Monday, September 30, 2013

A night on the town in San Antonio...

A few weeks ago, I wrote on The Overeducated Housewife about a guy I knew in high school who is a devout Mormon reprimanding me on Facebook because I expressed a desire to see The Book of Mormon Musical.  Bill is an ex Mormon convert who enjoys ribald humor as much as I do.  Seeing the show would also give us the chance to see San Antonio's historic Majestic Theater.  So I bought us tickets to see the BOM Musical and booked us a reservation at Biga on the Banks, a swanky restaurant that overlooks San Antonio's famed River Walk.  Our big "date" was last night.  It was the last night the show was going to be in town; I believe they're heading to Austin next.

I got all dolled up and changed my Facebook photo, which is what I tend to do when I look pretty and put on makeup (it doesn't happen that often).  I had a photo of Bill and me looking all lovey dovey and one of my friends lamented that I changed the photo.  So I had Bill join me for another one...


No, he didn't give me a hickey...

But I changed the actual photo to one of just me.  I'm starting to look old now...


The top one is the one I used, but the bottom one seemed to be more popular among the masses.  I'm really glad I got these photos last night, because this morning I have a nasty cold sore.

So, after the obligatory selfies, Bill and I got to Biga on the Banks for our 5:30pm reservation.  But our trip out on the town wasn't without some comedy.  Bill was trying to start the car and found that it was completely unresponsive.  I had been having some issues with the car starting.  I was slightly worried, until I noticed that Bill had forgotten to put the key in the key fob.  Oops.  Guess his middle aged mind is striking again.

We were a little confused at first, trying to find the entrance to the restaurant.  It turned out to be a pretty awesome dining experience, though.  We had a great waitress named Gigi who was very aware that we were going to a show and did a fantastic job describing the restaurant's philosophy.  Biga on the Banks is owned by Chef Bruce Auden, who is also running the kitchen.  They've been in San Antonio for 23 years and the menu changes daily, based on whatever excellent food the chef gets his hands on.  Gigi told us that if it wasn't amazing, the chef would not buy it...  The suppliers all know this, so they bring the chef their best.

In all honesty, I believe what Gigi told us.  We had an outstanding meal.


I started with a grapefruit martini, while Bill had an Old Fashioned.  He likes classic cocktails, while I like fun stuff...  I actually debated over the opening cocktail.  I considered having a Bellini or a blueberry martini, but the grapefruit martini seemed more refreshing.


I enjoyed a delightful scallop appetizer, paired with a sweet corn relish, pineapple chutney, and avocado.  It had a little zing, thanks to the habanero pepper.  These scallops were awesome.  I don't usually go for spicy, but there was just enough habanero to give this dish a little kick.  


Bill had roasted cauliflower soup.  The bowl was brought out with the cauliflower in it; then Gigi poured the liquid in with a pitcher.  This was a very velvety, smokey soup.  I think I would enjoy it in the winter, even though I have never considered myself a cauliflower fan.


We decided on Frog's Leap Zinfandel to go with our main courses.  As you can see, we got the "Ribbit" cork.  All Frog's Leap wines have them.



While we waited for dinner, I took pictures of Bill...



Handsome guy...  We definitely need to take him suit shopping soon, though.  All those years in a green uniform have dated his jackets.  


I had an excellent rib-eye steak that was served on the sizzling griddle.  I asked for a plate, because I feared burning the shit out of myself on the griddle, as awesome as it is to hear sizzling meat.  The steak is topped with onion rings that were dipped in a batter made with Shiner Bock beer.  My entree came with simple mashed potatoes and green beans sauteed in garlic...



The two pictures above are of Bill's entree, which was really amazing, especially for a guy who spent his formative years in Arkansas.  He loves game meats.  I guess it's the redneck in him.  His dish consisted of quail, venison, and a goat cheese tart.  I don't like goat cheese much, but I did enjoy tasting the quail and the venison.  Bill really enjoyed his entree, perhaps more than I enjoyed mine.  I really need to be more adventurous in places like Biga on the Banks...  But I think a certain monthly ritual had me craving beef, chocolate, and red wine last night...


This was my dessert... chocolate mousse.  It was absolutely sinful.  I wish I could have brought it home with me, but we went to the show, so...  It did a great job of soothing the chocolate loving beast in me.


Bill had bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, pears, and raisins.  It was very comforting and I probably would have loved it in winter.  He sure enjoyed it... though I preferred my chocolate mousse.

