I wanted to try some new foods the other day, so I went wandering around an Asian grocery store. I found canned lychees, jackfruit, longans, and mangosteens. Hubby and I tried each one.
These are the lychees. They were probably my favorite. The texture is a bit crunchy, reminiscent of onions, but the flavor was similar to canned mandarin oranges, without being citrus-y. They were lightly sweet, and slightly perfumey.
Jackfruit reminded me of mango, but more fibery. These were my second favorite.
These are the mangosteens. They were squishy, like melt in your mouth squishy. The flavor was sweet and light, but the texture was off-putting to me. Hubby liked them though. Some of them had seeds inside, but the seeds were kind of like very soft almonds. They were edible, but I wasn’t a fan. The longans were almost the same as the lychees, just smaller.
The object that inspired the whole adventure was the durian. I read a book that mentioned that an American soldier stationed in Vietnam loved these and had a crate shipped back home to the US. When it got here, the port authority thought it was a box of something rotten and threw it out. Did I take this as a warning? Nope. I thought “Surely it can’t be that bad. Why would people grow and eat it if it was that terrible?”
It looks like mashed up bananas, and the texture is kind of similar. The flavor is lightly sweet and creamy, if you can get past the horrible smell. It smells like the worst, oldest, dirtiest pair of sneakers you can imagine, lit on fire, times a million. I had this box in the freezer, and even though it was wrapped in two layers of plastic, I could smell it in the fridge. My entire kitchen stinks unbearably. We have elected to have the windows open even though it’s 50 degrees outside.
When you taste it, it’s not bad, then the smell invades your nasal cavity and sets up camp. You smell nothing but durian for about 20 minutes, and once it’s faded you keep catching faint whiffs of it. Once that passes, you start burping up durian so you can relive it. Obviously your body is attempting to reject it as quickly as possible, but to no avail. Please, save yourself the misery, and just rest assured that if a food smells like rotten milk burning in a chemical plant, it’s not actually food. I really can’t express how horrid it is. I have had to promise, willingly, never to bring it into the house again. We’re now calling this the Great Durian Disaster. Just looking at the pictures makes my stomach roil.
I had to get that horrible taint out of my mouth, so we ate some smoked gouda, and smoked cheddar from Sprouts, which were both amazing, with a honey crisp apple. The gouda was probably my favorite, and helped erase the memory of the horrendous durian.
If you hate your roommates/family members and want to make them suffer, it is STILL NOT WORTH IT to bring a durian into your home! You have been warned!!
I guess I’m a little bit of a bad dog-mom. I have just now taken Flapjack to a dog park for the first time. Where I grew up, that was not a thing people did, but this town is dog-park crazy. I finally drove myself and little Flapjack over to Round Rock Dog Park for an adventure. It’s located at 800 Deerfoot Drive, in Round Rock, Texas.
This place is super nice. There’s a ton of grass, trees, and shaded picnic tables for the grown-ups. There’s also a water tower with a baby pool for dogs that like water. There are separate areas for big and small dogs, and there were some teensy little puppies in the small dog area. There were also, apparently, tons of interesting smells, but I did not partake. All the pet parents were friendly, and paid attention to their animals, preventing any possible issues.
Flapjack ran around for an hour or so, and crashed out in the car. It was so adorable!
He’s so sleepy! Overall, it was a blast. I wish it was closer to us, but I am now inspired to find one nearby.
Karibu is an Ethiopian restaurant in Southeast Austin that Hubby and I stumbled across on a disappointing trip to the Habitat Restore. I had never had Ethiopian food before, so we decided to try it. It was definitely different, and very flavorful.
We ordered the lamb (Yebeg Tibbs), red lentils (Kay Misir Wot), collard greens (Abesha Gomen), and green beans (Fosolia). The waitress asked if we wanted it on one plate, or separate plates, and we got everything on one giant plate together. It came with a big basket of flat bread, that tasted like sour dough and had a great chewy texture. You eat everything with your hands, and can use the bread to scoop everything up. I preferred the way the food tasted without the bread, for the most part.
The lamb was delicious, the lentils were a bit spicy for me. The collard greens were fine, and the green beans were from a can, so not great. The reviews on yelp are kind of mixed, so I think people would agree with me. Overall, I give it a “If I happen to be in the neighborhood, and someone else is buying, I’ll go back”.
Antiqueing is one of those things I think everyone should try at least once. I think some people have the mistaken idea that there are just a bunch of overprices doilies you have to fight old ladies for. That is definitely not the case. I have found some awesome treasures and deals at antique stores over the years, and I have fun hunting through all the random stuff they have. I took all of these pictures at Out of the Past, on Burnet here in Austin.
