My Mad Food Diary

After 3 long weeks in Texas, it’s time to go back home and lose the weight from all the food I ate! 😂 Here are some of the highlights though one thing I won’t miss is the heat! 🔥🔥

5th Aug- Starting off my summer in Texas with a citrusy rosé slush 😉🍹
5th Aug- Dinner at Chili Parlor: their signature chili and gumbo. This is one of my favourite spots from my last trip.
5th Aug- Ice Cream at Lick. Yep that’s the name! Had it like 5 times when I was staying at Mueller. 👅 👅 The Texas sheet cake and lime-coconut-tequila flavours were addictive!
6th Aug- Brunch at Colleen’s Kitchen. Finally I have tried fried green tomatoes! 😋
Biscuits and gravy with fried egg 🍳 The biscuits were the best I ever had- fluffy and light. ❤️ Got to say I have not been converted to the creamy American white gravy (just a bit too heavy for me), still preferred the traditional brown gravy.
6th Aug: After a hearty brunch, something light for change with a poke bowl.
6th Aug- Dinner at Aster’s Ethiopian Restaurant. Absolutely bringing the heat here! 🔥🔥🔥
7th Aug- Sunday farmers’ market. Bubble tea is conquering the world now!
Pierogies 👍👍
7th Aug- Bao’d Up Asian comfort food
Not food 😂 but loved this cute mural
8th Aug- Back at Colleen’s Kitchen. Absolutely delicious shrimp and grits (with collard greens) 🤤🤤
8th Aug- Never seen these kind of aubergines before (or eggplants as they say in America 😛)
8th Aug- Late night treat at Amy’s Ice Cream
9th Aug- First time BBQing in the heat. Delicious lamb riblets from the farmers’ market with a coffee rub. Stuffed the eggplants yesterday with garlic.
10th Aug- A light breakfast with Chobani lime yoghurt. Getting ready for a feast later.
10th Aug- Pre-ordered Franklin BBQ feast. The most famous brisket in Austin and it was so tender it melts in your mouth. 🤤 We did the pre ordering to avoid the massive long queue in the heat, but you must order at least 5 lbs of meat (complimentary bread and pickles). For 2 persons, this lasted us a good few days eating leftovers. 😂
10th Aug- Ice cream is the best cure for the heat!
11th Aug- The Baked Bear. The signature Cookie Monster ice cream sandwich. 🍪🍪
13th Aug- Saturday farmers’ market. This chicken mole tamale is so good – I need to come back again! 😋😂
13th Aug- Happy Birthday Austin! This is a free birthday cupcake. Amazing colours 🌈 but the frosting was very bitter from all the colourings they added…
13th Aug- BBQ again. Lamb shoulder steak with garlic stuffed green peppers.
13th Aug- Relaxing evening in Mozart Café by Lake Austin. 🎵🎶🎵🎶
14th Aug- Brunch at Snooze. Perfect combo of crab cake egg Benedict with their signature Bloody Mary. 🤤🦀🍅
14th Aug- Dinner at 1618 Asian Fusion. Loved these duck skewers! Wish they were more!
Salmon curry and steak stir fry! ❤️
14th Aug- Someone was drunk in the Calum Scott’s concert and needed to grab a kimchi hot dog to soak up the alcohol. 😂🥴🌭
14th Aug- I blame the person who made drunk me grab a bakers’ dozen of these gigantic Voodoo Doughnut! They are bigger than my hands!! 😱😱😱 Oh the trauma…
15th Aug- Sip Pho. Very much needed something light after the doughnuts last night! 😂
15th Aug- Kimbap dinner before boarding the late bus to San Marcos.
15th Aug- Arrived at San Marcos at 10pm after an-hour delayed bus. 🚌 Grabbed a Sonic limonade slush.
16th Aug- First meal at San Marcos. Egg white frittata.
16th Aug- Dinner at Garcia’s. One of the best Mexican food I ever had! The brisket Noteña plate was absolutely! 🔥🔥 Simple but high quality.
17th Aug- Back at Austin with the grill. 🔥 Grilled salmon with garlic spaghetti for dinner.
17th Aug- Doing what I know best! 😂
18th Aug- Drinking bubble tea and sheltering from the sudden heavy rain. ☔️ (Didn’t know they rain in Texas! 😂)
18th Aug- Dirty Martin’s Place. Austin’s oldest burger since 1926!
19th Aug- Foodheads. Sirloin steak salad for lunch! 😋👍
19th Aug- Vic and Al’s. Blackened catfish salad, Cochon de Lait po’boy and liver Boudin – the delicious Cajun flavours 🔥🔥
20th Aug- Brunch at Arturo’s. Look at that Hollandaise sauce! 🤤
20th Aug- Told ya I will come back for the tamales! 😂 They ran out of chicken mole ones, but this spring vegetables (recommended by the still vendor) tasted even better! It’s light and fresh with the colourful vegetables inside!
20th Aug- Cisco’s. President LBJ’s favourite dining place.
The chicken fried steak is so delicious with the lightly fried courgettes! (Even minus the creamy gravy) My friend ordered their signature migas and I kept wanting to steal it because it was so good (perfectly silky scrambled eggs)! Maybe I do have the taste buds of a president! 🤔😂
21st Aug- Really wanted to eat migas after yesterday night but this one was nowhere near as good! ☹️
21st Aug- One final BBQ! Lamb leg steak, grilled garlic peppers and aubergines and my friend’s tomatillo salsa. I am going to miss the “lamb lady” (so I called) from the farmers’ market.
22nd Aug- Was worried I have eaten too much lately. 😂 So ordered a vegan breakfast plate- and I really enjoyed the scrambled tofu.
22nd Aug- Clay Pit Indian Restaurant. Exploring their cellar area. (This place is busy so always book in advance!) Just so happened there was a flash flood warning from the storm earlier, you could smell the dampness in there. 💦
Yummy calamari as our starter.
Chicken medallions korma curry and tandoori salmon. It was a bit of a long wait, but the waiter was so nice taking the drinks off the bill as a compensation. 😊
23rd Aug- Venezuelan arepas in the UT campus. Blending in well with the UT students! 😏👨‍🎓
23rd Aug- Dinner spot of the lone Ceviche7 food truck. Can’t wait to try the Peruvian food.
Was a long wait (probably like half an hour?) but it was worth it! Delicious ceviche with corns and sweet potatoes! 🤤 My friend’s steak and fries was also very good! I love food truck!
24th Aug- Junk good day at Whataburger. Still taking time to process the creamy gravy and the giant soft drink cup. 😝
24th Aug- Feeling creative. Tomato-less Spaghetti Bolognese with sweet curried mince and Granny Smith apple. 🍏 You got to try it to believe it! 😜
25th Aug- Vietnamese lunch before heading to the airport. ✈️

