The*Rebeccammendations

Eastside Story: E.A.S.T. November 13, 2009

Filed under: Events & Activities — TheRebecca @ 9:26 am
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East studio tour preview house

The East Austin Studio Tour begins this weekend and will run until next weekend.

Last night, I attended another fabulous event organized by Art Alliance Austin and my dear friend Allison. In April, they host Art City Austin, a weekend-long art mega-event held downtown for all to soak up the aesthetic side of Austin, and last year, they hosted an exclusive after-party, Art After Dark, where delectable food and eye-catching art meet. It was there that I fell in love with TacoDeli, their ceviche tacos, and their salsas jam-packed with heat (just the way I like it!). TacoDeli is one of the many reasons you’ll find me at most Art Allaince Austin events, and last night was no exception.

The 9-day Eastside art tour event, East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.), will begin this weekend (11/14- 11/15 and 11/21-11/22, from 10 AM-5 PM) at a network of 154 art studios in East Austin. Last night, however, I attended, as the event’s promotional flyers called it, “Austin’s Own Little Peep Show”–the official preview event of E.A.S.T. The event included a rotating shuttle that made stops at Super!Alright!, Okay Mountain, Fisterra Studio, Domy Books, Art Palace, The Decoder Ring Design Concern and included tasty bites and sips from Tacodeli (of course!), Primizie Osteria, Eastside Pies, East Side Showroom, Frank (which cooked up their appetizers with home-grown ingredients by Decoder Ring Design Concern), NXNW, and Bacardi.

I had never visited any of the stops before, and the preview event definitely wet my appetite for the full tour this weekend. One of my favorites was Fisterra Studio, where local artist Jennifer Chenoweth lives, produces, and displays her incredible artistic creations.  The entire house was filled with unique succulents by Monique Campanelli of Articulture, arranged in breath-taking patterns and collections calling out to viewers on shelves, and hung as wall-art. The kitchen, lined with earthy, wooden walls, was the perfect setting for fall delights to be served byPrimizie Osteria, and the backyard, leading to the studio, was covered with botanical artworks, twinkle lights, and a fire pit.

east fisterra studio

Incredible succulent plant arrangements and a fabulous outdoorsy feel encompass Jennifer Chenoweth's home and art studio.

After witnessing an eclectic and lively peep show of the home-grown art the Eastside has to offer, I highly “Rebeccammend” checking out E.A.S.T. this weekend or next. Don’t forget to stop by the Pump Project, a non-profit art complex located at 702 Shady Lane, where art is borne and displayed in 22 studios, providing workspace to over 30 local artists. Make sure to stop by Limbo Jewelry Design, by the talented Edson Enriquez, in Studio T.  In September, I wrote the following about Edson’s studio open house and fall preview event:

“Truly talented jeweler and artist Edson Enriquez never fails to dazzle me with his simple, yet stunning accessories. I can spot one of his pieces out of a crowd because his unique work has a consistent “exculsive, modern, and original” look, staying true to the Limbo Jewelry Design tagline.”

While you’re art-ing this weekend on the Eastside, be sure to stop by to see his wonderful works and the unique creative space that is the Pump Project.

 

Breadily Available November 10, 2009

Filed under: Host with the Most — TheRebecca @ 9:13 am
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015There’s nothing like a savory loaf of freshly baked bread. And, of course, there are bakeries in our usual grocery store destinations, including HEB, and Whole Foods Market. But, how often do you get the privilege of taking a bite out of freshly baked local bread that came straight from the baker’s kitchen to your hands? This is a treat that you, too, can experience, although there’s one extra step that local bakeress, Lauren Hubele of Bona Dea Bread, has inserted into the process to make it easier for you to endulge in her doughy delights.

Back in April, I wrote about how I came  in contact with Lauren, and reached out to her for a Challah (a traditional Jewish bread that is made with eggs and often braided) for a Shabbat dinner I was attending. She was just then beginning to strategize her business, and in an effort to practice baking for customers, she provided me with a complimentary Challah that the dinner guests enjoyed in minutes.

