Odd Duck Austin: Farm to Table Food in an Open Kitchen Restaurant

I remember many years ago when the “in” way to eat at an upscale restaurant was to book a table in the kitchen. I never really understood why it was such a trend. I mean, who wants to sit in a hot kitchen all made-up and sheathed in finery? Of course, the answer is: why, to say I did it of course!

I can’t vouch for everyone else’s reasons.

My personal attempt to do this was at Brennan’s of Houston for my then-husband’s birthday celebration. I was unsuccessful at the time because I waited too long; tables like this booked up over 6 months in advance. We ended up sitting in the dining room like everyone else. But I never lost the desire to eat with the chefs as they created their gastronomy, preferably without the need to dress to impress.

Jump forward to now. The concept of “eating with the chef” has become the norm in the open kitchen design of many restaurants. Combine that with farm-to-table clean and healthy food. It’s a win-win. And still the “in” way to experience dining,

When in Austin, one of the best ways to experience this is Odd Duck Austin.

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Now, make sure you arrive early. I was there on a Saturday for dinner. Doors open at 5pm on the dot; customers begin arriving at about 4:30pm. By the time the doors open, there is a line to get in. Be prepared. The upside is they have a comfortable seating area outside.

There is the open kitchen seating – or bar seating as it is unaffectionately called – and the expected dining room, as well as ample patio seating.

Sit at the bar. From this vantage you reap a few benefits over sitting in the dining room: you meet a new friend in the server, you watch your food being prepared, your food has a shorter journey to your taste buds, and you meet fascinating people sitting next to you.

The other thing I really like about this restaurant is the tasting menu. I like being able to taste and experience several different dishes instead of only one.

Top it all off with a great bottle of Italian wine ~ Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino Tuscany, Italy 2013

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Sourdough with a crucible of duck pate

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Marinated beets, mint, blue cheese, wheat berries, candied hazelnuts

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Antelope tataki, seeded cracker, green garlic aioli, sesame

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Chili with papperdelle

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Bavette steak, mushroom conserva, charred onion salsa verde

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Espresso, of course

Try as many dishes as you can stomach. I highly recommend bringing a friend (or finding a new friend, like I did) to share with, as you can experience so many more dishes and flavors that way.

My favorites: the wine was luxurious; the Bavette Steak, the Chili with Papperdelle, and the Sourdough with Duck Pate.

Happy eating in Austin!

© 2010-2019 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

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Art Appreciation in Austin

It is not difficult to find good, diverse art in Austin, Texas. Art museums and galleries of every type from contemporary to classic, sculpture to rare books can be found throughout this culturally rich city. Pick your art mood and go!

The mission yesterday was The Secret Art of Dr. Seuss exhibit at the Ao5 Gallery in South Austin. 20190323_154755-1

20190323_154949-1I am not a fan of galleries. This is not because I don’t love to experience different types of art and artists life stories; but, it’s because I can never afford to buy the art, even if I love a piece. I feel uncomfortable meandering through a place of business, a place as intimate as a gallery, and not buying what they are selling. Particularly if the pressure is high to buy something, like that annoying salesperson who seems to know where you are at all times and frequently wondering if you have any questions.

For this reason, I prefer museums. I pay my entry fee; hence, I have purchased my right to wander, look, and not buy.

Ao5 Gallery was nothing like my expectation of a gallery. There was room to move around and decidedly no pressure. I highly recommend it.

The exhibit itself was spectacular. I heard about it right after it opened and was intrigued. Like many parents, I grew up on Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel) and passed the fascination and wonder on to my kids. My favorite is “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”. Over the years, I have given that book as a gift to one of my children and to my mother during their times of trouble.

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What I didn’t know about Dr. Seuss until I started researching his work and his life is that his story-telling came secondary to his art. And the artwork that came with the stories that we are all so familiar with is only a portion of the artistic talent of the man.

After spending quality time with this vibrant exhibit, I wandered through the myriad other exhibits in the gallery. Also on exhibit – and for sale – were pieces by Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali.

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Andy Warhol – Cologne Cathedral 364 (1985) – Unique Screenprint on Board with Diamond Dust

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Salvador Dali

And some artists and techniques that were unique and new – at least to me.

