Thursday, May 21st

Weird Homes Tour

Some say Austin’s lost its weirdness forever, but that if we just look for it we’ll see bits of weirdness everywhere. The Weird Homes Tour makes the search easier with a curated list of Austin’s best and weirdest. Tickets ($25) for the self-driving tour are available on the website, along with a VIP option ($37) for those who want to party with fellow weird seekers.

10% of all ticket sales goes to Caritas in support of Austin’s affordable housing programs.

Do you have a favorite weird spot in Austin? I’ve always been partial to the Cathedral of Junk and have been many, many times. It’s a must-do for all my out of town guests and I love how it’s evolved so much over time. Every repeat visit brings new discoveries!

I’m very curious to see Aralyn Hughes‘ house. If you’ve seen a crazy decorated car driving around, chances are it’s one of hers. This iconic house? Hers, too.

Keep Austin Weird House

It takes time, dedication, and a bit of bravery to let your weird flag fly. I say we celebrate it and show appreciation for these great individuals who helped make Austin the city we’re so proud to show off. See you on the tour!

Saturday, May 23rd, 10 am-6 pm

Tickets and more information available at WeirdHomesTour.com.

Wednesday, May 13th

Life Changes

What’s happening to this poor blog? Ignored, barely updated, a ghost town of its former self. I did exactly what I swore I’d never do, which is become one of those bloggers who is just “too busy” right now.

But the truth is, I am too busy. For the last month (plus) Mr. Betty and I have been immersed in renovating our new house, taking baby classes, and just dealing with time-consuming nature of all these big life changes.

For those of you who don’t already know, we have a baby joining us around August 1st. To answer the most common questions:

1. It’s a girl

2. I feel pretty good

3. We’re still talking about names, but won’t announce it until she’s born

Baby ultrasound photo

This blog isn’t going to turn into a “mommy blog” which is another question I’ve been asked. Mad Betty will remain about pop culture and Austin. Even though blogs about parenting and coupons get thousands and thousands (millions, really) more hits than I do, I still plan on being the same old me. Just more tired and with more love. Anyway, I started a tiny blog to share news with friends and family back home, which you are welcome to look at if you want. Now I have another blog to fail at! Hooray!

Anyway, that’s the scoop. Right now we’re overwhelmed with house stuff and I spend my days painting, sanding, hiring and paying various helpers, looking at furniture, and yes, also working. I’m tired and haven’t had time to paint my nails or even watch one new episode of Mad Men yet. (I know!) I’ll do a separate post about the house and the vendors I used and recommend. Other posts coming up will include:

  • Features on Banger’s and St. Philip
  • Weird Homes Tour
  • Musings on late night TV
  • How to buy sunglasses
  • A recent Sephora haul

Anyway, sorry to be absent for so long. Thanks for sticking around. Please leave me a comment and tell me about your life these days.

Monday, April 13th

Advanced Screening: The Age of Adaline

The Age of Adaline movie poster featuring Blake Lively and Harrison Ford

The Age of Adaline comes out next Friday, April 24th, but you and a friend can get a free early preview. Have you ever gone to an advance screening of a movie or TV show? It’s exciting to be part of a small, select group of passionate pop culture aficionados who get early access. Once I got a taste of these early previews, I’m always going back for more. Those of us who live in Austin are so lucky because the Alamo Drafthouse does these cool things frequently.

For the first time ever, I’m able to share my early access credentials with my readers! On Wednesday, April 15th there will be a special advance screening of The Age of Adaline. Watch Blake Lively portray a beautiful ageless character who embarks on a romantic journey that changes her course forever. Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Michiel Huisman, and Kathy Baker round out the fantastic cast in this touching story.

To sign up for the screening visit the Lions Gate Screenings page and click Redeem. Your code is MADBETTY. I have 50 pairs of tickets to give away and they are first come, first serve. Make sure to reserve yours today!

Screening Details

Film: The Age of Adaline

Date: Wednesday, April 15th

Time: 7:30 PM

Location: Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Monday, March 30th

How to Reupholster a Chair

How to Upholster a Chair

In preparing for a move, I’m currently going through all my belongings and evaluating what deserves keeping and what goes in the donation pile. The opposite of a hoarder, I love throwing stuff out. It’s satisfying to declutter and keep possessions as lean and mean as possible, but maybe I’m too quick to pitch things.

