The Lone Star

By: Grant Dudley

Ireland, Greece, even Romania – I’ve been there. Maine, Alaska, the islands of Hawaii? Yes, I’ve been to those spots, too. From Detroit to New Orleans – well look, you get the picture – I’ve traveled. But surprisingly (to myself anyway), up until last Thursday when my plane touched down here, I had never been to the biggest state the lower 48 has to offer. I’m talking about the home of J.R. and Sue Ellen – the state that Chuck Norris works for on that popular Ranger show. Yes, you know where I’m referring to. Where else? I’m talking about Texas, people. TEXAS.

Several of my Food Network coworkers and I have traveled to Austin to take part in the annual South by Southwest ( SXSW) conference held in the capital city. We’re here attending panels, seeing what’s new in the world of social and digital media, and it’s great – we’re taking it all in and my hand is tired from feverishly taking notes. However, what am I most taken with since arriving in Austin, Texas? Austin, Texas, itself.

I love how the Texas star is on everything here. Everything. As I sit in my hotel room, I’m noticing that the star is on every piece of furniture. Let me step inside the bedroom and see – yes, it’s there. The star is even on the headboard of the bed. I’m pretty sure the “lone star” represents Texans’ solidarity in declaring independence from Mexico. They’re proud of the symbol here – I’m certain of that much.

On Friday, coworkers and I ate at Bess Bistro. I can never remember the name, so I have just been calling it “The Sandra Bullock Restaurant.” She owns it. I thoroughly enjoyed my Friday night special – the fish and chips dinner. I would have enjoyed it more had I seen Sandra. Other than the missing Ms. Bullock, the atmosphere was fantastic.

Today as I was leaving one of the tech conferences, I checked out the capitol building. I’m going to be honest. Until I saw his picture hanging in the beautiful corridor, I had completely forgotten that Former President George W. Bush is also Former Texas Governor George W. Bush. You know, now that I think about it, my hotel is very close to the governor’s mansion. I wonder if Governor Perry is there this weekend? Perhaps I’ll stop by and compliment him on his welcoming city (and state).

Because this is a Food Network blog post, I should talk a bit more about food. The previous food mention was really just to get in Sandra Bullock’s name. I’m a big fan of hers.

Tonight’s dinner was meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy and sauteed carrots. I’m usually more of a fan of the ketchup-based meatloaf, but I have to admit, this was pretty tasty. I wish I could thank the fellow SXSW attendee who pointed me in the direction of this restaurant. I didn’t catch his name, though. And, even more, I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant where I ate. In my defense, a full day of listening to geeks talk about technology will tire the brain a bit. Trust me on this.

These are my brief, matter-of-fact thoughts on Texas so far. I’ve just been here a few days, but I really like it here. Who knows what else I’ll discover tomorrow about Austin and Texas. A friend emailed that Willie Nelson lives in Austin. Is that true? And if so, does he own a restaurant? I'll investigate.

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