Thursday, April 14, 2011


New review of Mulberry, go check it out:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Hill Country Wine and Food Festival

Hey everyone, just a quick reminder- this week is the HCWFF. There are events all over town, so check their website for event details. Hope to see you there!

House Pizzeria

Our review of House Pizzeria is good to go:

House Pizzeria

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bola Pizza

Hey everyone, we decided to get our review up a little early this week due to this being the SXSW Music Conference. Check it out-
Bola Pizza

Sunday, March 13, 2011


A couple of weeks back we got to go to a media event at Haddington's. What is Haddington's you ask? It's a great new foodie hot spot with out of this world cocktails as well. Check it out-
Haddington's Media Event

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Breakfast Smoothie

Mixed Berry Smoothie
I don't know about everyone else but I almost never have the time in the morning to prepare a proper breakfast, and I generally try to avoid going to the drive-through. Personally I love breakfast, but during the week it has to be something quick that I can have on the way to work, that is both satisfying and that will not cause damage to my arteries. With that in mind I thought I'd share a recipe for a quick breakfast smoothie. Here's what I usually use for my smoothies-

2 bananas
1 cup frozen mixed berries
3 tablespoons fat free Greek yogurt
6oz fruit juice
Tabletop or immersion style blender

1. Peel and slice the bananas and place in your blender along with the yogurt and fruit juice
2. Thaw the berries in your microwave, (or let them sit over night in the refrigerator to thaw) and place them in
     your blender.
3. Blend until you get a nice smooth texture and pour into your glass.

The great thing about this smoothie is that it can be made very quickly in the morning, or made the night before and stored in the refrigerator. For the smoothie pictured I used a 100% pomegranate-blueberry blend for the juice. While I do prefer the pomegranate-blueberry, it can be a bit expensive so I also use red grape juice in my smoothies. If you wanted to make this a vegan breakfast all you would have to do is substitute the yogurt for soy or almond milk. I prefer the vanilla flavored or plain.  In addition to berries, sometimes I also use a mix of berries and frozen mango or peach. Either way you'll be treated to a quick, portable, and satisfying breakfast that won't cause a heart attack or shrink your bank account!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Apothecary Cafe and Wine Bar

I have a complaint y'all. Sometimes this whole food critic thing can be a really a hard job. I mean, we have to eat at fantastic restaurants and then write about them while our friends happily listen to us brag. Yeah, our job is tough!

All joking aside, this week's review is yet another in the long, luscious litany that the Austin food scene is becoming. We went to Apothecary on Burnet Road, tonight, after Matt had heard of them while at Antonelli's Cheese Shop. This was a great experience, the atmosphere was warm and inviting, the staff excellent and the owner, Niraj Mehdiratta, was nice enough to spend a few minutes chatting about his place with us. It turns out they have been open for about 18 months now, and if this past Tuesday was any indication they'll be around for a good while.

Cheese and Charcuterie Plate
Matt and I each ordered an appetizer and an entree, just to get the flavor of the restaurant.  I ordered my appetizer off their cheese and charcuterie menu, I had the manchego & Spanish chorizo, brie & honey balsamic marinated grapes, as well as the gorgonzola dolce with guava paste. The cheeses here are all from our favorite cheese shop, Antonelli's, and all are paired amazingly well with their accompanying side. Manchego cheese, if you haven't had it, is a Spanish cheese, slightly on the hard side with a mild, nutty flavor. A good way to think of it is like a mild parmigiano reggiano. Spanish chorizo, unlike most of the Mexican breakfast variety you find in Texas, is very mild in flavor and with a texture more like a good, dry salami, this particular one had a nice garlic flavor to it. Brie is one of my favorite cheese, soft and very neutral in flavor, but slightly sweet at the same time and nothing pairs better with brie than grapes, nothing. The grapes on this plate are of the red variety and marinated in a fantastic balsamic honey, which adds a nice tartness and sweetness to the dish, this pairing is like eating the best grape jelly you have ever had, no lie. The only type of cheese I like better than brie is any kind of blue, and this gorgonzola dolce did not disappoint. Milder in flavor than, say, a Stilton or a Shropshire blue this had that nice blue funk without kicking out too many teeth. I will admit that when I saw its pairing I was a tad dubious, I'm really not a guava fan. This pairing though may have been the best thing I ate all night. I found that the sweetness of the guava balanced the bitter of the blue well and the pairing went down incredibly well with the Malbec I was drinking.

