February 08, 2016

V-day IPA, Year of the Monkey, Flaming Banana and free hugs at the airport, the randomness of it all.


valentine's day 2016 uncle billy's austin

It's almost Valentine's day. #2 son went ahead and delivered the V-day chocolates.  


He wrote their names on the sidewalk out front of Uncle Billy's 

chaperone ipa uncle billy's austin 

The chaperones enjoyed a special cask IPA ($3! and it was good!) 

winter in austin texas feb 2016 patio ipa at uncle billy's 

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon to be alive in Austin TX.

#1 son had a birthday AND it was Chinese New Year's Eve. We attempted to celebrate at Stella San Jac, this would've been the third time we ate there. We sat in a booth in the lounge area (as we have on the two previous visits). The staff gave us a few funny looks, but never approached us. I made eye contact and was certain one of the three employees behind the bar were coming over, but they'd just walk by... I was certain they were going to fetch menus. But they continued to walk past us, giving us the occasional glance... We were a party of four adults, two children, but they eventually turned their backs to us for good. After about ten minutes Kat had noticed something was wrong. We looked across the street and saw Eddie V's! We stood up, walked across the street and were chatting with Chase (server) before we even sat down. Chase took great care of us and the evening was a great success.  

eddie V' steak tartare austin happy hour 

Steak tartare with shaved truffle on top (the BEST) along with some chilled Maine lobster. The tuna tartare was also very good (seen below).

tuna tartare eddie v's austin happy hour 

It was also Chinese New Year's Eve... We were surprised at how good the Pot Stickers were as well as the steamed Sea Bass (below). They even provided us some chop sticks to enhance our Chinese themed evening.  

year of the monkey sea bass at eddie v's austin  

bananas foster at eddie v's austin  

The kids really perked up when the Bananas Foster arrived. Thanks Chase! 

flaming dessert at eddie v's austin birthday 

 Free Hugs at the Airport:

When I have spare time, I give rides to people on Uber and Lyft. I usually turn it on when I'm doing something I can walk away from here at the house. I end up taking a lot of people from the neighborhood to the airport at $20-40 per trip (the higher price would be for the people that specify they want a luxury vehicle). It's real money and I usually enjoy the people I’m driving.

The first time I took somebody to the airport, we chatted along the way. I got out and helped them get their luggage out of the back... and I realized that this is something I do often for friends and family, and the ride always ends in a hug and pat on the back. Except now I have a stranger standing in front of me. Ok, they got in the car as a stranger and we got to know each other a bit, but I'm still the driver and they are still the PAX.

Some times they stick their hand out to shake and issue thanks. Often they hand me a wad of cash as a tip, I like that too. Today was different.  I picked up an older gentleman, he made me wait for a while. I keep a book in the car, I read and remained patient. Some drivers leave after waiting a few minutes, the PAX gets charged and the driver still gets paid when that happens. I saw this older guy, fumbling around trying to organize his things. I was going to be patient and make sure I got him safely to the airport. I walked up to the house and carried his luggage for him. He shared that he'd recently had his shoulder replaced. I was glad to load his bags myself. He paused and asked if it was OK if he double checked everything a second time, all bags, wallet, glasses... He was ready. This was his first time using Uber, he was a bit nervous. 

He sat up front (I prefer it that way). We had pleasant conversation and I could see he was starting to relax. He shared that his wife had just passed away, they'd been together since they were fourteen and fifteen years old. I pulled up to his airline drop area and got out to get his bags for him. I knew he couldn't manage it by himself. He got out of the car and his wallet fell on the ground, his cards spread out on the pavement. I made sure he was all settled before I turned to say goodbye. Then he was coming at me, arms stretched. He asked if it was OK to hug me. It was OK.

It'd been a stressful weekend here at the AMH. It felt good to help somebody get through their day, a Blue Monday no less. I think he helped me too. He didn't tip me. He offered to run in and break a $20, but I assured him it wasn’t necessary. I was ready to get back home to finish the Monday Blog post... DONE.

February 01, 2016

Hardwick Village Trail

While I was researching all Hardwick had to offer, I stumbled upon the Hardwick Trail. It's a year round trail that offers different activities depending upon the season. Winter is for Cross Country Skiing and Snow Shoe hiking. They have a cabin open from 9-11 on Saturday to loan you the gear if you don't have your own.

hardwick trail cabin vt

vermont hardwick trail cabin  

snow shoes on the hardwick trail vt 

snow shoes on, let's go! 

hardwick trail vermont 


a few random pics I took over my two days in Vermont, January of 2016

NEK Vermont snow capped mountain 

snow capped mountain vt 

lake champlain burlington, vt 

It was windy there along the shore of Lake Champlain. It was the first time I felt cold during this winter trip to Vt.  

it was cold on the shore of lake champlain burlington vt 

Goodbye Vermont. 

sun setting over lake champlain burlington vt 

The view of the setting sun reflected off Lake Champlain as my plane gained altitude out of Burlington.  



