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The Texas Highways Magazine Readers' Choice Top 40 Travel Destinations

Last fall, we asked Texas Highways readers to share their favorite places in the state for our Texas Top-40 Travel Destinations. And share you did—by phone, email, Facebook, and through many amazingly detailed letters. Thousands of TH readers helped to shape the final list, which we will divulge throughout 2014, Texas Highways’ 40th-anniversary year

In the past decade, the citizens of San Marcos have built and currently maintain more than 17 miles of trails throughout the city. Here are a few images that did make it into our print edition.

In a springtime issue of Garden & Gun magazine, I spied a recipe for a cocktail that seemed simultaneously delicious and peculiar. Created at an Alabama gastropub and dubbed the Talluluh, the drink is a sweet-and-salty mix of bourbon, Coca-Cola, and peanut orgeat. Orgeat, a concoction usually made with almonds, is a star ingredient in drinks like the mai tai, where it lends a smooth richness. Here, the orgeat is made with peanuts, and it contributes a salty and slight creaminess to a cocktail meant to conjure memories of dropping a handful of roasted peanuts into an ice-cold Coke on a summer day.

{jcomments off}Texas Highways honors the legacy of our 35th president, and we invite you to use the form below to share your memories of John F. Kennedy.

 

 

2013

December

Hill Country

From Nov. 22-Jan. 1, the Marble Falls Walkway of Lights transforms the shoreline of Lake Marble Falls into a trail of twinkling sculptures, trees, and winter scenes. From US 281 in Marble Falls, turn west onto Second Street, then south onto Main Street. Follow the road to Lakeside Park. To obtain the view across Lake Marble Falls, from US 281, turn west onto FM 2147.

(Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

See our list of holiday light trails.

 

November

Hill Country

To reach Pedernales Falls State Park from US 290, take FM 2766 east (from Johnson City) or FM 3232 north (if coming from Austin), to Park Road 6026. Travel about three miles on Park Road 6026 to the park. Enter and stop at park headquarters for an entrance permit. Go to the swimming area and take the trail toward the river. At the bottom of the stairs, turn left.

(Photo © Mark Everett Weaver)

 

October

Big Bend Country

From the inter-section of Farm-to-Market Road 170 and Texas 118, travelers can either head southeast into Big Bend National Park or turn west for a different adventure. A short jaunt along FM 170
and a turn onto Ghost Town Road leads to the Terlingua Cemetery, which hosts a Day of the Dead celebration on November 2.
The Terlingua chili cook-off championships are the same weekend this year.

(Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

 

September

Gulf Coast

From Park Road 22 at Padre Island National Seashore, take Bird Island Basin Road to the Laguna Madre side of the island, where this directional sign stands outside Worldwinds Windsurfing. The sign notes the hometowns of people who have come to windsurf at this location, considered one of the best sites in the continental U.S. Expect park entrance and basin day-use fees.

(Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

Want to see more? Check out the National Park Service website on Padre Island National Seashore.

 

Almost-Like-Mom's Creamy Pralines

A recipe that helps writer Melissa Gaskill bring back memories from her childhood in San Saba.

© Hogaboom Road Inc.
On the southern edge of Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a town that defies the typical “Texas” stereotypes. And while South Padre Island may have a reputation as a party town, in truth it’s a laid-back island paradise, a place where you can escape the world—without ever leaving the Lone Star State.

In the August 2013 issue of Texas Highways, writer Margaret Shakespeare explores Fort Worth’s culinary scene, which as evolved in recent years—like the dining scene in other major cities—to focus more on locally sourced ingredients and global influences. Fort Worth, once (and still!) a great place to find high-quality steaks—now offers diners a range of dining options.

In the August 2013 issue, writer Michelle Burgess visits the Hill Country town of Comfort to show us another meaning of “comfort food.” Chef Brent Ault shares his recipe for crab cakes.

Highmade Crab Cakes

  • 1 pound lump crabmeat
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T mayonnaise
  • 1 T whole grain mustard
  • 1 T Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 slice of toasted bread, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • lemon zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

Place crab in a colander and drain excess liquid

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Add crab and gently fold into the mayo mixture. Using an ice-cream scoop, scoop crab into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. 

Serve with Highmade Remoulade Sauce (recipe follows).

Highmade Remoulade Sauce

  •  1 ½ cups mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup whole grain mustard
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup dill pickle relish
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  •  ¼ teaspoon salt
  • lemon zest

Combine ingredients and serve with Highmade Crab Cakes.

In the August 2013 issue of Texas Highways, Lori Moffatt writes about a Madeira tasting that featured the wines of Haak Vineyards in Galveston County. Co-founder Raymond Haak, who operates the winery with his wife, Gladys, chatted freely about anniversary surprises, the challenges of winemaking, and life’s circuitous pathways.

“My wife, Gladys and I were celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary in 1969. We were living here in Santa Fe, Texas, and she came home from a local nursery with some grape vines. I put them in the flowerbed and didn’t think anything more about it. Spring came, they budded out, and started making a few grape clusters. I thought it might be fun to make some homemade wine. So I went out and started reading. I knew nothing about growing and tasting wine, but I like a challenge. The next year, I put in a little vineyard, maybe 30 vines.

That year, I learned that what you really want to do is pinch them back the first few years—let them spend their energy on root development. Then in a few years, you can try making some homemade wine.

The next year I thought, if 30 vines is fun, 300 vines would be more fun. I plowed up half an acre and planted. Back then, I was trying different varieties. I tried cabernet sauvignon, petite syrah, merlot, champenel. I was told they wouldn’t do well on the Gulf Coast, because we have Pierce’s Disease down here. I was stubborn and thought, ‘How would they know? They haven’t tried growing in Santa Fe.’ In a few years, though, all my vines died. The experts were right.