After Bill settled the check, which took some doing since the waitress initially gave us two wrong checks, Bill and I walked to the Majestic Theater, which was teeming with people there to see the last San Antonio performance of the Book of Mormon Musical.  We had pretty good seats in row T, though there was a lady sitting in front of me who was kind of tall and had big hair.  When you're short like I am, this is a common issue.  I could have used a booster seat.  I spent most of the show peeking between her and her husband.


This is a picture of the stage...


And the Playbill...

I got a picture of the outside of the theater, too.  Unfortunately, I deleted the photos from my card before they were successfully imported.  The Majestic Theater is absolutely beautiful.  We are lucky to have such a fantastic venue so close to us right now.  I look forward to seeing more shows there before our next move... if we ever do leave San Antonio.    

The Book of Mormon Musical comes from the people who brought us South Park and Avenue Q.  I am not familiar with Avenue Q... but I know that Trey Parker and Matt Stone collaborated with Robert Lopez, who is partially responsible for Avenue Q.  I love South Park and have spent my years with Bill learning more about Mormonism, so it was a given I'd want to see this show.  It is a very irreverent musical about Mormon missionaries who end up in Uganda, where they try to convert locals to the church.  The locals are rightfully more concerned with poverty, AIDS, and dealing with a warlord with an unprintable name obsessed with female circumcision.

The LDS church, for its part, doesn't seem overly happy about the musical.  However, we did notice that the church seems to have a savvy PR person who recognized the potential value in the buzz the show is generating.  There were ads in the Playbill inviting theatergoers to read the book... because the book is always better, right?  Frankly, I don't think that's true in this case; but that's just my opinion.  I do know of at least one person who joined the Mormon church after seeing this show and I am sure she wasn't the only one.


Ad for the LDS church in Playbill.  Kudos to the marketing genius who saw the opportunity to sell the church to theater lovers...  Smart move!


This is from the 2012 Tony Awards... it's the opening number, "Hello"


Elder Price singing "I Believe" on the Tony Awards show, not last night's performance...



"Turn It Off"... a song about putting feelings on a shelf, as it were...

Anyone who knows about Mormonism will recognize a lot of the jokes, though not everything is perfectly accurate.  For instance, Elder Price and Elder Cunningham talk about being companions for two years.  From what I understand, missionaries are usually rotated regularly.  One companion is usually more experienced so the newer missionary can learn the ropes.  But it would be difficult to explain that to an audience and it would also not be as funny, since Elder Cunningham (played brilliantly by the very funny Christopher John O'Neill last night) is very annoying and it's fun to think of how the straight laced Elder Price (played by Mark Evans) would cope with such an obnoxious guy for that long.

I did see a lot of elements of South Park-esque humor... with the lead characters sounding a little like a mixture of Cartman, Kyle Brovlovski, and Stan Marsh at times.  Christopher John O'Neill's turn as Elder Cunningham actually reminded me of my best friend from college, who remains my friend today.  He really stole the show with genius physical comedy!

I was also really impressed by Samantha Marie Ware, who played Nabulungi, the female lead.  The character is a good natured local girl whose father is concerned for her clitoris.  She befriends Elder Cunningham and becomes his first baptism, though he constantly gets her name wrong.  Ware played her role to the hilt and sang her socks off.  

 

This is her big number, "Sal Tlay Ka Siti"...

Needless to say, this show is not for those who are easily offended by language or sexual humor.  Frankly, I loved it... and it looked like just about everyone else in the theater did, too.  The theater was packed and there was a very prolonged standing ovation.  Everyone laughed in the right places.  I would happily see this show again and will definitely buy the soundtrack.  If it comes to your town, you should definitely see it if it's your kind of comedy.  But I can't stress it enough... the humor is very gross and profane.  If cuss words make you blush, pick another show.  

Bill and I had a great night on the town.  If the government doesn't shut down this week, we'll have to do it again sometime soon!




Saturday, September 28, 2013

Flying Saucer, San Antonio, Texas

Back in August 2007, Bill and I visited the San Antonio Flying Saucer, a brew/gastro pub that is part of a chain of similar pubs across the southeast.  In September 2003, we visited the Flying Saucer in Memphis, Tennessee, located near his father's house.  I proceeded to get a bit drunk, mainly because it was stressful visiting his family in the shadow of Bill's ex wife (for more on that, visit my main blog)...

Anyway, what I remember about our first visit was that there wasn't a lot of food, but there was a lot of beer.  And it was fun hanging out there, even though we got there in time for a shift change and I could tell our waitress wanted us to move on.  Her attitude changed once we settled the check and Bill tipped her.  So we went to the one in San Antonio in 2007, right after Bill got home from Iraq.  His mom was with us and we had a cute little waitress who was obviously very young.  We kept ordering beers that were on the menu but sold out.  Every time I would pick one, she'd come back and say that they were fresh out.

