Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Three Roadtrips A’Comin’

In Honky Tonk on 01/29/2011 at 2:10 pm

February 26 – The Old Coupland Inn and Dancehall, located 25 miles from Round Rock and Austin.  www.couplanddancehall.com We will be spending the night at the Holiday Inn Express in Elgin, about 15 miles away.

April 9 – Kendalia Hall, about an hour outside of San Antonio into the Hill Country. www.kendaliahall.com

May 21 – Albert Dancehall, about an hour and a half outside of San Antonio into the Hill Country.  www.alberttexas.com

Giddy up!


The Magnolia Pancake Haus

In Food on 01/16/2011 at 9:54 am

This weekend, the BF and I went on a breakfast quest.  I say ‘weekend’ and ‘quest’ because it took both Saturday and Sunday to get it right.  The idea was to steer clear of our usual two options: Bill Miller breakfast tacos or Chicago Bagels.  Good breakfast in this area is not completely elusive but takes imagination sometimes.  After some discussion, we tried our hand at Magnolia Pancake Haus.

I say tried because we didn’t get there until 9 am and the wait was 35 minutes.  We instead went up the block to a diner which has only recently begun serving breakfast.  They should stop.  No further comment.

So, Sunday morning, we got out of the house earlier and made it there around 8:30.  There was no wait, although when we left a little after 9, all the waiting areas were filled.  The cashier said Sunday is worse than Saturday.

Many, many things on the menu looked awesome.  I am rarely a person who craves pancakes but my two choices came down to a lemon poppy seed waffle and the Jambalaya Omelet.  It was a toughie but I went with the latter which is chicken & sausage accented Creole jambalaya in a fluffy three egger, topped with mild Creole sauce.  Normally it comes with Jack cheese but I omitted it.

The Creole sauce definitely looked like salsa but it didn’t taste anything like its appearance.  Here is a shot of its innards:

Mostly rice with more flavor, less chunks of meat, the sauce and spices melded perfectly with the egg.  Although I was unable to finish the entire egg portion, the rest was consumed.  A delicious medley without the heaviness I expected.

BF got the Magnolia Breakfast, which consisted of three eggs any style, Magnolia Browns and one specialty breakfast meats.

There was so much that was right on this plate.  First, the eggs were actually over medium and the hash browns were actually brown.  This is at the very least difficult, if not impossible to come by (thanks Lyle Lovett).  Secondly, the side of pancakes were awe-inspiring.  Light, dual taste of a well-made batter, cooked by a dedicated fire.  It is no accident this place is named after these delicacies.  Please, if you go here, at least have a side of pancakes.  They are perfect.

The coffee was also tastastic, as was the spicy tomato juice.  Service was quick and efficient but I did not feel hurried (helpful not to see the waiting area from our table).

They are open 7 days a week 7:00AM to 2:00PM, breakfast is served all day, everyday and lunch is served Monday thru Saturday starting at 11:00AM.

Just imagine fact: the original prototype of the Monopoly board game was circular.

The Laurel Tree in Utopia, TX

In Food on 01/08/2011 at 5:11 pm

Greetings and salutations for 2011!  Let the jaunting begin:

This morning the boyfriend and I drove an hour and a half to Utopia, via highway 90 to Sabinal then 187 to The Laurel Tree.

Their picture. Not as sunny or bunny today.

Several things to note about this establishment:

1) it is only open for lunch or dinner on Saturdays. Lunch seating is from 11:30am to 1:00pm and dinner seating starts at 6:30pm. Your table is reserved for the entire lunchtime or evening.  This was especially nice due to our table’s close proximity to the door. With minimal in and out, dining was much more relaxed. Attire is dressy casual, and cash, checks as well as credit cards are accepted. Reservations are required.

2) the menu changes weekly and highlights the European-style “guest table”. The head chef told us she selects the menu based on the fresh meats she picks up the same week (never delivered).  All guests are served chef’s -choice appetizers, soup, salad and desserts but may choose between two main courses offered for the day.  Evening meals include several courses for a fixed price of $35, while lunch is $18.  Prices include desserts and beverages without add-on costs.  Drink options included water, iced tea and peach iced tea.

3) it’s in a dry county so no alcohol is served but you may bring your own wine.

4) the chef noted she is happy to work with patrons on restricted diets. Just call ahead and let her know.

The appetizer of mushroom and leek tartlette with red veined sorrel was a nice pairing of flavors, however I found this item a bit heavy as a first course.  The crust was flaky but the intensity of the fungi and cheese set a tone which was inconsistent with the rest of the meal.  Nonetheless, a delicious tantalizer.  Next was the soup which was made of cauliflower, broccoli, cheese and roasted garlic.  I was impressed with the lightness of the taste; no one flavor was dominant which is difficult to do considering the ingredients.  We discussed the potential causes of the almost gritty texture before the cauliflower was revealed.  The chef noted she prefers her soups to not be silky smooth.

For the main course, I went with the Shrimp:

Salad was a nice palate cleanser.  Very fresh and visually appealing.  The shrimp was well proportioned and delicious, although by the final crustacean, I was done with the breading.  The vinaigrette was tangy and quite universal: I also tried it with the shrimp and grits with pleasing results.  The grits themselves were well cooked but a bit bland for the neutrality of the plate.  Neither cheesy or peppery, I think they would have benefited from a bit of zest.

Boyfriend had the roast beef:

He was very pleased.  Although I only had one bite, I could tell the pesto was wonderfully fresh and the cheese was well suited.  The croissant procured an announcement all sandwiches should be on such a bread.

The dessert pear was a pleasingly light taste, pulled together by the vanilla whipped cream.  Coffee was a nice additional flavor.

My only suggestion might be to utilize a spicier red wine to enhance the flavor of the pear BUT I have no idea if this would destroy the integrity of the dish.

This place produces its own herbs and greens, and is a lovely facility even on a winter’s day.  Staff was friendly and unobtrusive, the decor was comforting although a tad overwhelming and the music was appropriately French but a bit loud at times.  I valued the delectable food and the tranquil feel of an unhurried meal.

Thanks to Joan and Dan for a delightful afternoon!


In related French food facts: some snails have been documented to reuse their mucus trails.



Just a hello

In Random on 01/04/2011 at 5:33 pm


Here is a picture from New Years at Arkey’s in Bandera.

And a fun fact I have been saving for much too long: Reportedly, there is a long-established law forbidding singing and music in one particular street of Hamelin, out of respect for the victims: the Bungelosenstrasse adjacent to the Pied Piper’s House. During public parades which include music, including wedding processions, the band will stop playing upon reaching this street and resume upon reaching the other side. Thank you Wikipedia.