TEXAS ROADWAYS IN SPRING AND GRAYZE RESTAURANT

This weekend we took a short road trip to San Antonio.

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There was a ton of traffic as folks headed home from Spring Break, but I honestly didn’t mind, because the wildflowers were in full bloom and were incredible.  They were everywhere along Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 90.  Among the highlights were the plentiful pink patches of Texas Buttercups, also known as Showy Primroses:

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Brilliant red Drummond Phlox:

And loads of Texas Bluebonnets (of course):

Usually bluebonnets are the star of the Texas spring wildflower show, but this year I believe they were outshone by the Indian Paintbrushes:

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We got to San Antonio in time for brunch, and after 3 hours of internet research in the car (Carsick?  Who me?) we decided on Grayze, near the Pearl District.  It’s only been open since January, but seems to have attracted attention with its “modern take on classic dishes at affordable prices.”

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We were surprised to discover that the only option for Sunday brunch was a buffet, which was not on the online menu.  If we’d known that, we probably would have picked another restaurant — self-control is an issue at buffets, and I always feel like maybe I should make sure my affairs are in order before partaking.  As it turned out, it was a good thing we didn’t know about the buffet, and had no choice once we got there, because it was a delicious surprise, and at $16, a great value — it would have been a shame to skip it.

This was not your ordinary breakfast buffet, with sad pans of burnt bacon, watery eggs, and rubbery pancakes.  Oh no, this one was full of tempting dishes, including mustard-maple glazed salmon:

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French onion macaroni and cheese:

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An outstanding roasted mushroom medley:

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Addictive candied bacon (yep, that’s right):

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Bison chili scrambled eggs, with tomatillo salsa:

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And a great barley salad and pile of fresh fruit:

Each week the buffet features a French toast creation.  Last week it was crème brulee French toast, and the week before that it was Fruity Pebbles French toast.  This week it was S’mores French toast, with peanut butter in the middle, topped with marshmallow Fluff and a chocolate drizzle.  I’m pretty sure you could hear my pants pop open at this point:

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There was also smoked brisket hash, heirloom tomato salad with ricotta cheese, cold roasted pork shoulder with chimichurri, chicken sausage, thick slices of toast with apricot butter, and strawberry crumble with whipped cream.

Diners at a nearby table were enjoying the “mimosa kit,’ which I think is a wonderful idea.  $26 gets you a bottle of Prosecco and a carafe of orange or grapefruit juice, and everyone gets to make their own, in whatever proportions they are up for.

The space had an ice house feel, very casual.  Lots of families, dogs, good times.  We’ll be back!

BEEF AND BARLEY SOUP


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I found this boomerang at an estate sale.  This is not just any boomerang, it is a piece of hand-painted aboriginal art:

One definition of boomerang offered by Urban Dictionary is a “frisbee for a kid with no friends.”  I had a boomerang once, but forgot how to throw it — then it came back to me (groan).  Fortunately, this boomerang came with directions:

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Too much math for me

The boomerang is loosely based on the concept that what goes around comes around (no kidding, right?).  This is also the concept on which leftovers are based, and which has inspired this recipe for Beef and Barley Soup.

Recently, the New York Times ran an article about a dish known as Mississippi Roast “one of the most popular recipes on the web.”  The recipe calls for a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Mix and a packet of McCormick Au Jus Gravy Mix, which you sprinkle over the chuck roast you have placed in your slow cooker, and top with a stick of butter and a few peperoncini.

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Cook on low for 8 hours, and voila:

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The roast was just fine, and could not have been easier, but the packets are a deal-breaker for a lot of folks — you know, chemicals, sodium, etc. — the whole “factory-to-table” thing.  I’d have to admit that I prefer my own recipe for pot roast, with seared meat, tomato paste, red wine, herbs, and veggies.  Anyway, we had a lot of leftovers, and there’s only so many nights in a row you can eat the same meal (our limit being two), so I had to repurpose the leftover roast.  Beef and Barley Soup has become one of our favorite hearty soups.  Whenever we have a roast or steak, we always make sure to save a piece in order to make the soup, so having leftover Mississippi Roast was actually something we were quite happy about.

BEEF AND BARLEY SOUP
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Recipe type: Soup
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup chopped leftover beef (roast beef, pot roast, etc.)
  • ½ cup pearled barley
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced or quartered
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and celery, and saute until vegetables are tender and onion is translucent. Add beef, barley, broth, water, mushrooms, thyme, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for approximately 1 hour, until barley is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. If necessary, thin soup with additional beef broth.

 

Soup’s on!

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