Teo Equals Gelato, Latte and Belissimo

Teo Austin SignIt started when we spotted the sign on our way downtown. That enticing heart on the top of the cup. I immediately thought hot cocoa, my newest contributor said coffee (she was right, by the way.)  In either case, we knew we’d be making a stop on our way back home.

Vespa and Teo sign Austin

We pulled into the parking lot and I was immediately certain that this was NOT going to be a “we’ll try it later.” There, in front of the sign, was a bright red Vespa. La belle vita (the good life, Italian) was clearly calling us to take a break and leave the traffic battles on Mopac until later.

We walked past the inviting patio (yes, that is where we would enjoy our treats, of course!), and headed inside.

Teo Cafe Austin interiorThe bright cafe would be a wonderful retreat on a hot Austin day, but just as we planned, everyone else was sipping and eating outdoors on what was a wonderfully breezy and comfortable spring evening.

Gelato at Teo Austin

The cases were filled with tempting trays of gelato, including some dairy free and sugar free versions. But we immediately went for the chocolate.

Chocolate gelato at Teo AustinCan I use the word “orgasmic” on a family friendly blog? Oh, heck, I have to. Because it was. Every creamy spoonful was a perfect blend of chocolate, creamy, …. words just fail me. Trust me, it was that good!

latte at TeoAnd then there was the latte. Lance and I don’t drink coffee, so we had to bring on another contributor to handle those reviews. I know a lot of you here in Austin LOVE your coffee, so it’s only fair that we include the really good cups in our reviews.  (We’ll do a formal introduction soon, but for now, coffee-lovers, rest assured we now have you covered!)

Her comments? “OMG! This is the most incredibly creamy, rich coffee I have had in Austin.” I may have her add some more details later, but for now, I think that pretty much covers it. (I just liked the pretty designs on the top — but then again, I am easily amused!)

Cart on patio at Teo AustiNeedless to say, we will be back for more um, research and testing. Hey, it’s only fair! There were a lot of gelato flavors in that case. We wouldn’t want to miss something, now would we?

Gelato Cups at Teo in AustinThe Specs

26 Doors Shopping Center
1206 W. 38th St.
Austin, Texas 78705
512-451-9555
http://www.caffeteo.com/

Hours:
Mon – Thurs :: 7:00 am to 10:00 pm
Fri.: 7:00 am to midnight
Sat: 8:00 am to midnight
Sun.: 8:30 am to 10:00 pm

Patio is dog-friendly

Teo on Urbanspoon

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See’s brings back memories, adds a sweet option to Austin

See's Boxed ChocolatesWhen I was in grad school in Salt Lake City, my budget was the classic starving-student tight. Most luxuries were out of reach…except one. Every week, there was a buy-one-get-one special at the See’s in the mall near my downtown work.

And every week, on that morning, I would be there for my double dose of their dark chocolate truffles. Two sweet treats in my tiny bag, I would head for my favorite bench and eat the first one. Slowly, savouring every bite. Then I would put the bag with the second one into my purse, and head for work. That sweet morsel was my lunch treat, the perfect end to what was usually an otherwise ordinary PB & J or cheese sandwich lunch.

See's Dark Chocolate Truffle

That small indulgence was my personal ritual, until graduation came and I moved away.

It’s been years since I’ve lived anywhere near a See’s candy shop. But this week, all of that changed. See’s Candies is having their grand opening right here in Austin!

Tonight was the bloggers event to let those of us who share Austin area food news get an inside look at the new store.

See's Chocolates Austin 2

And taste. We got to taste…a lot!  All kinds of deliciousness I remember from See’s in Salt Lake. Boxes of chocolate were passed around. Samples were offered from the chocolate counter. Stories were shared of See’s memories from California or Utah.

See's Chocolate Austin 3

We checked out the newest offerings, especially all the colorful Easter choices (what a perfect time to open a See’s, right?!)

