Sunday, June 19, 2011

Paciugo: Rose and Lavender Gelato!

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After spending a day out in the sun exploring the Texas Sculpture Garden in Frisco, which apparently is the "largest private collection of contemporary Texas sculpture," my brother and I met up with his grad school friends at Watters Creek, an outdoor mall in Allen, TX.  

I'm not too fond of the collection at this business park, but I did enjoy the tar roses!

After stuffing ourselves at the Cheesecake Factory, we walked around, listened to an outdoor concert, and cooled off with delicious gelato at Paciugo.  I noticed on their website that they'll be opening a store in Northern Virginia Spring 2012!  Yay!  Looks like I will get to treat myself to some awesome gelato flavors like the ones below a year from now!

Rose Chocolate Chip

Lemon Poppyseed

Vanilla Lavender

Lemon Poppyseed, Vanilla Lavender, and Rose Chocolate Chip

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Went to Dallas and Visited Sushi Robata Yet Again

Right after my last day of classes, I rushed to Dallas to hang out with my brother.  I'm going to miss us being in the same state!  :-(  Who am I going to share a dish of chicken hearts with?  

Well, we did just that at Sushi Robata (my 3rd time!).  My brother's friends either ordered sushi plates or very filling dinner entrees. However, bro and I focused on just appetizers to diversify our dining experience.

You can't go to Sushi Robata without ordering the Asari Sakamushi (baby clams steamed in sake), Agedashi Tofu, and Hamachi Kama.  These three dishes are the best versions I've had anywhere outside of Japan (I've never been, sadly).  Other dishes are delicious as always (check out more dishes here and here)!

Asari Sakamushi

Agedashi Tofu

Soft-shell Crab Karaage

Hatsu - Grilled Chicken Hearts

Gindara Kasuzuke - Sake Cod

Chawanmushi - Japanese Egg Custard

Chawanmushi - Japanese Egg Custard

Hamachi Kama

Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream

My brother views food in a very utilitarian way, but even he exclaimed that the meal was delectable!  Believe me.  That means more than any compliments I bestow on a restaurant.

Dim Sum at Shanghai Chinese Restaurant

I've always felt like Chinatown at Mopac offers the best quality and variety of dim sum in Austin.  However, many have recommended Shanghai Chinese Restaurant's dim sum.  I tried it out twice in two months and found it to be pretty good!  Chinatown at Mopac is pricier but the portions are bigger, they offer some dishes that are outside of the dim sum repertoire but are tasty nonetheless, and there's notably more attention to details.  Shanghai Chinese Restaurant has a good amount of variety, the dishes aren't drenched in nasty corn starch, and the quality of ingredients is high.

Here are some of the things from the first visit:

Shu Mai, Fried Tofu Stuffed with Shrimp, Char Siu Bao, Mushroom and Pork Wrapped in Bean Curd Skins

Lo Bak Gao (Turnip Cake)

A Cart of Fried and Pan-fried Dishes

Jalapenos Stuffed with Shrimp 

Ma La Gao (Steamed Sponge Cake)

Green Tea Fried Sesame Balls with Black Sesame Paste

Photos from the 2nd visit:

Shu Mai, Curry Squid, Mushroom and Pork Wrapped in Bean Curd Skins, Ha Gao, and Chicken Feet

Char Siu Pastry

Beef Tripe

Steamed Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce

Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli with Oyster Sauce)

Shanghainese Soup Dumplings (very bad version) and Fried Tofu Stuffed with Shrimp, 

Ma La Gao

Fried Sesame Balls with Red Bean Paste

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Market Republic Square Park and Bola Pizza

I've been in Austin for around seven years, and I finally made my way to the Sustainable Food Center Farmers' Market in downtown two weeks ago.  I can't believe I've been denying myself this weekend pleasure for so long!  

Just look at the gorgeous veggies!

The reason why the idea of finally visiting SFC Farmers' Market in downtown dawned on me was because I wanted to get a taste of Bola Pizza, which I read about on Austin Chronicle's 2011 Restaurant Poll.

Bola Pizza

Bola Pizza offers freshly made pizza hot from their mobile wood-fired oven 9 AM - 1 PM Saturdays at SFC Farmers' Market downtown and Wednesdays at the Triangle 4 PM - 8 PM.

I chose The Godfather from the vegetarian-friendly menu because I can't seem to ween myself away from meat ingredients on my pizza.  I behaved like an annoying fly, fluttering about my pizza, capturing each step of the pizza-making process.  

Making our Godfather Pizza

The Sauce

The Mozzarella

The Hot Fennel Sausage

The Caramelized Onions

In the Mobile Wood-fired Oven

In the box with the smell wafting out and drinking it all in with a peach ginger lemonade from another vendor

The Godfather

The result?  Beautiful!  The pizza dough is the best I've tasted in Austin!  It's slightly chewy, with a tint of sourdough-like tartness.  Each bite of caramelized onions and hot fennel sausage was a balanced explosion of sweet and spicy juices.  I'm glad I got to try Bola before leaving Austin!