I’m a Gourmet Chef – Who Knew?

How about a little Crab Cobb Salad?

How about a little Crab Cobb Salad?

AT HOME IN HEATH: MY INNER CHEF HAS BLOSSOMED

Bill didn’t marry me for my cooking.  The only food I cooked for him before we got married was my signature spaghetti, which was pretty awesome, but he should have realized there was a problem when he had to teach me to make coffee.  During our first year of marriage we discovered the dishes I’d learned to make in my mother’s kitchen were not to Bill’s taste and his Egyptian dishes were out outside my skill set.  We did not have compatible cuisines.

Confessions of a Yo-Yo Dieter

I was single for a long time.  I’d grown up helping my mom out in the kitchen, but I’d never developed any food management skills of my own.  I ate a lot of fast food, loved frozen chicken pot pies and could make a meal out of a bowl of rice.

From time to time my poor eating habits would catch up with me and I’d fall back on the Scarsdale Diet.  It worked and the simple meals were easy to fix, but you were supposed to rotate the diet with “regular eating” and nothing about the way I ate was regular.  Once the weight was gone, I’d just go back to my bad habits until it was Scarsdale time again.

Then I Got Married

Poor Bill has had quite a ride with me.  Before I really got an opportunity to develop those menu planning/food preparation skills, Bill was already fed up with my efforts.  Not only was he tired of my less than restaurant-quality offerings, he was thoroughly disgusted with the number of things that went bad in my refrigerator.  We ate out, ate a lot of convenience foods and hobbled along for a few months until I had packed on the pounds again.

My best friend introduced me to a crazy 500-calorie-a-day medical diet and in desperation I joined.  Bill nearly had a heart attack when he found out what I spent, but it was non-refundable.  I saved most of my 500 calories for dinner time and we hobbled through meal time until I lost the weight – again.  And of course, eventually I gained it all back.

At some point near the ten year mark, Bill had lived with me through several phases of my yo-yo dieting and I was back on the porky side.  That’s when I discovered Jenny Craig – another diet that “worked.”  I was always great at losing weight when I set my mind to it, but then I’d always gain it back.  Bill liked that Jenny Craig worked, but he didn’t like the cost of meals he couldn’t even share with me.  This yo-yo thing was beginning to wear on us.

And Then There Was South Beach

Over the years Bill and I did discover some dishes we could cook that both of us would like.  We also ate out a lot, like everyone else this day and time.  We weren’t eating healthy, however, and Bill’s doctor introduced him to the South Beach Diet, because he had all the symptoms the diet had been developed for.  I wish I could tell you that I embraced this chance for us to eat together, but I was in the middle of my five year care-giving crisis and Bill was mostly on his own when it came to eating what the diet recommended.  I’ll have to give him creds.  He lost the weight and got all his numbers in the right place.  He about drove me to distraction talking about how wonderful the diet was though – and not just to me, but to anyone who would listen, as well as a few folks who didn’t.

I Finally Gave In

Bill is by far the most persistent person I have ever known.  Most of the time that’s a good thing, but from time to time, it’s not so good.  I finally gave up and tried South Beach.  He’d managed to be successful with it by embracing the rules and applying them to his eating, but I’m not so good with rules.  I knew I’d have to do the diet differently or it would be a waste of my time.

One November day in 2013 became Day One of Phase One.  I followed the diet religiously, faithfully producing every dish on the suggested menu.  Some dishes were a success.  Some were not.  I certainly wasn’t a pro at managing the refrigerator and pantry, but when Bill wanted to complain about a head of lettuce in the trash or wilted asparagus in the crisper, I’d remind him that this diet was his idea.  That seemed to do the trick.

I guess you’re not surprised that the diet worked.  I lost the weight and I was doing pretty good at maintaining it until THE HOUSE.  Those of you who follow my blog know the trauma we went through getting this Home in Heath built.  My diet went out the window and yep, all those pounds came back.

I Came Back

You know what, though.  I missed the Beach.  I’d learned to love frittatas.  I was craving all that spinach, tomatoes and salmon.  I also missed the pals I’d made on the South Beach Diet Chat Groups.  After Bill and I had been in the house for about six weeks, I pulled out my tattered copy of South Beach Diet and my notebook full of kitchen-tested SBD recipes.

