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Discovering New Restaruants via Instagram and #Austin360eats & #AustinFood

If you’re like me, you’re always on the lookout for new restaurants and food experiences in Austin Texas… and one of the best tools to keep tabs on what all your  foodie friends are eating is Instagram.

Everyone knows that Instagram is great for sharing pictures, but for me the best way to find new people and restaurants is by taking advantage of hashtags.

So, What are some of the best Austin Food hashtags to use and follow?

Two that I like a lot are:

Besides the benefits of finding new food, there’s an added bonus of getting more exposure for your social media accounts… especially when using #Austin360Eats.

taqueria_escondida

 

Addie Broyles of the Austin American Statesman created this hashtag a while back…  and every week she likes to feature the Austin food and the people behind the hashtag.

Recently myself (@supertsai) and @mjsoko were featured in the Relish Austin blog for our photos from Taqueria La Escondida and the brand new Patika coffee bar on South Lamar (one of our new favorite spots).  If you want to be featured too, just tag all of your food photos on Instagram with #Austin360Eats.

 

mjsoko_austin_360

So, if you’re looking get more eyeballs on your Instagram account, or make new friends, make sure to check out both #AustinFood and #Austin360Eats.  There’s thousands of pictures under each hashtag, so there’s lots of new things to discover.

 

Got any other cool hashtags to share? Let us know in the comments…

 

More reading:

 

Posted in Food.


What is Butter Coffee? Where do I get Butter Coffee in Austin?

Butter Coffee in Austin, Texas

I live next door to Austin’s only Paleo trailer, Picnik, and they sell a novel new drink called butter coffee. After walking the dogs by the sign for butter coffee at least a dozen times, we decided to take the plunge to see what this new trendy drink is all about.

Butter coffee is pretty much what it sounds like – it’s coffee and butter blended together with some additional MCT coconut oil extract that is supposed to be very nutritious for you and good for your brain.

So what’s the big deal about butter coffee?
Supposedly the added grass fed butter provides all the fat and many nutrients you need for a meal and it supercharges your metabolism and suppresses appetite, but does it really work?

IMG_4083

We’ve been drinking butter coffee on the regular at Picnik for a few weeks now and we even started making it at home. What I do know is this… the butter and MCT oil in the coffee keep you full for a long time, and it really curbs your hunger. So despite the extra 300 calories or so butter adds to the coffee, you actually end up eating less food because of the high quality fat you drink, so I think it actually can help you lose a few pounds (and stay away from carbs) when used correctly as a replacement for food that you used to eat in it’s place.

Also, butter coffee gives you a pretty even, long-lasting non-jittery buzz because the butter slows you down and coffee picks you up, so they kind of balance each other out. The focus on high quality ingredients at Picnik makes me feel better about what I consume, and I think I prefer the flavor of butter to cream in my coffee now as well.

Is butter coffee worth it in the end?
The five or six bucks per cup you pay for it is pretty much equal to what you’ll spend for a much more sugary drink at Starbucks, so I would say it’s definitely healthier than that if that’s what you are replacing. It is however, a few more bucks than standard drip coffee, but if you view it as replacing the need to eat more food, there is added value there. The service and vibe at Picnik is great too, the folks are super friendly too so if you are a regular they really make you feel at home.

However, if you are not into coffee or you are already stick skinny and getting all of the nutrients you need daily, maybe butter coffee isn’t for you.

Make it Yourself
What’s that? You’re not a millionaire? If you don’t want to spend all that cash for your butter coffee fix and you want to drink it regularly, you can make butter coffee at home for about a dollar a cup, but you will have some upfront costs buying like a hand blender and the MCT coconut oil to get things started (also you’ll have to clean up after yourself).

butter_coffee
(Photo credit: MJ Kim)

To make butter coffee at home here’s all of the tools and ingredients that you’ll need:

    • Blender (we have a hand blender which is super convenient for small amounts)
    • coffee grinder and beans
    • Unsalted grass fed butter (we get Kerrygold at Central Market)
    • MCT coconut oil (also from Central market)
    • Fresh brewed coffee (french press or drip coffee is recommended)

Drip Coffee stuff we use:

How to make Butter Coffee at home:
Basically, you just fresh brew a cup of coffee, pour a little in a cup, blend it with 1 tbsp of butter, add an oz of MCT oil, then add the remaining coffee and you are done. Picnik uses half to one oz of maple syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar, so we like to do that as well.