 

Foil wrapped chocolate bunny from See's

 

Sour candies for Easter

And then the fun started. All the bloggers and guests were invited to try their hand at packing a box of chocolates. But just like Lucy in that old TV series, we had to do it as fast as possible!  We even got to wear hair nets!  It was classic See’s fun…they always did know how to make something as simple as buying a box of chocolates into something fun and special.

Traci Shannon

Lee Ann

My box of chocolates and my Lucy hairnet

My very own packed-by-me box of chocolate…and of course, my hair net!

I know there are other candy stores in Austin. But when it comes down to it, there’s only one See’s. And I’m so glad they’ve landed here.Time to make some new See’s memories!

See's Dark Chocolate Truffle

 

The Specs

10710 Research Blvd
North Hills Town Center (next to the H-E-B)
Austin, TX 78759
Ph: (512) 372-1048
Hours:
Mon-Fri 10am – 9pm
Sat 10am – 9pm
Sun 11am – 7pm

 

Blue Baker brings a fresh take on bread, sandwiches and breakfast to Austin

The Blue Baker Austin Texas

I was in the mood to try something new for lunch the other day, and I remembered that my husband had brought   home a menu from a new place called “Blue” something opening in the Arboretum.  I’d just come from the gym, so I was hoping for something tasty and healthy…no use undoing all that time on the elliptical, right?

A few minutes later, and I was walking into The Blue Baker.  The first thing I noticed was that it was really, really blue.  From the ceilings to the fixtures to the walls, this place was an oasis of blue-ness.  But the second thing I noticed kept me walking further in — the smell of wonderful, fresh, yeasty breads.  Right there on the counter there were big baskets of sample breads (you have to try the rye!  Trust me on this!)  I skipped the brownie sample (the gym, remember?), but they looked so rich and so delicious….if you try them, please tell me how they were!

I grabbed a menu while I sampled.  Not a lot of vegetarian options, but I decided to ask.  The woman at the order area immediately jumped into action, offering me a veggie sandwich they had at one of their other two locations.  When she mentioned artichokes, spinach, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and a balsamic dressing, I was ready to order.  When she said a price UNDER $6,00, I was thrilled.  She also told me I was free to create my own masterpiece from their menu of veggies, cheeses and freshly baked breads — a definite option for future visits!

The sandwich was amazing.  The veggies were crisp and abundant, the dressing was light but flavorful.  And the bread…no premade dough from central distribution.  This family owned three-location restaurant (the other two are in College Station) believes in making everything from scratch.

After I ate, I talked with Sarah, the Marketing Manager, (and sister-in-law of the owner), about the restaurant.  She told me about their family standard for the freshest ingredients, with all batters and doughs made daily — now I understood the wonderful smells that had greeted me when I walked in!  “This is a family place,” she said. “We brought down some of the staff from College Station to get things started. We want to keep the standards the same for all three places.”

On the way out, I stopped to buy a long baguette, a few bagels and a cookie for my daughter.  All of those were as good as my lunch. 

The Blue Baker also offers hand-crafted pizza, boxed lunches, party platters and office/meeting catering.  They’re open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and they do have WiFi.  Seating is indoors or on the patio out back, and there’s plenty of room for larger groups for lunch or a breakfast meeting.

Cupprimo Stands for Cupcakes, Coffee and Coziness

Cupprimo Cupcakes and Coffee in Austin

It wasn’t that long ago that cupcakes were limited to to baby showers and classroom birthday parties.

Now that cupcakes are hot (pardon the pun), it seems like every other strip mall and street has a shop offering some version of the cupcake.  Some are just passable, with a taste and texture you would expect from the plastic-encased grocery store variety.  And some are worth breaking your diet for.

Cupprimo Cupcakes and Coffee is definitely in the latter category. This little shop located in a slightly rundown  Northwest Austin strip mall dominated by Asian and Indian groceries and restaurants is a tiny oasis of warm welcomes and sweet options. Everything from the wood tables to the family-photos-turned-art on the walls (from local studio Natural Impressions Photography) invite you to sit down for a bit and savor your choices. Owner Amy Brown and her welcoming staff will treat you more like friends than customers…which is probably why so many people head back to Cupprimo again and again.

