Thursday, May 2, 2013

Big Weekend in the Big D

They say everything is bigger in Texas. That statement alone has made me always want to go there. The glamour, the cowboys (the men, not the sports team), the food, all of it has been calling my name for years. Finally! My mom and I flew to Dallas last Thursday to spend a long girls' weekend with my cousin, Lana, who wined and dined and chauffeured us around her native city in the highest fashion. I haven't stopped smiling yet, and my pants are still too tight from all the amazing food--both of those situations will probably linger a while longer. I don't know if it really is bigger, but everything is awesome in Texas, I will vouch for that.

As we walked off the plane when we landed, a flight attendant turned to me and asked, "Is this home for you?" Sadly to say, it is not home for me, but I consider that high praise. Thank you, sir, for starting my trip off right. Giddy up.

I come from a family of foodies, of awesome chefs and cooks and restaurateurs, and when we get together you can bet you will not go away hungry. We lunched at the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus (popovers with strawberry butter, anyone?), ate our weight in Tex Mex at El Fenix (well, I did anyway), and had the most amazing dinners I think I have ever enjoyed.

Our first dinner was at the top of Dallas's Reunion Tower, at 560 by Wolfgang Puck. Wolfgang did us right with an assortment of awesome including, but not limited to: shrimp and lobster spring rolls, pork belly dumplings, and a chocolate soufflĂ© the size of a cantaloupe (although much, much tastier). The revolving restaurant gave us a view of the entire city of Dallas, even if we were talking and laughing so hard we barely noticed it.

 After a hard afternoon of shopping, the following night led us to Al Biernat's, a Texas institution for seafood and steaks. Hey, if it's good enough to have gotten a visit from William and Kate (and it did), it's perfectly fine with me. We took pictures, but apparently laughing like hyenas does not a great photo shoot make.

After our Tex Mex feast on Saturday, my Dallasite cousin made the ultimate sacrifice and toured Southfork Ranch with us. Folks in Dallas cringe over Southfork and the TV show sharing their city's name, mainly because it makes everyone think that Dallas is filled with cowboy hats, huge belt buckles, and Cadillacs with horns on the front. Personally, I love all those things, but to each their own. I have loved Dallas since I was a kid, have watched reruns of the original series for years, and now don't miss an episode of Dallas 2.0, mainly out of loyalty to the its predecessor.

We probably didn't look like renegades when they snapped our souvenir photo, but boy, did they underestimate us. I am not just a tourist, I am The Tourist, velvet ropes and boundaries be damned.

I feel 99% certain that after we got through with the tour of Southfork, they either decided to close it to the general public or add another chapter to the tour guides' handbook on how to deal with crazed visitors who shun all the rules.

Just because we decided to sit ourselves at the dining table set with Waterford crystal and Noritake china is no need to get all testy and nervous. One member of our party may or may not have also tried using a not-so-public restroom, located right off of "Bobby Ewing's" bedroom. I can still hear one of the guides screeching, "Please don't do that! Please, do NOT do that!" and then, in a very strained and exasperated voice: "Do we need to flush?" That moment alone was worth double the price of admission.

Here are just a few of the pictures we took; please note that we are clearly behind the scenes and have made ourselves right at home, much to the chagrin of the Southfork staff.

*insert Dallas theme song here*
You can't see my grin, but believe me, it was ear to ear.
Note the velvet rope--and the fact that Lana is tickling the ivories on the wrong side of it.

Cozying up in the Ewing den. Don't mind if I do.
Care for a bourbon and branch?
Apparently, this table setting is "irreplaceable" and they did not like our photo op.
I think the picture is pretty priceless.

Join us out by the pool?

This table is one of the few original pieces of furniture remaining from the original Dallas set.
I'm probably sitting in Miss Ellie's chair.

After we played renegade ranch hands for the afternoon, Lana took us to Dean Fearing's restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton. My great uncle Jack was President of the Texas Restaurant Association and Lana is the Creative Director of Culinary Media for Twisted South magazine, so needless to say, we got the VIP treatment.

Chef Fearing came to our table and introduced himself, then proceeded to send us the most amazing "specialities" over to try: wild mushroom soup with spare rib, lobster coconut bisque with a lobster potsticker and sizzling rice, a delicious 30 year old dessert wine, and even a blondie for each of us to go after we finished our meal (never mind that we already had a dessert or two)! Not to mention that he kept popping over to our table to ask what we thought of all the deliciousness he insisted on lavishing upon us--believe me when I say it is good to be at Lana's table. Wash all that down with (this belle's very first) Cristal champagne, and you are having yourself a not-too-shabby evening, indeed.

So there you have it: three days of shopping, laughing, eating, laughing, talking, touring, and laughing. We came, we saw, I suppose you could say we messed with Texas, and we loved every minute of it. And I'm pretty sure Texas liked the attention, too.

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