Bastrop & Smithville / Mick Family Farm / Local Legends / Seasonal Recipes No. 82 May/June 2022
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FEEL GOOD AGAIN
COMING SOON TO THE RAINEY DISTRICT
OPENING IN JUNE AT THE QUINCY APARTMENTS • 91 RED RIVER ROYALBLUEGROCERY.COM
BASTROP & SMITHVILLE
What’s On Our Counter
10 N otable Edibles
B e e f for the S e riou s B e e f E a te r
Explore their emergence
14 Local Legends
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Rosie's Tamale House
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Barton Creek Farmers Market
29 E dible Ink Pickles
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local farmers & ranchers Bastrop & Smithville / Mick Family Farm / Iconic Austin / Seasonal Recipes No. 82 May/June 2022
saturdays 9a - 1p @ Lakeline sundays 10a - 2p @ Mueller for locations, vendor lists & more info visit
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42 S napshots Around Austin
On the Cover Chicken Roulade from Veshinu Kasinathan Photo by Ralph Yznaga
Celebrating the ver y best of Central Texas food culture
RECIPES OF THE SEASON
FARMERS DIARY Mick Family Farms
Sweet Potato Flatbread & Eggplant Beignets
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ur goal at Edible Austin is to help support local restaurants, farmers, small businesses and communities — and one of the ways we do that is to include information and features on new restaurants and dining options. When I was listening to the radio one day, local radio hosts Booker, Alex and Sara were discussing some of the old legendary restaurants — some that have gone out of business and others that are still thriving. It made me think about the fact that we don’t really write about these older, legendary favorites in and around the Hill Country. Within the next few days our talented writer and editor, Stacey Ingram Kaleh, also reached out to me with an idea she had to write a story about iconic restaurants and their historical pasts. And so the idea to introduce a new regular feature, Local Legends, was born. We are excited to include our first Local Legends story on Rosie’s Tamale House in Bee Cave and we hope you’ll enjoy reading about it as much as we enjoy eating there! Our Edible Endeavor highlights local chef and caterer, Veshinu Kasinathan, and the story of his childhood, growing up in Malaysia, and how he later traveled the world, cooking for people on land, at sea and in the air. He’s perfected his cooking style, fusing different flavors and methods, and creates unique dishes that he now shares with people through his personal chef and catering service, The Fuze 9. The Bastrop/Smithville area east of Austin is another community that is experiencing rapid growth and development and deserves to be highlighted as one of our Edible Escapes destinations. With a rich history, it has been dubbed as the “Most Historic Small Town in Texas,” but now it is becoming known for its creative draw, attracting chefs, writers and filmmakers. Next time you are planning a trip to Houston from here or looking for something fun to do on the weekend, be sure to include Bastrop and Smithville in your plans. Our Farmers Diary feature in this issue showcases Mick Family Farms in Dripping Springs and tells the story of how a former HR professional, Aimee Mick, somewhat accidentally turned into a sheep farmer because of a border collie named Dixie. Today Mick has more than 100 sheep on more than 80 acres and sells her high-quality lamb products at local farmers markets. If you are interested in trying something new that incorporates fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season, we’ve included a flavorful snack recipe for eggplant beignets and a recipe for a flatbread topped with the summer’s finest tomatoes and juicy, soft peaches.
NEARLY A CENTURY OF PRODUCING SWEET MEMORIES FROM OUR
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Combat Veteran-Owned Business Black-Owned Business Award-winning Wines Beautiful Wedding & Venue Space Open to Public Saturdays & Sundays 1-5pm
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We hope you enjoy the start to your summer and this issue of Edible Austin!
P R O ST
& 11 0 1
Texas Craft BEER competition MUSIC FOOD
Friday, June 10 (5:30-9:00)
Texas Craft Beer Competition, Awards and Dinner at Altstadt Saturday, June 11 (10:30-8:00) Texas craft beer, Stein hoist, Food concessions, Food & Beer pairing demos, Great tunes. (And, yes, there will also be some Texas wine available for non-beer drinkers.)
Edible Austin Mission To transform the way Central Texans eat by connecting them to local food growers, producers and makers, thereby strengthening the local food economy and creating a sustainable local food system. Edible Austin is a locally owned media company and the authority on the local food scene as captured in print and digital and through our community events.
Edible Austin is published bimonthly by ATX Publications LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission of the publisher. ©2021. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our apologies and notify us. Edible Austin is a member of Edible Communities.
Festival Details: www.fbgcraftbeerfestival.com The Rotary Club of Fredericksburg is creating an event to help the club fund its charitable giving. The main benificiary for the festival is The Grace Center, which is constructing a domestic violence shelter in Gillespie County.
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4/5/22 12:00 PM
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W H AT ’ S
ON OUR COUNTER Story and photography by MONIQUE THREADGILL
Take a look at what we are enjoying this month:
GFY KITCHEN GLUTEN-FREE BREAD AND PASTRIES THE STEEPING ROOM MILK OOLONG TEA
It is hard to find a delicious gluten-free baguette, but GFY Kitchen has perfected the craft of making gluten-free bread and pastries. Our friends at Tiny Grocer recommended we try a loaf last time we stopped by and we were as impressed as they said we would
While a hot cup of tea is synonymous with a chilly winter day,
be with both the taste and the texture of the bread. In addition
it’s hot in Texas and there’s a beautiful sweet tea culture that we
to bread, GFY Kitchen offers a variety of gluten-free options
also fully support on a sweltering summer day. That’s where The
including bagels, muffins, cookies and toaster pies. All of their
Steeping Room comes in, offering a wide variety of loose leaf
products are baked in Austin and made from their proprietary
teas from black to white, to green and herbal teas, many of which
gluten-free, nut-free, rice flour blend. You can pick up GFY Kitchen
can be brewed at home and poured over ice. One of our favorites
breads and pastries at Tiny Grocer, People’s RX and your local
is their milk oolong tea from Taiwan. Although it has milk in the
farmers markets or order online.
name, there is no dairy or flavoring in the tea. It’s naturally sweet gfykitchen.com
and creamy. Next time you are near The Steeping Room on North Lamar, be sure to pick up your next new favorite tea. You can also order online. thesteepingroom.com
SINFULL BAKERY BARS Busy as we are, we’re always looking for on-the-go snacks and
VELA FARMS CINNAMON BANANA JAM
bars that are both healthy and taste good. That’s why we were
If you’re a person who enjoys butters, jams and marmalades,
two varieties: Coconut Dream and Everything. What’s more, both
you will love this distinctive jam flavor by Vela Farms:
are packed with protein, fiber and lots of flavor. As they say on
Cinnamon Banana. The jam is the perfect addition to a warm slice
their packaging, eating one of these bars is “sin without the guilt.”
of toast, biscuits, English muffins or even on pancakes. Vela Farms is
You can pick the bars up at your local Central Market, H-E-B,
family-owned and operated, and makes the jam in small, hand-
Whole Foods and other specialty markets and retailers, or
crafted batches using all-natural ingredients and no preservatives
or artificial colors. You can pick up a jar of this quirky but delectable jam at local grocers or order online.
