Pleasant Storage Room

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m fairly convinced that you could eat at a different restaurant in Austin every day, and still won’t have exhausted the options after an entire year. There really are that many different places within this fair city. And most of them are amazingly delicious; a treat for your mouth and your stomach, though slightly less so for your wallet. But there comes a point when New Restaurant A, New Restaurant B, and Old School Restaurant C start to blend together. The more places that pop up around this city, the more opportunity for more of the same. So I was pleasantly surprised to find out about Pleasant Storage Room because it truly does succeed as a unique local eatery.

New to downtown Austin, Pleasant Storage Room is part rum bar, part Cuban/Caribbean hot spot that boasts local flavors in a variety of common Caribbean street foods. It sounded like a fun place, but I had heard mixed reviews (mostly on its inconsistency), so I was hesitant to actually try it. But when Brandon and I were looking for a place to celebrate our 5-year anniversary and wanted a low-key, fun environment that veered away from the fancy restaurants we tend to celebrate at, I decided this would be the perfect spot. Plus, we had an upcoming beach getaway planned, making Pleasant Storage Room a great way to build excitement for our quickly approaching vacation.

The vibe in the restaurant was exactly what we were looking for – fun, vibrant, and made you excited for a night of celebration. We sat down and were immediately greeted by one of the largest rum menus I had ever seen – page after page was filled with exotic rum concoctions and punches, though there were other alcoholic options for those who don’t love rum like I do. I ordered their Bay of Figs drink, which combines Black Mission Fig Bourbon, Liquor Strega, Demerara Rum, fresh lemon and orange juice, wormword tincture, and demerara sugar to create a drink that was unique, yet surprisingly familiar. Brandon opted for a classic rum and coke, but still reported that it was crisp and refreshing (they use Mexican Coke, which adds a touch of sugar and a lot of awesomeness).

The menu isn’t huge, but it provides a good sampling of different flavors and options. Everything is served as street food, meaning that the portions are smaller and most of it can be easily eaten by hand. Because the plates are shareable, Brandon and I opted for a variety of different dishes that allowed us to try several different things. We are both HUGE fans of ceviche, and constantly in search of one that beats out the ceviche at South Congress Cafe (which currently holds the top spot in our list), so it goes without saying that we ordered the Napali Death Tuna Ceviche, one of Pleasant Storage Room’s most popular options. Filled with tuna, passionfruit, cashews and jalapeño syrup, the ceviche was an interesting take on the traditional version, though while tasty, it didn’t quite surpass our long-standing favorite. Along with the ceviche, we ordered jerk chicken, both meat and veggie empanadas, and grilled street corn, all of which disappeared fairly quickly and tasted of the Caribbean.

We left Pleasant Storage Room that evening feeling pleasantly full, but I found myself hungry again fairly quickly…though that might be due to the fact that we followed dinner up with some fast-paced two-stepping. I really enjoyed the experience at Pleasant Storage Room, and wouldn’t hesitate to return, but given a more recent happy hour experience there, I think the place is better suited for individuals looking for a drink (or two) and some small plates after work, not people looking for a filling, hearty meal. Even so, Brandon and I left happy and even more excited for our vacation, making our 5-anniversary dinner a success in my book.

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Fresh Faces :: Julia Sherman

Today we welcome August, and with it, a brand new Fresh Faces – a very, very special one at that.

You know how every so often you hear about those 80-year-old women who have been friends since childhood, and you find yourself wishing that you had that kind of amazing connection with someone? My August Fresh Face, Julia Sherman, IS that someone for me.  Thirteen years ago, we met in our 6th grade English class (would you believe our friendship began over an extremely heated argument about which one of us would be Aaron Carter’s girlfriend?!), and Julia’s been my soul sister ever since.

If it wasn’t instantly understood by the aforementioned argument, Julia has a penchant for drama. So it seems only fitting that after high school she moved to New York City to study theater at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, and is now making her way in the big city as a writer and actress.

I don’t get to see her as often I would like anymore, but Julia is doing some really freakin’ cool things with her life and is so very deserving of everything that her talent and awesomeness is bringing her way (and I’m hoping that saying this will one day make me deserving of that guest ticket to the Emmy’s…).

Julia took some time to answer my questions about how she got into the business and what’s in her future. Even if you don’t have an interest in acting or writing, this is worth a read because, if anything, this chica can provide a good laugh. Fresh Faces, Julia Sherman

Tell us about your background in the industry. When did you start acting and why?
I was in the first grade when I did my first play at a local theater in Stafford,Texas but that probably had less to do with me wanting to be in a play, and more with my parents recognizing an opportunity to get me out of the house. But they instilled in me a real genuine love of the arts, so as I grew older, I think acting became my key into that community. The theater was my escape from a lot of that teenage angst stuff– it’s a place where individuality is applauded and vulnerability is encouraged, and I was (am) a weird kid with a loud voice and a lot of opinions, so I really thrived in that environment. It taught me that nobody could ever laugh at me if I was already laughing at myself.

How did you get into writing?
I started writing sketch comedy with some NYU buddies, originally as part of a friend’s senior project. It wasn’t until a year or so out of college that I started considering writing as a career path, though. My ego is way too fragile for the audition scene, and I was growing weary of waiting for roles that fit me. It made a lot more sense to utilize the friends and resources that I already had in place to create my own work than it did to keep waiting.

What are some projects you’ve worked on recently?
My biggest project lately has been developing my web series “Drunk Girls In Heels” into a full length show with my writing partner, Nora Fullmoon, and Richard Abate and Olivia Gerke from 3 Arts Entertainment. It’s been a very exciting introduction to the industry, and I’m excited to see where it goes. We started writing a second season of the web series with Keely Flaherty, and we’re aiming to go into production this fall.  We also developed three new web series’ with our fellow 3 Arts buddy Matt Wood, and I’d love to see one of them get produced this year. It’s been a lot of conceptual work lately, so I’m really looking forward to getting back into production mode.

We’ve talked before about Drunk Girls In Heels – can you talk a little bit more about what that experience was like?
It was like what I imagine getting in really great shape must feel like, but minus any of the health benefits.  I put a lot of work and time into the show, and I got a beautiful final product as a result of that. Experiencing that transformed everything about my life. Plus, there were literally 30 other brilliant minds collaborating on that thing. I don’t think it’s possible to walk away from something like that unchanged.

When you were 10 years old, was this what you thought you would be doing?
No. If 10-year-old Julia met me today, she would probably be disappointed that I haven’t married Leonardo DiCaprio or won an Oscar yet, and would be absolutely mortified to learn that I wrote a show about drunk people. She would, however, think it’s very cool that I write comedy in New York and have a good haircut.

Do you see this being your future? If not, what do you see yourself doing 5 years down the line?
Absolutely. I enjoy watching tv way too much to not make some kind of career out of it. I would like to do a little more of it out on the west coast in the coming years, though.

What is your favorite part about show writing and/or acting, directing, etc.?
My favorite part of being a writer is that it gives me an excuse to seek out stories and ask way too many questions. And sometimes that means having an in-depth conversation with a stranger about lost love on the subway, but sometimes it’s just seeing someone walking down the street and wondering about where they’re coming from or going to. And comedy writing is really just taking your own shit and synthesizing it through different characters, so everything I experience– good, bad, mundane– has meaning.

Are there any other up and coming writers/actors/directors that we should be paying closer attention to?
This is a tough one because I think all of my friends are going to be famous. Everyone who worked on Drunk Girls In Heels is doing incredible work in the industry, and you can access all their information and personal links on our web site. It’s a really exciting time for television right now, especially for young writers. All those Viacom networks– MTV, Comedy Central, VH1– have young comedians on their writing staff.

This can be a hard industry to be involved in. What keeps you motivated?
I have an extremely supportive family, and I couldn’t do it without them. My mom calls me almost weekly with her sitcom pitches. Being surrounded by other artists and their art is important, too. Whenever I hit a slump, it’s usually because I haven’t been seeking out art that excites me.

What advice do you have to give to anyone looking to get into the industry?
Make stuff that matters to you and then keep making it. If it doesn’t matter to you, then it won’t matter to anyone else, and you’ll burn out.

DGIH5

Fresh Faces, Julia Sherman

If you’re interested in keeping up with everything Julia has going on in her career, you can keep up with her at her website. Or, as I imagine is the more likely scenario, you are interested in becoming best friends with this amazing human being…well, too bad. While I understand why you would want the role, it’s already occupied…by me. So get in line, but plan to wait awhile because, as I already mentioned, we’ll be those 80-year-olds that you and your friend wish you were.

Life Musings :: On Change

 Life musings, on change

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about getting older is knowledge I’ve gained about myself. Sure, there are always certain things I’ve known – spiders terrify me, I’m sometimes afraid of the dark, I prefer being with friends and family over being alone – but there are those other things, the deeper, more personal facts, that take a little more life experience to truly understand.

My attitude towards change is one of those things gained only through experience. I had always considered myself a person open to change – excited and ready to dive into a new adventure. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to see that my personal preference is quite the opposite. I’m not necessarily change-averse, but it’s become very clear to me that I find comfort in the expected and understood, and tend to shy away from the unknown. And while I do understand the benefit that can come with change, the fear of making the wrong decision typically prevents me from making any decision, hence why I often remain with what I know.

Here’s the thing – going about life in this way isn’t wrong, but the decision to remain in the same circumstances (good or bad) can limit the opportunities that come with something new. And sometimes, shaking things up is good, necessary even, to keep your life fresh, interesting, and full of opportunity – even those anxious nerves that come with uncertainty can be refreshing every once in awhile.

It took me a major life change to realize this.

Earlier this summer, I made the decision to switch jobs after more than three years with one company – a company, I should add, that served as my second family and closest companions. The decision was not an easy one. It involved many sleepless nights, bouts of anxiety, and seemingly unstoppable tears because I loved what I had (a great job with great coworkers in a great environment), and I had no idea that a different opportunity could provide much better than that. But despite the fear, there was a small internal push from inside (that part of me that is welcoming of new experiences) that convinced me that maybe this change would be OK.

So I took a terrifying leap of faith, and made one of the biggest, most unexpected changes in my life.

I’m just a week into my new job, and those nerves have not gone away; instead, they’ve taken something of a different form. Yes, the fear of not fitting in and of having made the wrong decision is still alive and well, but the nerves also come from something else – excitement. I made a major life change, and it’s scary – terrifying even – but also exhilarating. I decided to try, and even if that decision turns out to be the wrong one, I still made it. And it feels kinda nice.

I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who can make constant changes (I’ll always find comfort in what I know), but this might have opened the door for some growth in the change department. Making the nerve-wracking decision to switch companies showed me that change isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just different.

What are your thoughts about change? And how do you help make change easier to accept? Please share your thoughts because I can use all the guidance I can find.