What fun to bring home such jewels from the Saturday markets. It's like fruit that has been "be-dazzled" when you see heirloom tomatoes and their regal shapes.
Whether slicing them between fresh mozzarella rounds and a drizzle of olive oil or chopping them up into something thick and hearty like a frittata, they are always fun to include in my summer market basket.
We had family staying with us a few weekends ago. Of all the meals of the day, I love to gather everyone together for the aromas of breakfast. I love breakfast...bacon sizzling, strong coffee brewing, fresh breads baking...these are some of my favorite smells.
Frittatas are always delicious to whip up for a group of guests. Whatever comes home in the market basket can be thrown in with some fresh cheese.
While I really enjoyed making, serving, and enjoying this frittata with our company, my mind kept wandering to the upcoming B&B stay that I reserved for the week.
M. would be off at her college orientation and I wanted to play in the city of Austin. But, first I had to find a snug little place to put up my weary feet at the end of the day.
And, oh!, did I find a sweet little jewel tucked into the Hyde Park area just north of the University.
Hyde Park Inn, a beautiful southern B&B owned by Jennifer and Guy Rochelle.
Just pulling up to the curb outside of the inn was satisfying. The street is heavily tree lined, lush, and wonderfully shaded.
The house is tucked into this green oasis and the first site that makes a pleasant impression are the huge wrap-around porches on each floor.
What tickled me was the quiet that enveloped the street. I knew, however, that we were only a five minute drive from the bustling energetic U.T. college campus~ which neighbors the handsome and prodigious state capitol building of Texas.
We opened the beautiful front doors and noted the twinkling of the gas lamps on either side of the door - a hallmark sign that you are definitely in the South.
My first impression of Hyde Park Inn was "warmth", "handsome" and "historic". I loved the dark heavy wood paneling, the solid robust staircase, and the blending of tapestry covered chairs and pillows with the antique furniture.
I truly felt as if I had stepped back into a time where the most sound you hear is the "tick-tocking" of the clocks as a lazy afternoon unfolds with a crisp glass of lemonade and perhaps a little fruit tart to while away a slow afternoon.
Our bedroom, "The Littlefield" was simply delightful. The antique bed was heavy and massive~ adorned with fresh white linens and antique tasseled pillows.
A hazy light filtered in through the thick canopy of trees outside the window and created a softness as the light spilled through a layer of tawny lace curtains.
Beautiful glass french doors opened into a sweet little bathroom. Small antique touches accented the room and make the space inviting and certainly relaxing.
My eyes went straight to the beautiful claw foot tub and the wonderful bronze faucet accents. For two nights, after long hot weary days eating our way through Austin, I soaked in that tub with bubbles tickling my earlobes!
Hyde Park Inn is so named because it is in the Hyde Park historic district. Our tummies were too full with the dining options of Austin, but we heard that a treat we missed out on is just down the street from the inn.
There is a little bakery nearby, called "Quacks", that makes fresh homemade "ding dongs". Who hasn't secretly nibbled on those cupcake treats? I certainly have.
But, these sweet snacks are made from scratch and topped with a chocolate ganache and a creamy loop-t-loop on top.
Next time...for sure, this delight won't be missed...
Slipping downstairs along the wooden floors and through the back staircase is the beautiful dining room. Grand in scale but exuding a warmth and coziness at the same time, this was a room I couldn't wait to enjoy in the morning for breakfast.
I do enjoy making frittatas for my own guests at home, but breakfast in a B&B is ALWAYS a treat I look forward to.
French doors open up from the dining room into an enchanting pool area. What felt like a charming southern home all of a sudden transformed itself into a quiet tucked-away Italian garden.
A long narrow pool with European blue and white painted tiles line the interior. Huge stone pots of flowers enclose the space creating a quiet and isolated area that engenders escape and relaxation.
The next day, I spent several hours wading in the cool water, admiring the cluster of trees overhead and chatting with one of the delightful guests, Robyn, that I met while staying at the inn.