delighted to find Sinfull Bakery’s snack bars at a recent visit to Central Market. Vegan, all natural and organic, these bars come in
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Local Food Writer Pens Tex-Mex Table Cookbook
Notable Edibles by AVA MOTES
Huckleberry Relocates to Join Far Out Lounge Local events and catering company Huckleberry Hospitality put themselves on the Austin culinary map with the launch of their North Austin food truck in June 2020. Offering sustainably sourced seafood in a casual setting, they were an instant favorite among thoughtful eaters. As of 2022, they’ve relocated their food truck to the patio at Far Out Lounge, bringing their innovative seafood vision to this family-friendly music venue. Huckleberry prides themselves on their use of 5G and IoT technologies to provide insight on food storage, temperature and humidity within the truck. This so-called “smart food truck” guarantees the highest quality fish for every seafood platter, po’ boy and shrimp roll on their menu. The new location is open for lunch and dinner on Sunday, as well as for dinner on Monday and Wednesday through Friday. Find them at 8504 S. Congress Avenue and enjoy some live music with some of the most sustainable seafood in town or online at huckleberrytx.com.
Pecan Square Cafe Opens in Clarksville New from Austin hospitality group McGuire Moorman Lambert Hospitality is Pecan Square Cafe, which has taken over the former Cafe Josie space in Clarksville. The atmosphere of Pecan Square is informed by the architecture of the space. The residential-style restaurant is complete with a stone patio, a bar room and a vaulted-ceiling dining room. From the dining room, guests can overlook an open-concept kitchen with a wood-burning oven, where executive chef Chelsea Fadda (formerly of Swedish Hill, Jeffrey’s and Dai Due) oversees food preparation. Pecan Square is open for casual brunch, lunch and dinner. They have a rotating seasonal menu to highlight the chef team’s craft and experience, featuring menu items such as handmade pasta, pizzas, pork schnitzel and roasted chicken. According to MML co-founder Larry McGuire, Pecan Square was conceptualized as a favorite neighborhood cafe. “It’s kind of like the cafe we want to go to on Wednesday night: super casual, white tablecloth, neighborhood, old-school feel,” he says. Pecan Square is located at 1200 West Sixth Street. To learn more or book a reservation, visit pecansquarecafe.com.
photos by LONESOME DOVE
Lonesome Dove Western Bistro Reopens in New Location Celebrity chef Tim Love shook the downtown dining scene with the debut of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro back in 2015. Although the original outpost is set to be demolished for the creation of a 47-story residential tower, Love has been quick to roundup his steakhouse staff and reopen at a new location just up the street. Lonesome Dove is back better than ever, continuing to feature their signature urban Western cuisine in an updated atmosphere. Their new space includes authentic limestone tiling, a 10-seat bar and wine room and outdoor, front porch dining — all decorated to evoke a Texas Ranch motif. “My team and I are so excited to have a chance to evolve the Lonesome Dove Austin experience with fresh offerings, new design elements, expanded cocktail offerings and our new signature front porch,” says Love. At the new location, guests can enjoy Love’s creative use of wild-game and wood-fired cooking techniques with popular menu items such as rabbit-rattlesnake sausage and elk-foie gras sliders with blueberry jam. They can also reserve a private room to accommodate up to 50 guests. Mosey down to 123 West 6th Street to try Lonesome Dove for yourself. For more information and reservation inquiries, visit lonesomedoveaustin.com.
photos by THE-TEX MEX TABLE
New from local food writer Mandi Hickman is The Tex-Mex Table — a cookbook collection of 60 recipes from the Lone Star state. Hickman has been publishing Tex-Mex recipes since 2017, when she founded her popular blog “Dash of Mandi.” She has established herself as a relatable home cook, offering ample suggestions for family meals with minimal cleanup. In The Tex-Mex Table, Hickman marries southern Texas cooking with coastal Mexican flavor to spice up her readers’ dinner rotations. The cookbook features beloved Tex-Mex staples, such as Creamy Queso, Barbacoa Tacos, Shrimp Ceviche Tostadas and Hickman’s signature Cowboy Cookie Skillet. No matter where you come from or where you’re cooking, Hickman brings the smoky, citrusy and salty flavors of Tex-Mex cuisine right to your dinner table. The Tex-Mex Table is available in paperback at local booksellers Book People or you can order it online. To explore Hickman’s other recipes, visit her blog at dashofmandi.com
photos by MATT HARRINGTON photos by HUCKLEBERRY
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photo by BLUE STARLITE photos by SIMAR
Simar Seafood Cocina Opens in Gateway Center photos by ADAHLIA COLE
LA-based Pasta|Bar Opens 2nd Location in East Austin Pasta|Bar, the Los Angeles-based Italian tasting restaurant from celebrity chefs Philip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee has now opened a second location in East Austin. As the first Michelin-starred outpost in Austin, Pasta|Bar promises an interactive and intimate culinary journey in a 10-person dining room. Pasta|Bar offers an 11-course tasting experience, which begins in their front-facing speakeasy bar Jazz Box. From there, guests are invited into the kitchen, where they can dine with six chefs who perform their skills table-side. Pasta|Bar serves a fixed menu, complete with homemade pasta and items like bone marrow, blue crab with corn and chili and tomato salad. However, their tasting experience is dynamic. Curious eaters can sample Kallas-Lee’s 57-yearold sourdough starter while resident chefs walk them through the family history that inspired the dish. The lucky few who score reservations will leave Pasta|Bar with a better understanding of their palettes, as well as the story behind the ingredients and recipes they enjoy.
Boasting the only authentic Mexican coastal seafood in Austin, Simar Seafood Cocina is the newest addition to the Gateway Centers shopping area. Under the direction of Chef Pedro Flores, Simar imports all of their seafood from Mexican coastlines. “With over 30 years of experience in the kitchen, Flores will wow you with a fabulous menu and great cocktail selections,” says Kelly Bohart, the general manager of Gateway Centers. Simar’s menu features beloved classics like oysters on the half shell and shrimp aguachiles, as well as specialty dishes like ceviche de pulpo (ceviche with cooked baby octopus). It is a family-friendly restaurant with extensive patio seating for an atmospheric outdoor dining experience. Their hora feliz (happy hour) is from 3–7 p.m. on weekdays, during which customers can enjoy half-price bottles of wine and discounts on their signature margaritas. They also offer a wide selection of citrusy cocktails to pair with fresh seafood, such as a mango mojito with lime juice and mint. To try this authentic seafood for yourself, visit Simar at 9503 Research Blvd. or online at simarseafood.com
photos by THE GREY MARKET
Blue Starlite Opens New Theater in Garbo’s Parking Lot
The Grey Market Brings Savannah Southern Food to Austin
Beloved North Austin Seafood truck, Garbo’s, is offering a blast from the past in partnership with Blue Starlite Theater. The local drive-in movie theater chain has opened a new location in the Garbo’s parking lot, where customers can enjoy gourmet seafood and a classic movie from their cars.
