Hey, from Austin, TX. It has been just too cold in Bloomington for my blood, so when J had a conference here this weekend, I tagged along. It’s warm and breezy here and such a terrific city – I’ve been strolling the streets and falling in love.
I walked down to the state capitol – such a lovely graceful old building. I got goose bumps like I always do at the
majesty of our experiment in popular government. Then I worked myself up, thinking about how
much power privilege carries in this country – GWB, son of a pres., moving from Austin to DC while his brother ran things in Tallahassee, with plans,
I don’t think that’s what the founders had in mind. I hope not anyway. I want to vote for someone who is as awed by the whole enterprise as I am. I want to vote for someone who gets goose bumps too.
Later in the afternoon I went to a Barack Obama rally – me and about 15,000 others who were willing to wait hours in the spitting rain to see him (not me though, I have to admit. I still have that cold and my hotel was nearby so I went back and took a nap until he showed.)
The man can really get a crowd worked up; the energy there was impressive. When I left I had those goose bumps again, and judging by the conversations I was eavesdropping on, I wasn’t the only one.
But enough about politics, let's talk about food, which inspires me on a much more reliable basis. A high point was breakfast this morning at Las Manitas, at the recommendation of Lisa (the Homesick Texan, who has been super generous with her suggestions – wish I had time to go to every place on her list.) Tried to have lunch there yesterday, but when I walked by with my head in the clouds, all I noticed was a sign saying Avenue Café. Since I knew there had been some controversy over a developer who wanted to move Las Manitas from its premises, I guess I just thought it was gone. I continued down Congress Ave and had lunch at the Roaring Fork in the Intercontinental hotel (fabulous fish tacos, but a little too much white tablecloth for my mood.)
A quick query to Lisa, who was zinging recs for Amy’s Shiner Bock ice cream my way which she heard about here), got the puzzled response, “Yes, it’s still there. Why?” Long story short, the sisters who started Las Manitas couldn’t afford a new sign when they moved in so the place is actually called Las Manitas Avenue Café. Who knew?
So J and I got there for breakfast just before 8:00 a.m., beating the weekend crowds, and I ordered Migas Especiales con Hongos with gorgeous black beans, while J had a plate of chorizo and eggs and spectacular refried beans (prompting a second order from me of refried beans, which I ate with their fiery salsa scooped up on fresh corn tortillas. Total, unadulterated bliss.)
Migas is a Mexican breakfast dish made from fried tortillas and eggs and I am a huge fan. Las Manitas is the first restaurant I’ve ever been to that actually had them on the menu, though. Sometimes I can talk Mexican places in Indiana into making them for me, but they have never tasted this good. Usually I just make them at home.
breakfast we were walking back to the hotel when we saw the unmistakable signs
of a farmers market setting up. I am a
sucker for markets so we hung around until it was show time and did a little
shopping. It’s not a producer-only
market, but vendors do have to grow or make what they sell. Got some adorable dog treats (www.pawbakery.com) and some dynamite
granola (www.jakesnaturalfinefoods.com). Also some excellent Brazos Valley cheese (a pepper jack – the guy even grows the peppers for it - some provolone
and some marinated mozzarella), and a fiery hot sauce from Taco Deli –
jalapenos blended with olive oil (www.tacodeli.com).
It looks creamy but it’s sharp and hot
What else? There was natural pork producer, and a grass fed lamb farmer, but I wasn’t trying to get that stuff in my suitcase. Then my eye was caught by a sign that said “Grass Fed Chocolate.” Okay, I’ll bite, I said. What the heck is that? Just nonsense, the guy replied, but now that I have you here, want to hear about our great chocolate? He toasts cocoa beans and coats them with a thin layer of white chocolate, a layer of milk chocolate, and one of dark (www.cocoapuro.com.) Wow. Bought some for me and some for my friend David. How the heck are we going to get all this stuff home?
Guess I’ll worry about that tomorrow.