Boston Brunch at Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be sent to Boston for a conference. My work best friends and I made a mini-vacay of it and even added a few days to the beginning for adventures.

Being a lover of brunch, I made my ladies fuel our first full day in Beantown with a brunch from Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro.

Lindsay and I both ordered the cider braised apple french toast, and Meagan had the frittata. Sorry for the weird cropping as I had to snap this photos quickly. I just couldn't wait to eat it.

Brunch was the perfect start for a historical day on The Freedom Trail.

Note: Brunch was also where Meagan began reading The Complete Guide to Boston's Freedom Trail to us. Get your own copy here. Meagan's book on tape isn't available...yet.

Cake Pops at Cupcakes and Cocktails Bake A Wish Event

I am designing two dozen Austin, Texas themed cake pops for Austin Food Bloggers Alliance's Cupcakes and Cocktails event benefiting Bake A Wish. Bake A Wish is a non-profit providing birthday cakes for children in need. Tickets for Wednesday's event are available online for $35.

My fancy cake pops will in the silent auction and will be made with chocolate cake balls from Objects of Confection. There may be a few other flavors here and there.  Be there and bid high. ;)

Jessica Forkner from Objects of Confection will be participating in the Cupcakes and Cocktails Challenge in which she will be baking up cocktail-inspired cupcakes and facing off against some of Austin's most talented bakers including Sugar Mama's Bakeshop and Amity Bakery (she distributes my fave almond croissants to La Boite). Man is this going to be tasty.

Cupcakes and Cocktails
Wednesday, July 27, 2012
6:00 - 9:00pm
AT&T Conference Center, Tejas Room

Find out more on the Cupcakes and Cocktails Facebook event

Doodle Dining Club: Lucy's Fried Chicken

It's National Fried Chicken Day! I promise I didn't make this one up. Check CNN's Eatocracy for more details. To celebrate this obscure holiday, I bring you a fried chicken-related post. 

Lucy's Fried Chicken
is yet another place that seems like I, as a vegetarian of many years, might not go to. My friend Meagan chose this as her first Doodle Dining Club adventure. You might remember the other adventure at Justine's, or the many trips to Franklin BBQ - I seem to go to plenty of places a veggie might not make their first pick.

As the name and the menu suggest, Lucy's specializes in fried chicken.

We started off with drinks. All the ladies had Juicy Lucy water melon margaritas. I somehow ended up with multiple limes.

To start, we shared the cornbread muffins with tequila butter. Yum! Meagan wanted the calf fries (others refused), and the chicken eaters got a big bucket o' chicken.

I had the fire kissed vegetable skewers. they were surprisingly good and thankfully came on top of a bed of greens.

There was some sort of issue with our order, so we got a table full of complimentary pie. The waiter said there was pie in our future. He was right. There was plenty. We had shoofly, s'mores, key lime. We had high blood sugar for the rest of the week.

Students of the World Professional Cake Pops

photo by Tina Phan

My friend Danielle is one of the busiest people I know. She's into fashion, fitness, e-commerce, advertising, and social media. She's just a general go-getter. Now she's got to get going to Jacmel, Haiti to film a documentary about Jean Baptiste Dessaix Music School.

Danielle and her Students of The World Professional team are a mix of filmmaking, producing, fundraising, and photography professionals.

photo by Steve Moakley

 

photo by Steve Moakley

I designed some Students of the World logo cake pops for their SOW Pro on the Patio fundraising event held on Launch787's patio.

photo by Steve Moakley

Look closely and you can see a donor chomping on a SOW Pro cake pop full of Objects of Confection's signature red velvet. He looks pretty content. I wasn't able to attend the event, but I heard the pops went fast.

Lucky guy.

photo by Tina Phan

Find out more about the trip and the team on the SOW Pro website, their Facebook page, and blog.

Donate to Danielle or her entire team on their Rally page.

I'm so proud of you, Danielle! You are amazing.

Doodle Dining Club: Justine's Brasserie

My friend Meagan recently started a dining club. I love an excuse to get dressed up and eat delicious food at new (to me) eateries. Naturally, I joined her club.

This weekend we got "summer fancy" at Justine's Brasserie.