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Byron May – Original Mixed Media on Stainless Steel (viewed best with the provided 3-D glasses)

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John Morse – Original Found Paper Collage

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John Morse – Rose – Original Found Paper Collage

Learn more about John Morse and Byron May on their websites.

And, next time you are craving art, and you are in Austin, consider a visit to the Ao5 Gallery. You won’t be disappointed!

© 2010-2019 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

TFTD 2.2019

Before you speak, think.

When you think, identify.

After you identify, label.

What do you want your words to change?

Can your words effect that change? No, you say?

Then don’t speak.

“There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking.”

~ Proverbs 29:20 (CEV)

P.S. If your words are about a person and that person is already deceased – rein in your words solely to the expanse of your own thoughts.

© 2010-2019 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

TFTD 1.2019

If you have to mask your thoughts or actions in shadows and nuance, they are leading you to explore into and beyond dark places within yourself that are striving for growth. The shadow is not the main idea; the light behind the shadow is.

“Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadows.” ~ Aesop

© 2010-2019 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

An Ideology of Shopping and The Farmer’s Market

Every week, mid-week usually, I begin thinking about what to do over the weekend. And most times, a trip to the farmer’s market is somewhere on my list.

More often than not, most weekends I do not end up there. I get lulled into other activities that convince me to fall back on the one-stop shopping at the local HEB or Walmart. Very important activities, like sleeping late and binge reading and binge TV watching. Before I know it, it is Sunday night again and my opportunity to shop local, sustainable, and healthy has passed once again.

But I do think about it.

This is the mindset that draws us. Lulled into a laziness by the giants of consumerism – giants like Walmart, major grocery chains, and even on-line shopping –  we have been corralled into a belief that we want quicker, easier, bigger, and more plentiful and colorful. More, more, more. A mindset that proves overwhelming in its ease and excess.

I didn’t realize how overwhelming until I lived in Holland for a few years. Forced to acclimate to slower, more complicated, smaller, and less variety, I eventually rejoiced in the restful European-style shopping experience.  In smaller towns like Wassenaar, Gouda, and Leiden. I accrued a list of my favorite shops; in a few, the storekeepers even came to know me. I was the American lady who wanted to speak Dutch. Badly.

The first time I went back to America for an expat visit, I felt physically overwhelmed during a visit to the local Walmart. Whole aisles dedicated to 50 different varieties of cereal, or soda, or crackers. So much to choose from. Too much. I couldn’t wait to return to my cozy Dutch stores!

The total area of a standard Dutch grocery store could fit snuggly into two aisles of an average HEB. In the Dutch store, one might see 10 varieties of cereal, and the varieties that are presented are generally from smaller, lesser known vendors.

Another characteristic of the European grocery store is that the food choices tend to be healthier. Fewer preservatives and additives. More pure than manufactured.

While it is possible to get all of your food in one place in a Dutch grocery store, you find yourself shopping in specialty stores or stalls in the town center or the markets more often. In Holland, I ultimately ended up becoming a regular at the cheese shop, the florist, the butcher, the green grocer, the pharmacist – all of which were within fewer than 2 blocks of the grocery store.

In the smaller towns, the specialty shops are usually located along one or two short stretches of road. We call them strip malls in America. There was also likely a cafe – or more – in the same area. On the corner or across the way.  A coffee break or a glass of wine and watch the scenery for a bit.

In this way, shopping becomes an experience, leisurely and possibly even social, as you usually end up seeing people from the community at some point during the journey.

Super small towns in America still have this same feel. Small store fronts along a stretch of road, community, local varieties. Unfortunately, not many of us can live in small town America. We live in cities – or suburbs – where life is hectic, overwhelming, and impersonal, and then we visit these small towns when we need something to do.

In other words, shopping this way has become the occasional leisure. And you end up shopping for things you don’t need – trinkets and other things that will end up in a box in ten more years.

Shopping for things you DO need has become the chore.

Shopping at a farmer’s market is the American equivalent of the town-center shopping experience that is so prevalent in Europe.

But it is a mindset that has to be established, changed from the trap that our culture has turned it into.

