reviews

Whole Grain Orange Waffles

This post is sponsored by Tropicana Canada. I have partnered up with Tropicana Canada to bring you delicious new recipes that will highlight the goodness of cooking and baking with Tropicana Pure Premium® Orange Juice and how I enjoy it in my daily life.

Waffles are a weekend treat at home and we love gathering around for big brunches with everyone. From sweet to savory, the options are endless. We love these whole grain waffles because they’re a healthy alternative as they’re made with whole wheat flour and our favourite Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice.

I feel better knowing I’m feeding my family a healthier option with the addition of Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice as it includes two servings of fruit per cup and we get the additional vitamin C and potassium in our waffles.

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But who are we kidding? I love orange juice and any way that I can incorporate it into my meal, I will. My two-year-old daughter will devour an entire waffle for breakfast and I don’t feel guilty serving them to my kids.

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Crowned with our favourite toppings, they’re the perfect cozy weekend brunch meal. To make it even more fun, I like to set up a mini fruit bar station for my kids that includes various berries, sliced oranges, nuts, whipped cream and maple syrup. And of course, we cannot forget the dusting of icing sugar that crowns the top!

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I hope you’ll try them out and if you do, please share them with me using my hashtag #hautesucre, I would love to see them. Make these for your next brunch, they’re sure to become your new favourite, get the recipe below.

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Whole Grain Orange Waffles Recipe

Makes 6 Waffles

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Organic Whole Wheat Flour

2 tblsp buttermilk powder

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp ground vanilla bean

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1 ¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

3 tblsp raw sugar

¾ cup Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice

1 large free range egg

3 tblsp unsalted butter, softened or melted

Toppings:

Fresh berries

Whipped cream

Icing sugar

Maple Syrup

Directions:

  1. In a high-speed blender mix all the ingredients in the order listed and mix on medium-high for 1 minute or until the ingredients are combined. Set aside.
  2. Preheat your waffle iron
  3. Add enough batter to the hot waffle iron (approximately ¾ cup) and cook until nice and golden.
  4. Transfer to a cooling rack and continue making the rest of the waffles
  5. Transfer one waffle to a plate and top with your desired toppings such as mixed berries, maple syrup and finish with whipped cream and a dusting of icing sugar.

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Swirled Blueberry Pavlovas

(This post is sponsored by President’s Choice. I used their PC Black Label Blueberry Syrup to make these beautiful Swirled Blueberry Pavlovas.)
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Swirled Blueberry Pavlovas

This month’s PC Black Box included three delightful products that I had the opportunity to try. From snacks to desserts, there is such a wide array of PC Black Label products that you can serve for any occasion.

 

PC Black Label Artichoke Halves

 

These sun-ripened artichokes are grilled and marinated and they’re packed in a delicious infusion of oils, garlic and spices. My husband loves artichokes and these were a delicious addition to pizza.

These sweet and plump Apricots from Turkey did not disappoint, they were eaten within minutes of opening the bag. My 7 year old son devoured them, they’re that good! Great for a cheese platter or just to snack on, these are a real treat to have around the house.

 

Made from carefully selected sweet blueberries, this artisan syrup is bursting with fresh berries! It’s an amazing rich syrup which makes delicious cocktails, salad dressings and our favourite breakfast or dessert toppings. One of my favourite products from this month’s PC Black Label Box, read on for my take on a holiday favourite, Swirled Blueberry Pavlovas!
I enjoyed all the products but I particularly favored the PC Black Label Blueberry Syrup for this month’s recipe selection. The first thing that popped into my mind was how well this sauce would go with my one of my favourite holiday desserts, pavlovas!
I swirled this luscious PC Black Label Blueberry Syrup into traditional meringues and slow baked them, get the recipe below.
Swirled Meringues with Blueberry Sauce

Swirled Meringues with Blueberry Sauce

Pavlovas are a holiday favourite in our family and I hope they will become yours, too. This recipe is easy to prepare and the meringues can be baked ahead of time, up to 3 days and stored in an airtight container, layered between parchment sheets.

