Luvin’ that Magazine

“True, Texas” is the cover story for this month’s issue of Texas Highways Magazine (September, 2011). For years, we have pointed our hearts toward the destinations the writers in this magazine tell of. They’ve been our inspiration for travel and dining and just plain Texas pride for many years. With regard to the cover story they write, “We searched the state to select this year’s slate of true Texas icons. All the elements in our mythical town resonate with Texans everywhere.”

I especially enjoyed the story about the “Bakery Cafe” in Aransas Pass (no website or Facebook page at this time). The timing of this article is perfect. Summer is almost over — at least in relation to school starting. Touristy Texas will calm down a little and we’ll hit the road. One of our stops will now be the Bakery Cafe because the description of their diverse and delicious menu. In the meantime, we’ll try our best to avoid thinking of the hand-breaded chicken fried steaks or hand-patted burgers. If imaginations of their steaks, seafood or Mexican food start forming in our minds, we’ll just shut out the torture pack up the car, and do some first-hand sampling ourselves.

Why not check them out?

The Bakery Cafe in Aransas Pass

434 South Commercial Street
Aransas Pass, TX 78336-1808

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Honoring A Bit of San Antonio Dining History

Featuring locally owned restaurants is our specialty. We love focusing on the epicurean entrepreneurs — the owners and their families — who dig deeply into their daily existence to serve fresh food every day their way.

A slice of  San Antonio entrepreneurial history can be found at Earl Abel’s Restaurant on the Austin Highway.   We recently came across this video the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce produced because Earl Abel’s Restaurant has been a participating member since 1933! We could tell you wonderful things about the faithful staff and great food at Earl Abel’s, but the video says it all. Simply click on the picture below and enjoy!

Congratulations to Roger Arias and the great staff at Earl Abel’s!

 

Food Truck Throw Down This Weekend

Food Truck Foodies unite!  It’s a “Food Truck Throw Down” this Friday through Sunday in San Antonio  (July 29th – 31st) at  Boardwalk on Bulverde (preferred haunt of the Rickshaw Stop)!   All food is affordable and the entertainment won’t stop. We hear that 28 food trucks from all over the state will be there with cuisines as varied as the towns in Texas.

Here are a few of the regular food trucks at Boardwalk on Bulverde.

K-Hill BBQ

Rickshaw Stop

KC’s Cones

Watch for the Duk Truck (random rotating cuisine), Guilty Pleasures (comfort food) and Tapa Tapa (small plates, but especially fresh fruit with pop rocks) along with many others.

If you fall in love with Boardwalk on Bulverde, return for “family-friendly fun,” on Kid’s Movie Night each Thursday this summer. Friday and Saturday evenings include a DJ who brings the kids in on the musical fun, too.

To Boardwalk on Bulverde

(click on map for full view)

*We recommend: 1) Evenings in the summer month, and 2) Sample a little of everything!

 

Can’t Stop Thinking About the Pakistani Food Truck

Rickshaw Stop Food Truck

When we received an invitation to stop by Rickshaw Stop — a local Pakistani street food truck — we went ready to meander through their entire menu. As it turns out, the menu was short and uncomplicated. The food was fresh and delicious!

We pulled into the Boardwalk on Bulverde (regular haunt of the Rickshaw Stop), and realized this visit was going to be an adventure. Food trucks were circled around a picnic area like pioneer wagons for the night. Kids were playing on the gym equipment while folks were ordering up their favorites from the trucks  serving their specialties.

Sameer and Meagan Siddiqui

Owners, Sameer and Meagan Siddiqui, made us feel especially welcome with their friendly descriptions of the menu items. Sameer’s mother, aunt and uncle are all key players in this family venture, too. The family’s journey, which began in India and Pakistan, ended in San Antonio via New York.

Chicken and Beef Kebabs

Our little band of foodies ordered up everything on the menu and shared around the picnic table. The Kebabs (not Kabobs), look somewhat like a Mexican taco, but the flavors are very different. Wrapped in a Paratha (Pakistani tortilla?), the beef or chicken Kebabs were packed with flavor — especially after we sampled the various freshly made sauces on top. Our favorite Kebab? The chicken with Tamarind sauce. Mmmm. Loved those Parathas, too.

Next came the Samosas. These crusty little pillows of flavor are inexpensive and fun to eat — smaller and lighter than the Indian versions we’ve eaten in the past. And dare I tell you? They’re obviously deep fried (uh oh), but the pastry shell is hand made and the fillings are great. Again, the three sauces were generously applied at will. All three Samosas (beef, chicken and vegetarian) were a hit with me, but then, I did use the word “fried” in my description didn’t I?

Samosas (chicken, beef and vegetarian)

What’s Kheer? Think rice pudding, made with rice milk, sugar, cardamom and rose water. These tasty little cups of unavoidable goodness are topped off with crunchy chips of almonds and pistachios. Speaking of desserts, we weren’t allowed to leave without sampling the one non-Pakistani item on the menu… Mom Siddiqui’s own recipe for Baklava. This version has much less honey, but plenty of flaky pastry. Sameer confesses his frequent addiction to crumbled Baklava stirred inside a bowl of Kheer. Ooooh,  Yum + Yum = YUM!

Baklava

This place is “family-friendly,” too, with a Kid’s Movie Night on Thursday. Friday and Saturday evenings include a DJ who brings the kids in on the musical fun. Be sure to check the Rickshaw Stop website for their various hours of operation (usually just three evenings and Saturdays) and more details about their menu items.

In the end, I knew this place was a hit when, just five hours later, I was thinking about when I could return.

Our Recommendations: The Chicken Kebabs with Tamarind Sauce, all of the Samosas, the Baklava and Kheer. Also, go in the evening during cooler hours if  the summer sun is glaring.

