27 October 2009


Our friends in Austin and their rooftop view from the Ashton

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

From the moment we left the plane I knew I loved Austin. The airport is so cool and so Texan and so music-oriented. TL's house is very nice and he is a great host.

CA and I sleep in until noon! Yep, that's right. We did not get out of bed until 12:00. The 5 hour time difference between CST and Hawaii blindsided us. TL had left us coffee in the insulated carafe, so we finally get our eyes open. We do a quick review of the visitor's/siteseeing brochures TL has graciously left on the counter for us, and decide to head to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center south of the downtown area.

Since I haven't eaten (CA had some cereal) we go first to the Wild Flower Cafe. I order the creamy pumpkin soup with a grilled slice of focaccia, and CA has a salad with grilled chicken, caramelized peppers and onions, with a chipolte/pecan vinaigrette. The lady in the gift shop recommended the Mexican chocolate cake, so I ask the waitress if it is worth the calories. Yes!

The chef/cook engages in conversation with me, and like foodies everywhere we practically vibrate with our passion for FOOD. She made the cake and tells me that I can use my normal chocolate cake recipe and add one tablespoon of cinnamon, and then bake it in a tube or bundt pan. She prefers a chocolate ganache for the frosting and sprinkles a bit of cinnamon in that, too, along with a handful of toasted pecans. She used a Dutch-process cocoa for the ganache (you can get Ghiradelli in your local grocery store), but Hershey's Cocoa for the cake. It's so moist and wonderful. I ask if it keeps well and she says it stay moist for 4 days, 7 days if you refrigerate it. I'm making this baby when I get home!

We truly enjoy the gardens, although Fall and Winter are less showy than Spring and Summer. The landscape architecture and overall design is just lovely. We will return someday.

We are tired! CA is thinking of heading back to the house, but we decide to park downtown and do part of the historic walking tour. Just as we park the car at 6th and Congress, our friend from Crystal Lake, MH, calls on the cell. JH+MH just moved to Austin from Chicago at the beginning of the month. They are renting a spectacular 20th floor condo overlooking Lake Austin and the city. When she hears we are just blocks away she invites us to their place and to dinner. We give TL a call to postpone the yellowfin burgers one more night, and walk the 4 or 5 blocks to the Ashton at the corner of 2nd and Colorado just across from the Austin Children's Museum.

We chatter on and on, taking in the views and sunset. After nightfall we decide to walk to West Elm and the flagship Whole Foods Store 6 to 8 blocks south of here. West Elm closed at 8:00pm so we default to Whole Foods and wander through that spectacular store. We will come back--I could spend days and weeks here.

We walk back to 2nd and Congress and then part ways as MH+JH return to their condo and we go in search of the rental car. CA is exhausted and as soon as I relax I will be, too. There is no traffic so we are soon at TL's and we spend awhile talking food and recipes and making iced tea and eating mini peanut butter cups...

Before we know it, it's past midnight, and we want to get an earlier start tomorrow. TL is going out early to get some breakfast tacos and we plan to leave for Fredericksburg around 8:45am.

I am truly loving Austin and will definitely come back. CA seems to be having allergies... Apparently people with airborne allergies can really suffer in Austin. I am hoping that he's coming down with a cold and not allergic to this wonderful place. I think I could live here, although JE did the mapping calculation and this is 13 hours from Omaha--5 hours further than our current home. The goal would be to be closer to the squishy little guy and his gorgeous baby sister...

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