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Whether you’re a home chef or an aspiring foodie, the PC Black Label Collection makes it easy to unleash your culinary curiosity and get creative. Discover the entire collection and be inspired to #PlayWithYourFood at pc.ca/blacklabel. Have a wonderful holiday season!

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Swirled Blueberry Pavlovas Recipe

Ingredients:

4 large egg whites, room temperature

Pinch of kosher salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tblsp cornstarch

1/4 tsp ground Vanilla bean

1/2 cup blueberry sauce

Fork or spoon for swirling

Parchment lined baking sheet

 

Meringues with Swirled PC Black Label Blueberry Syrup ready for the oven

Meringues with Swirled PC Black Label Blueberry Syrup ready for the oven

Directions:

Baking time: 90 minutes

Preheat oven to 255°F

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch ensuring there are no lumps.

2. In a large stand mixer whisk the egg whites on medium for 1 minute until frothy.

3. Add the salt and continue to whisk on highest setting for 2 minutes.

4. With the mixer running on medium high, slowly add the sugar mixture. Once it’s all added, turn the mixture back on high and whisk for 5 minutes until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks have formed.

5. Spoon out 6-8 mounds on the parchment sheet using 2 spoons to help release the mixture.

6. Spoon 1 tsp of blueberry sauce into each mound and using the tines of the fork, gently swirl the sauce into the meringue.

7. Using the back of a small spoon, make an indent in the centre.

8. Bake at 255°F for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

9. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues inside to cool down, up to 12 hours without opening the oven door.

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Baked Meringues

Pavlova Assembly:

1 cup Whipping cream 35%

2 tblsp sugar

Fresh fruit

  1. In a large stand mixer add the whipping cream and sugar and beat until medium peaks form.
  2. Plate each meringue and top with the fresh whipped cream, fresh berries and drizzle with 1 Tbsp PC Black Label Blueberry Sauce over top. Garnish with fresh mint and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Swirled Blueberry Pavlovas

Orange Tea Cakes

This post is sponsored by Tropicana Canada. I have partnered up with Tropicana Canada to bring you delicious new recipes that will highlight the goodness of cooking and baking with Tropicana Pure Premium® Orange Juice and how I enjoy it in my daily life.

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I am a big advocate of orange juice, always have been. Not only do I love the refreshing taste but I enjoy the immense benefits it brings such as a daily dose of vitamin C. A lot of love into a 250ml glass of 100% Tropicana Pure Premium® Orange Juice. Each glass contains:

  • Two servings of fruit
  • Full day’s supply of Vitamin C
  • As much potassium as a medium banana

I have been buying Tropicana Pure Premium® Orange Juice for myself and my family for as long as I can remember as it is apart of our healthy diet. I never realized all the added benefits I was getting as we primarily drink it because it tastes good – the additional benefits are a bonus!

I love incorporating ingredients that I trust into my cooking and baked goods and this new recipe for Orange Tea Cakes is no exception. It’s delicious, straightforward and requires little fuss or expertise. As these are petit fours, you can be creative with your choice of molds. I have used mini madeleine molds, but you can also use mini savarin ring molds as well as mini muffin tins.

I hope you’ll try them out and if you do, please share them with me using my hashtag #hautesucre, I would love to see them. Make these for your next cookie exchange or holiday brunch, they’re sure to become your new holiday favourite, get the recipe below.

Orange Tea Cakes Recipe

Makes approximately 25 mini cakes

orange tea cakes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp ground vanilla bean or extract
zest of 1 small orange
1/3 cup Tropicana Premium Orange Juice
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350F Line a mini madeleine pan or mini muffin tray with butter. If using silicone bakeware, do not coat with butter, but place silicone moulds over a baking sheet for the oven. Best eaten on the day they’re baked.

