austin – day 3

the final day of our austin trip arrived way too quickly for me.  we just have so much fun when we’re all together that time truly does feel like it’s flying by.  nonetheless, the packing began early in the morning so that we could head out for one last meal before the planes started whisking us all home.

since some of the crew was on a time crunch, we walked across the street for brunch at hillside farmacy.  this darling spot was already packed with locals, so we sipped on espresso and iced coffee as we waited for our tables.

this neighborhood restaurant serves up brunch, lunch, dinner, and happy hour to its hungry (and thirsty) austin patrons seven days a week.  it’s always a clear sign when folks are waiting outside the door that it’s gotta be good.

since we were a larger group, the host split us between two tables.  kari got things going on the right foot by quickly ordering us a beaker of mimosas.  yes, folks, there’s now an even cooler way to serve up everyone’s favorite adult brunch beverage.  it’s not a champagne glass, it isn’t a carafe, it isn’t a pitcher.  no, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a beaker of mimosas.

along with those pictures, this gem from the internet comes to mind.


oh, and then this one that kari sent me a while back.  i’ve not a clue to whom the credit should go, so to the original creator, thank you!  nothing makes me happier than cute, clueless golden retrievers acting like they hold human jobs.


our table ordered in decent time, but the amount of time it took to get our food was not reasonable at all.  erin, shawn, ali, and mike were finished with their meals, checks paid, before we got anything.  we had some words with the waitress, and eventually we were served.  i don’t know if she forgot to enter our orders, but regardless, the service pretty much ruined our one, and maybe only, experience at hillside farmacy.  our food was pretty decent, but i don’t think it made up for the fact that poor kyle and kari had to take their brunches to-go…in the uber…with their luggage…to the airport.  what an unfortunate way to end the weekend!

those of us who remained dropped our luggage off with the kind concierge at the hampton inn (christian and sara were staying there for one more night in austin, so we sweetly took advantage) and then we hoofed it over to south congress.  we lingered in and out of thrift shops and candy stores, not so much to souvenir shop but more so to stay out of the heat.  i know the texas summer wasn’t there just yet, but that doesn’t exactly mean it was cool that first weekend of may.

happy but tired from the whirlwind weekend, a few of us ended up at amy’s ice creams for a treat.  you can bet i was very ready for something cold after the sun bore down on us while we waited in line.  i usually take a while to make up my mind, but i was quick to order a cup of strawberry ice cream with chocolate chunks.  that sweet fruit hit the spot, and i was very glad with my choice as i slurped up the last few bites.  i can only imagine how business booms here in the hot summer months.


as they say, all good things must come to an end, so travel group by travel group peeled off to catch flights home.  it seemed too soon when it was time for clark, phillp, and i to go, so i reluctantly hugged my cousins, feeling a bit sad to be leaving them already.  hadn’t we just arrived?  it felt like the first annual cousin trip had come and gone in the blink of an eye.  good thing 2016 isn’t too far away, right?  sure!  i mean, in all seriousness, it will probably be here before we know it.

austin – day 2

the austin adventure continued bright and early saturday.  no rest for these young travelers, no siree!  with only a short 36 hours left on this trip, we needed to make the most of it, and we did just that.  erin, shawn, kyle, kari, and i made our way over to la barbecue for what would end up being maybe the best barbecue i’ve ever had in my life.  we had wanted to go to franklin barbecue, as it is probably austin’s best-known bbq joint, but waking up at 6 a.m…..on a saturday….on vacation didn’t sound like the most appealing idea.  plus, our uncle craig had already given us the inside scoop that he thought la barbecue was better than franklin’s (ooooh, quite a statement to make), so we took his advice.

only around since 2012, la barbecue has created quite a following for itself at the somewhat sketchy corner of east 1st street and brushy.  this dirt yard hosts picnic tables under tents and umbrellas to shade you as you eat.  the smoker is right there also, and you order, as you would expect, from a friendly cashier at a food truck.  there wasn’t much of a crowd just yet, but as more folks started showing up, we decided we’d go ahead and create the line.  we weren’t first, no, we left that to a group of younger twentysomethings that were drinking water out of previously full vodka bottles. rrriiiight.  we got there about 9:30 and held down the fort as the rest of the crew arrived around 11 to hold some table space for us.  when you’re traveling with 13, you’ve gotta be on top of it!

