friends

The Best Breakfast Taco in Austin, Texas.


I ask people questions. 
It's like a bad party trick. 





I ask people questions like:

Do you believe in God?
And how do you pray?
And what does it feel like to be young?
And have you been in love?
And what does that feel like?
And how many people have you kissed?
And where do you find the best breakfast taco in Austin?

Because I have wanted to know the answers.


I wanted someone to explain God to me.

And I wanted to be shown how to pray because praying confuses me. 
And I wanted to know what people thought youth was, so that I would understand my own lack of comprehension. 
And I wanted to know love like it was a fact.
And I wanted to know how many people you kissed because it's a fun question to ask.
And I wanted to know where to find the best breakfast taco because really that's the most important question of all.



I don't feel like asking these questions so much right now. 

Because here is the thing.
I have been learning how to love the question itself.
Because these are blessed unknowns: God and prayer and youth and inexperience and love, it is all just a perpetual question mark.
There is no definite answer.
No finite conclusion to come to.
Maybe time is the only real answer.
I don't know.

That said.
There is one conclusion that I have come to.
One unalterable, finite, perfect truth: Austin, Texas is the best place in the world to eat a breakfast taco.
Without doubt.
Without question.
Below are some of my favorite tacos in this gorgeous city. 
When it comes to this, there are no question marks.
Only full stops.

All my love,

m


Tamale House
5003 Airport Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Phone number(512) 453-9842


Tacodeli 
4200 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78756
Phone number(512) 419-1900

Bouldin Creek Coffee House & Cafe


1900 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 416-1601


Counter Cafe

626 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
Phone number(512) 708-8800

Maria's Taco Xpress
2529 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 444-0261

Papalote Taco House
2803 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 804-2474


Torchy's Tacos
1311 S 1st St
Austin, TX 78704
Phone number(512) 366-0537

Dan's Hamburgers



5602 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78751
Phone number(512) 459-3239

Peas and Shells Alfredo

I write you from a distinctly uncool coffee shop. I'm people watching and admiring the faint outline of a sign that used to say OYSTERS. 

I feel quiet. 

I love it when you know that Life is Happening, and things are exciting. 
Life is Happening is events: the party where you meet someone new, or a conversation that changes you, or a new job or move. 
When Life is Happening it feels like the gears of a watch are clicking into place. 



You can almost hear it. 

I used to believe that the exciting, crazy "Life is Happening" moments, are when you become who you are, and know what you're about. 

Now I think, that maybe those moments are just the product of the quiet, thoughtful days where nothing is really going on. The days when you're quietly and slowly figuring out how to make the dial of your watch click forward on your own. 



I made this pasta with some of the people I love the most. 
We had a round of toasts and then ate and laughed together. 
I realized then, that maybe, becoming the person you want to be, can be as simple as eating the meal you want to eat, with the people you want to eat it with. 



Maybe I'm all wrong. 

But I swear, this pasta made me feel like all the gears in all my watches were clicking into place. 


Peas and Shells Alfredo
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman 

Yield: serves 2 generously or 4 petitely. (We made extra, so about a pound of pasta.) 

Salt to taste
1/2 pound dried small pasta shells
1 cup fresh shelled peas (about 1 pound in the pod, but we used canned peas because we're lazy)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cooking according to package instructions. Add peas to cook during the last 30 seconds of pasta cooking time. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and set aside. Drain the pasta and the peas together. 

Dry out the pasta pot and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook it until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper, add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest. Add 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth, then toss in the drained pasta and peas. Cook the pasta in sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen the sauce. 

Divide the pasta among bowls. Garnish with remaining Parmesan and the flat-leaf parsley. 

Note: We also added the meat of one rotisserie chicken, mushrooms and some shredded spinach. For extra goodness. 

Apple Tarte Tatin

Isn't it strange when you look around at all the people in the world, and realize that every single thing that they're wearing, they chose to put on that day. 
Isn't that insane? 
Clothes are perhaps one of the only things that people have any real control over. 
Dressing up is a way to be empowered. 
This Apple Tarte Tatin is like your Little Black Dress that shows enough cleavage so that you feel voluptuous but not slutty.  
It's perfect and easy going and classy. 
It's simple. 
It's divine. 
It goes with everything. 
And everyone loves it. 

Sophia Loren 

Distressing Facts in Life Part I: Many people do not know what an Apple Tarte Tatin even is. 

 

Basically it's apples that are cooked in butter and caramelized sugar until they almost have the consistency of jam. It's a slice of beauty. 