  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking power, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and beat on medium high for 3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time and continue to beat for 5 minutes. You want the batter to be light and fluffy.
  4. Lower the speed on the stand mixer and pour in the vanilla, orange zest and orange juice, mix until combined.
  5. Keeping the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – do not over mix.
  6. With a small teaspoon or cookie scoop, transfer the batter to your mini cake pan and bake at 350F for 15 min or until slightly golden.
  7. Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve.

Winter Spiced Shakshouka (Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce)

(This post is sponsored by the FeedFeed and Vitamix. I was given this Vitamix in exchange for a product review and recipe).

Winter Spiced Shakshouka
My favourite weekend brunch includes this Middle Eastern egg dish called Shakshouka. This dish is a feast for the palate with a myriad of spices simmered in a slow cooked tomato sauce with an abundance of chili’s, and topped with farm fresh eggs poached directly in the pan over this magical sauce. It’s adorned with an assortment of fresh herbs and sheep’s feta cheese.

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The inspiration for this dish came from a recent dinner I have with the FeedFeed and the Vitamix team here in Toronto a few weeks ago. It was a lovely dinner with the entire meal prepared with Vitamix’s Winter Spice Seasoning. Delicious notes of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and dried oranges complemented and highlighted each course. It is such a lovely spice mix that I have incorporated it into my Shakshouka recipe and can’t wait to try it next in Indian spiced chai.

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This spice blend was made in my new beautiful A3500 Ascent series Vitamix machine and took less than five minutes to make! This machine is a workhorse and has been an absolute delight to use.

It features 5 Program Settings for Smoothies, Hot Soups, Dips & Spreads, Frozen Desserts, and Self-Cleaning with a
1-10 Speed Dial, Touch Start/Stop, Touch Pulse, Touch Programmable Timer and SELF-DETECT™ Technology. I must say that I am really enjoying the pre-sets as it makes things so much easier and all at a touch of a button.

The features for this machine are outstanding, I’ve never had a smoothie so rich and smooth and ready in under 1 minute. My kids love it and with the pre-set program settings it’s so easy for them to use!

I hope you enjoy the recipe and when you make it, please tag me on my social channels with my hashtag, #hautesucre as I would love to see your recreations.

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Winter Spiced Shakshouka Recipe

The Shakshouka sauce can be made ahead of time especially if you’re making it for a large crowd and want to prep in advance. It can be warmed up to a gentle boil, ensuring the sauce is bubbling so that the eggs set. You want the whites to be just set while the yolks are still soft and runny. There’s no other way to serve this other than with a nice chunk of bread to scoop up the sauce.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 chiles or 1jalapeños, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp sugar
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tsp Winter Spice Seasoning
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp red chili powder (spicy kind)
1 tbsp. paprika
2 cups crushed tomatoes (passata)
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1/4 cup water
4-6 large eggs
2 tbsp cilantro, dill, parsley, chopped

2 Tblsp Sheep’s Feta Cheese
Fresh crusty bread or pita

Directions:

  • In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil, add onions and sugar and cook about 6 minutes until translucent (do not brown)
  • Add crushed garlic, chopped chillies, and cumin seeds ~ fry 2 minutes.
  • Add the Winter Spice mix and the rest of the ground spices and cook 3 minutes, stirring to incorporate everything.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, chickpeas and 1/4 cup water (if using passata, do not add additional water). Cover and cook for about 10-15 min.
  • Smooth mixture into base of skillet and gently crack 4-6 eggs on top. Spoon some of the tomato sauce over and around the eggs. Immediately cover and cook approx 4-5 min or until eggs are cooked through to your desired preference (runny or semi solid yolk).
  • With a large spatula, gently remove sauce and eggs onto plates and top with chopped herbs and serve with crusty bread or pita. Enjoy!

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Apple Walnut Cake

Apple Walnut Cake
(This post is sponsored by President’s Choice. I used their PC Black Label “00” Farina Fine Wheat Flour to make this Apple Walnut Cake.)

When I received this month’s box I was delighted to see 2 ingredients that I really love, flour and pizza sauce!

