travel notes

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

South Congress Cafe

In Austin, Food, SoCo, Travel, Visiting Austin on August 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm

South Congress Café

lull (ll)v. lulled, lull·ing, lullsn.1. A relatively calm interval, as in a storm.

2. An interval of lessened activity.

Admittedly, there has been a lull in my postings. But not in my adventuring. I will leave no stone unturned in my

discovery of Austin. Plunging back in:

A hot Wednesday left me in need of an air-conditioned restaurant and a glass of wine. I met a friend at the South

Congress Café (corner of Monroe and SoCo). Like everything on SoCo, the atmosphere reminded me of the Jetsons.

Quirky, off-beat, vintage colliding with futuristic, whimsical. And like the 60s TV hit, the pace and fashion of SoCo is fresh, like seeing everything in color for the first time.

We sat at the bar, which was great for two reasons. One. Current promotion: receiving 20% off food purchases. Two.

Getting to meet and interact with the bar tenders and the people coming and going.

[Side note: We met a woman eating the Caesar shrimp salad with polenta croutons which looked to die for, reading Eat, Pray, Love and got into a long discussion about the wonders of the book and the digression of the movie(Julia Roberts, I adore you, but the

film missed the entire point of the book!)].

We ordered the Spicy Sesame Tuna Tartare, (which was created in three mini triangles, instead of

the traditional solitaire tower), The Endive and Spinach Salad (topped with generous dollops of blue cheese, dried cherries, and pomegranate dressing), and

the Calamari with orange ginger red chile sauce (really fresh tasting, really good).

The wine list was long, the bartenders suave and knowledgeable, and the pour tasty! First glass: Rosenblum Petite Syrah from California. Astonishing. Blackberries. Second glass: martin ulisee montepulciano d’abruzzo. From Italy. Crimson. Leather. Smooth.

Overall, a good spot for happy hour, brunch, and dinner.



Comfort food: Chick-Fil-A

In Austin, Food, Moving, Texas, Traditions, Visiting Austin on July 7, 2011 at 2:20 am

When I came down with a cold in Washington state, friends brought me chicken noodle soup.

When I came down with what I thought was the flu here in Austin, Texas, a friend I met at Austin Stone brought me chicken, too. Chick-Fil-A.

Now I do not usually eat fast food. By usually I mean never. But I eat Chick-Fil-A. Yes. Yes I do. It is real  chicken and the sauce is so good you just have to say mmmmm and smack your lips together.

In addition, the company is incredibly cool. The founder felt convicted in having a Sabbath (a day of rest and worship) to be with his family and honor God, he forfeited the profits and made a statement by closing shop on Sundays. His collegeus in the food industry told him he was crazy. But Chick-Fil-A continues to be closed on Sunday, and it continues to be profitable enough throughout the week and on Saturday, to make the issue irrelevant.

So if you’re like me and don’t usually indulge in drive-through grease-on-a-bun, you should make an exception and go to Chick-Fil-A.

You can eat it with a clean conscience, happy tummy, and reflect on where you need to make a statement, because you know in your gut it’s what you need to do.

I believe more and more that we reap what we sow. I wonder what good profits will come back to you?

Side note: turns out I didn’t have the flu. I had allergies! Apparently Austin is one of the worst cities for it. So if you’re planning a visit or a move, make sure you pick up some claritin. It will change your life, promise. 

Weekend adventuring

In Austin, downtown, Faith, Food, Music, Outdoors, Texas, Town Lake, Traditions, Travel, Venues on June 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Looking to spend a weekend away in Austin, or just get out and explore the city? Hopefully my weekend highlights will help you plan your next adventure.

Friday evening: 

Get your groove on at a live show by The Matchmaker Band: a mo-town cover band, funky, great for dancing! 

Saturday morning: 

Stroll the Farmer’s Market on 5th and Guadalupe (9 am – 1 pm).  I bought an odd-shaped heirloom tomato, and drank a mango hibiscus iced tea. I sampled locally made Kombucha Ginger drink – I love love love Kombucha! – and this small batch was just as good as any of the bigger companies I’ve tasted. Also nibbled on yummy goat cheese from Swede Farm Artisanal Goat Dairy. 

Visit some of the downtown shops such as Finch (appropriately featured on Apartment Therapy’s blog).

 Saturday afternoon: 

Stroll around Town Lake

Grab a bite at Whole Foods Market 


Saturday evening: 

See a movie at The Alamo Draft House– one of the coolest things in Austin. You order drink and food by candlelight, and enjoy a scrumptious meal while watching a movie. This is a must-do!

