New home for The Rebeccammendations

The Rebeccammendations has moved to.......................................

See ya there!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Life in Austin is...fabulous!

Check out one of my latest blog finds, for my Austin followers or long-distance Austin-lovers! "ThisislifeinAustin" has enthusiasm written all over it, from the minute you visit the site. A recent post lists the must-sees, or, what I call a "to-go list" in Austin if you're entertaining for a weekend, or for out-of-town guests! My favorites on the list include:

Check out the blog for more "life in Austin" highlights.

Blog Migration in Progress

To all my loyal followers:

Thank you for reading my blog! Over the next week, I'll be working on migrating The Rebeccammendations to a different site and changing the look n' feel so I can bring you more fun entertainment ideas. Soooooo, watch for the new and improved site. I'll keep you posted on where it's moved to!

The Rebecca

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Golden White Cranberry Charoset

*Photos by Rebecca
Golden= Golden Raisins for a special sweetness
White=White Concord Manischewitz Wine
Cranberry= Craisins for color and sweetness

I'm celebrating freedom this Passover by taking liberties in the way I make the traditional apple/nut dish that is symbolic of the bricks and mortar the Jews used to build pyramids when we were enslaved in Egypt years and years and years ago. And, I'm allergic to nuts, (and made it to the store too late to find true deep red Manischewitz wine in time for Passover), so that helped with this new-age and nut-free twist on my favorite Passover dish, Charoset!

(Connection to entertainment? I'll be taking it to Jen's house, where she is hosting a large group for the first-night seder tomorrow night, and therefore, I consider this a recipe for a dish I'll be taking as a guest in the house of someone who is entertaining)


  • 1 package golden raisins (can you believe WF didn't carry them, and hasn't for about a year and a half?? WTF, WF!)

  • 1 package Craisins (dried cranberries, or a few ounces from the bulk department in most grocery stores)

  • About 15 apples for batch that fills a large serving bowl or dish (I prefer a mix of Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, and Jazz apples..they are the sweetest...if you haven't had one of these varieties, I Rebeccammend them!)

  • 1 bottle of Manischewitz Cream White Concord Wine or any other Kosher for Passover sweet white wine

  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons of honey (there should be enough sweetness, but apples and honey just go together :))

  1. Cut apples into slices, and then cut the slices in half, and place in a food processor.

  2. Alternate adding golden raisins and craisins in each time you add more apples to the processor.

  3. Grind the apples/dried fruit mixture in the food processor until there are no larger pieces left.

  4. Add to your bowl for refrigeration or serving dish.

  5. Repeat Steps 1-4 until all apples are diced.

  6. Add about 1 cup of the sweet white wine, or to taste, and toss throughout with a spoon (try not to add tooo much, to avoid soggy-ness)

  7. Add about 1/4 cup ground cinnamon, or to taste and toss throughout with a spoon (this, combined with the sweet wine is what creates the memorable taste of charoset, so don't forget the cinnamon!)

  8. Add about 2 tablespoons of honey and toss throughout with a spoon.

  9. Cover your bowl or dish tightly since apples oxidize when cut open and exposed to the air (I used this as a science fair experiment for about 4 years in a row as a kid!), and will turn brown.

  10. Refrigerate before serving...tastes best if you let it refrigerate overnight to soak up all the flavors.

  11. Serve and enjoy!

Bar Food Gone Classy: Max's Wine Dive Coming Soon!

Max's Wine Dive, which originated in Houston, TX, was "named one of the "Hot 10" Wine Bars in the country," according to Bon Appetit in October 2008, and it's coming to Austin next month! Its home away from home will be located at 207 San Jacinto, and is currently under construction.

I scoped out the menu online, and it seems to be one-of-a-kind...not following traditional trends of mixing bar food with beer, but rather putting a classy twist on casual bar food, and pairing it with wine. You'll find creative comfort (bar) food menu options, such as Gulf-spacho (cold vegetable and seafood soup), Buffalo Sliders, Gator Bites, Max&Cheese with an added twist of truffle oil, Kobe Beef Burgers, the Texas "Haute" Dog, and even The Tree Hugger (a focaccia sandwhich with veggies). There are also some healthy options, including Salmon, Sea Bass, and a variety of fresh salads.

Just a heads up, don't confuse this bar food with $5 chicken wings, or a cheap order of fries. I describe it as classy casual...the "classy" referring to the higher price range, and the "casual" describes their inspiration for the menu. In fact, the cheapest wine-by-the-glass I saw was a $8.75 Malbec, but, in this town, they're bound to have happy hour specials!

Group Entertainment Spot/Restaurant Coming Soon: Max's Wine Dive at 207 San Jacinto in Downtown Austin, opening May 2009. FYI, they also have lunch and brunch (this looks delicious, and the most reasonable of all of their menus).

Monday, April 6, 2009

Maria's Taco Xpress!

*Photo courtesty of
As much as I'd like to say that I come up with all of my "Rebeccammendations," you loyal followers should know that I often receive rec's from many valuable sources (and I will give credit where it's due, but not reveal the top secret ones:)). Several of my friendly advisors suggested we hold the 2nd Austin Breakfast Club meeting at Maria's Taco Xpress on South LAMAR...(I misdirected the group to S. 1st and take full responsibility for anyone who never arrived as a result). Rule #1 for entertaining: pick the right location, and if you've never been there, ask questions and make a plan for entertaining a large group there (do you need reservations? is there outdoor seating that's first-come, first-serve? are Sunday's busy?). This is where I learned my lesson. You see, Maria's Taco Xpress is not just a little cafe hidden off of S. Lamar that draws visitors only by it's visible-from-the-street sign of Maria inviting guests with her open arms. It is a large operation. There must have been at least 150 hungry and loyal visitors, between the inside and the outside patio. This Sunday happened to be a particularly busy Sunday for Maria's, as there was a line out the door for those waiting to order their authentic breakfast and lunch tacos. Despite the challenge for gathering up enough chairs to seat our group, and getting everyone through the long line and to finally receive their tacos, it was a great location! Bottom line--it's Austiny, it's fun, it has an outdoor patio, and indoor seating, it has breakfast tacos, spicy salsa, and there's something about the anticipation of waiting for your order number to be called that makes the delicious tortillas filled to the brim worth waiting for!

*Entertainment tip: If you're headed there with a group, make sure to arrive ahead of time to secure a table while your guests get in line to order. It get's packed, but a healthy sign of a hoppin' business and tasty food!

Breakfast/Lunch/Mexican Restaurant Recommendation: Maria's Taco Xpress on S. Lamar. Also, check out Taste No Evil Muffins, housed in an old trolley (or Austin's Dillo) in the parking lot out front, if you're looking for a local sweet treat, freshly made by Karisa Prestera . Flavors range from Cran Bran Breakfast Bonanza, to Chocolate Sinsation, and even gluten-free flavors that include Chocolate-Almond. MMMMmm...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Viva Vivo!

*photo by Rebecca
Last night, a group of us ended a very leisurely spring day in Austin, complete with laying out in the 80 degree weather, with a fun dinner at Vivo...the Tex-Mex restaurant that serves gorgeous magenta orchids in their delicious drinks ranging from Cucumberitas to the Vivo Ria ( favorite!). They don't take reservations, so this would be a good spot for a Spring/Summer evening when the weather is nice and you can wait for about an hour and a half, which goes by quickly with their delcious drinks on a tropical patio, and chips and really spicy salsa with a kick (just the way I like it...coming from El Paso where I learned to have a high spicy heat tolerance). The service was not exactly speedy, but if you are just looking for a chill night to enjoy dinner and drinks with good company in a nice atmosphere, this would be the perfect place! And, they even give all senorita guests a rose before leaving...a special touch!
Chill Night/Fun Drinks/Mexican Restaurant/Nice Outdoor Patio Recommendation: Vivo! on Manor (Dean Keaton, or 26th Street, turns into Manor when you head North past I-35)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Icing on the Cake!

*Photos by Rebecca (Allyson and I with instructor Summer Pruett left)

Yesterday was the day Allyson and I had been waiting for...the day we were taking the hands-on cake decorating class at the Whole Foods Culinary Center on 6th and Lamar. I unfortunately miscalculated the start time, so we missed the first 20 minutes, but we caught up quickly and jumped right in, cutting, layering, and frosting our individual cakes to decorate. We learned frosting techniques and how to create several icing detail designs as we worked with the buttercream frosting. Summer Pruett, of Stardust Pastry, her very own local Austin "pastry boutique specializing in wedding cakes," and the Texas Culinary Academy, instructed the class of about 15. Her steady hand demonstrated how to ice the cake so well, her final coat was as smooth as fondant. And, she successfully taught all of us how to create a decorative rose out of frosting, complete with leaves and vines. Notice my final work of culinary art that I made for the Austin Breakfast Club which held it's 2nd meeting today! It was a big hit!

My favorite moment during the class, was when Allyson had icing trouble, and actually took her hand, and grabbed the 2-inch less-than-perfect frosting rose, and threw it off of her cake in frustration. But, she got through it (with messy hands), and with Summer's patience and expertise with cake disaster recovery, and the end result didn't show any traces of the struggles Al had just minutes before.

If you're looking for culinary fun, Summer is also teaching a Pastry Workshop on April 9th, a Couture Cupcakes class on April 11th, and a few sushi classes too!

Culinary/Arts, Weekend or Evening Activity Recommendation: Take a cooking class at the Whole Foods Culinary Center! Some are demonstration-based, with tasting, of course, and others, like this one, are hands-on. Take a look at the schedule here (updated monthly). Sign up if you find a class you'd like to take because they fill up fast!
P.S. I also put this under the Green Entertaining category because Whole Foods is based on environmentally-friendly and socially-responsible practices and products.

Friday, April 3, 2009

(Music) Festival Crashers!

Yes, we've all seen and heard of the Wedding Crashers, the 2005 clever big-screen tag-team of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, who use the ever-romantic wedding setting as a way to meet women. Their plan involves showing up at random weddings, even doing research to pretend they know the hosting families, and once they're in with the crowd, to the bridesmaids they go.

Well for those of you who are avid music-fans and feel at home at music festivals, such as SXSW (Austin), ACL (Austin), Bonnaroo (Manchester, TN), and Jazz Fest (New Orleans, LA), that are held for all genres and in all geographic locations year-round, I bet you didn't know about Festival Crashers, a widespread (no, not Panic) blog that never stops tracking music festivals and audio-happenings everywhere.

I'm not sure this was started as a way to meet the hippy, rocker, rapper, indy, and country girls like the mission of Owen and Vince...we'll have to ask Zach about that of my newest friends, and one of the Crashers and blog authors himself. Check out the link under the "Rebeccammended" blogs on the right hand column for the latest music happenings!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Go Nuts!

So, I'm allergic to nuts, but that doesn't mean you won't find me at the Spring 2009 Old Pecan Street Festival on May 2-3. The festival is held every Fall and Spring downtown on 6th Street (formerly known as Pecan Street), and features over 250 arts/crafts vendors, food, and live entertainment.

Jules will be here that weekend, so I'm sure we'll take a stroll down Old Pecan Street. Let me know if you want to join in!

Event Alert! This is also the same weekend as the Peter Max art collection at Russell Collection, and the May Austin Breakfast Club meeting.