Thursday, April 29, 2010

Crawfish Tales

Last weekend, thanks to our friends in Ft. Worth, I experienced my first crawfish boil. I had heard enough to know what to expect (lots of work for little reward) but was excited nonetheless.

When they're ready, the crawfish are tossed out directly onto a covered table along with corn, whole red potatoes, sausage, and mushrooms (which I learned are prized possessions that disappear quickly as they soak up all the yummy juices).

Despite the effort required to break into those little crawfish tails, I really enjoyed them. Compared to other shellfish, they taste fairly light.  Not as rich and buttery as shrimp or me, they seem like the trout of the shellfish world. A perfect canvas for some cajun spices!

As a crawfish virgin, I was subject to some teasing. A couple of clever pranksters standing next to us overheard my exaggerated enthusiasm and decided to take advantage of my naivete. They nonchalantly nudged a "mutated" crawfish my way, and within a few minutes, they had me...hook, line, and sinker!

"Is that a crab? Oh my gosh! No--wait--it's a two-headed crawfish! Holy smokes! A TWO-HEADED CRAWFISH!!!" 

Thanks to my posse for bailing me out...I may have been claiming I'd seen the Sasquatch before too just looked so real!

In spite of the shellfish shenanigans, I'd say my first crawfish tale was a delicious success. 

Happy Searching,

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Med=Tapas Heaven

About eight years ago, I stumbled upon food heaven. Not surprisingly, I don't remember the exact details. I couldn't tell you how or when I first discovered it. I couldn't tell you what I ordered. All I know is that once I found it, it was love at first bite!

The Med is a restaurant in Boulder, CO and although I attended college a few miles from it, I didn't discover this gem until the middle of my senior year. They serve--cleverly enough--Mediterranean cuisine. Grilled meats, pastas, and risottos are staples of the menu. But the real stars of the show are the tapas.

I love the concept of tapas. For an indecisive foodie such as myself, these little plates are perfect for sampling a variety of ingredients and flavors. Not only does The Med serve tapas, they serve delicious and cheap tapas during their daily happy hour...appropriately named, because some of the happiest hours have been spent with my family and friends at The Med.

Bacon Wrapped Dates in Garlic Sauce

Smoked Ruby Trout, Grilled Lamb & Chicken Skewers 
Frequenting this food extravaganza has become a ritual nearly every time I'm back in Colorado. We've pretty much gotten it down to a science...what can't be missed, what we can skip, how many rounds we should order and the timing of when to place them.

Baked Feta & Panzanella Relish

          Steamed Mussels, Caprese Salad,
Beef Carpaccio, Fried Polenta with Rosemary Honey

We rarely skip the wood-fired margherita pizza or the grilled meat skewers, but we have try something new almost every visit. This time we hit the jackpot with some amazing lamb chops and baked feta.

 Margherita Pizza  

Jalepeno Honey-Glazed Lamb Chops
We have each tried something a bit exotic for our usual mom and I tried frog legs, Ryan sampled beets, and my dad enjoyed beef carpaccio.

In our countless visits, we've never actually ordered off of the regular menu. Judging by the tapas, I'm sure dinner is incredible. But we've got too good a thing goin' in Tapas Heaven. Next time I'm in Colorado, you'll know where to find me!

Happy Searching,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sea Bass Skewers & Six Years

This weekend marked six blissful years of marriage for the mister and me. We celebrated the best way we know how: by indulging in delicious food and drink!

After a champagne toast and a swoon over some gorgeous blooms, we headed downtown for some anniversary nibbles.

Imperia is one of the places in Austin we've discovered for just such an occasion. Nestled among several other upscale hotspots in the Warehouse District, it's one of the few reasons we make the trip downtown (you know...parking, crowds, 10 minutes of I sound old?).

Imperia offers amazing martinis, tasty small bites, and swanky ambience...all for $5 an item everyday from 5:30-7:00. Everyday.

The Jade & The Imperial Pearl

Despite the 2-for-1 rolls and the gulp-able martinis, there's only one reason why we have to go to Imperia...

The Sea Bass Skewers. They are consistently delicious. The fish (which isn't fishy at all) is rich and buttery and slightly sweet from the candied soy glaze. The texture of the sea bass and the swirl of salty-sweet sauce beneath it had my taste buds somersaulting with delight!

A wonderful way to celebrate six years of love, laughter, and delightful dishes. Happy Anni, babes!

And to everyone else...

Happy Searching,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Berry Delicious

I would say that I have more of a savory tooth than a sweet tooth. If I had to choose between fries or a shake, the salty fries would prevail. But, I do love dessert when it is fresh, simple, and a little bit decadent. Enter Giada's Berries with Mascarpone.

I knew I was meant to make (and eat) this dish when I realized we had all but one of the ingredients on hand (we didn't have meringue cookies to crumble on top, but I'm not a huge fan of meringue anyway, so no biggie).

