40 North

I knew the location as “the place where La Barbecue used to be.”  But now it’ll be known as “the 40 North lot” because this is serious pizza.  I took advantage of a gorgeous 70 degree January day to check out what wood-fired goodness 40°N, a brand new pizza food trailer, was slinging.  I pulled up to the lot to find it nearly completely empty.

40 North Sign

The space is shared with Regal Ravioli and one table was filled with friends of 40 North.  I took my time reading the whole menu and everything sounded great — which was an issue for my indecision-prone self — before I finally settled on the “Kale” pizza and took a seat.

40 North Trailer

Clint, the pizzaiolo / owner, brought out housemade pork sausage (from Richardson Farms), fresh mozzarella, Calabrian chiles, garlic, and Parmigiano Reggiano-topped pizza.  A beauty to behold, though at first I was disappointed that I misunderstood that there was no red sauce on it.  Nothing wrong with white pizzas; I was just in the mood for sauce.

40 North Kale Pizza overhead

I forgot all about that red sauce with my first bite.  It’s garlicky and cheesy and kaley.  The Calabrian chiles and pork sausage spiced it up.  The crust was a perfect balance of soft and chewy.

40 North Kale Pizza side

This picture really tells the whole story.

40 North Kale Pizza gone

And a big thank you to Clint for offering me a vanilla panna cotta with raspberry sauce on the house.  After devouring the entire pizza, I made quick work of the super creamy, tart dessert.  I never would’ve ordered it (both from a “quantity of food” perspective as well as “not that into panna cotta” perspective), but it was wholly delicious!  I’d definitely recommend, especially if you’re not sadly bravely dining alone, to get at least one to share.

40 North Panna Cotta

If you’re in the mood for pizza and the weather’s nice, I would absolutely implore you to check out 40 North.  If the weather isn’t so great, you can call ahead and just pick it up.  Great pizza from nice people who know what they’re doing, so make it a priority to check them out soon!

Coffee Break: Sightglass Finca Zulema Reserva

Before abandoning me leaving Austin for a dream job, my good friend Jeff picked up a bag of coffee for me while in San Francisco.  Sightglass Coffee is a small family-run operation with two coffee shops and a spot at the farmers market.  Reading about them reminds me of Cuvee Coffee, both maintaining close relationships with the coffee farmers with whom they do business.

This particular coffee, Finca Zulema Reserva, tasted pretty true to its included “Taste Notes”.  I thought it was really well-balanced and maybe a little less bright than the bag would suggest.  Admittedly, and this should probably be said in all my Coffee Break posts, these have been brewed primarily in my cold-brew Bruer setup (as seen in the pictures), which undoubtedly will affect what flavors are highlighted.  But compared to previous beans, I’d say this Sightglass bag impressed me.

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Impromptu Iron Lunch

A few days ago the idea of barbecue for lunch came up but was ultimately discarded for something else that I can’t even remember.  But that idea of barbecue stuck with me, lurking in my subconscious, gnawing at the very essence of my decision-making being — until this day! — when it punched through and exclaimed “Mike, you want barbecue right now!”  If this all seems a little dramatic, welcome to my life when it comes to deciding what to have for lunch.

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Happy New Year, 2015!

Happy 2015 to you, too!  2014 had some big shoes to fill after everything that happened in 2013, and I’d say it far surpassed expectations.  Obviously and without question, the arrival of Wesley singlehandedly outdid the entire previous year.  On top of that I started a new job at an incredible company.  To celebrate the end of a fantastic year, I revisited Goldbely to order something special for Ev and me (sorry Wes).

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Happy Anniversary To Us!

In the blink of an eye, Ev and I have been married 4 years, and I can honestly say each day is better than the last.  And while the past 6 months have certainly been a little different with Wes’ arrival, they are still each getting better and better, perhaps even more so.  But that means we’ve had to change up how we celebrate special occasions, just like for our recent birthdays.  So for our 4th anniversary we decided rather than going out to a fancy, expensive dinner, we’d make a fancy, expensive dinner.

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Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Cuberow

Cuberow is the way someone not from Ethiopia would pronounce the Amharic word ቀበሮ for fox.  But what does a fox know about coffee?  Apparently a lot, because this coffee is amazing.

Cuvee Cuberow (Large)

I know I said Cuvee’s October special Reserva was great, and that September’s special Kumurembe was my favorite, but November’s Cuberow is, in fact, the best.  Like “holy moly wow that’s fantastic” great.

The official tasting profile says “sweet peach and grapefruit-like acidity lead into a dry resin-y finish, with notes of jasmine and rosemary”.  I taste none of that.  Actually, I almost didn’t buy the Cuberow because I was afraid it’d be too fruity and bright and acidic and, god help me, grapefruity.  Instead it’s balanced and interesting and rich and bright.  Maybe that’s what the official tasting notes are trying to say, considering each of their descriptors is different from one another.  But really what it means is you should grab a bag or twoelve the next time you see one (or online) before they’re gone!

Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Reserva

If you’ll recall, I placed an online order from Cuvee to get two specific bags of coffee.  One was the Kumurembe, and the other was the Reserva.  Nevermind I recently saw the Reserva in my grocery store, I was thrilled to receive it in the mail.  As October’s special variety, my propensity for wanting needing new, limitedly-available things got the best of me again.

Bruer Cuvee Riserva

Slightly less acidic / vibrant, the Reserva has a smoother flavor than its Kenyan predecessor.  That said, it definitely lives up to its official taste profile: Crisp Clean Black Cherry Acidity with Dark Chocolate and Tangerine.  For me I don’t quite taste the tangerine aspect, but the cherry and dark chocolate are absolutely dominant.  I’d say Reserva would be more crowd-pleasing than other beans thanks to its relatively narrow range of balanced flavors.  Per usual, delicious stuff from Cuvee and another one I’d recommend.

New Job Announcement!

Announcement Time!

To the very perceptive, you may have noticed my gallivanting around town has been a little more frequent over the last few weeks. That’s because I’ve been enjoying a bit of funemployment! I left my job at National Instruments in late October after 4.5 years when I came across an incredible opportunity. Beginning this coming Monday I’ll be joining the team at the big blue lowercase f!

Don’t worry, I’ll be working out of Facebook’s downtown Austin office, so I’ll still be able to gallivant around Austin. As for my role, I’m joining an awesome team that works on a huge suite of internal applications used by other Facebook employees. And while my three weeks of downtime have been amazing, especially hanging out with the little man, I’m extremely excited to get started! Check out the sweet onesie they sent Wes.

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PS – I hope you LIKE my conscious effort to avoid any Facebook-related puns during this post.

Black & Blue poured

Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Black and Blue

If you couldn’t tell yet, Cuvee Coffee is my favorite coffee roaster.  The reason is simple: their coffee rocks.  But it all started with my first taste of their nitrogenated cold brew coffee known as Black & Blue.  Yes, “nitrogenated” as in it’s put in a keg and then pressurized out with nitrogen.  If you’re in Austin, seek it out.  It’s something special.

Well, the people at Cuvee have taken their super smooth Black & Blue and put it in a can.  Wrapped in that beautiful blue just like their bags of beans, the can features the B&B mascot.  It pours super dark and with a small amount of foam on top.  “Smooth” doesn’t even describe how easy-drinking it is.  I’m so excited to be able to grab a can on the go.  For the time being, the supply is very limited and I found mine at their new coffee shop on East 6th.  But sources say to keep an eye out for these blue cans coming to stores soon.

Per usual, I have no affiliation with Cuvee, they didn’t ask me to write this, and I bought my can of coffee on my own.

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Bake Attack!

I got into a baking kick recently, which is to say I acted on a series of sugar-filled impulses and ended up with a lot of warm, delicious goodies.  Lucky for coworkers, there is a limit to the amount of homemade baked goods one household can consume.

Whoopie Pies

First up, after my delightful reintroduction to whoopie pies, as well as owning a cookbook devoted entirely to whoopie pies AND a whoopie pie pan, I felt it was my duty to try my own.  The endless possible flavor combinations made it overwhelming at first until I realized there was really only one option: chocolate and peanut butter.

These whoopie pies were fantastic!  The chocolate cakes epitomized everything you’d want in a chocolate cake.  The peanut butter filling is mindblowing.  Combined, damn.  I can’t wait to make other flavors.  With that said, I probably won’t use the whoopie pie pan again.  The cakes came out with a weird, football shape that I ended up having to cut off.  But just look at how cute and delicious this is!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

After a strange completely normal urge to make chocolate chip cookies, I pulled up the definitive chocolate chip recipe from Serious Eats, including the 5,300+ word picture-full experiment/analysis/thesis on what makes them the best.  I’ll let you read all about it, but let it be known that browned butter, overnight chilled dough, and sea salt are all in play.

These were devoured.  There’s some serious baking skills on my team at work and few things have been snatched up as quickly as these cookies.  They’re perfectly chewy, full of chocolate chips, deep with browned butter flavor, and exciting with crunchy sea salt.  They don’t joke around.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

And finally, as Evelyn’s company does every year, it was time to come up with an entry for the pumpkin bake-off.  One year she entered pumpkin Twinkies.  This year we were sure she’d dominate with Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes!  The recipe is straightforward but the results are downright impressive.  I didn’t document any of the prep, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.

The two keys to success here are making your own whipped cream and getting those authentic green straws.  As for the cupcakes themselves, they weren’t really pumpkin-y enough.  Maybe increasing the pumpkin puree in place of some of the oil would do the trick.  As for the bake-off, these still weren’t enough!  We’ll have to dig real deep for next year’s competition.

pumpkin spice latte cupcakes