A few years later, I discovered a hybrid grape called blanc du bois. It was developed at the University of Florida and is resistant to Pierce’s Disease. This grape has been tremendous for us. I’ve been growing it since the mid-80s now, I was one of the first in Texas. I make seven different wines from blanc du bois. One is a port and another is a Madeira.

I am the first and the only producer in Texas to make Madeira. I produced my first one in 2006, but I didn’t have a label approved. I was told by the feds that if I didn’t have a label approved for port, Madeira, or sherry within the next two days, I couldn’t call it Madeira. I could make the same wine, but I couldn’t call it Madeira.  So I really squeezed in under the wire. I was grandfathered in.”

Madeira—a richly flavored fortified wine, usually produced on the Portuguese islands of Madeira—was first made in the late 1700s by happy accident. Ships loaded with port embarked on the six-month voyage to the Americas, where the wine was exposed to heat and oxygen—normally wine’s arch rivals. But when buyers tasted it, they liked it and sought to duplicate the process, and hence the birth of a new spirit.

“How did I arrive at making Madeira? It’s a complicated story. I had gone to a wine symposium in Tow, hosted by Ed and Susan Auler of Fall Creek Vineyards. One of the guest speakers was D.C. Flynt, a Master of Wine who lived in Louisiana. We were all told to bring samples of our wine, and that D.C. would taste them. I brought a black Spanish port, and D.C noted that it reminded him of Madeira. Had I ever thought of making Madeira?

I started doing research …  how and why it was made. Then my wife and I embarked on the laborious and torturous chore of going to the islands of Madeira in Portugal to taste it. In Portugal, they make Madeira in heated cellars called estufas, the Portuguese (and Spanish) word for oven. That’s how I do it, too. My cellar heats up to about 105-110 degrees. It simulates the 6-month journey to the Americas in a hull of a ship. It caramelizes the sugars, oxidizes the wine, and makes the wine practically indestructible.

You can taste our Madeira on tours of the vineyard. We’re open seven days a week, and we have tours and tastings daily. We take visitors out by the vineyards, where we grow grapes on three acres. (We buy the majority of our grapes from other growers in the state.) And we go ito the cellar, where we have ten stainless-steel tanks, and we show visitors the destemmer-crusher and bladder presses, too. The we end up at the tasting room, where, for $10 you can taste 4-5 of our wines. The tours themselves are free.”


To locals, the town of Dripping Springs is known only as “Drippin’.”  But you don’t have to be a local to see the beauty that this proclaimed “Gateway to the Hill Country” offers.

In the July issue’s Taste department, Lori Moffatt gets turned on to shrubs, old-fashioned mixture of fruit, sugar, and vinegar that make great cocktails. (You can also use them to jazz up still or sparkling water.)  She wrote a blog about her experience and also shares this introduction to the idea:

By Lori Moffatt

“Imagine that it’s 1780, and there is no electricity, no railroads, and you’re a locavore because you have to be,” began Austin craft-cocktail guru Bill Norris at a seminar at the recent Austin FOOD & WINE Festival. “You’ve got to figure out a way to preserve your fruit and vegetable crop. You would have canned most of it, and you might have made some of it into wine (or even distilled some of the wine), but you might also have made something called a shrub—a fruit-infused drinking vinegar that you could use to flavor water, kind of like a precursor to soft drinks.”

Most cocktails, Bill explains, are comprised of a liquor plus sweet and sour elements. “Lime and lemon are delicious, but they can get old,” he says. That’s where vinegars come in. “Hugely popular in southeast Asia, drinking vinegars add a complex element to cocktails.”

To make a peach shrub, combine 1 cup chopped peaches with 1 cup sugar; cover and leave on the countertop. The sugar will immediately begin pulling the water from the fruit, making syrup. After two days, strain the solids from the syrup and add ½ cup to 1 cup champagne vinegar. “You want the vinegar to linger like a ghost,” says Bill.

Turns out you can make shrubs from all kinds of fruits and vegetables, and the method is roughly the same: Chop your fruit or vegetable, add an equal amount of sugar, and let the syrup form for about two days. Strain out the solids, and add roughly the same amount of good vinegar as your fruit or vegetables.  Since discovering shrubs, I’ve gone a bit shrub-crazy, and I’ve made peach shrub, ginger shrub, guava shrub, strawberry shrub, mango shrub, and blueberry shrub, using combinations of balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar, apple-cider vinegar, and specialty vinegars from Con Olio, a shop in Austin whose products are amazing.  Next, I’ll try cucumber and tomato shrubs, which I imagine would taste terrific in a gin-and-tonic or bloody mary. Personally, I like to shake the heck out of my drinks in a cocktail shaker loaded with lots of ice, but you can simply mix the ingredients in a glass full of ice, too.

 

Bill’s Bourbon Blast

  • 1 ½ ounces bourbon
  •  1 ounce ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton is a good brand)
  •  ½ ounce peach shrub
  • three dashes Angostura bitters

 

Bill’s Bitter Mary

  •  1 ½ ounces white rum
  •  1 ounce Aperol (an Italian aperitif that tastes similar to Campari
  • ½ ounce strawberry shrub.

 

Blueberry Bomb

  • 1½ ounces vodka
  •  1 ounce orange liqueur
  • ½ ounce blueberry shrub

A bit of mint is nice as a garnish and adds a lovely fragrance; drape some across the top of the ice.

 

Pineapple Vinegaroon

 This one is inspired by the Vinegaroon served at Contigo, a restaurant in Austin.

  • 1 ½ ounces tequila (or mescal, my preference)
  • ½ ounce pineapple shrub
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • ½ ounce Herbsaint (a liqueur, originally used as an absinthe substitue) that adds a slight licorice note

From the July 2013 issue.

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