Tasting at Treaty Oak

The weather is FINALLY getting cooler here in Austin. Cooler for us does not mean cold. It just means not miserably hot. Think 75 degrees-ish. So why it might not feel exactly like fall, it is beautiful and the ideal time for sitting outside to eat, drink and be merry. This is one of the many reasons that Treaty Oak is currently one of my go-to spots in the Austin area.

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Treaty Oak is known for being a distillery and for making some of the tastiest cocktails around.  Whether you’re wanting gin, rum, vodka or bourbon, they’ve got it. And pitchers of the stuff, if your heart so desires. (No pitchers of bourbon though, kids. Because, uh, bad decisions would be made.) Pitchers of cocktails! As if that doesn’t already sound enough like paradise, Treaty Oak rests on 20+ acres of gorgeous land in the Texas Hill Country. With benches and games and twinkle lights galore and even a playground for the littles, this is one of the most magical places to spend an afternoon in the greater Austin area.

But, wait. I haven’t even made my way to the most exciting part yet. Treaty Oak has recently started serving culinary delights at their new restaurant, Ghost Hill. While Treaty Oak has always served tasty snacks, they now offer a chef-prepared BBQ menu that is absolutely divine.

Executive Chef Chris Andrews is something of a culinary genius with the combinations and flavors he has created in the dishes at Ghost Hill. The ribs were some of the best ribs I have ever had the chance to devour. Ever so lightly fried and with a sesame bourbon glaze, pickled carrots, Asian herbs and lime. I might be trying not to drool while typing this. I might also be failing.

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Truth be told,  barbeque is usually my least favorite type of food. This basically makes me a terrible Texan, I know, but there’s the truth. BUT Treaty Oak had me second-guessing my standpoint on BBQ.  Partly because the meats were all so perfect. The brisket, for example. Smoked to perfection and equal parts juicy and tender, this stuff quickly had me becoming a barbeque believer. And the roasted pork shoulder? Y’all. We’re talking achiote, cilantro, onion, cotija, lime and corn tortillas to pile all of this goodness onto. Obviously, this visit quickly had me converting into a BBQ believer. But another major factor in my newfound love were the sides. Chris and I both agreed that many popular BBQ places do great with the meats but slack on the sides. The sides are usually my favorite part about BBQ, so I am thrilled to report that they are most definitely not skimped on at Ghost Hill.

The potato salad was amongst my favorite of sides to devour. It’s both mayonnaise and mustard based, and this combo of flavors paired with the smoked brisket and lightly fried ribs left me swooning hard. But what equally impressed me in regards to each side was the care that was so obviously put into each. Chef Andrews knows that a meal is made extra special when every little detail is taken care of.  So, to my delight, every side dish could stand alone as its own delicious meal.

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Even the queso, though not exactly a typical bbq appetizer, was divine. I’ve mentioned before that I tend to judge a place based on how good their queso is.  To be fair, I wouldn’t have judged the queso quite as harshly at a barbeque joint, but Ghost Hill got so many extra brownie points (cheese points) for their decandently creamy, dreamy, cheesy goodness.

I can’t write a post about a distillery without giving a shoutout to at least a couple of drinks, I have to recommend the Dark & Stormy, which is Treaty Oak’s take on the Moscow Mule. Instead of vodka, they use rum! I absolutely love this substitution and now want to forever drink my ginger beer with rum. Not on their everyday menu is the seasonal spiked apple cider, which comes complete with an in-house made apple chip. Just the right amount of sweet and spice and everything nice. It was like drinking a cup of fall.

Oh, wait, wait, wait. How have I not mentioned the ice cream yet? Because, y’all. Homemade ice cream. I tried the strawberry basil and was absolutely blown away by the way the basil so elegantly complemented the strawberry. Chef noted that he has always loved adding herbs to ice cream flavors, and this is definitely a skill he has mastered. If you’re looking for sweets with a little aromatic kick, look no further than Ghost Hill.

