Deep in the Heart of Texas Pt. 1: Dallas

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Is a week in Texas an odd trip? I'm not sure but the best reason is we wanted to visit a friend in Dallas and we wanted to see what the hype is about with Austin. Everyone asked how our trip went and I don't know why my response was always, "surprisingly fun".  Maybe there is this stigma affiliated with Texas: conservative, cowboys and just the simple, what is there to do? Rightly so, I had trouble searching for points of interest as a tourist.  But Texas, you were great and maybe it's the friends that I went with that make a place what it is.  I do encourage all the skeptics to give both Dallas and Austin a chance.  We didn't realize we ate so much, saw so much and did so much that we need divide our posts into 2 parts.  So if you're going to Dallas, give Bird or Lime  scooters a chance instead of renting car to explore the city centre - it's so much fun!  (If you need a referral to get a free ride, let us know!) And here is what we were up to:

See/Do

Fort Worth Stockyards: A national historic district that aims to provide visitors with a glimpse of the wild, wild west, and it was wild indeed. They have daily cattle drives at 11:30 and 4:00 and it's worth viewing, along with the heritage buildings that remain intact.  It's a great place to eat, see and shop for souvenirs. 

Topgolf: When I tell my friends that Topgolf was so fun and I played twice this trip, they ask - wow is Texas really that boring? No, it's not.  But when you're in 40+ degree weather, you don't want to dehydrate at a bar, you want to hydrate.  So, we played golf twice.  I compare it to bowling, except it's golf and I can't wait for it to come to Canada! 

Dallas Museum of Art: A collection of paintings and sculptures, right next to Klyde Warren Park. It's a great museum to spend the day with the free admission. 

Katy Trail: A trail that runs through Dallas - there's a pedestrian lane and a bike lane. If you're tired from the scooters and the cars, Katy Trail is an excellent place to move your legs, immerse yourself in the trees and bushes (yes away from the sun!) and you will walk by some bars, so that's a plus.

George W. Bush Presidential Library: Fan or no fan of George W. Bush, this presidential library was the first one we have ever entered and we liked it. You learn a lot about President Bush, and we were mesmerized by the building. We definitely want to check out more presidential libraries. 

Fort Worth Modern Museum of Art: There are places to visit in Fort Worth! This is an exceptional building, and if you're an art lover visiting the Fort Worth area, it is a must-see!

Cidercade: With over 100 arcade games and an in-house brewery for ciders - this was a fun, Friday night out bar.  I love quick games and I love cider.  That's it - check it out. 

Dallas Farmers Market: The farmers market consists of two buildings, one is The Shed which offers local produce and products, and the other is a food house with restaurants from Cajun to Tex Mex. It's great for the family.  I highly, highly recommend the etouffee. 

Eat

Sons of Liberty Coffee:  A spacious coffee shop in Fort Worth.  After a day full of cattle and cowboys, it was great to drop by and rest. They have chocolate milk on draft too. If you sit by the window, you can drink your coffee and appreciate the architecture of the post office across the street. 

Houndstooth Coffee: The Knox/Henderson location is great for some quiet time to work. For us, it was the perfect time to pick up some iced coffee to freshen ourselves up, and the cold drink saved us from the 40 degree heat outside. 

Magnolia Sous Le Pont: By Uptown Dallas, this is a cute and quiet cafe to hang out.  They have monthly drinks and for the month of September, they have a tumeric latte.  I substituted milk with oat milk and the latte was extra creamy.  Alert though - there is a shortage on oat milk. 

Shake Shack: In my opinion, the best burger joint I have tried.  I know, I know, I'm in Texas - why am I eating the Shack burger?  Because there are no locations in Toronto, and there are no lines in Dallas.  So go and have the best burger ever! 

Whataburger: This is a Texas institution and only available in this state, so go give it a try. Still not at Shake Shack level, but their fries remind me of McDonalds and their spicy ketchup is addictive. 

