Archive | August, 2011

Goodbye Hyde Park, Hello Allandale

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On my walk through the neighborhood this morning, I grew increasingly sentimental as I passed the landmarks I’ve grown to know and love over the last eight years.  I moved to Hyde Park in September 2003 and its institutions and quirks have become a big part of my life.  I started in a house, moved to a studio and turn over the keys to my small one bedroom apartment on Saturday.

While I lived in Hyde Park, I truly became a creature of my neighborhood.  I’ve bought my morning coffee and the occasional Marvelous Morning Muffin at Quack’s Bakery and visited my friends at Antonelli’s Cheese often.  I’ve savored lovely Italian meals at Asti and scarfed pizza with my buddies at The Parlor.  I practically used Vino Vino as my living room when I lived in the studio.  They’ve hosted my birthday parties, book club and helped me toast many great moments over the years.

Small plates
Tapas at Vino Vino

I’ve eaten my share of Queen B sandwiches at the Avenue B Grocery, swam in Shipe pool and played (poorly) on the tennis courts.  I’ve logged thousands (literally) of miles walking and cycling around the neighborhood.  I’ve shopped at the SFC Triangle Farmers Market and bought local goodies at the Fresh Plus.

SFC Triangle Farmers Market

I’ve lived through some of my highest and lowest moments in Hyde Park – falling in love, having my heart broken (twice), falling from grace and finding redemption.  I’ve consoled friends, they’ve comforted me and we’ve had a lot of fun.  I started writing about food, learned how to garden and, well, basically grew up while I lived here.  And, now it’s time to move on.

As much as I love Hyde Park, I need room to grow and, for all of its charms, space in Hyde Park costs too much.  So, like many of my friends, I head a little further from the center of the city to have a little more space for the next phase of life.  For the cost of rent and shared office, I can rent a townhouse that’s twice as big as my little apartment.

I’m excited to explore the Allandale neighborhood and all it has to offer.  I adore Genuine Joe’s coffee shop, have heard terrific things about the tacos at Dos Batos and am looking forward to the 6701 Burnet Road Farmers Market.  I’m now walking distance from the Alamo Drafthouse Village and The Pour House Pub is quickly becoming a new haunt.

The thing I’m looking forward to most is entertaining.  It’s been almost six years since I lived in a place large enough to comfortably have people visit, and I can’t wait.  My friends and family have indulged me over the years, offering up their kitchens so that I could cook up big meals, but it’s not the same.  There is nothing quite like the joy of welcoming guests to share a meal that you have carefully prepared in your own kitchen.  I’m so excited to open my new home to my friends and family.

So, here’s to new adventures and many more shared meals.  Don’t worry Hyde Park, I’ll visit often.

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Pesto to the Rescue

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This summer has been absolutely brutal.  Just about everything has surrendered to the sweltering Texas heat (at this writing, we’ve had over 69 days of 100+ heat in Austin alone).  I finally knew it was time to pull up all but the hardiest of the plants in my garden when my basil started giving out.  I watered like crazy, I even moved the basil out of the direct sunlight, but those plants just weren’t having it.  By late afternoon each day, they were wilted and miserable.  It was time to put my basil out of its misery and make pesto.

I like making pesto because it is simple, versatile and it freezes well.  I tend to use pecans because they are plentiful in Austin and I’ll substitute whatever type of leafy green I think might work.  When mustard greens arrived in my produce delivery last fall, I made a spicy Mustard Green Pesto that turned out to be a terrific way to use greens that I was otherwise lukewarm about eating.

I usually make a few batches at once and freeze the leftovers in ice cube trays so that I can portion out what I need later.  You can also freeze in plastic bags if you want to reheat larger batches.

Sauteed zucchini and mushrooms linguine with pesto

What’s your favorite pesto recipe?  Do you have a creative spin on this classic sauce?

Basil Pesto

2 cups loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup pecans, walnuts or pine nuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Combine half of the of olive oil, basil, pecans and garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Slowly add the other half of the olive oil through the feeding tube of the food processor, combining until smooth.  Add more olive oil as desired to create a thinner mixture.  Add the parmesan and blend.  Add salt to taste.


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Round Rock Farmers Market

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Note: This market is no longer open.

On Wednesday afternoons, the Dell Diamond parking lot hosts produce and poultry instead of baseball fans as it welcomes the weekly Round Rock Farms 2 Market (4-8 pm on Wednesdays, rain or shine, Hwy 79 at Harrell Pkwy).


Over two dozen vendors offer up produce, meats, cheeses, seafood, baked goods and prepared foods. The market is organized by Carla Jenkins of F2M Texas who also runs the Cedar Park Farms to Market at Lakeline Mall on Saturdays.