In the heart of downtown’s entertainment district comes The Grey Market, a counter-service restaurant from celebrated Savannah chef Mashama Bailey. Bailey got her start as the executive chef for The Grey, an acclaimed Georgia restaurant operating out of a 1938 Greyhound Bus Terminal. Now, she has focused on bringing a taste of Savannah to Austin.
The new Blue Starlite location will serve the full Garbo’s menu, including lobster rolls, oysters, shrimp fries and soups. Movie-goers can dine-in at Garbo’s before the meal or place takeout orders to eat in their cars. The restaurant has updated their menu with a “Garbo’s Dinner Pack” that specifically caters to Blue Starlite customers. The dinner pack is complete with smoked mahi fish dip, lobster rolls, kettle chips and a drink. Guests may also finish off their meal with an order of soft serve ice cream from another onsite vendor, Conner’s Creamery.
The Grey Market and its sister restaurant in Georgia, The Grey Diner, serve what Bailey has dubbed “port city Southern food.” This pays tribute to Savannah’s positioning as a port, influenced by African-American and Southern cooking. With The Grey’s new market offshoot, guests can try this cuisine in a fast-casual atmosphere.
Blue Starlite is now open Thursday through Saturday in the Garbo’s parking lot at 2709 N. MoPac Expressway. To check weekly showtimes and purchase a ticket, visit bluestarlitedrivein.com.
The Grey Market occupies the ground floor of the new Thompson Austin Hotel, catering to travelers with what Bailey describes as a “bodega-meets-lunch counter.” The new outpost includes grab-and-go items such as bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on kaiser rolls, boxed lunches and beer. To drop by for a gourmet meal on the go, visit The Grey Market at 501 Brazos Street or read more about it at thegreymkt-austin.com.
Pasta|Bar is located at 1017 East Sixth Street, in the former home of chocolate shop Maggie Louise Confections. To read more or book a seat, visit pastabaraustin.com.
photo by GARBO'S
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HILL COUNTRY ROSE Rosie's Tamale House
Story by STACEY INGRAM KALEH Photography by RALPH YZNAGA In this new series, we’ll shine the spotlight on a local restaurant that’s
restaurant and has recently returned to help run the family business after
been serving the community for more than three decades. These iconic
years in retail management. Paul says the return has been nostalgic and
spots have become part of the fabric of our shared culture, with
rewarding, especially since the restaurant has been dedicated to being a
multiple generations of Central Texans able to fondly reflect upon memories
family restaurant and carrying on the family’s traditions since its inception.
made at these beloved eateries. In a rapidly growing and changing region, they’ve stood the test of time. Yet, they still need our support so that they can continue serving our community for generations to come. It’s time to rediscover the restaurants that shape our authentic identity. For our inaugural Local Legends spotlight, we’re featuring Rosie’s Tamale House on Highway 71 in Bee Cave. Tucked to the side of the highway in a humble beige building with a neon “Open” sign in the window, Rosie’s has greeted its customers with warm smiles and delicious Tex-Mex fare for 50 years — 40 at this very location. Rosie’s has an indescribable way of bringing people together to celebrate family, tradition and the food we all crave. “We’re not like other restaurants,” says founder Rosie Arriaga. “We know everybody and they know us. We treat our customers like family and they treat me like family.” Nearing 88 years of age, Arriaga is emotional when speaking about her restaurant. She’s the real deal — an entrepreneur who is energetic, dedicated and still dreaming big. Though she’s retired and doesn’t make it to the restaurant as often as she’d like, she assures me she’s still having fun checking in on her employees and customers. “The restaurant is my life,” she shares. Arriaga has many stories to tell. Her dreams of running a restaurant all started when she first began making tamales with her mom on the weekends when she was seven. And she has always loved people and business. Arriaga talks about being out in the Hill Country “when there was nothing” and making friends with repeat customer Willie Nelson, whose ranch is just down the road. Rosie Arriaga is one of those rare
But at Rosie’s, the “family” extends beyond the Arriagas. When asked what makes Rosie’s such a special place, Paul says it’s the community itself. “It’s the people who come back and point out a picture of their family on the wall, or a photo of them eating here as a kid.” Paul is speaking of a wall in the restaurant that anyone who has dined there will be familiar with: one covered in Polaroids depicting years of loyal customers and celebrities and topped with framed paintings of none other than Willie Nelson and Rosie Arriaga. I’ve been eating at Rosie’s my entire life. I have fond memories of my parents pulling into the uneven parking lot with my brother and I in tow after a day at Pace Bend Park on Lake Travis. We’ve had family celebrations there, and, to this day, we order tamales every year to enjoy on Christmas Eve. And I’m confident I’m not the only one with stories like this. There are countless others for whom Rosie’s is a sentimental place, and it’s because when you eat at Rosie’s, you are family. Loyal customers return time and again for the incredible customer service and authentic dishes, from Rosie’s famous tamales to cheese enchiladas and homemade pecan pralines from a 1930s family recipe. They return for the comfortable and casual atmosphere, where, if you appreciate nostalgia like I do, you’ll be in luck as not much has changed inside over the years. And in our ever-changing city, familiarity can be quite refreshing — creating that sense of home, that sense of comfort. Don’t be a stranger! Join the Rosie’s family of customers and remember why our restaurant community makes Central Texas the place we love to live and eat! May we suggest… Beef Tamales: A signature dish created from Rosie’s mother’s recipe
dreamers that brought her vision to fruition, through years of hard work and dedication, and sustains her dream decades later with the
Willie’s Plate: Named for another local legend, this plate has it all — one
same fiery passion that started it all. And our community is better for it.
taco, chile con queso, guacamole and one beef enchilada with hot tortillas, all served on a platter
Another great thing about Rosie’s? It’s a multigenerational operation. For many years, I recall being greeted by Rosie herself and then by Vincent Arriaga, Rosie’s son. Today, upon entering Rosie’s, I’m greeted warmly by Rosie’s grandson, Paul Arriaga, who grew up working as a bus boy at the
Cheese Enchilada Dinner: Three cheese enchiladas served with rice and beans Pecan Praline: Made from a 1930s family recipe, don’t miss these at the checkout counter Visit Rosie’s at 13436 W. Hwy. 71.
