thoughts..r.un..n.in..g


A different kind of energy II

WELL, I fell into a food coma after just re-viewing those photos in that last post. And I surmise that it’ll happen again after this one because the food pic continues.

Let’s see, where did I leave off? oh yes, after a perky cup of organic, locally roasted coffee at Flipnotics (their website is so quintessential Austin, it makes me smile) and FlipHappy (I just noticed the theme there), we were just in time for Sushi-A-Go-Go. Yes, raw fish from a trailer.

Coming from Hawaii where grade A sushi is bountiful, I did not have high expectations. Whenever Austinites, or Texans for that matter, say that their sushi is ‘good,’ I smile the same smile as when someone in Hawaii say we have ‘good’ Mexican food. Although the man sitting inside the trailer does familiarly Japanese, I was still skeptical, especially on this 95+ degree day…

We ordered the spooky roll (spicy tuna, avocado, salmon over the rice), the summertime roll (shrimp tempura, spicy tuna mix, avocado, spicy go-go sauce& tempura crunchy on the top), and a special–one with ika (squid), ume (dried pickled plum) and shiso leaf (perilla; annual herb in the mint family)–my favorite combination of flavors. First bite into the spooky roll, my eyes got big, my instinctive reaction to taste buds happiness. The rice was fresh, the fish was fresh with firm texture, the taste was clean. Had we put the rolls on a fancy plate, you’d believe it came from a very decent sushi-ya. The only imperfection is the ubiquitous mayo concoction over the rolls. I’m a sushi purist, the simpler the flavors the better. But I still deem it another trailer success!

The next wheel over from Sushi-A-Go-Go was Sno Beach Hawaiian Shaved Ice. Cyn had wanted it since the night before but I was not ready. First of all, if you’re going to call it Hawaiian, you’d have to do it right and drop the grammar. There’s no ‘d’ in shave ice; it’s not a past action, its Hawaiian time (and grammar). And as a loyal Waiola customer, all other shave ice is second tier. But since Cyn, who has also had the real deal assured me that Sno Beach has Waiola-grade ice, I agreed to give it a try.

It did live up to Waiola’s level of silky smooth ice. My usual flavor combo at Waiola is green tea and milk, here I had a sweeter combo per Cyn’s recommendation of almond and wedding cake with creme added on top. I still don’t know what wedding cake flavor is, but it tasted good. And at $2.50, it’s the perfect palate cleanser.

By then the blazing Texas sun was directly overhead, perfect time to go back into the cool water. We paddled for nearly two hours working up another appetite for more. There were so many people also paddling, kayaking, canoeing, tubing. Leisure does it.

We returned to Torchy’s once again because of the alleged best queso in the world. It’s quite a claim so we have to see for ourselves.

It’s their green chili queso topped with guacamole, queso fresco, cilantro and diablo sauce. I don’t know if it’s the best queso in the world, but it is surely the best queso I’ve had. And you didn’t think we stopped there, did ya?

From top to bottom:

Dirty Sanchez–Scrambled eggs with guacamole, fried poblano chili, escabeche carrots, and shredded cheese served on a flour tortilla with our poblano ranch sauce.

Brushfire–Jamaican jerk chicken, grilled jalapenos, mango, Sour cream, and cilantro served on a flour tortilla with our Diablo sauce.

Don’t remember what the third is.

Baja Shrimp–Hand battered shrimp fried with cooked cabbage slaw, topped with pickled onions & jalapenos, queso fresco, cilantro and a lime wedge. Served on tortilla of choice and our creamy chipotle sauce.

Two words: DAMN GOOD.

Trailer food is great. And Austin is great largely because of it. There are many other trailers still waiting to be sampled: hot dogs, pizzas, burgers, cupcakes, bbq, you name it.

………….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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a different kind of energy

Some times what you didn’t even know you’re looking for is just right around the corner.

Since I am in the market for a new city, I have a list of ‘must haves’ that I am assessing each place with. A thriving classical music scene, close to New York City, job opportunities, walking city, public transportation, runner and bicyclist friendly, active lifestyle (mountains and bodies of water nearby), earth-friendly, farmers markets, fantastic food scene, eclectic cultures–not too much to ask for in one place, right?

A few cities encompass parts of my wish list, Philly being one of them. This weekend, I had a chance to hop over to Austin from Houston. I thought it was just a chance to stand up paddle (SUP) while away from Hawaii, but little did I know that I was about to leave Texas and find much of what I want.

After a nearly three hour drive and a speeding ticket, Cyn and I arrived in Austin at about 8pm. Sky still lit, we went looking for food (of course). We decided that the flourishing trailer food scene in Austin would be this trip’s theme. So first up, South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery.

We got tacos from Torchy’s Damn Good Tacos and a frozen hot chocolate from The Holy Cacao. The tacos were truly damn good. I got the green chile pork, and Cyn got the seared ahi. Tasty.

Our love for progressive eating prompted us to move on to the next set of trailers. After circling downtown Austin, where a few other well-known trailers are supposed to be, we twittered, googled, and called to find what is to be the reigning BEST taco I have tasted.

TaKorea‘s (smart name) pork katsu taco with curried vinaigrette and kimchee puree. This unassuming looking taco is by far the tastiest little bite I have ever chomped into. The breading is crunchy yet there’s plenty of tasty meat underneath. The sweetness of the meat perfectly balances the tang from the vinaigrette highlighted by the slight heat from the very mild kim chee puree. I was speechless until I heard myself ordering another one. My thumb was up the entire time I was trying to tell the guy that he’s got that taco down. I went to sleep smiling that night.

DAY 2

The purpose of the trip was to SUP. I admit that I lost focus for a bit there in the midst of taco fever. Waking up early the next morning, we made it to paddling on the hot Texas day at Town Lake. Austin has an entirely different energy from any other Texas city I have been to. My sans coffee body was invigorated merely by the sight of the dozens of runners, bicyclists, kayakers, canoers along and in the lake. Just 165 miles away from the once fattest city in America, Austin is FIT, and there is the smell of sweat and health in the air!

SUP-ing in a lake is not as fun as in the ocean, but there’s certainly a placid serenity to the waveless water. After trying out the free demo given by SUP ATX in the morning, we planned out our day to eat, SUP for another two hours, eat some more. Nearby and still relatively slow, we got in line for some famous pancakes.

As seen on Food Network’s Throwdown, the ladies at FlipHappy Crêpes easily beat out Bobby Flay with their crunchy on the outside, soft but not mushy on the inside crêpes generously filled with savory or sweet ingredients. I had the tarragon mushrooms crêpe with goat cheese, spinach, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. The 15 minutes wait was worth every bite.