Bring on The Weird!
Austin has been on my list of cities to visit for a long time.
Food, music, left-of-center sensibility--my kind of town.
In Austin, the food trailer is King.
A few years ago converted airstream and camping trailers serving unique bites started popping up in vacant spaces and parking lots all over town. Today, they are everywhere and have become an integral part of the city's landscape. So different.
Most of the trailers have distinct themes and some are painted up in wild colors and have clever names. The creativity and innovation pouring out of those service windows is so inspiring.
Where to start?
Gordough's. Loaded donuts fried to order. 'Nuff said.
Fresh off the plane, before the hotel, we trekked out to South Lamar to a gravel lot with 3 food trailers.
M.C. is a riff on chicken 'n' waffles. Fried chicken with honey butter on top of a big, fat, donut. Not too sweet and the donut was more like a fried bagel than an airy donut.
Cody went for The Puddin' -- cream filled, cream cheese icing, bananas and crushed vanilla wafers. SWEET! He can handle a lot more sugar than I can. I'm a sugar-wimp!
Gordough's has some awesome ideas and I'm thinking they're probably a big hit with those folks who get funky late-night cravings!
We also tried some dill pickle shaved ice from the Frigid Frog. People were going nuts for it so I had to jump in. Not bad. Sour!! We got a tip from one of the women at the stand to add a squirt of margarita mix to the dill and she wasn't wrong. Made it more interesting on the tongue for sure.
It was a four day eating frenzy. We tried ice cream and burgers and barbecue and Tex-Mex. Madness. But I gotta tell you about the best of the best.
Drink: Mexican Martini at Chuy's (not the chain we know here in LA!)
Chili infused tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and olives. HELLO! It was like a dirty martini with spicy jalapeno. Outstanding!
(FYI - This Chuy's is the same spot the Bush twins got busted for underage drinking. After tasting this bit of Godly nectar I don't blame them for taking the risk!)
Oh, and the creamy jalapeno dip. Imagine tiny, tiny pickled jalapenos in your favorite ranch dressing. Absolutely addictive.
BBQ: Brisket sandwich at Franklin Barbeque
This place started as a food trailer and has grown so popular they had to move into a brick and mortar joint. Joint is the best way to describe it. Or honkey-tonk. I'm torn. It's funky in the best way and has a distinct hipster edge.
Texas BBQ is about brisket and the rub. I've had brisket (even in Austin) and nothing touches this.
Cutting the brisket, they even ask if you want the fatty or the lean (go 1/2 and 1/2). It was moist and tender and smoky and simple and succulent and crazy delicious. AND they had sweet tea too!
Sushi in the middle of the country? Usually that gets a big, "No Thank You." So glad I made an exception. The whole meal from the ginger sorbet palate cleanser to the ridiculous dessert was simple, clean and satisfying.
Our meal had such a lovely flow. We went from cool tasting to hot tasting to the chef's selection of sushi to dessert all accompanied by this amazing micro brewed sake!
DESSERT: 3-WAY TIE!
Uchi - Jizake creme caramel with brown butter sorbet and ginger consume
Barley Swine - Butternut squash ice cream, grilled foie gras with sage funnel cake
Bananarchy - Peanut butter and chocolate dipped frozen banana rolled in granola
Dessert at Uchi was the perfect ending to a great meal. The creme caramel was velvety and full of flavor. There was a hint of something extra in there that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Maybe it was the sake they used--could it have been coconut???
The real surprise was the brown butter sorbet with the ginger consumé. Again, the texture was spot on--not icy or harsh--and brown butter with ginger is my new favorite flavor combo. I wanted to cheer after the first bite.
Barley Swine is a restaurant born out of a successful food trailer. Their angle is small plates featuring locally sourced ingredients. Basically, American tapas. The real standout was the dessert.
Crunchy funnel cake (earthy from the sage) with decadent, rich foie gras and mellow butternut squash ice cream made for an amazing bite. I couldn't believe how well everything went together. You could taste each part and nothing got lost. Very cool.
I loved designing my own banana. If you're a commitmentphobe like me, you can order 1/2 a banana. You know I didn't stop there, right? Of course I had 2!
Good things about Bananarchy:
1. They use fair trade bananas.
2. They are huge fans of Arrested Development. Sadly, I didn't have the stomach capacity to try The Gob (it's a double banana extravaganza), but I'm so happy it exists!
3. Custom frozen bananas--duh!!
The best flavor combo was peanut butter, chocolate and granola (the one on the right). It was sweet and salty and crunchy with a hint of cinnamon.
I want to bring this to Los Angeles somehow. I also want to offer dark chocolate with grey sea salt or maybe chocolate spiked with chipotle???
That's my Austin experience. So inspiring. Lots of fun. Big belly ache. Mission accomplished.