For Better or For Worse…..

No, this is not a post about my marriage….rather, it is a post about the second day of our trip to San Antonio!  Unfortunately, my cold is getting worse; fortunately the food is getting better!!!  And that’s exciting because the food yesterday was pretty darn good.

I wish I could say I bounded out of bed this morning with renewed vigor; but the truth is I slept terribly (probably because of the large iced coffee I had yesterday afternoon to try to stay awake), I was badly in need of cold medicine and I really wanted to roll over and sleep until tomorrow….

But I am so glad I didn’t.  After what felt like a really ssslllooowww process of getting ready for the day, I caught a cab to the Pearl Brewery site – 22 acres north of San Antonio that house the Culinary Institute of America, some funky shops and several yummy restaurants as well as the Pearl Brewery.

I browsed the shops and asked for a lunch recommendation along the way…..the young (OK, to me everyone seems young anymore) girl I asked did not hesitate even for one second to point me to Il Sogno Italian Osteria.  She told me her second choice would be Arcade Midtown Kitchen, which serves a “soup of the moment” not a “soup of the day” – my kind of place!!!

I wandered around the area, taking my time in the shops, watching students through the windows at the C.I.A. and soaking up the Texas heat…..and it was HOT – 102 degrees today…..

When my belly started growling loudly enough for others to hear, I decided to find a spot for lunch….I turned the corner and, as if from a dream, right in front of me was Il Sogno Italian Osteria.

I inquired about whether I was too late for lunch…..2:30 is on the cusp…. but thankfully I was just under the wire.  I was shown to my table and given the lunch menu and the wine list.  I decided I’d just glance at the wine list and only order wine if there was a Falanghina on the list – something that almost never happens.

While I looked at the wine list and the menu, my waiter brought me a welcomed glass of ice water, which was made even better by a tray of thinly sliced citrus fruit of varying types that I could choose to flavor my water.  My aqua du jour … lime orange.  Mmm mmm mmm….especially good on a hot day!

Ahhh Refreshing

To end the suspense, there WAS a Falanghina on the wine list and I did order a glass; but when the waiter came back to tell me he didn’t think they had a bottle in stock I knew it was too good to be true.  By that point I think the waiter and I were both invested in me having  a glass of wine, so I asked for his recommendation.  He brought out two bottles for me to sample.

Of the two, I chose the Venica Sauvignon….not the Falaghina for which I had hoped, but still a nice white.  I was torn between several of the pizze options and several of the pasta options.  Ultimately I decided on Tagliatelle with Meatballs, Pine Nuts and Guanciale.

A Little Wine with Lunch

As I waited for my food, I admired the restaurant…..kind of a modern warehouse meets Italian villa décor.  Very comfortable and welcoming.  The tables were set simply with white cloths covered by white butcher’s paper. And the lighting – recycled wine bottles – was quite interesting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The bread that was delivered to my table looked DIVINE.  And looks did not deceive…..it TASTED divine too.  It started as a crusty bread, but the crusts were cut off to form a rectangle.  The bread was then lightly oiled (I’m fairly certain it was oil, not butter) and grilled to a crispy perfection.  It was served with a white bean and garlic spread and a drizzle of olive oil.  I could have made a meal of just the bread, but I stopped after one piece….knowing pasta was to come.

The Bread

When my pasta was delivered, it looked and smelled wonderful.  I couldn’t wait to dig in.     The sauce, a lovely red, tasted as though it had been simmering for hours.  The flavors were deep and robust, but the thin chiffonade of basil gave it a lovely freshness.  The meatballs were INCREDIBLE….perhaps the best I’ve ever eaten…..so light and fluffy…almost like eating a cloud….if it were made of meat…..with garlic….ok, I clearly lost the battle with that analogy!  The pine nuts gave a little crunch to the dish and a nice buttery nuttiness.  And the guanciale….oh, the guanciale…..what a nice salty bite!

Tagliatelle with Meatballs Pine Nuts and Guanciale

I truly savored my lunch.  It was not the kind of meal you inhale….I didn’t want to waste a single tasty morsel.  So I lingered with my wine and my book and my pasta.  And no one seemed to care.

The service was wonderful….my server and a few other folks checked on me as they walked past, but they were not intrusive in the least.  After taking away my empty plate, the waiter and I had a nice conversation about places to eat in the Hill Country, where Jeff and I are headed tomorrow.  After a short chat, I was given the dessert menu.

