Friday, August 28, 2009

Thrill of our Grill

Life is speeding by and with the price of meat increasing my husband and I figured out a way to spend some quality time together by grilling out without shelling out. We purchased some chicken leg quarters, some fresh farmers market vegetables, fettucini, pre-made pesto and shredded parmesan, romano and asiago cheeses all for under $15. It did not take long to heat up the grill and listen to our chicken sizzle and pop. After cooking the pre-seasoned leg quarters for 10-15 min. on each side we grabbed our grilling basket and threw in some fresh asparagus, sliced mushrooms and purple onion, seasoned lightly with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
Once the fettucini was done boiling I added in two table spoons of pesto topped with a few finger sprinkles of parmesan, ramano and asiago shredded cheeses. This grilled lunch did not take long as we soon found ourselves ready to devour our healthy yet inexpensive meal and enjoy some much needed one-on-one time together.

Cafe on the Square

Cafe on the Square is a breakfast hot spot in San Marcos. On the weekends one can find themselves walking up to a wonderful aroma of coffee and friendly chatter. This bustling restaurant serves some of the best breakfast tacos known to man. Each taco is filled to the max with your choice of two ingredients. You can take it easy with bean and cheese or spice it up with chorizo and egg, what ever the choice it always ends with one big delicious bite.

Monday, April 6, 2009


This past Saturday the San Marcos Foodista packed her bags and headed southbound to a small community outside of San Antonio called Poteet, Texas for the 62nd Poteet Strawberry Festival. Known to most as one of the largest agriculture festivals in Texas, this annual event started in 1948 by the town's Rotary Club as an incentive for returning World War II veterans to help revitalize the town's family farms and economy.

One of the first strawberry patches in Poteet was grown in 1911 by Henry Mumme. Tired of competing with the other farmers growing cotton, Henry threw out the plow and instead decided to try his hand at growing strawberries. Mr. Mumme figured out the art of irrigation and proved to many around him growing strawberries in this region of Texas could be a flourishing niche. Centuries later other farmers followed suit and Poteet soon became the Strawberry Mecca of South Texas.

The Poteet Strawberry Festival is a four-day event each April starting on a Thursday and ending on Sunday, attracting more than 100,000 attendees from across the world. I arrived early Saturday morning. The air was crisp and the only thing filling my mind was where I would be able to get my hands on the first batch of juicy and sweet strawberries. As I continued to walk around there were booths everywhere selling anything you could think of made of course from "strawberries." At the Festival you can get, strawberry cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, strawberry ice cream and strawberry wine.

By the early afternoon I decided to visit with the Poteet Rotary Club. The office was booming with Rotary officers who were preparing for the day’s big event, the annual strawberry judging contest. Each of the Rotary Club members were warm welcoming and carried a profound sense of pride for the time-honored competition about to be conducted.

Soon growers were coming in, registering their freshest and finest patch of strawberries, waiting for the judging to begin. As I mingled with a few of the farmers I could feel their nervousness in the air. Their entire livelihood is put into growing award-winning berries. It was heartwarming to hear their stories about being raised by generations of farmers and how they still utilize their ancestor's growing practices and land today.

Before I knew it I soon found myself talking with the judge, Mr. Weldon Riggs, who invited me to walk beside him as he began the contest. Mr. Riggs taught me there are certain things one must carefully look for before picking out the best batch of strawberries. This process included an extensive review of the following:

1.) Quality of the batch
2.) Presentation of the berries inside the crate (clean and glossy)
3.) Uniformity of the berry sizes and placement within the crate (lined up and not tossed in)
4.) Cut a berry in half and look for a ruby red color throughout (those hollow on the inside may not have matured fully)
5.) Taste the berry and find the sweetest one

After consuming many strawberries I was shortly on my way to berry heaven. I had the opportunity to sample Chandlers, Seascapes and a miscellaneous variety of strawberries. Much to my surprise each variety consisted of different flavors, textures and sizes. Some were sweet, tangy, gritty on the palate, juicy or water based. (Note to self: the bigger berry is not always the best, just easier to cut up and cook with.)

It took the judge about an hour and a half to carefully critique each berry to memory, tasting from more than 20 crates. The final decision came down to a miscellaneous variety to win grand champion and a Chandler variety to win reserve grand champion. Each of these growers were able to gain a combined total of $10,300 for the Rotary Club's scholarship fund and their farms were highlighted and showcased by the Festival's media.

The day was fun-filled, exciting and unforgettable. I succeeded in eating my fair share of strawberries and cannot wait until next year so I can do it again. I would like to encourage all of you 'tis the season for strawberries so do not holdout for long. Go out and find some fresh local sweet strawberries for your own cooking enjoyment.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Scoot on down to the Root Cellar Café

If you walk the streets of downtown San Marcos and really pay attention to your surroundings you will see there is much more to the dusty sidewalks and historic brick buildings than what you originally thought. Just a few small steps away from the square are a ton of small restaurants neatly tucked away in these vintage buildings which have been restored to reflect fine dining venues. An example of this is the Root Cellar Café. This establishment’s American bistro style menu gives you fresh gourmet food at the fraction of the cost than most specialty food restaurants. My favorite is brunch; their quiche (not usually listed on the menu) and hearty frittata is divine with each bite bringing in a new sensation of flavor. Everything is made-to-order, freshly picked and prepared. If you need a little pick-me-up, try a delicious macchiato or con pana from their coffee bar. Eating at the Root Cellar is like tasting a good glass of wine, it is full-bodied, robust, smooth and long lasting.

Not only is the food grandiose, but so is the climate. Per its name, the Cellar is located in a quaint basement off the busy streets in downtown San Marcos. This 50-seater restaurant is surrounded by old masonry brick and filled with paintings from local artists. Each of their antique tables and chairs do not match, but somehow they bring out the uniqueness and quality of this establishment to life. Also, this is the perfect restaurant to dine at if looking for a quiet place to catch up with loved ones. If you have some time to spare and are looking for something to do one weekend take a morning drive to the San Marcos city limits and let your worries wonder away at the Root Cellar. (Root Cellar Café, 215 N LBJ, San Marcos, TX 78666)