A State of Unknown

In the past week, I have found myself reflecting a lot about the 6 years since I moved to London. I started postgraduate teacher training, and then went straight to teaching without really a clue about what I was doing. I had a lot of challenges and pain at the beginning, and almost wanted to quit, but somehow managed to stick with it (call me stubborn I guess). Just as I finally started to feel more at ease with my job, then the pandemic hit and the uncertainty with lockdown made me learnt not to take anything for granted. When society gradually reopened, post-lockdown chaos piled on like a ton of bricks, and new circumstances made me decided to go back to studying – and at last I am two weeks away from officially starting my sabbatical and facing a brave new unknown.

My last bake in my London apartment

I moved out of my flat yesterday and am staying at a hotel as I finish my last two weeks of work. Funny enough my last night in my apartment was instead mostly spent elsewhere as I was away at the annual BBQ with my colleagues (and marking my last bake with a fruit tart which I thought would go well with a summer BBQ! 🔥☀️) It’s probably our largest gathering yet with old and new faces all coming together, which I guess put into perspectives of all the people I have met throughout my five years here. You would think I should be feeling stressed about moving, but I wasn’t back home until late after midnight 😂 (and bizarrely ended going outside again to buy some grilled chicken 🍗 and chips 🍟 after finishing my final pack at 2am!)

Everything felt like a blur in the morning as I dragged my bags and luggages down the stairs and boarded the Uber, and then rushing back on the tube to drop my key off at the agency before it closes… (Bizarrely a carnival was held there and the reception lady went outside with her young son to the face painting booth and made me stood outside for half an hour! 😂 Though I grabbed a hot dog whilst waiting! 🌭)

The hotel room strangely reminds me of my first flat in London (TINY! 😂)

I wonder how these final two weeks will turn out? First thing foremost is to make sure I can get up for my hour-long journey to work tomorrow morning! 🏃‍♂️🚆 🌅

First Landing in America! (Part 3) 🌞🌞

Morning, Austin! ☀️
Taterscape brunch in Arturo’s Underground Café – fried potatoes, eggs and avocado (for the third time this week!!)