PC Black Label Pizza Sauce is made in Italy with a traditional blend of Italian tomatoes, spices, extra virgin olive oil and onions. It’s perfect for those weeknight meals when you want to make a quick dinner. I used the sauce to make flatbread pizza and it made a delicious base with a burst of amazing flavours.

PC Black Label “00” Farina Fine Wheat Flour is a finely milled wheat flour that is ideal for use in pizzas, pastries and pasta. This wheat flour is soft and silky and easy to work with. Also, I love using this product to make my favourite Focaccia recipe.

I was really tempted to make Pizza for this month’s recipe but decided against it as I was really curious to see how the flour would turn out in pastries. Generally I use all purpose flour for baked goods but after doing some research and testing, I decided to create a recipe with this season’s generous bounty of apples and paired them with this delicate flour into a wonderful cake.

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This cake has a soft crumb with crunchy bites of walnut and sweet apples that just melt in your mouth. The flour is easy to work with and mixes well with the other ingredients. I’m glad I tried it! It looks like I have a new favourite flour to work with in the kitchen. Stay tuned for more recipes.

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As we roll into the fifth month of the #PlayWithYourFood PC Black Label campaign with President’s Choice, I want to share some exciting news! President’s Choice has offered to giveaway 1 PC BLACK LABEL BLACK BOX for you to win on my Instagram account! You can win 2 delicious PC Black Label products in addition to a $50 gift card! How exciting is that? In order to enter the contest, you will need to go to my Instagram page.

The contest will run until November 22nd – 9pm EST at which time a winner will be selected randomly. Good luck! *This contest is open to Canadian residents only.

Whether you’re a home chef or an aspiring foodie, the PC Black Label Collection makes it easy to unleash your culinary curiosity and get creative. Discover the entire collection and be inspired to #PlayWithYourFood at pc.ca/blacklabel.

Apple Walnut Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean powder
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups PC Black Label “00” Farina Fine Wheat Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 cup cashew milk* or regular milk
2 apples, thinly sliced and tossed in 1 tblsp lemon juice
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tblsp sugar, for sprinkling on top

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to @350°F
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and softened butter and whisk until smooth and fluffy.
2. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to whisk until smooth.
3. In a small bowl whisk the flour, salt, cinnamon powder and baking powder.
4. Alternating with the cashew milk, add half the flour into the large mixing bowl and gently fold to combine. Add the second half of the milk and flour and fold gently with a spatula. Do not overmix.
5. Pour the batter into a parchment lined loaf tin.
6. Arrange the Apple slices from one of the pan to the other end keeping it in a tight row, pushing them down halfway into the batter.
7. Sprinkle with walnuts and 1 Tblsp sugar.
8. Bake at 350°F for approximately 45 minutes.
9. Let the cake completely cool on a wire rack before removing from the pan before placing on a serving dish.
10. Dust with icing sugar, if desired. Serve.

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Spicy Shrimp Scampi with Hot Cherry Peppers

Shrimp Pasta

(This post is sponsored by President’s Choice.  I used their PC Black Label Hot Cherry Peppers to make this Spicy Shrimp Scampi.)

After a nice long summer break, I’m back in the kitchen experimenting with my new October PC Black Label black box where I received two jars of condiments that can be eaten tapas style or included in a recipe.

PC Black Label Hot Cherry Peppers marinated in oil are the perfect accompaniment for pizzas, pastas, grilled meats and seafood.  I was particularly fond of this as I love using a wide variety of peppers in various dishes and this one is the perfect addition to this Spicy Shrimp Scampi recipe that I’m sharing with you.

PC Black Label Borettane Onions  are tasty and can be used with many dishes or served as apart of an antipasto platter.  I have tried them on their own and in a quiche and they have a unique balsamic vinegar flavour that isn’t too overpowering, but very pleasant and mild.

I decided to shake up my favourite shrimp scampi recipe and added the PC Black Label Hot Cherry Peppers into the mix, it takes the dish to a whole new level!  It is simple, quick and packed with flavour,  its perfect for an easy weeknight meal or for a romantic date-night dinner served with your favourite wine.