This time things were different.  Somewhere along the line those kitchen managing skills I hadn’t possessed in the past had somehow developed.  I was becoming a champ in the kitchen.  I used the SBD book to get me started, but long before Phase 2 was over, I was planning my own menus and modifying recipes to better suit our tastes or to utilize what we had in the pantry instead of making yet another trip to the store.

Our New Paradigm

Shhhhhhh! Don’t tell Bill, but I’ve gotten to the point that I’d just as soon cook at home as go out to eat.  I like my cooking.  He likes my cooking.  I have fun trying new recipes.  I enjoy planning meals.  I even like grocery shopping.

Organizing the pantry, freezer and fridge is sort of like a game.  I’m even discovering that when we go out for a meal, it throws a kink in my food planning.  Not to mention the fact that more often than not, I like the way I cook things better than what I’m served.

I’m still working my way through the huge assortment of recipes South Beach Diet has online, because I want to keep the weight off this time, but I’m beginning to have an urge to crack open my recipe books.  Even though I was never much of a cook, I liked picking up cookbooks when I traveled.  I kept assuring myself that at some point in my life I would actually have time to cook.  Then I inherited all of my mom’s cookbooks.  My sister had no interest in them and I certainly wasn’t going to throw them away.  I’d need several lifetimes to use all the recipes I have in my kitchen, so I guess it’s just about time to get started.

I never dreamed that I was as good of a cook as I’ve turned out to be.  I still have my moments.  I forget to preheat the oven, chop up my other vegetables with my onions when I’m supposed saute the onions separately, substitute crunched crackers when I run out of bread crumbs in the middle of a recipe and that sort of thing, but I’m learning that none of it is the end of the world.  When in doubt, I just add some pepper and keep on cooking!

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The Riverwalk’s Museum Reach

NAO tacos at The Pearl Farmer's Market

Our Riverwalk destination: NAO tacos at The Pearl

TRAVEL THERE: ON THE MUSEUM REACH OF THE RIVERWALK

So, on a bright Saturday morning, we strolled from the Hotel Contessa to the point where the Riverwalk connects with Museum Reach. We took a flight of stairs to the River level and made a right.

Morning on the Museum Reach

To our surprise, we pretty much had the Museum Reach all to ourselves.  We saw a few bicyclists and joggers, but in a tourism city like San Antonio we were amazed more travelers weren’t enjoying the river. (Maybe the others went to the VIA Informatiaon Office and were on trolleys.)  Forget tourists, why aren’t the residents flocking to this lovely pedestrian thoroughfare.

It was cooler down by the river.  An occasional River Taxi offered to take us further, but we were minding our pennies.  By walking we were able to enjoy the lock and dam.  We saw the VFW post I’d read about, but I guess it was a little early for their libations.  Gardens graced each side of the river and there were a number of interesting art installations, including some sort of grotto.

Lunch at The Pearl Farmer’s Market

It wasn’t a hard walk, but we were certainly happy to arrive at The Pearl when we did.  There’s a big hotel under construction right by the Riverwalk, so we had to do some maneuvering to get past, but I’m sure it will be great when the hotel is finished.

First, stop was the NAO taco stand.  NAO, the Culinary Institute of America restaurant, is one of my very favorites in San Antonio, but it’s not open for lunch.  However, they do serve tacos from a stand at the Farmer’s Market.  My research indicated that we had plenty of time to get our tacos, but we were hungry, so we headed on over there.  We didn’t find it right off, but we should have known, it was the booth with the big, long line.

We grabbed a bit of the sidewalk and shuffled along with the slow moving line.  You might assume that tacos from a food booth would be fast food, but there was nothing fast about the service.   They were making some sort of beverage by hand and the aroma of cooking meat was amazing.  The folks in line were both patient and congenial.  We wished for some shade, but were otherwise happy to be there.

Then someone announced there were only a few orders of left.  Five to be exact.  There were more than five people in line ahead of us, so I was terrified we were going to miss this treat.  Thankfully, in one group ahead, only one person wanted tacos.  Everyone else was there for the beverage.  Then the pair immediately ahead of us got an order of tacos to share and some beverages.  WE WERE IN!  We ordered our tacos and white sangria, paid the rather hefty price and were given a ticket for our tacos.  We approached the grill and traded small pieces of paper for heaven.

