Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Let it Snow

(photo from apartment therapy)

Secret Agent Man's dad was in town recently, and even though he's been to Austin several times, he decided to focus this visit on eating at restaurants he'd seen on the Food Network or Travel Channel. By "focus," of course I mean that he told us where he wanted to eat, and would not consider other options. That is, until plans were made. Then he read restaurant reviews online and then decided he no longer felt comfortable eating at his original choice, but would rather not actually make a decision on a new plan. It was a long week for Secret Agent Man and his sister. The dad has earned a new nickname in their family: He Who Will Never Be Pleased. I'm just going to call him SpyDaddy.

SpyDaddy refused to order a cupcake at the store, because there weren't any cupcakes on display. (I hear he has written a letter of complaint about the situation, and hopes he can help improve their business with his suggestion.) His breakfast taco was too big. He didn't think the movie he selected at the Alamo Draft House was funny; he hated it. He changed his mind twice about the bbq joint(s) suggested, and we ended up at Rudy's--where he'd (gasp) eaten before. It was time for a shock and awe campaign: it was time to hit the Best Summer Ever (Project 2010) list. Time for trailer food and snow cones!

We started with dinner at The Mighty Cone. Hello, hot and crunchy! Naturally, SpyDaddy claimed he was still full from lunch and did not want a cone. He would, however, concede a willingness to eat "a couple" of fries. Secret Agent Man evidently has been down this road before, and he ordered SpyDaddy his own cone of chili-dusted fries. SpyDaddy finished his fries before I was even halfway through my hot and crunchy, and I caught him eyeing our shared fry cone more than once. I gave him my best "back off, dude--those spicy fries are strips of heaven!" look, it seemed to work.

Dessert was only a few doors down at the Frigid Frog. As it turns out, in the last twenty(ish) years since I last ate a snowcone, things have changed. Ohhhh, how they've changed for the better! Remember when the only snowcone flavors were cherry, grape, and blue? The Frog has easily 40 flavors to choose from. Including a few that freaked me out, like Tiger's Blood. What the WHAT? I suspect that may have been code for cranberry, especially if it's anything like a mystery juice labeled "dragon berry" I drank once. In any case, I wasn't willing to test my cran theory. (Although I encouraged others to drink the Tiger's Blood. Sadly, no takers.)

I went with the birthday cake flavor. That's right, a snow cone that would magically taste like birthday cake. When it came out bright yellow, I was leary. You know, don't drink yellow snow? But, cake is delicious! The best kind of birthday cake is yellow! Right?? I went in for a taste and was not disappointed--birthday cake snow cone is some good stuff.

But that wasn't the end of the good stuff. No, Secret Agent Man spent a little extra time studying the menu and noticed something I didn't: the Frog will add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to your snow cone. They will bury it inside like a squirrel hides a nut. So when you're eating your snow cone, buckle up. Because surprise ice cream is like Christmas.

And you know even the Grinch's heart grew in the end, right? SpyDaddy had two snow cones, and proclaimed them delicious.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Date Night Date Night

One of the items on my Best Summer Ever list was See a Movie at the Fancy Theatre. I'd signed up for the fancy theatre "membership" program, so about a month after it opened, they emailed me a free movie ticket. Since tickets are normally $25 per person, I jumped at the opportunity and booked a date night with Secret Agent Man to see Date Night. We decided to go on a Tuesday, to take advantage of the half price appetizer menu.

Upon arrival at the theatre, the "hostess" checking us in asked if it was our first time, and offered us a table in the lounge, where we could wait and order drinks until our movie started. Drinks! Lounging! Two of my favorite things! Except our movie was scheduled to begin in 15 minutes, and we sat in the lounge for 15 minutes, ignored by the waitstaff. We were confused. And thirsty. Would someone tell us when and where to go to see our movie? Why would the hostess ask us if it was our first time if she wasn't planning to give us any direction other than "have a seat"?

We wandered around until we found our theatre, and stood there looking lost until a waiter pointed us to our seats. No one took our order, no one told us how to order. We found a button on the console between our seats that glowed green or red, depending on whether you pushed it. But we had no idea if green meant "go! we're ready to order!" or "go away! we don't need anything!" What about the red "stop what you're doing and take our order!" or "stop walking towards us, we're busy watching the movie" After a good 10 minutes of trial and error, a waiter showed up on red. We ordered a drink each and three appetizers to share.

Our drinks came out fairly fast--which was good, since we were parched. But no sign of our appetizers. As the couple in the movie bumbled into more trouble, and acted frantic about their predicament, I became anxious about our food. The movie seemed at least halfway over! We were hungry!

And then our bill arrived. Sans appetizers. As Secret Agent Man told the waiter to cancel our order, the appetizers arrived. Finally! We tried to eat quickly, knowing the movie must be nearly finished. Too bad the food was so disappointing. The only dish we enjoyed were the caesar romaine spears. (Exept the chicken portion of that appetizer was cold and rubbery.)

At least the chairs were comfortable? Perhaps the staff needed more than a month of experience to keep things running smoothly? We were lucky it "only" cost us about $50 to learn our fancy theatre lesson? In any case, our future movie dates will be at the Alamo Drafthouse.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Best Summer Ever Project: 2010

In May, I picked up an Austin Monthly magazine that promised a list of 100+ fun things to do over the summer. Yes! Time to kick off the first annual Best Summer Ever Project! Except, a lot of the items they listed included taking your kid(s) to the park or going for a hike. Too bad I don't have kids and don't want to hike in temperatures above 85 degrees.

Evidently, I needed to fill my own summer with fun. I stole a few things off their list, and added some of mine. Secret Agent Man is helping contribute to the list (and the fun), so with his help, I think we might just reach 100+ items. We've even started crossing items off the list. . .and it has been a pretty great summer.

Here are some of my Best Summer Ever Project: 2010 objectives:

Take a Cosmic Cowboy Tour

Play skeeball at The Highball

Eat & drink German style at the World Famous Walburg Restaurant

Borrow the niece (his) and nephews (mine) for a Little Lounge Lizards Dance Party

Taste test snow cones around the city

Take a UT Moonlight Prowl

Eat some quality baked goods from Naegelin's Bakery, the oldest bakery in Texas

Attend a Round Rock Express game

Play a round of Peter Pan Mini Golf

Taste test frozen yogurt around the city

Watch a movie at the Paramount, during the Summer Film Series

Cheer for the home team at a Texas Rollergirls match

Free Full Moon Yoga (umm, not exactly what it sounds like)

Eat ice cream and pet goats at Sweet Berry Farm

Rock & roll at the Second Sunday Sock Hop

Try our luck at Drag Queen Bingo

Watch the sun set at Dry Creek Cafe

Cupcake Taste Test (although I think I've already tried enough varieties around town to guess my favorite)

Eat pie at Blue Bonnet Cafe

Tour Blue Bell Creamery

Feel the thunder at Thunderhill Raceway

Watch a movie in Deep Eddy Pool

Bowl & Glow at the UT Union

Eat trailer food (I have a list of places to try)

See a movie at the fancy theatre

Go on vacation someplace cool

Try out new (to me/us) restaurants on the cheap (Dear Groupon & Living Social, thank you for your assistance in this option) Right now, we have plans to check out Zoot, Stone House Vineyard, and Mansion on Judge's Hill.

Twenty-seven items on that list, and there are still more that we crossed off before even putting them on the list. Best Summer Ever! Updates to follow. I just planned your next 20 date nights, didn't I? You're welcome.