I used the PC Gigantico Raw Zipperback Black Tiger Shrimp as I prefer the larger variety of shrimp in this recipe as it carries well as a main dish.

Spicy Shrimp

Whether you’re a home chef or an aspiring foodie, the PC Black Label Collection makes it easy to unleash your culinary curiosity and get creative. Discover the entire collection and be inspired to #PlayWithYourFood at pc.ca/blacklabel.

Spicy Shrimp Scampi with Hot Cherry Peppers Recipe

Serves 3-4

Spicy Shrimp:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 tblsp butter
  • 25 large sized shrimp, deveined and dried, tails left on (PC Gigantico Raw Zipperback Black Tiger Shrimp)
  • 3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tblsp tomato paste, double concentrate
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over high heat.
  2. Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add the garlic cloves and mix thoroughly.
  4. Now add the shrimp and stir the mixture a few times to ensure the shrimps are coated with sauce, about 3 minutes.
  5. Flip the shrimp over and cook a few more minutes until they’re done.
  6. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Spicy Shrimp

Scampi Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 3 tblsp butter
  • 2 tsp raw sugar
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 6 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • PC Black Label Hot Cherry Peppers chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 Tblsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 500g of spaghetti cooked in salted water

Butter and garlic

Directions:

  1. In the same large skillet, add the olive oil, butter and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes and raw sugar and cook 5 minutes until they burst open.
  3. Add the garlic and chopped cherry peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the salt, pepper, and white wine. Cook on medium heat and reduce the wine to cook out the alcohol, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Set aside and boil your pasta. Do not wash the skillet.
  6. Boil 500g of spaghetti in salted water
  7. Once the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the skillet along with the chopped parsley. Toss to coat the pasta completely with the sauce. Cover and let it rest for 5 minutes to absorb the flavours.
  8. Transfer the pasta to a platter or to individual plates and top with the shrimp.
  9. Drizzle over the leftover sauce from the shrimp and serve.  Enjoy!

Scampi

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli and Maple Glazed Spicy Salmon

 

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli and Maple Glazed Salmon

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli and Maple Glazed Salmon

This month’s #PresidentsChoice PC Black Label Collection box included a favourite of mine, which is PC Black Label Habanero Aioli Whipped Dressing! This velvety aioli has complex flavours of sweet mango purée, curry, and a subtly hot habanero kick.  It’s a great condiment to eat with french fries, swirled into a salad dressing or used as a side replacing ketchup or mustard.  It’s so versatile that I even serve it with my maple glazed salmon and my kids love it!

Another product that I received this month is the PC Black Label Bacon Marmalade, which is great on a cheeseboard and is a welcomed addition to our pantry.

I have created a simple recipe this month using PC Mixed Little Gems Yellow, Red & Blue Mini Potatoes.  I have sauteed them with butter and olive oil and then tossed with this PC Black Label Habanero Aioli.

 

To make this side dish the perfect accompaniment to your meal, I have also included my recipe for Maple Glazed Salmon below.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and please feel free to tag your recreations with #hautesucre, I would love to see them.

Whether you’re a home chef or an aspiring foodie, the PC Black Label Collection makes it easy to unleash your culinary curiosity and get creative. Discover the entire collection and be inspired to #PlayWithYourFood at pc.ca/blacklabel

 

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli

Rustic Baby Potatoes with Habanero Aioli and Maple Glazed Spicy Salmon Recipe

 

Ingredients:

1 bag (680g) PC Mixed Little Gems Yellow, Red & Blue Mini Potatoes, washed and sliced into halves

1 tblsp butter
2 tblsp olive oil
Fleur de sel (sea salt)
Fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp herbs de Provence seasoning

1 tblsp maple syrup
1-2 tblsp PC Black Label Habanero Aioli Whipped Dressing (for spicy, use 2 tblsp)

Directions:

1. In a large heavy bottomed frying or sautée pan, add the butter, olive oil and sliced potatoes.

2. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5-6 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and add the salt, pepper, herbs de Provence seasoning and maple syrup.