Sunday morning: 

Visit Austin Stone Community Church

 Have brunch at Halcyon on 4th and Lavaca St.  A hip little spot for coffee by day or wine by night. I recommend the spinach, egg, and mushroom crepe – delicious and light! And one of the better cups of coffee I’ve had in a while.

Sunday afternoon: 

Breathe, smile, be thankful 

40 days of discovering Austin

In Austin, downtown, Food, Outdoors, Town Lake on June 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I woke up today and realized I have 40 days left of house-sitting. The place I am staying is in North Austin, which is quite a few miles from the downtown “scene.” So, to turn challenge into opportunity, I will be posting a daily discovery of Austin to encourage myself to get out and explore.

discovery no. 1: Royal Blue Grocery. The one on 6th and Congress. I really can’t describe how happy this quaint mercantile made my soul. I was lost in the isles of prettily packaged organics and homemade Jeni’s ice cream, boasting flavors such as Ugandan Vanilla Bean and Brown Sugar Almond Brittle.

“how much?” I asked the guy with the long hair, tattered corduroy shorts, flip-flops, who was, yes, dipping pita chips into hummus while working.

“$11.95.” almost apologetically. My eyes must have grown large. “but it’s worth it.” He assured me. Hmmm, who knew ice cream would be an item on my to-save-for list? In the meantime, I will just dream about the raspberry champagne sorbet. Sigh…

Requirements to work here: must wear harry potter glasses, have at least one subtle tattoo, and own a pair of robin-blue vintage earrings.

(bonus) discovery: Kayaking on Town Lake. I went to The Rowing Dock off Barton Springs and for $10 could paddle around in the sunshine, enjoying the greenery of West Texas on one side, and the sight of downtown on the other. Truly fantastic.

Flying South; All Things Austin

In Food, Mexican food, Music, New York, Tacos, Texas, Travel, Venues on June 19, 2011 at 1:14 am

Prepare thyself! This blog recently took a very distinctly Southern direction.  Audaciously, unashamedly, I will be travelling/ exploring/ reviewing all things AUSTIN for a while.

With it being the Live Music Capital of the World, and bearing the slogan: “Keep Austin Weird,” not to mention delicious food trucks and hipsters on every corner, I’m convinced there’s more than enough to keep things from ever getting vanilla around here.

I’ve been here officially for one week. Here are (just a few)of the spots I’ve stumbled upon:

Torchy’s Damn Good Tacos(a food truck in the South Austin Trailer Park Eatery) – I got the taco of the month and it was d—- good! Blackened salmon with black bean, red pepper, and corn salsa. And a poco chico. So refreshing!

Guerro’s Taco Bar  – located on South Congress, also known as SoCo (not to be confused with SoHo in New York!) Don’t  miss their shrimp tacos on whole wheat tortilla’s. And take advantage of their salsa bar! I’m usually not a green salsa gal, but theirs is a secret recipe I can eat by the spoonful.

Barton Springs Pool– the local watering hole – Once I got over the fact that this 65 degree natural pool fed springs was not an isolated, idyliic spot for musing with my journal, I enjoyed the flocks of people for sheer, unabashed people watching. This is where the hippies come. Bring your gypsie swim wrap and you’ll fit in just fine.

La Palomas – I got invited to an event at this beautiful, classic Texan events venue (Thank you Kevin @ Brass Tacks events!) Sitting atop a hill in Lake Travis County, it was stunning with the sun setting on the open barn floor. If you’re getting married soon, I would seriously consider this place. Gorgeous! And the ladies who live here and run the place are darling, hospitable souls.

Clive’s– a few incredibly nice people I met at La Palomas took me out to this little joint – and it is a definite favorite already. Stripped wood walls and string-lit patio give it a rustic barn feel. But the décor of white leather chairs is a surprising contrast and takes the classiness up a notch.

Palm Door Events – boring on the outside. Urban oasis on the inside. Attended an art show here.  It’s a new venue – I would definitely check it out.

The Driskill Hotel  – I absolutely love this place! It’s proof that every real city has a gorgeous old hotel – this is on 6th Avenue – a historic gem, and also an elegant offering amidst the dives (albeit fun dives) on 6th. The hibiscus Brasilieus Batini is a legendary mixed cocktail with ginger and hibiscus, and the crab salad sliders are um, scrumptious.  Live music on Thursdays, and half off drinks and apps 5:30-7:30 daily!