Do yourself a favor. 
Get classy. 
Get the Little Black Dress out. 
Make Apple Tarte Tatin
Exercise some beautiful control in your life. 

Apple Tarte Tatin
via SmittenKitchen.com

6 medium apples (I used Pink Lady apples and they were oh so good.) 
Juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) butter
1 1/3 cup (266 grams) sugar, divided
Puffed pastry, chilled or a single Pie Crust

A 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heavy enough that you fear dropping it on your toes


Peel apples, halve and core apples. Once cored, cut lengthwise into quarters (i.e. four pieces per apple) and cut a bevel along their inner edge, which will help their curved exteriors stay on top as they rest on this edge. (You can see this beveled edge here.) Toss apple chunks with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes; this will help release the apple’s juices, too much of them and the caramel doesn’t thicken enough to cling merrily to the cooked apples.
Melt butter in your skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in remaining 1 cup sugar and whisk it over the heat until it becomes the palest of caramels. Off the heat, add the apples to the skillet, arranging them rounded sides down in one layer. Lay any additional apple wedges rounded sides down in a second layer, starting from the center.
Return the pan to the stove and cook in the caramel for another 20 to 25 minutes over moderately high heat. With a spoon, regularly press down on the apples and baste them caramel juices from the pan. If it seems that your apples in the center are cooking faster, swap them with ones that are cooking more slowly, and rotate apples that are cooking unevenly 180 degrees. The apples will shrink a bit and by the end of the cooking time, your second layer of apples might end up slipping into the first — this is fine.
Preheat oven to 400. Roll out your puffed pastry to a 9-inch circle and trim if needed. Cut four vents in pastry. Remove skillet from heat again, and arrange pastry round over apples. Tuck it in around the apples for nicer edges later. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Once baked, use potholders to place a plate or serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan, learn from my messes!) over the pasty and with a deep breath and a quick prayer, if you’re into that kind of thing, unmold the pastry and apples at once onto the plate. If any apples stubbornly remain behind in the pan, nudge them out with a spatula.
Eat immediately.


Strawberry Custard Pie


Let me tell you about something that is really spectacular. 

Friends. 



I mean. Friends are the people who hold your hand when you are crying because LIFE is just too much to handle, and friends are the people you jump on beds with, and friends are the people who you are so comfortable with you don't even have to talk, and friends are the people who get your thought machine and your laughter machine and your happiness machine going. Friends are the ones who serve as your wingmen, who text you inspirational quotes informing you to FUCKING LIGHTEN UP, who show you how to refold a paper crane six times until you finally know how to do it, who assure you that you didn't do anything TOO embarrassing last night, who dance with you in awkward public places, who call you at midnight, the ones who tell you that you better get it together, the ones who walk you back to your apartment late at night, who come to your shows, who write you letters telling you all the things you needed them to say without you even knowing that you needed them to say it, they're the people you spill to, they are the ones who somehow got your trust and wormed their way into your life without you even knowing it. And sometimes they are new/old strangers and sometimes you have known them since playgrounds and baby swimming pools. But somehow, they are THERE. 

Some come and go. Some never go away. Some keep your trust. Some lose it. 

And this is all painful and all good at the same time. 

Who can know why? 



All I want to say is that I am so impossibly grateful for the friends in my life. The new ones. The old ones. The best ones. Even the distant ones. 



They mean the world. 

I baked out all of this friend love into a Strawberry Custard Pie. Strawberry Custard Pie is dedicated to my frambly. For the good times and bad times we are about to have, and for all the talking and laughing we are going to do about it. 

I'm already so grateful. 

xoxo



Strawberry Custard Pie



Pie Crust from BAKED by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 


1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
In a food processor whirl together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the VERY COLD BUTTER into small pieces and blend until the mixture forms into pea-sized chunks. Dribble in water and whirl until dough just comes together. Or, you can just do all of this with your fingers! 
Take dough out of processor and knead until dough comes together. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for one hour before using. 

Filling:
5 eggs
1 scant c. sugar
4 T. melted butter
½ t. vanilla
1/4 t. cinnamon
about 2 pints strawberries

1/2 recipe Pie Crust

Position an oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. On a well-floured surface, roll pie dough into a circle large enough to cover the pie plate and hang 1 inch over the sides. Fit the dough into the pie plate, crimp the crust and place it in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the filling.
Beat the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a mixer, or with a whisk, until completely combined and pale yellow. Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator, strawberries into shell, making an even layer. Pour filling over the fruit.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until the filling has set and the crust is light brown. Allow the pie to cool. Eat.