Fast forward about six months, and Bona Dea Bread is on the rise (ha!). The website has been upgraded to receive online orders, customers can receive weekly updates on the latest loaves that are being baked, and designated pick up spots around Austin have been identified to make getting your bread just that much easier and adding a neighborhood bakery feel to the process.  And, for those of us that are health concious, you don’t have to feel guilty about endulging in these fiber-filled and whole grain options! This week, for example, you can order:

  • 6″ Rustic Round Honey Whole Wheat- $3
  • 6″ Rustic Round Sourdough Semolina Rosemary-$3
  • Traditional Challah-$5.50
  • Lauren’s Loaf- Sourdough Whole Wheat with flaxseed and rolled organic oats- $5.50

How to get your loaf:

  • Order your loaf online by 7 PM on Tuesdays and designate your pick up spot. *Delivery is on Thursdays and Fridays only, and Challah is only available on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Thursday pick-up spots cover North Central and East Austin areas between 3-7 PM
  • Friday pick-up spots cover Clarksville and South Austin between 3-7 PM

*Pick up spots are houses that have been volunteered to hold baked orders from 3-7 PM on delivery days- what a community! 

This weekend, I was lucky enough to try my second complimentary Challah from Lauren, who reached out to me just because she made some extras with local Jeremiah’s World’s Best Eggs from Coyote Creek Farm in Elgin. I will never turn down an extra Challah and it was enjoyed throughout the weekend! I only had to walk next door from where I live to pick up my delight…one of the pick up locations is just that close to me!

Bona Dea pick up

I am lucky that one of the pick up spots is literally walking distance from where I live. I have a feeling this will become a weekly ritual to start my weekend off right.

With convenient neighborhood pick-up locations, fabulous and healthy flavors, and locally baked fresh bread under the price of $6/loaf, why wouldn’t you want to serve one of these at a dinner party or give to the host of a party? Or, make a sandwich bar and serve Bona Dea Bread with all the fixin’s on the side for an easy lunch or picnic menu! And, did I mention Challah makes fabulous French Toast? Is your mouth watering yet?

*For background on bakeress, Lauren Hubele, check out Lois’ raving article in Austin Post, a locally aggregated online news source written by any Austinite that would like to contribute.

 

First Thursday Fotos: November 2009 November 6, 2009

Back in August, I vowed to share fotos from First Thursday when I attend, since I now inhabit the funky fresh South Congress area. Last night, the weather was mild for a November evening, and restaurants, bars, shops, and tents filled with the works of local artists were bustling. Yes, even I, was introduced to the back patio at HomeSlice, which was delightful and complete with outdoor heaters. (I know, I can’t believe I didn’t know about it, but even funnier—during college, I actually thought it was only an order-at-the-window pizza shop and was finally corrected when I ate inside last year). If you haven’t checked out the back patio of the infamous South Congress pizza joint, I Rebeccammend you check it out to avoid the walk-up window and indoor crowds, but expect a wait.

Enough for my lesson learned this First Thursday, check out these musical, optimistic, and caught-in-the-act-of-knitting photos below! Enjoy!

First Thursday-November 2009

 

Truffle Evolution: 4th Generation November 2, 2009

truffle smore goldApparently, I have a signature dish…or, rather, dessert. I’ve made a recipe (Oreo Truffles) four times, while either entertaining in my own home, as a guest contribution for parties hosted by others, and most recently, for a Truffles and Wine party at one of my favorite local wine bar spots, House Wine.  Each time, these homemade sweet treats were more than a hit, and were mistaken for bakery-bought!  Looks like I’ll be making these for future celebratory occasions, because, let’s face it, I want to keep my guests happy.

What may be most fascinating about these truffles is their evolution itself since they entered my kitchen repertoire. It seems that a winner recipe can be hard to find, hard to make, and somehow never comes out looking like the model picture. These Oreo Truffles, however, have gone beyond the taste-testing, trial-and-error phase and in fact, provided an opportunity to modify the base recipe to create new flavor combinations for these sweet-tooth-satisfying delicacies.

Take a look at the history:

  • January 2009: I discover Bakerella, and assist in the making of Oreo Truffles when I visit my cousin Dana in Denver for a Super Bowl party.
  • February 2009:  I make my first batch of Oreo Truffles for a potluck dinner and receive an unexpected, overwhelming positive response.
  • March 2009: TheRebeccammendations is born, and I write about Oreo Truffles for the first time. Flavor: simple black and white oreo
  • May 2009: I begin playing with flavor combinations and make Chocolate Mint and Rum Spice Vanilla Truffles for another potluck dinner.
  • July 2009: I receive a special request to make the truffles for Jen’s birthday party. This is when I turn the corner and perfect my technique. This was the best batch yet! Flavors: simple black and white oreo, and chocolate mint.
  • October 2009: I make four different kinds of cookie truffles for a Truffles and Wine party at House Wine. This was a huge success, and the truffles were the star of the party!  See below for flavors and recipe modifications:
  1. S’mores– The base batter is made with finely ground graham crackers, a little softened cream cheese, and about 1.5 cups of melted marshmellows. The marshmellows were necessary to help bind the batter because graham crackers do not already come with filling (like oreos do), which allows the batter to stick together. We tried to roll the truffle balls with batter surrounding a mini marshmellow, so that guests would bit into them and discover a surprise. It worked, but we only did this on half of this batch, since it took more time. We dipped the graham and marshmellow balls in chocolate to complete the perfect s’mores trifecta.
  2. Chocolate Mint– Followed the same instructions as before, and used the same recipe for basic oreo truffles, but used mint oreos instead. I think the Oreos brand has discontinued this flavor, but your trusty neighborhood HEB carries their own brand. Mint Oreo batter was dipped in chocolate.
  3. Pumpkin Spice Vanilla– This is the same recipe as the Rum Spice Vanilla truffles, but I substituted pumpkin spice (you can purchase this already combined in a spice shaker at the store) for the rum flavoring and cinnamon. The spice is added to the vanilla oreo and cream cheese batter before rolling up the truffles, freezing for 10 minutes, and dipping in white chocolate coating.
  4. Chocolate Cherry Divinity– I call this Divinity because as soon as I took a bite, the word that came to my mind was “divine”. These were made with the basic oreo truffle base (finely ground oreo cookies with cream cheese worked into it to make the base batter). We then patted marashino cherries with paper towels to remove excess juice to avoid soggy truffles. We added 2 teaspoons of the marashino juice from the jar to the base batter. This made it a little stickier and harder to roll into balls, but the end result was moist and perfect! We carefully rolled out 1 tablespoon of batter into a flat circle, then wrapped it around a marashino so that it was hidden inside. So. Good.

 Take a look at the result!

Crumb-ing

Crumbing

Finely grind the cookies you are using to make your truffles. The consistency should be like sand so that when you mix in the softened cream cheese, the batter will be more smooth than grainy. This makes for a creamier truffle. Thanks to Halley Claire for being my co-chef!

Rolling

truffles rolling

Molding the truffle batter around a cherry or mini marshmellow can be challenging, but you can do it! And, the result is fun and delicious!

Dipping

Truffle Dipping

Dipping the truffles involves using two spoons to handle it while coating it in white or milk chocolate, letting the excess fall back into the bowl, and letting it roll onto wax paper-covered cookie sheets.

Endulging!

truffles endulging

Super glue a clear plastic plate to the base of a plastic margarita or wine glass for a creative way to serve your truffle treats! (Thanks, Mom for the idea!)

Rebeccammended looks-fancy-but-is-not dessert recipe aimed at and sure to please your guests: Cookie truffles!

 

Colorful Cupcake Cones! October 28, 2009

cupcake cone multi close

Multicolor Cupcake Cones just radiate with happiness!

*Photos by Halley Claire Bass

I returned home from a trip last weekend to a fabulous surprise! My two roommates had spent the morning baking and making Colorful Cupcake Cones and I got to just show up and eat! The idea was so adorable and tasty that I just have to share.

Since I wasn’t at home to observe the process, Halley (my ACL guest blogger) and Nola enlightened me and shared pictures of the event. And, it was truly an event. The process consisted of:

  1. Splitting up the vanilla cake batter (made from a box mix) into six small bowls.
  2. Food coloring was added to each bowl of batter to make one bowl for each color in the rainbow (except for violet!) including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple!
  3. The McDonald’s style soft-serve cones (you can buy them at HEB or any major grocery chain), were placed in the holes of a mini cupcake pan so they stood upright. Each cone with a round, flat bottom should fit exactly inside the holes in the pan.
  4. The cake batter was then spooned into the cones, alternating colors so there were many different colored layers in each one.
  5. The cones with batter were then baked in the oven while standing upright in the mini-cupcake pan according to the instructions on the box.
  6. After the cupcakes and cones cooled, vanilla frosting was shmeared on top so the cones looked like they were filled with ice cream (without the melty mess), and the multicolored cupcakes were a pleasant surprise once I took a bite!

cupcake cones in progress

Try this easy, fun, and colorful sweet treat when entertaining for a birthday party or any happy occasion! Each guest will get their own cone, they don’t make a mess, you can make them ahead of time and they won’t melt, and they are just too cute to resist!

 

Capturing Real-Time Beauty October 27, 2009

Filed under: Shopping & Arts — TheRebecca @ 8:44 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Recently, I came across two blogs that are similar in nature, and belong to a larger blog project called: Urban Sketchers.  The idea is that artists around the world capture the cities they visit and live in through drawing and share them on this central website.  Artists are invited to participate, and links to their own works are included on the site by their city of origin. And, I believe Austin’s undying and one-of-a-kind love for art and culture is yet again proven by the fact that there are two artists listed for our esteemed city.