Don't let the humble appearance fool you. The simple, harmonious balance of fresh fruit and luxurious cream makes this a dessert to behold. Perfectly ripe berries + cinnamon-kissed cream = a luscious delight. 

Next time you're in the mood for something berry delicious, give this a try...I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Happy Searching,

p.s. The recipe calls for whipping the cream and then folding it into the mascarpone. I was too impatient for this step and just whipped it all together with a whisk. Still yummy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Starbucks, You're Still the One

We live in a city that prides itself on supporting local businesses. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and billboards everywhere display "Keep Austin Weird" as a reminder to choose the unique, independent shops over the cookie-cutter corporate giants to maintain Austin's eclectic feel. As much I as love and support several of Austin's own entrepreneurs, I can't deny my allegiance to a certain java giant...Starbucks.

I am a shameless lover of Starbucks. When we went to Seattle to visit Mama & Papa C, they asked us if there were any sites we didn't want to miss. My must-see? The First Starbucks in Pike's Market. 

Although I don't go everyday (because we would go broke), I support the Starbucks Corporation at least once a week (and usually have gift cards to support my habit...thanks, Mom). I've tasted most of the coffee items on the menu and like to try the newest creations (Dark Cherry Mocha is good but a bit sweet). I adore their breakfast sandwiches (my favorite is the Reduced-Fat Turkey Bacon) and their pastries (the Morning Bun is heavenly). 

My standard, though, is simple: a double tall non-fat latte (with half of a Splenda swirled in). It's basic--a regular latte with an extra shot of espresso. After I took my first sip of this Saturday's morning indulgence, I thought to myself,  This is delicious...  

What's your signature Starbucks (or other coffee shop) drink?

Happy Searching,

p.s. My friend Corinne shared some great *$ on April 15th! Check out her blog for details!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pizza Perfection

Anyone who knows me is aware of my love for pizza. It probably started when I was little and my dad would pick up a Filippi's pizza on his way home from a late night's work. He and my mom would wake my sister and I up for an impromptu pizza party, the four of us giggling over a pizza picnic using their bed as a table. I think it's been my favorite food ever since.

Last night, we made pizza a casa (at home) and it turned out to be pretty delicious. We used some store-bought flatbread instead of making our own dough (which for the amount of time saved is well worth the purchase, although I'm sure homemade dough is delish). We picked up this whole grain naan flatbread that we found in the deli section. The whole grain was more for nutritional value than flavor, but it was still pretty good:

We were inspired by two pizzas: the Parma from Mandola's Market and Tyler Florence's Bacon, Rosemary, Potato Pizza. We made a few adjustments, but both of our versions were spot-on scrumptious. Mandola's was a layer of fresh mozzarella and prosciutto, topped with arugula tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and shaved parmesan cheese. Tyler's had a mixture of crumbled bacon, rosemary, onion, and thinly-sliced potatoes baked under melty cheese.

Mmmm...I wish we had some leftover!

Happy Searching,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sparkling Sips

When asked, "What's your favorite sound in the world?", thousands of possible responses begin popping up in my head. Birds chirping in the morning....ocean waves rhythmically lapping onto the beach...a summer breeze gently blowing through the trees. All very wonderful sounds, but the most lovely? I'd have to say it's the pop of a champagne cork.

Why? Because it means a celebration is near. Sparkling bubbles happily drift to the top of the glass, ready to toast a marriage, a promotion, or a Thursday night (why not?). Whenever you hear the sound of a champagne cork popping, good times are about to ensue.

One of my favorite ways to imbibe this effervescent delight is in a Kir Royal (the "r" is's pronounced "key roy-al"). It's simply champagne with a splash of cassis (black currant liqueur), sort of like a fancy mimosa.

Maybe it's the bubbles or maybe it's the name, but sipping one of these does make you feel a bit like a princess. A deliciously giddy princess (depending on how many you have, of course). I highly recommend raising a glass, especially if you've never tried one. Cheers!

Happy Searching,

p.s. If you make one of these at home, I recommend a dry champagne or sparkling wine since the liqueur is rather sweet.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Just for the Halibut

For as much as I love carbs (pasta, rice, repeat), my husband loves fish even more. He would eat fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if he could. Needless to say, we throw fish into the mix a few times a week if we can. Recently, Ryan found some gorgeous, fresh halibut fillets and a few other fun ingredients to come up with a lovely seafood dinner.

How beautiful is that?!? Here's the rundown...

Ryan rubbed the fillets with olive oil, salt & pepper, then pan-seared them and threw them in the oven to finish cooking. He topped them with a tart and spicy blood-orange salsa. The side dish? Tomatoes stuffed with a mix of crumbled sausage, creamy ricotta, and brown rice...then topped with provolone cheese and baked until gooey.

Am I a lucky girl or what?!? So yummy!

Happy Searching,  
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