I made gingerbread cookies for the first time a couple of years ago. I had no idea whether I’d like them, I just thought it would be fun. Thankfully, I found an excellent recipe that turns out soft, delicious cookies every time.
I made them again this year to take to a holiday party, and now I’m thinking that this will be a holiday tradition. My family never made/ate gingerbread – it’s something that will start with me, and that’s kind of fun.
I always wanted to create my own holiday traditions with J. Like – we would travel every Thanksgiving to some new place; we would fill each other’s stockings with handmade gifts; we would make handmade cards or drive around to look at Christmas lights or see the Nutcracker or make popcorn-and-cranberry garlands. Nothing has really stuck, but maybe this will. Especially because gingerbread cookies are AMAZING for breakfast, dipped in coffee. 😉
There’s just nothing like coming home to one of your favorite diners, seeing all the waitstaff you know and love, being one of MANY brown people in the place, hearing Spanish spoken at most tables, dipping a concha into creamy coffee, scooping up carne guisada with fresh tortillas, and being surprised (as always) at how inexpensive a meal is.
Only slightly better (just kidding, it was insanely awesome) is looking up from your table and seeing on the wall next to you, among the many awards and family photos, a snapshot from THE BOOK YOU WROTE framed on the wall. I felt just proud, happy and thrilled!
Our neighborhood grocery store has this impressive display of cheese balls. I found myself wondering, “did cheese balls become popular in the year that I was away?” I have no clue, but seriously, this is a lot of cheese balls.
So not far from us, there’s this new hotel (!) called ARRIVE. And within this hotel, there are THREE different eateries that we now love.
First up is Cartel Coffee Lab. I first heard of this coffee group from a client in PHX who LOVED it – and after visiting and having a great experience, I was a fan. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s now a Cartel Coffee Lab just steps away from my door. This could be amazing or dangerous, depending on how you look at it.
I’ve been several times now, for meetings, and work, and general hangouts, and each time, the service has been friendly, the coffee/chai has been great, and the music has been fun. They serve pastries from Sour Duck Market, like this fantastic kolache with alllll the seeds. (I will say that they run out pastries by midday, so an afternoon visit is woefully missing a cookie or snack.)
Because I’m a lactose-intolerant loser, I am super happy that all of their drinks can be made with oat milk. Because I work remotely, I’m super happy that they have free wifi and a cool vibe. Because I should seriously be watching our budget after an expensive cross-country move, I’m trying very hard not to visit every day. 🙂
One of our first stops for food in Austin was Elizabeth Street Cafe. It’s one of those gorgeous MMH concepts that we love. I feel like in the Austin food realm, you either love or hate MMH restaurants. We are in the LOVE group. From Swedish Hill to Jeffrey’s, Fresa’s to Clarks – we love them.
Elizabeth Street has been a favorite of ours for years. As I’ve grown older, my tolerance for spicy foods has increased (darn you, decreasing taste buds!), and I’m surprising myself by how many spicy dishes I’m ordering in general. This dish – Red Curry Dan Dan Noodles – is SO freaking good. It burns and it hurts and it’s delicious and wonderful, and I am so glad that it is just a short drive away from me now.
J nearly always orders the tofu banh mi. He loves that it’s covered in jalapeños, and (as you can see here), he always adds even more spice with chile-garlic sauce.
It’s funny – when friends in GVL asked where we’d go eat first when we got back to Austin, we answered, “Via 313! Elizabeth Street Cafe! Fukumoto!” They were stunned that we didn’t prioritize breakfast tacos. What can I say? When I can make fresh tortillas, and J makes the best scrambled eggs on the planet, why would we go out for breakfast tacos? 😉 #blessed