Macaroni and Cheese
Matt ordered the prosciutto macaroni and cheese as his appetizer. As you may have read in our review of Big Easy, Matt and I are a bit spoiled when it comes to mac and cheese, being that our mom makes the best this side of anywhere. This particular mac was a very close second to our mom's though, the goat cheese and white truffle oil played incredibly well with the prosciutto and the dish just sang beautifully well. Absolutely in love with this dish.

Minced Pork and Mascarpone Crepe
For dinner I ordered a crepe, oh here it comes, you're thinking. Any of our long time readers will know, I love crepes, I can't get enough of them, I just adore them. The crepe I ordered was minced pork and mascarpone cheese with a dried fruit chutney mixed in to it, simply beautiful. First, the pork was cooked properly, not too dry and not trichinosis inducing rare and the combination of the mascarpone and chutney added a nice, balanced sweetness to the dish. The tomatillo sauce over the top was also nice, slightly spicy and tangy it rounded off a very good crepe.

Cuban Sandwich
Matt ordered an entree that has seemed something akin to a unicorn for us in Austin – a proper Cuban Sandwich. This is a dish we have searched and searched for, but no one gets it right and it makes me weep. What am I getting so emotional about? Most "Cubans" found in the area seem to consist of sliced ham, your choice of a second meat (yeah, how 'bout pulled pork), crema, guacamole, and jalapenos served hot on a non-pressed bolillo. Tasty to be sure, but a Cuban it is not. A proper Cuban consists of pulled pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, mustard and a pickle spear all smashed together on hot sandwich press; yes a two ham sandwich, because three hams would certainly kill him. This version was also served with a garlic mojo on the side, which was essentially minced garlic in olive oil. This may be the best sandwich I have ever tasted in my entire life, the different ingredients play well to create a multi-layered flavor experience that will make you desire another. Apparently, unicorns DO exist!

All in all, this was a fantastic meal, we had nothing to complain about. Again I want to thank Niraj and his staff for treating us so well. We truly look forward to dining with y'all again!

Five Points of the Lonestar out of Five

Apothecary Café and Wine Bar
4800 Burnet Rd. Suite 450
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-Midnight, Sun  11am-10pm

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Aster's Ethiopian

Aster's Ethiopian
How would I describe Ethiopian food to a person who has never tried it (beyond saying, "It's delicious")? Well, for those who have yet to try Ethiopian food, let me start by saying that if you like Indian food you will probably like Ethiopian food as well. That's not to say that it tastes like Indian food, but it is prepared in a similar fashion, in particular - the layering of flavors. With Indian food, the base layer of flavor is provided by the masala for that particular dish. Then, layers of other spices are added. With Ethiopian food, dishes often start with a spiced clarified butter called niter kibbeh, to which berbere (an Ethiopian spice mix) and other spices are often added. The resulting dishes are rich and deeply flavored, worthy of a place among the leading cuisines of the world.

So how does Aster's measure up to this standard? Well, if you had to judge a book by it's cover, you would probably drive right past it just as I did for years. It is a humble, unassuming place on the corner of Dean Keaton and IH-35. But don't let that fool you because inside is some of the best food in Austin. In fact, for the last year I've ended up going at least once a month - even though I live about 20 miles north in Cedar Park. It's that good!
So what did we have? Let's start with Ethiopia's national dish: Doro Wott. Doro Wott is chicken that has been simmered in a sauce made from onion, garlic and ginger, sauteed in niter kibeh, to which berbere and other herbs and spices are added. It comes served with a hard-boiled egg which has also been simmered in the sauce. Why the egg, you may be wondering? I can think of two reasons off the top of my head: 1) It is traditional. 2) Why not? Being a big fan hard-boiled eggs reason number 2 is my favorite. Doro Wott is a very spicy and complex dish, one of my favorites.