We found a table on the plaza, but were still wishing for shade.  There was a sort of arbor, but the vines they are trying to grow on it haven’t made much headway. (Note to self: bring parasol next time.)  Then we bit into our tacos and sipped our sangria.  All other thoughts disappeared.  It was suddenly well worth the trek to have the delicious treats.  There were only one or two orders left when we picked up our tacos, so we were grateful to the Riverwalk gods for getting us there in time.

There was a Farmers Market going on and I had planned on checking it out, but our stroll along the Museum Reach had used up our shopping time.  We decided to head back to the San Antonio Museum of Art, which was right across the river and catch a trolley there.  We still didn’t know when it would arrive, but we had all of the SAMA to enjoy while we waited.

Don’t Miss Dessert!

Lick, San Antonio, TX

Go ahead and take a Lick

On the way back to the river we did make one detour – Lick!  This little shop offers what they call “honest ice cream”.  Everything is organic, vegan, non-GMO, etc. and some of it is even gluten-free.  They use honey instead of sugar.  I’m not that big of a fan of ice cream (which is a good thing or I’d have more weight challenges than I do), but they did have chocolate, which I love.  Deb on the other hand adores ice cream and she assured me this was equal to if not better on the ice cream scale as the NAO tacos were on the taco scale.  I’m sure you can trust her opinion.

Next up?  The SAMA!  Will we or won’t we connect with the trolley?  Come back next week and find out!

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Fatted Calf in Rockwall TX

Fatted Calf, Rockwall TX

Are you looking for a new place to eat?

TRAVEL HERE: DINNER AT THE ROCKWALL’S  FATTED CALF

After a year of building our home in Heath and several months of living in it, we’re finally getting around to visiting some of the restaurants in downtown Rockwall.  We’d visited The Londoner and Bin 303 much earlier in this process, but recently we made it to the Fatted Calf.

Diner or Dinner?

So, I’d heard several people rave about the Fatted Calf, but their descriptions made the place sound more like a diner than someplace to have dinner.  I had it mentally bookmarked in the brunch category.

Then we made a trek to downtown Rockwall on a Friday night.  We’d seen that all kinds of construction was going on around the square, but we’d never paid too much attention.  Having to negotiate it for parking made us actually look at what was going on.  I’ve got to tell you it’s a mess right now, but it looks as if it’s going to be pretty amazing when they get through.

Stepping around the construction mess, we first dropped by an outdoor venue where a duo were singing away about some woman’s headache.  It was probably worth more attention and we plan to find out how often they have this kind of thing, but we were hungry.

Our destination was actually Zenata’s, but when we got there it was WAY too loud.  We were looking for a quiet, perhaps even romantic, spot for dinner and we’d heard it was a Mediterranean restaurant.  It was a very loud pizza joint.  We sat for all of about 45 seconds and almost beat the hostess back to the door.

My next thought was Oscar Delta, a restaurant around the corner, which we pass by frequently, but we came up on the Fatted Calf first.  I didn’t think I was anymore interested in diner food than I was the noise at Zenata, but Bill convinced me to at least check out the menu.  The Fatted Calf is not a diner.

Table for Two

Folks in Rockwall must go somewhere else besides Rockwall on Friday nights.  Well that, or they’re over at The Harbor and the I-30 Restaurant Row.  There had been a nice crowd at Zenata’s but Fatted Calf was empty.  Maybe that’s because, like me, everyone thinks it is a diner.

Come to find out the Fatted Calf actually has a split personality.  According to our waitress, the restaurant opened as a diner, but added dinner later, which may or not have coincided with their relationship with the owner of Culpepper’s and The Oar House.  Apparently, the news hasn’t spread as far as it needs to or they would have had a few more tables filled.  There were several folks enjoying themselves at the bar, but up there where the food was served Bill and I were all alone.

