Foodie Friday: Walburg German Restaurant

[Writer’s Note: It’s been a while since I did a Foodie Friday. I want to make it a feature of this blog and will try to do one once a month.]

German food holds an interesting place for me. While not one of my favorite cuisines (but slowly moving up to the top), I have always appreciated the country where I learned about the world. So when my friend invited me to a German restaurant in Walburg, TX, I had to accept and make it the focus of this month’s Foodie Friday.

Now, I almost didn’t make it. I don’t know if I went too far down one road or missed a sign, but I ended up in another smaller town with a German name. After consulting Mr. Samsung on how to get to the restaurant, I managed to find my way back to meet my friend patiently waiting for me. Tip for those who want to find the place, remember to have a map of sorts with you and to pay close attention.

outside-of-walburg-2

When I pulled up to the building my first thoughts were “this is truly small town America”. The atmosphere both outside and inside had a very homey feel with a mixture of both American and German influences to create a truly unique looking place. The outside resembled an old store from an older time in America while the inside showed off more of the German roots. Mugs from the country origin lined right side of the wall  complimented by the flags hung from the ceiling.

 

It was pretty empty save for two other customers, but it was also during the middle of the day on Thursday. I can only imagine the nights and the advertised Oktoberfest brings large crowds. My friend and I both got the Hausegemachte Bratwurst that consisted of two pork sausages, German potato salad, and sauerkraut. While we love us some kraut, I really wanted some spaetzle and my friend was longing for some red cabbage. They will definitely substitute certain sides with no trouble. The sausages were amazing and the spicy mustard

The sausages were amazing and the spicy mustard that accompanied them added a nice kick without overpowering the sausage. The spaetzle was good having the right chewy texture and complimented the sausage perfectly. The German potato salad is not your typical mayonnaise or mustard base potato salad you see at your family’s BBQ. Their version had pieces of bacon with rosemary and lemon seasoning the thinly chopped potatoes.

bratwurst

Of course, I had to try the dessert here, and oh we got a good one with the bienenstich. Bienenstich, or bee sting cake, is made of sweet yeast dough topped with caramelized almonds and filled with cream, in this case, Bavarian cream. It’s not an overly sweet dessert like other German desserts, but it was sweet enough to satisfy my, diminishing as I age, sweet tooth. The cake was dense, yet light. A contradiction, but sometimes you need that in food. The cream was the best part and complimented the pastry and almonds that gave it a nice crunch.

bienenstich

Overall, the drive was definitely worth it for this great restaurant tucked away in a small part of Texas. If you’re in the Austin area, I would definitely recommend taking the drive to go this place and definitely get the bienenstich as your dessert. And if you get lose, just look out for the truck with their name on it.

walburg-truck

 

What College Students can Learn from “Hamilton”

As the Fall semester begins college students could use all the encouragement they can get. Especially for new students who are entering a whole new world. What better way to get the students motivated than with beloved Broadway musical Hamilton? But the songs aren’t just good for a good laugh and cry. There are some good words of wisdom to be found in the songs.

  • My Shot: If you haven’t already, it’s time for you to start thinking past tomorrow. Time to start passionately smashing all expectations of yourself that only limit your ability. If you have the opportunity to better yourself, take it. You don’t have to stay the same person you were in high school (please don’t keep that teenager mindset!)
  • Right Hand Man: If George Washington can recognize his need for a right-hand man, you certainly can learn to ask for help. One of the big things that helped me through college was having study buddies. Even if we weren’t in the same classes, being around people who care about their education forces you to step up your game.
  • Wait for It: While sometimes you need to be passionate, other times you need to just wait for it. Be patient and don’t try to push yourself too hard. Enjoy your time in college. Trust me, those will be the best years of your life. This brings me to the next song.
  • Take A Break: It’s not good to be non-stop (see what I did there?) in life. Take a break and enjoy your family and friends. If you don’t, you could end up making some big mistakes. Hopefully, you won’t cheat on your significant other.
  • It’s Quiet Uptown: Forgive yourself. If God can forgive you, then you certainly can. Stop flogging yourself over your past mistakes. That F you got in that class doesn’t have to define your path in college. That nasty break up doesn’t mean you should give up on love. You can grow from it and still graduate. Stop stressing and push through the pain.
  • The World Was Wide Enough: Competition can be a good thing, but there’s a limit. If you find yourself resenting the people around you, it’s time to pull up and reevaluate the path you’re taking. At the end of the day, you’re all trying to graduate and get jobs. Challenge others to be better, but don’t be jealous or mad if they’re doing better than you. And for God’s sake don’t challenge anyone to duels.

College can be both an exciting and frightening time in your life. I hope these songs and their messages can help you during these years of your life.

Knowing When to Fold ‘Em

In May I wrote a post about going back to your original plan. For this post, I want to talk about knowing when to let your plan die and move on to another plan.

