Quarantine Diaries XXXXVII
Thursday May 14th 2020
I am, in many ways, a creature of habit. This particular trait falls into direct contradiction with my passion for travel and adventure, meaning that I end up being the person who rolls up in a new city, falls in love with a bar or restaurant and then goes there every night of the trip unless otherwise directed. Yeah, not much that goes on in my head makes a lot of sense! The result of this quixotic clash of characteristics also means that, despite having lived in the fabulous city of Austin for over two and a half years, there’s still an absolute shit-tonne of places that we have just simply never visited because we so often go back to the places that we love. Queue quarantine, and time spent studiously examining maps of the city, hunting out new and undiscovered parks and beauty spots. Fortunately our richly verdant greenbelt and proximity to the stunning Hill Country mean that this is the local gift that really does seem to keep on giving. On Thursday we were delighted to discover an entire new park area just minutes from one of our most-visited supermarkets, complete with a wild pond, beautifully shaped foliage and a butterfly garden – an actual butterfly garden with plants specially cultivated to attract butterflies, and there were plenty flitting around amid the blossoming cacti. Austin continues to surprise us, and each time we discover something new I’m reminded of how it felt when we first arrived in the city, eager and raring to take it all in. I hope that, as we transition out of stay-in-place, we keep our levels of curiosity high and continue to seek out places we might have overlooked without the imperative to keep exploring locally.
Martinhouse Blackbird Imperial Sour Ale
I’ll be honest – I have a bit of a rocky relationship with Martinhouse beers. While I’m more than willing to acknowledge their high local status, I don’t always get on as well with their beers as many folks seem to – particularly those that veer towards the sweeter end of the spectrum. This however hits the nail precisely on the head and is in fact so tasty that we had to go back for more. The rich, lush blackcurrant is full, chewy and juicy, with just enough lactose to add body without excess sweetness, allowing the tart fruit to take centre stage. I use the word moreish about beer a lot, and I always mean it – not just because I like beer but because there really are a lot of beers around where one doesn’t really feel like enough, and the deliciously calibrated balance in this particular Martinhouse offering certainly falls into that category. It also paired nicely with my fresh salmon in sweet chilli sauce. Yum.