My emotions were having a bit of a bouncy ride: Enjoying the improvements downtown and the musicians; Finding Zenata’s and then leaving; Thinking the Fatted Calf was a diner and being pleasantly surprised by the menu, but feeling apprehensive about all the empty seats.  Then the waitress mentioned Culpeppers and The Oar House, which the restaurant was associated with in some way.  Well, I loved the steak I had at Culpepper’s and the musicians who had been playing when I visited, but The Oar House experience had not been as good.  All this and I still had to figure out what I was going to eat.

Bill enjoyed his Perloo

Bill enjoyed his Perloo

What in the World is Perloo?

According to the menu, Low Country Perloo is “BASMATI RICE/SHRIMP/ROASTED CHICKEN/PEPPERS/SMOKED SAUSAGE/ SCALLION BUTTER.”  Bill decided to be brave and try it, in spite of the waitress’ less than enthusiastic recommendation, “It’s not my favorite, but people seem to like it.”  She was more excited about my choice, Ted’s Crab Cake.

When the plates arrived they both looked great, but Bill seemed to be crazier about his food than mine.  The crab cake was fine.  I have no complaints, but it wasn’t a standout entree for me.  In fact, what I liked best on the plate was the “CORN MAQUE CHOUX.”  It was about the most delicious corn I’d ever had in my life.  When I googled it I discovered it was pronounced Corn Mock Shoe and it’s a Cajun dish.  Call it what you will and I’ll just call it scrumptious.  Also on my dish was something that looked and tasted like mashed potatoes, but the menu claims is lobster bisque.  I think it was mashed potatoes.

So do I think you should go visit the Fatted Calf?  I’d say it would be a nice night out.  I’m planning to go for brunch someday, because the menu for that meal looks appealing, but since Sunday is our usual brunch day, I’m not sure how I’m going to work it in.  Come back next week and I’ll have some more recommendations for you.

 

 

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Strolling San Antonio TX

Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio TX

This Briscoe Western Art Museum is housed in a wonderful old library building.

TRAVEL THERE: SAN ANTONIO STROLLING

Little did I know when I tagged this trip as the San Antonio Stroll how apt the title would be. I was thinking of wandering along the river from Margarita to Margarita, not hoofing it from downtown to The Pearl.  Well, that was before the VIA streetcars let me down.

Go Mobile Without Your Car

One of my favorite things about San Antonio is that you can forget about driving for a day or two, because they’ve got a great transit system.  I don’t know what the locals think of it, but the VIA Streetcars are great for tourists.  However there’s a pitfall.  I’ve been using the VIA Streetcars for decades and that was the pitfall.  I assumed I knew how things operated.

They have a route going around and around downtown – called the Red Circulator.  It comes by every ten minutes or so.  I have ridden that one to get an overall view of the area, but it used to cover more ground and there were several other trolley lines that hooked up with it.  There’s still something called the Primo – but that’s a bus.  I’m a tourist, so I want a trolley.  There’s Blue Circulator which looked like it could get me to the other places I wanted to go, but I was a little fuzzy on the time thing.

I pored over the new trolley schedule online, but couldn’t find a schedule that said, “Here are the times the Blue Circulator comes by its stops.”  Note to self:  Next time stop by the VIA Info Center and ask them!  It’s right on the Red Circulator route and it was steps away from my hotel.  Instead I decided to play it by ear.  Good thing I bought some comfortable walking shoes for the trip!

So, on day three of the San Antonio Stroll, we’d already strolled quite a bit.  Day one, shopping at the Round Rock Outlet Mall and walking from the RiverCenter to the Tower of the Americas and back.  Day Two, walking the McNay, the King William Walking Tour and the self-directed Riverwalk Margarita Tour.  With day three being primarily museums and gardens, I thought a little foot relief would be just the thing.

Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio TX

The Briscoe

Breakfast and The Briscoe

We grabbed breakfast at Whataburger and discovered there was an egg shortage.  Not something I’d heard about anywhere else, but some poor fast-food clerk was having to apologize to everyone about it, so I didn’t think she needed my two cents worth also.  Therefore we ate some chicken biscuit thing with honey-butter.  Not just was the doctor ordered, but sustenance enough until the next meal.  As long as I had my Diet Dr. Pepper, I was good.

On to the Briscoe Western Art Museum.  I’ve already done a good job of describing the museum here, so no need to do that again – but it was one of those days.

