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Food and Wine recap

Written by | Published May 7, 2013

Among the many things I learned at the second annual Austin FOOD & WINE Festival, which took place at Austin's Butler Park April 27-28, here are my favorite take-aways:

With the reopening of the Boquillas border crossing in Big Bend National Park, curious travelers have raised questions about the activities and safety associated with crossing the Rio Grande into Mexico.

A cook-off competitor fries up his best chicken-fried steaks in Lamesa.

The West Texas town of Lamesa, about 60 miles south of Lubbock,serves up its annual Chicken-Fried Steak Festival this weekend in celebration of the town’s claim as the birthplace of the Texas delicacy. According to local legend, short-order cook James Donald Perkins accidentally made the first dish of its kind in 1911 when he misinterpreted an order for chicken and fried steak at a small restaurant called Ethel's Home Cooking. Instead of making two separate items, he thought the customer wanted a steak battered and fried like a chicken—and what a delicious mistake it turned out to be.


Passport to Brazil!

Written by | Published April 24, 2013

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.

The public gets its first chance this week to the see the newly restored Texas Governor's Mansion.

Some are shy on stage; others are natural performers. Some feature technical playing; others draw on their emotions. They're all budding accordion slingers aiming for the title in this year's Big Squeeze competition.

Eight of the state's best young accordionists are traveling to Austin this weekend for the semifinals of the Big Squeeze. The semifinalists, ranging in age from 11 to 18, will perform a free show at Lonestar Plaza of the Bullock Museum from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

Art City Austin

Written by | Published April 12, 2013

In Austin, artists and musicians are finalizing prepwork for this weekend's Art City Austin Festival (April 13-14), which transforms the streets surrounding City Hall and the 2nd Street entertainment district into an outdoor art fair. Among the reasons to go: Hundreds of artists will display their works throughout the festival grounds, more than 150 pieces of art enliven the galleries inside City Hall, local food trailers offer sustenance and libations, musicians perform non-stop, and perhaps best of all-the weather promises to be spectacular! Tickets cost $8; free admission for kids age 12 and younger. It's also free if you ride your bike!


Interactive kids' activities at Art City Austin

First produced in 1951 as the Texas Fine Arts Association's Spring Juried Art Fair, the event, renamed "Art City Austin,” moved downtown in 2008. It's organized by Art Alliance Austin, which works to advance the city "by integrating art, culture, and creativity into public life." 

Celebrating Texas wildflower season

Written by | Published April 11, 2013

It's shaping up to be a beautiful weekend, with the weather cooperating just in time for several wildflower festivals and peak blooms still to come in some areas.

Boquillas border crossing opens in Big Bend

Written by | Published April 10, 2013

The United States and Mexican governments opened the Boquillas border crossing on Wednesday, reestablishing tourist access between the two countries in Big Bend National Park.

Spring bloom update from Wildflower Center

Written by | Published April 9, 2013

Texas wildflowers are so delicately beautiful that it’s no surprise their annual blooms are subject to the whims of spring weather.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 27 years since musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds started showing up on TV and radio with songs to discourage littering as part of the Don’t mess with Texas campaign.

The campaign was a big success and grew into a household slogan in Texas, and even beyond. But at the same time, the state’s population has grown (at a pace of 1,000 people per day currently), and a younger generation of Texans doesn’t necessarily relate the slogan with its anti-littering message.

Last-minute travel?

Written by | Published March 28, 2013

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.

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