I just randomly found this guy sitting there like that:
I totally wanted this, but it was a bit out of my price range. Gorgeous though, right?
I love Dia de los Muertos stuff!
You can see why Hubby and I like this place:
At this particular store, you are possibly taking your life in your hands. There is crap piled everywhere, and nothing has a price on it. I hate asking for prices on every little thing I’m interested in. Overall, the place is worth at least one trip. Most antique shops are WAY more organized than this, and most even have everything priced.
The advice I would give is don’t buy something just because you think it might be valuable. If you aren’t an antique dealer, the odds of you selling it for what it’s “worth” is kind of low. I only ever buy stuff I really love and can easily afford.
I got a coupon in the mail for buy one get one free (or something similar) to the Mongolian Grille, so Hubby and I decided to try it out. I was a bit hesitant, since it’s next to the awful DiMassi’s buffet that I did a review of, and then it closed.
The place is a bit odd, if you ask me. They have a small buffet in the back with raw veggies, meat, and pastas. You pick up a shallow bowl to fill with your choice of these. You then make a separate bowl of your own sauce mix. They have giant recipes on the wall for you to follow. You then set your bowls on the counter for the grill master to cook for you.
The meal comes with soup (which was blah) and dumplings (which were decent), which you can see on the right, and “bread” which is those white rectangles on the left of the picture. They were bland, but what do I know? I’ve never been to Mongolia. Maybe that’s how they make their bread.
So this is my stir fry. It was good, but I don’t think this place is worth what I would have had to pay without the coupon. I’d rather go out for Vietnamese or Chinese food.
Overall, the place was fine. Apparently they have a few locations, so maybe this location, up on 183, is just in worse shape than the others. The bowls to put your veggies in were really shallow and awkward, and the whole process was unclear, even after the waiter “explained” it to us. On the scale I haven’t created yet, I give it a “meh” – I’d eat there again, but the price was too high for what you get, and it seems like the same stir fry I make at home.
Last fall, Hubby and I went on a mini-adventure to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center here in Austin. This place is filled with native Texas species, and chock-full of educational goodness.
The whole place is littered with sculptures. It’s a very relaxing, calm place, and it was much bigger than I initially thought.
There’s also an art gallery on the property when you wander back far enough. They have a delightful little cafe also, that we really enjoyed.
I’m just going to post lots of photos now, since I haven’t been able to in AGES.
I wish this meant my computer was working, but unfortunately these are just old pictures I found on my facebook. That’s also why I wasn’t able to give a more detailed account of our trip.
If you want to visit them now, but don’t want to spend the $8 to do so, they have a free event coming up January 22 called the Tree Talk Winter Walk. They will teach you (and maybe ME!) about native plants, and how to use them in your own landscaping. They will have plants for sale, as well. The hours and details are in the above link. I’m very intrigued!
UPDATE: I have been informed, by Yard Dog themselves (itself? Is it a sentient being??) that these pics are in fact from Heritage Boots. They were super polite about it, which I appreciate. My apologies to Heritage Boots for being so unobservant. I can only blame my eyeballs and faulty genetics.
We definitely try to keep it weird here in Austin. One of my favorite weird areas, especially to take friends to, is the South Congress area. The shops sell crafts, artwork, food, and all kinds of random stuff. We’re going to start off with Yard Dog.
This is a two story neon pin up girl. You know I wanted to drag this home with me!
This place has tons of old signs and antiques decorating it, but it is still so bad ass. It’s the look I attempt for our place. Yes, attempt.
On a side note, these have been brought back! I saw them the other day, and I was oddly excited, considering I never owned one.
I just love collections of things, and these brightly colored boots caught my eye. They look so awesome all together like that.
All I know is, I WANT THIS. That is so gorgeous, I can hardly stand it!! I must find some way to replicate it!
We have several Asian grocery stores around town, and they have all kinds of awesome and weird stuff. I like to go get different foods and try them out.
I haven’t tried this one, but I thought the label was funny:
I think these are durians. Each of these is significantly larger than a football, and very hard. I’m thinking about getting one, cracking it open, and trying to make bowls! We’ll see though.
These are duck eggs that they dye to differentiate from normal eggs. That shade of dye can’t be healthy.
I love pho (pronounced fuh, according to my Vietnamese friends). Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup with a very distinctive broth, and usually with beef and herbs in it. When I found pho bouillon at the store I had to try it.
I got some rice noodles to go in it.
It came out pretty good, but it didn’t taste the same as what I was looking for. Pho at a Vietnamese restaurant is usually about $5 for a bowl the size of a basketball, so it’s worth it to go out and let the professionals handle the soup making.
I hope you all enjoy the massive amount of photos! Now that I can upload, I have a ton saved up to share!