Hello, there! It has been awhile since my last blog, and it's good to be back!
It's Texas Wine Month, and I know what I'll be doing this evening--cracking open a bottle of vino to celebrate this and other recent toast-worthy events. In my cabinet at the moment are several new-to-me bottles from East Texas' Los Pinos Vineyard, as well as a few tried-and-true wines from Central Texas' Alamosa Cellars, so I'll have to see what sounds best when I get home.
The Texas wine biz has grown tremendously in recent years, and now contributes more than $1.3 billion to the state's economy. We're the 5th-largest producer in the United States, bested only by California, Washington, Oregon, and New York. (That last one is a surprise to me.) Currently, Texas boasts some 200 wineries, and most offer tasting rooms and tours.
I spent some time exploring the Texas Department of Agriculture's website, and I found a lengthy (and inspiring) list of upcoming wine-focused events, including the upcoming La Dolce Vita Food and Wine Festival in Austin (Oct. 14), the Fredericksburg Food and Wine Fest (Oct. 23), the Grapevine Hallowine Trail (Oct. 30), and Addison's WineFest 2010 (Nov. 6), and that's just for starters.
Cheers to autumn!
I'm not sure I understand the competition to come up with the next best fried thing, and I'm not here to judge (I'm responsible for my extra poundage, no one else), but every year, when the State Fair of Texas announces its list of fried food finalists, my ears perk up. I am excited to know what's being tossed into the vat next.
So fortunate to personally experience and thoroughly enjoy the Sunday final round of the PGA Tour's Crowne Plaza Invitatational at Colonial in Fort Worth. Quite a thrill. Winner Zach Johnson (with more than a passing resemblance to Hollywood star Joaquin Phoenix, and also happens to be a native Iowan like myself), shot a tournament record 21 under par 259! Among his 6 other tour titles are the 2007 Masters in Augusta and San Antonio's Valero Texas Open in 2008 and 2009. The historic Colonial Country Club and golf course, surrounding FW neighborhoods, and TCU campus were perfectly gorgeous, while the Colonial staff's wonderfully gracious hospitality is a pleasure to behold. And, the highly competitive field of top players brought out the best in each other during the final 18 holes. Hey, these guys are really good! Honestly, I'm not even a golfer (ok, maybe a little driving range/pitch and putt activity), but this is an event you absolutely must consider. It's truly a Texas sports classic. You're able to get incredibly close to the action, and the gallery of fans is most entertaining, as well. Be sure to view the statue of legendary Texan Ben Hogan, one of the game's greatest, and the room full of impressive Hogan career memorabilia here, including some of his major (British Open, Masters, US Open, PGA Championship) tournament trophies. Colonial, founded in 1936, was Mr. Hogan's home course. See www.colonialfw.com, www.crowneplazainvitational.com, or www.pgatour.com.
Lots to enjoy in the Lamar County seat of Paris. This northeast Texas community is proud of its Eiffel Tower replica at the Love Civic Center, the historical museum in Heritage Park, the Sam Bell Maxey State Historic Site, the Plaza Theatre, the Paris Municipal Band's summer concert series at the Grecian Peristyle in Bywaters Park, Culbertson Fountain, the 1914 Santa Fe/Frisco Union Station Railroad Depot, the tree-lined Trail de Paris, July 17th's annual Tour de Paris bicycle event, and the city's new Trolley de Paris (see photo), among many other attractions. For additional information on this Red River Valley destination, call 800/727-4789; www.paristexas.com.
The border is beautiful, indeed. Miss Texas, Kelsey Elizabeth Moore, and Miss New Mexico, Rosanne Aguilar, both students at the University of Texas at El Paso, will be contestants for the Miss USA title this Sunday May 16 in Las Vegas at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. Moore is a UTEP sophomore volleyball team member from El Paso majoring in general studies. Aguilar, from Las Cruces, is a UTEP senior majoring in biology. Congratulations to both of these young ladies and good luck to them in this weekend's competition. The winner of Sunday's event represents the U.S. in the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant.
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).