First the eggs, then the museum entrance fee.  Last time, I breezed in with my Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) Reciprocal Privileges. The DMA website said I still had them, but the Briscoe had changed its affiliation.  To give the Briscoe its due, it did eventually comp my entry, but we had to pay for Deb’s ticket.  Not that it was exorbitant, it was the principle of the thing.  I’m not sure who to blame, but I’m not happy.

I enjoyed the museum the second time around, but what I liked best was that Deb discovered she likes Western Art.  As I’ve said, Deb will pretty much go wherever I want to, but sometimes she’s just going along to be along and that was the case with the Briscoe.  Inside she enjoyed the historical perspective of the third floor, but she was blown away by the art on the second floor.  Western art has a new fan.

Via the VIA?

After a quick stroll through the gift shop, where we’d have bought several things if money were no object, we headed to the trolley stop.  Well nothing was posted, because everything is on your phone – right?  Unless you don’t have the latest phone and you can’t get to the right page and even if you could you couldn’t see it in the bright sunlight. (mumbling complaints under my breath).  We stood there a few moments pretending a trolley was coming any minute, because I was convinced they came by every ten minutes.  Then a passerby dissuaded us from this illusion.

So we tried our handy-dandy doorman, because the bus stop was in front of the hotel.  He knew the trolley came by and where, but not when.  We went to the concierge and she was having the trouble I had, sans the sunlight.  There’s no webpage that says when the trolley comes by the Briscoe Museum stop.  (Are you listening VIA?)

Or You Can Walk

We decided to hoof it.  Both of us love to walk.  The heat was not oppressive, so we set off.  The walk was a little over a mile and a half, which took time, but not much effort.

We did connect with the trolley later in the day which allowed us to get much further than we would have gotten on our own four feet, but it wasn’t easy.  With no available schedules, we had to find someone who knew the drill to get on the trolley at a stop near The Pearl.  Then we’d quiz the bus driver when we got off about when the next trolley would be by.  The cost was cheap – but the hassle was high.  And speaking of hassle – a day ticket is $4, but you won’t get any change, so have some singles.

Yes, I could have avoided all this hassle (one hopes) by checking with the VIA Information Center, but we all know about hindsight – and I was reminded of the pitfalls of assuming you know what to expect in the future based on past performance.  In other words, “Don’t never assume nothing!!”

That’s right, don’t assume anything, but come back next week and we’ll have street tacos at The Pearl.

 

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Brunch at Crossroads Diner – Dallas TX

My new favorite app!

My new favorite app!

TRAVEL HERE:  APPS AND APPETITE AT CROSSROADS DINER IN DALLAS

Looking for a great place for brunch in Dallas?  Try Crossroads Diner!  On a recent Sunday we were headed to the Kimbell Art Museum to see the Botticelli to Braque exhibition.  You can read about that here, but on the way we stopped at Crossroads Diner for a delicious brunch.  You should go soon, too.

Me and My Talk Shows

Bill says I’m addicted to conservative talk radio.  I say he’s brainwashed by the liberal media.  I do listen to conservative radio, but I balance it with lots of mainstream reporting and the Facebook postings of my liberal friends.  I figure some spot in the middle of all those sources is the truth.

If I’m in the car on weekday mornings, I will tune into The Mark Davis Show.  He’s definitely Conservative, but he’s also mild-mannered – unlike some more famous conservative pundits.  For a while he was on WBAP, but he’s moved over to The Answer, where I also listen to Sean Hannity (another of the more pleasant forms of Conservatism). Anyway, that’s how I found out about Crossroads Diner, listening to the radio.

Timing Issues

I’ve been hearing about Crossroads Diner for a long time, but was having a hard time connecting with it.  The diner, located near the intersection of Central and Walnut Hill, is open from 7 AM- 2PM Tuesday through Sunday, but I’m rarely in that part of town at that time of day and even when I am, it’s a place I wanted to share with Bill, not make a solo trip to.

Also, the diner is right next door to Cedars, one of Bill’s favorite mezza grills.  So, even if we happened to be in the area come lunch time, Bill would always choose the Cedars over someplace I’d heard about on that radio station he hates.  So I knew if I was going to get Bill to the restaurant, it would need to be for breakfast, but the opportunity never presented itself – until Sunday.

