Tag Archives: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Eating Our Way through Texas

Recently, my mom and my grandma visited Austin. We had such a fun time touring the city and of course, sampling the local cuisine…

Our first stop was The Mighty Cone trailer on South Congress Ave. I ordered a shrimp cone, but Mom and Grandma opted for the “classic” Hot and Crunchy Chicken Cones – chicken breaded in sesame seeds, almonds, chili arbol flakes, sea salt, sugar, and corn flakes, topped with mango slaw and chipotle aioli, then wrapped in a warm tortilla. While they weren’t the easiest things to eat (at one point Grandma confused the cone with the tortilla and took a bite out of both), they sure were tasty. Mom was glad to have checked the iconic food trailer off her Austin bucket list (she had wanted to try a “the chicken cone place” ever since I sent her the recipe, which was featured in Food & Wine).

Mom and Grandma enjoying their first Mighty Cone

The next day we went to Fredericksburg and shopped around. We were in awe of all the culinary novelties at Der Kuchen Laden – a kitchen store located in what was formerly the Fredericksburg Hospital (weird, right?). And then we went on a hunt for the perfect Christmas ornament for Mom’s friend Debbie. We finally settled on one, but I can’t reveal it here, just in case Debbie is reading along!

In the courtyard outside Der Kuchen Laden

For lunch, we went to Rather Sweet Bakery and Café, where Christian and I dined no less than three times on our honeymoon (yes, it’s that good). Mom and I saw Rebecca Rather – the Ina Garten of Texas – in the courtyard!

A cup of watermelon gazpacho at Rather Sweet

After touring the Japanese peace garden at the Museum of the Pacific War, we decided to give our feet a rest and get some coffee at the Java Ranch, where they “don’t dial 911″… (only in Texas!)

Don't mess with Java Ranch

Feeling a bit adventurous, we drove out to Becker Vineyards for an afternoon wine tasting. Mom tasted a Viognier for the first time, and Grandma sampled some of the lighter red grapes, like the Prairie Rotie and the Claret.

Outside the Becker Vineyard tasting room

To finish the day, we feasted at the recently-renovated Fredericksburg Herb Farm, that featured a new dining room, an expanded spa, and a B&B. It was totally different from when Christian and I had lunched there during our honeymoon, but the food was still decadent!

Housemade ciabatta with chive butter at the Herb Farm

Three Generations of Bastron women at the Herb Farm

The following day we toured the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. It was a poor year for wildflowers, due to the fact that we’ve had very little rain. But it was still fun to tour the grounds and to “hunt” for bluebonnets.

Hunting for bluebonnets at the LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center

Our grand finale was a southern brunch at Olivia Restaurant. Their chef, James Holmes, was recently featured in Food & Wine. Little did Mom and Grandma know that they would be dining at not one, but two Food & Wine-acclaimed Austin restaurants that week. We Bastron women have a talent for sniffing out good food, wherever we are.

Olivia Benedict: braised flatiron beef, poached farm eggs, hollandaise, biscuit

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Tulip mania

On a recent trip to Dallas, we drove across town to the Arboretum, and boy was it worth the journey! While the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center’s mission is to preserve native Texas flora, the Dallas Arboretum seeks to promote the “art, enjoyment, and knowledge of horticulture.” Think of it as Disney World for gardeners. Typical of Texas, and especially Dallas, everything is bigger here. The arboretum grounds are so vast – a full 66 acres – that they take at least an hour to cover on foot. And that’s if you don’t plan on stopping and smelling the tulips on along the way. In addition to all the beautiful flowers, there were swarms of toddlers dressed in their Sunday best – their clothes’ hues matching perfectly with a number of the blooming buds. According to the Dallas Arboretum website, the gardens were voted one of the Top Places to Take Photographs by Southern Living Magazine in April 2010. Maybe parents had brought their kids out to do reconnaissance work before the big Easter egg hunt in two weeks. We’d hate to be among the groundskeepers who has to collect the Easter eggs that aren’t found by young Dallasites on April 24th.

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