Time to go public with some fun news: I'm working on a Texas-inspired vegetarian cookbook called Meatless in Cowtown, forthcoming from Running Press. My friend and longtime colleague Anthony Head, also known as the Armchair Oenophile, is contributing some great wine and cocktail pairings. If you love to cook, eat and drink, please join our pages and be part of the process.
Where's the closest Indian restaurant? Back in the days the hubs was an aspiring professor and looking for a fulltime job, that was my litmus test for whether or not I could survive in any given town we considered. These days, in Fort Worth, I get my saag paneer fix at Bombay Grill. I'd been on a greens tear in my home kitchen leading up to our last visit, however, so I skipped the spinach in favor of Kofta Curry and Aloo Baigan with rice and garlic naan. Fragrant, spicy, quick and cheap.
Has anyone seen a bag of vegan marshmallows? The kind that melts, that's good for end-of-summer s'mores, that might be used in a recent baking project I've been daydreaming about? Because I've checked — Sprouts, Central Market, Trader Joe's — and they are nowhere to be found. While I've been known to pretend I don't know what's in conventional marshmallows when sitting around a campfire, I'm lately looking for some more acceptable options. And the best-looking options seem to be mail-order or a 30-minute jaunt to Arlington's Whole Foods Market to get my hands on some Dandies.
Can you be homesick for a place you've never lived? Austin always brings out a pang of envy in me, something like homesickness, the reality that while it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling of belonging, I can't stay long. I blame it on things like the menu at Banger's, a sausage and beer garden that is clearly looking out for vegetarians.
It's a first in our six years in Texas, and probably I shouldn't jinx it by bragging. But we have the most beautiful zucchini plants this year, producing like crazy and unmarred (so far) by the dreaded squash beetles that have ravaged our plants in previous seasons. It seems like dumb luck, as little in our methods has changed. So while it lasts I'm enjoying the grilled zucchini skewers, zucchini fries, zucchini bread, even an attempted zucchini burger.
Avoca Coffee takes its coffee very seriously, roasting it on-site, and taking the extra care to warm your mug before filling it and adorning the top of each cappuccino with a feathery flourish. And sometimes that's enough to make your day. (If not, there's also a pastry case stuffed with goodies from Artisan and Stir Crazy.)
I came away from a day trip to Granbury last weekend with a large box of small, sweet, juicy strawberries that made my usual grocery store variety seem like a tart, tough imitation. Fall Creek Farm's Cullen and Ashley Crisp grow Chandler and Sequoia strawberries, and offer pick-your-own each spring, with the wisdom "the smaller the sweeter" and "the redder the better." We have had a good time eating our way through this box, a gift from the Armchair Oenophile, along with some fantastic Viognier. This week, there has been a great strawberry tart (almond crust, cream cheese filling), but mostly just eating out of hand another fleeting pleasure of spring.
Sure, we've been there for their ridiculously good fries, but dinner at Tillman's? I wasn't sure they had much in the vegetarian department. Luckily it only takes one really good dish: Sweet Corn Gnocchi. Prepared with zucchini, pepitas, and a spicy chile sauce, the tender corn gnocchi dish also has fresh corn kernels tossed into the mix. We split a wedge salad to start (hold the bacon), and I filched a couple truffle goat cheese tater tots from my partner's plate. We both appreciated that the requisite animal-heads-hanging-on-the-wall were a tongue in cheek faux version.