The art of knowing when to fold ’em is not an easy art. Sometimes we mistake struggle or resistance as a sign that we should stop going down the path. You can’t completely escape struggles or resistance to your plan. There are too many variables to contend with such as other people, changing environments, and the economy to say it’ll be smooth sailing. That being said if you find yourself struggling to the point that you’re making zero progress it’s time to evaluate your path. Struggle and minor setbacks are one thing, but overall progress is the main goal.

Too often we believe in the idea that as long as we work hard progress will be made. Accomplishments don’t come from working hard, but a combination of working harder and smarter than what you have done. If you’re fighting tooth and nail for something you thought was your passion and aren’t progressing and even regressing you need to reevaluate your plan.

Sometimes it’s just about the willingness to let go of our original plans. This is especially true if you have invested a lot of money and time into this thing that isn’t reaping any benefit for you. It can be hard to let go of something when you put so much of yourself into it. But you have to let go for your own sake. You’re letting yourself be dragged down and keeping yourself from moving on to better prospects.

So, how do we know when to fold’em and know when it’s just doubt clouding our judgment? I have a few suggestions:

  • Ask for a second opinion. Sometimes an outside point of view can give us a better insight concerning the situation.
  • Calculate how much time and money you spent on this path and compare it to others. Granted, there’s no set timeline, but if you find yourself spending way too much money and time compared to others, it’s time to leave it behind.
  • Write a list of pros and cons for sticking with this path. If you have more cons than pros, time for a new plan.

It can feel like a game of poker figuring out whether your path is worth it or not. Remember that you don’t have to figure it out alone. If you have any suggestions for knowing when to move on leave a comment.

How to Make Friends When You’re Grown

A week ago my cousin came up to visit the family and we had a nice if too short time. What was interesting about this visit was when she told me about wanting to connect with people in her city, but not knowing where to start. And she’s not alone. If you type in the search bar “Millennials making friends” you’re bound to find a few articles parsing out why twenty and thirty somethings seem to have a difficulty making friends when they’re no longer on the college campus and bound by full-time jobs and families. (And it can be worse if you’re a guy.) I can even attest to having some difficulties establishing a friendship in my post-college years.

But it’s not impossible and we don’t have to fall into the trap of people thinking Millennials are nervous and awkward wrecks. Here are a few tips for all us grown folk out here:

  • Search on social media for any groups in your area. Maybe there’s a young professionals group out there for your accountant self. There’s bound to be a chess club for those of you who study the art. Meetup is a great site to look at. Just be prepared to see some…interesting groups.
  • Take a class. For some, it may be easier to make friends in a situation that’s familiar to your college life. Plus, there’s a chance you may have to partner up. (Yes, I know you didn’t like it in high school, but give it a shot.)
  • Go to church. I’m serious. You probably need to go anyway, but you might as well connect with some people there.
  • “Make new friends, but keep the old” was a common phrase during my Girl Scouts years and it’s still relevant to me. Even when you make new friends, you should still keep your old friends. Not only will you feel less lonely, it’s good practice when you want to maintain your shiny new friendships.

The most important tip is to put yourself out there. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, rejection sucks if it happens. But some of the most lasting friendships are the ones where we take a chance. I’m still friends with people I took a chance and they are some of my best friendships. And all it took was for me to be the one to say hi first.

I hope these tips help you during your journey. Tell me in the comments if you have any other tips for meeting friends.

 

 

 

Going Back to the Original

Are you regretting not finishing your degree? Rethinking about letting your old dream die? Maybe you’ve folded too quickly when you should have held out for a little longer. Sometimes when we’re faced with a rut in our life going back to your original plan is the best plan. After all, sometimes the first really is the best.

Problems can arise from trying to go back. Skepticism or exasperation from those around you who wonder why you didn’t do it in the first place.Finances are different (and not for the better) than when you were first starting your plan. Even we can sabotage ourselves by doubting our abilities and engaging with Impostor Syndrome. It makes a person want to keep trudging on their ill-begotten path.

But if you got a heart pulse (sorry vampires!), it’s never too late to go back to what you should have done so long ago. And I have a few tips for getting back to your original plan.

  1. Make a plan. Start with a general outline, then move onto the details. If you’re not good with developing the big picture or the details, find a trusted person who can help you.
  2. Do the plan. Sometimes we get stuck in the planning phase trying to create a perfect plan that we end up not doing anything. Remember, life happens and your plan may be changed along the way.
  3. Tweak the old dream. Say you want to be a filmmaker but you don’t have a huge studio. Tweak it a bit and go the indie route.
  4. Have a support group. The group doesn’t need to be large and I would argue you just need a small group of trusted people whom can both criticize you and uplift you.
  5. Make sure to have relaxation time. You can’t accomplish anything if you’re stressed out.