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Treaty Oak is always working hard to make their space the best it can be, and it shows with every sip, every bite and every glance around their property. Though the distillery is only opened on the weekends,  the Ghost Hill hours have been expanded to also be opened on Thursdays from 4-9. May I suggest visiting the restaurant on one of these Thursdays? I may or may not have the inside scoop that the most unique of recipes are always being cooked up on this particular day. Chef Andrews has also started catering events for 10-500 people, so naturally I want to have every event ever in my life catered by Treaty Oak. But truly, whatever day and for whatever reason you decide to visit,  you’re going to feel like a kid in a candy store. Or an adult in a distillery store, if you will.

I could rave for another fifty paragraphs or so about the happiness I found at Treaty Oak. Whether it be the gorgeous property or the exquisite tastes, the good company or the bounty of libations, this spot has been added to my list of treasures. So I’m sending out an open invitation for all  reading this. Come for the BBQ. Or if you’re one of my vegetarian pals, come for the sides. Stay for the views and the pitchers of cocktails. And second helpings of barbeque.

Love Drunk

“You probably shouldn’t tell him I said this, but Robby makes the perfect feminist husband.”, my friend Rachel told me as we sipped drinks downtown a few weekends ago.

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I laughed, because both of us knew he would probably deny this adamantly, but also because I realized that it was incredibly true.

I smile now thinking about another memory that comes to mind from a couple of weekends back. My husband and I were sitting on the patio at a favorite restaurant of mine, enjoying the perfect weather and our scrumptious meals. We had just finished kayaking at a nearby lake and were now soaking in the company of one another and time well spent. Robby was finishing his first and only beer of the day when he announced, “I feel drunk.” I was a little floored. This was coming from the man who, six years ago, could drink anyone I knew under the table. Who once told me stories of inebriated nights that nearly made me blush for him. Now he drinks so little that one beer can leave him feeling a little woozy.

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The day before the revelation that my husband is now a lightweight, gal pals and I had spent a beautiful day in Dripping Springs, Texas. We hopped around from wineries to a brewery to a quaint and delicious tapas restaurant. It was a day of perfection, magic and plenty of laughter. Sitting on the patio of a vineyard, listening to live music and chatting with my lady loves, the afternoon was exquisite and seemed to hold the promise of summer adventures soon to come. The same friend who called Robby a feminist mentioned in conversation that, though I’m married with a baby, I am able to do more than many single people she knows. I admitted that it doesn’t hurt to have that really awesome feminist husband of mine.

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I always inwardly chuckle when I hear comments like, “Oh, it’s so nice that your husband babysits.” or “It’s great that he watches her so you can get away for a bit!” It’s definite but unintentional gender role stereotyping– let’s be real, no one would ever say I was babysitting my own kid– but because I know no harm is meant, I’ve learned to laugh it off. Still, the truth is that getting out is not at all a rarity for me, and that Robby is far from a sitter. He is a dad and he is a husband, and a completely terrific one on both counts. I always know when I am adventuring that Miss Bryn is in the best of hands with her wonderful daddy. I’ll always take comfort in the fact that I have not just a husband, but a support system, a friend, a partner and a beautiful romance to call my own.

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Robby is the man I met nearly seven years ago, only better. He still tells the occasional inappropriate joke, has the same charming smile and loves cheap Mexican food. He has the same kind heart, happy disposition and southern accent that goes on for days. He’s the same, only more calm, more centered and more understanding. He listens better and tries harder. Over the years, I have had the honor of watching him become the most patient and loving man, and now father, that I have ever known. He also changes a mean diaper, and last night I caught him with baby in one hand while he pulled cookies out of the oven with the other. I didn’t know seven years ago that I was dating my own personal demigod in training.

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I realize and am trying to capture to memory what a beautiful season of my life–of our life– that this is. I’m raising my favorite little girl with the help of my favorite guy, and it’s the happiest of places to be. There are occasionally challenging moments right along with the magnificent ones, but hands down the hardest thing about these days is knowing that they won’t last forever.

Maybe my husband is onto something. Who really needs alcohol when you’re this love drunk?

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Just kidding, y’all. I still need my wine.