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Personal Chef and Caterer Veshinu Kasinathan Has a World of Talent Behind Him
Story MADELEINE CARALUZZI photography by RALPH YZNAGA eshinu Kasinathan has held the title “head chef ” on land, sea and even in the sky. Currently, Chef Vesh, as he’s called, owns a personal chef and catering service and still has the enthusiasm
of someone working the first day of their dream job. Just three minutes into our interview, he confessed that he’s “in love with the wok” and shared that his first toy was a spatula. His culinary interests were piqued at a young age when he visited street food centers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was born and raised. “I was amazed with it,” he says. “Some of the cooks didn’t have feeling in their hands and would pick up the whole wok and flip it. I would stand in line and watch them do the same things over and over. I loved the fire, the stress, the craziness.” After high school, Vesh attended Taylor’s University in Malaysia where he enrolled in a dual program with the University of Toulouse and specialized in French cuisine. He also completed training at various high-end hotels and gained experience working with just about every other cuisine imaginable. Rotating between these various cuisines gave Vesh a robust understanding of how to fuse different flavors
He secured work at some of the Hill Country’s best restaurants (most
and methods — now a trademark of his style.
recently Hops & Thyme) and, as restaurants in his community closed
After college, he landed a job with Carnival Cruises and traveled the world, cooking for 5,000 people on a daily basis. After a year at sea, Vesh took to the sky as an in-flight personal chef, once again traveling the world but this time serving meals to musicians, activists, actors and various bigwigs. Vesh is clearly devoted to the pursuit of excellence. He describes himself as goal-driven and still references a list of dreams he made as a kid (which included cooking on a cruise ship and being an in-flight chef — two check marks for him!).
due to COVID-19, Vesh saw an opportunity. He put together a menu for his neighbors and personally delivered hot meals. This service in support of his neighbors laid the roots for his catering company, The Fuze 9, which he now operates alongside his partner, Amber Lane. For an example of what The Fuze 9’s menu is all about, the pair recently earned first place in a chili cook-off for their Malaysian-inspired chili featuring coconut steamed jasmine rice, wonton crisps and pickled onions. The company’s mission is oriented toward client personalization, but with Vesh’s signature twists. “People know if I cook something it’s gonna be spicy,” he jokes. He has mastered the art of fusing flavors, focusing
“I want to learn, to know, to teach, and to get better,” he says. “My code for
on those of Malaysia, Europe, Thailand and Texas, and loves to bring the
myself is ‘I can, I will, I must succeed.”
restaurant experience into intimate spaces.
Drawing inspiration from the likes of David Chang and Anthony
“I’m the happiest person walking into a restaurant,” he says. “I bring this
Bourdain, Vesh sees a great deal of merit in world travel and sharing
energy. I love to dance and sing in the kitchen.”
cultures. After three years as an in-flight chef, he chose to expand his experience to the American South — namely the juicy, smoky, spicy palate of Texas — and moved to Austin in 2019.
Just as Anthony Bourdain once described liver tartare to his nervous dinner guest as “world-view changing,” Vesh also has a vision and a drive for how he wants people to interact with and eat his food. He encourages
“I want to show what I’ve learned from traveling and eating other
customers to try a “new different,” as he puts it, that will “... sweep them
culture’s foods. I want to tell a story and share my experience,” he says.
off their feet.”
Vesh’s move to the United States unfortunately coincided with the
And that’s exactly what Vesh aims to do.
beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he did not let this put a damper on his positive attitude. 16 / EdibleAustin.com
For more information, visit thefuze9.com. EdibleAustin.com / 17
Food and Film:
Bastrop & Smithville Make the Ideal Small Town Texas Getaway Story by Stacey Ingram Kaleh Photography by Ralph Yznaga
Piney Creek Steakhouse
photo by KATY HOUSE B&B 18 / EdibleAustin.com
Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse
Smithville General Store
photo by THE RESERVE AT GREENLEAF
t’s a familiar story. A small town, not too far from Austin, has grown exponentially over the past decade. Restaurateurs, artists, and filmmakers, who may have once been drawn to larger cities, find opportunity and inspiration in the beautiful open landscapes just beyond the hectic commutes and fast-paced lifestyles. Community can be found where creativity freely thrives.
residents about the old storehouse, which has led many lives. It’s a way to both preserve the history as well as create community with her customers. She also shares the story of the land and those who tend it through the food she serves at Store House, which comes directly from her farm and other local sources. Behind every element of the restaurant experience Cote has designed, there is a story to be found.
Bastrop is one of those small towns, and yet, the story of Bastrop is unique. Just like Lockhart and Wimberley — which we’ve written about in previous Edible Austin issues — Bastrop is also carving out its own identity as it grows. It’s no longer justified as just another Austin suburb, but a destination all its own, with deep, historical roots, beautiful state parks and a burgeoning culinary scene.
Even with so much to still explore in Bastrop, I find I also cannot help but include a place just 10 minutes further east, Smithville, which holds a special place in my heart. It’s the town where my dad grew up and where I’ve spent countless days surrounded by family and friends.
First settled in 1804 and officially founded in 1832 by Stephen F. Austin at the Colorado River crossing of the Camino Real, Bastrop is one of the oldest towns in Texas and one of the few established during Mexican rule. It’s been called the “Most Historic Small Town in Texas” with numerous buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places, from its courthouse to the county jail to the “Old Iron Bridge.” Today, its history is well-preserved through the downtown historic district.
Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse owner Tom Dickey and Assistant Manager Sarah Martinez
Iron Bridge Icehouse
Yet what’s happening in downtown Bastrop today is anything but old-school. There’s a bit of a renaissance taking place that has turned Bastrop into an ever-more-vibrant place for creatives of all kinds to call home, including chefs like Sonya Cote, writers like Ryan Holiday and filmmakers like Richard Linklater. The city’s Economic Development Committee even now calls Bastrop the “Filming Hospitality Capital of Texas,” and has been creating incentives and opportunities for those looking to tell stories through motion pictures and television to locate to Bastrop. But, true to its roots, Bastrop has always been a town for storytelling — storytelling that goes beyond film into the hearts of the business owners who have enlivened the town’s historic spaces. Chef Sonya Cote is one of these people. In 2021, she opened Store House Market + Eatery, with the goal of honoring the 175-year-old building on Main Street. The name, first and foremost, is a nod to the building’s original function — it once served as a storehouse for grains and goods. She also kept the interior simple to preserve the integrity of the space, showcasing the original hand-painted 1890s Mexican tiles of the front dining room hall and using locally sourced material like Bastrop pine forBeesforall.com her tables. Notably, Cote says she loves to hear stories from local
Smithville is a beautiful, refreshingly quiet two-stoplight town nestled on the banks of the Colorado River. At the time of its founding in 1895, it was the largest city in Bastrop County and a flourishing center of activity along the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. It sustains a longheld tradition of supporting arts and culture, and has embraced a vision for the future that places culture and innovative partnerships at the forefront. In the past twenty years, Smithville has been the setting for feature films from Hope Floats (1998) to The Tree of Life (2011), representing the idyllic American small town. It now plays host to HBO Max’s show “Love & Death.” More recently, its Main Street has entered the early stages of revitalization, thanks to entrepreneurs with distinctive vision, like Regina and Ryan Blackmore of Your Mom’s restaurant, who have brought new life to historic spaces through high quality food and drink experiences. “We fell in love with all of the historic houses and quaint downtown,” Regina shares of their decision to open Your Mom’s in Smithville. “It just has a certain charm about it. It’s a beautiful little town … but the people that call this place home is where the real magic is!” Although there’s much that’s “new” in Smithville, the path for newcomers was paved by longtime local business owners who fostered the strong “neighbors supporting neighbors” culture that helps local businesses thrive. It’s a town, like Bastrop, with plenty of stories to tell, where friendly gossip still flows and southern hospitality abounds. If you’re looking to create some memorable stories of your own, look no further. Here, you can delight in the spirit of small town Texas, experience the passion projects of entrepreneurs, soak in the best of local food and drink, and discover the beauty of the landscape surrounding the Colorado River. EdibleAustin.com / 19
EAT YOUR HEART OUT Small town dining doesn’t have to mean “everything fried” these days. Discover both inventive and tried and true approaches to truly delicious food at these restaurants.
