Monday, March 06, 2006

Texas time

We left Victoria on Sunday morning, dressed in our winter clothes, appropriate to the 5 degrees or so that it was at 5am. And when we stepped off the plane in Austin at around 6 that night, it was 24 degrees (78f), and muggy. Which of course means we must go and buy new clothes at the earliest opportunity.

Which is not yet. We got distracted today by wandering through our neighbourhood - Soco (South Congress), a funky, fashionable area of alternative art galleries, great restaurants and even Allen's, the cowboy boot emporium where we tried on many colourful pairs but decided we didn't have the $300 - $400 necessary to complete our ensembles.

We have been knocked out by the food. We are dangerously near Magnolia Cafe, which is a 24 hour diner serving more than above average food. Had a chicken piccante there last night which was cooked in wine, lemon and capers with some smoky heat to season it to perfection; served with a mountain of grilled vegetables - yellow zucchini, red peppers, mushrooms, and a foothill of garlic mash. Judy had an amazing bowl of black beans with a cornmeal cake generously larded with jalapenos (we liked the way it showed on the bill: 'japs in cake'). All washed down, of course, with a couple of Lone Stars.

Before dinner we'd made our way to a fabulous grocery store, the Farm to Market, which stocks amazing local products including Texas honey, Austin salsa verde, spelt crackers, fresh yogurt, great and varied cheeses, and gorgeous crusty bread. Friendly owners who volunteered their services as advisors on anything we wanted to know about Austin.

Lunch today was terrific as well: the South Congress Cafe, very chic and stylish with friendly staff and wonderful food - a duck and oyster gumbo followed by a seared ahi tuna salad with avocado vinaigrette for me; a shrimp and artichoke soup and a garden salad with jicama and a lime chipotle dressing for Judy, and some purdy pink hibiscus flower iced tea to drink.

Tonight we stopped in at a wonderful place, Cuba Libre, which we'd wanted to see because they advertise Martini & Manicure nights on Thursdays ($10!). They had great decor - leather benches and raw glass lampshades - and the most excellent entry: you open the front door and just as you're wondering how to tackle the floor to high ceiling sheer curtains, they part magically at your first step, giving you a splendid grand entrance. They promised the best mojitos in Austin - they were very good indeed - and it being two for one appetizer night, we had plantain chips with pineapple mojo sauce and chipotle ranch dip, and some plantain-breaded oysters with a heap of lovely black beans. So much for supper.

We haven't seen any cowboys, or even horses, but we have seen a lot of grackles! And last night we met a couple of Texas-sized cucarachas americanas. Too big to step on, too small to wrassle, so we compromised by relocating the one we captured: it scampered off to start its new life on the streets of Austin, and we wish it adios and good riddance.



Blogger Ken Kowal said...

your posts have strange affects on me

this one made me rush downstairs
and dig up my copy of

archy and mehitabel
by don marquis

9:10 a.m.  
Blogger Tracy Hamon said...

Sounds delightful!

10:54 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I must admit that after shovelling at least a foot of snow on Sunday I am feeling a bit cabin feverish. food all sounds divine. have a mojito for me..

11:41 a.m.  
Blogger Rhona McAdam said...

Thanks for the reminder about Archy, Ken. As he's a poet of course he must be in town for the conference. We'll keep an eye out at the readings...

8:18 a.m.  
Blogger Ken Kowal said...

just think what archy
could do today
what with all the advances
in hardware and such

here's a totally random quote:

procrastination is the
art of keeping
up with yesterday

from "certain maxims of archy"

man that bug could write

11:49 p.m.  

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