Admitting that you made a mistake can be a hard one. It can be scary revisiting the past and realizing that old dream was feasible. It doesn’t have to be impossible.  All you got to do is just do it.

Now for the conversation starter: What’s an old dream that you let go that you want to start up again? Please share it in the comments.

 

 

 

Surviving and Thriving through Impostor Syndrome

Do you have a tiny voice in your head that constantly calls you a fraud with only lies to back up its claims. Telling you that everything you have was unearned and you’re not that knowledgeable? That you only got where you’re at because of luck or circumstances. It can even tell you that you’re not worthy of love from God or your fellow human beings?

Congratulations, you may be suffering or on the brink of getting Impostor Syndrome!

So what is this syndrome? As I described above, the syndrome occurs when a person starts to become really successful and has doubts that their success is legitimate. What separates this from the usual doubts is that it’s not true. (For a more detailed look into the syndrome, check out Cal Tech’s website. )

Now you’re probably wondering how to avoid or survive when the syndrome strikes. While I don’t have all the answers, these are some of the ways that I have coped when I feel doubts coming on:

  1. Practice confidence without the pride.
  2. Don’t compare yourselves to other. The fastest way to feeling like an impostor is to compare yourself to others.
  3. Give yourself a break once in a while. If you can, try and take a self-care moment and do something you love not related to your doubts. It could be reading, dancing, or hanging out with friends.
  4. Listen to the people who care enough to critique you. They’re the ones who will tell it like it is but aren’t doing it to be petty or to build themselves up. They’re also the ones most likely to tell you that you’re better than what your own thoughts leave you to believe.
  5. If you really think you’re not that good, fix it. Learn new skills while keeping your old skills sharp. Not only will you improve, but you won’t have time to contemplate whether that voice is true or not.
  6. Remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Whatever your circumstances, you’re here now and God won’t let you handle anything He doesn’t think you can.

In short, it’s okay to toot your horn once in a while and shout to the world that your accomplishments were earned. Always have a support group that doesn’t enable, but encourage you to succeed and celebrates your successes.  If it gets to rough, talk to a counselor about it.

Now I want to hear from y’all. Do you think Impostor Syndrome applies to you or someone you know? How do you cope with it? Please let me know in the comments.

 

Pastel Overload: Cherry Blossom Frappucino Review

Spring is right around the corner so prepare for pastel in everything you see, wear, or in the case of Starbucks, drink.

From March 15 to Match 20, Starbucks offered a Cherry Blossom Frappucino in their American locations inspired by the Japanese cherry blossoms tradition (the beverage has been available in Japan since 2010). This drink made for Instagram is made with strawberries and cream with white chocolate sauce and a drizzle of matcha syrup and matcha powder sprinkled on the top of the whipped cream.

First things first, this drink is ridiculously pretty. I’m not the biggest pastel fan, but even I’m reconsidering my stance after seeing this drink. Plus, how often can you say the drink looks exactly like the advertisement?

But of course, I’m not running an Instagram account here, we have to talk about the taste.

Despite the name, the most pronounced flavor was the strawberries. And when I mean pronounced, I mean the flavor punches your tongue with the flavor to the point that you forget there are other flavors mixed in. I forgot that white chocolate sauce was even used until I looked up the ingredients for this blog post. This didn’t bother me since I’m not down with the white chocolate like am I with dark, but I’m sure fans of the stuff will be disappointed.

As for the matcha, the already subtle flavor is drowned out by the strawberry flavor. It’s almost like the flavor was used as part of the design and its Japanese roots rather than the flavor. While disappointing to matcha fans, this may make the drink more palatable to those who have no idea what the green stuff is or aren’t too adventurous.

Overall, I give the drink an 8/10. You can’t go wrong with an ice cold strawberry drink and the Cherry Blossom Frappucino gives you that with an added bonus of pretty colors. I’m hoping this means us American fans we’ll get to try more international Starbucks products.

Foodie Friday

Of course, Ben and Jerry would have an ice cream using speculoos cookie butter. Of course, I had to go and try it and share my experience with y’all. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Foodie Friday without some pictures.

Let’s get this out of the way: it was okay.

Creating an ice cream utilizing cookie butter and speculoos is a great idea and there are elements that work well. Having speculoos pieces throughout the ice cream proved that Ben & Jerry’s strongest advantage are their cake and cookie pieces (the red velvet cake ice cream is still one of my favorite ice creams) and they bring their A-game here.

For a strong flavor like speculoos, vanilla is the way to go and thank goodness they have it in here. While the container does say it has dark caramel ice cream, the caramel wasn’t too overpowering and worked in conjunction with the cookie butter and speculoos, creating a not too sickly sweet treat.

