Zack and I recently returned from a wickedly delicious trip to Texas for our 9th anniversary. When you tell people you are going to Texas for your anniversary, you get some wierd looks and a lot of "hmmm, what made you choose THAT location?" Well, let me tell you. We visited Austin, San Antonio and the Texas Hill Country and had an epic foodapalooza! Not to mention the wonderful and unique sense of place that is only Texas and then again, each city and region is so individual too.
In Austin, we wondered along South Congress and had a very rare experience for us. Enjoyable shopping! Very interesting stores - local and well curated and no chains. We both got some new duds that we're really happy with. Our dining over 3 days ran the gamut from the un-freaking-believable Trailer Park taco and Green Chile Queso at Torchy's Tacos, to the refined and delicious Japanese flavors at Uchiko, to spending 3 hours in line for the alledged best BBQ in Texas at Franklin Certainly incredible, the best I've had! Highly recommend all these experiences. We also had one of the best burgers of my life at a strange Zombie dive bar on the 6th street promenade. Casino el Camino's Amarillo burger will be burned in my taste memory for a very long time.
In San Antonio, we stayed on the absurdly touristy but still mildly pleasant Riverwalk.
San Antonio is home to massive amounts of Tex Mex and Mexican food and lots of it is mediocre from what I've been told. Fortunately we had great recommendations from a friend and hit up Soluna for phenomenal enchiladas and Acenar for nachos. One of our favorite spots in San Antonio is the Pearl complex, home of the Culinary Institute of America San Antonio. Great shops and restaurants and a Saturday Farmers Market. Kinda felt like being in the Bay area actually. I also ate a ridiculous muffin top at Broadway Daily Bread. Late nights were all about the downstairs lounge at the Hotel Havana. So dark and sexy that I could barely see the Banana Bread French Toast with Cajeta ice cream and caramel crusted pecans that I ordered for dessert. That's okay. I could taste it. and it was transporting.
Hill Country Texas is home to something you may find surprising. Wine Country - and lots of it. We meandered the adorable main street of Comfort, Texas and tried Bending Branch Winery's tasting room. The Tannat grapes in the eponymously named wine they make are grown only in Texas and is deeply reminiscent of raisins and finished for days. Each sip of this wine was slightly different and not always pleasant, but quite an experience. Enough to check a bag so we could bring home a bottle. Fredricksburg is just 30 minutes from Comfort and lined with dozens and dozens of Texas style shopping and restaurants. Too touristy and busy for our taste but fun nonetheless. The Museum of the Pacific War there was incredibly well done. We didn't even go in and we were impressed.
Overall, Texas, we do heart you, and look forward to returning one day.
Now, I'm sure you're not confused about why I'm eating sweet potato nachos today. Texas was not kind to our waistlines. All worth it, but I came home truly craving vegetables and nothing but. Still craving those Tex Mex flavors though, I took some inspiration from a great recipe from my friend Ashley and we've eaten it twice in a week. They are really delicious. I would honestly rather eat them than regular nachos. At least this week. Give um a try!
Sweet Potato "Nachos"
Serves 2 for a main course and 4 as a side
3 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil (or more if you want)
kosher salt (I like a lot of salt)
1 can black beans (or skip these if you wish)
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pickled red onions
Greek yogurt or sour cream
Cojita cheese, if you wish
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and then crosswise and then into skinny wedges. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Spread on baking sheet and baked for about 45-50 minutes, turning once. They should be soft inside and crispy and brown in parts outside. Feel free to broil them for a couple minutes at the end if you want more crusty bits.
While they are roasting, make your black beans. In a food processor, dump a can of drained, rinsed beans, 1 garlic glove, 1 teaspoon cumin, 5-6 pickled jalepenos, a generous pinch of salt and whatever else you'd like. Puree to a desired smoothness.
To serve, warm the beans and split them between two plates. (or serve them family style on a platter). Top each with half the roasted sweet potatoes and sprinkle (in whatever quantity you desire) with pickled red onions, jalepenos, sour cream, cilantro, pepitas and cojita, or honestly, WHATEVER you want! Enjoy!