Tag Archives: french food

Think Inside the Box

21 Feb

I have been on a French kick lately.  Right now, anything French is cool.  I have this grandiose idea of living in Paris,  I want to learn to speak French, I want to eat French food, I want to bake French pastries, I am currently reading My Life in France by Julia Child – the list goes on and on.  Not sure where all this originated, though I have a suspicion it started after watching Midnight in Paris, which now reminds me of the time I had a very strong desire to live in Spain after watching Vicki Cristina Barcelona… don’t put shiny objects in front of me, I will follow them. 

So I was quite excited to go to La Boite, the French eatery on South Lamar that is housed in a shipping container.  Boite is a French word that literally means box and that is exactly what the place is – a rectangular box.  I love that they have taken the “Reuse Reduce Recycle” motto to heart and used an object that was built for such a specific purpose and repurposed it into something quirky and fun.   Sometimes my imagination can go in all kinds of silly directions and I started wondering:  Where has this shipping container been?  What exotic places has it traveled to and how did it arrive here?  By boat?  By rail?  What precious cargo did it contain?

Well I can tell you what it contains now – a whole lot of yumminess!  And will someone please tell me how I have been alive for 40 years and just now have tasted my first macaron???  Oh my, those little French cookies are like fluffy pillows filled with pure sweetness.  I tried two flavors – Pistachio with chocolate ganache and salted caramel.  If my life depended on it, I still couldn’t tell you which one I liked more.  They were both divine.  I also enjoyed the almond croissant, which was crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and absolutely wonderful.  In fact, while I was there a person called in to ask if there were any of those croissants left.  Since they only had two, the caller asked to please please please hold them – they would be over immediately to grab them!  So they must be in high demand.

La Boite also serves great coffee, teas and sandwiches, so I plan on making a trip over there during lunch.  Since the box is tight on space (though so cute), the seating is located outside under a shade canopy.  If you’d rather just pick up something to go, the parking is convenient and easy.  They open at 7:30 am on the weekdays, 8 am on the weekends and close at 4:30(ish).  They have also just opened up a second location at 1006 Congress Ave.

So my French obsession has been reinforced, thanks to La Boite.  Hopefully I will one day find myself in France but until then, I intend on eating every macaron flavor they make.  Bon appétit!

 

La Boite Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Texas may be bigger than France, but…

18 Dec

beers on tap at Hopfields

Charming.  That’s the word that came to mind the moment I stepped into Hopfields, a new central Austin bar on Guadalupe at 31st street.  It’s a small place that’s large on atmosphere, vintage character with a modern twist.  This place has only been open three weeks and already it has a following.

I had the chance to chat with the owner, Bay Anthon, and he told me Hopfields has been a true labor of love, involving the whole family.  His wife was instrumental in the interior design and I think she did a fantastic job.  The rustic dark wood seating, vintage mirrors, copper pendant lighting and cream colored brick walls evoke a comfortable warmth.  The corner benches are actually reclaimed church pews found in Jarrell, Tx (how cool).  There is also an inconspicuous and adorable little candle- lit room in the back, a great place to steal away for an intimate conversation.  The owner also told me about the “secret door”, but since it’s a secret, I can’t tell you about it (otherwise I would have to kill you, of course).

Hopfields offers a wide selection of great beers on tap, including many local brews, as well as wine.  They also serve several select cocktails and, according to my friend Calvin, they make the best sidecar cocktail he has ever had.  I’ve never had a sidecar, but after enjoying a few of the drinks Calvin makes, I’d say the man knows what he’s talking about.  So you might want to give that one a try.

a creamy pint - yum

Another aspect of Hopfields that I love is the food.  The menu is distinctly French.  The list of food choices is petite, but the flavors are anything but.  Remember what I said about it being a family affair?  Yeah, Bay’s mother-in-law was back cooking in the kitchen.  Really.  In fact, the menu consists of her family recipes which Bay told me they have been eating for years, but of course they have never been served in a restaurant before.  Well, hats off to the chef – the food was great!  I enjoyed her salad nicoise – soft, buttery greens with haricots verts (that’s green beans for you non-French folk), fingerling potatoes (that’s small spuds for you non-French folk), olives, tomatoes and hard boiled egg, topped with a generous piece of tuna glazed with a mustard sauce.  I also tried their frites, French for french fries, with aioli for dipping – so tasty and completely addicting.   I’ve also heard from another friend that their burger is fantastic – of course it has a French twist  and absolutely that is what I am ordering for the next time.  Already thinking about it.

So far there is not a happy hour, but Bay told me he’s not ruling out that possibility in the future.  There is free wi-fi and it is a nice place to work from – where do you think I am while typing this?  He would like to encourage work-at-home types to come in during the day, so he may offer specials in the afternoon.  The place is still a work in progress, waiting for us Austinites to help it find its niche.  And I am happy to oblige.

Hopfields on Urbanspoon

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