I turned to Bill and said, "It's not much of a cheese shop, is it?"  Bill got the reference, but our poor hapless waitress did not...



Today, we went back to the Flying Saucer and proceeded to enjoy an afternoon of Texas beers...


Had to get a shot of this huge Texas flag on the way... storm clouds were brewing...


View from our pub table.


Some of the folks who are regular beerknurds...


I thought it was interesting this sign was posted in the bathroom...  I figure by the time you get there, it's too late to warn pregnant women about booze.


Thoughtful that they don't want you to dirty your hands after you wash them...


They have a dog friendly porch.  Might have to bring the dogs sometime.


A flight of Texas beers... They were mostly excellent.


Bill looks thrilled to be at the Flying Saucer...

No, this isn't as exciting as going to an Irish pub in Ireland, but it's not bad for an otherwise dull Saturday afternoon.  Our waitress this time was very nice and professional.  She knew her beers; thanked Bill for his service; and invited us to sit in her section next time.   

I'm thinking I need a Beer Goddess t-shirt now.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Comfort, Texas...

One of Bill's old friends from high school is married to an artist.  She was showing her work at the Hill Country Art Festival, which was partly going on at Singing Water Vineyards in Comfort, Texas.  I kind of had to talk Bill into it... but that's never really hard.  We ended up driving a little over an hour, through gorgeous Texas Hill Country, then got to the winery.

The trip to the winery was pretty amazing, with tight switchbacks that were reminiscent of Spain or Italy.  We actually got to the winery via Skyline Drive, which is apparently a very scenic but not particularly well traveled way because of the hills and tight turns.


A view of the vineyards.


Another view of Singing Water Vineyards...


Walking toward the tasting room...





Singing Water Vineyards is very military friendly.  They even gave us a discount...


Tasting...


They had a cool chandelier made of wine bottles...


On the way to the gardens, where all the art was...

After we tasted wine and bought a couple of bottles, we went to Bending Branch Winery, which is very close... We spent a good hour or so there...


Beautiful surroundings...


Mr. Bill studies the wine menu...


Bill gets verklempt drinking a very nice blend...


Chloe... $75 for the bottle and well worth the money...


We tasted both of these wines and several others...


Bending Branch Winery has a nice patio area...


There was live music...


I could spend some serious time and money here...


And so could many others...

We ended up buying four bottles of wine and joining their wine club, which means we'll get deals, six bottles of wine for $215, and access to special bottles of wine...

Incidentally, Comfort looked like a great place to hang out.  Lots of antiques, B&Bs and wineries...  Might have to do a long weekend out there in Hill Country.

At one point, Bill got emotional because the weather was amazing and he was having a great time... and he wasn't in church or dealing with his ex wife guilting him for enjoying himself.  When we got home, we let the dogs out and I took a quick dip in the pool (it's actually a little chilly for the pool) and Bill made me a margarita.  Yesterday, on the way to Lockhart, we passed Three Dudes Winery...   We will have to stop there next time we go to Lockhart.

Texas could end up being the right place for us after all...
  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lockhart, Texas...

Today, Bill and I were invited to my cousin's wife's birthday party in Lockhart, Texas.  Lockhart reminds me a bit of Sanford, North Carolina, the city where we lived before we moved to Texas.  It's actually cuter than Sanford, though... with a nice row of mansions in town and some very interesting old buildings.  I was glad to see them, since we now live in the land of box stores and chain restaurants.

This particular cousin and I hadn't spent much time together because he and his wife have always lived in Texas and had five kids, now all grown and thoroughly awesome people.  Texas is not close to Virginia, which is where I spent most of my life.  So I didn't get to see them much as I was growing up and they were raising their family.  In fact, I think I saw them all for the first time in 2000... and it was the first time in many years since I'd seen my cousin Andy.  Since then, I've seen them sporadically, but now that we live in Texas, we could become closer.

Lockhart is on the way to Austin, about an hour from San Antonio...  It's a really cute town.


On the way into downtown Lockhart...


Very cool old building...


Another shot as we passed...


Castle?


It was my cousin's wife's 50th... This is their son holding up the pinata.  No, he didn't hold it as the birthday girl swung at it.

We have been invited back for a baby shower in a couple of weeks, so I'll get a few more shots next time.  We had a great time visiting with my family, though... and their very nice friends and all the sweet dogs in attendance, too.  Next time, we will have to bring Zane and Arran.  

Probably the funniest part of the evening was when my cousin's daughter, Sandra, introduced me as her dad's cousin.  I laughed and said, "I'm YOUR cousin too, you know!"

I wish I had gotten more photos.  It was quite the blast.