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the texas morning was warming up nicely, so as we waited, we gladly took part in the free keg of beer that was being served up to the thirsty la barbecue patrons.  just give ’em a tip and enjoy!

kyle, shawn, & kari.

kyle, shawn, & kari.

there was no sense in having everyone get in line individually and order, so shawn, kyle, kari, and erin took the lead to order for the whole bunch.  what did we end up with, you ask?  almost a pound of everything!  yes, let’s see what we had here.  a quart of the potato salad, a quart of spicy cole slaw, a quart of beans, three links of spicy sausage, one frito pie, a pound of pulled pork, a few pork ribs, a pound of fatty brisket, a pound of regular brisket, and a handful of white bread because, you know, no barbecue meal is complete without good ‘ole white bread.

the meatz.

the meatz.

when we were ordering, we were so kindly given a sample of the brisket.  the gentleman pulled out a brand new parchment, and as he unwrapped it, a charred slab of meat peeked out between the folds.  he cut off a few hunks for us to sample, and we all looked at each other with that thought “oh man, we’ve never had good brisket until this moment.”  kyle took his bite and closed his eyes.  he was quiet for a solid 15-20 seconds, and finally when we he finished, he opened his eyes with a smile and said something to the effect of, “i could die right now and not be unhappy.”  that, ladies and gentlemen, is what should happen when people eat food.

as we grabbed utensils and waters, the girls got place settings put out, and we passed the trays among everyone, one tray down one side and the other down the the opposite.  they don’t have plates here, so you’ll either be eating directly off the tray or off a piece of brown parchment paper.  hey, whatever works!

the next hour or so was full of “mm’s” and “ooh’s” as we all got a taste of this austin staple.  i can’t speak for the other end of the table (i mean, it’s a little tough to get reviews from 13 people all at once), but on our end, there were different takes on all we had eaten.  we’ll start with the sides.  the potato salad, from what i remember, was quite good, while the spicy coleslaw may have been a touch too spicy.  i am, though, a spice wimp as many of you know, so if you, i don’t know, grew up in texas eating spicy food all your life, you’d probably be embarrassed for me.  whatevs!  now, let’s talk about the beans, and, just beans in general.  i feel like beans get a bad rap around town because of their, ahem, after effect, but you know what?  i’ll just say it, though:  i like beans!  i like refried beans on my tacos, i like black beans in my chipotle rice bowls, i like great northern beans in my chicken dinner, and i like baked beans in the summertime alongside some good barbecue.  there, i’ve come out with it!  and these baked beans at la barbecue were yummy.  i liked them so much i wanted to ask for another helping but didn’t get the chance before the leftovers were chucked in the garbage.  well, another time then, baked beans, another time.  the summer season has just begun!

now let’s talk about the important stuff, the barbecue.  the spicy sausage, as you can guess, wasn’t really up my alley.  it actually looked quite red when you cut into it, and i gladly let phillip eat the other half of my hunk.  i really liked the pulled pork and could not get enough of the pork ribs.  what we all agreed on, though, was that the brisket truly was to die for.  kyle and i had excellent brisket up in salt lake city, but this stuff wasn’t just out of this world; it’s like it was in another galaxy completely.  to this day (a mere 14 days after having been there), i have dreams with slabs of brisket dancing around me, hunks of it jumping into my mouth as i savor each bite.  hm, did this just get weird?


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austin – day 1

as most of you know by now, the andrich family is a big ‘family’ family.  we had the time of our lives when everyone came to atlanta for kari and kyle’s wedding last october, and since none of our parents are turning 60 this year, we figured we’d begin a new tradition in an annual cousin trip.  yep, just like that we instituted the first of these new get-togethers over in austin, texas.  most of us had never been, and with it being pretty much halfway between georgia and california, it seemed like a pretty solid destination.

thirteen of us total made the trip, and that number included phillip.  oooh, our first time traveling together!  and so soon!  yes, yes, we’ve only been together a couple of months, but when you know, you know.  so, it was a very early five a.m. when we woke up, packed our suitcases, and made our way to hartsfield-jackson international airport.  after getting our boarding passes, we shuffled through security with hundreds of other sleepy travelers.  although it was a busy morning there already, it was quiet, so we tried not to be too disruptive as we waited for our plane.

since we’d checked our bags, we relaxed at the gate and coolly walked on that md90 towards the end of the line.  we were on the left of the plane in the two-seat row, a nice cozy setup for a quick two-hour flight westward.  we of course took a few pictures, but none of them had both of us looking our best at the same time, so phillip craftily composed this cropped mashup of the two of us.  hehe.

such a happy couple!

such a happy couple!

it seemed like we had just finished our breakfast smoothies when we touched down in the lonestar state.  with an early flight came an early arrival, and we practically had the whole day ahead of us.  we deplaned and snatched our suitcases from carousel five.  the taxi line was short, so we quickly hopped in a cab with a driver who looked exactly like quint from the movie jaws.  he had a little bit of an oddball demeanor that made for an entertaining ride to san bernard street.  we grabbed the luggage, thanked the driver for his advice, and joined kyle and kari in chinquapin, our massive and funky abode for the next 48 hours.  when you’ve got a baker’s dozen to accommodate, your selection pool is narrowed down pretty quickly.  we got a speedy tour of the common space and then took a stroll up the block to the nearby liquor store j&j spirits.

me, doing about what you would expect me to be doing.

me, doing about what you would expect me to be doing.

okay, yes, it wasn’t even noon yet, but we needed to stock up the fridge for all the cousins who would soon be in town!  the cashier was kind as we perused this quaint shop for the necessities:  seagram’s, fireball, white wine, red wine.  yep, that oughta do it…at least for a rew hours.  kyle and phillip used their big muscles to lift those heavy bags, and it was back to the house we went.

look at our hunks!

look at our hunks!

