Jim and I flew down to Austin on Thursday morning for a long weekend getaway and to attend the 1st Annual Country Living Austin Fair. Now I’ve been to Austin twice fairly recently; last March with Amanda and India, and in December with my sister (where we started our Crafty Farm Sister’s Southern Road Trip). I loved Austin so much that when I saw Country Living was having a fair there, it was the perfect excuse to take another trip down south. This time I thought it would be fun to see if Jim could handle my southern style of traveling.
The first night in town I’d made reservations a month ago to go to Uchi, chef Tyson Cole’s restaurant where Paul Qui, winner of this year’s Top Chef is the executive chef. Top Chef is a favorite show of mine, and while I don’t watch television at home, I download Top Chef and Criminal Minds onto my iPad to watch when I travel. Paul was my favorite from the start of the season, so it was great to go to his restaurant and see him in action. The food was delicious.
Some Sister’s on the Fly were there with their vintage trailers. It was fun talking to them and checking out their campers. Their organization is the reason I first got interested in getting a vintage travel trailer. Of course now that I have one I haven’t managed to go on one of their outings.
I loved this booth Wren. They had some great things.
And the vintage travel trailers didn’t end with Sister’s on the Fly! There were quite a few dealers at the show that had their own trailers that they incorporated into their booths. Some just as display, some as dressing rooms, some full of merchandise.
This one was a dressing room with a sitting area.
This woman made amazing felted animals. Her chicken wasn’t quite finished yet, but he was spectacular.
The most beautiful this at the show though may have been this longhorn steer. He was the most extraordinary color.
I just love playing with photo apps.
Since we had some free time after the Country Living show, we decided to head on out into the Hill Country for lunch at The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood. My sister and I had been to this BBQ mecca in December and I wanted to share the joy with Jim.
Jim is not as enthusiastic about BBQ as my sister, (which frankly cut down slightly on my own intense pleasure just a tiny bit), but the meal was still amazing.
Then we drove around the beautiful Texas Hill Country for a bit. The wildflowers were all in bloom on the sides of the road and it was so beautiful.
Then the strangest thing happened. When I walked into the brush on the side of the road to take this photo, I must have had an allergic reaction to some flower or plant. By the time I got back into the car my legs were covered in tiny itchy welts, then I got some on my arms too. We were in the middle of nowhere. While I desperately itched my legs and arms trying not to tear my skin open, I prayed we would happen upon a CVS or Walgreens where I might find something to alleviate the itching. Then as quickly as they came, within an hour or so the itching stopped and the pain went away. Does anybody know what I had a reaction to?
Below is a photo of me sitting in my hotel bed on saturday morning.. Can I just tell you the last time I sat in bed relaxing? Maybe when the twins were born, but that wasn’t exactly relaxing; that was nursing on both boobs while every part of my body ached. On this morning below Jim had gone out for an early morning walk and I was just sitting there relaxing. It was absolutely heavenly. Of course I lasted about 7 minutes before I got up to shower, but it was terrific while it lasted.
My sister and I stumbled upon TreeHouse in December, shortly after it had opened, and I dragged Jim there first thing Saturday morning. It is a green/sustainable living home improvement store. I could spend hours in the store pouring through all of the cool things they have, but I wasn’t sure how Jim would react to it – manual labor isn’t his thing. He was surprisingly enthusiastic about the store, but it’s hard not to be. The people that worked there are SO friendly and knowledgeable. We met a great guy who moved from Atlanta just to work there. And then we got talking to this great gal while she was passing the flooring department and came to find out she not only grew up in the town we live in, but in the very neighborhood we live in. How weird is that? She gave us a great recommendation for a place to eat that night too.
Then I dragged him a few stores down to Whole Earth Provisions. Shopping in this store reminds me of browsing through the Whole Earth Catalog when I was a kid. (I guess that kind of dates me, because most of you won’t even know what I’m talking about.) It’s a great store that has something for everyone. I got a great new pair of Merrell’s that I put on to wear before I even left the store.
Now this is my third trip to Texas, and somehow I had yet to see an armadillo — and I’ve been looking. Doesn’t it just figure when I finally come across one it’s flat as a pancake and being picked apart by vultures.
That night, at the recommendation of the girl we met at TreeHouse, we dined at Justine’s Brasserie, which is a french-style bistro. It was way over on the fast East side of Austin — so far that I thought for a while that we couldn’t possibly have gotten the directions right, but there it was, tucked into a rather industrial area of town. We had read that it could get quite crowded and they didn’t take reservations, so we got there a little after 6 and were pleasantly surprised by only waiting a few minutes to be seated. We got a table outside and it was just the right temperature — not too hot or too cold. We had a lovely waitress who provided us with excellent service, and while the menu was filled with traditional bistro food, it was done so perfectly that Jim and I both agreed that it was probably the best french food we’d eaten — including the meals we’d had in Paris; the kind of food that even though you’re full you keep reaching for another fork full because it’s just so perfectly prepared.
On Sunday morning we had just enough time before our flight to head back into Austin and grab some breakfast. After a few failed attempts at traditional breakfast haunts that huge lines, we ended up back on South Congress Street where I got a caramelized pear crepe from one of the food trailers. It was delicious, and the perfect way to end a delightful weekend in a delightful town.