That being said, it does fail with a major component of theme: the cookie butter. Full disclosure, I enjoy cookie butter. Especially on a plain waffle or piece of bread, it adds the right amount of cinnamon. Here though, it’s not working as well and the problem lies with it being a solid core in the center. I think swirls of cookie butter throughout the ice cream might have worked better.

And it could use more cookie pieces (then again, all ice cream could use more cookie or cake pieces).

Overall, the ice cream wasn’t too terrible, but man, it’s going to be taking up space in the freezer for while. And I’ll be reminded of the ice cream as I go to get out my gluten-free waffles from the freezer to spread some cookie butter on them and saying that I will finish the ice cream at some point.

 

Foodie Friday: No Cereal for Young People?

Recently, the New York Times had an article on their website concerning cereal sales going down and down and how Millennials just aren’t eating cereal like our parents back in the day. The most intriguing part of the article was that a survey stated that 40 percent of us weren’t eating cereal because we don’t want to go through the rigmarole of fixing a bowl of their favorite cereal and cleaning up said bowl.

Cue the lament from older generations about how lazy our generation is while ignoring that 60 percent of us would rather eat oatmeal and breakfast sandwiches.

But I’m interested in the 40 percent who said they didn’t have time. Are they the types who believe breakfast is just coffee and maybe a piece of fruit? Are they the ones who value sleep more than food (i.e. everyone in college)? Do they simply prefer brunch over breakfast because you can have alcohol and not have people judging you? Maybe they’re just not in the mood to stare at a bowl of soggy cereal in the morning and experiencing an existential crisis about their life choices. Whatever the reason, the cereal companies have taken notice and are doing their best to court our generation that has realized that cereal may not actually be the best food to start the day with.

My suggestion? Stop marketing it as a breakfast food and make it an everyday food. Lord knows I’ve eaten cereal more than a few times for dinner.You wouldn’t even have to abandon your sugary roots. Really push a lot of the sugary cereals like Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch and create recipes like donuts topped with cereal or crunchy chocolate cereal bark.

I personally look forward to seeing Trix infused organic ice cream at my local place.

Foodie Friday: Exploring Austin’s Chinatown Center

Tip for all of you travelers deciding where to eat: Always visit the places that aren’t in your hometown.

A while ago, my friend and I decided to go to Chinatown Center located in Austin to catch up and for nostalgia. Back when I was in college, my friends and I would make the trek for some food and treats to take back with us to campus.

First stop was some bahn mis and spring rolls from Baguette House and Cafe.

If you’ve never heard of a bahn mi, it’s a Vietnamese answer to an American sub. On crispy french bread, you can get a variety of meat (I got the House Combination with pate) along with cilantro, pickled carrots and daikon, mayonnaise, soy sauce, and jalapenos. Thankfully, they put the jalapenos to the side and I could enjoy the sandwich without the terrible tasting peppers.

My friend ordered us some spring rolls with barbecue pork and it was pretty good. I definitely want to try and make my own one day!

After lunch, it was time to walk around and what better place than a market? While in MT Market, we picked up some interesting new treats, including a new flavor of Kit-Kats, tea flavored candies and Assam Milk Tea.

IMG_4506

I’ve had milk tea before, but not this particular brand. The taste was definitely the same, sweet and a taste similar to tapioca balls. It wasn’t too sweet and it had the right amount of creaminess to it. I had mine chilled, but the can says you can drink it warm or cold (just don’t microwave the tea in the can).

The new flavor for Kit Kats is sweet potato flavor. While it’s supposed to be toasted, I opted out from enduring with another melty candy like the baked cheesecake flavor and ate it plain. It was very sweet and reminded me of the ube flavor Kit-Kat I had a while back.

Lastly, the tea candies. They had several different flavors, but ultimately I picked green tea latte. It was as if I was drinking a cup right here and now. The green tea was very strong with a nice creamy texture. I definitely would recommend putting this candy in your jar.

Last stop on the Austin trip was for some dessert at Snow Monster (and before you wonder, it wasn’t too cold outside).

I’m pretty sure I was thinking shaved ice in my head, not realizing that the store specialized in shaved milk or snow ice as they call it. According to the website, it’s a popular traditional treat in Taiwan that involves shaving from frozen milk (though you can get soy or water a.k.a Pure Ice) and adding in syrup and any toppings you want.

As you can see by the left picture, I didn’t exactly pick the most aesthetically pleasing bowl. Still, the matcha flavor was nice and not too harsh and I love the mochi and the tapioca balls on top. My friend’s bowl (on the right) was a bit more colorful choosing a green apple syrup, strawberries, mochi, and pecans. We each tried the other and the verdict was positive for both.

My recommendation? Get a small if you don’t plan on splitting. We both got a small and it was definitely enough for one person!

I had a great time exploring more of the Chinatown in Austin and I definitely have plans to come back again.