Monday, 22 September 2014

MoFo '14 Day 22 - Mac and Cheesin' in Austin, Tx

Hello and welcome to the penultimate Mac and Cheese Monday of VeganMoFo 2014. To keep the Austin weekend going (Monday still counts as the weekend right?) today we'll be focussing our attention on all of the mac and cheese I ate during my recent trip to Austin. 

BBQ Revolution was high up my list of places to try because I loved Homegrown Smoker in Portland so much and actually up until this trip that was my only experience of BBQ food ever! 

The menu was pretty simple and Nick and I both got the BBQ plate. I was a little disappointed that they were out of soy curls because that's what I'd decided I wanted to order after looking at the menu online but I got the No Bull Brisket instead. 

My plate's the one at the front and as you can see I went with mac and cheese (obviously!) and coleslaw for my sides. Nick went with mac and cheese (obviously!) and potato salad. Both plates came with slices of that cheapo white bread that everyone secretly, or in my case not so secretly, loves.

I'm going to focus on the mac and cheese first because it's mac and cheese Monday and OMG it was delicious. Super creamy and cheesy and perfect, I ate all of mine and stole loads of Nick's whilst he wasn't looking because I'm the worst. I was not a fan of the brisket but anyone with a normal tolerance for heat / pepper would love it. Texturally it was some of the best seitan I've ever eaten and I've eaten a lot of great seitan. The coleslaw was super perfect too and I was very happy with the size of the sides. I will definitely be revisiting BBQ Revolution in May and I have my fingers crossed for soy curls or even the tempeh ribs!

Next up on our mac and cheese tour is Pulse Vegan, somewhere that was recommended to me because of their french dip sandwich but somewhere that I decided was a must visit because they have mac and cheese on the menu.

It's situated in a fun food truck lot which looks like it would have live music in the evenings. Bananarchy are located here too and there was also somewhere to get shaved ice sno cone thingies which are often much needed in Austin. I ordered The Frenchy, the sandwich that was recommend to me, with a side of The Mac.

As you can see The Frenchy comes au jus with gravy for dipping which means that I loved it. Any seitan filled sandwich that you dip in gravy is a win in my book and my only complaint was that the onion on my sandwich was a little thickly sliced making it kinda hard to keep together. The mac was a total win, it wasn't particularly saucy but it was thick and creamy and just a little sweet. I think there may have been some butternut squash in there somewhere. I was also super surprised when I found out the pasta used here is gluten free, it was really good! This was a much more gourmet tasting mac than I was expecting to find at a food truck, it's described on the menu as awesometacular and I would not disagree. I'm also pleased to have found another way to use the word awesome that I had not previously considered!

The third Mac & Cheese option available to you in Austin comes from Wheatsville Co-op home of Red Rabbit doughnuts, huge amounts of vegan meats and cheeses and one of my favourite sandwiches in the world ever the Popcorn Tofu Po'Boy.

I'm pretty sure this mac is, or is at least very close to, the New Farm Mac & Cheese recipe that has been flying around the internet for years. It's one of my favourite ever creamy, saucy, noochy mac and cheeses and I was very into eating this in the car as we were driving!

I loved the nod towards broccoli too...those little flecks of green? Yeah, that's it! If you really want actual broccoli you can add some from the hot bar. I will definitely be eating this one again.

Mac and cheese is not the only deliciously cheesy thing Wheatsville Co-op has up it's sleeve, they also make a vegan blue cheese dip that's great with blue corn chips and popcorn tofu for dipping.

Look at that tofu! It's ridiculous!

The blue cheese dressing is also excellent in the Buffalo Popcorn Hero or Popcorn Tofu Po'Boy sandwiches they make where it sits alongside that amazing looking tofu - I get the Popcorn Tofu Po'Boy which isn't meant to come with the blue cheese but with blue cheese dressing as an add on because I can't handle buffalo tofu at all but I need that dressing! I also get all of the veggies minus the jalapeƱos. Yum! Nick and I ate this three times during our trip and took one with us for the flight home.

That's all the cheesin' we have for today folks but Mac and Cheese Monday will be back next week! I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to be doing for next week's instalment yet, maybe I'll actually cook some mac and cheese myself from scratch for once because sadly in Brighton there's nowhere to go to get your mac & cheese fix!

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.