Published: August 11th 2012August 11th 2012
Day 1: Wednesday 8th
Adam took me to the most amazing diner... Magnolia’s Cafe on South Congress. It is, inside, exactly how I imagine an American Diner should be; the table has crazy pictures on it, the walls are full of memorabilia, photos, signs etc. The kitchen looks onto the tables and the waiting staff are uber friendly. (I can see why they tip 20% over here... they work for that tip!) I choose, for my first (and eagerly anticipated breakfast) the Popeye omelette. It is a spinach and red onion affair with masses of Monterey jack and cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream on the top. (I hadn’t asked for the vege one, but the vege one arrived.. mine should have had bacon in it too.. it was still delicious -so much so that I didn’t realise until I’d finished it!!) It came with a choice of 2 sides (home fries – sweet lord they were good) and black beans were my sides of choice) All for a piffling $7.95. (Roughly 5 of your English pounds! Bargain) It was huge. And satisfying. And it lived up to the high hopes I had for my first American breakfast.
The dome at the Capitol building
The star at the top is 8 foot wide from point to point apparently.. unbelievable
Thank you Magnolias!! I also got decaf filter coffee and fresh orange juice... and then I rolled out of the joint into the car park and into Adams car... no wonder they have an obesity problem here.. Every time I eat here I’m acutely aware that I can never live here!!
In between breakfast and lunch I took a bus to the Capitol building. It is massive. I mean American Massive, rather than British Massive... we just don’t have buildings like that in England. There is a star (for the lone star state) on the top of the dome (inside) which they say is 8foot from point to point... it looks tiny from the floor.. It looks tiny from the third floor (the highest you can go as a member of public)... huge.
I strolled down the Congress towards the bridge and stopped at Royal Blue Grocery for a hot Rueben (meat, cheese, sauerkraut and dressing... what more do you need!!) It was delicious. Again the staff were really attentive and I sat and ate it at the counter in the shop... just like you see in the movies!! Yum.
I then took the bus back to
The very first breakfast!
Magnolias' very fine breakfast.. let the eating begin!
the apartment… Buses are a funny thing here; most people drive so I’ve noticed that most of the people on the bus seem to look/smell like they might not have a fixed address or are fairly low down the economic ladder – whereas in London everyone takes the bus. Oh, and the buses have racks for bikes sticking out the front; I can’t help thinking they would be great in a zombie movie with their big metal bars sticking out ready to skewer someone/thing!
After my morning of eating you might think I took it easy in the evening? You would be very wrong!! For dinner Adam and Gemma took me to Polvos. A Mexican restaurant; now I know I’m off to Mexico in a few days but American Mexican is very different from Mexican Mexican, or so I’m told. Boy am I glad I went there… Polvos is a culinary masterpiece.
We sat outside (it is really hot here!) and were given 3 huge tumblers of iced water and a big bowl of homemade tortilla chips. Inside there is a salsa bar with 3 different type of salsa style dips which you help yourself too. No waiting
here. Adam and Gemma had told me about chilli con quesos ($8.99) – a bowl of melted cheese… for those who know me well, you know I LOVE cheese; this I HAD to try! It was delicious. It arrived with chillis, coriander, beef and onion which you unload into it and then dip the nachos into... oh my god... I was euphoric! Cheesy, melty, beautiful-ness!!
We then shared the best beef fajitas ($12.99) I’ve ever had (I don’t know what they marinate the beef in but it is unbelievably tasty) and pulled chicken quesadillas ($9). I love this city. Day 1 over I lay in bed wondering if I would last two weeks without having a heart attack; Can my arteries hold out? I really hope so there is so much more to try!!
Day 2: Thursday 9th
I woke on day 2 a little less ready to eat my own weight in food... but none the less ready to eat!! I decided today would be pancake day! I’d heard about Kerbey Lane’s pancakes by lots of people so Adam gave me a lift and left me to sample some American pancakes. (He was still full
Chilli con Queso
A bowl of melted cheese... how can you go wrong with that!
from the night before so I was eating solo today!)
It’s a very different style diner to Magnolias in its layout, but the breakfast menu is fairly similar... big and lots of diversity... but I was here for the pancakes. I ate a blueberry pancake with maple syrup and crispy bacon ($5.50) followed by their lemon and poppy seed pancake with a lemon glaze ($4.85) they were fluffy and light and sweet and filling and delicious. Why don’t we do pancakes for breakfast in London?
Which made me think… I love London; I love that you can eat any kind of cuisine you feel like. I love that everything is walking distance and the streets are full of people and life and character. But you can’t get proper American style breakfasts. You just can’t. You can get Vietnamese Pho, Korean bolgoggi, Japanese sushi. You can get burgers and tacos and curry and pizza. You can’t get proper American style breakfasts - the kind where you get a choice of 10 different omelets, 5 different pancakes, home-made potatoes, black beans, tacos, eggs, sausage, fruit... I could go on.