Too full for dessert, but tempted by the panna cotta and the gelato I looked over the menu and ultimately declined.  The waiter – clearly a man after my own heart – brought out two small nutella cookies saying that you couldn’t have a proper Italian meal without dessert.  Along with the cookies he brought another bottle of wine from which he poured me a sample. The cookies were heavenly….they literally dissolved on my tongue with a whisper of nutella.

Nutella Cookies

What a luxurious lunch experience.  The only thing that would have made it better were if my husband, the man to whom I pledged “for better or worse” many years ago, had been able to join me!

A few snaps from the day:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the menu tomorrow?  BBQ….don’t miss it!

Prickly and Sticky in San Antonio

Day 1 in San Antonio is 99 degrees F with approximately 1,000% humidity…..suffice it to say it’s HOT! Of course, to hear the locals tell it, 99 degrees is a cold-front compared to last week’s temps of 105.  But any way you slice it, and the humidity is so thick you CAN slice it, it’s HOT!  I mention this because (1) it’s a fact and (2) I am NOT a hot weather girl…..not by any stretch of the imagination.  And to top it off, I have a pretty bad cold….the kind with chest congestion, a runny nose and a headache from all the stuffiness.  BUT, I am still having  a good time!

I’ve been medicating regularly with Alka Seltzer cold medicine, staying hydrated and getting rest.  We arrived at our hotel after 11:00 San Antonio time last night and pretty much did a quick unpack and then hit the hay (for some reason that sounds better when you say that in Texas).  I didn’t set an alarm and woke up – a little dazed and confused – at 9:30 this morning.  I drank some Green Machine juice while I got ready and then headed for the River Walk.

What a great way to meander and see the sights.  And as a bonus, Jeff met me for lunch.  I didn’t expect to see him until after his training, but the timing and location worked in our favor.  We went to a place he remembered from his last trip to San Antonio in 1999 – boudros Texas Bistro. Wow!

Jeff steered me toward boudros’ signature drink, the Prickly Pear Margarita, and he was not wrong. Of course, when it comes to eating and drinking, he rarely is! Through the years, Jeff has also talked about boudros’ guacamole, which is made table-side – so we ordered that too. HOLY GuacaMOLE! It was wonderful – a great balance of silky avocado, smoky fire roasted tomatoes, crisp Bermuda onions, fiery hot peppers and tangy citrus juice. The only change I would make would be to add a little of the zest of the lime and the orange. But you know me, I can’t leave well-enough alone.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We also shared the Texas Tapas appetizer. It was a nice mix of flavors – grilled pork tenderloin, smoked duck leg, sausage w/BBQ sauce, corn pudding and marinated veggies. As you would expect with tapas, there were small bites of each item – enough for both of us to taste.

Our waiter, a polite young gentleman, was quite attentive but not in that overly fussy way. He mixed our wonderful guacamole, made suggestions from the menu, and asked if I NEEDED another margarita. Let me tell you, I would have loved another margarita or 10, but I didn’t think more tequila would mix all that well with the cold medicine, so I refrained. (I know, no guts – no glory!) But, there will be a chance for more margaritas between now and Friday.

After lunch we strolled along the River Walk until Jeff had to get back to class, then I explored La Villita – Historic Arts Village, which was one of San Antonio’s first neighborhoods. It’s a little touristy, but there are a few gems among the faux stones! I especially enjoyed shopping in Angelita – great jewelry and natural fiber clothing. It was quite unusual. And I loved the jewelry in Equinox – A Jewelry Metal Gallery. There were so many wonderful one-of-a-kind pieces (hint, hint honey) that I could have bought for myself and/or that would make excellent gifts. My favorites were the mantra rings.

After La Villita I strolled more of the River Walk and took some photos. Eventually, however, a combination of the heat, my cold, and the cold medicine and margarita wearing off got the best of me. I headed back to the hotel. On my way up to the room, I got an iced coffee to keep me awake while I write this post. Next on my agenda is a nap before Jeff gets back from training.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tonight we are going to explore Market Square and hopefully find some amazing Mexican food. Tomorrow, who knows….there are several things on my list of things I could do – we’ll see where the wind (God, please let there be some wind – at least a breeze) takes me!

For now, I’m going to close the blinds and catch some z’s. Had I brought my book along when I left the hotel this morning, there is an excellent chance I’d still be drinking prickly pear margaritas at boudros! Ah well, maybe tomorrow!