Something Different 

Even though we’ve only been in Heath for a few months, we’ve already been creating some ruts.  A couple of Sundays ago, Bill wanted to crawl out of one of them and he let me know early enough in the day to get him to Crossroads Diner for brunch.

As I feared, plenty of other people know about Crossroads Diner and the front of the restaurant was covered up with folks waiting for a table.  We feared the worst, but we were assured our wait would be less than half an hour and then they wanted my phone number.  This was a new twist.  I wasn’t making a reservation they’d have to call me about.  I was right there in front of them.

They said they wanted the number because they were going to text me, but a test text to verify my number said it was powered by No Wait, so of course I had to check it out.  I’m not one of those people whose eyes are permanently affixed to my phone, but I love clever apps.  Way back when smartphones first came out and I was still using a flip phone I was inordinately jealous of folks whose phone could read those blocks of data on museum walls.  Red Laser was one of the first apps I downloaded.  I dig apps.

I downloaded the No Wait app and found out 23 parties were in line ahead of me.  That was discouraging.  I checked it a few minutes later and there was only 18.  Suddenly I loved the app.   We’ve all had that nagging worry the hostess has forgotten about us or we’ve been skipped over.  No more!!  BTW, Crossroads got us in well within the twenty minutes they promised and I loved being able to watch our progress on the app.

My guess is that this app is going to spread like wildfire.  No more starting out on the wrong foot when you’re eating out.  Imagine knowing how long the wait is going to be before you head to a restaurant.  Even better, imagine putting yourself in line and the restaurant being ready for you just about the time you arrive.  I’m sure there’s a downside to it, like people who put themselves in line and then don’t show up.  And then there are all the people that will figure out a way to mess it up for everyone else.  I hate those guys!

There’s another reason I like the app.  You know how you go to a restaurant and put yourself on the waiting list.  Then after a few minutes you decide the wait will be too long or you think of someplace else you’d rather be.  Well, I always hate going back to the hostess to confess we’re leaving, but I also don’t like to think of them calling, “Jane, party of two,” and having to repeat it while all the other patrons curse whoever it was that skipped out without notifying the hostess.  No Wait lets you get out of line with the just a click.  Brilliant!

So How Was the Food?

OK, I’m getting to that.  I just had to tell you about my new app.  The food was great.

The decor in the diner is pretty simple.  Nothing to write home about – except for the chandelier made out of industrial-sized whisks.  I thought that was pretty clever.  There’s an upstairs which I assume serves private parties.  Oh, and if you like outdoors the way I do, there’s a small patio outside with lots of seats.  Most of them were full during my visit, along with every other surface to sit on or lean against.

Bill had corn-beef hash which he loved and it came with pancakes.  Warning, asking for whole wheat will cost you a dollar.  What he was most crazy about though, was the coffee.  First and foremost, it was hot.  Bill has a real fetish for hot.  Our microwave gets a lot of business from him.  Restaurants never serve the coffee hot enough for him, so he was first blown away by the temperature and he insisted that I mention it in my blog.  Then he TASTED the coffee and he was overcome with joy – so much joy that he had to ask what kind of coffee it was and could he buy any.  The coffee is illy, BTW, and I’m guessing you’ll soon be able to get a cup at our house.

I had a frittata, something I love but can rarely get.  I’m not a fan of omelets, because all the stuff in them is basically raw.  With frittatas everything else is cooked before you throw in the egg and I like it that way.  I had the Greek Frittata and it was delicious.  Had I been cooking it, I would have crumbled the feta as opposed to throwing in cubes of the stuff.  It looked a little odd and I just think the whole texture thing would have been better with crumbles.  Then again, I’m funny about textures, so I probably don’t count.

So that’s it and I know I’ve gone on too long, but I had a lot about this visit that I wanted you to know.  come back next week and see what else I’ve been up to.

 

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Fiesta Noche del Rio in San Antonio

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arnesdon River Theater Riverwalk, San Antonio TX

The Master and Mistress of Ceremonies for Fiesta Noche del Rio in San Antonio

TRAVEL THERE: FABULOUS FIESTA NOCHE DEL RIO

Ya wanna have a good time in San Antonio? Then you hafta go to the Fiesta Noche del Rio. What began as a fundraiser for the local Kiwanas almost six decades ago is now one of the most entertaining evenings you can enjoy in San Antonio.