Breakfast was an elegant affair. We sipped deliciously brewed coffee in dainty china cups. The dining room is majestic but at the same time very comfortable and soothing. Because we were a small group at the table, conversation flowed easily as we swapped stories of college orientation events, family reunion plans, and visitations with grandchildren.
Jennifer, who decorated and sees to all of the details at Hyde Park Inn, was an instant delight to meet. She flew in from the kitchen carrying casserole platters of banana bread pudding and a deliciously satisfying dish of eggs, tortillas, and spices called "migas".
Jennifer homeschools her son, so we had that in common, and we immediately embarked on fast flowing conversations of curriculum plans, schedules, and schooling philosophies.
She told stories of the places she and her family have traveled and how many of the pieces they have picked up along the way end up in the nooks, on the walls, and adorning the personalized bedrooms of the inn.
Upon hearing that I love to visit local farmer's markets, she quickly whisked me off to a sweet little market right down the road a bit from the Hyde Park area.
It is called "The Market at the Triangle" and I definitely hopped over there to enjoy the ambiance, fresh produce, and people-watching that every market provides.
Bowls and bowls of squash blossom flowers filled one stall. I can't wait to share on "thyme" my first attempt at cooking with these delicate and beautiful flowers. I have a recipe coming up where I stuffed them with goat cheese and herbs, rolled them in egg batter and sauteed them on the stove. "Oh, delicious..."
The market sidled up to a large grassy area which was then surrounded by condos, restaurants, and flower lined sidewalks.
Musicians played at one end of the large space and children, dogs, and families ran from one end to the other throwing frisbees and having a wonderful evening as the hot air of Austin began its slow cooldown from the day.
I was really excited about the honey farmer that I chatted with at one stall. He invited me to come out to his honeybee farm on one of my visits to Austin.
A honeybee farm? "Am I brave enough?" I'm not sure there are too many people in this world who streak faster than me at the slightest buzzing vibrations of those tiny little bees.
"But, wouldn't that be fascinating?" I really want to go, so I'll begin training myself to work up the nerve.
We're going to be driving straight to Hyde Park Inn in another month from now. Yes. It will be the big emotional "drop off" of our soon-to-be college student.
I was delighted with our stay there, enjoyed conversations with the guests as well as Jennifer, indulged in the delicious breakfast served in the morning, and relaxed in the secluded pool area while certainly...
counting my blessings, for sure.
Wild Mushroom, Pancetta, and Goat Cheese Frittata
8-12 eggs (I love a lot of eggs in my frittata)
1 cup of chopped wild mushrooms
1/2 cup of pancetta (or bacon), sliced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of "herbs de provence" or any of your favorite herbs
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese (or more if you like)
In a sauté pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add chopped mushrooms and pancetta (or bacon) and cook until browned and caramelized (5 - 6 minutes). Take off the heat, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs with salt and pepper.
Crumble 1/4 cup of goat cheese into a little bowl and set it near the stove.
Turn on your broiler.
Place a large well-seasoned cast iron, or non-stick frying pan, on the stove top over medium/high heat.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan. Swirl the hot butter around to thoroughly coat edges of the pan and prevent sticking. Put buttered pan back on stove for 30 seconds over medium high to make sure it's nice and hot.
Add the mushroom/pancetta mixture to the whisked eggs in the bowl. Sprinkle in the 2 tablespoons of "herbs de provence". Then pour egg mixture into the hot pan and turn the heat down to medium/low. Sprinkle remaining goat cheese over the top of the eggs.
Let the frittata cook on the stove top until you see that all of the edges have cooked and are starting separate from the sides of the pan. (About a good 7-8 minutes) (I also threw some cheddar cheese on the top of my frittata simply because it looked pretty when melted)
Slide the pan under the broiler to finish cooking the top of the frittata. Keep an eye on it - you want the eggs to be just cooked, but not well done. A nice moist frittata is what you are looking for.
Let the frittata cool to room temp. Sprinkle with herbs, cut into wedges for breakfast...and enjoy!