Tag Archives: Food and Drink

The Coffee Chronicles | Day 32

I gave up coffee for Lent. Those who know me understand the tremendous undertaking that I have gotten myself into. I will be tracking my progress throughout Lent. Let this be a lesson to all…

Positive steps have been taken in my decaffeinated recovery.

It’s day 32 of my coffee logs. I have reintroduced coffee into my life, but the coffee is of the decaffeinated variety. Ah, yes, I am drinking that good ol’ decaf coffee. It seems to me that decaffeinated coffee is the ultimate contradiction. Why drink coffee if not for the flux of energy that comes along with it? Decaf coffee is poser coffee. It’s frontin’.

Some have accused me of breaking my Lenten promise. I understand that it seems my sacrificial gift to God has many loopholes. Let me clarify that I gave up caffeinated coffee for Lent, not just coffee. It’s not just the caffeine, it’s not just the taste. Otherwise, existing on soda and decaf coffee would not be such a tribulation. Alas, coffee–the caffeinated kind–has cast its spell on me, and I fell victim.

Easter fast approaches. I wonder what the future holds for me. Will I, once again, be enchanted by the temptation of coffee on Easter morning? Or will the spell be broken? Alas, I cannot tell.

Until my next log, dear diary, keep in mind these pearls of wisdom are my bequest to you.

Puppy yawns, scented candles, and boy bands,
Jen

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My World Has Gone Upside Down

What?! Why did I give up coffee then? My, God…

Past studies have suggested that caffeine might offer some protection from skin cancer, and new research may explain why.

“We have found what we believe to be the mechanism by which caffeine is associated with decreased skin cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Paul Nghiem, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Washington in Seattle.

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The Coffee Chronicles | Day 3

I gave up coffee for Lent. Those who know me understand the tremendous undertaking that I have gotten myself into. I will be tracking my progress throughout Lent. Let this be a lesson to all…

Dear Diary,

‘Tis the third day, and a toilsome day at that. I’ve gone without coffee now for 72 hours–a feat in itself. I have been downing green tea, chamomile tea, Earl Grey tea, and English breakfast tea. The caffeine withdrawal headaches are beginning to subside, so I am relieved.

It’s still difficult to watch those around me sip their piping hot coffee, the aroma of roasted coffee beans lingering around them. I clutch my paper cup with my green tea still steeping in the bag, and I want to weep. Oh, cruel world!

Butterflies, glitter, and hearts,

Jen

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I Curse the Day McDonald’s Was Contrived

Let me tell you about the morning I had today.

I had a huge exam scheduled today (I did very well on it–thank you for wondering). I took the first two hours off of my morning shift at work so that I would have that little extra time to continue going over my notes for the test.

Before I headed to work, I decided to reward myself for studying so diligently with a delicious, healthy breakfast. Since I didn’t have time for that, I had to settle for McDonald’s. I didn’t mind too much, though. I love their coffee and for whatever reason, I’m slightly addicted to their sausage biscuit with egg. I’m never content after I eat one of those things (it always feels like I have grease slathered all over my body after I eat one of those things), but I figured that I just needed to eat something.

So I pull up to the drive-through…

“I’d like a number four please.”
“A number four?”
“Yes.”
“A sausage biscuit with egg?”
(Long, irritated pause.)
“Yes. A sausage biscuit with egg please. I’d like a coffee with that.”
“What would you like to drink with that ma’am?”
(A deep breath as to not scream.)
“…Coffee.”
“OK, ma’am. That’s a number four with a coffee. Would you like cream or sugar?”
“No, thanks. That’s all.”
“Alright. That’ll be $3.46. Please pull up to the first window.”

So, I did as she said. Now, let me preface the rest of the story by mentioning that I was armed with only a $20 bill and a cup of pennies, nickles, and dimes (all the coins that the insolent laundry machine at my apartment complex won’t take). I pick out four dimes, a nickle, and a penny. Andrew Jackson accompanies the loose change. I pull up to the first window.

“$3.46, please, m’am.”

I hand the bill and change to the girl in the window, who does “her thing” (her thing being pressing some buttons on the register, making changed, tearing off a receipt). She hands me a wad of bills.

“Thank you ma’am. Please pull around.”
“Thanks.”

The woman at the second window hands me a bag and a cup of coffee. I take the goods, thank her, and begin to drive off. As I went to stuff the wad of bills back into my wallet, I realize I only got $7 back. I did not just pay $13.46 for something that will probably add two solid pounds of lard to my back end.

I immediately back up (no one was behind me–no worries, people). I told the woman that I gave the girl at the register a $20, and she hadn’t given me enough change back. I just needed a $10 bill. She told me to pull into the parking space labeled for “drive through waiting.” OK…

Twenty-two minutes later (oh yes, you bet I counted), I just about break my car door opening it so I can get out of the freakin’ vehicle and pummel every McDonald’s customer. I walk up to the counter and demand that they give me my change now and that I am tired of waiting for these people to give me my correct change.

“Oh, yeah! We totally forgot. Here…”

The moron opens her register, and hands me a $10 bill.

I hate you, McDonald’s.

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Austin’s Muse

The Green Muse, located in the ever-eccentric south of Austin, is a coffee bar hidden away in a discreet niche off of Oltorf. Without the typical lit-up sign out front, a company Web site, or even any kind of bona fide advertising, the Green Muse booms mostly due to client word-of-mouth.

This coffee mecca is exactly what you would conjure in your mind if I told you that it was uber “Austiny.” Eccentric Indie music? Check. Wonderfully strange, local artwork? Check. Fliers promoting local events and bands? Double check. Not to mention, the Muse has a mélange of coffees, teas, and other drinks that are sure to sate your pallet.

