A little over a month ago, I chopped off seven inches of hair and celebrated with a very happy couple of hours. My hair stylist Sandra is also my friend, and we'd made plans to meet up with Jill after my appointment.
Jill, Sandra and I were all part of a small group of Austinites on the same trip to Israel in the spring of '08. I'd known Jill long before the trip, but it was there that we got to know Sandra - a Jewish convert with Baptist, West Texas roots. When the three of us get together, there's always too much to say and not nearly enough time; this happy hour was no different. Though there was more ooohing and aaahing over the food.
We'd agreed to meet at Vino Vino -- a wine bar just north of the UT campus with exceptional happy hour food (and equally exceptional prices).
Though it's been several weeks, I remember the conversation and the appetizers fondly. I especially remember my $4 beet salad (normally priced at $8) because ... I don't like beets. But I loved this salad.
It was probably that the beets were masked by some of my favorite foods -- arugula, pistachios, grapefruit segments, avocado chunks and a dressing that managed to be both subtle and tangy at the same time.
A salad that unexpected (read: mindblowing) is hard to top, but Vino Vino did top it with a multitude of $4 and $5 apps including the following: plump jumbo shrimp dripping in garlic and chili oil, meaty pork ribs with spring onions and honey, and mussels in white wine and tarragon sauce coupled with frites and aioli.
I remember coming home that night and showing Mike the pictures of our happy hour. When he saw these olives* with orange zest, he suggested they might make a great color palette for the living room as we begin to redecorate. My future husband has fine taste.
*And I don't even like olives!