Nov. 6 To get in the holiday spirit, Central Market is hosting a storewide Holiday Stroll. The event serves to highlight Central Market’s holiday items and provides a generous sampling of the foods and beverages CM will be offering this holiday season. […]

November 3, 2014 0
bigredsbubbles2014
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Big Reds and Bubbles

If you are looking for a fancy, dress-up event to kick off the holidays, The Wine and Food Foundation throw a mean party at the Driskill every year. Some of the best restaurants in town provide tasty bites. And you get to sample dozens of the best red wines and champagne in the world. I […]

October 30, 2014 0
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Wine and Swine

                  Get your tickets now before they sell out. Wine and Swine is one of my favorite events of the year. A fall celebration of all things porky to benefit the Austin Food and Wine Alliance. Hope to see you there! Tweet

October 27, 2014 0
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Cochon is coming, Cochon is coming!

So much going on this weekend! Austin Food Blogger’s Alliance first bloggers conference, Byte of Texas,  a fabulous sounding fundraiser for local Springdale Farms, my birthday And Cochon 555 is coming to Austin. If you have not heard, Cochon 555 is an epic traveling pork battle featuring local chefs in a competition using heritage breeds […]

September 22, 2014 0
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Byte of Texas Speakers

I am so excited about the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance first ever conference called Byte of Texas. On September 27-28 here in Austin we will be hosting bloggers from far and wide to come learn, discuss and grow ourselves and our blogs. Hope to see you there! Here’s a description of the event: Byte of Texas […]

September 8, 2014 0
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Cooking Planit Slide Show

I am testing a new slider for the Cooking Planit Blog. Check out some of our great recipes. Tweet

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