Apparently good weather in Central Texas is saved up for the weekends. How great is that? Last weekend, I sat on the deck in the 75 to 80 degree weather. During this past work week however, we had three straight days where the temperature never went above freezing (oh my God!!!). We had record cold lows and rolling blackouts which shut power down to my office for part of a day. Yesterday practically the entire State of Texas was shut down because of actual "winter storms" and in some cases "the possibility of winter storms". It did indeed snow at my house, a whopping half inch or so, most of it sticking to the roadways. I made the poor decision to try to make it in to work only to find myself sliding down Highway 71 toward the Bee Creek Valley before changing my mind and heading home.
After completely enjoying this extremely rare Snow Day yesterday, the warm and springy 68 degree day today compelled me to get outside. I left the house after hanging some clothes to dry on the deck. With no particular plan in mind I heard an ad on KVET talking about the Chicken Event happening at Callahan's General Store. Hell yea!! I think it goes without saying that this was simply not the sort of event that I could pass up. I called Marie, my personal guide to all things Texas, to get specific directions and promise in return to ask when their baby guinea hens would be available. She lost her entire flock which she called "The Dirty Dozen" (or were they "The Magnificent Seven"?) last year to dogs, coyotes, skunks or something over a period of a couple of months. She can pick up some guineas later in March, they told me.
Callahan's is this great store out near the airport. They carry so many different things it's hard to describe. Of course today there was a big pen of probably forty chickens on the front porch in a simple big wire enclosure with a floor of hay. A big barbecue grill loaded with brisket and sausage is cooking in the parking lot. Right inside the door is a pen with a mama and baby goat next to a display of every size and shape of galvanized buckets and trays. You know how I love goats by now, so I lean over and scratch the baby one and look like a complete and utter goon talking baby talk to it. I am however, wearing my ropers, so maybe I fit in just a little and maybe they'll think I'm in the market for a baby goat -- am I? I window shop iron skillets and dutch ovens in every possible size. The selection of cast iron cookware alone here is amazing. I see meat grinders and sausage stuffers, Chuck Wagon cookbooks and hoof cream, blue jeans and humane traps, seed catalogues and animal feed...really, probably everything a farmer or rancher in these here parts could possibly need (sorry, this place brings out some southern slang in me that's been itching to get out).
Did I mention that live music is playing from a stage near the front of the store? Nobody stands near the stage actively listening to the duo playing, but we all sing along as we shop and stop to clap after every song. At one point the two guys announce a break and someone from Callahan's brings up a friend to do a live audition in the store. Seriously, I hear the guy say to the band, "...this is a friend of mine and he'd like to audition for you if you don't mind"...and off he goes!
I could buy so many things from this place but I'm restraining myself because really, I'm in the process of getting rid of stuff not acquiring stuff. I like finding interesting journals and those are never very pricey and are always good to provide a little memory of an experience that will also be put to good use. Callahan's has all kinds of little country looking types of stationary and very Texas themed note cards and post cards, but are lacking in anything journal-like. The closest thing I find is a pretty good little lined steno pad with a spiral binding at the top. The only real problem is that it has two characters dressed as cowboys about to have a shootout...one is a cat and one is a rooster and the captions above each, respectively say "Chicken!" and the other, "Pussy!"...Funny, but not quite what I had in mind...I settle instead on a tiny little book on cafes in Texas. I'll have some fun with that! I mosey out, giving one last look at the chickens and the fruit trees in the parking lot, then head toward downtown Austin.
I've been wanting to hang out at the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery for sometime now. Now, ok, if you're not from here, you are scratching you're head and saying to yourself, "Yea, now Nanc says she wants to hang out at a trailer park? She already lives in a double wide in the middle of nowhere...what now?" Ok, y'all don't get your britches in a bunch!!! (sorry residual southern slang spilling forth again). "Trailer park eateries" are extremely hip BTW, and they absolutely fit the criteria of "Keep Austin Weird". This one is on South First Street and is fenced in and a little more formal than the trailer parking lots on South Congress or Barton Springs (again, I see you scratching your head, so maybe you just need to come on over here for this particular Austin experience!). You park within the fencing on a crushed granite lot. There are only a few trailers open at this time of year, but the place is still packed and the picnic tables near the street as well as the ones in the covered pavillion are full. The back of the lot behind the trailers and pavilion is bordered by one of the Austin creeks, I'm not sure if this is Shoal Creek or Bouldin or what.
I read the menues painted onto the front of Man Bites Dog and Torchy's Tacos. Obviously very different places, I decide on Man Bites Dog, because the line to Torchy's is really long. I love a good taco, but I also love a good hot dog, and this place is really really Austin Weird. The special today at Man Bites Dog is called the "Cartoon" which is a beef frank topped with PB& J and a light sprinking of Captain Crunch. The guy working the trailer assures me it is awesome. I am actually tempted to try it. Ok, here's the deal, I did, in fact, order the specialty of the house, the Bacon Peanut Butter Burger, at Mutha's on Bourbon Street (they specialize in burgers and tequila), but no, I just can't bring myself to this level of hot dog mayhem, so I settle instead for the Buffalo Hottie, which has blue cheese, buffalo wing sauce and green onions. Hot, hot, and tasty and I give thanks to the fact that heartburn rarely happens to me!!!!
I'm watching two young men together in their hipster vests and scarves trying to decide what to order from Holy Cacao - Chocolate is Good For You. They decide on Cake Balls On A Stick. Okay.... This place also sells "Cake Shakes" made with your choice of cake and ice cream. What the heck is Frozen Hot Chocolate? They claim that Travel & Leisure Magazine voted them Best Hot Chocolate in the U.S., and I wonder if it was the "frozen" version. I kind of wish I had read that when I first got here, because I can't begin to think about ordering some of that to go with this crazy spicey dog I'm oinking out on. Urp.
On the way home, I cruise down South Congress and see the trailer eateries set up there on this winter day. Among others, there are: Coat & Thai, Mighty Cone, Wurst Tex, and, of course, Hey! Cupcake.