The Grill-Meister and I met some friends yesterday at the chili cookoff in tiny Round Top, Texas (population 90 in the 2010 census). It was overcast and gray and didn’t really seem like a good day for an outdoor festival, but we were committed, so we donned sensible shoes for trodding in mud and brought our appetites. It was a wonderful experience!
The chili was great, but the people-watching was even better. I didn’t take enough pictures and none of them will win any awards, but I was struck by the sheer Americana of the scene and had to share it.
Headed out to the Round Top Chili Cookoff with friends today, I’m inspired to reblog this post from last year. It’s a tale of a chili cook-off fundraiser in a tiny Texas town, two friends, five gallons of spilled chili, dozens of kind people and a chance meeting with the governor.
Yay! A new article in Zagat’s online Buzz section waxes poetic about the dining options in our little town here in Southeast Texas:
At first glance, Tomball may seem yet another Houston suburb filled with chain stores and sprawling neighborhoods. But look closer, and the charm of small-town living is evident, particularly in Old Town Tomball. Spend a day perusing antique shops and boutiques, then explore a surprisingly diverse culinary landscape, which includes these hot spots — for quick bites to leisurely fine dining.
I’ll make my confession now: Houston is sprawling, lacking in zoning laws to protect precious historical landmarks, rampant with ugly billboards and freeways that loom like cement spaghetti in the sky – and yet, and yet – it is an amazing, diverse, rich, welcoming, smart, innovative, authentic, unpretentious, surprisingly sophisticated, heritage-laden, open place to live. I love it.
I’ve said before in this blog that I’m just a little girl from a small town in Southeast Texas who is constantly surprised by her life.
Here are some pics from that very small town on the Bolivar Peninsula, which really isn’t a town any more since Hurricane Ike obliterated almost all traces of it in 2008. I couldn’t bear to return to Gilchrist, Texas for several years after the storm, but a recent trip renewed my love for it. Regardless of how a natural disaster can savage a locale, nature itself comes back to make use of it. The birds were magnificent when we visited on a gray, overcast day in early January. Folks who are in the Houston area for the Super Bowl and have time for a day trip should give the Bolivar Peninsula a look.
The Heron and the Barges
Below, a heron watches barges churn by in the Intracoastal Waterway from the little fishing area at the end of the road where I grew up. Our little subdivision, aptly named Canal City – and the rest of Gilchrist – was sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal canal, with Galveston Bay just behind it.
Brown Pelicans and Seagulls
Aiming to get closer for really good pics, I startled several brown pelicans and their seagull companions.
Sandpipers at Rollover Pass
On the back side of Rollover Pass in the shallow sands beside it, sandpipers search for supper.
Seagulls at Rollover Pass
Seagulls contemplate the Gulf of Mexico from a cast concrete berm at Rollover Pass.
Brown Pelicans at Rollover Pass
Brown pelicans are posing and preening on posts at the pass.
These pelicans inspired me to post a haiku a couple of weeks ago, which is included in the resource links below.
The Grill-Meister and I are both blessed to work in international environments, which fosters great relationships with colleagues from all over the world. Sometimes we are able to lure them to Glover Gardens, such as tonight, when we are having a tiny dinner party with a couple from far across the globe. It is so rewarding to learn about different cultures as we share our own. One of our two guests tonight has never been to Texas, so we’re having a very traditional steak dinner. The menu:
It is mid-morning right now and the table is set, so I’m about to get to work on the dessert. I’m breaking Ina Garten’s (the Barefoot Contessa) rule of never making anything for the first time for a dinner party, but it is early enough in the day that I can do something different if I make a mess of it.
We’re really looking forward to it! And for a look at an entirely different type of international party here at Glover Gardens and a couple of cool wintertime recipes, check out Pot Luck Perfect: In-the-Moment Lentil Soup. We had a houseful of colleagues this time last year and a rollicking good time when everyone brought a dish or drink to share.
I’ll share the results of tonight’s meal, and wish you all a happy Saturday evening.
UPDATE: the tiny dinner party was super-successful, and the dessert was rockin’! Read about it here. And I made a new friend! Read the haiku about that here.