My final post on my week-long trip to Austin as I count down my final few days in my first trip to America! Just like the rest of the week, the sun shined brightly across the river on Thursday with my first stop being the central library by the river. Not only is the library well facilitated, but it also has a rooftop garden overlooking the scenery nearby. And I managed to squeeze some work in there for an hour or so haha (as the reality of being back at work soon was starting to hit me)- such an amazing working environment! 😛

Inside Central Library
The rabbit and the Mad Hatter
Depiction of all the famous murals in Austin
View from the library rooftop

I then walked across the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge, enjoying every bit of the scenery nearby as I headed to my next place of interest, which is the the Picnic Food Truck Park in Barton Springs in the south of the city. ☀️☀️

Crossing the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge
The cutest bridge I have ever seen! 😍
Look it’s Pac-man!
The Picnic Food Truck Park in Barton Springs
A funky display of caravans next to the food truck park

I was dying for the toilet when I arrived at the food truck park but unluckily the toilet there was locked, so I decided to sneak to the bar/restaurant next door. Out of embarrassment (and I doubted they will lend me the toilet for free), I ordered a drink to sit in. I unwittingly ordered the cool-looking Earth Rita (not realising it was probably short for margarita, partly blaming the unclear menu who only said “secret ingredients”… 😂🍹)and OMG that drink was so so strong (literally tasted like pure alcohol)! 😵 But I was adamant to finish it since I paid over $10… 💵 Ended up stumbling my way back to the food trucks and hazily ordered a Louisiana fish and oyster platter that I can just about remember what it tasted like haha… 🥴

This Earth Rita drink literally killed me… 🥴😵
A Louisiana fried fish and oyster platter – can barely remembered how it tasted haha. I assume it was good cause I finished the whole plate! 😂
Gelato truck
Lemon pie, coconut and hazelnut gelato (the latter saved for my friend)

In a bit of a drunken stumble, I headed back to the central library, meeting my friend there before we headed north to the Blanton Museum of Art together (and I managed not to have the gelato melted all the way haha!😀) And it was free entry on Thursday (with free lockers provided)! Here are some snapshots of the artworks inside. 🖼 🎨

The Blanton Museum of Art also has a special chapel-like exhibition piece (called “Austin”) by Ellsworth Kelly.

Beautiful! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜
Dinner was Tex-Mex grilled chicken with beans and rice. Tasted much better than it looks hehe!

After a brief rest in the evening, we then decided to make full advantage of Austin’s busy night life and headed to clubbing in the downtown! 🌃 Haven’t been out in ages, and it was definitely hot and sweaty on the dance floor there haha! (So unprepared for it! 😂) But it surely was nice to feel like I am back in uni again! 🕺🕺

Clubbing at rainbow crosswalk 🕺🕺

Not being too hungover from the night before, we then headed to the Bullock Texas State History Museum the next day (with my history buff friend acted as the tour guide!) Truth be told I know very little about American history, let alone the history of Texas so it is nice to be able to get glimpses of their culture and all the stories behind its making.

Bullock Texas State History Museum
Inside the museum
The shipwreck remains of La Belle
The diary of the captain
Bison 🦬
The history of USA 🇺🇸
Movie time inside haha! 🎥
Felt like I was in a western movie 🤠
Moon landing! 🌕

We then continued our sightseeing tour, visiting the campus of St Edward’s University and Lake Austin.

Grabbed a fried chicken and burger whilst waiting for the bus 🚌🥤🥤
St Edward’s University
View of Austin from St Edward’s
Beautiful sunset 🌅 at Lake Austin
Tea break at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters by the lake

And on my penultimate night, after making a quick pass through Waterloo Park, I finally get to sample some Texan BBQ brisket. 🔥 I went to Stubb’s which was very close to my hotel. It wasn’t highly recommended by a lot of people I spoke to (Franklin which was quite well known was pretty much fully took up 😕). However, I actually did enjoy my brisket which was tender and also the sides of mac and cheese and collard greens. 😋 (Though the cheese and jalapeño sausage were slightly on the dry side for me).

Waterloo Park
Inside Stubb’s
Finally a Texas BBQ! 🍖

On the last day, before heading to the airport, my friend and I managed to squeeze in an All-you-can-eat meal in a Japanese restaurant near to him. The food was average but I thought $27.95 was quite reasonable for the quantities you get! 😙

All you can eat in 1 hour!

And finally after saying a proper farewell (also slightly ready) to my friend, it was also time to say bye bye to the city. 😢 Until the next time, Austin! I hope I can come back soon!

Bye bye Austin! 👋