Sunday, July 25, 2010

DOUGH Pizzeria Napoletana

Hands down my new favorite pizza joint.  What's not to love about hand-tossed dough, exquisite toppings, fresh made desserts?  They even have a mozzarella bar! 

DOUGH Pizzeria Napoletana is new to the Castle Heights area at Blanco and 410.  They specialize in certified Neopolitan style pizzas which means they follow very strict rules as to what ingredients to use and how the pizza is made.  But not only do they have fantastic pizzas, but their appetizers and desserts are also fantastic.

The day's appetizer special when I went was pancetta wrapped asparagus topped with a poached egg and shaved white truffle. It was positively amazing.  The pizzas are are big enough for two or three people, so share with some friends.  We added Sopressata salami to the Fontina pizza, which was Fontina cheese, oak-roasted mushrooms, caramelized onion, and Parmigiano Reggiano.  We ate all of it, including the crumbs.  The Italian sodas are perfect to wash it down on a hot summer day, or you can select from a very nice wine list.

This place definitely isn't for someone who is a picky eater or for someone who loves the super-cheap super-large super-greasy pizzas from the closest chain.  The pricing is up to twenty dollars for a pizzas, plus other toppings up to three dollars each, which is expected for top-notch sometimes imported ingredients.  They make whatever they can in house from cheese to desserts and get all the ingredients they can locally.

Follow @DoughPizzeria on Twitter for everything from announcements of daily specials and upcoming events to internet gems.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Breakfast Just Got Better

I've ventured out to a couple new breakfast restaurants that have been awesome. Egg and I is a national chain, but Sugarbakers is unique to San Antonio. 

Finally!  Something different for breakfast instead of heavy pancakes, greasy meats, and super sized omelets.  Granted, Eggs Benedict aren't the healthiest breakfast out there, but it's not something on the menu at most places.   I have been to a few of the San Antonio locations and the quality is consistent across the board.   The Crabcake Benedict is something a little different, but order it without tomato.  The measly slice doesn't add much and makes it hard to eat.  I think my favorite thing so far is the Breakfast Sundae, which is a yogurt and fruit parfait with a side of toast and a poached egg.  Their signature side that comes with everything are "ranch potatoes" - plain ranch style potato bits tossed with ranch-dressing-packet seasoning.  To me, they don't taste like much and I prefer a side of fruit instead.  There's still a lot of things on the menu that I'd like to try - omelets, scrambles.  And that's only on the breakfast side of the menu!  There are tons of sandwiches and salads served for lunch as well.  This may be my new go-to breakfast place.

You really don't want to go healthy if you head to Sugarbakers off Basse Rd behind the Quarry Market.  You'll miss out on their specialties!  It's a local find that bakes everything on their menu right in their kitchen.  Breakfast varies from omelets to french toast to quiche.  The Caramel Apple French Toast is phenomenal.  The Florentine Scrambler is good for someone who doesn't want a sugar overload in the morning.  The biscuits are also fantastic.  I plan to head back there to stock up with armloads of their baked goods.  The cookies they had on display looked so tempting, but I was too full!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Holly Black Double Header

I've been following Holly Black (@hollyblack) on Twitter for a while, but hadn't actually read any of her books! I figured this should be remedied sooner rather than later.

"When Cassel Sharpe discovers that his older brothers have used him to carry out their criminal schemes and then stolen his memories, he figures out a way to turn their evil machinations against them."  - Copyright Summary

White Cat was a great read.  I was surprised by the turn of events all the way to the end.  The magic system created for this world is unique, particularly in the toll it takes on those able to use it, called curse workers. .  Using magic causes a "blowback" to the caster so that using magic to kill someone means something of the caster dies as well.   I loved how Black weaved different explanations for historical or political events: presidential assassinations, mob machinations, and legislation.  The wrap-up at the end of the novel was so bittersweet, it was almost heartbreaking.  I had one question that wasn't answered to my satisfaction, but I expect that it will turn out to be an unexpected twist sometime later in the series.

"Sixteen-year-old Kaye, who has been visited by fairies since childhood, discovers that she herself is a magical faerie creature with a special destiny." - Copyright Summary

In Tithe, Black weaves a faerie world into modern New Jersey. It focused a lot on the evil side of faerie tales, feeding off tales of stealing human babies and causing deaths in the name of avoiding boredom. This is another faerie world full of very angsty teens and very slow faerie politics.  I didn't get into this one as much as I was expecting to.   I didn't particularly care for any of the characters and got annoyed by all the teen emotions flying around.  For me, there was a deus ex machina moment at the end when the two faerie courts meet and Kaye figures it out all the sudden.  I would probably only recommend this to anyone who is a hardcore Wicked Lovely fan since it has a very similar feel.