I digress. After my pancakes I caught the bus to
Best fajita ever!
South Congress and spent a few hours walking round the thrift stores (in the 100 degree heat). I passed a delicious looking ‘hut’ selling smoothies, and though I’d be healthy and get a nice cold fruit smoothie. My good intentions were ruined when the girl in front of me ordered a Mexican vanilla ice-cream, strawberry and granola smoothie – what was I supposed to do? That sounded too good to miss... it was. Amy’s Ice creams is an understated name... it should be called Amy’s Astonishingly Amazing icecreams! It was thick, and creamy and healthy, surely? I had strawberries and granola in it?!!!! After a few more thrift stores I caught the bus back to the apartment in a sweaty mess. Which led me to an hour of swimming and then some chilling out in the air con playing cards.
For supper we decided we needed to have something a bit more healthy (we were going to go to the newly opened ‘Bangers’ where a friend of mines friend was working, but that didn’t happen) what did happen was a delicious home-made Tom Kha (Adam and Gemma had done the ‘Time for Lime’ cooking class in Koh Lanta, Thailand)
Kerbey Lane Pancakes
yum.. breakfast number 2
and having eaten their Tom Kha I would recommend that course to everyone.. It was delicious. Tom Kha, for those who don’t know, is a coconut milk based soup with chicken, lemon grass, chillis, tomato, spring onion, shallot, gulungal root, garlic and lime in. Healthy and delicious. God I was full. Again. But at least today I hadn’t really had lunch; I’d eaten much less and dinner was practically weight reducing!!!
Day 3: Friday 10th
Breakfast Tacos!! It had to be done. Everyone talks about the breakfast taco. I know I’m going to Mexico but I had to try it. Off to Torchy’s Adam and I trotted. (Well drove!) I had the Monk taco; egg, bacon, chillis, cheese ($2.50) and the Breakfast taco 2; chorizo, cheese, egg ($2.25). I couldn’t even finish them... I’m not feeling so sure about getting through this holiday without having a coronary! They were good, but I’m not sure how I feel about tacos for breakfast!!
After some chilling out at the apartment Adam took me to Whole Foods… not just any Whole Foods, but the original Whole Foods – the one that started them all. It was Massive.
On South Congress they have these mobile food trailers..
I mean I’ve been to Whole Foods in Camden, I’ve walked past the whole foods in Piccadilly but this is on a whole new level. For starters we walked in and I was able to buy a ‘Detoxifier’ smoothie and walk around with it as we shopped (brilliant!). I thought the detoxifier might stave off the impending coronary; it had lime, lemon, apple juice and wheatgrass!! Surely that was like negative calories!!
So after wandering around Whole Foods, mouth aghast at the array of foods (including an incredible sausage section (!) and a massive help yourself cereal section, I choose a healthy lunch of kale & sesame, a chicken and avo salad and a quinoa salad for $8 (that sounds like a lot but it was only a spoon of each.. honest!) but it was healthy and by this point my body was craving healthy! I think the breakfast taco was not appreciated by my internal organs!!
I went with Gemma for a pedicure which was great… again, it was a huge establishment (do they do anything small here?) There were probably 30 people being scrubbed, filed and painted when we got there, and they still had room
Breakfast number 3... tacos
for us!! So with beautiful toes and a short whizz around target (very cheap clothes shop where I purchased a pretty stripy jumper!) I headed back to the apartment where a friend of mine’s sister was coming to meet me. We headed out and had an iced coffee and gluten free sweet potato whoopee pie; obviously it being gluten free made it healthy in my mind!! (I ignored the cream cheese filling!)
For our final evening before heading to Mexico Adam, Gemma and I headed to the Alamo Draft House on Sixth Street for Master Pancake. This is where they show a film (in this case, ‘Conan the Barbarian’) and 4 comedians speak over the top of it, basically taking the piss… it was brilliant... such a unique experience. I ate a Royal with cheese and chips... in the dark (I love being able to eat proper food whilst watching a movie) It was delicious food, comfy chairs, friendly people and hilarious movie/comedy. If ever you are in Austin you must do this!
And here we are; about to leave Austin for Cancun, Mexico. The flight has been delayed… I’m beginning to see a pattern with internal American
flights. I had a slice of Pepperoni and sausage pizza from Mangia at the airport (I know pizza for breakfast isn’t usual, unless you are hung-over, but why is it any more weird than having tacos for breakfast? Both are odd to me.
(scroll down to the bottom of the page for more photos)
There are more photos below