Finally, we tried the Menchet Abesh. Menchet Abesh is a spicy dish of ground beef, which may sound a bit pedestrian; after all there are some people who add Hamburger Helper to ground beef and call it good. But rest assured this dish is about as far away from that as day is to night. Menchet Abesh is simmered in berbere sauce along with garlic, ginger, black pepper and other Ethiopian spices. I highly recommend this dish. If you have a low tolerance to spice you might prefer the similar Alicha Menchet Abensh. 

Each dish is served both on and with injera. Injera is a type of sourdough flat bread made from Teff, a grain commonly used in Ethiopia but that is now being cultivated in parts of the U.S. It has a somewhat spongy texture and a very bright, tangy flavor. Imagine a porous sourdough pancake, perfect for sopping up stew. Please note that Injera is also served as the edible utensil, so if you want silverware - be sure to ask. Finger-eaters will feel right at home at Aster's.

Prices vary depending on whether you show up for lunch or dinner. Lunch is $6.95 for everything unless you go for the buffet (recommended) which is $9.99. The dinner menu starts at $10.95 and caps out at $14.95. At dinner each meat dish comes with two vegetarian sides, all of which are great. And for our vegetarian friends out there, they also offer a good variety of dishes that don't use meat. But let's face it, the cuter an animal is usually the tastier it is too.
This is one of the best restaurants in Austin, definitely one not to be missed. 

AFJ rating: 4 Lone Star Points
General information:
Aster's Website
Google Maps Location

2804 N IH-35
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 469-5966
Hours of Operation:
11-9 Tues/Thurs & Sunday
11-10 Fri/Sat
Closed Mondays



Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Big Easy Cafe

Big Easy Cafe
This week’s review takes us a bit outside our normal area to our sister city of San Antonio. Alex had been talking about this great Cajun place in San Antonio for a while and since we happened to be in the area we thought, why not try ‘em? 

For anyone in Austin, I know you’re probably thinking, you mean there’s more than just Mexican food in San Antonio? Yes there is. There is much, much more than that one of these places is the unassuming Big Easy Café. Located right off a busy intersection, this place is easy to miss but you’ll regret it if you do. The staff is friendly and the food is authentic and very tasty. Here’s what we had-

Fried Oyster Po’Boy
Fried Oyster Po'Boy
It may seem sacrilegious to some, but I’ve never been a huge fan of oysters. I’ve always thought them to be a bit overrated. The fried oysters here however are well worth trying. The oysters themselves are perfectly tender and flavorful and the batter is good and crunchy, providing a nice contrast to the texture of the oysters within. It comes served on a large roll with lemon, tomato, and lettuce. Dave also got the dirty rice as a side. A very generous and filling plate, well worth trying. 

Fried Shrimp Plate
Shrimp Plate
Fried shrimp are one of my favorite things eat, especially when tossed with some nice Cajun seasonings. The shrimp were good sized (no puny popcorn shrimp here) and fried to a nice tender texture. Like the oysters the batter is nice and crunchy, providing a nice contrast of textures. This plate comes with three sides; I chose the potato salad, green beans, and the mac and cheese. The potato salad and green beans are as good as any I’ve had anywhere else. As far as the mac and cheese goes, you have to understand that I am a bit spoiled here. I realize that with mac and cheese, the variations are nearly endless and it can spark rather passionate debates over whose is the best. Personally I’m used to my mother’s and Alex’s and quite frankly no other mac and cheese can measure up. There is no further discussion on the matter. All differing opinions are simply incorrect. Having said that however, I have to admit that this one ranks among the better alternate versions I have tried. It may not be mom’s or Alex’s but you certainly can’t go wrong with it.

Next time you're in the area, give 'em a try!

AFJ Rating- 2 Lone Star Points

San Antonio, TX 78233
(210) 653-5688