November 30, 2010

'tis the Season

That is... Stone Crab Season. Enjoyed at the house, early in the harvest, cracked and chilled perfectly with lemon and mustard sauce at the ready. Some rosé to wash them down.  It's good we waited until Saturday night... the turkey wouldn't have stood a chance. 

1021 E Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

November 24, 2010

"Might as Well Have the Best"

Seattle, WA

November 23, 2010

El Puro – Esquire Tavern

300 calls to 911 in 365 days. As legend has it, that’s the record that marked the end-of-the-end for the Esquire Tavern, a hole-in-the-wall on the Riverwalk that, prior to its forced closing in 2006, was a 73 y.o. boozy downtown San Antonio institution that played host to denizens of all types, united solely by a common desire to get drunk. The Esquire opened in 1933, the year Prohibition ended. At one point it boasted the longest bar in Texas (77-feet), which is capable of holding 5,973 Lone Star  longnecks; that they actually did this is a testament to the fact that good ideas are good ideas, regardless of your blood alcohol content. 

“It was puro San Antonio,” the old caretaker said in a recent Express-News article.  “At the bar, you might see a judge, a homeless person, a war vet, a crack addict all drinking beer.” …Intriguing.  What’s more, “People were afraid that when they went around a murky corner inside the smoke-filled tavern they could get mugged or stabbed, but, at the same time, they still felt safe.” …Less intriguing. 

Fortunately, after the Esquire closed but before someone turned it into something terrible, a local fellow purchased the dirt and has spent the better part of the past two years restoring it. We were there last week for a private party (recognizing the artists-in-residence at Artpace) and got a sneak peak.  They’ve hired Jill Giles to do the interior, and if one of her other what’s-old-is-new-again projects – the Bar at Bohanan’s – is any indication of what’s to come, we’re in for a treat.

I asked the new owner how he planned to keep out the riff-raff.  “We’ll increase the cost of beer six-fold,” pegging the new price at $4.50 a bottle (or thereabouts). Do the math. And God Bless this town, where for under five bucks you can move the ability and willingness-to-pay a few very critical rungs up the socio-economic scale. 

To be sure, the re-incarnation of the Esquire might be positively tame by comparison to its former self, yet speaking as a member of the silent majority - those who are looking for authenticity while also actively avoiding knife play - it may just be... the place to be. But I don’t want to be around when the bus stop insurrection occurs.

P.S. These pictures are dreadful, but I was dealing with incredibly low light and a new camera with which I’m not yet entirely comfortable. 

November 16, 2010

De Colores. De Rigueur.

The architecture of San Miguel de Allende evokes for me the Medina of Marrakech. While the alleyways aren’t as narrow nor the outer walls as imposing, the non-descript doorways that face the street belie the opulence that resides within the confines of many San Miguel homes.

I’ve seen a few, though none as extravagant as where we stayed this summer: Casa Hyder, a ten-bedroom, 11-bath, three-kitchen marvel that sits atop nearly 2/3 of an acre in the middle of town. The owners, of Ft. Worth, purchased the first parcel of land in 1959 and have been adding to ever since.  Back then I’d reckon that San Miguel was a bit of a gamble, so at more than 50 years in the making the owners were quite the second-home pioneers… aristocratic bohemians, if you will.  

Patience, a flare for the eclectic, and a boatload of money, and this too can be yours…

Quebrada No. 85
San Miguel de Allende, GTO, MEX

Top Photos via: New York Times.

November 8, 2010

“Don't Overthink Party Music”

The first time I saw Austin-based Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears was just about a year ago on a cold night in a small venue with seven-foot ceilings, and they didn’t come on until after one a.m. The delayed set and lack of vertical real estate made the smoke that had built up throughout the evening nearly unbearable. But once they emerged – this James Brown re-incarnate strutting peacock front man and his band of seven (mostly) bespectacled horn-blaring guitar-playing drum-kicking white guys – all hiccups dissipated instantly. I've seen them twice since, fortunately under more forgiving circumstances. 

The band is electric. Southern Funk slash Soul slash Texas Rock and Blues. And while Joe Lewis delivers his lyrics with all the clarity of Eddie Vedder on Yellow Ledbetter (truly, at times you can’t understand a damn word, which makes for interesting crowd participation during Big Booty Woman), it's his style that keeps the sweaty masses moving. This is, after all, party music... you'd be wise to just enjoy it. 

330 E. Grayson Street
San Antonio, Texas 78215

Photo Credits: NPR.

November 4, 2010


Motherhood and apple pie, baseball, stars & stripes… just a few of the items on the short-list of things as American as the International Scout. This one I tripped across recently in Colorado. The Prius behind it almost ruined the moment, until I remembered that I was at 8,750 feet with nothing to do but ascend calmly up a hillside before my nap and cocktail hour. Later I admired a perfectly kept Willys Jeep, against which the Scout was reportedly built to compete... now that's competition Uncle Sam would be proud of.  Alas, no camera, but it was nice to marvel at a vehicle that has probably been in a Fourth of July parade every year for the past sixty.

Categorically un-American though similarly impressive was this Pinzgauer, an Austrian-engineered high mobility all-terrain vehicle. Works well for African safaris, patrolling the Afghan countryside, or braving the mean streets of Telluride (hippies, everywhere). And with a price tag of well over $100k it absolves itself of the sinful ubiquity of today’s guerilla-vehicle-of-choice.