Friday, November 30, 2012

Road Trippin' (sort of) - Bastrop Brewhouse

If you've ever had any doubt that Austin's influence is winding its way along the Colorado River into Bastrop, one visit to Bastrop Brewhouse will help you cast that doubt aside. "Eat Local / Drink Local," which may as well be Austin's mantras (not that they're bad mantras, mind you) greet you in huge letters as you walk up to the place...and doesn't it seem so very Austin to put your pup on your logo?

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The interior is well-lit and spacious, and there's a substantial patio in case you don't want any windows blocking your view of the river (or in case you have a four-legged friend in tow).

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Sadly, I've been in Bastrop on business both times I was here, so I've yet to taste their house-brewed beer - has anyone out there given it a try?

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As far as the food goes, both times I was here, I was pleasantly surprised by the skill in execution; a BLT became special with the addition of flavorful aioli, and a chicken sandwich (something I would normally avoid ordering in a restaurant) was executed perfectly, with nary a morsel of dry meat in sight (the generous slathering of pesto didn't hurt).

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I raised an eyebrow initially at the fact that I only got five onion rings for the $1.50 upcharge (fries come with it for free), but after eating all five, I was secretly glad that there weren't more on the plate. They are filling.

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If you find yourself pining for Austin, but you just can't quite make it that last few miles to the Big City, I definitely recommend that head on over to Bastrop Brewhouse for a little taste of ATX.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Off Topic: Shoal Creek Fields

Shortly after we first adopted our dog, Mindy, back in 2008, I discovered a very special piece of land near my house. Nearly any time of day, regardless of the weather, you could reliably find people there walking, playing, flying kites, laughing, connecting - and you could also reliably find solitude, too, if that's what you needed.

Mindy and I visited frequently. We made friends there that I still spend time with today. We took lots of photos, including the ones in this post. And together we developed a love for this magical place, a place where wildflowers grew rampant, where there was enough open space to give the wind (and the dogs) room to play.

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Eighty acres of undeveloped land in the middle of a city growing as fast as Austin was bound to meet its demise at some point. Over the years, I'd heard rumors that it would be developed "soon," but the rumors never grew legs - until recently. A few months ago, developers' names started to be bandied about, and there was talk of grocery stores and movie theaters and gas stations. Here. On top of this.

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And this.

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And this.

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I'm not naive enough to think that there is anything that can be done to stop the development of my beloved land. But I'm hoping you'll consider supporting a group of people that has formed to ensure that any development that does occur here is done sustainably and preserves as much as possible the soul of this beautiful space.  If you are on Facebook, you can support this group, called the Bull Creek Road Coalition, by "liking" their Facebook page. There will probably be more ways to help later - please watch the Facebook page for updates. We need to protect as much of this...

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...as we possibly can.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Food Photo Friday: Snarky's Moo Bawk Oink

I find it hard to resist the siren song of a banh mi, even when I'm dining somewhere that isn't likely to serve up real banh mi (my screen name is Optimista for a reason). And if it's authentic banh mi you're looking for, you may want to pass on this one from Snarky's Moo Bawk Oink - honestly, this is more like a cheesesteak with an assortment of Asian-esque toppings than anything approaching what you'd find in a Vietnamese restaurant.

That said, it's a pretty tasty sandwich - the meat was tender, the baguette crusty but not too crusty, if you know what I mean, and it went down just fine with an ice cold Topo Chico on yet another unseasonably-warm "fall" day. I didn't have room left over for the s'mores doughnut I was eyeing on Snarky's menu, but here's hoping that I'm able to rally next time.


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Pork Banh Mi from Snarky's Moo Bawk Oink ($5.49)

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