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Entries in austin (6)

Monday
Feb182013

Frozen Hot Chocolate from Holy Cacao, Austin TX

Holy Cacao

It started out innocently, really.

We were going to Gourdough's to get some big fat doughnuts. Yay for big fat doughnuts!

But on our way, we were sidetracked by something heaven-sent: Holy Cacao. If you're not familiar with the way the food truck scene is set up in Austin, Texas, let me tell you that it is epic. In my opinion, it's like Portland's food truck scene, but like, times ten. There are food truck "pods" or mini communities, set up in lots all over. Some even have communal seating areas. It makes for a really friendly atmosphere and really promotes trying products from multiple vendors.

And while exploring other vendors on our way to Gourdough's, this was the one that caught this Spy's eye. Specializing in chocolate and cake pops, it was right up my alley. Even more so when I noticed their tag line: Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso." (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.) - Spanish proverb. I like that way of thinking.

You should probably get one of everything here. They offer cake balls in all sorts of flavors, shakes (including! A cake shake!), and drinking chocolate. And it's the drinking chocolate that is the base of their Frozen Hot Chocolate. 

Holy cacao

If you have never heard of frozen hot chocolate, let me educate you. It's an incredibly rich chocolate base that is then mashed with ice cream and ice and blended to smooth, creamy confection perfection. It's not quite a milkshake, but it's more than just chilled hot chocolate. When done poorly, it's like a grainy coolatta. When it's done well, it's magic. It's famous the world at a place called Serendipity 3 in New York City.

At Holy Cacao, they do it right. You start by choosing a hot chocolate flavor - Holy, Cacao, The Mexican, or Peppermint Patty, and then they will blend it with ice and Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream (because in Texas, you're in Blue Bell country), carefully adjusting their blender and mashing down uncrushed ice and blending again to ensure the correct consistency. What you get is, as they aptly declare on their website, "a rich, chilled chocolate experience."

My companion, who grew up in New York City with Serendipity 3 as the guiding light and standard of what a Frozen Hot Chocolate can and ought to be, not only approved, but (watch out) declared it superior. And I can agree that it is very, very, very good. 

It doesn't really get so cold in Austin, it more trends toward hot, and this beverage is the perfect way to cool down, deliciously.

And the perfect warm-up to a doughnut.

1311 So. 1st Street, Austin; online here.

Saturday
Feb162013

CakeSpy Undercover: Sugar Mama's Bakeshop, Austin TX

Box o' goodness, sugar mama's

Here's a bakery that really excited me: Sugar Mama's Bakeshop in Austin, Texas.

Now, I should tell you that even before I tasted their sweets, I was hungry for them. A few years ago, I had 

Custom order for Sugar Mama's Bake Shop

Here's a detail, so you can see the subject matter, which focuses on cupcakes baking and getting tattoos. Since this is what they had requested, I hope you can see why I already kind of loved them.

Custom order for Sugar Mama's Bake Shop

So upon setting foot in Austin, I hot-footed it over to this sweet spot as my first stop. 

Sugar Mama'sSugar Mama's

Oh, what to get! Well, certainly not just one thing. So we settled on a couple of bourbon chocolate pecan bars, a chocolate chip scone, and a Pistachio chocolate chip cupcake (a special on Fridays; view their website for a daily cupcake menu).

Sugar Mama's, Austin

First, let's talk about that Pistachio chocolate chip cupcake. Buttery vanilla cake swirled with rich chocolate chips and topped with creamy pistachio buttercream frosting. A nice cake foundation, topped with an addictive as crack pistachio frosting. Like a good pistachio pudding, only buttery. Kind of like the cupcake version of these cookies. Big thumbs up.

Scone, Sugar Mama's

Next, the scone. I'm showing it to you realllll close up because that's about how close I got, to look it scone-cold in the eye, and ask it if it was feelin' lucky. When it didn't answer, I took it as a sign of disrespect and just cause to bite its face off. And I will tell you, its face was delicious. The chocolate chips were joined by chocolate swirled throughout the scone, and it was nice and moist, biscuitlike. A nice, sweet scone.

Bourbon pecan chocolate chip bar, sugar mama's

Finally, and my personal favorite, the bourbon chocolate chip pecan bars. Like, OMG. As they put it on their website, this is "Our delicious take on an old favorite. Pecans, chocolate chips, and a hint of bourbon on top of a pie crust." This description does not do this bar justice. May I humbly suggest that they change it to "this is the type of foodstuff that makes you want to eat it continuously until you're obese." Rich pecans in a buttery, gooey sauce. Punctuated by dark, deep, delicious chocolate. Made better with a shortbread crust. Given just enough "bite" from the bourbon to cut through the richness, giving it a lovely, lingering caramelly contrast. I want another right now.

Unicorn, Austin TX

And you know what? Right after leaving, I went to another shop where I found this unicorn statuette. Now, if that is not proof that Sugar Mama's is capable of sprinkling magic on your day, I don't know what further proof you need.

1905 S. 1st Street, Austin; online here.

Sunday
Feb102013

Finer Diner: 24 Diner, Austin TX

24 diner, Austin

I need to talk to you about a very special diner called, simply, 24, in Austin, Texas. The name refers to how many hours they are open per day. Get it?

24 Diner

Now, to say "diner" might be ever so misleading. As they say on their website,

"When you hear the word diner, you probably think greasy spoon. 24 Diner is anything but. Essentially, we took all the elements of the concept we liked — classic American cuisine, good service, fun atmosphere — and turned it up about 10 notches. We offer chef-inspired comfort food, local & organic fare, a full bar and a killer beer & wine list. A finer diner, if you will. And you can stop in anytime. We’re open 24 hours a day."

