Barley Swine

Earlier this month, I traveled to Austin, TX with my sister and friend for a fun extended girls weekend. My first dream night included eating at Franks, where the hot dogs roam free, followed by singing my heart out and doing my best Michael Jackson dance moves at a dueling piano bar.

A more appropriate blog meal soon followed at Barley Swine. Described as a “foodie hot spot” in Austin, Bryce Gilmore’s fine dining fixed menu restaurant is situated in the South Lamar District. I ate at Chef Gilmore’s Odd Duck restaurant last year with Mr. E and recalled there being a lot of very cerebral dishes. Based on that experience, I was so looking forward to this meal.

The space was more cozy than I was expecting. However, the kitchen was very open, giving me the feeling that we were a part of the action. Our waiter was friendly and engaged, offering wonderful glasses of wines before our meal.

Wine choices galore!
Amuse bouche – crab, canteloupe, sorbet

Mango shrimp

Octopus terrine, watermelon, yogurt

Spicy eggplant

Cured squash, feta, seeds

Wagyu beef, green papaya, green garlic, avocado
Extra dish courtesy of the kitchen — Crab XLB

Shishito, fermented mushroom glaze

Snapper, hoja santa, corn

Pig Bun

Roasted duck, plum, potato

Vinegar pie, dried fruit, streusel

Candy bar

Thai lime, mango

Peach, waffle

Extra treats – caramel, jelly, and sesame cracker

The meal was really quite tremendous. The creativity, in particular those pig buns, was on point. What wasn’t quite so on point was the general generosity of salt. There was no plate that was inedible, but there was a certain intensity to the finishing salt on some of the dishes.

I did have one mishap, which was a fly fried onto my shrimp in plate numero uno. Skeeved by that experience, I quietly called over the waiter and pointed out my uninvited friend. The reception was overwhelming. The waitstaff and the GM were all profusely apologetic, assuring me this has never happened before. I believed them, FYI. They sent over complimentary xiao long bao and even went so far as to comp my entire meal. WOW.

Normally, I would be completely turned off by this entire ordeal, but the front of the house saw their opportunity and they took it. Hats off to you.

Barley Swine
2024 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

I’ve been recently notified that it will be moving from this space in November and will move into a larger location with a la carte menu items.

Our last anniversary in Portland, OR

I’ve been backlogged on writing material! A neat opportunity came up at work and I haven’t had a chance to really sit down and focus on the blog. Juggling this new project and wedding planning obligations has certainly kept me busy for the past few months!

Fortunately, the people who love me encourage me to still have a life outside of these two activities. In May, Mr. E and I headed west to Portland to celebrate our last unofficial anniversary before the big day. I’ve had this sneaking curiosity over the past few years and was determined to visit for an upcoming trip. We figured our last May 21st anniversary had to go out with a bang, so a trip was in order.

Still feeling the aftermath of busy season eating, I packed my sneakers and vowed to run every day, which I’m extremely proud to say I did every day… at least three miles… to breakfast.

Aebleskiver that will stop you dead in your tracks at Café Broder

appropriate, I’d say

Always a sucker for wall art when I travel

Blue Star Donuts. I didn’t even have to go to Voodoo Donuts to recognize that Blue Star was superior in my book. I don’t fall for kitschy places that serve Pepto Bismol donuts. Gross. Blue Star’s buttermilk donuts, which I’d highly suggest grabbing during the week vs. the week days, were something else.

Some rude ninja jumped into my picture

Aqua fresca and guac from ¿Por Que No?, a perfect afternoon pick me up

Can’t go to Portland without making some time for green tea at Powell’s Books

Seared foie gras, strawberry, celery leaves, and lentils from Little Bird before the Little Dragon show – probably one of the most surprising and seriously tasty seared foie preparations I’ve ever had

Spur of the moment purchase – Little Dragon tickets at the Roseland

Solid lox, subpar bagel from Mother’s Bistro – don’t hate, I’m biased!

Rainy day, or clammy day (which seems like everyday in Portland!), ramen from a adorable little noodle joint, Boxer Ramen

Local favorites – Secret Aardvark hot sauce and Stumptown cold brew coffee

The Hairstream Trailer – where you can walk in and get a haircut and listen to Fleetwood Mac on cassette!

… we know from experience!

Back at Blue Star… damn it.

Round 2 for bagels and lox — Eisenhower Bagel House. Destination boiled bagel heaven!!!
Rose Test Garden. My grandpa loved roses and I got the chills walking through this place. Very surreal experience for me.

One of the more simple roses in the garden, but my favorite.

Fun flavors from Salt & Straw (pictured – rhubarb & anise crumble and almond brittle)

Spent the last day wandering around Multnomah Falls

Couldn’t have asked for a better trip thanks to this guy. Life is going to be one heck of an adventure because of Mr. E.

Given all of the good food, outstanding runs (if I do say so myself), and the overall great times, Portland is on my list of repeat travel destinations. If you’re into local fare, earth crunchy stuff, and septum piercings (my god, everyone has them!!!), you should get your butt to Portland.

Irish Soda Bread

It’s not unusual for me to go into a blogging hiatus this time of year. Auditing is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. In all seriousness, things have been all consuming at work and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I welcome the familiar distraction. I’ve found myself in a new, exciting environment that is both challenging and rewarding.  I’m surrounded by people who push me and I can feel myself adapting constantly.

To be honest, work has been consoling for me. Only days after my last post, my best friend got married. It was a beautiful day that I will never forget. Definitely the best wedding I’ve ever been to. The only thing that would have made the day so over the top would have been if Ellen, my aunt and my sister’s god mother had been in attendance. My aunt had been diagnosed with cancer in the summer and was in the hospital at the time. My family and I were with her the very next day wielding wedding pictures and stories to share the joy with her. It breaks my heart still to say she died a few days later.

Beth, Aly, and Ellen

I’ve never felt so supported at work. During the summer and fall, my team and mentors made it possible for me to work from Long Island part time so I could have long weekends with my family. I was happy to be able to spend as much time with Ellen as I could. I was also glad I could be there for my mom and Aly, who’d been making multiple trips every day to the hospital toward the end.

I ripped a page out of Ellen’s book when it comes to entertaining and being the head chef in the kitchen. Ellen got a lot pleasure making delicious meals and taking care of everyone. Holidays and family get togethers were marked by some kind of special treat, whether it be corn muffins for Thanksgiving, chocolate Santa’s for Christmas or Irish soda bread for St. Patty’s day. If you’ve ever tasted love in food, then you’d know exactly what any of these morsels tasted like.

5 cups of flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups raisins
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together all dry ingredients. Add butter, buttermilk, and the egg. Roll up your sleeves and start mixing. The batter will be very sticky. Once the batter just comes together, add the raisins and give it a few good folds.

Pam or butter a cast iron skillet (preferred) or a 9 inch pie pan. Add the batter and cut a T in the dough before placing in the oven. Bake for an hour to hour and 15 minutes. Poke the bread directly in the center with a knife. It it comes out clean, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, leave it in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Let cool and serve with a nice pat of butter. Yes, more butter.

So far, we’ve managed to make corn muffins and get our chocolate Santa’s. I’m sure among all of the cousins, someone will bake a soda bread this March. I can feel Ellen celebrating with us and we can continue sharing our happy family memories with her by keeping up traditions.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.


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