Chair before reupholstering

For instance, this chair. I have a set of four and they aren’t too old, but my beloved monster cat, Chloe, scratched the seats to oblivion. We recently purchased some new chairs, but could really benefit from having some extra seating around for parties and things. I snooped around YouTube to see if upholstering the seats seemed like a project I could tackle in a day, and sure enough, it was easy.

Remove cushions from chair base

How to reupholster a chair

Most chair seats are simply held on by screws. Just flip the chair over and carefully unscrew. Set aside the base and screws, then get to work removing the staples. Depending on how old your chair is, the staples could be a simple or monumental task. The newer the chair, the more likely you’ll see aggressive stapling.

How to reupholster a chair, remove staples

How to reupholster a chair, remove staples

How to reupholster a chair, remove staples

My own situation was heinous, with hundreds of staples. The most tedious part of the job, I ended up cutting off the fabric and removing the worst of the staples, focusing on the corners using a small ice pick and needle nose pliers.

How to reupholster a chair

How to reupholster a chair

If the foam padding is in good shape, continue on to applying the new fabric. If not, you’ll need to get fresh foam cut to fit the size of the wood. Simply lay it on top or lightly glue it down if you like. Then center your base in the new fabric, leaving a few inches on each side.

How to reupholster a chair, staple the fabric

How to reupholster a chair, staple the fabric

How to reupholster a chair, staple the fabric

How to reupholster a chair, staple fabric

Using a staple gun, begin by affixing the fabric to the middle of each side. Continue your way around each side one at a time, working your way to the corners. Pull fabric tight before each staple, but don’t choke it. Smoothly fold the corners down in a few pieces, as if wrapping a gift box. Corners should look clean. Trim when you are done, making sure the holes are accessible for when you screw it back together. If your chair had a cover on the bottom, staple that on, too.

Then screw the seat back onto the chair and make sure it’s on there really well. And that’s it! An incredibly easy and affordable way to update your chairs that look outdated or a little rough.

How to reupholster a chair, chevron pattern

How to reupholster a chair, finished project

When I need to pull these out of my garage for extra seating, I won’t have to be embarrassed or glare at my cat. She has no interest in scratching these, by the way, as she prefers to sink her claws into leather or vinyl.

What DIY projects have you taken on lately? Have you ever restored furniture and given it another life? Share in the comments!

Monday, March 2nd

SXSW 2015: Fun Without a Badge

So you can’t shell out for a pricey badge, nor will your job pay for you to attend SXSW 2015. Does that mean you have to miss out on the fun? Hell no! Each year the unofficial events get as much, if not more, press than the official programming. There’s no reason why you can’t join in on the fun!

First, if you haven’t participated in South by Southwest before (or just need a refresher) you can check out my survival guide. Whether you are in it for the swag, the free noms and drinks, parties, networking, etc, you’ll want to be prepared for long days, crazy nights, and sensory overload.

Here are my picks for free events and parties at SXSW this year. This is not a comprehensive list, not even close. Don’t forget that you can tap RSVPster to do the legwork for you. Note that RSVPing does not guarantee you’ll get in to anything, so show up early to the events you really care about.

ATX Startup Crawl

Startup Crawl. Austin’s finest pre-conference (March 12) kickoff is a night of startup hopping downtown. It’s free and you can hit as many offices as you like, most of whom have free booze, casual eats, and kickass DJs. Those of us who live in Austin get to do this twice a year, but the excitement of the spring crawl can’t be beat.

BASHH

The BIG BASHH. Another regular local event, the Big Ass Social Happy Hour is how many of us network, blow off steam, and just enjoy Austin’s fun professional scene. The big BASHH, the one that leads into SXSW is the best of the year. It’s buzzing with energy and those who travel in for the conference know that’s the best place to get a real taste of Austin with the locals. (March 12)

Umbelmania. Local tech company Umbel will pack the Moody Theater with interactive attendees (and the general public) with live performance by Spoon and (my personal favorite DJ) DJ Chicken George. RSVP and do your best to get there early as badge-holders will get priority access. (March 13)

