In December, I wrote a story about some of my picks for the top bloggers in Austin; after the great response we here at CultureMap decided to write more about our favorite bloggers in different categories such as music, art, sports, etc.
Today I start with some of the most interesting food bloggers in Austin. From trailer restaurants to cooking-based sites, there is no shortage for foodie blogs focused on our city.
Here are my top picks:
Austin is one of a handful of American cities where the trailer food revolution has simply exploded. There are well over a hundred options for trailer/truck dining in Austin, and Tiffany Harelik navigates street food recipes and entrepreneurial stories in her blog; she also offers a cookbook, hosts a TV series and founded the annual Gypsy Picnic trailer food festival.
Harelik was inspired by her great-grandfather, Haskell Harelik, who came to the states as a Russian immigrant and opened a banana food cart in the early 1900’s — all without knowing a word of English.
"He ultimately owned and operated five general stores in Central Texas," Harelik says. "Dreams can come true, and I love chronicling how they do within the window of the trailer food scene."
Writing about the American Dream is what inspired her to start a blog about the local trailer food scene. "Eating their food is a perk of the job," Harelik admits. "The reason I love trailer food in particular is because it was cooked by the owner of the restaurant, specifically for me. You can taste the difference in the love of one man's recipes he has cooked for your specific order, versus a corporate food chain."
She admires those who operate food trailers for their love of good food and entrepreneurial spirit. "They will not likely be working for The Man anytime soon. They like people; they like talking to you when you walk up. They live for your smile, to know their food made your day."
Her favorite local trailer restaurant dish? "The lemon Moroccan chicken with butter from The Flying Carpet." Outside of food, Harelik enjoys biking to Mount Bonnell, Deep Eddy Pool and walking dogs for the Heart of Texas Labrador Rescue.
After launching in New York in 2005, the Eater dining and drinking source expanded to other cities, including Austin. Here, Andrea Grimes writes about everything you need to know on what's opening where, who's serving what and how it's all going down. Grimes just took over for the original Eater Austin editor, Paula Forbes, who started the local Eater edition in 2010.
"Rather than get caught up in the drama of star-ratings, reviews and such, Eater concentrates on letting industry folks and patrons alike know what's happening right now in their city's restaurant culture," Grimes says. "It's a great resource whether you're an eater or a chef. So we don't do reviews, and we don't post food porn, but we do tell people what's open, what's closed, who's cheffing where, and what they can look forward to in their city's culinary scene. We're beholden to no one, happy to link to anyone, and obsessed with telling restaurants', chefs' and bartenders' stories."
Her favorite thing about the Austin restaurant scene is its accessibility. "I came to Eater Austin fresh off the job as editor of Eater Dallas, and the two cities are both phenomenal places to eat, but very different in terms of the kinds of restaurants, chefs and proprietors they draw."
While Dallas is an old-school, old-money city where tradition rules, Austin feels a little looser. "Austinites are just very agreeable, food-wise, in terms of style and setting, and that's a city-wide thing. You're going to find some fantastic chefs doing really innovative things in environments that welcome the jacket-and-heels crowd as well as the boots-and-sneakers folks."
With the exceptions of barbecue and Tex-Mex, for which Austinites have very definite ideas, Grimes thinks that people here aren't weighed down by a lot of preconceived notions about what a restaurant should or shouldn't be. There's a wide range of ethnic culinary options, and a wealth of diverse neighborhoods for eating and pockets of nightlife. "You just can't beat an Austin patio," Grimes adds.
For more of a cooking/recipe direction, check out Lisa is Cooking. Lawless admits right off the bat that she has "a problem" — she is addicted to cookbooks, food writing, recipe collecting and cooking. She started her blog to share all the recipes that she has collected and tried.
"I like blogging about what I’ve been cooking because at some point, I started losing track of where the ideas for the dishes I was making originated," Lawless says. "The blog makes it easy to look back at what I’ve made in the past and be reminded of where I found the recipe and any changes I made. It also allows me to share what I learn from each recipe and get feedback about techniques and ingredients from other cooks who visit my site."
Her love for cooking came about because she has always been picky about food. Cooking herself allows her to tailor each dish to her personal taste, and avoid ingredients she would rather not eat. The more Lawless learns about food and cooking, the more time she wants to spend in the kitchen.
But when it comes to naming a favorite dish or recipe, she's hard-pressed to do so. "I don’t think I can pick just one. I love homemade pasta and bread, and I love baking all kinds of sweets. One of many favorite recipes that I’ve ever made was the croissants from Baking With Julia."
When she's not busy cooking or blogging about it, Lawless can usually be found at the Wednesday farmer's market at the Triangle, or on the hike and bike trail at Lady Bird Lake.
Tasty Touring is aptly named — it's not just tasty in terms of the food it covers, but visually as well. The blog is as much about photography as it is about food, providing a creative outlet for Jodi Bart to share her food and drink-related recommendations and experiences in Austin and beyond.
"I enjoy sharing the stories behind the food — about how food is created, the history and culture behind it, and the people who work so hard to make food that tastes like love," Bart says. However, she admits that her overall favorite food is french fries. "When I was a child, my dream was to be a french-fry maker, according to my diaries. Maybe one day..."
Bart loves eating because it excites her to be able to explore the unlimited number of food combinations that are possible, and the cultures and traditions that have gone into each dish. "I also love to use all of my senses when I'm cooking; hearing the sizzle of steak on a grill, looking at a pile of colorful vegetables on a cutting board, touching the bumpy skin of an avocado, smelling a sauteed onion, tasting a sauce to see if it needs more salt."
Outside of the food scene, Bart enjoys hiking with her dog, Lucy at Turkey Creek, an off-leash hiking trail with a stream running through it. "I also really enjoy hanging out at Barton Springs during the summer," she says. "I'm not sure which is better — the people-watching, or the refreshment of jumping in the cool water."