Store House Market + Eatery Austinites may know Sonya Cote from her other ventures, Hillside Farmacy and Eden East on Springdale Farm. When Austin real estate became too expensive and Springdale Farm was sold to be developed into condos, Cote and her partner purchased acreage in Bastrop, not far from the building she transformed into Store House, and moved 18 truckloads of nutrient-rich soil from Springdale Farm to their own. Cote opened Store House on Bastrop’s historic Main Street in 2021, bringing her signature farm-to-table dishes and al fresco dining experiences to the area. Everything at Store House, from the ingredients to the Bastrop pine tables, to the bands performing on the patio, to original mosaic artwork, is meticulously locally sourced. Ninety percent of the produce on her menu comes from the new Eden East Farm, where customers can find a farmstand on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and, if they’re lucky, get on the list for “supper club” style dinners on the farm, reminiscent of the old Eden East in Austin. Keep an eye out for these “Out on the Farm” dinners on May 22 and June 12. So far, Cote has found Bastrop residents to be open-minded when it comes to trying her creations … which may stretch beyond the typical small town comfort zone. Make a reservation at Store House for dinner, and be ready to enjoy options like Texas ribeye with mashed cauliflower, herbs, and an oyster mushroom demi-glace or butternut risotto with herb olive oil, kale, parmesan, brown butter and sage. Or stop in for a leisurely weekend brunch, featuring fresh Caesar salads with farm greens and fried quail knots and French toast beignets in a pepper jelly syrup, fermented hot sauce, topped with powdered sugar.
Piney Creek Chop House Planning a date night or special celebration? Make a reservation at the red-brick Piney Creek Chop House for an elegant yet easeful experience. The restaurant is modeled after a steakhouse you might find in a big city, with a sophisticated dining room, but it also embraces its small town quaintness with a servicecentered approach. Start with a wine from their extensive list or a signature martini, share appetizers like crab-stuffed mushrooms or bruschetta, then move to a strawberry spinach salad with toasted almonds. When you’re ready for the main course, choose from the finest cuts of steak, served with green beans and mashed potatoes, center-cut, bone-in Niman Ranch pork chops with red wine reduction, or shrimp scampi with garlic butter sauce. In an area that’s known for cattle ranching, a steakhouse visit seems like an absolute must. 703 Chestnut Street, Bastrop | pineycreekbastrop.com
The menu at Your Mom’s is inspired by this love, too. Especially her family’s trips to visit loved ones in Louisiana. On the menu are many Cajun-inspired offerings like oysters boudin, shrimp Picayune with smoked Gouda grits, blackened catfish over white rice and corn maque choux and Uncle Dunbar’s chicken and andouille sausage gumbo. They also serve elevated Texas go-to’s like chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and a “Willie Nelson” BBQ burger stuffed with cheese and served on Texas toast, as well as stand-out shareables like Brussels sprouts slathered in a “mojo glaze” that’s simultaneously savory and sweet. The sauce has become so popular, the Blackmores have started to bottle and sell it at customers’ requests. Don’t leave Your Mom’s without a bottle of your own! 109 NW 2nd Street, Smithville | yourmoms.net
TOAST THE TOWN Head to Bastrop for undeniably great beer and brewery experiences, and settle down on Smithville’s Main Street for a glass of wine.
Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse Pull up a barstool on the banks of the Colorado River at Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard. With plenty of river real estate, spacious covered decks, live music and a great view of Bastrop’s historic iron bridge, Neighbor’s is well designed for, well, that neighborly feeling. It’s a pizza kitchen, brewery, wellness shop, bakery and music venue all tucked inside its premises. The Iron Bridge Icehouse next door, which Neighbor’s calls its “sister brewery,” make the entire place stand out as a destination. Neighbor’s serves up an extensive menu of pizza and pretzel bites that pair well with a cold beer. At Iron Bridge you can get a tour of how their beer is made onsite, using locally sourced ingredients — which even includes Bastrop’s own rainwater when possible. Try the Rivet IPA, a well-balanced brew with notes of pine and citrus and a clean finish, or the inventive Hibiscus Shandy, a light and refreshing beer with a red hue and earthy notes. 601 Chestnut Street, Bastrop | neighborstx.com| ironbridgeicehouse.com
The Front Room Take a front row seat on Smithville’s Main Street at this Scottish-style bar. Owner Victoria Allen was inspired by her native Scotland, and designed a space that resembles the pubs of her home country and serves as a prime space for the art of conversation in this small town. The Front Room has a full bar
Piney Creek Chop House
Your Mom's Housed in an old factory space, where submarine parts were fabricated and then shipped out via the railroad, Your Mom’s greets customers with a fresh take on classic Southern and Cajun comfort food. Owned and operated by Ryan and Regina (Gina) Blackmore and their eldest daughter, Your Mom’s opened in 2017 and has quickly become a town favorite. With every meal made in-house from scratch by the Blackmores, customers experience authentic hospitality from their neighbors. “We do everything from front of the house to back of the house, and everything in between,” says Gina.
813 Main Street, Bastrop | storehousebastrop.com
Gina Blackmore’s family was also in the restaurant business — in Brownsville — which is where she learned how to build a customeroriented endeavor from a young age. “That’s where I learned all I know about restaurants and service. You can’t have one without the other. You can feed people but you gotta love them, too!”
The Blackmores also completely renovated the restaurant’s building, using recycled materials that they’d found within. In the process, they also made sure to add personal touches, like the Fonville Winans photos of Gina’s Pawpaw Tony Kristicevich, by that hang on the walls. The Blackmores’ appreciation for family can be felt in the space and also in each bite of delicious food served in it.
Honey's Pizza It’s not often you find excellent wood-fired Neapolitan pizza in a small town, but Smithville is an exception, thanks to Honey’s Pizza. Named for the fictional diner in Hope Floats, Honey’s brings artful design and food sure to be enjoyed by the entire family to the 1910 Pines Hotel building. Owners Amy and Steve Simmons of Amy’s Ice Creams have several properties in Smithville, and were inspired by their son to provide a high-quality pizza restaurant for families. Steve spent a year studying Neapolitan style and developing recipes before they opened Honey’s in 2016, where the pizza is built on dough that is made fresh daily and adorned with house-made mozzarella. The wood-fired method gives each pie a rustic, flaky yet chewy crust and their specialty pizzas range from the Queen Margherita to the Tree of Life with house-made spinach ricotta, vegetarian sausage, red peppers, mushrooms and chopped basil. Salads, calzones and appetizers including wood-fired meatballs are also available. Pair your pie with a delicious craft cocktail, like the tequila creation “Hope Floats.” According to Honey’s website, the Simmons find Smithville to be “an unusual small town; it is welcoming, kind, diverse, sophisticated and rich in history.” With Honey’s, they are helping to revitalize a once sleepy section of Main Street, encouraging a “slow, intentional repopulation of downtown that honors its historic past.”
and offers a menu of tapas-style cuisine, from soups, salads and dips to sliders and pot stickers. The drink menu shines with an extensive wine list, some Austin beers on tap, and refreshing cocktails like the Bees Knees, made with blackberry-infused Tito’s Vodka, lavender bitters, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and Wycliff Brut. 116 Main Street, Smithville | frontroomwinebar.com
photo by THE FRONT ROOM
On a hot, sunny Texas summer weekend, stop by their drive-through slush shop, Slushes, in the Honey’s parking lot for a refreshing treat.