I think this concept of immersing oneself in a city, creating  an ad-hoc studio in a setting, and capturing the scene as it occurs through art is somewhat like stopping time, which as we know, is not actually possible. To take in one’s surroundings, and produce a candid artistic representation of it in the moment, one that will last beyond that moment for the artist to remember and others to enjoy, is a beautiful thing. I Rebeccammend you take a moment of your own time to observe and appreciate these artists’ ability to stop time, and perhaps think about what it was like for them to be living and breathing in the scene they have beautifully represented through drawing. We may feel like we’ve stopped time for a short time, and maybe this will will help us pause, reflect on, and absorb unique moments as we live our daily lives.

I Stare at People- by Lavanna Martin– shares images of people the artist sees at coffee shops around Austin. Austin is definitely a coffee-shop city—local ‘jo joints are everywhere in town and each have a different feel–perfect people-watching scenes. Lavanna has captured images of people through drawing at Cafe Caffeine, Cafe Medici, Epoch Coffee, Halcyon Coffee and Bar, JPs Java, Little City, and Spider House. Look at this painting of a retired military man at Epoch Coffee that was completed in 15 minutes!

retiredmilitary-i stare at people

Painting by Lavanna Martin. Photo Source: http://www.lavanna.com

Studio 712, Adventures of an Urban Sketch Hunter– by B. Scott Shaevel– captures the epitome of what one might think of when hearing urban sketch. Most are black and white, allowing the artist to pay attention to detail and clearly represent each chosen scene in a raw, yet intricate image. Here is a sketch of South Congress Avenue, looking North towards the Capitol.

congressAve_towardCapital_41009_shaevel

copyright 2009 b. scott shaevel | studio712; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Photo Source: http://x-studio712-x.blogspot.com/search/label/urban%20sketch

As I have been inspired by these two incredible local artists, I Rebeccammend that today, you take a moment, soak up your surroundings, take a mental picture, and remember to live in the present.

Have a great day!

 

Spooky Scenarios 2009 October 22, 2009

Filed under: Events & Activities — TheRebecca @ 8:34 am
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On Halloween, trick-or-treating never gets old. In fact, why don’t we, as adults (or young adults) plan a trick-or-treat trip? It would be fun, but it seems that after you pass a certain age or height, something about knocking on doors, begging for candy is just greedy.

So, in the ATX, many of us resort to trying to brave the downtown costumed mob in an effort to not mess up our costumes while squeezing into a jam packed bar. Last year, after a group of my friends got together at one of our houses for a Halloween party, we attempted this approach, which ended quickly when I turned around and headed back home since parking garages were full and taxis were taken.

So, this year, I Rebeccammend you celebrate at-home party style with your friends or try out some of these non-traditional, spooky scenarios:

1) 2009 Halloween Wine Bar Crawl— Put on by the Austin Winos, this event will include wine tasting in your costume at 5 wine bars, including Aquarelle, Cru, Max’s Wine Dive, Mulberry, and Cork & Co. For $72.40, you’ll get 10 glasses of $80-$100 bottles of wine, a commemoriative Austin Winos glass to take home, and a party in your costumes at the end of the night at Max’s! So fun! The night starts at Max’s at 7:30 PM until 12:30 PM, just in time to turn into a pumpkin!

2) The Zombie Prom at The HighBall, Austin’s newest multi-entertainment venue, brought to us by Alamo Drafthouse, and in fact living next to the S. Lamar Alamo location, includes karaoke, bowling, a restaurant, and bar all-in-one. Dress your best in haunted prom garb and experience a dance party with The Action Pack, the group that puts on many of the Alamo Drafthouse sing-a-longs many of us are all too familiar with, costume contests, Halloween kitchen creations, and a photo booth. Tickets are only $10 that you can buy online in advance or, you can save by purchasing tickets for Alamo’s Dance of the Dead to start out the night for a double-feature.

3) Austin Ghost Tours– Over 10 years old and still going strong, these $20 tours take groups around Austin to visit historical haunted buildings from the past. Halloween tours have already begun, and are going on every night until the haunted holiday. Most of the tours begin at Moonshine Bar & Grill, did you know the haunted history behind this popular restuarant? If you want to know more or join a tour, click here. And, these tours have never been cancelled due to rainy weather, which only adds to the darkness of the experience. Be afraid, be very, very afraid…

Have a treatful Halloween!

 

 
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