  • You have to want to change your shopping habits and to make an event out of shopping for the things you need. Farmer’s market and co-op shopping requires more time, more money, more effort. You have to give up sitting on your couch and ordering for delivery or pick-up.
  • You have to seek them out. Where they are located, what days and times they are open.  Farmer’s markets are not on every street corner. And not every farmer’s market is worth your time in terms of variety of product and vendors. Some are better than others.
  • You have to be willing to shop more frequently. You can’t do shopping to last a week. From a visit to the farmer’s market, you might be able to get a few days worth of product, unless you are only shopping for a household of one or two people. Shopping for a large household has it’s own challenges.
  • You will still need to go to Walmart or HEB because the farmer’s market does not sell things like paper products or other cooking supplies.
  • You have to bring your own bags.
  • You have to enlighten yourself about quality and seek it out over convenience. Things look different at a farmer’s market than they do in the grocery store. Those differences are good and ultimately better for you and your family.

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    My take from the farmer’s market

I do not experience the same sense of community at a farmer’s market that I did when shopping in Holland. However, I expect that the sense of community would come if I did it more frequently. This type of shopping is a mindset; there are others out there that are in that mindset.

There are several good farmer’s markets in Austin. I have been to a few of them and have never had a bad experience. This is the one at Lakeline.

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Farmer’s Market at Lakeline in Austin, TX

The farmer’s market for me is a refreshing change to the status quo. Shopping this way becomes an exploration rather than a chore; an investment rather than an expense; a destination rather than a place, as well as a pleasant reminder of a past that I enjoyed so much.

Special thanks to @annepreble for the featured cover photo

© 2010-2019 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Texans, Playoffs, Keto and Wins

downloadFirst, let me rejoice with all other Texans fans reading this that the Texans made it to the NFL wild card playoffs this year. As for any fan, I was hopeful.

Again.

To be honest, they seem to be able to get to both level of playoffs since 2011; but, they lose something in the transition. They get sloppy; slow to act and react.

Nonetheless, I donned my JJ Watt official Texans jersey and went out to get stuff done. At one of my stops, an elderly gentleman struck up a conversation with me.

Gentleman {acknowledging my jersey}: “Are you Mrs. Watt?”

Me: “I wish. But, I’m sure there are many of them running around the city today.”

Gentleman: “Oh, is he a polygamist?”

Me {chuckling – is he serious?}: “No, I’m pretty sure he’s not.”

The store employee came back to finish up his order. Conversation done, I’m left to ponder the meaning of his statement, and disappointed that I couldn’t get my admiration for JJ Watt out into the cosmos. It doesn’t seem adequate to only be wearing the jersey and not raving about him.

When your team is in the playoffs, it is your obligation to root them on any way you can. Talk them up. State their advantages and their strengths. To put your own emotional high energy out into the collective cosmos along with the energy of every other fan. It’s a sports thing. Whether American football, futbol, baseball, hockey – if you love the sport, you have a favorite team. It is your obligation to join with other fans in the pursuit of the victory that you are sure is just waiting for the taking.

Ordinarily, I imagine most people just watch from home. They have cable, dish, whatever means to stream the game in. As they sit in their favorite seat right in front of the TV, they are safe to yell at the screen for Deshaun Watson to throw the ball already (no one to offend or startle on the next barstool) or to jump up when Clowney catches it and bolts to the end zone (even if they upend the bowl of popcorn) and to slam the table when Clowney is tackled just 5 yards short of a touchdown. God forbid Deshaun gets sacked, again. Not saying these actions don’t happen at a bar. But they become muted, in the process losing an element of the raw humanity that they represent.

My plan was to go to a local sports bar where the Texans are the favored team. In this type of venue, it is easier to find a screen to watch my game and less likely that I will have to sit next to a fan of the opposing team. I am not a fan of sitting at a bar by myself to begin with; but for my team, that is an acceptable sacrifice.

Mid-morning, I found out that a friend of mine was hosting a day-long playoff watch party, starting with the Texans-Colts game. I was ecstatic.

What to bring? Football food tends to be hi-carb, hi-fat, not really healthy food. Food that I normally don’t eat; and, on a Keto-like diet, foods that I should not be eating.

I gratefully RSVPd and proceeded to figure out what Keto-friendly food to make and bring.

I settled on bacon wrapped ‘little’ smoky sausages, baked and basted in BBQ sauce, and a bottle of Absolut Citron vodka. I couldn’t find the specific sausage that the recipe called for, so I had to improvise with larger sausages cut in longwise 1/8th portions.

