A couple of years ago, the Ex-Ex hit upon the idea of taking a little short trip as soon as possible after the last day of school. We had some extra cash because I won the Hershey Award (an award given to a teacher each year at my school that comes with a cash prize) and we decided to spend some of it and go to New York City. It was only my second time there and the Ex-Ex's first. A great adventure. This year, we decided to go to San Antonio. My first trip and the Ex-Ex's second. He went there for a job interview a few years ago but didn't see anything other than the airport and the school. We didn't rent a car, our hotel, The Crockett, overlooked the back of the Alamo, and we walked everywhere. No set plans, just a few to-do's on our list. To-do's, to-eat's and to-drink's. Texas in June can be hot and humid, but so can North Carolina. It turned out that it was cooler in San Antonio than in Durham. Go figure.
Here's my list of favorites.
- Best Historical Monument: The Alamo, of course.
I seriously never thought I would see this place when I was growing up in the Appalachian Mountains. Awe-inspiring. And, yes, I will remember it always.
- Best Church: The Cathedral of San Fernando: The remains of Travis, Crockett and Bowie (the heroes of the Alamo) are here. And on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights, there is a sound and light show depicting the history of San Antonio. It was created last year by Xavier de Richemont, a Frenchie who has put together several of these amazing shows.
- Best Outdoor Area: The Riverwalk- restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, lush gardens, annoying ducks, miles of walking trails, great people watching spot.
- Best Bartender: Samuel at The Worm- Freetale, a local San Antonio beer with some kick to it, margaritas with pepper-infused tequila and chili salt around the rim instead of just old plain salt and, well, handsomeness infused with personality. We met some great people there, too, and had some great conversations. That evening we were actually going to get to bed a little early but ended up sitting on the purple stools for a while.
Samuel autographed one of The Worm's magnets for me. Actually, two of them.
Samuel's margarita recipe (just for you Ms. Arizona)--
(the first item is jalapeño infusion- pictured above; he was trying to make the perfect margarita for Mr. Wisconsin and added the St. Germaine liqueur to his usual recipe.)
- Second place for Best Bartender has to go to Heather at Ernie's, the bar at our hotel. I do not have a good photo of her long blond hair, long eyelashes and awesome tan. However, I do have a picture of a "dressed" beer. Thank you, Heather! And sì, I do have a lime addiction. Salt, too, I guess. How do you "dress" a beer? Take a wedge (an eighth of one works great) of lime, rub it on the neck of the beer bottle (we drank Dos Equis, "Stay thirsty, my friends."), sprinkle salt on the lime juice, then stick the lime wedge on top. Easy, huh? Really good. Lick the salt, bite into the lime, take a sip of beer.
Heather is better at dressing a beer than making popcorn, but we didn't seem to mind popcorn a little bit burnt the night we ate it for dinner.
- Best Dinner: Boudro's on the Riverwalk-- guacamole made right at my table. Hands down the best thing I ate the whole time. The Ex-Ex is allergic to avocados (he has been known to blow up like a balloon), so I had the bowl all to little self. Heaven. Along with a margarita. (The secret to a good margarita is not to make it too sweet, in my humble opinion.)
- Best Saloon: The Buckhorn-- it was actually like going on a safari and we visited the Texas Ranger Museum that is there, too. A segment for local TV is filmed there everyday. Interesting place. I have a thing for cattle drives and that sort of thing due to watching Lonesome Dove too many times to count.
Teddy Roosevelt recruited Roughriders at this saloon.
Bonnie and Clyde's car is here. They didn't get away this time. There was a note written by Clyde to the car's manufacturer telling him what a fine car he thought it was even if he did use it for illegal activity. I watched the 1967 movie about the pair more than once with my dad.
- Best Art Exhibit: Jamie Wyeth at The San Antonio Museum of Art-- we walked there via the Riverwalk. I know more about Jamie's dad, Andrew, and his art and now I know something of Jamie's work.
It was a great trip. I enjoyed every minute of it. Taking the GO Shuttle from the airport straight to the hotel was easy. The Crockett is in a great location. I booked the trip through Expedia and it couldn't have been easier.
I saw a few cowboys, but I didn't snap photos of any except these two guards at the Alamo. We visited Paris Hatters to look at hats and boots, but we didn't buy anything. The Ex-Ex was a cowboy when he was little, before making the move from Nebraska to North Carolina. He has boots and his granddad's hat. I have my lucky red boots. We were just there to gawk.
So today's recipe, in honor of cowboys in Texas and everywhere, is included below. I made it yesterday. Son #2 is home so I have someone extra to make goodies for this summer. The recipe comes from a tea towel I bought last summer at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. I added blueberries to this one, but you can add any fruit you want or none at all. I have used peaches, apples and cherries in the past.
Cowboy Skillet Cake
Preheat oven to 350˚F.
Combine 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup white sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small bow and stir a little to mix.
In a separate bowl, whisk 2 large eggs and 1 1/4 c. milk, set aside.
Melt 8 Tbsp. of butter in a 10-inch iron skillet. When butter has cooled, add to egg mixture and stir. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
Now stir in 1/4 tsp. lemon extract and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract to the cake batter. (If adding fruit, fold in now.)
Pour into cast iron skillet.
Lastly in a small bowl combine 1/4 c. sugar, the zest of 1 small lemon and a dash of cinnamon. Sprinkle on top of cake batter and bake 25-30 minutes (I baked it for 40 minutes, until it tested done with a toothpick).
Bon appétit, y'all! And let the good times continue! Vive summer!