While I was there.... Hill Farmstead and Lost Nation

I found that Hill Farmstead was an easy fifteen minute drive from where I was staying in Hardwick. My day had cleared up after canceling a trip to Saint Johnsbury, so I drove my little rental up the hill.

Hill Farmstead January 2016 vermont beer 

hill farmstead brewery vermont growler fill 


hill farmstead of first and last things ipa 

I only had the one beer, and I DID get a T-shirt! 

vermont farm greensboro 

It had started snowing and all the farms looked like postcards.

slapp hill hardwick, vt 

The drive back down the hill into Hardwick.

I had one last errand to run. That sent me to Stowe. I realized I was traveling on the "IPA Highway". I did stop at one on the way back from Stowe, Lost Nation  

lost nation mosaic ipa vermont beer 

Kat's favorite IPA are made using Mosaic hops. I had their Mosaic IPA in her honor.



The sunset over Hardwick Vermont and the Positive Pie

I had a few errands to run in Vermont, so I booked a room in Hardwick. I'd never been before, but have been interested in Hardwick for quite a while. Around six years ago I was watching Dan Rather on the HighDef channel in the media room. I saw the folks in Hardwick and surrounding areas explain the organic farms and the local farm to fork food scene... all the green mountains and farms had me in some sort of High Definition trance, I started researching it on the computer soon as the show ended. We've been spending time each summer in Vermont, but we never actually went to Hardwick. I went, and I liked it.

My apartment I rented was on a small maple sugar (syrup) farm that was perched on a hill over the village. I was treated to a beautiful sunset, and some VT cheeses (thanks Sarah).

sweet stone maple syrup 


Sweet Stone Maple Farm 

sunset hardwick vermont vt 


sunset over the village of hardwick vt  


The universe provided me a nice show of color. I took that as a sign that I'm heading in the right direction. I set off down the hill to explore the village restaurant/pub scene.

foot bridge over the lamouille river hardwick vermont vt

But first, a foot bridge suspended over the Lamouille river.   

foot bridge over the Lamouille river hardwick vt  

Hardwick Village Restaurant over the lamouille river jan 2016 


The Village Restaurant perched over the river in the Village of Hardwick 

I made my way to Positive Pie. I had researched both of Hardwick's nicer restaurants, but the other closed down the same day I arrived. It was in the same space as the restaurant Dan Rather had shown me (Claire's).

I understand the investors plan to open another restaurant in the same space... I anxiously await their next move. But for this trip, I was happy with Positive Pie.

positive pie hardwick vt hill farmstead 

Oh, they had Hill Farmstead Susan on tap... Thank You Universe! Keep showing me the good stuff! I won't let it go unappreciated.

Hill Farmstead at Positive Pie in Hardwich Vt  



January 25, 2016

Kumquat Tart, by Kat (and a few other IPAs and eats)

The winter Kat likes to stay indoors and cook. When she does, it's an all day experience. I come by once an hour to gather up the dirty pots and pans, and clean up behind her tornado of tasty food makings. She'll carefully follow a recipe exactly. This often takes a substantial amount of time..

kat cooks

The real prize was the Kumquat Tart. She's enjoyed a successful fall and winter harvest from the garden this year. The bounty of tomato, leeks and kumquat has been impressive. We've still not had a hard freeze this winter, the home grown produce has been appreciated.

serious eats kumquat tart 

over the top mushroom quiche 

I'm still chipping away at the glut of leftover fancy cheeses from the holidays. This over the top mushroom quiche I made knocked that cheese pile down a bit.  

whole foods beer bar austin flagship store

If you don't live in Austin, you may have a different grocery shopping experience. Some of the best beer bars in town are located in the middle  of the grocery store. It's a real treat to run to the store to grab a few things. We gather the items from our shopping list, then take an IPA break. It's a good life.  

whole foods austin beer bar stache 


sake tasting 

Friends invited us over for a sake tasting and bibimbap meal.  

bibimbap stone bowls 

These heavy stone bowls are key to successful bibimbap. The only issue we discovered was that not all burners heated the same. Some didn't get hot enough to create the crunchy rice we crave.  

bibimbap crunchy rice stone bowl  

It was delicious either way.  


double yolk bibimbap 

Kat was blessed with a double yolk and a generous amount of crunchy rice. She shared her crunchy rice with me :-)

A nice selection of banchan (below). 


php battle of the ipa judge 

We helped judge a blind IPA tasting battle. The winner was: Boulevard: The Calling IPA 

searsucker happy hour ipa 

We met some friends to share the Searsucker all night Sunday HH. They denied us the use of the large sofas and coffee tables, the experience was not as great. I prefer the casual family style of the sofas. The food and IPA was still good and affordable.


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