Gigya Grill. Those seeking refuge and some satiation can stop by El Sol y La Luna for complimentary breakfast, lunch, or happy hour, 10-6. More than just some free noms, Gigya offers networking opportunities and panels. (March 13-15)

Awesomest Journalism Party. Ever. Sponsored out the wazoo, this annual session is a merging of journalism and tech. 5-8 at the Palm Door. (March 14)

Awesomest Journalism Party Ever

Spotify House. Five days of music and fun, plan on waiting in line to get in. But waiting in line is part of SXSW, so embrace it and make friends with the people around you. (March 15-20)

Do512 Family Picnic. For family-friendly fun, head out of the crazy zone to Midway Park for music, food trucks, face painting, magic shows, and more. It’ll be crowded, so bring the kiddies closer to 2:00 and hope they can stay awake till 8. (March 17)

Hype Hotel. The tenth year of this event promises big names paid for by big sponsors like Mazda, Taco Bell, Miller Lite, and Tito’s Vodka. Crazy crowded, plan to be packed in like a sardine any day or time that you go. (March 17-21)

Music Tech Mashup. The fifth anniversary of this event brings a really good music lineup to Empire Control Room and Garage. RSVP on the Facebook page for a chance to win VIP entry. (March 17)

Waterloo Records. The line-up is always fantastic at our favorite little local music shop. This is always the first place I recommend for those who want free access to the biggest acts. It’s a classic Austin location that we’re all so proud of and they always bring some of the magic of SX to locals who may otherwise feel left out of the festival. (March 18-21)

Pandora Discovery Den. Four days of eclectic bands means there’s something for everyone: Electronic, Hip Hop, Americana, and Rock. Head to The Gatsby 1-6 when shows are open to the public. (March 18-21)

Ray Ban\Boiler Room Official Showcase. As hip hop becomes increasingly popular at SXSW the showcases get more and more impressive. You might have a shot at getting into this one to see Ghostface Killah and plenty more great acts by applying for a ticket on their site. (March 18)

KUTX Live at the Four Seasons. Early birds flock to the Four Seasons where $10 gets you entry to four hours of live music, breakfast tacos, coffee, and granola bars. First come first served, there’s no RSVP list. (March 18-21)

Austin Party Weekend. There’s not much info about the APW party yet, but you can show up at Empire Control Room and Garage for day parties March 18-21 and you’ll be sure to have a good time. Don’t forget to RSVP.

APW 2015

Culture Collide. Rainey Street is normally a perfect spot for more intimate—if packed—shows and surprise artists pop up there from time to time. More than 100 bands will be on three stages. RSVP and scroll through the website to handpick your music schedule. Bonus, SouthBites Trailer Park is close by so you can sample the yummiest trucks when you get hungry.

Party in My Pants. The Live Vibe day party will take place at Little Woodrow’s March 20-21st with new bands each hour. Should you hang out all day you’ll get to taste a nice chunk of the music offerings this year.

If you want to check out even more parties and events, Austin 360 has a handy, easy-to-search database of every side party. You can also see who applied for city permits this year, both official and non-official SXSW events.

Want to tell share another event? Leave a comment with the details.

Friday, February 27th

2015 Guide to Indian in Austin

As part of the Austin Food Blogger Alliance’s City Guide, I give an annual update on all the Indian restaurants in Austin. While some complain about a lack of Indian options to be found in our fair city, I beg to differ. Each year I get to add more restaurants to this list, proving that our options continue to grow and thousands of Austinites get to satisfy their curry cravings. So let’s get to the list! 

Austin Food Blogger Alliance 2015 City Guide

Asiana

801 E. William Cannon Dr, Ste 205, Austin, TX 78745

T-Th 11-2, 5-9:30, F 11-2, 5-10, Sat 12-3, 5-10, Sun 12-3, 5-9:30

Don’t let the rundown strip mall or sparse decor fool you, Asiana makes some great food. Delicious dosas, fluffy naan and some of the spiciest vindaloo in the city. Ask for it spicy and you shall receive.

Naan

Biryani Pot

12407 N. Mopac Expy, Ste 200B, Austin, TX 78758

T-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-10 F 11-2:30, 5:30-10:30, S 11:30-3, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

This chain has high quality food, friendly service, and is a very popular lunch destination. Formerly Taj Mahal Indian Cuisine.

