Counting Our Blessings

Considering what we're thankful for in the local food scene

An Austin Bounty

When the weather turns crisp (fall being a season most Austinites greet with emphatic thanksgiving), my thoughts turn to picnics and, by extension, to those Austin spots I'm most thankful for: Boggy Creek Farm, Pure Luck Organic Dairy, and Grapevine Market. My first stop is Boggy Creek, where I fill a thick wicker basket with some henhouse eggs for hard boiling, a bunch of basil for layering on sandwiches, and a bag of seasonal greens paired with a cucumber or two. Then I stand at the freezer case and convince myself -- always very quickly, incidentally -- that the $5.50 log of Pure Luck Organic's Ste. Maure is an absolute necessity, which it almost always is.

Next comes the drive across town to Grapevine Market, where I throw down the typical challenge to the always-enthusiastic wine guy, Lee. "I want a mixed case -- 12 bottles, all different, and all $10 or under," I tell him. Within minutes, Lee is scanning his racks for bargains, but not those of the standard "cheap supermarket wine" variety. Instead, I go home with beautiful bottles from Spain and Portugal, Italy and Argentina, Chile and France, and sometimes Australia and California. The wines taste as different one from the other as you would expect from such disparate vignobles, but inevitably, there are several "keepers," bottles I return for again and again. Before I hit Grapevine's checkout stand, I wander back toward the store's thoughtfully composed cheese case, where I feed my cheese habit with samples, then order a block of high-quality Parmesan to shave over salad or eat alone with olive oil. I find comfort in the cheese's wrapping -- the waxed blue paper I became familiar with at fromageries in France. Back home as I unpack my bags and transform their contents into a picnic, I smile in thankful anticipation. No bagged greens or boxed basil. No uniform-yolked eggs. No shrink-wrapped squares of Longhorn or Swiss. And no Turning Leaf to complement this wonderful Austin-style bounty!

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