Our New Favorite Thing on the Riverwalk

We bought our tickets along the Riverwalk the day of the show and then did a little Margarita tasting, I mean sightseeing, before going back and snagging a seat in the Arneson River Theater.

The warm up act was an amazing flamenco guitarist with an acoustical twelve string.  He sat on a chair, pulled the guitar into his lap and plucked out beautiful music while providing a stomping percussion with his feet.  Absolutely fascinating and very stirring.

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson River Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio TX

Deb recruited for a little audience participation. If they knew what kind of voice she had, they would have had her singing into the microphone instead of just holding it.

Soon the Master and Mistress of Ceremonies came out to lead us through the evening.  Both had marvelous voices and a serious dose of fun to share with the audience.  They not only led you through the performance, they initiated audience participation and entertained your socks off.  When it came to audience participation, you’d have to talk to my bestie and traveling companion, Deb.  They participated with her several times.

Musica and Danza

The dance numbers were amazing.  How those performers keep from passing out during their routines I have no idea.  The weather was actually quite pleasant for those of us merely sitting idle in the amphitheater.  For the fast moving, fully-costumed dancers under the lights, it was a whole ‘nother thing.  I want to tell you that in spite of the heat, every step was precise and vigorous and their smiles never faded by even a degree.

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson River Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio TX

Beautiful Mariachi music performed by gorgeously costumed musicians was my favorite part.

If you are wondering what kind of music they danced to, then let me ask you this…what kind of music do you like?  If you like rap, then you would have been out of luck, but pretty much everything else was there, from the classical flamenco guitar to jazz to country to…well you name it.

My very favorite was the Mariachi.  It sounds like happy music to me – even when they sing sad songs.  The haunting horns seem to reach down to someplace in my soul.  My heritage is as about as Anglophile as you can get, but one of those guys from the Spanish Armada must have something to do with my DNA.

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio TX

Swirling Skirts

Of course, when the Mariachi’s come out to play, then you also get to see the dancers whirl around in the flowing skirts of their traditional costumes.  If I actually tried their thrilling spins, I’d end up on the floor with the skirt wrapped around my head, but as they twirl, I can imagine myself twirling with them and it is glorious.

I could go on with my rapturous description of the evening, but pictures really are worth thousands of words, so enjoy some of the others I took.

After the Fiesta

We strolled down to Durty Nellie’s after the show for a little of their more raucous entertainment, but my dreams were full of throbbing flamenco music and swirling skirts.  This was the best money I spent on my vacation, yet it was also one of the smallest ticket prices I’ve ever payed for live entertainment.  Do not miss it.  It’s really worth going down there just for the show!

Saturday was our museum marathon – and it was a marathon in more ways than one.  Come back next week and find out why.

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson River Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio

Flamenco Guitarist

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson River Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio

Flameno Dancer

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson River Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio TX

Salsa!

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson River Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX

Cotton-Eyed Joe

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson River Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio TX

Mariachi

Fiesta Noche del Rio, Arneson River Theater, Riverwalk, San Antonio TX

Mexican Folk Music

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Filed under ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Performing Arts, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Scotland Visits Fort Worth TX

Kimball Art Museum, Ft Worth TX

The Exhibition Brochure

TRAVEL HERE: SCOTLAND NATIONAL GALLERIES VISIT THE KIMBALL ART MUSEUM IN FORT WORTH TX

It’s been very nose-to-the-grindstone around here lately, so when Bill said, “Let’s do something different this Sunday,” he didn’t get any argument from me.  In fact, I’d already been formulating a play date in my head.

Day Tripping to the Kimball

On Sundays, the Kimball doesn’t open until noon, so we took a leisurely attitude about our drive.  It’s been a good six months since our last visit and probably longer since we were on I-30 west of Dallas.  We were amazed by the construction.

A companion for our beautiful Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge  is being built to replace the old I-30 bridge.  I’m looking forward to that.  The current bridge has been in bad shape and sadly insufficient for a long time.  I’m sure the daily commuters who are dealing with the construction issues are even more eager than I am for the new bridge.