Store House Market + Eatery 20 / EdibleAustin.com
109 NE 2nd Street, Smithville | honeyspizza.com EdibleAustin.com / 21
ENJOY UNIQUE SHOPPING
UNWIND AND STAY AWHILE
Show your love for Central Texas entrepreneurs when you shop at
You’ll need more than just a day trip to explore all that Bastrop and Smithville have to offer! Get comfortable when you stay overnight at these special spots.
these stores that are curated with care.
The Painted Porch Book lovers, rejoice! The Painted Porch offers both a fresh and old-school approach to book browsing. When you’re tired of life on digital devices and burnt out from too much screen time, there’s a haven for you at the Painted Porch. Here you will find a thoughtful selection of books for all ages and a wide variety of interests, from Stoic philosophy (owner Ryan Holiday is author of The Daily Stoic) to children’s literature and Texas history. The store is
The Painted Porch
housed in a historic building with a soaring ceiling, a stone fireplace surrounded by stacked tomes and long, library-like tables perfect for spreading out the pages of a good read. 912 Main Street, Bastrop | thepaintedporch.com
Astro Record Store Sharing a wall with The Painted Porch is Astro Record Store, another shop that plays up the thrill of the search. Hearken back to the days before Amazon and Spotify, when you went to the record store to spend the afternoon in search of something truly special. Astro’s long space is lined with bright yellow crates overflowing with vintage vinyl records that cover genres from Tejano to jazz to pop and classic rock. Near the back, you’ll find boxes labeled “$1 Dig,” or “$3 Dig,” unlabeled and ripe for the picking for curious, adventurous shoppers. There’s a stage set up in-store and a historic bar top that make Astro a great spot to experience live music and pop-up events, too. 910 Main Street, Bastrop| astrorecordstore.com
The Reserve at Greenleaf Create lasting memories when you stay in a “state of the art” luxury yurt, tucked away in the forest and close to the Colorado River. The Reserve offers four private yurts, and you can explore their website to discover the unique features of each, from a lodgepole pine ceiling and skylight to walk-in showers with teak flooring. You’ll feel close to nature but also in touch with the world as you enjoy highspeed WiFi, an organic coffee bar, hypoallergenic comforters and pima cotton sateen sheets. The Reserve exists to help you maximize outdoor adventures, like kayaking, hiking, fishing and swimming, which are plentiful in Bastrop. 408 Laura Lane, Bastrop | thereserveatgreenleaf.com Pecan Street Inn Make yourself at home in the gorgeous Victorian house that is the Pecan Street Inn Bed and Breakfast. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a City of Bastrop Landmark, it’s the perfect place to stay for history lovers and preservation enthusiasts. Enjoy a quiet location that is just over one block from Main Street and two blocks from the Colorado River and Riverwalk hike and bike trail. Enjoy rooms decorated with American antiques, design details such as pine floors and old wavy glass windows and a spacious wraparound porch with Victorian rockers, sofas and swings. Guests are served a gourmet seated breakfast with delightful dishes like pecan waffles with strawberries.
photo by THE RESERVE AT GREENLEAF
The Katy House Bed & Breakfast Just a short walk from Main Street, The Katy House Bed & Breakfast is a turn-of-the-century home that has been restored to its original beauty while adding modern amenities and French Country-style furnishings. Welcoming guests for more than 27 years, The Katy House has six spacious rooms with private baths, and serves up a southern-style breakfast each morning. Featuring gorgeous Georgian columns, an arched portico and bay-windowed living room, the house, built in 1909, is a Texas Historic Landmark. Before becoming a bed and breakfast, it was the private home of local mercantile owner J.H. Chancellor, served as a clinic for railroad division surgeon “Dr. Stephens,” and was an office and clothing warehouse for the Bastrop County Women’s Shelter. 201 Ramona Street, Smithville | katyhouse.com
1010 Pecan Street, Bastrop | pecanstreetinn.com
Smithville General Store Astro Record Store owner Kevin Mawby
Smithville General Store & Coffee Just off Main Street is the Smithville General Store, where you can grab a cup of freshly brewed espresso, a memento from your time in town or a gift for a friend. You’ll find Texas-sourced goods, like Texas Hill Country Olive Co.’s olive oils and Mazama Coffee, original artwork and cute tees that spread love for “The Ville!” Owner and founder Beth Neely, who chose Smithville after driving through during trips between her home city of Houston and her alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, operates by the motto, “Small Town Big Heart,” since embracing her identity as a Texas girl at heart. If you like the general store, visit their newest outpost, Smithville General Store - Home, for antiques and architectural salvage just across the street.
Store House Market + Eatery 22 / EdibleAustin.com
photo by PECAN STREET INN photos by KATY HOUSE B&B
108 NE 2nd Street, Smithville | smithvillegeneralstore.com EdibleAustin.com / 23
Fresh Starts / Pecan Grove / Smoothies / Conscious Goods No. 67 Nov/Dec 2019
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601 Chestnut Street Building C, Bastrop, TX 78602 (512) 988-7036 neighborstx.com
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Tas te s L i ke Fal l : Swe e t Po t a t o Bund t Cake
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Mastering the Markets Barton Creek Farmers Market Story and photography by YOLANDA NAGY Behind every great farmers market is a small
and greeted each vendor with a big smile as she told them their
group of dedicated people with big ideas
numbered spot, which was marked on the ground. She turned around,
and even bigger hearts. The Barton Creek
looked at me, and said, "Now, these are my customers." Whaley
Farmers Market is Austin’s original farmers
orchestrated the lines of cars like a pro, directing them to her left and
right until all 90 vendors were in the lot. By this time, Krumland drove
customers can enjoy over 90 vendors, live music
up with the signature Barton Creek truck. He jumped out and got straight
and yummy samples from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the
to work setting up the information booth, coolers, music tent and
everything else that will help turn this once-empty lot into a
beautiful farmers market community, and all before 9 a.m.! Together,
from Dillard's. Each and every week, creating this event takes planning, organization and teamwork. The planning begins on the weekdays with Salila Travers,
the market team has one goal: to bring you the best farmers market every weekend, rain or shine. Bravo!
the owner, who has run the market for over 18 years. She handles many
The next time you are at the market, stop by the information booth and
behind-the-scenes responsibilities, including accounting, email and
say hello to Travers, Whaley and Krumland, the team behind the market.
vendor applications. She is proud to say that most vendors have been
Also, be sure to follow them on Instagram, sign up for their newsletter on
with her from the beginning, too.
the website and subscribe to the YouTube channel, so you won't miss out
Travers loves the market she has built, and it shows. One thing she looks
on all the great events coming up this year.
for in the many applications she receives is unique entrepreneurs to add to the market. Travers believes in having a variety of vendors, from local farmers
Dancing Bear Farm, who harvests his produce the day before the market, to Moot's, a husband-and-wife business that sells handmade artisanal products made by Indigenous communities in Mexico. Alongside Travers is a dedicated team that helps organize the market.
