Skip to content

Written by Lori Moffatt

I've been giving my trusty Weber kettle grill a workout lately, and this past Sunday, I tried my hand at making the perfect sirloin steak, seared and slightly salty on the outside, pink in the middle, and tender and toothsome at the same time. While I prepared the grill, I remembered our June 1997 story on Tom Perini's restaurant in Buffalo Gap, a popular place called the Perini Ranch Steakhouse, which has won kudos for its meat as well as its pecan-studded (and whiskey-laced) bread pudding. I remembered that we had published Tom's recipe for his foolproof steak rub, and I searched for "Perini" on our Website. His steak rub recipe came right up.

Well, it's officially summer in Austin. The calendar begs to differ, I know, but I have my own criteria. One, I've already been attacked by chiggers as I lounged in my front yard, watching a lizard sun himself on the enormous arms of the agave I've dubbed Big Momma. Also, I just enjoyed the season's first michelada, a frosty mix of beer, lime juice, Worcester sauce, and Tabasco, a thirst-quenching libation I discovered several years ago at El Chile on Manor Road, Austin's burgeoning eastside restaurant row. And finally, last night, I took the season's first dip in Austin's Barton Springs pool as the descending sun sent glittery shimmers across the water's surface. In a quintessentially weird and wonderful moment, I witnessed both a group baptism and a topless woman bounding down the hill as people tried not to stare. I adore Barton Springs in winter (when I bring a big robe and a thermos of hot tea), but I especially adore it in summer, when I could spend all day swimming and lolling about on a broad blanket on the hillside, partially shaded by pecan trees, entertained by chattering squirrels, and watching the comings and goings of a broad sample of humanity. There are hand-holding high-schoolers in skimpy bikinis and floppy summer hats; sinewy, gray-haired men with broad shoulders and tiny Speedos; children with doughy knees in ruffled suits and heart-shaped sunglasses; Mystic-tanned college kids dangling from plastic floats on the deep end, squeezing the last bit of sunshine from their days. And on that note, I'm going to the pool.

Sometimes, part of the fun of taking a vacation is the planning—researching itineraries, hotels, restaurants; making plans for special activities; even reconnecting with friends in a different environment. On the flip side, then there are the pleasures associated with last-minute travel—the fun and freedom of spontaneity, the relaxation of expectations, and the refreshing sense that all is right with the world when something serendipitous unfolds.

Brazil—the fifth largest country in the world and the host country of 2014’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics­–has been making headlines this year, as media outlets as varied as Condé Nast Traveller, the International Business Times, and the New York Times rave about its wines, beaches, music, cultural diversity, and food. The country’s culinary offerings— a literal melting pot simmered from Portuguese, African, Italian, German, Arab, and Japanese influences—extend far beyond the grilled meats most people think of when they think of Brazilian food. Imagine savory pies made of chicken, sausage, cheese, herbs, olives, and eggs; chewy, fudgy candies known as Brigadeiros, the national dessert of Brazil; or Cocada de Forno, a buttery cake made with coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and rum.  I’ll add my personal favorite new obsession to the list: Goiabada com Queijio, a classic Brazilian pairing of mild, fresh cheese and jewel-like slices of guava paste.

In an awards ceremony at Dallas' gorgeous Winspear Opera House last Thursday, the "Texas Cultural Trust nonprofit organization that raises private money to heighten arts awareness in Texas" announced its 2011 honorees for the 2011 Texas Medal of Arts Awards, which recognizes Texas talent in film, television, literature, journalism, music, theater, media, and the visual arts.

I recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Dallas, where I visited several new attractions, including the Perot Museum of Art and Science, the brand-new George W. Bush Presidential Library, and the new Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre downtown green space built—somehow…amazingly—over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway between Pearl and St. Paul streets in the Arts District. I also enjoyed a sneak-peek tour of the observation deck of the 560-foot-tall Reunion Tower, which has been closed since 2007 and will reopen after a major renovation this fall. When the observation deck reopens, it’ll have high-powered telescopes, a 50-foot-long digital panel presenting Dallas history and geography, and a new bar and café. The view from up there is terrific, and it’s a great place to gain perspective on all the new things going on in Dallas.  I can’t wait to revisit in the fall.

In the past few months, I've had the good fortune to dine at a handful of French-inspired brasseries and bistros in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. And I just got wind of a new spot—Lüke, the first Texas restaurant by New Orleans chef John Besh—that is winning raves in San Antonio for such French favorites as mussels and seafood meunière, all rendered with a Louisiana twist. Then, as I wondered whether this new infusion of French cuisine is a trend or simply a coincidence, I learned of a new spot in Austin that focuses on French pastries and those jewel-like cookies known as macarons, which are giving cupcakes a run for their money nationwide as 2011's hottest dessert treat.

As a campfire sent flame-kisses skyward, I munched on a burger and traded horse stories with a motley group of women I’d met only hours before. My lame tale from way back—loping on a borrowed horse in the Oklahoma oil fields (yawn)—paled in comparison to their spirited stories of adventure and chutzpah.

In the cutthroat world of Texas kolache competitions, reputations and bragging rights hinge on two celebrations of Czech culture in September—Westfest, a no-holds-barred Czech shindig that takes place this year August 31 through September 2 in West, and the annual pastry party known as the Caldwell Kolache Festival (September 8), which packs more eating, dancing, drinking, and singing into a single day than most people experience in a month.

Page 11 of 11
Back to top