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November 30, 2010

You know you’re in Texas when…

Tis the season for family, friends and cheap flights from Southwest Airlines. Sure they’re the “bus in the sky” (meaning you stop in at least two places before getting to  your destination), and flights are usually filled to the brim (of techies). But they still offer you peanuts (with no charge) and the flight attendants are comedic and decent to you (unlike American Airlines). Oh and bags fly free…just sayin’.

View of downtown Austin from Mopac bridge

So when I found a super cheap weekend flight to Austin early this month, I couldn’t resist the chance to spend some time with my mom and visit with some dear old friends (two of which are new mothers). Nostalgia was running deep this month, and fifteen years is a long time to know people. I was honored to witness the fresh and beautiful chaos that is parenthood.

When I arrived late Friday, the cold front was just rolling in and rain was hovering in the night air. Drove straight from the airport to Sazon Mexican restaurant where I hoped to be revived with some good ol’ Tex Mex food.

An appropriately tart (sweet mixes are horrible) frozen Margarita (with salt) is step one.

Chicken mole enchiladas, with borracho beans is step two. Their beans are wonderful. Almost as good as mom’s. Took me back to bean soup for dinner with warm cornbread..hmm

Great meal with my mama and a two-man band. The rainy night and soul soothing food created a perfect melody for a good night sleep.

Next morning we are up and I’m ready for guess what? Breakfast tacos. Off to Walton’s Fancy and Staple (Sandra Bullock’s shop) for breakfast.

It’s not a burrito, it’s a taco

Walton’s makes a good breakfast taco. Eggs, bacon and cheese with salsa verde.

Damn good almond croissant

While in Austin I taste-tested almond croissants from La Boite and Walton’s. I even brought back with me, a plain croissant from each (for more taste-testing, or something). It’s a hard decision to make, and one that is not mine to make. The almond croissant at La Boite is absolutely incredible. But I preferred Walton’s. I had momentarily forgotten about Acme’s almond croissant. That’s over now (the momentary part).

We took an after breakfast trip to the  Mexican American Cultural Center. This center has been a very long time coming and I wish it had been built when I was growing up. It is here now and a very nice center.

Altars from the Dia de los Muertos festival were still on display.


Outside vaqueras were warming up for a performance.

About lunch time we made our way to South Congress.

Hill Country produce on South Congress

Menu at The Flying Carpet

I needed to pay my respects to my fabulous friend Nene (a phenomenal Chef), who along with her Moroccan husband Abdu, have opened Austin’s first Moroccan trailer, The Flying Carpet. I love you Nene, I love you!! We took a seat and got the royal treatment. Everything is made from scratch, to order, with love. It is wonderful. I ordered the Sleek Vegetarian and my mom ordered the Moroccan Burger.

The Vegetarian is filled with eggplant, falafel, greens, a fried egg and an heirloom (Abdu’s mother’s sauce) tomato sauce that is slow cooked for hours. Did I mention the part about the food is “made with love”. You can really just taste it. I loved the Vegetarian but after one bite of the Moroccan( ground beef, tomato sauce, greens, fried egg) I knew I was in heaven. This is the meal I want to take to a desert island. Had I not had plans to eat BBQ the next day, I most certainly would have returned for the Moroccan.

On a side note The Flying Carpet makes some of the best fries I’ve ever had. Nene  serves her incredibly addictive L’Afrique sauce with the burger that is perfect to dip the fries in (I also put it on the burger) I want to pour it on everything. It’s like liquid gold! She says she has plans to bottle the stuff. Can’t wait for that!

And you know I had room for dessert.

We snagged one of the last pies of pumpkin at Cutie Pies.

Mom was kind enough to draw a line in the sand and we shared our pre-Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. One bite each and very good at that.


No trip back home is complete without a pilgrimage to some BBQ establishment. We had grand plans to drive to Lockhart for BBQ, but decided to stay in town and visit the Iron Works. We’d go here when I was a kid (yes I grew up eating BBQ) and the place is just a tradition and necessary part of any visit. How delighted was I to hear that they ship BBQ to your front door! Should I? should I not…

The BBQ Chicken plate (if you’re into that)

Was my mom trying to eat “light” at the Iron Works? Surely not. I think it is so cute that she always asks if the ice tea is “sweet”. It never is. They don’t do that (sweet tea) here.

BBQ Rib plate with white bread, onions, pickles, potato salad, beans

I generally would drink a Big Red soda (in the bottle) with my rib plate. This time I decided to have a Shiner Bock. Well why not? It’s two in the afternoon and a Saturday in Austin.Makes complete sense. And for the record I managed to eat only one and a half of the ribs. I wasn’t wearing my stretchy pants.

Did I just upload this photo of the rib plate from Iron Works, again? Oh sorry. Here it is. I just wanted to see it again. I don’t really need to tell you it’s good. Just look at it. It’s oh so very good.

Goodbye Austin..stay weird!

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