Sunday, 21 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 21 - More Austin Love featuring Capital City Bakery & Red Rabbit

I first visited Austin's Capital City Bakery in 2012 when they were still a food cart (a food cart owner and chief baker Kristin let me get in!) and now look, they're a super adorable shop! I love the colour so much!

It's equally cute on the inside.

I loved that there's both indoor and outdoor seating, Texas is hot so air con is necessary and oddly whilst we were there there was a huge rainstorm and hiding somewhere this cute and watching the rain bouncing of the pavement outside was totally fun!

I swear bakery cases are the hardest thing to photograph, they never come out right for me anyway but I think this should give you an idea of the range of gorgeous cupcakes, bakes and cookies.

I picked a strawberry blonde cupcake which was totally delicious. The cake itself was so light and fluffy and there was just the right amount of buttercream. I'd go as far as to call it perfect.

On mine and Nick's other visit I went with a Cherry Bomb cupcake and Nick got Funfetti. There was no rain this time so we grabbed a table outside. 

I love how funfetti looks, it's so cute but I just don't love vanilla frosting so I never get it. Nick thought it was totally delicious though. I adored my cherry bomb cupcake, it had the perfect amount of creamy fluffy frosting and the chocolate cake was spot on - I think the depth of flavour in Capital City Bakery's chocolate cakes comes from black cocoa powder which is something I can't get in the UK. Either that or Kristen's just a magician which is totally possible.

Capital City Bakery recently started doing some savoury food to compliment their range of cakes and soon they'll be launching a lunch menu. We tried a couple of ham and cheese kolaces which were ridiculously good.

I'd actually never even heard of a kolach or kolace but I knew dough filled with ham and cheese was something I needed to eat! Wikipedia is telling me many conflicting things about what should and should not be in a kolace and now I'm more confused than ever! Whatever it is or isn't meant to be this was freaking delicious and we went back and grabbed a couple more on our last day because I didn't want to go eight months without another one. 

The other thing Capital City Bakery is famous for, aside from epic cakes, are their brownies. They are seriously the best brownies I've ever eaten because the crackle top is totally spot on and they have the exact right amount of fudginess. These brownies even made their way to Portland for Vida Vegan Con last May which was exciting for everyone involved - they made an appearance on the ice cream bar which was totally awesome! This is a pretty awful picture but when there's a brownie to eat I'm not going to be hanging around waiting for some natural light!

Basically if you're in Austin you need to visit Capital City Bakery, what's not to love?

Talking of love today is mine and Nick's ten year anniversary, or loveaversary as we are enjoying calling it. We'll be spending the day eating lunch at Terre a Terre our every-fancy-occasion-ever spot, building a fort to snuggle and watch movies in and koalaing each other...y'know, like this! I feel super lucky to have such a rad life partner, he's constantly supportive of everything I do, he's compassionate and caring and kind to everyone and just an all round good dude. He's also ridiculously adorable. And hot! I guess I feel lucky not only because I found him (whilst working an incredibly shitty job!) but because we're totally growing and changing and moving in the same directions together and it's so fun and just writing this is making me do a little heartsplode! It always surprises me when I think back to when we met and remember that neither of us were vegan then, I almost was but he wasn't and I love that we're like a little vegan team now! Anyway, enough of the sappy love stuff, back to Austin...

Austin doesn't only have one vegan bakery, nope, there's also Red Rabbit who specialise in doughnuts. Honestly I'm not the hugest doughnut fan, well I am but I like the baked ones! The kind from Mighty O in Seattle are my favourite ever but I'm also partial to the ones from Babycakes in NYC and the ones I can throw together in my kitchen! This being said we still went to check out their pop up outside Monkey Wrench books because Nick loved doughnuts and we both like supporting vegan bake sales and on the day we went they were doing a fundraiser.

I picked a chocolate doughnut and Nick got to eat half of it, I can handle a little fried doughnut but I'm not in love with them. Not even the ones from Ronald's in Las Vegas!

What I do love though is an apple fritter and you can buy these alongside a huge selection of Red Rabbit doughnuts at both Wheatsville co-op locations. This is hands down my favourite Red Rabbit treat.  

Heads up, that Evolution juice in the background is awful, I thought the apple in there would sweeten it up and I was trying to eat a balanced breakfast but good lord, it was terrible! I should have got a second fritter! Whether you're a doughnut lover or not you're going to want to seek out some Red Rabbit treats whilst you're in Austin. Wheatsville is also the home of some amazing sandwiches, mac and cheese and more but there'll be more about that tomorrow!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 20 - Arlo's, Austin

One place I couldn't wait to re-visit on my trip to Austin earlier this month was Arlo's. This fast food truck is located on vegan friendly bar Cheer Up Charlie's parking lot and it is the stuff my take out dreams are made of. We hit it up three times on our trip, we love the fast service, late hours and, of course, the food. If you're into drinking or just sitting outside shooting the shit over a soda water and some tasty food then you can hang out at Cheer Up Charlie's to enjoy your meal, they have a tonne of outdoor seating as is the way in Austin.