In fact, much of I-30 is being renovated.  I remember when the thoroughfare was a toll road, but that was a long time ago.  As a child, I was fascinated by the punch card the toll equipment spat out.  It indicated the entrance you had used and being a child, I wondered how it knew.

Somewhere along the way, they made the road free and named it to honor a beloved coach of our Dallas Cowboys, Tom Landry.  A few years ago, they started using his trademark fedora as an icon for that stretch of highway.  As a long time Dallasite and a big fan of Landry, I was glad to notice they are incorporating an image of the fedora in the overpasses.

The Exhibition 

We scored curbside parking under a tree and entered the museum.  To get to the Piano Pavilion, where they house the special exhibitions, you have to go back outside and walk across the museum’s campus.  Usually this is a pleasant prospect, but in the melting heat we did not linger.

The masterworks of Botticelli to Braque, Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland were drawn from three different museums in Scotland: the Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.  I’d been to the Scottish National Gallery a long time ago and had been amazed by their collection, so I was thankful for the opportunity to revisit a few of them.  All fifty-five of the paintings are gorgeous.  You need to see this exhibition.

The first thing you will notice when you enter are the bright red walls of central section of the exhibition.  It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve started to pay attention to the color of walls in a museum.  Usually they are some shade of white, but somewhere along the way they started using color on the walls of exhibitions and I like it.  It helps set the mood for the show.  These red walls mimic the red walls of the National Gallery of Scotland, as illustrated in a lovely photo near the entrance.  I don’t remember if the walls were red when I was there or not.

Mr. Bill immediately walked into the glowing center section, but like a good museum girl, I read all the information posted on the entry walls and then headed to the left, just like I was supposed to.  That placed me right in front of the Botticelli – The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child, which immediately became one of my favorites of the exhibit.  I love that the Kimbell includes an audio tour in the price of admission.  From it I learned the lovely pink roses of the painting had no thorns, which symbolized the virgin birth and that the sleeping Christ child sleeps to remind us of the three days of His death before His Resurrection.  I was also reminded to look in the lower corner of the painting to see the symbolic strawberries, but I had to turn to wiki to discover what they were symbolic of, but the list was too long to include here.

Another favorite of mine was a small portrait of a young girl mourning the death of a bird, painted in lovely pastels.  The complexion of the girl is absolutely radiant and the whole painting seems to bloom with warmth  I’d love to show it to you, but couldn’t find it online.  I found the title and the artist, but they have it attached to a different picture on several sites and the Scottish National Gallery site says there are copyright restrictions.  So, here’s another reason to go to the show.

A John Singer Sargent portrait of Lady Agnes of Lochnaw stares steadily from one of the exhibition’s walls. According to the audio tour, her calm confidence is deceiving, because while she appears stoic in the painting, she famously suffered a nervous breakdown while enjoying the fame the painting brought.  Nearby is the familiar Three Tahitians from Gaugin.   I also enjoyed Matisse’s charming little painting that comments on imagery.  I couldn’t find it online either, but for a final taste of the show I offer Watteau.

The Second Look 

One of the benefits of twenty-one years of marriage is that you finally figure out how to do things.  We do exhibitions differently.  He rarely starts at the beginning, doesn’t like audio tours, infrequently reads exhibition labels and hence is usually through long before I am.  At the Kimball, he found a comfy, out-of-the-way chair and cat-napped while I lingered lovingly over each and every item.

When we were first married, we tried visiting museums in lockstep, but that only resulted in frustration for both of us.  Enjoying the art and exhibits separately, lowered the frustration, but I missed  sharing part.  Our compromise is to look at exhibits separately, then go back through for an overview, showing each other our favorites and comparing our opinions.

The painting of the skater on the brochure above was one of Bill’s choices.  He hadn’t been as fond of the Botticelli and had missed the strawberries completely.  Most the other items on his list were very different from mine. This is the Carot he wanted to take home.

Do make time in your schedule to see this exhibition.  It will only be in Fort Worth until September 20th, so make it soon!  And come back next week, because I’ll tell you where we had a marvelous brunch before we headed over to the Kimbell.

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Filed under ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL