Written by Lois Rodriguez
At Georgetown’s El Monumento Restaurant, Bar Manager Jeremy Corn can mix up a mean Manhattan while regaling guests with nuggets of cocktail history and trivia.
Writer Bob McCullough takes Texas Highways readers on a culinary trek through Castroville (February 2014 issue), where Alsatian influences extend beyond pastries such as stollen and kugelhopf to regional specialties like parisa, a raw meat dish similar to steak tartare.
New York-based writer Jennifer Nalewicki, a former Texan, delves into the sweet-hot secrets of Fickle Pickles, a family-owned company based in Boerne. Fickle Pickles owner Lisa Obriotti, the daughter of the recipe’s inventor, Billie Shaw, says that the pickles are great in recipes such as tuna salad and deviled eggs. Here, she generously shares her deviled egg recipe.
I step out of the jewelry store into the sun, quite pleased with my new purchase—a pair of silver teardrop earrings that now dangle delicately from my earlobes. My new, one-of-a-kind earrings had set me back only $40, and best of all, they were handcrafted out of sterling silver by a passionate local artisan.
The 1920s was an exciting decade for American aviation: Barnstormers flew from town to town showing off their daredevil tricks; pioneering pilots set speed and distance records, then quickly broke them; and some of the first passenger airlines tested the skies. Perhaps the greatest achievement of the decade occurred in 1927, when Charles Lindbergh made his solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic. Young Victor Stanzel of Schulenburg grew up during this golden era of aviation, and that’s when his own ambitions began to take flight.
Most antiques stores discourage eating while shopping. Carousel Antiques and Fickle Pickles in Boerne is different. The shop encourages spontaneous nibbling while browsing and keeps a sample plate of its homemade Fickle Pickles near the cash register. Visitors can pluck a pickle—or two; it’s impossible to stop at just one—and enjoy what many consider to be some of the best pickles in Texas, if not the world. The crisp, crinkle-cut pickles start off sweet but quickly take a spicy turn.
So there I was, 2,000 feet above the ground without an engine or parachute, relying solely upon the wind and a man I had just met to keep me from plummeting to my doom. I was soaring—and loving every second of it.
Staring wide-eyed at neatly stacked rows of chocolate truffles, blocks of creamy fudge, and chocolate-dipped pretzels, I’m in awe. And a little giddy. Nothing brings out the kid in me quite like an old-fashioned candy store. And in my opinion, the best place to rekindle that childhood nostalgia is La King’s Confectionery, an iconic candy shop and ice cream parlor on Galveston Island
I’m bellied up to the oval mesquite bar at El Monumento restaurant in Georgetown, waiting for my perfect negroni—an astringently bittersweet concoction whose murky history places its first appearance in Italy around 1919—as bartender and resident hooch historian Jeremy Corn conducts an abridged version of his monthly “Mixology 101” class. Golden, late-afternoon sunlight streams through floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a patio scattered with tile-topped tables and broad orange umbrellas, and the adobe-like, rammed-earth walls enhance the warm ambiance. “I call this the tale of two negronis,” Jeremy says, pouring equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari in a vintage rocks glass, then adding a half-moon of orange peel and some ice.
Earlier this winter, an ice storm swept across the state, arriving in full force along an imaginary line that once served as the western boundary of the Texas frontier. The cold front’s freezing drizzle loaded power lines along the storm’s leading edge with icicles, weighing the cables downward until their wooden crossbars snapped, collapsing poles and lines and wiping out the power grid for much of West Texas. The storm might as well have wiped away the last hundred years of modern advances with it. Without electricity, I was capable of only limited communication beyond my small rural community of Marathon, cut off from the Internet, and reliant on wood for cooking and warmth.
Every time I roll into Castroville, a town of some 3,000 people about 20 miles west of San Antonio, I can count on satisfying my appetite for a tasty slice of European ambiance.