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.

whoopiepie

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!

whoopie pies complete

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.

DSC02568 (Large)

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

La Barbecue Spread

Foodie Day!

Last week our neighbor mentioned something along the lines of seeing my incredible food photos and wanted to set up a “foodie day”.  After thinking about it, I realized that a relatively average day for me is not quite the norm for others.  So then I did what anyone would do and ran 14 miles.  Anyway, we had a plan set out for Republic of Sandwich (my new favorite spot in Austin) followed up by Cow Tipping Creamery (my forever favorite spot in Austin).  Here’s how things played out.

My foodie regular day began with a short run and then met up with Jeff at Easy Tiger to try a real pumpkin spice latte.  PSLs, as they’re known on sosh med, can be made one of two ways: 1) with pumps of non-organic, non-local, non-natural, non-delicious syrups; or 2) with homemade pumpkin syrup made from real pumpkins.  Easy Tiger makes theirs with option 2.  As someone whose coffee order is “iced coffee, no room”, this ranks in the top 3 of all coffee beverages in Austin.  The other two will not be named at this time to avoid spoilers in an upcoming post.

Easy Tiger Pumpkin Latte, photo courtesy of the inimitable Jeff Amador

Easy Tiger Pumpkin Latte, photo courtesy of the inimitable Jeff Amador

With coffee in hand and no food in my belly, I made my way over to Joe’s Bakery, which routinely finds itself atop most “best breakfast taco” lists.  Egg-and-potato wins every time.  The tortillas… OH! the tortillas!  A great snack to hold me over before Foodie Day officially began.

Joe's Bakery Breakfast Taco

After breakfast an idea popped into my head that can be described as nothing but humbly brilliant.  The pieces fit so snugly: it’s raining + I’m near La Barbecue + people don’t like to wait in lines in the rain = go get La Barbecue for foodie day!  This meant a change in plans, but everyone involved was on board.  I arrived 15 minutes after opening and was 12th in line.  I ordered a lot of meat for three people including a pound of brisket, three ribs, a half pound of pulled pork, and a half pound of turkey.  We had leftovers.

La Barbecue Spread

And finally, with barbecue acquired, on the way home I received an insider tip from Jeff that there was a new Red Rabbit special donut available!  So I swung by our local amazing grocery Wheatsville and snagged three donuts, including two of the gingerbread specials, before finally making it back home.

Red Rabbit Gingerbread Donut

The pre-Foodie Day latte and breakfast taco hit the spot before diving into the barbecue feast.  I love everything they make at La Barbecue, but the brisket steals the show consistently.  The little gingerbread man rounded (donut pun!) things out perfectly.  To me, it was just a regular day, but I was happy to share and enjoy with others on their special day of eating.

And because no post can have too many babies, here are a few of the Foodie Day participants working off their meals.

Wes and Walker

Bruer Cuvee Kumurembe

Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Kenya Kumurembe

I loved the Cuvee Santa Rita so much that I bought two more bags and just finished off the last of it.  While I’m sad to see the August special all gone, I’m excited about trying their next seasonal variety!  September’s special bean from Kenya is called Kumurembe (which as Cuvee likes to say, is pronounced exactly how it’s spelled).

Bruer Cuvee Kumurembe

Based on the official tasting notes on the bag, I 1) half expected to drink a glass of wine, and 2) couldn’t wait to try it.  The description says “blackberry jam leads into a stonefruit sweetness with a syrupy body”.  That’s right up my caffeinated alley!

Opening the bag, and even more so when it was ground, this coffee smells amazing.  A. maz. ing.  After 6 hours in the Bruer, the first sip blew me away.  I love this coffee.  Definitely less acidic than the Santa Rita, and more balanced than the earlier Cuvee bag I tried.  The Kumurembe is my new favorite.  I will say, you get what you pay for, and in this case it happens to be their most expensive option.  But for me: worth it.

PS – With the Kumurembe out of retail distribution, as well as having a hard time tracking down a different special bag of Cuvee beans, I figured I could handle the $5 shipping to make all my coffee dreams come true.  Even better, when ordering online, you get the beans fresh.  Like, ordered Sunday night, roasted Tuesday, shipped Tuesday, and delivered Wednesday.  I’d say that’s worth $5 flat rate shipping.

PPS – I have no affiliation with Cuvee Coffee, I paid for all coffee myself, and I was not asked to write anything for them.  I’m just a sucker for good coffee.

Cape Whoopies on Goldbely

My eyes were recently opened to a site called Goldbely, offering much-wanted, doubtfully-needed specialty foods.  Their whole purpose is to make regional favorites more accessible to people who have fewer than one personal jet.  Some of the more interesting options include Philly cheesesteaks from Philadelphia (duh), crab cakes from Maryland, and bagels from New York.  As for my first foray into Goldbely I took advantage of a coupon to Cape Whoopies.

Cape Whoopies Goldbelly All

Continue reading

Galante Waffles (7)

Brunch with Team Vicious and Delicious

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it explicitly, but we have some pretty outstanding neighbors.  Monthly happy hour, meet-ups at the neighborhood bar, impromptu wine/beer/whiskey on the patio/front porch/street… and now we can add “friendly knock down drag out no holds barred potluck brunch” to the mix.  We were invited over to our neighbor’s house along with another couple to flex our brunching muscles.

Some of the key details included coming up with a team name (Team Vicious and Delicious), voting on: taste, creativity, presentation, and “bonus points”, and adhering to the theme: Cracker Barrel Chic.  Yep.  With about 10 days to prep, there was a lot of menu planning and email trash talk going on.  But ultimately it came down to the food, so here’s a recap of how things went down.

Team Vicious and Delicious

We absolutely made team shirts.  Bonus points!

Note: Due to the obscene number of photos I took documenting our epic brunch, I’ve tried to reduce the length of this page by creating gifs, slideshows, and self control. Continue reading

Coffee Break: Cuvee Coffee Classic Spicewood 71

Classic Spicewood 71 is Cuvee Coffee’s bread-and-butter.  It’s one of the few blends they produce, made up of specially selected beans from their other single-origin varieties.  It’s what they use in their world-renowned nitrogenated Black and Blue coldbrew coffee on tap.  And it’s what I’m drinking!

Bruer Cuvee Spicewood 1

In a serendipitous sequence of events beginning with an atypical stop at Caffe Medici, I received a free 4 oz bag of Spicewood 71 in celebration of their 8th anniversary!  I knew then that it was destined for the Bruer, and so here we are.  The official description from Cuvee is “sweet melon fades into toffee and caramel with an orange citrus balancing a malt chocolate body”.  I get some of that, but overall it tasted a little… generic?  Like not good or bad or exciting or fruity or chocolatey.  It tasted fine.  But that makes sense for a blend meant to be the foundation to the rest of the lineup.  It can’t be too bold.  It has to be crowd-pleasing, and that’s exactly what it is.  So the next time you’re out and want some easy-drinking coffee, Spicewood 71 is for you.

Look for this:

cuvee spicewood 71

On Turning 30

Well yesterday I was 29 and today I’m 30.  It’s not a big deal really.  More than anything it provides a good milestone to use for reflection as, many friends have said, it’s time to enter the best decade yet.  If that’s true, it’s going to have a lot to live up to.  In my 20s I…

::big breath::

…graduated from college, moved to DC, got engaged to my best friend, moved to Austin, got married to said best friend, bought a house, had a baby — and those are just the major things.  I also…

::big breath::

…ran 13 marathons, qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon, completed an Ironmanand read all five Game of Thrones books.  So my 30s have some big shoes to fill.  But based on how amazing the last 12 weeks of Wesley’s life have been, I’m pretty sure my 30s won’t have any trouble taking the title of top decade.

Turning 30 is also a great excuse to make an extravagant dinner to celebrate our birthdays!  After a great brunch in the morning, we reasoned that we only turn 30 once and had to go big.

birthday brunch

English muffins, smoked salmon, poached eggs, fresh fruit, n’duja, smoked whitefish, and Cuvee iced coffee

We took a family trip down to Whole Foods in search of mussels and thick-cut pork chops.  We left with USDA Prime filet mignon and a lobster tail.  Yea.  And before heading home we swung by a local bakery for dessert!  With my recent infatuation with sous vide cooking, that’s exactly what we did.

Two hours before dinner I got the steaks locked and loaded with a little salt and butter before dropping them into a 135° bath and let them come up to a beautiful medium rare.

filet buttered and sealed

I then took my attention to preparing the lobster by first removing the shell (thanks youtube) and then sealing with butter, lemon zest, and thyme.  This only needs a quick 25 minutes in the water, so I popped it back in the fridge while the steak cooked away.

So with steak cooking and lobster prepped Ev and I had some time to play with Wes before putting him down for bed.  After his bath and while he was eating, I turned my attention to preparing a side of spinach and getting the lobster into the water.  Now imagine some magical off-screen cooking took place: prepared spinach, seared steaks in cast iron in a pool of thyme-spiked butter, quick-seared the lobster after splitting in half, and plated it all.

And do to with it we decided a meal of this magnitude required a special bottle of wine that my mom got us four years ago in Napa.  It did not disappoint.  So. Good.

chateau montelena 2003 cab

As for dessert we had some fantastic cupcakes from Capital City Bakery.  I bet you haven’t checked them out yet, and that’s a big life mistake.  Make it a priority.  And whoa buddy, that Peanut Butter Crunch cupcake… amazing.

Capital City Bakery Cupcakes

And so I’d say Evelyn and I have entered our 30s in style.  I can’t wait to see what’s in store between now and my “ohmygodImturning40″ blog post.