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Written by Super User

Thrilled to finally see and hear Michael Ramos' band Charanga Cakewalk at Austin City Hall's outdoor Live from the Plaza series over the lunch hour today. Their music is a seductive, original recipe of Cuba, Colombia, and TexMex, with some Steve Jordan-style accordion and Augustus Pablo-style melodica by Ramos swirled into the mix. Guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards combined with congas, other assorted percussive elements, and Ramos' lead on several instruments merged cumbia, samba, son, cha cha cha, norteno, and merengue, and got the crowd happily swaying on a warm humid day downtown very near Lady Bird/Town Lake. Fittingly, for the upcoming Mother's Day weekend, Ramos dedicated the last songs of the set to both his wife and mom, including a touching original called "Gloria."

Photo by Greg QuinnPhoto by Greg Quinn

Enjoyed the wonderful spring weather by taking in #1 Texas vs. Oklahoma State Big 12 baseball at UT's impressive UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin and a Southland Conference baseball game between Texas State and Northwestern State on campus in San Marcos at the Bobcats' very nice new stadium complex. The biggest hit may have been discovering Herbert's Taco Hut on Riverside Drive in San Marcos. Primo Tex Mex! Herbert's Special of 1 crispy taco, 1 bean and cheese chalupa, and 1 enchilada (beef, cheese, or chicken), along with rice, beans, guacamole, and tortillas is a culinary classic. Superb melon agua fresca. Terrific tres leches cake (see Lois M. Rodriguez' TH Taste feature on pastel de tres leches in the new May issue of Texas Highways). And check out Herbert's house special strawberry margarita (pictured at left).

cinnamonrollsciscoHead for Cisco (between Abilene and Fort Worth) and the Cisco College campus later this month, April 23-25, for the Cisco Folklife Festival. Activities include a Lions Club barbecue dinner, the Cisco College fine arts department's spring concert, a golf scramble at the Cisco Country Club, sidewalk art, pioneer demonstrations, live music, arts & crafts, a tractor pull, car show, and lots of great food, including the festival's famous cinnamon rolls (at right). For more information, call the chamber of commerce at 254/442-2537; www.ciscotx.com.

I'm hardly a wine connoisseur, during blind tastings in the past, I've invariably preferred the least expensive wines, but when friends suggested we meet Sunday afternoon for drinks at Crù, a wine bar in Austin's Domain shopping center, I was up for the experience. I figured at the very least it would offer a quiet place to talk. I've grown tired of trying to communicate, much less connect, in noisy restaurants and clubs.

It's becoming a familiar scenario: A friend comes in from out of town, and I discover a new Austin restaurant. Usually, it's just a matter of my wanting to try a place I'd heard about and good timing. Recently, though, when my friend Candy was here for a convention, she came armed with her own recommendation. Of course, this particular friend knows Austin better than I do (although she lives in Victoria now), so it didn't surprise me. What's more, she's a foodie, so I figured her choice would be a good bet.

weiner02One of the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile fleet landed near our magazine offices recently and created quite a buzz. When it drives by, or pulls up and parks, the vehicle elicits warm, fuzzy, happy smiles like no other. It also made me hungry for a Chicago-style hot dog. Do you relish hot dogs as much as I do? Where's your favorite Texas hot dog stop? A ballpark? A drive-in? Let us know. And pass the mustard.
Enjoyed Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason over the weekend at the One World Theatre, a nouveau Italianate villa/concert venue in the hills of southwest Austin. The venerable singer/songwriter/guitarist still delivers the goods and produced an excellent show ably assisted by his crackerjack 4-piece band. Mason's vast catalog of memorable tunes were in evidence--Feelin' Alright, World in Changes, Shouldn't Have Took More Than You Gave, and many more, as well as compelling compositions from his latest recording, 26 Letters-12 Notes.
Two hundred years ago, Polish-French composer Frederic Francois Chopin, the "poet of the piano," was born. In honor of his bicentennial, Tarleton State University's Langdon Center in Granbury will present A Chopin Festival at the United Methodist Church in Acton, February 27-March 1. Highlights of the 3-performance program include Chopin's Cello Sonata, Grande Polonaise Brillante, Fantaisie-Impromptu, Nocturne in C minor, Ballade in G minor, Scherzo No. 2 in B flat, and other noted selections from this classical music master. For reservations and additional information, call 817/279-1164.

 

Photo by Alice Liles

A few weeks ago, while visiting friends at their lake house in Kingsland, I finally went to see the American bald eagle nest off Texas 29, between Burnet and Llano, that has been in the news in recent years. (My friend Alice Liles supplied the photo, which she took of the nest last year.)

Having just made my annual end-of-January trip to southeast Texas, I can report that despite any prognostications from Punxsutawney Phil, the signs of spring's approach are visible in at least parts of the Lone Star State. I didn't see any wildflowers except for dandelions and henbit, but peach trees are beginning to bud and lettuce is harvest-ready in backyard gardens. Best of all, bluebonnet seedlings are popping up in pastures and along roadsides.

I know, we've got at least a month of winter left and probably some nasty weather ahead, but I love the anticipation of February. It doesn't hurt that we're now working on our annual wildflower story in the April issue, 22 pages that spotlight four wildflower drives in different parts of Texas. My prediction: If you don't already have wildflower fever, you will by the time that issue arrives, in early March. Anticipate it, and be ready to take a drive.

When my son and daughter-in-law returned to Austin for the holidays recently, they had their priorities straight: They planned to eat as many different tacos at as many different places as possible during their 10-day visit. Their Tex-Mex cravings began soon after they moved to Columbus, Ohio, last July. And their obsession only intensified when they ordered fajitas at a local restaurant and the meat was served with pita bread!

On my second trip back to Austin from Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport during the holidays, I decided to break up the journey with a stop in Brenham. Have you been to this little town lately, not the Brenham you pass by as you zoom along US 290 or Texas 36 on your way to somewhere else, but the real Brenham, downtown? There are so many quaint shops and boutiques on West Alamo now that it reminds me of Fredericksburg's Main Street.

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