Sadly, I am sitting in a very, very vanilla Starbucks as I write this. Cliché but air-conditioned, so definitely worth it.  And a good resting place to reflect on being 25, a new girl in the city, where I’ve come from, and where I’m going. But more on that another time.

My parent’s kitchen table; my longest blog post yet

In Faith, Food, Spokane, Traditions, WA on December 26, 2010 at 2:17 am

As is always the case on Christmas Day, I find myself taking time out to reflect on life…

After a chaotic, crisis morning at my parents house, I come back from a run in the snow just as they are leaving for a party at a friends’ house. I enter the house – peace on earth! – there is no shouting or screaming or put downs or crying or outbursts of frustration. I let out a loud and joyful “Hall-le-lujah!”

For some, to be alone on Christmas would be sad and lonely. For me, it is the best gift I received all day. The day turns from surviving, to really, really good.

I pull the turkey out of the oven, the aroma of rosemary and sage tantalizing my nostrils, I slice large, moist breast with whole wheat stuffing, carrots, and celery, I sauté a large plate of veggies (Brussels sprouts, onion, green beans – yum!), little piles of smoked gouda and cheddar cheeses, roasted red pepper crackers, and a salad of mixed greens with balsamic vinegar drizzled over the top.

“Carol of the bells” plays, I pour myself a glass of my merlot, a Christmas gift from one of our clients, entitled “Inspiration” and begin to unpack some of the thoughts coming.

Since God separated the light from dark, making hours belonging to the day, hours belonging to the night, and moon, stars and sun to mark the seasons, man has been charting out his days accordingly. I’m thankful to the Romans for inventing the calendar; I am obsessed with my large desk-size black and white 2010 day planner and picking out my new calendar for the new year is by far one of my favorite activities and no light matter. In general, I think seasons and traditions by which to mark our days is one of the best gifts of being alive.

I know that we ought to live each day of the year in light of the knowledge that God became flesh and dwelt among us. But I love that there is an allocated season during each year when we emphasize this truth emphatically; we let our lives be altered and illuminated by this significant event.

We light our homes, our trees, our hearts just as God lit the world 2,000 years ago with his very presence. He traded in his celestial dwelling for the colloquial. We, in turn, get to trade in our dusty abodes for the divine. Quite the trade off.

What does it mean that the Holy God came and lived among us? Tonight, I reflect on the power of the spoken word. By his word, light was created. Imagine: his word was powerful enough to make lightning flash across the expanse of the universe. By his word, the changing of tide and seasons exist. By his word, he dwelt among us. It was, in truth, the Word, that came and lived and breathed.

What Word do you need to speak today?

I speak the Truth of who I am: I am beloved, beautiful, and abundant.


He is breathing life into me,

He is my very breath.

I speak financial stability for 2011. I speak career success. Not that I expect the perfect job, perfect co-workers, or perfect anything. I expect to be the absolute best that Leah Danielle Robin can be. I expect to show up, to be a light, to care deeply about people, to apply myself and create work, good work, to the best of my ability.

I celebrate this season with joy and laughter.

What words do you need to speak today?

I speak success. I speak wild dreams.

Being cooped up at my parents’ house, I want to scram in frustration. They are trapped inside small thinking. Their thoughts are occupied with their next meal, their childhood pasts, their immediate feelings.

Being the CEO of a company, or anything beyond blue-collar, are not thoughts that occupy their minds. They don’t understand my frustration with current circumstances nor ambition for the future.

A little beat starts playing in my head: push the envelope.  Push the envelope. How far can I go?

This is the girl who was not allowed to listen to anything by Christian music growing up. I’ve discovered pop culture on my own, as an adult. Technology was looked down upon (stereos were of the devil), an interference to simple living. I am still playing “catch up.”

Ambition for the New Year:

–          Become more technically savvy

–          Continue to develop my job in social media; make myself indispensible; become an expert in my field; be ready for the next wave!

I look at myself – going to a four year liberal arts college, getting a full-time job in my field, and dreaming of starting my own company and non-profits, and making a dramatic impact on hundreds of lives – yes, I have SO FAR TO GO! But the fact that I am dreaming like this is a testament to the fact that I am already on my way.


God is breathing life into me,

God is my very breath.

Peace on earth; joy to the world.

If you managed to make it to the end of this, Merry Christmas, everyone!