Drip Coffee

Will butter coffee become mainstream, or is it just a trend? For us, it’s a cool new thing that we enjoy that helps us eat less crap… time will tell if we stick with it in the long run.

Additional butter coffee links:
How to make butter coffee
Info on MCT (Medium-chain triglyceride)
Picnik Austin

Posted in Austin, Food.


TastingBuds in the Austin American Statesman

Peter Tsai chilaquiles

Before the Internet came along, it wasn’t very easy to find other folks with the same interests. Luckily, we now live in a 24/7 connected world and the smartphone app age, so we don’t have that problem any longer.

Two of Austin’s most prominent food writers, Matthew Odam and Addie Broyles have been connecting foodies in the city for years now via their blogs on the Austin American Statesman.

Recently, I was fortunate to be featured by both of them… I was interviewed on Addie’s Relish Austin blog about how Instagram helps foodies find each other, and I hung out with Matthew Odam to talk about Chinese food in Austin, just in time for Chinese New Year.

With Matthew, we chatted about Austin’s Asian food scene over lunch at Rice Bowl Cafe, one of my favorite Chinese / Taiwanese spots in the city to give advice on his
roundup of Chinese restaurants in Austin.

To find more foodies in Austin that are on Instagram, follow the #Austin360Eats hashtag, check out Addie’s blog link above, or check out my list of Austin foodies on Instagram.

Happy Tasting!
Peter

Austin 360 Eats Screenshot

Posted in Food.


How to find Authentic Ethnic food – the First Rule of Ethnic Cuisine

Crowded Restaurant in Madrid, Spain

My first rule of ethnic cuisine is simple.

An ethnic restaurant is much more likely to serve delicious, authentic food when people of that culture are enthusiastically cooking, serving, and eating the food. Bonus points if they are primarily speaking the language of that culture. Super bonus points if they have either a secret ethnic menu or non translated menu items.

If an ethnic restaurant meets none of these criteria, it’s likely to suck.  You wouldn’t want to eat at a Mexican restaurant in China where the waiter doesn’t even know what a taco is…. would you? (I think they called it a meat onion wrap)

I actually ate at exactly a place like this in 2000 and it was the worst Mexican culinary experience of my life. I don’t think the restaurant owners had ever eaten good Mexican food before, but then again none of their (very few) clients had either.

Ordering Mexican food in Chinese (no English or Spanish on the menu), eating cheese made by people who don’t eat cheese, and the ensuing stomach problems were all NO BUENO.

chinese_taco

Read more about the First rule of ethnic cuisine by clicking here!

Posted in Food.


Peruvian Food in Austin – An Introduction

la_chapparita_austin

What is Peruvian food?

That’s the first question most people have. Let’s start with what it is not.

Peruvian food is NOT Mexican food or Tex-Mex! You will not find any tortillas, enchiladas, or tacos in Peruvian cuisine. You will find a lot grilled meat dishes accompanied with veggies / garnishes, seafood, corn, potatoes, yucca, and rice, usually served with delicious sauces. You will even find Chinese influence in the cuisine (I know, I was surprised too).

While I’m no expert, I have a feeling that there are very few Peruvian experts in Austin. This post is a quick intro to Peruvian cuisine in Austin, from someone who has recently learned about the cuisine and has had help from a couple of Peruvian friends.

At the time of this writing there were 5 Peruvian places in town:

Click here to learn more about Peruvian food in Austin!

Posted in Food.