4. Continue to cook until the potatoes are softened and start to caramelize. About 10-15 minutes, depending on potato size.

5. Add the PC Black Label Habanero Aioli, covering the potatoes completely.

6. Cook on high heat until slightly seared, do nut burn (approx 1 minute). Remove and transfer to a large platter.

Prepare the salmon.

Maple Glazed Spicy Salmon Recipe

4-6 servings

2 small ceramic baking dishes

Ingredients:

1 tblsp sesame oil

4-6 salmon fillets, cleaned and dried

 

Salt
Pepper
1 tsp Mustard seeds
3 tblsp Maple syrup
1 tsp Raw sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried parsley
Dash of red chili powder
1/3 cup Soy sauce
Black Sesame seeds (optional, for the top)

{1-2 tblsp Sambal oelek (red chili paste)}

This recipe works best with salmon fillets due to the complementary flavours in this marinade; but feel free to try it with other kinds of fish.

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Directions:

1. Clean and dry the fish fillets and place in a shallow bowl or plate
2. Combine all the ingredients and coat the fish with the marinade. Set aside for about 25 minutes to allow the flavours to meld.

3. Preheat oven to 470F

4. Transfer to a baking dish and place a little sesame oil to coat the bottom. Lay fish in a single layer and pour over remaining marinade.

5. Roast the fish for approx 15 minutes (do not overlook) and put under broil for a few minutes to slightly char the top.

6. Alternatively, you can bbq it or pan fry it.

7. Serve with Habanero Aioli Potatoes and additional Habanero Aioli on the side.

Enjoy!

Austin, Texas 

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Austin, Texas in partnership with Visit The USA, Official USA Travel Guide to American Holidays.

I had heard and researched great things about Austin’s food and music scene snd was really excited to visit as it would be my first time visiting Texas. I had little or no idea what to expect.

I flew into Austin on the first of September, expecting a cool, summer-is-almost over feel, but boy was I wrong! Upon leaving the airport, I was welcomed with a hot breeze, cowboy boots, and sweet southern music! The people were so friendly and helpful in directing me to my hotel downtown.

We checked into the Hilton Austin on 4th Street, close to the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin.

We enjoyed some drinks whilst admiring the city views from the 25th floor lounge before heading out for the night.

We had dinner reservations at the highly acclaimed Uchiko,  which serves upscale Japanese farmhouse cuisine. We had tried various menu items and the desserts were out of this world!

As a pastry chef, I enjoyed them immensely and appreciated the various techniques that were showcased. Overall, the service and food were excellent and the ambiance was lovely.

The following day, we had brunch at the Magnolia Cafe, a classic 24 hour eatery which serves Southwestern/Mexican food.  My particular favourites were the migas, huevos rancheros, sweet hibiscus ice teas and the yummy grapefruit mimosas. This place was full of locals and definitely a classic Austin eatery with good eats!

After brunch, we headed out to do some shopping on South Congress Avenue, a favourite spot among tourists. We visited some interesting eclectic shops filled with a wide vaiety from vintage props to old fashioned candies to Mexican dolls.

After purchasing some cool souvenirs and candy, we headed out in search of tacos for lunch.

I had heard about the infamous Torchy’s Tacos and couldn’t wait to try them.  My favorites included the Baja Shrimp and the Democrat!  What a fun place!

We continued shopping along the South Congress strip after brunch stopping in some very nice retail clothing shops when all of a sudden, it started to storm like crazy.  That’s Austin weather for you, sunny one minute and hailing rain the next!

We ran for cover and ducked into a cute coffee shop called Mañana, a great little shop with a cozy atmosphere and very chic vibe. I tried some silky cortados with strawberry Macarons. Yum! I’m so happy that we stumbled upon it!

After a full day of walking under the Texan sun, we headed back to the hotel to relax and enjoy some snacks and cocktails in the Hilton hotel’s lounge.

