Written by Jane Wu
Whenever I have a rare burst of Saturday morning energy (and a craving for homemade soup or a special salad or stir-fry), I head over to Sunset Valley Farmers Market, just outside of Austin in Sunset Valley. Summer happens to be an especially favorite time for me to go, despite temps hovering close to 90 degrees by 11-ish, when I usually arrive there. Despite not getting there at the opening hour of 9 a.m., I can still find excellent selection. You see, I love making gazpacho, and there's no place or time of year better to find homegrown, organic tomatoes—the key ingredient—than the farmers' markets. I can also find fresh homegrown cucumber, onion, garlic and jalapenos, the supporting ingredients there. Plus, once you've cooked with garden-fresh garlic, store-bought never quite measures up.
4th of July fireworks displays never cease to give me a rush of excitement and ooh-and-ahh wonder. Despite the crowds and heat, I viewed this year's spectacle from the Ann Richards/Congress Avenue bridge in Austin over Auditorium Shores. I fully expected the usual teeming crush of humanity, and was not disappointed.
Could Smithville, the Central Texas crossroads that calls itself “Heart of the Megalopolis,” soon change its slogan to “Movietown Megalopolis?” Already known as the pastoral setting featured in the 1998 romantic drama Hope Floats, Smithville has boasted considerable movie-making activity in recent years, notably with Austin director Terrence Malick’s 2011 Cannes Palme d’Or winner The Tree of Life. Two more productions with big-name talent have been shot since Tree was completed two years ago: Beneath the Darkness, a teen thriller, and Doonby, an offbeat drama. And several more independent films have been “made in Smithville” as well.