Monday, August 9, 2010

prosecco flutes & dusty boots

August has been a constant cry for icy, cool air.

Despite my cold-flowing wishes, I seem to have fallen in sweat-ridden situations the past weeks involving:

gravel-filled ranches,
sun-beaten lakes,
horse-stomped stockyards
& cocktail-ridden patios.

Equipped with my SPF 30, I took it upon myself to fully take advantage of good eats along the way.

The whirlwind began on a charming Saturday morning filled with farmers market finds, fresh fudge and burgers at Fred's when family was in town.

After perusing Cowtown Farmers Market for fresh-baked peach muffins, a green tea and peppermint blend, hot pepper jams and local yellow tomatoes, we whisked on down to the Fort Worth Stockyards for a brief rendezvous.
First stop: the Candy Shoppe then an intermission to The General Store for homemade fudge. As the 107 heat index began to slow us, we trudged to the SUV in need for a greasy lunch revival: Fred's Texas Cafe!
After a classic lunch of burgers and Shiner, we opted for an upscale dinner that shined in the elegant atmosphere of Grace.

We were seated at an oversized table for six and sipped pre-dinner cocktails [St. Germain, soda, prosecco & thyme] as we hungrily awaited a delectable meal to come:

First Course:
Fried Texas Gulf Oysters with Wilted Spinach & Black Pepper Butter
[salty, crispy, peppery]

Salad Course:
Arugula Salad with Lime Vinaigrette, Avocado, Prosciutto & Grilled Watermelon
[an intense vinaigrette with the perfect buttery sides]

Main Course:
Diver Scallops with Shallot Potato Cakes and American Caviar Sauce
[luscious and rich with a lovely texture]

Also memorable:
Mashed Potato Trio: Lobster, Creme Fraiche & Horseradish

After a decadent evening finished with dirty martinis and fine tequila, I relieved my hangover woes with the fried egg "Blunch" sandwich at Tillman's Roadhouse followed by a bellini grande at Patrizio's.

Dinner for one was a simply-prepared summer supper perfect for the final detox.

Local Tomato Tart with Walnuts and a Hot Pepper Glaze

This tart is an acidic, textural bite perfect with a lightly-dressed salad or grilled vegetables.

2/3 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
1 cup plum or cherry tomatoes (I used yellow cherry tomatoes from Carter Farms)
1 T walnuts, roughly chopped
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 T hot pepper jam
(Central Market has a delightful
Hatch Pepper Jalapeno Jelly that would be ideal)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. With a knife, create an equal border indentation around the tart. Within the border, pierce holes all over with a fork to prevent rise when baking.

Brush the entire pastry with olive oil and line tomatoes in your inner-fork pierced area. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and walnuts. Bake approximately 15 minutes until border is puffed and browned.

Slide on a baking rack to cool. Meanwhile, heat hot pepper jam to a liquid stage and delicately brush atop tart and crust. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Days later, I took a quick jaunt to Austin for pedicures with Mom, comforting dining and a massive family affair on the ranch. After soaking our gams in warm, rose petal basins, I was blissfully dressed with bright pink polish and off for Chianti and comforting Northern Italian fare at NoRTH in the Domain.

To begin: flutes of prosecco with fresh berries and the oh, so simple trio of spreads:

eggplant + feta
goat cheese + pesto
hummus + olive oil

with perfectly-grilled baguette and salty olives.
Our salads were mixed green-based perfect with their smooth avocado, buttery marcona almond and golden raisin toppings. Round three was the simplest: wood fired pizza with arugula, fresh wild mushrooms and pecorino. Perfetto!
The sun-drenched weekend came to an end with a road trip to Temple, Texas for a Southern fest at its' finest held at the legendary Oscar Store for a family wedding bash.

Amongst dusty shoes [cowboy boots for him, gladiators for her],
beers by the bottle,
margarita machines,
smoked fajitas,
live Texas tunes
& coconut cream cakes,

we two-stepped the night away...

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