Bombay Bistro

10710 Research Blvd. #126, Austin, TX 78759

4200 South Lamar #300, Austin, TX 78704

M-Th 11-2, 5:30-10, F 11-2, 5:30-10:30, S 11:30-3, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

The elegant, romantic decor of the south location makes for a great date spot.

Bombay Dhaba

1207 S. First St, Austin, TX 78704

M-Sat 11-2, 5-10

This South Austin food truck puts out consistent food at a great value, making it a popular local stop for diners and lunch and dinner. Like all trucks that have good food, they’ll occasionally run out of things so head there early if you’ve got your heart set on a particular item.

Bombay Express

13000 North I35, Bldg 12, Unit 216, Austin, TX 78753

Tues-Sun 11-9

Vegetarian.

Bombay Grill Indian Restaurant

3201 Bee Caves Rd. #148, Austin, TX 78746

Sun-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-9:30, F-Sat 11-2:30, 5:30-10

Cheery service and wide range of options on the buffet.

Chaat Shop

Mobile at lunch, 1104 E. 6th St, Austin, TX 78702 in the evenings

M & W 11:30-1:30, 5-11, Th 11:30-1:30, 5-1, F-Sat 5-1, Sun 5-11

Check the website to see when the food truck will be in your area. With a menu that caters to vegetarians and vegans, but also offers meat options, there’s something for everyone. Food is high quality and a favorite among locals.

Chapli Kabobs n Curries

1200 W. Howard Lane, Austin, TX 78753

Sun, T-Th 11-2:30, 5-9, F-Sat 11-2:30, 5-10

Indian dishes are served alongside Pakistani and Afghani food in a traditional or banquet setting.

Chicken Lollypop

1005 E. Braker Lane, Austin, TX 78753

11-9 daily

The Mumbai-style Indian Chinese menu satisfies vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Chola

2601 S. I35, Ste. B-400, Round Rock, TX 78664

M-F 11-2, 5-10, Sat-Sun 12-3, 5-10

Leans on Southern cuisine although has some Northern offerings. Known for their lunch buffet.

Clay Pit

1601 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701

M-Th 11-2:30, 5-11, F 11-2:30, 5-11, Sat 12-3, 5-11, Sun 12-3, 5-10

downtown favorite, Clay Pit offers a modern setting and delicious Bombay-inspired cocktails. The curried mussels alone are worth the trip.

Curried Mussels

Curry in a Hurry

2121 W. Parmer Lane #114, Austin, TX 78727

Daily 10-9

This vegetarian spot features a daily curry. Bonus: free wi-fi!

Daawat Indian Cuisine

500 Canyon Ridge Drive, Austin, TX, 78753

M-F 11-2, 5-10, Sat-Sun 11:30-3, 5-10

Formerly Indian Spicy Kitchen, the extensive menu and online ordering system makes takeout a breeze.

G’Raj Mahal

73 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

Once a popular food truck this lovely Rainey Street restaurant has lots of outdoor dining in the front and chic backyard, as well as indoors. It’s a great date night spot or a place to fill up on carbs before or after hitting the bars.

Beautiful outside seating area @grajmahalaustin #afbahh #indian

A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on

Gandhi Bazar

3421 W. William Cannon Dr, #133, Austin, TX 78745

https://instagram.com/p/mBeO3DTGL8/?modal=true12809 N FM 620, #3, Austin, TX 78750

2121 W. Parmer Lane, #113, Austin, TX 78727

Daily 10-9

Prefer to cook your own Indian food? Stock up on spices and other essentials at one of Gandhi Bazar’s locations.

Hot Breads Bakery and Cafe

7318 McNeil Drive, Ste 102, Austin, TX 78729

Daily 10-10

So much more than a bakery, choices run from traditional Indian dishes to savory spiced puffed pastries. A unique concept in Austin.

Inchins Bamboo Garden

3107 S I35, Ste 760, Round Rock, TX 78664

M-Th 11:30-2, 5-10, F 11:30-2, 5-10:30, Sat 12-3:30, 5:30-10:30, Sun 12-3:30, 5:30-10

This Indo-Chinese chain features street food inspired dishes and a buffet.

Indian Palace

3616 Far West Blvd, Ste 113, Austin, TX 78731

Daily 11-8:45

North Indian cuisine; delivers to surround area.

Kabab Food Corner

9717 N. Lamar Blvd, Ste C2, Austin, TX 78753

M, W, Th 11:15-9:30, F-Su 11:30-9:30

Halal Pakistani and Indian cuisine.

Kababeque

Mobile

Th-Sat 8:30-3:30 am

Check the Facebook page to see where the Indian Mediterranean fusion will be on any given date. Most popular dish is the Chicken Tikka Masala Wrap.

KP Indian Grocery

1212 W. Parmer Lane, Unit F, Austin, TX 78727

Daily 10:30-9:30

Small Indian grocery store stocked with the essentials.

Lamba’s Royal Indian

414 Waller Street, Austin, TX 78702

Spicing up farmer’s markets, Lamba’s sells a wide range of frozen Indian dishes. They can be found at HOPE and other farmer’s markets in and around Austin.

Bollywood

Madras Pavillion

9025 Research Blvd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78758

M-F 11-3, 5:30-9:30, S-S 11-10

The vegetarian favorite has cuisine from both North and South India.

Man Pasand Grocery

3601 W. William Cannon #750, Austin, TX 78749

Daily 10-9

A great place to stock up on spices, snacks, frozen meals, grains and more. The freshly made hot samosas for $1.00 at the counter are some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Masala Dhaba

75 Rainey Street, Austin, TX 78701

T-Th 5 pm-12 am, F-Sat 5 pm-3 am, Sun 5 pm-10:30 pm

This food truck is a Rainey Street staple and reviews are extremely positive. Perfect for late night eats while bar-hopping.

Masala Wok

1100 Center Ridge Dr, Ste 300, Austin, TX 78753

10515 N. Mopac, Ste. A-155, Austin, TX 78759

Daily 11-10

This chain has classic Indian and Chinese options.

MTM Indian Foods

9225 W. Parmer Lane, Austin, TX 78717

Sun-Th 11-8:30, F-Sat 11-9

Grocery store with a range of Northern and Southern Indian items.

Naanful Indian Grill

11101 Burnet Rd, Ste A130, Austin, TX 78758

Sun-Th 11-3, 5-9:30, F-Sat 11-3, 5-10

2000 S. I35, Round Rock, TX 78681

Sun-Th 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

Quick, build-to-order dishes. Will deliver, but order early, as their site estimates 60-75 delivery time.

Nasha

1614 E. 7th St, Austin, TX 78702

Sun-Th 11 am-12 am, F-Sat 11 am-2 am

The sister restaurant of New India Cuisine has a full bar, moderate prices, and favorites such as Millionaires Curry and lots of seafood dishes. Their tagline Get High on Indian Food is perfect for its East Austin home.

New India Cuisine

2304 S. Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

M-F 11-10, S-S 12-10

The South Austin Marathi-style restaurant offers lots of fish and yeast-free naan. While not my personal favorite, many love this place.

New India

Paradise Biryani Pointe

1779 Wells Branch Pkwy, Ste 102, Austin, TX 78728

M-Th 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10, F-Sun 11:30-3, 5:30-10

They specialize in biryani, but if that’s not your thing, there’s a large menu with lots of diverse options.

Royal India

4894 Hwy 290 West, Austin, TX 78735

M-Th 11-2, 5:30-9, F 11-2, 5:30-10, Sat 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10, Sun 11:30-2:30, 5:30-9:30

1150 Research Blvd, Austin, TX  78759

M-F 11-2:30, 5:30-10, S-S 11:30-3, 5:30-10

Favorites include a dosa bar and the Royal Feast, a $44 multi-course dinner for two people. In my opinion, Royal India has the best buffet in town.

Samosa Spot

12809 FM 620, Austin, TX 78750

Th-Sun 12-9

This truck parks in front of Ghandi Bazar and serves up classic fried Indian eats and chaat.

Sarovar

8440 Burnet Rd, Ste 100, Austin, TX 78757

M-Th 11-2:30, 5-10, F 11-2:30, 5-11, Sat 11-3:30, 5-11, Sun 11:30, 5-10

This old Austin favorite specializes in thali and surly waitstaff.

Ganesh

Shalimar

9310 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753

Sun-Th 11:15-10:50, F-Sat 11:15-11:50

The biryani is a favorite.

Star of India

2900 W. Anderson Lane, Ste 12D, Austin, TX 78757

Sun-Th 11-2:30, 5:30-9:30, F-Sat 11-2:30, 5:30-10

Standard buffet of classic dishes in a comfortable setting.

Suprabhat

9225 W. Parmer Lane, Ste 108, Austin, TX 78717

M-Th 11-3, 5-10, F 11-3, 5-10:30, Sat 11-3:30, 5-10:30, Sun 11-3:30, 5-10

All vegetarian, specializing in thali options.

Suvai Indian Kitchen

12920 W. Parmer Lane #105, Cedar Park, TX 78613

M-Th 11-2:30, 5-9, F 11-2:30, 5-9:30, Sat 12-3, 5-9:30, Sun 12-3, 5-9

Formerly Kadai Indian Kitchen, Cedar Park residents are delighted by large portions, fresh spicy dishes, and fast service. A must do if you are in the area.

Swad

9515 N. Lamar Blvd #156, Austin, TX 78753

Daily 11:30-9

Vegetarian favorites and fun street food. The big-as-your-head dosas are a must try. You won’t even mind the lack of atmosphere. Prices are low and service is fast and efficient, if not personable. Not a place for a date, but still one of my favorite places in Austin.

Mysore Masala Dosa

Taj Palace Indian Restaurant and Bar

6700 Middle Fiskville Road, Austin, TX 78752

M-Th 11-2, 5:30-10 F 11-2, 5:30-10:30 S 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10:30, Sun 11:30-2:30, 5:30-10

For more than 20 years the extensive buffet has been delighting loyal customers. This was one of Austin’s first Indian restaurants.

Tarka Indian Kitchen

201 University Blvd, Round Rock, TX 78665

2525 W. Anderson Lane, Austin, TX 78757

5207 Brodie Ln, Austin, TX 78745

Sun-Th 11-9, F-Sat 11-10

The little sister of Clay Pit offers many of the same classic curries and fantastic pakoras. The fast, casual counter service has proven to be so popular that they keep expanding, with three locations in the area and one in San Antonio.

Mirch Masala

Pakora

Taste From India

519 E. 7th Street, Austin, TX 78758

Th-Sat 7 pm-4 am

Indian kabobs for the late-night bar crowd.

Teji’s Foods

2100B Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78705

Sun-W 11 am-10 pm, Th-Sat 11 am-3 am

1205 Round Rock Ave #115, Round Rock, TX 78681

Sun-Th 10:30-9, F-Sat 10:30-10

Part grocery, part restaurant, the widely-respected Teji’s has the fluffiest naan.

Whip In

1950 I35 South, Austin, TX 78704

Daily 10 am-midnight

A funky South Austin staple, Whip In is a convenience store with indoor and outdoor live music, a massive selection of craft on draft, and a large menu of fusion Indian eats. Namaste, y’all.

Thursday, January 29th

Super Bowl XLIX: Ad Preview

Another year, another Super Bowl. Famous for my not-caring-at-all about football, I do care very much about the commercials. It seems like the last few years have been disappointing. Will this year be a repeat? Here’s a preview of some ads you’ll be seeing on and leading up to game night.

 

Tuesday, January 27th

First Look: Wu Chow Dim Sum

The highly anticipated Wu Chow is slated to open sometime this spring, but they’ve been hard at work for months perfecting the modern yet traditional Chinese menu. They’ve leaked a few previews in the form of a soup dumpling giveaway downtown and more recently, a dim sum pop-up in Swift’s Attic. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the sold out event and now I’m sharing my findings with you.

Sesame Fritters at Dim Sum, Wu Chow, Austin, Texas

First, a quick and dirty explanation of dim sum for those who may not be familiar: Cantonese small portions that are served in steam baskets at brunch with lots of dumplings and other delectable, hard-to-make dishes. A better explanation, along with dim sum etiquette, can be found on Serious Eats.

In addition to a full menu with things like Salt & Pepper Squid, Mapo Tofu, and Yu Xiang Eggplant, Wu Chow will serve dim sum on the weekends. Having tasted the preview, I can say with confidence that this will be Austin’s next huge restaurant sensation. (In case you didn’t know, my secret talent is predicting sensations and restaurant closings.) Dim sum will be packed every weekend and you’ll be lucky to get a seat. Heed my advice and go as soon as they open.

Pictured above are the Sesame Fritters, glutinous rice balls filled with sweet red bean paste. These are chewy, slightly sweet, and technically a dessert, but I won’t tell if you want to eat them first. The quality of these puffy treats is unlike any other I’ve ever had. While the glutinous texture can be off-putting to some, I think Wu Chow’s version will be a universal crowd pleaser.

Radish Cakes at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

What Wu Chow calls Radish Cakes are usually called Turnip Cakes…but they are always made with radish. Daikon, to be exact. +1 for calling a spade a spade. The savory pressed dish was crispy on the outside, succulent and tender on the inside. If I have to eat a radish, this is how I want to do it.

Xiao Long Bao, soup dumplings, at dim sum, Wu Chow, Austin Texas

The oft-lusted after—and hard to find in Austin—soup dumplings are an exquisite version of a beloved classic. Gossamer thin wrappers are filled with searing hot broth and seasoned pork. While it’s tempting to dig right in to the Xiao Long Bao, it’s beneficial to wait a moment and let them cool slightly. The quicker you bite in the more likely you are to get burned. My inner circle is unlikely to ever get burned as we all take 5 million photos before ever taking a bite…of anything. Anyway, these are so worthy of praise and I can’t wait to have them again.

Scallion Cake at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin, Texas

Scallion Cakes (or scallion pancakes) are not specific to early dining; you can usually get them day or night. The flaky pastry is layered with lots of scallions and are the perfect snack to dip in a dumpling or vinegar-based sauce.

Chicken and Taro Eggrolls at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Okay, have you ever seen egg rolls this long and thin? I haven’t and let me say, it’s a crying shame that this doesn’t happen more often. Filled with chicken and taro root, the extra length meant for more crunch in every bite and the ability to wag it like a cigar while chatting. This egg roll was a contender for best dish of the day and best egg roll of my life.

Gailan for dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Another contender for best dish was the Gailan, or steamed Chinese broccoli. Always a nice foil for heavier dumplings and fried bites, don’t assume that it’s a bland plate of wilted greens. Sauteed to perfection and lying on a drizzle of oyster sauce, this broccoli was one of the most flavorful parts of the meal and my favorite greens I’ve ever eaten. No exaggeration. My only regret is that I didn’t fill my purse and ration the leaves until Wu Chow opens in a few months.

Shrimp Fritters at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Because I’m crazy about anything from the ocean, I have a real love for these shrimp fritters. My photo doesn’t offer anything for scale, so you can’t see just how large these are. And they are loaded with shrimp. Big succulent pieces of shrimp and crispy julienned potatoes. Simply excellent.

Char Siu Bao at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Char Siu Bao are soft steamed buns filled with Chinese barbecue pork, which is savory and sweet. They are like yeasty, fluffy pillows, filling and satisfying.

Shao Mai at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

I must confess that Shao Mai (or shumai) is never my favorite dish as I’ve had many with less-than-quality fillings. Nothing is worse than biting into a cute little open-faced dumpling and hitting something hard and weird. That’s not going to be a concern at Wu Chow, as the ingredients are of the highest caliber, often local and farm fresh. Notice the dollop of smelt roe on top, which adds an extra burst of flavor and texture, and perfectly compliments the fragrant filling of pork, mushrooms, and garlic. These are real winners.

Ha Gow at dim sum at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Ha Gow (or har gow, ha gao, and a million other spelling variations) are shrimp dumplings. Again, Wu Chow is not skimping on the shrimp here. Dumpling lovers will rejoice in the plumply stuffed delicate wrappers. At this point I should mention the dipping sauces, which I didn’t photograph, but were divine. Savory and brown, there were a couple to mix and match as well as a fiery hot sauce that came with a warning. I could eat these dumplings for days.

Egg Tart at dim sum, at Wu Chow, Austin Texas

Egg tarts are another dessert item, that are, again, not overly sweet. The custard tarts are usually pretty eggy and Wu Chow’s were just a bit mellower, which is a plus in my book. The crust was flaky and airy, with many little layers of pastry. These were shockingly good.

Shockingly good is an accurate description for the whole meal, actually. It’s no surprise that C. K. Chin, owner of Swift’s Attic, has another fantastic venture in the works. No, the surprise, or thrill, is that dim sum could be this good. The quality and care put into each morsel was astounding. My fellow diners and I joked that Wu Chow is going to ruin us for all other dim sum, but the sentiment rings true. This is what dim sum was meant to be. Wu Chow is my early pick for hottest restaurant of 2015.

Wu Chow, 500 West 5th Street, Austin, TX (IBC Bank Building)

Tuesday, January 20th

On Being Overly Sensitive

Jill Greenberg End Times Series

Photo by Jill Greenberg; End Times series

Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excited the sensitive soul to tears. -Edgar Allen Poe

I’m sure my overly sensitive brothers and sisters out there can relate to Poe’s quote. My emotions are right on the surface and I’m quick to cry at a sad storyline, be it in real life or written. Beautiful things make me cry, too, like the swell of an orchestra or once, an entire opera in Florence from opening to closing notes. I literally cried through the whole thing and for about 30 minutes after. Tears spring to my eyes when enthusiasm is high like a sustained applause or someone else’s eyes welling up.

Because that’s the thing with sensitivity, it’s easy to catch. I grew up in a house of overly sensitive people. It was not uncommon to blow something small out of proportion, express feelings about it, and move on. We all took things personally and were unapologetic for our emotions. The good thing about living that way is that you don’t bottle up many things. To this day, if I can express a concern or feeling, I’m able to let it go. I don’t believe in holding grudges and the few grudges I do have are because I’m unable to be honest with the other person.

The bad thing about living that way is how exhausting it can be to take everything so personally. And often the emotional turmoil isn’t warranted or worth it. Sometimes I think it would be so nice to just…not care so much.

As a writer, I’ve had to learn to detach my emotions from my work. I’m not exactly writing heart wrenching novels or anything, but pouring your effort and concentration into any piece of work can make it tough to take criticism. I don’t take issue with edits or people adjusting my copy anymore because, truly, it’s rarely personal. I see the struggle new writers go through and the resentment they feel over simple suggestions and I’m glad that’s not me anymore.

That makes me wonder, are there other areas in which I should try to desensitize a bit? I do believe that cooler heads prevail and the truly successful usually are able to compartmentalize their emotions. Even in creative fields, I believe this must be beneficial to some extent. Is it possible to harness our emotional power and wield it at times when we need it—like those creative times—and hold back when it’s less appropriate to reveal our inner human side? Or is it simply a way to dimming our passions in the hopes of gliding through life a little easier? It smart to reign in that which makes us human or is it a denial or self?

I don’t know the answers. It’s just something I’ve been pondering lately.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 6th

Easy Greek

Easy Greek meal

Greek food is all about good ingredients and flavors that work well together. One of my favorite dinners involves more shopping than cooking, as I grab fresh produce, good olives, and the very best feta I can find. (I prefer French sheep’s milk feta for its smooth creaminess and mild flavor.)

I pile those onto a platter with hummus, FAGE yogurt, a simple salad with red wine vinaigrette, and toasted blanched almonds.

Thomas Keller's Roasted Chicken

This arrangement works well with any protein. A lean steak, grilled halibut, shrimp, spiced meatballs…they’d all be delicious. But the easiest (and most wallet friendly) might be a roasted chicken. I like Thomas Keller’s famous recipe that just calls for salt, pepper, drying, and trussing. If you haven’t tried roasting a chicken this way, you simply must.

Easy Greek cooking

I like to serve with fresh pita from the bakery and butter lettuce to make yummy roll ups. Skip the pita if you’re off carbs. Mr. Betty and I like to cozy up and share a plate, so this type of dinner where we graze is perfect for us. But you can serve on separate dishes if you’re fancy like the pope.

Easy Greek cooking

The benefits of a Mediterranean diet have long been celebrated, so in addition to the simple preparation, eating this way may lower your risk of cardiovascular conditions and certain cancers. Plus, it’s just damn delicious.

What’s an easy, throw-together meal that you like to make?