Cool Mint Cafe

After much passive aggressive dodging and obvious wishy-washy-ness on the part of Alexandra, we settled the dispute with some rock-paper-scissors and went to the Cool Mint Café, her choice – and an exceptionally good one.

It’s quite literally in someone’s house, like, we missed it from the road the first time for this reason.  Also, they only serve craft beers and our waitress even told me if I didn’t like her suggestion to send it back, which is made only more amazing because they only sell bottles.  Their food is mostly organic and locally sourced, check their website.  Their menu changes by the season, so what was during the winter, a sweet potato enchilada became a summer squash enchilada.  The restaurant was populated only by us and one other couple and by the time we left another 2 or 3 couples had come as well.  For a small place, not bad.  Alexandra had the best hummus I’ve ever tasted.  Like, orgasmic.  That happened a lot on this trip.  I know right, a vegetarian in Texas for a week saying he loved the food.  I expected to endure like Moses in the desert, scraping by on quesadillas and fried mushrooms.

Great hummus, rich with good olive oil, vegetarian pasta and soup, I believe we also had honey-covered apples and gorgonzola cheese as an appetizer.  Honey, cheese and fruit.  Am I really in Texas right now?  Is culture, of a definitely European nature, present in the old-world walls of this proudly unintelligent state?  My god!

Our waitress was Ingrid with the Spanish accent.  Despite my girlfriend being the only other person at table with me, she could easily have swept me off my feet if she’d tried.  She offered two fine beers and gave me a list of some to try.  Notably, New Belgium 1554 and Benchwarmer Brown Ale. New Belgium – I believe – only sends beer west of the Mississippi.  Their 1554 is specifically insane because of its uniqueness, being that New Brussels is quite possibly the only brewery in the USA making this style of beer, a Belgian black ale. They call it an “enlightened” black ale.  The Enlightenment didn’t start until at least 1700, so I’ll take that as an arbitrary adjective.  It’s like a very light, crisp and dry porter without the heaviness associated with that style.   The bottle says the guys at New Belgium reassembled the recipe from a crumbling recipe dating back to 1554, cool as shit.  Sort of like Sam Adams’ Utopias is reassembled from an anciet Egyptian beer recipe, except, since New Belgium isn’t Sam Adams, 1554 doesn’t taste like crap.

Also, Shiner – on a random Texas beer note – is fucking awesome.  There were billboards all over my travels in Texas that proclaim a subtle, elegant message.  I cannot emphasize this sentiment enough, and it pains me that Florida has not latched onto a brewery the way Texas has.  This is one of the many reasons I believe Texas is a nation to its own.  What exists only in Texas: Shiner, support for Texas-made craft beers, the HEB, Tex-mex, etc. not to mention History being on their side in terms of independence, being a seceding state from the CSA. These all allow for a quite rational approach to being a Texan first and an American second.

After some of the best damn food and drink – at reasonable prices, not cheap but quite reasonable for local, organic, craft, slow foods – we explored San Marcos on one of my many driving accidents, viz-a-viz a wrong turn that stubbornly neglects a U-turn in favor of an “adventure”.  The University of Texas there is beautiful.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  I’d heard Texas has a decent university system and I can’t disprove that aesthetically speaking. Southwestern style buildings, grand, stern and beautiful, I deeply want to go to college here.  Downtown San Marcos, a tiny city, is still a bustling, old-world city square with old-world style buildings – shops with lofts above – bars galore, etc.

We stopped at a HEB: one of Texas’ thirteen thousand different grocery franchises – OK, there’s at least 6.  I forget why we went, but in the way we left, I imagine it was for yogurt and beer.  The HEB was quite busy, mostly college students.  The store layout obviously catered to college students because as soon as you walk in, you’re tripping over the beer and wine section.  It’s poorly organized, I found at least three separate parts that had Sierra Nevada, but they had tons of good craft beers, at a grocery store! No lengthy trip to a Total Wine and Spirits or into the ghetto to the ABC.  Also, HEB had HEB brand natural sodas (oh, and make sure when you’re reading HEB that you pronounce it in your head h-EBB, like bed).  No HFCS, in their HEB-brand Dr. Pepper, which was totally sold out except for two cases on one of the types of cane sugar sodas that was’t Dr. Pepper.  Hey, Publix, expect a letter from me.  Not every grocery outlet, least of all one in Texas, needs to use cheap bullshit fillers, preservatives and engineered food stuffs to make disgustingly unnatural and unhealthy foods.  Shape up.  When Texas beats you at something relating to health and good conscience, then your life and moral code must truly be in the shitter.

Unfortunately, the HEB caters to all manners of sapient life-forms, which includes – erroneously, in my opinion – the fellows who purchased 24-can cases of the Champagne of Beers whilst wearing cut off jeans and an undeserved sense of coolness, a weirdly cropped mullet-type hairstyle, tattoos, facial piercings.  This happened right after me in line. I felt shame walking out in tandem with these social rejects.  But, this is a college town after all.  If he only knew how good he had it.

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