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wild about harry’s – dallas, tx

wild about harry's.

wild about harry’s.

i find myself on another visit to expansive dallas, tx.  the client beckons me by name!  ah, traveling.  a (mostly) wonderful perk of working in software consulting.  i will admit, i have visited many towns i would not have otherwise seen, so i shall count myself luckier than the average bear!

i am flying solo this week, so all the eating decisions are my own.  how fabulous!  i had heard of this place called wild about harry’s.  supposedly they’re known for their custard…?  i kid!  wild about harry’s is very well-known for their secret custard recipe and hot dogs.  let’s see how this southern lady liked it!

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a feeding frenzy – dallas, tx

i’ve recently spent time in dallas, texas for work, and although we have been keeping quite busy, we always find time for a good meal.  cranky consultants are not happy consultants.

dallas is quite the foodie town, and i feel like we’ve done a decent job of exploring it.  of course, i wouldn’t be opposed to a return trip to find and try even more local spots.

these restaurants are presented in no particular order.  and i am warning you now, we did a lot of eating.

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dallas – day 2

our orders were to sleep in on sunday, as we had nowhere to be and really not a thing to do.  i stirred this morning around nine thirty to wafts of freshly cooked bacon that had wound up the stairs and into my room.  i freshened up and bounced downstairs to greet mark and kathleen good morning.  the day wasn’t too hot yet, so we munched on our breakfasts on the patio.  the breeze gladly met us out there, providing for a very pleasant meal.

soon enough mark was up and at ’em, getting his weekend chores knocked out left and right.  kathleen and i proceeded to stay put in our porch recliners for the next couple of hours, talking about everything under the sun.  we needed refills on coffee and tea, so we simply moved our conversation to the comfy leather sofas in the family room.  if you ever need company on a lazy sunday afternoon, you now know two well-suited ladies.

i got my things repacked for the upcoming week, and we then hopped in the highlander to make one last stop together for dinner.  kathleen’s eye had been caught by mattito’s near the mall a couple times, so tex-mex it was!  there are several mattito’s locations around the frisco and dallas areas, so you’ll be sure to find one near you.

mattito’s is bright and energetic, and i was glad to be having dinner in a relaxed atmosphere.  the wait staff was quite friendly and attentive throughout our meal, quickly taking our drink orders and dropping off chips and salsa at the table.

mark took a swift look over the menu, deciding very soon what he wanted:  the chicken fried steak.  yes, you heard me correctly.  chicken fried steak at a tex-mex spot.  it even says on the menu that it sounds crazy!  the dish arrived, and i was curious to see if he even liked it.  not too many minutes later the plate was nearly clean, not a morsel of chicken fried steak to be seen.  to the surprise of us all, he said it was quite delicious and that he would order it again.


unfortunately, though, kathleen did not enjoy her dinner nearly as much as mark.  nothing on the menu was really catching her eye, so she ordered a couple of beef enchiladas a la carte with rice.  i don’t know if the waiter misheard her, but the enchiladas were smothered in tomatillo sauce when she had wanted them topped with a traditional red.  bummer, right?  she picked about halfway through the first enchilada and realized she just didn’t have an appetite for tex-mex that night.  since the chips and salsa had filled her pretty well, she wasn’t too distraught about not wanting to finish her meal.  i guess that just happens sometimes.


i, like mark, really did care for my dinner.  i was craving tamales, and they just so happened to have them on the menu.  yay!  i ordered the two chicken and two beef tamales, and it was the perfect amount of food.  i didn’t get to finish all the rice, but that’s only because i didn’t want the good stuff to go to waste.  the tamales were served with tortilla shells full of tomatillo sauce and chili con carne sauce.  both were tasty complements to the tamales, which had the most wonderful masa surrounding the fillings.  i’m not sure if mark and kathleen will find themselves back here again, but i would certainly say it is worth a try.


after dinner we made the short drive to downtown to get me checked in and settled for the coming week.  good weekends sometimes seem to go by too quickly, and this one was no exception.  it was just so wonderful to explore and spend time with mark and kathleen, and my fingers are crossed that it won’t be too long before i’m back out here for another adventure.

after hugs and kisses goodbye, i kindly checked in with hope at the receptionist desk, took the elevator to the seventh floor, and promptly unpacked my bag, which contained ten pairs of shoes for the week…


dallas – day 1

this coming week holds for me some work in the big d (dallas, texas!)  the original plan was to fly out sunday night, but i am lucky enough to know folks around here to come out early for a little vacation.  mark and kathleen are like a second set of parents to me, and the minute i told them i’d be in their neck of the woods, they gladly accepted me as a houseguest for the weekend.  how fabulous!

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