Where to eat Queso in Austin

Texas is known mostly for two types of food: Bar-b-que and Tex-Mex. With BBQ you get your ribs, sausage, and brisket. With Tex-Mex you get your tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, and chips with salsa, or more popularly, chips and queso!

But queso isn't just queso anymore. Especially in Austin, where many places have taken what used to be a cheese dip and turned it into a bowl of many wonders, adding peppers, meat, and most notably guacamole. Austin has become well known for it's queso and here are some of the best places to get your queso fix:


2613 South Lamar, Austin, TX

You don't get more classic Austin than Matt's Famous El Rancho, and you don't get more classic queso than the Bob Armstrong Dip. Authentic Tex-Mex 101, the Bob dip starts with a cheese base, followed by a scoop of seasoned ground beef, and a dollop of guacamole. As the bumper sticker says, "Gimme a Large Bob!"


Best accompanied by: 
a Margarita, of course! Frozen or on the rocks, either one does the trick.

Homemade Gumbo, NOLA style

A father is set to meet his daughter's boyfriend for the first time. She is from Texas, he is from Louisiana, New Orleans no less. As so many courtships are these days, a neighboring state is the closest you can get to the boy next door. But I digress...

The father knows exactly what he wants to ask the native New Orleanian. He wants to hear how the boy makes a dark roux (pronounced "rue"). The father knows there are different theories, old and new with the newer ones involving - gosh forbid - microwaves, but he is looking for the secret that has stood the test of time, having been passed onto him by his own southern nomadic ancestors. The trick is to burn it.

He could have tested him even more by asking him to name the Trinity (Onion, Celery, Bell Pepper, all together but in no specific order).

What you'll need...
2 Andouille sausage
1 Rotisserie Chicken
1/2 lb shrimp, de-shelled, de-veined, but tails on!
2 qts chicken stock
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 stock of celery, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup of frozen okra, thawed
3 Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoon of Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon of Salt
White rice
Scallions

What to do...

Old-fashioned Cream Soda

A cold drink that can be so warming. 

Sometimes a good old-fashioned cream soda just hits the spot.


It's Superbowl Sunday!

We'll be enjoying these this weekend, how about you?!


Pigs in a Blanket

1 Package Cresent Rolls
1 Package Little Smokies

Preheat oven to 350.
Wrap the little smokies in the crescent rolls, like a pig in a blanket.
Place on a greased cookie sheet or pizza stone, and cook until golden brown.

Fortnum & Mason, London

William Fortnum was a footman, Hugh Mason was his landlord. In 1707 the two collaborated to set up shop together and the rest is history. Quintessentially English, Quintessentially British, Fortnum & Mason is exquisite both inside and out.

With it's many foods, fruits, spices, and teas, Fortnum's is most famously a proper food hall. The store started due to William Fortnum's hobbying interest in being a grocer. Later, his grandson Charles would introduce more specialty items and luxury ready-made foods. Fortnum's is after all the inventor of the Scotch egg, a savory egg dish dating back almost 300 years! Obviously Fortnum's is where one might go to get their Christmas pudding.  And it's all about quality here, folks. Food lovers rejoice.

Six flights high, each floor seems to have its own personality to add to the story:

Basement - wine, cheese, chocolate, and charcuterie
Ground floor - tea, coffee, and confectionery
First floor - home goods, hampers*, china, glassware, ice in the Parlor, and the Candle room**
Second floor - dedicated to the ladies with jewelry, handbags, perfumes, hat making, and pampering rooms
Third floor - personal items and personalized items, including leather goods and accessories for the gents
Fourth floor - the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Tea salon

Not bad for a grocery market turned department store.

Though was Fortnum a mere footman, he held this position in the royal house of Queen Anne, no less. Shortly thereafter Fortnum's grandson, Charles, also served Royalty, Queen Charlotte. Needless to say, Fortnum's is entrenched in British Royal history. A royal family favorite.

Not only are the products themselves fancy smancy, but the store itself is a site to see. Decorated in marble and crystal and all things lovely, it's easy to feel a look-but-don't-touch mentality. Even from the outside just the window dressings themselves can gawk attention.


So, while in London, touring the sights, popping in and out of pubs, don't forget to soak it all in with a stop by this oldie but goodie. Located a stone's throw away from its humble beginnings in St. James's Market, the flagship store on Picadilly Street is a must see.

