menudo, succulents, and icehouse two-steppin

I woke up thinking: "I'm going to have menudo today!"  I've had it once before, made by Carson's Aunt Holly, and I really enjoyed it!  However, I'd never gone out and ordered it, opting instead for gringa options like *insert white girl voice here* "papa huevos y queso" tacos.  Today, though-- today was gonna be different. 

in Texas, we get festive with our cacti

Jamie, my dog Chef and I took a nice slow walk through the eastside to Marcelino Pan y Vino, a cozy little bodega-turned-taco-place.  

Abuelitas with hairnets serve you while huge pots on the stove bubble over with deliciousness... aw yeah, this was gonna be good.  I'd discovered Marcelino a couple weeks ago and ordered some standard tacos, which were quite tasty.  But today.... MENUDO....It came with all the fixin's: onions, cilantro, lime, tortillas, three types of salsa....

I took a bite and wanted to like it SO BADLY.  But after a few moments, Jamie said "Are you okAY??"  At that exact moment, I spit the tripe into a napkin.  Menudo, for those of you who don't know, is made of tripe, which is the lining of the cow's stomach.  I believe the broth is made from it and the tripe floats in big pieces as well.  When Carson's aunt had made it, it was on the chewier side (almost squid-like!), and in small bits.  But this menudo came with huge, spongy stomach chunks that looked like something from the sea.  I wasn't opposed to the soup in THEORY, like most people are, but the texture was just...not happening.  

And I normally love weird textures.  

The flavor of the tripe itself was not so great either.  But I had such high hopes!!!!  I have my fingers crossed that maybe this isn't just the best place to get menudo???  You win this round, menudo.  But I will be back for more.  Somewhere else.  (And in a while.. a month or two at least..)

We strolled down to Tillery Plant Co after lunch, which is a hidden wonderland of greenery and succulents.  We followed the path back behind the plant company, so I could show Jamie the trailers tucked away back there-- Elephas Maximus (a vintage clothing trailer), another one peddling botanical and herbal remedies (La Botanica), and a new juice trailer called The Juice Well!  What luck, stumbling upon a delicious juice truck in the woods, so I could rinse away the tripe from my taste buds!

golden delicious

I ordered the Golden Delicious: golden beets, apple, lemon, and ginger.  A delicious concoction in a decent-sized (16 oz) cup for only $5.00!  Take that, Daily Juice, and your $10 drinks!

After chatting with the lovely Carla at La Botanica, we started on our walk back to my house... we had big plans for the evening-- driving out to The Ice Cutter's Christmas in Montgomery, TX!  Jingle bell hayrides??  Snowball battles??  Ice sculptures galore and live ice sculpting?  Sign me up!  The original plan was for us to spend the night in Houston and do some exploring on Sunday, but we were all pretty mutually broke, what with Christmas around the corner.  So we decided to just drive out to the ice sculpture village and back again.

Until we got on the road and actually mapped it.  And realized how far away it was.  

My two partners in ice started having second thoughts.  I was still all about it!  Come on guys-- JINGLE BELL HAYRIDES?!?!  (Apparently, I am the only one willing to drive over two hours for some ice sculptures and a jingle bell hayride.)

So we pulled off the road and Yelped the nearest Texan icehouse.  And that's how we ended up at Papa Woody's Icehouse in Paige, TX.

The only bar in town (we know this because we got slightly turned around and ended up at a yarn store somehow.  One of its patrons said, "Oh yeah, Papa Woody's!  It's the only joint in town, can't miss it!), it was actually shiny and still smelled new.  And had a pretty sweet selection of beer.  While I love old dingy dives just as much as the next person (who lives in Texas), I also love great beer.  So it was nice to enjoy a Real Ale Devil's Backbone with my po'boy....which I swallowed thankfully and hungrily (after my earlier menudo fail...)

it ain't much to look it, but it's no menudo!

And just our luck-- the place had live music too!  More people start to stream in-- and they sure were Texan!  Drive thirty minutes outside of Austin and it's all cowboy hats and rhinestone jeans!  It's uncanny, really.

I hadn't played pool in a good minute, but we played many games that night.  And I WON one of them.  This is a big deal for me.  

It was only a matter of time before Carson and I took to the dance floor.  And then he, Jamie, and I maaay have had a giddy, three-way, elbows-linked last dance before gallavanting back out the front door.  I'm sure the locals couldn't get enough of us.  :)