Last month I got a few too-outrageous-for-work but perfect-for-going-out outfits and I was so excited about picking an outfit. I go out to eat often, but rarely to fancy places. And suprisingly, I don't even have a million weddings to go this summer.

After conferring with Meagan on what she was wearing, I went with summer sequins and NEON. I've been dying to wear my new BB Dakota skirt. I first spotted it on my birthday weekend at Maya Star, but they didn't have it in my size. I later found it on Gliks for only $37! I'd never heard of Gliks, but I'm pretty happy about their prices.

Somebody didn't include my shoes in the photo. Hi, random cars.

Here I am with Meagan and Roach.

There was a long wait and I stayed cool with a very apropos French 75. Meagan went with a sparking water and of course they had Perrier handy.

Unfortunately, there are no photos of the food because it was too dark to photograph. You're also missing out on the cute golden lab puppy that came in after dark and the ten or so mosquito bites I got from sitting on the patio.

What I had:

Cheese plate
Verdict: Tasty with fig paste and pistachios. One of the cheeses was really soft and difficult to eat without bread.

Salade de frisee
Verdict: Good, but pricey for the portion size

Side of ratatoulle
I read the Yelp reviews and this was better than expected, I'd increase this to entree size next time.

Creme brulee
Verdict: Tasty and bigger than expected

I didn't have a good photo of Roach's boyfriend Brandon but I promose he was also there. (Thumbs up, Brandon!)

Elizabeth St. Boulangerie Eclairs and Banh Mi

Last weekend, I met up with my friends Sam and Samuel for a brainstorming session to prepare for a big project coming up in the next few months.

Sam is a Sunday regular at Elizabeth Street Cafe - you know, the new fancy Vietnamese bistro not owned by Vietnamese people, and instead owned by the Lambert's of Lamberts (Fancy) BBQ and Perla's fame. 

I immediately fell in love with the clean design, bright Vietnamese-inspired color palette, and a French bulldog (I know!) who appeared in the adjacent patio section. We were all in love with the graphics and general design. There was a certain aqua window frame that made my heart skip a beat.

Having been to plenty of Vietnamese restaurants during my childhood and having visited Vietnam twice in my adulthood, it was surreal to be in a space that drew elements from the motherland while being full of non-Vietnamese people. The restaurant used colors remiscent of the less modernized areas of Saigon, but the ambiance was so quiet and clean comparatively. There were no motorbikes, no dust, no impoverished people. A French colonial dream, perhaps?

When it came time to make decisions, I ordered the lemongrass tofu banh mi and a pistachio eclair and nibbled on a few bites of a very tasty mango salad that was brought to Sam on the house. It pays to be a regular and the reward is paid out in shredded mango in a vinagrette with basil and green onion.

My lemongrass tofu banh mi was good. The bread was warm and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside as banh mi should be. I enjoyed the mayo which was blended with chili paste. However, the $7 price tag was high for the food of my peoples. Being from Houston, banh mi are usually $3-5. 

Sam ate not one, but two pistachio eclairs and a huge bowl of fried keffir lime fried chicken vermicelli (bun). I wish I would have photographed the bowl in front of her. She could have easily fit inside that bowl. There was much remarking of how good her dish was, but alas she was defeated by it's giant size and had plenty of leftovers that night. Sam had predicted her fate before ordering, telling us the bun portions could feed two.

Samuel and his lady each had the keffir lime fried chicken banh mi and shared the Nutella eclair (which by the way, was very chocolate-y).

Elizabeth Street's French pastries were far better than the majority of the Vietnamese places I've been to growing up. They tasted fresher and they weren't wrapped in plastic. The display near the hostess stand was quite beautiful, more like a dessert table at a wedding than a bakery case. These pastries were also 3-5 times more expensive than what's I'm used to, but I'd say in this case they're worth the splurge. I am a dessert girl, after all. Have you seen the cake pops portion of this blog? ;)

Overall it was a pleasant experience. Good food, great company and ideas. I do wish the banh mi was a little cheaper. I plan on coming back with my fancy camera and trying the veggie pho or mushroom and tofu vermicelli sometime and another dessert or two, of course.