Later, at the party, I re-united with some old friends and met some new friends. My iced vodka did not take too well among the beer drinking attendees – that meant more for me. But the bacon-wrapped sausages were a big hit.

In the end, my Texans lost – miserably. But for me, it was an all-around win.

But – what team do I follow into the Superbowl, now that the Texans are out of it?

Stay tuned!

© 2010-2019 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Healthy Resolution – Keto

 

Selection of healthy fat sourcesLike many of us at this same time of year, I realized today that I need to make some changes in the upcoming new year.

Before I proceed, let me provide some perspective on the idea of resolutions.

I’m not a big fan of new year resolutions. Resolutions – like promises – can end up in quite a big box with other resolutions that turned into perceived no-wins, that we simply gave up on in lieu of survival, or other resolutions.

I believe that with every new day comes a new opportunity to change – to improve. We truly have 365 opportunities every year to move closer to the vision we have of ourselves.

Why limit that to 1 opportunity every 365 days?

But, life is complicated. We get overburdened, overwhelmed, over-exhausted; which is when we begin to delay things to the promise of doing better in a New Year.

Necessary, and desired, changes get pushed out, farther and farther away from our current state of being while we focus on the delusion of our here and now.

My delusion was finally spotlighted this morning. But, I would be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed it sooner.

Like my jeans getting tighter since October; the muffin top expanding; the increasing attraction to the looser fitting tops in my closet. And, who can forget the annual relief that we are into the coldest weather of the year here in Austin – sweater weather. The panic knowing that the cold season will end in about 2 weeks and sweaters will no longer be an option.

I try not to torture myself with the memories of my not-so-long-ago slimmer days. Days when size 6 jeans were too big and I could get away with buying teen sizes to fill the gap. Times when certain styles and designers allowed me to wear a petite.

Bottomline: I have gained roughly 15 pounds since October. Worse, my BMI has tripled.

Two things need to change now: diet and exercise. Today, my focus is on the diet part.

Normally, I eat healthy. I make meal choices to keep my blood sugar steady by the timing and type of foods I eat.

  • many small meals throughout the day
  • no meals after 7pm-ish
  • no bread
  • no sodas or sweet drinks
  • no artificial sweeteners
  • low sugar fruits and vegetables
  • lots of protein
  • lots of water

I do have my vices, though. And, in times of stress (like the past year), those vices can be powerful to avoid. And they add up quickly.

  • cold cuts
  • desserts
  • wine

So, what is there to change?

Then, I find myself thinking about a conversation I had earlier this year with some friends who had started a Keto diet. While they confirmed lost weight, in the next breath they lamented how many foods they could not eat. At the time, I remember thinking “how bad can it be”? Because, at the time, I associated Keto with high protein and did not really take the time to look into it after that conversation.

After doing research now, I get it. It’s not about the sugars; it is also about the carbs. Check out this post for more details.

Makes sense. Can’t be too difficult. I already maintain a low sugar / high protein diet.

Digging deeper, as I tend to do, I found several lists of what NOT to eat on a Keto diet. That’s where the feel-good faded and the spotlight of reality shined bright. Foods that are staples in my daily diet quickly added up and ended up in the No-No pile.

  • oatmeal
  • honey
  • mangoes
  • raisins
  • cold cuts
  • chicken breast
  • wine
  • beer
  • legumes, including lentils
  • sweet potatoes

GONE – my pizza and beer Friday night chill-down with my son (when he is around)

GONE – my morning oatmeal – with raisins and honey

GONE – my glass (or 3) of red wine after a particularly stressful workday

GONE – my beloved marinated black beans

Thinking positively, I went back through the lists for things that I can consume, that I like, and that are also staples in my daily diet.

  • eggs
  • avocados
  • lemons
  • olives
  • tomatoes
  • strawberries, raspberries
  • brussel sprouts
  • spinach
  • kale
  • CHEESE!

And, if I need to have a drink – well, there are options there as well.

I don’t expect, nor do I really want, to get back into the single digit sizes. Although, I wouldn’t halt anything if things do lead there.

My goals in this voyage are to remain healthy while feeling good about myself. I see this as a resolution to myself to journey into better, healthier, more contented living.

For me.

That resolution just happens to be falling on day 364, the cusp of the New Year.

Wishing you all a happy – and healthier – 2019!!!

© 2010-2019 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.