Gourds and pumpkins
Two Happy Children Farm

I was delighted with the variety of vendors and to see a number of familiar faces from other markets including  Christen’s Gourmet Pralines, Dish a Licious, Two Happy Children Farm and Johnson’s Backyard Garden.  I was excited to find Tamale Place, whose light and fluffy tamales I had sampled at another market a few years ago.  I bought a dozen cheese and jalapeno tamales to stash in the freezer.

Late summer produce

I also found some vendors who were new to me as well.  Fresh Pastures Farm sells poultry, rabbits and eggs as well as pastured pork and beef. They butcher their poultry on Tuesdays before the market so that the hens do not have to be frozen and  are currently taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys.  I couldn’t resist buying a rabbit for an upcoming paella night.

K &S Seafood was another great find.  They sell Gulf shrimp, scallops, crab, tuna, mahi mahi and snapper  at the market.  You can even buy a bag of fish heads for stock for $4 a bag.  The seafood was very fresh and worth the trip to Round Rock.


If you are in northern part of the metro area on a Wednesday afternoon, the Round Rock Farms 2 Market is a well-run market with ample offerings for your pantry and table.

See you at the ball park – I mean market!

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Learning to love a new home at the market: Crystal City Farmers Market in Washington DC

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By Sandra Ramos

My dear friend Sandra Ramos recently moved to Washington DC and has been visiting the local farmers markets to learn about her new community.  She has generously offered to write guest posts for Austin Farm to Table about her adventures.  Thanks Sandra!  I  miss you!
Moving to a new locale can be daunting for many reasons, not to mention learning about the local community. Fortunately, moving from Austin to Alexandria, Virginia has been an easy transition when it comes to local food. There are over 20 local markets in the Washington DC/Northern Virginia/Maryland area – the majority of which are easily accessible by local transit and Metro rail. FreshFarm Markets  is the umbrella organization that coordinates the majority of the markets, and so I decided to start there.


Braving the oppressive heat wave weʼve all been tackling (plus an unhealthy dose of humidity), I busted out the Metro card and headed a few stops over from our new apartment to my first of many weekly farmers markets around DC/Northern Virginia.

Todayʼs stop: Crystal City Farmers Market, Tuesdays 3-7pm, Crystal City Metro

Among the tall corporate and government buildings (think defense contractors) and high-end chain restaurants (notably Tedʼs Montana Grill and Legal Sea Foods,) is a lovely afternoon oasis – the Tuesday market. Just a block north of the Metro station, and super easy to find, this market was (surprisingly) teeming not only with lots of local freshness (with about 20 vendors), but lots of men in ties and polished shoes tasting wares and toting plastic bags of goodies!

Crystal City Farmers Market

I stopped in on the small tent run by the market organizers to find some very useful information beyond the recipes – a Mid-Atlantic seasonality calendar! A well-thought out 12”x12” 5-fold pocket calendar of local availability for fruits and vegetables, sponsored by local fave Jaleo, a tapas restaurant that often shops at the FreshFarm markets for its menu.

Planting guide

The 150-mile radius of this region encompasses West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and southern Pennsylvania. This allows for a staggering of climates and allows for longer growing seasons for particular fruits and veggies.

After noticing the beautiful array of colors of the cherry tomatoes, including a very juicy chocolate cherry tomato (which is a lovely eggplant purple), I knew just a pint wouldnʼt do!

Tomatoes and squash

Chatting with the guy at the OberGood goat cheese table, as I perused his photo album of billy goats and the farm, he informed me that their farm hails from Sharpsburg, MD, the site of the famous Civil War Battle of Sharpsburg (or Antietam, which I take is a sore subject.)  But I will tell you that his camembert-style cheese
smooth as silk and the goats are very cute.


Live music filled the air and I continued tasting the peaches and apples and nectarines (oh my! the white nectarines were divine – sweet with what seemed like a hint of vanilla taste.) I dreamed of a luscious fruit
salad and creamy yogurt for my morning breakfast – could I wait that long?

My graphic design background kicked in as I wandered through the center of the market and noticed that the typeface Papyrus is a popular choice among the southern Pennsylvania crowd. Though not a fan of that
font, I didnʼt let it stop me from talking with the very nice Amish family selling lamb chops, fresh eggs, and honey. But my disappointment of the afternoon came when I was mesmerized by the fresh bakery cart with loads of loaves, only to have arrived too late for the last cinnamon raisin bread.


At the end of the market was a cute flower cart and a very nice woman, whom I found out, ended up in Virginia via Oregon and Los Angeles. We commiserated about the humidity and horrible drivers of the Mid-Atlantic and I bought a pretty bouquet of yellow and orange zinnias for my apartment.

At this point, the oppressive heat and humidity had taken its toll, as I wandered back toward the Metro. Goodies in hand, I was comforted and excited about my future farmers market adventures in my new home town.


View the full photo set on Flickr:

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