Beyond Meat? Have we come that far? The appeal of the Beyond Burger is beyond me.

When our local Whole Foods ripped out it’s prepared foods counter to install a Beyond Meat Burger Bar, Sean and I took a look at these veggie patties and decided to pick some up for our July fourth BBQ. Would we buy them again? No. Not a chance.

Beyond Meat







These pea protein burgers are in the freezer section, and they look very much like ground beef. Once you get through the packaging, they’re VERY similar in appearance to beef.

The Beyond Burger







They’re juicy, unlike any other veggie patty I’ve seen. Beet juice makes them red, and it allows them to “bleed” when you bite into them. That’s where this company lost me as a potential consumer/customer. I enjoy veggie patties that function like a burger in the sense that they stick together and can be on a bun with toppings. If I wanted the meat-eating experience, I’d eat a real burger. But, we gave them a try…

The Beyond Burger







We thawed them and followed grilling instructions. These patties have coconut oil, which makes the grill flare up as soon as they go on. Personally, I’m not on the coconut oil bandwagon and don’t easily succumb to food trends, so, though it’s smart to add it for the grilling experience, it’s a bit gimmicky to me. The chicken sausage from Whole Foods on the right of the grill was my dinner for the night, by the way.

The Beyond Burger







The Beyond Burger grills up to really look like a burger.

The Beyond Burger







Chef dressed one up with all of the Sir Kensington’s condiments we had in the house as well as some romaine, blue cheese, and caramelized onions. It looks like a burger, kind of tastes like a burger, but isn’t a burger. It’s a highly processed food item designed to look like one of the “sexiest” things you can indulge in. A Hamburger. So, this is where they’ve completely lost me. Why do we Americans need to create food items that resemble things we enjoy eating, but make them “healthy” by making them vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, or paleo? I’m going to stick to a balanced diet of mostly vegetables with an occasional indulgence in meat, seafood, chicken, or turkey. And, chef and I will continue to make home-made veggie patties when we’re feeling like a burger at home.

Beyond Meat has “chicken” strips, tenders, burgers, and crumbled “beef” all made of veggie protein. While I agree whole-heartedly that we should consume fewer animals and animal products, I don’t think that needs to be highly processed, packaged, and made to resemble the animal protein we’re eliminating or cutting back on for the time being. Why can’t a vegetarian stir fry have just veggies and rice in some amazing spice or sauce? Why does it need to include a fake piece of chicken that looks and almost tastes like chicken? Just as weaning your way off of sugar and chocolate bars will eventually cut your sugar addiction, eating more of and enjoying more whole foods based meals will change your eating habits and preferences. Give it a try. I dare you.

Hillside Farmacy, Austin

After a hot, sunny, Texas-summer-time bike ride on b-cycles, we gave up our quest for the BBQ joint we planned on visiting and ducked into the nearest restaurant we saw: Hillside Farmacy.

Hillside Farmacy

The Hillside Farmacy is a New American restaurant and specialty grocer housed in the old Hillside Drugstore building, and has been beautifully restored using the original pharmacy cabinetry. Walking inside feels like taking a step back in time, and can taste like that, too. The beverage menu features homemade fountain sodas, such as a traditional Brooklyn Egg Cream as well as punch, which you can order by the glass (1 cup) or bowl (20 cups). We opted for a couple glasses of this refreshing concoction of gin, bubbles, hibiscus syrup, and grapefruit juice.

Hillside Farmacy Punch

A salad and sandwich sounded perfect to me, so I went for “the beets” with fennel, chévre vinaigrette, red onion, arugula, and radish.

the beets

Familiar flavors I’ve had many times, yet always one of my favorites. For my sandwich, I tries something a little more unique- the “Thank You.”

Thank You Sandwich

Roasted chicken, mozzarella, strawberry jam, sprouts, and aioli. I have one word: YUM.

Hillside Farmacy works with a number of local Austin farms, and sells a nice selection of hand crafted food items such as hot sauces, jams, and Texas rice. This sophisticated yet unpretentious eatery was a pleasant surprise.

Bramble & Hare, a Farmhouse Kitchen and Pub

A farmhouse kitchen and pub… I dig the sound of that and I loved the food I tried during the industry soft opening on July 1. New restaurants need to ease in to their rhythm, but for a first night of service, you’d be surprised to discover Bramble & Hare hadn’t been around for quite some time. Everything was on point, and our waiter- the esteemed Tyler Nemkov, former executive chef of Mateo Restaurant Provencal and part-time chef of Black Cat Bistro– delectably described all 14 items on the menu in a way that made me want one of everything.

 In good company, of course, we started out with the cocktail menu. I ordered A Welcomed Pause.

What’s in A Welcomed Pause? I can’t recall. Bourbon or Rye…  I didn’t snap a photo of the cocktail menu, but that’s OK for a couple reasons: 1. The cocktail program, overseen by Dev Ranjan (Sommelier of The Black Cat Bistro and Beverage Director for Black Cat and Bramble & Hare), is clearly one of the best in town. It’s so good, I’m excited to announce Bramble & Hare will be a new stop on my Boulder cocktail tours.

After clinking glasses and saying cheers, we moved on to food. Tyler recommended we order one of everything on the menu. But, we limited it to 5 plates and a dessert.

A quick note on the menu: It’s the coolest menu in town, and definitely one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. You get a mini pencil so you can write the quantity of each plate you desire to explore- it’s a sushi-style-menu.  Also, the top is hand perforated so you can tear it off and keep that “portion for your records.”

A plate of seared greens arrived first. I could eat these every day. I have three words that highlight this dish: crispy fried garlic.











Next came a beet stuffed steamed bun and a doughnut with duck liver mousse. I didn’t try the duck liver mousse… Not a big fan of liver… But the steamed bun is quite a unique vegetarian option. I’m hoping they play around with all kinds of steamed buns.











Since I was dining with Molly Browne, my Cheese Tasting Tour guide, we tried Bramble & Hare’s grilled cheese sandwich. Let me just say it was the best grilled cheese ever and I’d go there any day for a grilled cheese rather than make it on my own… It was THAT good. This particular night they used a cheese called Les Freres, a European style farmstead cheese.

We also shared the chilled roasted turnips with were served with broccoli florets.

Dessert was definitely in order, so we indulged in a sour cherry pie.

Chef/Owner/Farmer Eric Skokan has definitely introduced Boulder to a new style of restaurant and we’re very fortunate. On his Black Cat Farm, Eric raises the animals and grows many of the vegetables served at both of his restaurants, so this is definitely farm to table.  But, the price point for each plate is really reasonable (in some cases quite low), which encourages ordering multiple small plates and sharing- a style of dining I prefer.

I’m looking forward to returning to Bramble & Hare. Looks like I have a new favorite spot in town.

Bramble & Hare

1970 13th Street, Boulder CO


Open 7 days a week. Lunch. Dinner. Late night (til 2 am).

First Roasted Beets of the Season

I was thrilled last week to see beets for sale at the Black Cat Farm stand at the Boulder Farmer’s Market.  I drizzled them with olive oil, roasted them in a foil packet at 400 for 35 minutes or so, peeled them, and devoured them on their own.  Delish!










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