Barton Creek Farmers Market Rain or Shine Live Music Dog friendly Plenty of Parking
Daniel Krumland has served as assistant manager for seven years, and Anya Whaley has been the farmers market organizer for 16. Whaley
2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy
knows every vendor by name and greets all the regulars as they arrive
Austin, Texas 78746
on Saturday. During the week, she works her social media magic by
Every Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
posting about the market and running an informative email newsletter. In April, she started a YouTube channel for the market with the series
“30 videos in 30 days,” featuring one vendor each day. On the third
Saturday of each month, the market hosts Kidpreneur, a movement to empower kids to thrive in entrepreneurship. The week I was there, I met
YouTube: Barton Creek Farmers Market
Indigo Harrington, who is a 12-year-old Kidpreneur and is the owner
Find Yolanda Nagy on IG: @eatin_and_sippin_locally
of Simply Candles. She creates hand-poured candles in unique colors and scents.
and on Facebook: Eatin’ and Sippin' Locally.
I recently spent a Saturday morning with Whaley setting up the market. I was surprised to find that her day starts at 6:30 a.m. Whaley was already there when I arrived. Although the market has a reserved spot, she checks for cars that need to be removed and cleans up any trash. I think that she must wear an invisible cape because she is as fast as lightning. After she finished, we jumped in her van to put up signs around the mall. When we returned, cars were rolling in. Whaley jumped out of her van 26 / EdibleAustin.com
EdibleAustin.com / 27
Join thought leaders, writers, innovators, and industry experts in Denver as we celebrate 20 years of telling the story of local food and explore the ideas, challenges and changes that will shape our food
OCTOBER 1–2, 2022 | DENVER, CO
communities in the next decade and beyond. For more information, visit edibleinstitute.com
Edible is pleased to announce Dr. Temple Grandin as our keynote speaker for this year’s Institute. Dr. Grandin is a scientist whose ground-breaking work in animal behavior has helped shape standards of excellence for the humane treatment of animals around the world.
28 / EdibleAustin.com
EdibleAustin.com / 29
RECIPES OF THE
SEASON recipes and photography by FRANCINE SPIERING
PEACH & TOMATO SWEET POTATO FLATBREADS Serves 4
Year-round sweet potatoes in Texas make these flatbreads sing with flavor, color and freshness — topped with summer’s finest tomatoes and juicy soft peaches. The dough can be made a day in advance and kept covered in the fridge. Allow at least three hours for the dough to rise again before proceeding. 1
medium sweet potato
dry active yeast
flour, plus extra for dusting
smoked paprika powder
olive oil, plus extra for greasing
For the topping: 2 c.
cherry tomatoes, halved
large ripe peach, peeled and cut into chunks
avocado, mashed coarsely Additional, to taste: sliced radishes, spring onions, jalapeños, microgreens, crumbled feta Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the sweet potato and cut into chunks. Boil lightly in salted water until completely soft, about 12-15 minutes. Drain. Use a potato masher to puree until fine and lump-free. Set aside and let cool completely. You will need about a ½ cup of this sweet potato puree. If you have any left over, use it in another dish, or freeze it for your next flatbread. In a small bowl, activate the yeast in warm water. Sprinkle a little flour on top and let bloom for about 5 minutes. Combine flours, salt and spices in a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the dissolved yeast, followed by the sweet potato, olive oil and yogurt. Continue to mix into a loose, shaggy dough. Dust a clean work surface with flour and dump the dough out onto it. Flour your hands and the top of the dough. Knead 5-8 minutes (using more flour as needed to prevent sticking) into an elastic, smooth dough that comes together easily in a ball. Grease the bottom of a bowl with olive oil and roll the dough ball in it to coat. Cover the dough itself with plastic wrap and then cover the bowl with a dish towel. Place in a warm, draft-free spot and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 450°. Dust your surface again with flour. Dump the risen dough out and divide into 4 equal pieces. Gently round each piece into a ball. Cover with cloth and let rest for 30 minutes. Use your hands to stretch each dough ball into a flat round (about ¼-inch thick). Heat a cast-iron or griddle pan. When hot, drop in a piece of flattened dough and cook for 2 minutes, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Spread a layer of mashed avocado on the flatbread and top with your choosing of tomatoes, peaches, jalapeños, radishes, spring onions, feta and microgreens. Season with salt and pepper.
30 / EdibleAustin.com
EdibleAustin.com / 31
Preheat oven to 425°F
EGGPLANT BEIGNETS WITH PEACHY PEANUT SAUCE Serves 4-6 (about 20 beignets)
Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season liberally with salt. Roast in the oven until soft and caramelized, flipping over once, in about 30 minutes, (this step can be done up to 3 days ahead of time, but keep the eggplant in a closed container in the fridge). Once cool, chop eggplant coarsely. Add to a bowl, along with parsley, scallions and garlic. Season with the spices and salt, to taste. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Mix in flour, baking powder and ½-cup milk, using more milk if needed until you have a thick, pancake-like batter. Stir in eggplant mixture.
wh at' s
To fry the beignets: Heat oil in a deep frying pan or use a deep fryer (you can test the heat by dropping a little batter into the pan: if it sizzles, it is good to go). Scoop batter with a spoon and drop into the hot oil, using another spoon to ease it off. Continue with as many as fit but don’t crowd the pan. When they are golden and crisp (after about 4–5 minutes), scoop the beignets out with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all batter is finished. Peachy peanut sauce: 1 t.
large garlic clove, minced
grated fresh ginger
Small red onion, finely chopped
You’ll find these eggplant beignets to be a popular snack that vanish faster than you can fry up a fresh batch. In a pinch if you don’t have time to make the sauce, make a quick salsa of chopped peaches, tomatoes, fresh herbs (mint works wonderfully, as does cilantro), onion and lime juice. We believe you’ll find our peachy peanut sauce too addictive to not make!
sambal oelek (or to taste)
ground peanuts in a paste*
ripe peach, pit removed and chopped coarsely
Garnish (optional): chopped peach, tomato, 1
fresh cilantro or mint
Photo by NATALIYA VAITKEVICH
Salt, to taste
*Or peanut butter that is 100% ground peanuts without
finely chopped parsley
scallion sprigs, finely chopped
cloves garlic, minced
For the batter: 2
1 t. 1/2-1 c.
salt milk (as needed)
32 / EdibleAustin.com
Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat, or until softened. Do not brown. Add garlic and ginger for the last minute. Then add spices, sambal oelek,
molasses and peanut paste, plus 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat. The sauce will thicken. If it gets too congealed, add a tablespoon of water at a time as needed. Add chopped peaches and cook for another 2–3 minutes. The sauce should be like a thick, chunky barbecue sauce. Add salt to taste.
The sauce can be served warm or cold. Garnish, to taste, with fresh peaches, tomatoes and herbs.