Arlo's menu is pretty decently sized for a truck but I have never deviated from the Bac'n Cheeseburger. Last time we visited in 2012 they didn't do sides, now they do and you can pick from fries, sweet potato fries or tots. We chose tots every time, there are no tots in England so I like to make the most of them when I travel!

The cheeseburger itself is delicious, messy, fast food perfection and I love it. I can't wait to order you again next May my friend. I may even branch out and try the BBQ Burger, Tomato Basil Dog or Chick'n Tacos. Maybe.

Friday, 19 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 19 - Cooling off in Austin featuring Sweet Ritual

One thing that I love about Austin is how hot is is, I'm sure I might feel differently if I lived there but when you come from a place where 90% of your beach picnics will get cancelled because of the weather and outdoor socialising from September to June is confined to the patios of pubs that have space heaters (and even then take a hoodie and a scarf!) the heat is much appreciated. I love being able to lie outside (in the shade, I'm not trying to get sunstroke!) on the grass at Barton Springs knowing I can hop in the water to cool off at any moment. And the water is cold so cool off you will!

I love being somewhere where events like a vegan party on a barge on a river can exist. I love the feeling of the sun on my skin when I'm walking outside. These are things you don't often get to enjoy in England sadly. I also love the abundance of frozen treats which are much needed in the heat! Sweet Ritual has to be one of my favourite places ever. I like Brighton's Boho Gelato with it's 5 or 6 rotating vegan options but this is whole vegan ice cream shop! With sundaes and sprinkles and marshmallows and all of that exciting stuff. On our first visit of the trip I got a scoop of Rocky Road in a cake cone and Nick & I shared the infamous Taco Helado, Sweet Ritual's contribution to Austin's totally rocking vegan taco scene.

Nick also had a scoop of cookies and cream in a cake cone which he declared to be delicious but that he'd licked before I even found my phone to take pictures. The taco is indeed as ridiculous as it looks and inside the waffle taco shell lies vanilla ice cream, a chocolate drizzle and toasted coconut. It was exactly as brilliant as it sounds. I preferred my scoop of Rocky Road because I didn't have to share it, haha, not really, because of the marshmallows of course. I haven't had rocky road ice cream for about 15 years!

On our second visit Nick got the Red Hot Vegans Sundae and I went for the Sweet Ritual / Capital City Bakery Mint Choc Chip Ice Cream Sandwich collaboration. 

Nick's sundae had vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, graham cracker crumbs, toasted marshmallows, chocolate chips and chocolate sauce. He was super into it! I was super into my cookie sandwich too. Mint choc chip has always been one of my favourite flavours and this was spot on.

Sweet Ritual is a must visit spot in Austin, they have shakes and a list of toppings and sauces that you'd be hard pressed to get through on a long visit let alone a short one. My only regret is forgetting to buy their sea salt caramel sauce filled bear (yup, a bear!) to bring home but I'm going back in May for Vida Vegan Con so I guess I'll start my ice cream countdown now!

This isn't your only frozen treat option in Austin though, there's also vegan friendly food cart Bananarchy.

Now I might have mentioned before that I am no banana lover, it's only in the last 5 or 6 months that I've been able to eat them at all regularly and I'm still pretty fussy, they can't be too green or too brown. That stupid banana diet would break me within an hour. Anyway because I love you guys I decided to take one for the team and buy one, I also thought that maybe, just maybe if you covered a banana in vegan chocolate and rolled it in Oreo's it might be good, great even. It looks great right?

Right! But underneath all of that delicious chocolate it's still a banana! Here I am, ever the optimist on the left, pre banana. And on the right, yup, still don't love bananas! I just look confused, like, why am I doing this to myself again?!

I am pleased to say that as per our travel rule Nick ate the banana! Our rule is a little silly but it was born from a place of not wanting to waste food or offend people by not clearing our plates. If one of us really can't deal with eating something the other will take one for the team and at least try to eat it. I have eaten many side salads and drunk many glasses of OJ with bits in and Nick has eaten more than his fare share of overly spicy dishes and things that make me want to barf like this banana and the weird vomit textured omelette I ordered at a restaurant in Japan. Whilst I would not recommend ordering the omelette under any circumstances I would suggest checking out Bananarchy if you're in Austin. Nick totally enjoyed the banana (he only didn't order one himself because he knew I'd hate it!) and I love that they've thought about vegans and added a fun option to their menu rather than sprinkling a banana with coconut or worse, just giving you the banana on a stick!

Your other ice cream option is to pick up one of the many, many commercially available vegan ice creams from Wheatsville or Whole Foods or even Texas grocery chain HEB or Target or somewhere. America's ice cream game is on point. Way, way ahead of us in the UK that's for sure. They have so many brands and fun flavours, I'm totally jealous!

This is probably a less exciting option if you already live in the US but sitting outside sharing this box of So Delicious Almond Milk Minis in Mocha Almond Fudge flavour was one of our favourite silly travel experiences.