* Mind you, when we say hampers here, it means a picnic basket, not a basket where one might toss dirty garments.

** The Candle Room is iconic considering capital for the enterprise came when Fortnum the footman was selling the Royal family's discarded candles for re-use. Talk about any early renewables initiative! One we are all quite thankful for.


Dinner at Wiltons in London


Do you ever rustle your hands into your pockets and happen to come across something you didn't know was in there? It's one of my favorite things.

Well the other day my husband went to put on his winter Barbour and felt something in his pocket. Instinctively he pulled it out and we both took a look. We looked up at one another and just smiled. It was an old receipt from Wiltons in London. A momentary reminiscence.

Dinner at Wiltons is not something someone would quickly forget. The Oysters were so fresh that you could taste the Ocean. They were the perfect accompaniment to our bubbly champagne. Then there was the Crab appetizer and Lobster Bisque, followed by my delicious Sea Bass and my husband's classic Roasted Pheasant. We finished with some Port, Chocolate Molten Cake, and a Fruit tart. Yum, yum, and yum! Worth every pound...

Wiltons
55 Jermyn Street
London
just down the street from the Ritz

Shiner Birthday Beer

To celebrate its 106th birthday, Shiner has come out with a remarkable treat. They call it a chocolate stout, but really they should call it liquid birthday cake, because that's how it tastes. And smells. It's truly unbelievable. 


** Available only for a limited time **

Where to eat Indian Food in London

Located down a quiet, enduring side street off the busily buzzing corner of Picadilly and Regent Street, the restaurant seems to have been swallowed up by time (how fitting, considering the entrance is on Swallow Street). It's Harry Potter's Diagon Alley. So, don't expect door to door taxi service. To get inside, one must approach via a pedestrian only alley. Talk about old school. It's cool.

Veeraswamy was opened in 1926 by Edward Palmer, the great-grandson of an English soldier and an Indian princess, and is the oldest surviving Indian restaurant in the United Kingdom.

The menu changes with seasonality, which is obvious from the the freshness of the dishes. That said, there is still an abundance of offerings, ranging from your usual Indian offerings to specialties of the house. But in short, the food is just delicious. Highly recommended.

Veeraswamy
99 Regent Street
Picadilly Circus, London

Christmas at the Ritz

Above photograph courtesy of The Ritz London

A few years ago we delighted in celebrating Christmas at The Ritz. It was everything and anything it was supposed to be. We were greeted by the bellhops that somehow already knew us by name and continued to remind us of such for our entire stay. Service with a smile. Talk about feeling at home.


Inside, the tree surely was a sight to see, and became better and better as we ascended to our room, lights flowing down the middle of the staircase providing a transparent curtain of intrigue.

Above photograph courtesy of The Ritz London

Spending the holidays in London is a treasure in itself, but staying at The Ritz put the cherry on top. Each night I would marvel as we strolled our way back across town to the hotel. One night I even had the cab drop us off a few blocks away so we could merry in the wonder of the site of it all.



Buckeyes, a nut and a cookie

It may be 'tis the season, or it may be pure nostalgia, but I love making Christmas cookies.

I distinctly remember one specific year growing up when my mother and I spent the day baking Christmas cookies. It was extra special because my mom allowed me to play hooky from school that day so we could bake the Christmas cookies together. I was the third child so it was a rare opportunity to be able to have time with my mom all to myself. It's a day and a memory I will always treasure.

But back to the cookies, especially a favorite to us Michiganders and Midwesterners alike - the Buckeye! Not the nut, but the cookie. Super simple, super easy, and super delicious.

Yields about 2 dozen, depending upon size.

Ingredients

PART 1:
1 cup of peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, softened

PART 2:
1 12-oz package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons butter

Breed & Company


Tis the season of gift giving and from homeware to hardware, Breed and Company has options to meet every shopper's needs.

Let's start with some great handbag and travelware brands like Jon Hart and Spartina.


And don't even get me started on the kitchen... there's the Kitchen Aid mixer and all things Cuisinart, Le Creuset for your dutch oven needs, my recently acquired best friend, Nespresso, and my even more recent best friend Breville for their fabulous tea maker.


Breed is also popular for wedding registries because of their great China collections with brands such as Lenox, Herend, and Waterford. And don't forget your Lismore crystal.


And a personal favorite of mine - collections of classic Blue and White or Woodland Spode.


But don't worry boys, there's stuff for you too...