Dinner was at the infamous Barley Swine headed by Chef Bryce (he was named Food & Wine’s best chef in 2010.) We were seated at the Chef’s table with a great view of the kitchen. It was a delight to watch the magic of the kitchen happen right before our eyes. Beautiful plates of food being served one course after the other.

Some of my favourites included the Hatch chile cheese pretzel, Akaushi Ribeye with corn pudding and bone marrow marrow hash as well as dessert; the lime mallow sorbet with cucamelon and olive oil cake and the Mango Koji rice pudding. A not to be missed restaurant!

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and crossed through the infamous 6th Street in downtown Austin.  The hustle and bustle of the bars, clubs and loud music keeps this street alive until the wee hours of the morning. Popular amongst the students from University of Texas and tourists alike.

We reached our destination Voodoo Doughnuts, a 24 hour bakeshop. I finally had the chance to try these colourful, creative and quirky doughnuts and they did not disappoint!

The next day we walked our way around the city and explored Lady Bird Lake where we walked along the trail to the boardwalk. The lake is beautiful and it’s a great place where locals go to workout, kayak or stroll.

After a lovely walk through the city and visiting the Texas State Capitol, we ventured over to Second Bar & Kitchen for some amazing cocktails paired with a burger, fried chicken and biscuits for lunch. One of my favourite spots.

After lunch, we stopped into Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars,  a lovely local foodie shop in downtown Austin selling a wide range of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars. We learned about how they are made and had an opportunity to do a tasting. We puchased a few lovely flavours such as Grapefruit balsamic and South African Chili oil. Can’t wait to pair them with my meals.

A great place to relax and grab a drink is the historical Moonshine Patio Bar serving classic American food and drinks. With an equally delicious cocktail menu, it’s hard not to find a favourite. I’m still dreaming and missing this Bourbon Renewal!🍹❤ The Bourbon Renewal quickly became my favourite drink which is made with Rye, créme de cassis, lemon and Angostura! Yum!😋

Moonshine Patio Bar also serve a tasty buffet style brunch on Sundays worth checking out, but get there early as the line ups can be very long (mostly filled with locals, they know good food!)

Another dinner restaurant worth mentioning is Emmer & Rye by Chef Kevin Fink on the ever popular Rainey St. We chose this restaurant as Chef Fink was named Best Chef of 2016 by Food & Wine.

Dishes are served small plate and dimsum style. Truly farm to table cuisine worth sharing that showcases up to 15 different kinds of grains milled in their kitchen, which demonstrates Chef Fink’s  passion for incorporating local ingredients into his cuisine.

For dessert, I tried the cocoa bean ice cream with red fife cookies. A great twist on a classic with this hearty grain, a nice highlight dessert on my trip.

Further down Rainey Street there are more bars and food trucks that are worth checking out for quick fare ranging from Grilled Cheese to Indian to Greek. It’s a really lively street lined with bars and lounges, similar to 6th Street but with a slightly older vibe (post graduate crowd).

Another cafe that is hip and upcoming is Launderette, which is a converted gas station serving gourmet new American fare such as Fried chicken and Asparagus eggs Benny.  The food was hearty and delicious with another great cocktail list, including the Rose Grapefruit cocktail which was the perfect accompaniment to the hot weather.

Not to be missed and truly Texan is the BBQ scene! While there are plenty of places to choose from,  I had the pleasure of trying La Barbecue and it did not disappoint but be prepared to wait as there are long wait times, but it’s worth it!

Be sure to try the Valrhona 70% chocolate gelato from Gelateria Gemelli next door. It’s the perfect afternoon treat!

Austin was a great experience for a city girl like me. The food scene is amazing and the city is really up and coming. There is new construction everywhere and you can feel the tech boom moving in.

It has a great vibe and I highly recommend visiting it, especially if you’re into the music scene. There are many amazing music festivals that I would love to catch on my next trip, until next time!

A special thank you to Visit The USA and Visit Austin for this opportunity and the hospitable staff at the Hilton Austin for a great stay.