Keep in a closed jar in the fridge for up to 3 days.
a n d
a ro u n d
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nat t ie m at e i n t iim
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DREAMS MICK FAMILY FARM
by ADA BROUSSARD photography by PATTY ROBERTSON
s I pull into Mick Family Farms and get out of my car to close
“You know how some people are crazy
the gate behind me, I’m careful to avoid the bluebonnets that
chicken people?” Mick asks me as we walk
dot the entrance. And although I don’t hear them yet, I know
from the yard where around 70 laying
there is a gaggle of newborn lambs in the barns at the end of the road
hens peck about toward the sheep barn.
and I’m excited to see them. Visiting farms doesn’t always make my
“Well, I’m a crazy sheep lady.” For around
heart ache with pastoral glee, but on this early spring afternoon, it
30 years, Mick worked for the state,
most certainly did.
mostly in the health and human services department. She would come back to
I meet Aimee Mick on her colorful back patio. It’s a Saturday at around
her home in Dripping Springs where her
5:15 p.m. — an odd time for an interview — and I feel like we should
young and busy family had a more casual
be drinking margaritas on the porch swing instead of exchanging pleasantries about the weather, though it’s notably delightful. Mick, whose family is from Abbeville, Louisiana (just 30 minutes south of where I was raised in Lafayette) and I are quick to connect over favorite oyster joints and French surnames. She tells me about how
a few goats. The sheep only arrived when Mick retired around 11 years ago, thanks in large part to a border collie named Dixie.
she ended up settling on this rolling pasture where Dripping Springs
“When I retired … I decided, you know, it would be really cool to get a
bleeds into Driftwood and then becomes Wimberley. Now, she’s at the
border collie, and it'd be really cool to learn how to herd,” Mick tells
heart of Austin’s westward expansion, but when she and her husband
me when I ask how she went from HR professional to shepherdess.
bought raw land and moved from Houston in the early ‘90s, it all just
Once she had Dixie, she realized she needed the sheep in order to
felt like country-livin’.
realize her herd-dog dreams. “I realized I needed two or three sheep, I
For the Micks, the line between family home and family farm is as thin as lambs are adorable. Less than 100 yards away from their house — a deep-red two-story that rests in the shade of a few oaks — is a sheep barn, a chicken and rabbit yard, and a gate that leads to about 80 acres of grassy pasture praying for the spring rain to come. Mick’s husband, Raymond, works in construction, and in the early years of moving to Dripping Springs while they were raising a young family they were also building a home. Mick jokes that they’re still working to finish the house some 30 years later, but to me, it seems perfectly complete. It’s clear that the family home is a magnet for Aimee and Raymond’s kids, and now grandkids, but the sheep, specifically, are Mick’s world. 36 / EdibleAustin.com
approach to animal husbandry. In the early years, they always had a steer that they would butcher, as well as
needed to take lessons. So I started herding, and I started doing low-level competition herding — just at a novice level. And then, I [was] like I need more sheep, I need more sheep, and I kind of just got addicted to the sheep.” Mick laughs excitedly remembering how all of a sudden she looked out back, saw a large flock of sheep and wondered, “What am I gonna do with all these sheep?!” Soon after, she got a herd dog and reverse-engineered her ranching retirement plan. She signed up to sell her grass-fed meat at the Dripping Springs Farmers Market, where, by the way, you can find her every Wednesday with a cooler full of high-quality chops, racks, ground and even whole-leg of lamb. EdibleAustin.com / 37
FARMERS diary Around the same time that Mick started raising sheep, she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, and transitioning her family to a clean and wholesome diet became an important part of her life. The same market where she would bring her meat became a crucial source for fresh and local food — as well as community. In all of her years raising a family and commuting from Dripping Springs to downtown Austin, she tells me that she never really got to know her community. But now? She’s a stalwart at the market, and regular patrons and newbies alike line up for her lamb. “I have one guy who buys four pounds of stew meat every single week,” she tells me. “Every single week. That's awesome. He's got a family of five and that's what they eat.” When I visited, Mick Family Farms had around 60 ewes, or breeding females, around 40 slaughter lambs just under a year old, 43 brand new babies and one ram called “Sam I Am (The Ram),” a name Mick’s granddaughter chose. Most of the sheep are black- and white-headed
another bottle. Put simply, it’s abundantly easier when the mom does
dorpers, a breed that originated in South Africa and is known for
the rearing on her own.
hardiness and ability to withstand more arid climates. Dorpers’ coats are considered more hair-like than woolen, and, conveniently, they don’t
What dorpers do require, however, is attention. “You have to watch them … I keep them close not only because there's predators, but also because if you see a sheep that looks sick, chances are it's gonna die. A sick sheep is a dead sheep.” All of Mick’s sheep are incredibly healthy looking, plump, and happy, feasting on big bales of protein-rich peanut hay, which Mick feeds them in the months when her dormant pastures grow into their springtime glory. There are three massive and sweet Great Pyrenees napping in dusty shade spots, exhausted from their night patrol, gentle giants to keep watch while Mick sleeps nearby. When we enter the nearby pin of newborns, Mick’s devotion to her animals becomes clear as a black-headed, white-bodied fleece ball capers our way. “That’s Feather,” she tells me of the tiny lamb at our
And then there’s Feather, and his twin sibling who I think is named Pinkey. You see, this pair are not actually orphaned. “Their mom is perfectly fine,” Mick admits “but they happened to walk over when I was with the bottle [feeding the other bottle baby], and they looked kind of cold and hungry. And so I handed him a bottle and now they come running.” But their mom lets them nurse, also. This is how I know Mick is a great rancher, and probably a great grandmother, too. She provides a laudable level of coddling to balance her natural pragmatism, a happy rancher who raises happy sheep. Mick Family Farms lambs twice a year — once in March/April, and again in October/November, but Mick has a year-round supply of lamb, as well as chicken eggs and rabbit meat, too. You can find Mick’s lamb on the menu at a handful of restaurants local to the farm including Tillie’s at Camp Lucy in Dripping Springs and Jobell in Wimberley. To enjoy the grass-fed lamb yourself, visit Mick at the Dripping Springs Farmers Market where she attends every week, or the Pedernales Farmers’ Market where she attends about once a month. Interested in a whole lamb? She’s happy to accommodate custom-cuts, when possible. To get in touch, find Mick on social media or give her a ring, “I don't have a website because it kept crashing, and I don't want to be behind a computer anyway. So [folks can get in touch on] my Facebook or Instagram,” she tells me. “And they can always call me.”
feet. “Bottle babies,” as most ranchers refer to them, are orphans either because their mom died or has abandoned them — an unfortunate reality of farm life. Most ranchers I know, myself included, have a love-hate-love relationship with their bottle babies. Yes, oxytocin surges when these tame, tender babies skip to your feet. Yet, the feeding and formula-mixing is relentless, and their needy cries begin to stand out among the rest of the barnyard hubbub, impossible to ignore. Just when you feel like you’ve finished feeding, it’s time for 38 / EdibleAustin.com
EdibleAustin.com / 39
EdibleAustin.com / 41
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