I am definitely going to pick up another Curse Workers book if Black comes up with a sequel, but probably won't touch the two follow-up faerie books.  I do highly recommend following Black on Twitter though!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hill Country Goodness

Needing a short getaway and fun-in-the-sun activities, I packed up the car and the dude and headed out to Fredericksburg last month. Probably one of the best trips I've taken in a long while.

We stayed at a Starstruck Cottage which was super cute and absolutely perfect for our purposes. It was about a block off the main street, but still really convenient to everything. The two-person jacuzzi was exactly what I needed to rest and relax, but I found it somewhat difficult to use for getting-clean purposes.

I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but Texas is big. Really big. Filled with little towns. Among them is Luckenbach. This marked my first visit to this particular little town. I learned how to pitch washers, but unfortunately still lost to the dude. I didn't care for the opening band, but Doug Moreland was very cool. They have (mostly fried) munchies available, but the jalepeno poppers were the best.

The next day we packed up early and headed out to Enchanted Rock. I haven't been since high school, and it was much cooler than I remember it being. We hiked up the easy side and climbed down the hard side. I sustained only minor injuries. (I wouldn't be me unless I hurt myself somehow!) We picnicked near the primitive areas and then took the long way back to the car. It was an awesome workout. Climbing down between all the boulders was challenging, but so much fun. It made me feel strong and outdoorsy.

We tried out a bunch of gear while at Enchanted Rock. We took our lunch with us in an REI backpack cooler, which worked out really well. We used one compartment for our food and another for towels, knives. We had some extra room, which we used to hold trash we picked up while on our hike. The food stayed cold even though we were out in ninety degree weather. We also grabbed a hydration pack that I was so pleased with. It is meant for biking, so has a lot of pouches to put bike gear in, but it held our bandages and sunscreen as well as two liters of water. It also kept chilled while we were out and about. I'm itching to try it on a run, but alas that hasn't happened yet. I also wore my Vibram FiveFingers Sprint on the hike. I got laughed at for using my “monkey toes” when climbing down the rocks, but I was really pleased with them. I am a huge Vibram fan and sing their blessings every time someone asks me what's up with my shoes.

While in Fredericksburg, we went to a couple restaurants that I hadn't been to before. We had dinner at Hondo's on Main Street. I ordered the nachos, which were decent as far as nachos go. The dude got chicken fried steak which came with a phenomenal poblano cream sauce. They also serve some very wicked margaritas, so watch out for those. On the way out of town we ate at Sunset Grill which honored a coupon from the B&B. It was a great find, recently reviewed in Texas Monthly. We had a little bit of everything from their breakfast menu and were incredibly satisfied. 

 All in all, a great trip!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Where Did 2010 Go?

Okay, so April, May, and June went really really fast. 2010 is now halfway over and time is going by faster than ever.

  • I am very surprised that I'm actually on target for my reading goal this year: 27 books read out of 50.  I'm also already met the 10% nonfiction goal, already have read 6. I'm discovering "adult paranormal romance" is my preferred genre to read.
  • Of the total debt amount I hope to pay off this year, I'm already about 75% through it.  I'm almost done paying off the LASIK surgery from April, then it's back to hacking away at my second mortgage.  If I keep on track, I should be ahead of the goal by the end of the year. Take that silly interest rates!
  • My writing has been blog only in the last few months.  I have finally resigned to leaving my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel unfinished.  I've completely lost momentum on it and have no love for it anymore.  I have decided to work on the planning for my 2010 NaNoWriMo novel in the upcoming months instead. Scenes from that have been jumping in and out of my thoughts more recently.  It might be time to get those out of my head and onto paper. 
  • I am absolutely loving my culinary class this summer.  My chef actually went with my plating design for the dessert for the Scholarship Donors dinner this past week and chose me to be the student wine steward for the evening too.  Class is a lot of work and makes the week feel really long, I am enjoying every moment. 
  • I have not been running a whole lot in the last couple of months, but so far I've run 191 miles in 2010.  I don't think I'm going to make it to do the half marathon this fall.  I love the weight training that I've been doing, but I'm still trying to find a balance between work, school, gym, and the rest of life.  I did manage to get two 10K PRs in April. 
  • Life in other ways has been good. I've gone to some great restaurants, seen some great places in Texas, and done things that I haven't done in years.  And I've been having a blast.
All in all, life has been good. I hope it keeps it up!