What to pour for Alice Feiring in Austin?

In a remarkable confluence of cosmic events, Comrades Howard and Alice both found themselves in Austin last night: he, to speak at the Austin Film Festival; she, to talk about Natural wine and her new book today at Whole Foods Market (Lamar) and tomorrow at Vino Vino.

When we all met for dinner last night at one of our favorite restaurants in the world, Fonda San Miguel, it was only natural that we would drink López de Heridia. After all, Alice wrote “the book” on the winery.

It may seem facile to pair Mexican cuisine with Spanish wine (for the overly obvious reasons). But the fact of the matter is that the attenuated fruit in the López oxidative style works gloriously well with the intense flavors of great Mexican cooking. The wine paired brilliantly with our mole, for example, where the gentle astringency of the wine played counterpart to the chocolate in the mole.

Tracie P and I are thrilled that Fonda San Miguel wine director Brad Sharp has continued to support these unique wines, even in a world where 99% of his guests ask regularly (and nearly exclusively) for Chard, Cab, Merlot, or Pinot.

After dinner, perhaps inspired by the brio of the evening, Alice insisted that we make a pilgrimage to the chicken coop out back behind Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon.

Last night was 100% irony-free at Ginny’s and Sarah and The Tallboys, a country outfit out of Chicago, played a smoking set (imho).

Ginny and daughter Sharon are so sweet to me and Tracie P whenever we visit.

But their wholesome Texas hospitality reached its limits last night when Sharon had to kick out a couple for getting to frisky! Never a dull moment at Ginny’s…

No trip to Austin, Texas is complete without…

A visit to Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon to see Dale Watson

Dale is such a sweet guy and when he heard that Céline Dijon was in town from Paris, he kindly posed for photo op with her.

The joint was packed but some how, some way, we still managed to find a seat at the bar (we always do).

Here’s a little taste of the groovy stuff…

They’re with the band! ;-)

Ginny appreciation week at the Little Longhorn Saloon: No Cussin’, No Fussin’, No Hasslin’, No Wrasslin’!

Above, from right: three generations of Ginny, Ginny Kalmbach, her granddaughter, and her daughter. All three manage this national treasure.

On Friday night, Austin music icon Dale Watson emceed “Ginny Appreciation Night” at the Little Long Horn Saloon in Austin, Texas (on Burnet Road, on the north side of town, not far from where Tracie P and me live).

ginny's little longhorn saloon

Above: I’ve been to many great honky-tonks across our fine nation but Ginny’s — let me tell you, people — is something special (and I say this in a town famous for its honky tonks).

We were at Canyon Lake (in the Texas Hill Country) with family on Friday night but we took friends Brenna and Jason, who were in town from Orange, Texas there last night: no night on the town in Austin would be complete without a stop at Ginny’s.

Above: Ginny showed us her new Lone Star hat, which she had made especially for her.

Ginnny’s real fond of Tracie P (can you blame her?) and every time we visit, she and her daughters ask to see her wedding ring. There’s a sign up at Ginny’s that reads: “No Cussin’, No Fussin’, No Hasslin’, No Wrasslin’!”

jww and the prospectors

Above: Last night, JWW and the Prospectors were playing. You really can’t go wrong at Ginny’s. I’ve been blown away by the caliber of musicianship we’ve seen there.

Folks like Ginny rarely win Kennedy Center Honors or Congressional Medals but, man, she and her saloon are true national treasures, if only for the traditions and music that she fosters and if not for the immense joy that she brings into so many folks’s lives with her bright spirit and motherly affections.

Above: You’d expect Jason to get your back in a bar fight but you wouldn’t expect him to turn to his lovely wife Brenna and say, “damn, it honey! I forgot to cook that beautiful asparagus we have in the fridge.” Jason is an amazing cook and writes a food blog via Facebook. He and I also share an obsession and fascination with Doug Sahm. But more on that later.

Ginny’s was one of the first places Tracie P took me when I started coming out to Austin to visit her. Whether it’s with friends visiting from out-of-town on a Saturday night or just getting our honky tonk on on a Tuesday, we try to get there as often as we can.

Above: If you ever meet a woman who loves country music and knows how to play Chicken Shit Bingo and speaks Italian and cooks a mean ragù, thank your LUCKY STARS!

Ginny, we can’t imagine a world without you.

Best lil’ honky tonk in Texas: Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon

Erik Hokkanen

Above: The “Texas Tornado,” Erik Hokkanen, last night at the best lil’ honky tonk in Texas, Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon.

You’ve heard me say it before but I’ll say it again: Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon is — without a doubt — the best lil’ honky tonk in Texas (if not our country, but then again I can’t imagine that this quintessentially Americana slice of life could exist anywhere beyond our borders).

Armadillo Bar was in town from Milan on his yearly pilgrimage to Texas and so Tracie B and me met up with him at Ginny’s last night. We don’t even really bother checking who’s playing: every time we go there, I am completely floored by the caliber of musicianship.

Check out this clip I shot last night of Erik Hokkanen the “Texas Tornado” doing “Ole Slew Foot.” I’m a wreck today but it sure was worth it to close Ginny’s last night! Enjoy…

High on a mountain, tell me what do you see
Bear tracks bear tracks looking back at me
Better get your rifles before its too late
The bear’s got a little pig and he’s headed for the gate

He’s big around the middle and broad across the rump
Running ninety miles an hour, taking thirty feet a jump
Ain’t never been caught, he ain’t never been treed
And some folks say he looks a lot like me

Saved up my money and bought me some bees
Started making honey way up in the trees
Cut down the trees but the honey’s all gone
Old slew foot has done made himself at home

Winter’s coming on and it’s forty below
River’s froze over, so where can he go
I’ll chase him up the gully and run him in the well
Shoot him in the bottom just to listen to him yell

I love this town and I sure love that girl for bringing me here. :-)

Happy Sunday ya’ll!