San Antonio, remember that? Beastly hot and all? B. and I had been in central Texas (Austin) last November for her nephew's wedding, at which time B. felt that she'd had quite enough of Texas-style food, thank you; so that made two reasons to keep this trip short. However, we did come in on Thursday for the Friday-starting convention, to get orientated and as insurance in case of flight delays, something that didn't strike us but did hit a number of our friends.
It did give us Friday morning open, so instead of the Alamo, which I've been to before, we went to the zoo. It was closer, and of more interest to us. Everyone in San Antonio, at least everyone I talked with about it, is proud of their zoo, and well they should be. It's large and impressive, and what it's best at is birds. I like walk-through aviaries, and it's got several, none particularly large, but large enough to get immersed into. There's one just for Australian birds, one just for lorikeets (very up close and personal, those), and more. Just landbirds, though. We also hit the right time for the lion cubs. There's three of them, and they just turned a year old a couple weeks earlier, which means they're nearly full-grown in size but still bounce around like kittens, which they did entertainingly with a few cuffs from Mom while Dad presided regally in the background.
After zooing, we had lunch at a nearby coffee shop, the mother locale of a local chain called Jim's. The history on the menu explained that Jim had started out renting bicycles for use in the park the zoo is in, then he began selling watermelon slices to his hot summer customers, then he added hamburgers, and soon enough he had a coffee shop. The food was very good and the service outstanding.
Upon picking up our car around the back of the airport the previous evening, I'd figured it was simpler to drive across the city's country-club district to our hotel than go around on the freeway. This also took us past a promising Italian restaurant called Milano's, where we had a genteel and, by design, not very conventionally Texan dinner. This time the food was better than the service, but both were OK.
Room at the convention came with breakfasts in the restaurant, quite adequate - they had blueberry sausage, though I don't know if anybody tried it - and group dinners in the ballroom. Two of these were functional but unmemorable plates with chicken, including the banquet which did not lend itself to anything memorable in food sculpture. I was happier, though those allergic to chile were not, with Saturday's Mexican buffet dinner.
The committee also persuaded the hotel to do something for lunch, which originally they hadn't intended to, and provided box lunches for those who wished to sit around chatting to have something to eat. I skipped out on those. I wanted to go out by myself and taste the best in what was to be had in local food, and I found it: one day outside of town to Rudy's, reputed to be the best bbq closer than Lockhart, and I'll go along with that (great spicy rub on the ribs), and the other day halfway around the beltway to the Acadiana Cafe, where I found - oh joy - the same distinctly creamy boudin sausage I'd had in deepest Iberia Parish when I was out there last year. To eat this stuff, you slit open the casing, which is basically inedible, and squeeze out the filling. Heavenly. Previous visits to Houston and Longview had taught me that there's good Louisiana food in eastern Texas, and now I know that's true as far west as San Antonio.