Happy Rickshaw Guests

There’s a Delicious “Kick” to Their Tortilla Soup

Another Tortilla Soup Blog? Here’s what we figure. If our readers/followers/fans keep telling us about their favorite Tortilla Soup dining spots, we’ll compile the biggest Tortilla Soup directory in the country. ¡Vamos! (You can see our up-to-date photo album on Facebook.)

So, here’s the latest. Another reader, Margaret Fisher, recommended Sweet Temptations in McAllen, Tx as the best spot anywhere for Tortilla Soup. Her comment was, “I know it’s not in S.A., but when in the Valley, you’ve got to try Sweet Temptations…both the ‘tortilla’ and the ‘green chile’ are the best!”

Sweet Temptations Tortilla Soup

We recently chatted with owner, Marty Lipscomb. Marty and his wife, J.P., make their Tortilla Soup fresh every day. Though they make several fresh soups each week, this is their guests’ favorite.

Did we use the word “meatless” yet? This version has no chicken (yay, vegetarians!) with whole field tomatoes, zuccini, seasonings, cheddar and their own in-house white corn tortilla chips. (Now that makes me wonder what else they’re making with the whole tortillas!?) You’ll find Rotel tomatoes in the base with a few other secret ingredients. The only dairy is the cheddar on top. This favorite soup is made fresh daily and, oh, we must tell you the spicy “kick” is there, but it’s slight and just right.

What else can you enjoy at Sweet Temptations? Chicken Cordon Bleu, hand breaded Chicken Fried Steak and Shrimp, wonderful salads w/ house made dressings, a variety of other freshly made soups, and on and on.

These folks are open for breakfast and lunch only, so be sure to call ahead for their hours of operation. Here’s the link to their website once again.

Chuy’s Chewy Tortilla Soup

Perhaps “Chewy” isn’t the appropriate word to describe Chuy’s soup, but I couldn’t resist using it in the title. Actually, their soup is a little on the delightfully crunchy side. Here’s my story in our continuing Quest for the Best Tortilla Soup.

We held a lunch meeting last week at Chuy’s. I’ll admit it, I usually get to pick the locations of our meetings because, well, people think I know where the good food is — especially folks like me who don’t want to spend more than $10!

Chuy’s Tortilla Soup

A Facebook fan of ours had recommended Chuy’s Tortilla Soup in our Quest for the Best Tortilla Soup, so we marched in the door on that 98 degree day with soup on our agenda. Why conduct this search in the summer? Actually, a little heat isn’t a problem if you’re sitting in an air conditioned restaurant PLUS tortilla soup is timeless. No matter what time of the day or season of the year, it’s a favorite among soup lovers who know of its existence.

Each bowl at each restaurant is unique. So far, the only absolutely absolute ingredient for tortilla soup with all of the restaurants we’ve visited, has been the tortilla chips. I’ve realized that all other ingredients are variables. For instance, here’s the lowdown on Chuy’s version.

We loved it. Okay, we love certain parts of almost every tortilla soup we’ve tried, but we only write about the ones that are especially good. What stands out with Chuy’s version? Nuggets of corn buried deep in the bowl. Chunks of chopped tomato allow the absence of tomato sauce in the broth. I especially enjoyed the bits of fresh cilantro, which we surprisingly have not found in many other  soups we’ve tried.

The more customary broth, shredded chicken, white cheese and tortilla strips were all balanced well — not too much — just right. The flavor was really good, though not to the extent that we went “wow” as we took our first bite. In all, it definitely fits in our Best category!

Prosciutto, Kalamata Olives, Peppadew Peppers and More…

Whole Foods Pizza with Artichoke Hearts, Spinach, Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives

Our Quest for the Best sometimes takes us to unexpected places. Recently, I was wandering around Whole Foods in San Antonio. My mission was  to buy organic cotton balls. Cotton balls have nothing to do with food, but let me just say, those SOFT little white things would make the crustiest person feel pampered.

A Terrific Thursday Deal

Getting back to food. My meanderings took me to the huge cheese department, which naturally made me think of pizza. The next thing I knew I was staring at their hot pizza case and thinking about letting Whole Foods prepare our dinner for the evening. That’s when I noticed their sign about the Thursday $10 special.

Fast as a locomotive, I assessed the size of their 16″ pizzas, added up the six enormous pieces, and concluded at least 3 people could enjoy an incredible pizza for only $10 on Thursdays. My brilliant math mind calculated roughly $3.33/person, which left extra money for a trip to their unforgettable fresh salad bar.

Prosciutto, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Pesto and more

No matter what ingredients you choose, I guarantee you will LOVE this stuff. Though each bite is robust with flavor, each ingredient is delicately distinguishable. All ingredients are found on their store shelves and the wheat pizza dough is made from scratch with organic  flour.

I usually recommend a favorite of whatever I sample at the restaurants we visit. However, I have to say that choosing a favorite here is pretty challenging. Previously, the “Grilled Vegetable” pizza (fresh grilled zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onions, bell peppers and four cheeses) was my fav. Last night’s samples crumpled my clarity and now I can’t decide which ingredients I prefer. I know for sure the peppadew peppers on the pizza pictured here were especially memorable. Whole Foods provides a menu of pizza choices, but I usually buy with my eyes and order up what looks good in the hot case.

Peppadew Peppers and Pesto

Take-out isn’t necessary. If you haven’t made a trip to Whole Foods, they actually have a Cafe where you can very casually “dine”.

So, have a seat. Close your eyes. Imagine you’re in a really cool pizza joint, and think about the flavors as you munch on your hot, healthy piece-a-pizza pie.

Going it alone? Try two pieces for $5 any day! Vegan available, too.