Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Micheladas at Hotel San Jose

We've been experiencing a little cold snap here, with morning temperatures around 40 degrees. It sort of broke today. Well, it was still 40 degrees in the morning, but it got up to almost 80 this evening. The weather is weird here.

Last Thursday, I saw that the chilly weather was on its way, so I took my sweetie out for a drink at the patio bar at the Hotel San Jose.

Hotel San Jose is on South Congress, and the bar is in a little quiet courtyard next to the pool. The atmosphere outside is relaxed and chic. Tucked away from the noisy avenue, it's slightly secluded and feels fancy.

It's great to sit along the perimeter under the grapevines that canopy some of the tables and people watch (and pooch watch on the dog-friendly patio).

We've never been inside the hotel, but it looks really nice. And kind of expensive.

We each ordered a michelada, a salty-spicy beer cocktail. The San Jose's michelada is delicious, with lots of fresh lime juice and cracked black pepper.When you order one, a glass arrives with ice and the michelada mix, which you pour the beer into.

Salty and spicy
Served over ice, it's an excellent drink for a warm summer (or fall) evening. And at $4 for a michelada made with Modelo, it's not extravagant, even at the semi-swanky hotel.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Passion Vine

When I was in Peru this February, I ate a lot of granadillas, a kind of passion fruit. The flavor was so sweet, floral, and tropical, I knew I'd miss them when I got back home. And because a single passion fruit can cost at least four bucks at the grocery store (when you can get them for about a fifty cents a pound in Lima), I definitely didn't want to buy them.

I found a Texas Maypop plant at the Great Outdoors here in Austin. The Maypop is a native Texas variety, named because they pop loudly when stepped on.

I planted the vine, which was pretty small, in the backyard in early March and trained it on a tomato cage. Now in October, the vine has really filled out. It sends our shoots that can grow a couple of feet in a single day.

And the flowers it produces are gorgeous. They're big and weird, with purple and green petals and something that looks like an alien popping right out of the middle.

Crazy alien flower
A couple of weeks ago, I went outside to tuck the new tendrils behind the wires of the tomato cage, and I was shocked to see a fruit. I'm not sure if it's going to taste good, or if it's going to produce more than just the one, but I can't wait to see what happens.

First Maypop

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Early Fall in Maine

We went to Maine a couple of weeks ago to attend the beautiful wedding of a very sweet couple. Because we'd never been to the state, M and I stayed s few extra days in Portland to see the city. And eat some food.

The first thing we did was check out the Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth. Afterward, we dunked our feet in the Atlantic and watched a few dogs fetch sticks from the waves.

At a farmers market, we found some ground cherries, a treat I hadn't had since I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, several years ago. These were much more flavorful and piquant than the mellow fruit I used to eat. Ground cherries look a lot like gooseberries, but they're much sweeter. They have a papery skin, similar to the skin on tomatillos, that you peel back before popping the fruit in your mouth and popping the fruit, and then the little seeds inside, with your teeth. It's pretty fantastic.

Later, I had a glass of local blueberry mead on the patio of Portland Lobster Company while enjoying some live music on the dock. Warm for Maine, the 70-degree early evening was refreshing and gorgeous.

We had done breakfast at Hot Suppa, an excellent little diner. I had some baked Cheddar grits with an arugula salad and eggs. I love grits, and I've got to try to recreate this.

Between Portland and Rockland, we stopped by Beth's, a huge farm stand in Warren. They had these incredible bottles of grape juice with whole grapes inside. And of tons if other produce. But check out the grape juice!

And if course, we stopped a cute little chocolate shop. Sweet Marguerites had some unusual but delicious flavors like sweet potato caramel and fig and port. We bought a box of five and are them pretty quickly.