New Austin Restaurant Alert: Umami Mia Pizzeria on Barton Springs


Since it’s closing in 2012, Austinites have been curious about what restaurant would replace the long standing Romeo’s (which opened in 1993) on Barton Springs at Jessie Street (near Zilker Park). As of this weekend, the long wait is over!

The new restaurant at 1500 Barton Springs Rd, Umami Mia Pizzaria (also Italian), offers a much more modern and casual take on Italian food than Romeo’s did. Gone is the dark cave-like decor, piano, and mediocre food of the old restaurant. Instead Umami Mia offers a bright, hip, colorful decor inspired by the Rome subway line. The food has also improved remarkably and the extensive drink list offers creative cocktails that you wouldn’t expect to find in an Italian joint.

We were invited to preview the new menu this week, and we’re happy to share our favorites with you!

Click through to preview the dishes from Umami Mia in Austin, Texas

Posted in Food.


The State of Ramen Shops in Austin, Texas

What is Ramen anyways? It doesn’t always come in cheap packs from the grocery store?
Japanese Ramen has it’s origins in the Chinese noodles 拉面 “La-Mian” which literally means pulled noodles (see this picture of this guy the Chinese version). In fact, in Japan Ramen is still sometimes called Chinese style noodles. Somewhere along the way, The Japanese took the Chinese import and morphed it into something all their own.

How is authentic ramen different from instant ramen?
Real ramen broth has a depth of flavor not present in the instant form, which relies on salt and MSG to enhance taste. Good ramen derives it’s flavor from boiling a combination of animal bones and vegetables for a long time to give the broth a richness that that can’t be replicated otherwise. Much in the same way that Texas BBQ meat tastes magical when exposed to slow and low heat, the same is true of soup broth. Good ramen when done right, is a time intensive labor of love (just like great TX BBQ). Good ramen also comes garnished with all sorts of fresh, delicious things as well that complement the broth.

Simply put, great ramen can blow your mind.

For an in depth explanation about Japanese Ramen culture and the different styles of Ramen, David Chang and Anthony Bourdain dedicate 20 minutes to the subject in the awesome series “The Mind of A Chef” (bonus @ 8:45 for learning how the noodles are made in a factory from a man in a bright red wrestling style mask)

There’s also this great how to make ramen article on Serious Eats.

Read more about the state of Ramen Noodles in Austin after the jump

Posted in Austin, Comparisons.


Photos from the Austin Food Wine Festival 2013 @ Butler Park

The 2013 Austin Food and Wine Festival just wrapped up, and it was full of memorable experiences and excellent tastings & cooking demonstrations from celebrity chefs.

For Austinites who are fans of the Food Network, the festival was the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with some of their favorite stars, such as Andrew Zimmern, Marcus Samuelsson, Christina Tosi, Tim Love, and Paul Qui.

Click through to view the photos from the 2013 Austin Food and Wine Fest!

Posted in Food.


Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt Coming to Austin in Spring 2013

Update: April 2013 – Pinkberry is now open in Austin

Pinkberry, the yogurt shop that pretty much started the froyo craze in America 6-7 years ago, is finally coming to Austin. The first location will open at the Westbank Market (3300 Bee Caves Road, Suite 640) in spring 2013.

Why should we care?

We’ve seen many different generic froyo shops come and go in the ATX and even though it feels like the craze has died down, I think there’s still a pent up demand for Pinkberry. Many people say that Pinkberry’s yogurt is the best (myself included), and that the current batch of Austin yogurt shops aren’t up to par.

In fact, in our 2009 Austin Froyo comparison test, we crowned Mambo Berry the best Froyo in Austin because it tasted the most like Pinkberry.

Learn More about Pinkberry coming to Austin after the jump

Posted in Food, News.


Best Asian Noodles in Austin

Where do you go for delicious Asian food in Austin? While the capitol of Texas hasn’t been known for top notch Asian food in the past, that reputation is changing. There are restaurants all over the city with one or two noodles dishes that can hang with the best of them.

So, where do you go for delicious, flavorful Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese noodle carby goodness?

Click through to learn where the best noodles in Austin are

Posted in Austin, Food.