Last week I enjoyed a lecture by a researcher at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, who said that in order to try to prevent cancer, we should all drink lots of tea and eat local fruits and vegetables. So, when I awoke on Saturday to a beautiful, crisp, sunny, cool day in San Antonio, I called a girlfriend to see if she wanted to join me at the Farmer’s Market at “the Pearl” (formerly the Pearl Brewery, now the hottest spot in town.) She didn’t, really, but because she was bored, she agreed to let me pick her up. Before hitting the market, we fortified ourselves with breakfast at the Culinary Institute of America Bakery: perfectly poached eggs with shaved Parmesan and broiled tomatoes accompanied by a giant slice of buttered toast. Oh, and we each had a cup of hot tea, as the doctor ordered. We ate quickly and headed out to buy lots of green veggies, but were slightly distracted by all of the booths and a band playing live music at 9:30 a.m. There were farmers selling the usual: brussel sprouts and beets, arugula and leeks, strawberries, herbs and eggs, but there were also Hill Country wines, artisan cheeses and chocolate, goat’s milk soap and lavender candles. A chef was offering samples of steaming paella from his grill located in the middle of everything. After tasting as much as possible, we bought a few fresh greens to go along with the wine and cheese we had purchased. (Happily, the doctor had mentioned that a glass of red wine a day is a cancer preventative, as well.) Some chefs in their tall hats and white coats were lounging on benches outside two of the Pearl’s cool new restaurants, Nao and the Boiler House. They told us about their cutting-edge menus, and we resolved to head down there soon for delicious-sounding Latin American cuisine. Heading slowly to the car, our shopping bags filled with goodies, we realized it was noon. Neither of us was ready to go home, so we called our daughters and offered to take them to lunch. They readily agreed and we went, literally, to find our place in the sun.
We landed at a popular beer garden, The Friendly Spot Ice House, in the beautiful King William district. As we stood in line to order, we wondered aloud about the menu and whether we should head elsewhere for healthier offerings. Someone in front of us turned around. “Their homemade Sangria is really great, and their Micheladas are good also!” Ok, ’nuff said! The five of us decided on a couple of sausage wraps, a few brisket tacos, and a somewhat healthy veggie burger. We were told to hurry and claim a table as they would be going fast on such a pretty day. A friendly young man noticed our party and helped us pull colorful metal lawn chairs up to a rusty table. We waited for our number to be called while sipping delectable red wine sangria with fresh slices of limes, oranges and lemons tossed in tall, icy glasses. I didn’t ask if it had been grown locally, but surely all that fruit in my drink was a good thing. It had to be better than the Mexican cokes with real cane sugar syrup that the girls were drinking. The courtyard was filling up with families, young couples and a few bicyclists who chained their bikes to the surrounding chain link fence. Everyone seemed to be regulars and we felt like we’d just discovered a precious secret. “Now this is the way to spend a Saturday afternoon in San Antonio,” my oldest remarked. Breathing deeply, I sat back and let the sun warm my winter white face and arms. Soon our food arrived and I bit into the juiciest, most delicious sausage link covered with mustard and wrapped in a hot flour tortilla. Everyone else agreed that the tacos and burger were delicious as well. When our drinks were drained and our plates cleared, we glanced at the chalkboard behind our table which proclaimed, simply, “Ice Cream Treats.” One of our girls went to check it out while we adults shook our heads and declared that we just couldn’t. She returned, smiling broadly, carrying chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. We passed them around the table and oohed and awed as if they were delicacies. Finally, licking our lips and fingers, we decided we should give up our table for those now forming a line, waiting patiently to sit. We all piled into the car, opened the windows and the sun roof, cranked up the radio and headed home. As I drove up my driveway, happy, satiated and a tiny bit sunburned, I glanced at the veggies in a bag on the back seat, remembering why I’d headed out that morning in the first place. “Mission accomplished,” I told myself. I’d gotten my fruit and veggies, along with a little Vitamin D, and enjoyed a day with people I love who made me laugh. Surely, that had to be good for me!