Cattleack Barbeque: The best barbeque in Big D.  We waited 1.5 hours when we arrived at 10:30 and of course the lines are long. This place is open only on Thursdays and Fridays and on the first Saturday of the month.  Honestly, the sides are the best: mac n cheese and jalapeno cheese grits. 

Commissary: A grab and go bakery/cafe in downtown Dallas.  Super cute, and you walk into an aroma of baked goods, fresh salads and lots of coffee options.

Lá Me: Richardson is the Markham of Texas, or so I have heard and most people in Texas tell me Vietnamese food is the best here.  And they're not wrong - perusing through the menu, there are dishes that I've never heard of and not served in Toronto, such as the banh beo.  A savoury pudding with croutons, shredded carrots served on tiny saucers.  You add a bit of fish oil, and eat it out of a spoon.  I highly recommend the banh beo. 

Crooked Tree: What can I say?  This coffee shop is a 5 minute walk away from where we were staying.  The coffee was good, the environment was quaint with a homey vibe. 

Truckyard: Literally a truck yard with converted old cars to tables and low hanging dimmed lights.  This space offers live music on the weekends, food trucks to serve up your appetite and lots of booze.  It's busy but the ambience of the lights, the old trucks and the cute dogs hanging around make this a place like no other. 

Brewed + Pressed: This cafe serves up coffee and pressed juice, which is the perfect combination for me! Somehow, I always end up at Brewed + Pressed on the final day of my trip, which then causes me to order a pressed juice instead of a coffee.  I mean, after a week of binging on fried food, barbecue and lots of bread, drinking pressed juice seems like a healthy option, right?

Mike's Chicken: We love fried chicken.  There's something so comforting after a long day's work and to eat fried chicken after. Mike's Chicken was our dinner after a long 3+ hour drive from Austin to Dallas and it was delicious. We had a combination of thighs and legs with a creamy corn as a side. The great thing about Mike's Chicken is they fry it fresh and if you're already impatient about waiting ~15 minutes, I'm telling you, it's worth the wait! 

Have fun in Dallas!

Peach, please!

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When it comes to summer, I have a list of to-do's: hiking, go for a picnic, sunbathe at the beach, have a backyard barbecue, head up to Muskoka for the cottage and pick fruit and cook something up! Happy to report that I accomplished most of this list.  I haven't been to the beach yet, but nonetheless, I'm very happy with my summer.  For the picking fruit part, last year, we picked blueberries, and this year we picked peaches in Niagara! 

There was an ongoing discussion on what we would make with peaches.  I was all for the peach galette because I love baking, however Ken was inspired by Antoni's grilled peach salad from Queer Eye.  We searched for his "recipe" online, but to no avail so we ended up with A Couple Cooks' Peach, Heirloom Tomato, and Burrata Salad. We replaced burrata with bocconcini.  It was the quickest food we ever made.  There was lots of cutting involved, but when the chopped peaches were plated with basil and bocconcini, it was such a pretty dish, and more importantly, delicious. All in all, we're going to give ourselves a pat on the back for picking fruit in the sweltering heat, rewarding ourselves for the hard work with ice cream at Avondale and ending the day off with a salad with what was harvested! 

- Robyn

A Brew-tiful Pudding.

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How cute are these puddings, right?

This is The First Mess' vegan coffee pudding. The recipe calls for espresso or very strong coffee. I don't have an espresso machine but I absolutely adore moka pots and they make some mean coffee.  It is definitely my choice of brewing method, that is, if I have the time. This time we used coffee from our local coffee shop, Black Canary

The pudding turned out pretty well: a strong coffee aroma with a hint of coconut. The sweetness was just right. It was pretty easy to make too! We definitely will experiment and explore different flavours using the same techniques. Any suggestions?

One failure we had was the can of coconut cream, which was not-so creamy. The coconut milk we bought couldn't settle into a thick layer of cream as mentioned in the recipe. What we ended up with was just a slightly thicker layer of coconut milk/cream. We hoped to the tropical gods that it will thicken up as the kitchen-aid did it's hard work but it was to no avail. If you know which brand of coconut milk is high in fat content that will thicken up - please let us know!

Enjoy!

- Ken