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Archive for June 13th, 2012

I just returned from ten days in Texas, seeing family and old friends, bopping around the Hill Country, and drinking a whole lot of Texas wine. Now I love Colorado right down to its pebbles, but this trip made me remember just what it was I liked about living in Texas. I admit there are things I don’t like about Texas (chief among them the heat and humidity that had me looking like the mad woman in the attic), but there are a lot of things I love and miss. Here’s a short list.

Kick Butt Cab1. Texas wine – We watched the Texas wine industry begin to grow in the nineties, and it’s a real joy to go back and see wineries we used to visit in Quonset huts and two-room offices now sporting fancy digs and even fancier wines. Texas wine makers are really hitting their stride now, and more and more of them are switching to the hot weather grapes that are a natural for the region. Everybody’s doing a tempranillo, for example and lots of people are doing tannat and mourvèdre as well. These are big, full-bodied wines that deserve to be sipped and savored. It will take us months to finish off all the wines we brought back. I can’t wait!

2. Texas music – The hubs and I made the mistake of stopping at Lone Star Music in Gruene, which features Americana CDs almost exclusively. It was a mistake because I can’t go there without loading up, and load up I did! We also stayed at a hotel in Austin that was the headquarters of the Austin Music Project. In the lobby we walked by huge posters of Joe Ely, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Marcia Ball, Flaco Jimenez, and too many others to count. And then there are the Americana stations like KSYM in San Antonio. I even read an article in Edible Austin where the author talked about cooking risotto while listening to James McMurtry. Ah guys, how I’ve missed you.

3. Barbeque – I’m not really a barbeque snob. I’ve found good barbeque in a lot of different places, including Colorado. But Texas has turned barbeque into a way of life. Every small town you drive through has a high school football team, a Dairy Queen, and a barbeque joint, identifiable by the large black smoker at the side and the cords of wood stacked at the back. If it’s the right time of day, you can also identify it by the tantalizing smell of smoke and brisket. We had lunch at Cooper’s as we headed back toward home. Bliss.

4. HEB – Denver has three national grocery chains along with some small local markets, but it has nothing like HEB. The Texas grocery chain is unique in that it always has exactly what you need if you’re a serious cook, as well as the usual stuff like Doritos and salsa. I miss it every time I set foot in Kroger’s, thinking “Damn it, HEB would have the Swanson’s Organic Free-Range Chicken Broth I’m looking for.”

5. Mockingbirds – If you’ve never heard a mockingbird, think of it as a bird that specializes in covering other birds’ songs. And once a mockingbird gets going it’ll run through its repertoire for what seems like hours. It’s also pretty to look at and stalwart in protecting its nest. When I mentioned how much I missed mockingbirds, the hubs suggested that perhaps global warming will drive them north. Gee, one positive effect of a worldwide catastrophe.

Okay, Texas, all I can say is that I’ll be back again sometime. Not to stay, but definitely to visit. Y’all take care now.

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