Keep Austin Weird

As people who are keeping up with this blog may have gathered, I am not a particularly enthusiastic Texas fan. We won’t touch on politics, but let me just say that I don’t get Texas or its leanings as a rule. Then there’s Austin, which appears to be an entirely different armadillo from the rest.

It’s all about the food!

Austin is HIP.  Even though it was 100 very damp degrees or more, we were so enthralled that we were able to enjoy ourselves.  The place is THAT cool.

Austin reminded us of Santa Monica without the ‘tude or ocean.  The downtown area offers street after street of interesting houses and gardens, with funkiness peeking around every corner.  Even in a dire drought and punishing heat we got the over-all impression of greenery and liveliness.  Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time – just happy to be there and laid back as a bunch of hoodied surfers.  Flip flops and shorts rule.

The Breakfast Taco Place – OH YES!

Tim went out the first morning and returned to our daughter’s  house toting a huge bag of breakfast tacos for everyone.  Why don’t we get them everywhere, every day?  Deliciousness in a tube – scrambled eggs, bacon, a little hot sauce and salsa all rolled in a handmade tortilla.  Munch munch munch.  Heaven.  We can’t figure out why someone in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico isn’t making them right this minute. The tourists would eat ‘em up.

The  family  carted us around town to see the sights, which tickled us mightily.   The groovy hoods mesh with upscale lah-di-dah neighborhoods very gracefully and the Texas Capital looms at the end of a long street adding a serious note to the otherwise tragically hip city.

Gourmet Trailer Food

A highlight for us, of course, was the food.  There are hundreds of interesting little cafes and restaurants, night clubs and music venues, many of which are old bungalows being put to colorful new use. They’re punctuated by vacant lots full of  trailers. These trailers are not full of gramps and grandma spending their retirement playing Parcheesi with the nice folks next door from Kansas.  These trailers are filled with first-class culinary equipment and  people who know how to USE it!  We could hardly control ourselves as we whisked past these enclaves of foodie heaven.  “Coat and Thai” caught my eye and a visit there is high on my bucket list right now.  How could someone that clever not produce good food?

Happy Campers?

Tim’s Army buddy from the Vietnam war era came to call.  It was revelatory for them to see one another after 40-some years. It’s a very strange sensation to meet up after an absence of many decades because the other person looks as if someone had gone at him with a marking pen.  Truly, the face is usually essentially the same, but there are lines all over it that weren’t there before.  It’s unsettling.  And he’s still a handsome dude in spite of the doodling mother nature has added.

A family pal  brought fat hot peppers filled with sausage, wrapped with bacon and finished on the barbecue.  Do this the first chance you have.  You will thank me for it and so will your friends.

We also had a few minutes to drool our way through Whole Foods, which is a religious experience for foodies.  Grazing through the wine and food sample tables could become a day-long occupation for those of us obsessed with satisfying our insatiable urges for good stuff.  We shall return!  We didn’t even have time for The Central Market, which, if I remember correctly, has the world’s most dazzling array of fresh salsas.

We were introduced  to the venerable Driskill Hotel downtown.   My oh my, those Texans knew how to build a hotel in 1896.  It is elegant in the extreme.  Marble floors and columns, burnished metal ceilings, over-stuffed leather furniture, bronze cowboys and Indians.  All you would expect in a grand dame of that vintage.  A hundred and forty years later they still know how to make a dirty Tanqueray martini exactly right.  Maybe I’ll have to have a little think about my attitude towards Texas.

We were in Austin just three days.  Since were busy trying to finish up our last bits of business before crossing the border into Mexico, we didn’t have time to explore and enjoy the city this time. It was frustrating.

Our new situation offers us the  flexibility  to take advantage of emerging opportunities,  so Austin has joined our list of places to stay for more than just a family visit.  We’re planning to rent an apartment or house there next spring for at least two weeks so we can take in more of the sights and dutifully report them to you.

Coming up next – we flee across the dreaded Mexican border and deep into the interior of Mexico in our conspicuous red bomb, armed with only our bad Spanish and pre-made pastrami sandwiches.

Adios, Texas

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