Meat Fest: Franklin BBQ for Hieu's 30th Birthday

Hey everyone. I hope there's still people out there interested in my sometimes Phantastic life. It's been crazy busy as usual, but some of the busy has been been fun. At the end of February, my friend Hieu celebrated his 30th with what seemed like thirty pounds of meat.

Phuong, Wendy, The Redhead and I stood in line for 3 hours so Hieu could feast on his birthday meat. Funny enough, this is not even close to my first time at Franklin BBQ - it's actually my 4th. You can see the other Franklin post, and yes, I'm still vegetarian.

As others had their fill of BBQ, I had some potato salad, cole slaw, this tiny pie, and a Topo Chico.

There wasn't a moment when everyone didn't have BBQ in their mouth or on their fork. Except for maybe here when Wendy was trying to stab the potato salad

It was kind of intense

Phuong's nails looked fancy even when they were pouring BBQ Sauce.

Most people left with Meat Sweats, but everyone left happy and needing a nap.

Sweet Relief Bake Sale for Bastrop

In an effort to raise money to help Central Texas Fire victims, the ladies of the Community Renaissance Bakery Collective joined whisks to bake for the Central Texas chapter of the American Red Cross. Sweet Relief Bake Sale was part of the city-wide Austin Bakes for Bastrop event the following weekend.


Sweet Relief Bake Sale included baked goods from Objects of Confection, Sugar Tooth Bakery, Sugar Pop Sweet Shop, and a small contribution from kathyphantastic (in collaboration with Objects of Confection). It was quite the spread.

We sold cake balls and Central Texas cake pops by the handfuls.

I wrapped chocolate chip cookie sandwiches.

The cookie sandwiches themselves were a handful.

Of course, there were cupcakes a-plenty of the regular and vegan sort.

We sold platters of mini peanut butter pies for Mikey (and Bastrop). More about A Pie for Mikey at Eatocracy.

Cupcake-eating baby Molly stopped by to visit. I may have created a mini cupcake eating monster.

Before

After

We were so glad to help Bastrop by doing what we love. Community Renaissance Bakery helped raise $1,335.95(!) out of the total $12,500, coming in at fourth place among all the bake sale sites. Thank you, Austin.

photos by Tina Phan

Kidney Donor Cake Pops

In December of 2010, a close friend of mine was ready to give his mother the ultimate gift, that of life, with one of his kidneys. in honor of Alex' love and sacrifice I created these kidney cake pops. These pops were honoring the incredible bravery, courage, and dedication of person who I made (mostly good-natured) fun of on a daily basis and diamond sweaters for once.

Unfortunately, on the day of the scheduled surgery, doctors declared Alex's kidney was no longer a match. His mom's medication had complicated the situation, and her body would no longer accept his kidney.

I've been saving this post for over a yearwaiting, hoping things would turn out and Alex's mom would find a match. Now, after reading Bakerella's post about her year and receiving a kidney transplant (and the inspiring comments afterward), I decided to finally release mine.

Alex's mom is still on dialysis and is currently on a waiting list, hoping for a match. If he could have, Alex would have saved the day, sometimes, these things are beyond our control. I continue to keep his mom in my thoughts.

photos by Tina Phan

Rio's Brazilian


After a long day of waiting in line to see the Architects of Air exhibit, lil Phan, her friends Katie and Caitlin, and I went to Rio's Brazilian for a post-Luminaria snack.

I am currently obsessed with beets. This is a perfectly acceptable obsession as it's much cheaper and healthier to be obsessed with beets than, say, Louis Vuitton handbags, Ferraris, Monte Cristos, or shar peis (not sharpies, those are affordable). My favorite beet salad is from La Condesa, but the apple and beet salad from Rio's is pretty good, too.

My favorite item from Rio's is their famous cheese bread, pão de queijo for my Portuguese-speaking readers (of which there are none, according to Google Analytics). I wish they offered them by the dozen. They come as a trio - original, red pepper, and basil. The triple dose of cheese bread is probably best for my waistline.

While I had my apple beet salad and pão de queijo, lil Phan had the veggie Tijuca sandwich and not one, but two orders of yucca fries. Her friends had a risoli de frango each. We all loved our dishes and the fact that lil Phan had ordered so many yucca fries that we'd get to share.