Carissa and I traveled to Montreal a couple of weeks ago. We were totally blown away by what a wonderful city it is, so gorgeous and French. Like Paris, except with really friendly people (JUST KIDDING PARIS - jeez, you can be so touchy).
We found an amazing bistro called L'Express (ok, we didn't "find" it exactly - our friend Carenn Jackson, chenin blanc queen, told us to go there). L'Express serves stunningly good and exactingly traditional French fare and has the wine list of my dreams. The city was flooded with people wearing their light summer clothing that spends most of the year stored in a trunk, awaiting the end of a long, frigid winter. Surrounded by the joyful energy of those who couldn't wait to leave the house every day, it was easy to forget that the weather isn't 70 degrees all summer everywhere you go.
That fantasy world evaporated more or less immediately when we stepped off the plane at Bergstrom. Dang. Central Texas summer has arrived, y'all. It is fried-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot out there.
But even though the sun is sweltering, this happens to be the best time of year to get renovations done around the shop. A fair few folk are out of town for the summer and business usually slows down a bit. So, for the first time in a decade, we've embarked on a re-painting project. We're taking the building back to something resembling its original white color with blue trim, and we're super excited about it.
I say original, but really I mean original to us. A few of you may recall that 2900 Rio Grande was once Shipwash Grocery - Austin's first supermarket-style store with push carts and attached parking. It even predated Safeway, if my sources are correct.
More will remember that our venerable old building housed the Rome Inn in the 1970s - an Italian ristorante with wax dripping down straw-covered Chianti bottles that evolved into one of Austin's first and most important blues revival venues. It was right here that Stevie Ray, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Angela Strehli, and Lou Ann Barton cut their respective chops and began turning Austin into the live music capital of the world.
Mom bought the building in 1986, and if memory serves, it opened as Texas French Bread's 4th shop in 1987. That was about the time I graduated from UT, and I don't really recall what I was up to at the time. Truth be told, I don't even remember the opening of the 2900 Rio Grande Shop. I'm not sure exactly how I missed it, but there you have it.
What I do remember is how much I loved the building's colors. So this time around, we've doubled down on the French blue, added back that gorgeous creamy white, and we're going to paint the doors a glossy deep red.
If you're in town, I hope you'll come by the shop to see the transition. The summer vegetables are at their absolute peak at the moment. It's also the time of year when a bunch of new wines are released. Be sure and ask me, Betty, or one of the servers - we'll do our best to give you a run down on what's showing well.
See you at TFB soon - bon appetit
PS - After much prodding by all the 9-5'ers out there, our new happy hour started this week: wednesday-sunday, 5 to 6 pm, half off our entire wine, beer and cider list. Come enjoy that post-work drink.