But don't worry--just because it's "turned up about 10 notches" doesn't mean it's inaccessable. True, it's undeniably hip, and the dishes will cost a bit more than a greasy spoon, but it's worth it, because they do very fine work here. 

And plenty of it is sweet stuff. Since I was there for breakfast, I am mainly going to focus on morning sweets, but they do have a daily dessert list and based on everything I tried, I am going to go ahead and say you should probably try something. For instance, while browsing their Facebook page, I found pictures of desserts such as the Kentucky Bourbon pie (pictured above) and the honey cheesecake with graham cracker crust and lemon honey sauce (below).

If you love breakfast carbohydrates, you must get one of their Belgian waffles. It's a waffle a little different than I have ever tried, a yeast-risen dough with butter, Madagascar vanilla, and raw sugar. The high quality ingredients are evident from first bite--that light vanilla scent that permeates the waffle is tantalizing to smell as you're served, and it will definitely make your mouth happy. Oh, and it's served with fancy Grade A light amber Vermont maple syrup. And the butter definitely has some flavoring. Honey? I don't know. It's good though.

Waffle and shake

And you must get a shake. Shakes start with vanilla ice cream and then you can expand by adding quality ingredients such as single-origin chocolate, local strawberries, Grade A Vermont maple syrup, housemade syrups, and Texas Coffee Traders espresso. I suggest that you run, don't walk, for the Roasted Banana and brown sugar milkshake. This thing makes me want to do a happy dance. Like bananas foster meets banana cream pudding meets milkshake. And with fresh whipped cream on top! It makes you wand to do some happy banana dance or something. But please don't, because the clientele is hipster cool here. You don't want to lose your hip standing.

24 Diner, 600 N. Lamar, Austin, TX; open 24 hours. Online here.
Sunday
Feb102013

Almond Croissant, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Austin TX

Boite, Austin

I have sampled the almond croissant by Elizabeth Street Cafe in Austin, and I found them highly satisfactory. 

My path was indirect, however. Although I have been to the cafe, which specializes in Vietnamese food with a Frenchy twist, I actually sampled the croissant at the (sadly) now closed trailer La Boîte. It was a very cute spot: a trailer on a hill selling macarons, coffee, croissants and sandwiches. Here is a photo by Aimee Wenske and Jeff Kauffman.

I had visited after it was suggested by a reader; me and a buddy stopped by the pre-funk before breakfast at 24. 

Which takes us back to that almond croissant. 

It was supplied by the Elizabeth Street Cafe, I learned, and it was a fine specimen. A crackly exterior that did that nice shatter-crunch thing that a good croissant should do, in your mouth, not in your hand. A rich, almond-y flavor that permeated each bite. Crunchy almonds on top to give it a texture contrast with the smooth, slightly gooey interior. Overall, a very satisfying croissant experience.

That's all. Go get one yourself.

You can't enjoy one at La Boite anymore, but go right on over to Elizabeth Street Cafe, 1501 S. 1st Street, Austin; online here.

Monday
May282012

CakeSpy Undercover: Easy Tiger, Austin TX

Danish Krans, Easy Tiger, Austin

Easy, Tiger. It's time to talk about beer, baked goods, and how both intersect so beautifully in Austin, Texas.

At a place called Easy Tiger.

I heard about this place from Katie, who I met in Austin while vending at the Renegade Craft Fair. I think Katie is pretty rad. And she knows my friend Jeff, who once ate a butter duck in Orlando!

Well, Easy Tiger is a very special place. It's gorgeously appointed, kind of hipster-chic, almost like it could be as comfortable in Portland, OR as it was in Austin, on a block populated by more bars than bakeries. It has an enormous, and beautiful, outdoor beer garden, the perfect place to enjoy a pint (or a pastry, or both) on a summer evening. It's really a great place to hang out. But now, it's time to talk pastry.

They have a great variety of pastries, mostly flaky, all delicious. They also have a wall of bread.

But what did I sample?

The Danish Krans. The portion was very generous, something like 1/6 of the ring. The crackly pastry exterior, glazed with what seemed like apricot glaze, which kept it delightfully fresh-tasting even though it was nearly 10pm at the time of acquisition, gave way to a creamy almond interior, which was extremely generous (no air pocket on top! all filling all the time!); overall, the pastry managed to remain interesting bite after bite; it didn't become boring in spite of the size of the serving (which was devoured, btw). Overall, a satisfying, filling, and delicious experience. It made this Spy so curious to return and try the cherry-lime danish, which was highly recommended by the barista (the self-described "Best Barista in Austin...after 7pm". 

Easy tiger, Austin

My overall thoughts? Go to Easy Tiger. You won't regret it.

Easy Tiger, online here. Austin, TX.

Monday
Oct222007

Cake Byte: Hey, Cupcake! in Austin, TX

Has it all been done before? At Cakespy, we like to think not, and like to consider ourselves poised to be amazed by feats of baking. That's why we were delighted hear about Hey, Cupcake! through Cake Gumshoe Erin.

Hey, Cupcake! combines all the best things that hipsterdom has to offer: cheap ($2) cupcakes, an Airstream trailer, and a cute 29-year old guy baking and selling them in small batches in a convection oven.

And what could make us love the proprietor, Wes Hurt, even more? As he's quoted as saying in an article in News 8 Austin, "No shortening. We use good old butter. There’s nothing low calorie about cupcakes."

Swoon.

For more information, visit heycupcakaaustin.com.

Cakespy Note: There's also a very nice writeup on Hey, Cupcake! on one of our favorite blogs; click here to read it: cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com.

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