My daughter is partial to the Snickerdoodle cupcakes…and yes, they do taste just like the classic cookie!  That’s except when she decides on the Smores cupcakes, complete with a fluffy marshmallow frosting, chocolate garnish and rich graham cracker taste.  Or maybe the Italian Cream. With 150 flavors to choose from, we have clearly just scratched the surface of possible choices.

Other plus for Cupprimo:  they offer a daily gluten-free cupcake, and usually have some “neked” cupcakes on hand (sans frosting) for those of us who like our treats a little less sweet. Most evenings they’re open until 9, so consider stopping by for dessert or an after the movies treat.

Tiny Pies, Big YUMMY Taste!

Tiny Pies Austin Texas

I am not a big fan of sweets unless significant amounts chocolate are involved.  So when I met the mother and daughter team of Kit and Amanda, I brought in the big guns to taste-test the petite desserts…my 6’5″ husband who LOVES sweets!

He started with the Tiny Pies chocolate brownie pie, then moved onto the pecan pie.  His reaction?  “Delicious!” He even insisted I take a taste myself, because they were so good.  Let me tell you, these little pies could almost tempt me to become a dessert lover!  The crusts were flavorful, without a bit of the dryness or gummy-ness that can ruin an otherwise good pie.  (They’re made with butter and cream cheese!!)  And the filling?  YUM!

You can order Tiny Pies online (perfect for events like weddings, summer picnics, luncheons), or buy them at local farmers’ markets.  Word is that area retail stores will soon be adding them as well.

Sweet Treets from the Better Bites Bakery

Better Bites Healthy Austin Texas Bakery

It’s not often you’ll see me put something into both “Ice Cream, Sweets and Treats” and “Healthy”, but when I tasted the treats at Better Bites Bakery, there was no doubt that they deserved double billing.

First, there’s the taste.  I sampled two of their choices.  The first one was dark and rich.  Chocolatey.  The second was bursting with pumpkin flavor. Both were without question sweet treats.

The twist comes in the way bakers Leah and Crystal bake these scrumptious treats. Much to the surprise of my dairy-and-wheat-loving taste buds, all of their baked goods are made without a trace of dairy or a smidgen of gluten!

WHAT?????  How could it be?  These were not the saw-dust textured, oddly flavored pseudo-baked goods I associate with gluten-free.  They were tasty (in fact, they still are…I bought two brownies to bring home, and I’m eating one now…trust me, my keyboard is well crumbed at the moment!) Clearly, these two women know something the rest of the “healthy” baking world has missed!

The great thing is you can have their cupcakes, brownies, cakes and more delivered almost anywhere in Austin. And they are more than willing to create exactly what you need, from cupcakes for a meeting to a cake for a birthday party.  They’ll even do healthy, yummy cupcake trees for weddings.

The bad news is that for the most part, you need to plan ahead.  Better Bites Bakery doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location (although you can get their treats at a few locations around town, like the People’s RX.)  But that’s okay…once you order once, odds are you’ll want to order again and again.

The Best Pie in Texas at the Blue Bonnet Cafe

Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls

It’s not exactly in Austin.  In fact it took us about an hour to get to Marble Falls.  But after our berry picking at Sweet Berry Farm, we headed over to the Blue Bonnet Cafe for lunch…and of course, pie.

We had spotted the sign on the way into town. My daughter and I are suckers for diners, and this one was well worth the stop.

Think small town diner.  Friendly people.  Huge servings.  And then there was the pie.  We debated over and over as we looked at the choices.   In the end, I got chocolate meringue and my daughter opted for the coconut cream.  Mine arrived with a good 4″ of meringue over a rich chocolate filling.  Hers was the kind of creamy yellow that speaks of eggs and whole milk.  Both were delicious!

If you’re anywhere near Marble Falls, this is a place you need to try.  After over 80 years in business, they have it down perfectly — how many places can say that?

A couple of notes…Pie Happy Hour will net you a beverage and a slice of pie for $3.00.  And bring cash…this is a no credit card establishment.