Hungry? Try a piquant panini, scrumptious sandwich, or savory soup. You can also get a side of hummus, tabbouleh, baba Ganoush (served with toasted pita and cucumbers).

At the Muse, you’ll find students plugged into chairs, laptops, books, and papers within arm’s reach. It’s a hot spot for the twenty-something crowd for the very reason that it’s just a chill, local shop. I recommend it. The free Wi-Fi isn’t bad either.

The Green Muse
519 W Oltorf St
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 912-7789

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Bon Appétit Seeks to Better St. Ed’s Dining Hall

This article was originally written for the Hilltop Views.

Since Bon Appétit was chosen to manage St. Edward’s dining hall in the
summer of 2007, there have been continual efforts to improve dining
services on campus. Recently, the St. Edward’s community had another
chance to voice opinions as Bon Appétit took further steps toward the betterment of the dining hall.

On January 19-21, Bon Appétit offered an opportunity for students,
faculty and staff to participate in on-line surveys on their current and future services.  In addition, they asked members of the campus community to sign up for focus groups, and over the next few days, met
with those groups.  Mike Stone, Director of Auxiliary Services at St.
Edward’s, explained that “the purpose of this research is to assess
what’s good with dining services” and what sort of opportunities there
are for improvement.

Michael Smith, General Manager of Bon Appétit, finds the feedback very
informative and helpful. He mentions though that those who responded
in the polls, surveys, and focus groups had mixed views. “Those who
have been educated about Bon Appétit and our philosophy where very
helpful in the discussion groups, [but] those who came just to complain do not know much about us and our philosophy.”

A problem, Smith recalls, was that students who had originally volunteered to express their needs and wants at the focus groups simply did not show. This understandably makes it difficult for Bon Appétit to gauge how to address particular needs.

“During our survey, we asked students to sign up for the focus groups, and we had each one full to capacity. A day before each session, we e-mailed those who signed up and anticipated full focus groups. We had two sessions each day with ten people per session. We did the focus groups for one week. We only had around thirty people show up of the one hundred who signed up.”

Student Nicole Henson attended one of the focus groups hosted by Bon Appétit. “They asked pretty basic questions like, ‘What would improve your dining experience?’ or, ‘What would you like to see in the cafeteria?’ We went around with our answers and discussed the issues.” The group discussed a few choice concerns as well, such as how the dining ware has been disappearing and how much food is wasted.

Students have had strong opinions in regards to how the services and
cuisine currently provided by Bon Appétit can be improved. Student Eugene Haller says he feels that there is too little variety and too much pomp in the cafeteria. “They try too hard to look upscale. I don’t necessarily just want sushi—I want the option of having barbecue or chicken fried steak too.” Haller went on to say that he wishes Bon Appétit would incorporate more local, Texas foods.

Student Amanda Nevarez says she also has many problems with how things
are being run in the dining hall. “When I first heard that the school was going to redo the cafeteria, I was really excited.  That really isn’t the case anymore. I try to avoid eating there as much as I can.” Nevarez criticizes Bon Appétit for their lack of selection, the quality of the food, and the inopportune dining hall hours. “Some students can’t get food when it’s open, so then they’re out of luck.”

Stone says that a report of the results from the polls, surveys, and focus group discussions should be ready around March 1. “The data from the surveys and focus groups is being processed and analyzed by the regional marketing staff of Bon Appétit.  When Bon Appetit has completed their analysis, the results will be shared with St.  Edward’s, including the Dining Services Advisory Council.”

Smith reiterates that Bon Appétit is listening to students and doing its best to address any problems or areas that may be improved. “One [concern] was about having the cereal left out all day and not just for breakfast. We started to leave it out all day and have had a few responses about it. Students were happy, especially those who like cereal for all meal periods. We are listening.”

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A Taste of Jen: “Drink and Be Merry at Fadó”

If it’s a chilled, smooth Guinness and a good conversation with old friends that you want, Fadó is the place to go in Austin.

Fadó, pronounced f’doe, is the Irish expression meaning “long ago”.  The term was commonly used as the preface of old Irish stories told by the Seanchaí (Shana-kee) or storyteller.  At Fadó we are telling the story of Ireland’s rich and celebrated pub culture.  It is a culture of hospitable surroundings, good food and good drink, and friendly conversation- what we call “craic”.

We consider Fadó a different type of Irish pub.  We blend the best of the old with the best of the new. Our decor and friendly staff evoke images of the great old pubs of Ireland whereas our style of operating – our music, food, beverages – connects more so with the contemporary pubs and bars of modern Ireland.

Fadó Austin tells the story of Ireland’s rich and celebrated pub culture throughout its design.  A stroll around Fadó is like a walk through Irish Pub history where four different designs are subtly together, each featuring its own special ambiance: the Irish Country Cottage Pub design, the Traditional Irish Pub Shop design, the Gaelic Pub, and the Victorian Dublin Pub.

I went to Fadó on Saturday night with a few friends.  We sat outside in the cool night listening to a live band, chit-chatting about our week, and sipping our thick, foamy Guinnesses.  We had encounters with friendly strangers, laughing at silly anecdotes and drunken exchanges.  After awhile, we drifted inside where we continued to bump into interesting company.

There are Irish pub charlatans all over town; however, Fadó certainly fits the bill when it comes to authentic Irish charm, gregarious groups of people, and ambrosial drinks.  For more, like drink specials, events, and fantasy league information, check out the Fadó site.

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