The Gambini and Mensik families shared a vision—to create an olive orchard based on a public tree-adoption system similar to the sharecropping systems in Italy, where families could harvest olives and olive oils whenever their trees bore fruit. Breaking ground on 18 acres in the Texas Hill Country—home to numerous vineyards and organic farms—the clans' USDA-compliant organic farming methods soon produced yields that would claim multiple awards, including a gold medal from The Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition.
Today, the growers at Texas Hill Country Olive Company tend five kinds of olive trees, which bear harvests that are handpicked, cold-processed, and bottled within 24 hours as artisanal extra virgin olive oils. The farmers also produce traditional and fruit-infused balsamic vinegars on the territory. The grounds encompass a 6,000-square-foot tasting room and an indoor demo kitchen that hosts events such as cooking classes amid eco-friendly touches such as nontoxic paints and teak furniture. An outdoor demo kitchen and an indoor café are also on their way, where small-plate fare made from ingredients sourced from other Hill Country farms will take center stage. Texas Hill Country’s adopt an olive tree program continues to thrive, as each bottle of oil produced by an adopted tree comes with a personalized label and regular reports about the tree's accomplishments at tree school.
When Reina Morris relocated to Texas from Argentina in 1997, she quickly impressed new friends with the Argentinean dishes that she brought to dinner parties?in particular, the desserts. That conversational praise inspired her to hone her skills by enrolling at the Texas Culinary Academy. Today, she's the owner and head chef of the award-winning Buenos Aires Caf?, where she earns adoration for puff pastry layered with housemade dulce de leche or rolled strawberry cake laced with Kahlua and coffee. "Morris' pastries, the likes of which are found nowhere else in Austin, are delicacies worth every calorie," wrote Claudia Alarc?n for the Austin Chronicle.
Morris also creates savory recipes as unique and flavorful as her last courses. She fills empanadas with spiced beef and raisins, forms gnocchi from scratch with pumpkin and cinnamon or cilantro and jalape?o, and fashions small plates of tapas for the happy-hour crowd to enjoy with glasses of wine poured into glasses or feedbags. On a whim, she'll concoct specials such as wild-mushroom-stuffed quail with cheddar-bacon grit cakes and broiled tomato. The kitchen stays stocked with organic produce and hormone-free beef and pork from local farmers, ensuring that the dishes are as fresh as they are ready to give directions to the interstate.
After rolling out the green carpet as a 9-hole facility in 1971, Lago Vista has expanded into an 18-hole, par 72 championship course that stretches across a peninsula on the north shore of Lake Travis. Undulating fairways and vibrant flora guide players through the course's 6,500 yards of challenges, and a practice facility helps hone swings with three tiers of natural, Botox-free hitting surfaces.
As the younger of the two courses, Highland Lakes flaunts a collection of sloping tifdwarf greens, complete with regular elevation changes that require golfers to make deft club selections throughout. On hole five, a tight dogleg lures balls toward a downhill fairway sheathed in the shadows of towering oaks as outcrops flanking both sides invite shots into their rocky heaps.
Lago Vista Course at a Glance * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,579 yards from farthest tees * Course rating of 72.6 from farthest tees * Designed by Leon Howard * Four tee options available * Click here to see the scorecard
Highland Lakes Course at a Glance * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,529 yards from farthest tees * Course rating of 72.2 from farthest tees * Designed by Leon and Charles Howard * Three tee options available * Click here to see the scorecard
An ice cold beer, a country fried steak, and tunes that beckon you out onto the dance floor. That's a familiar combination for anyone who's ever come by Angel's Icehouse on a Friday or Saturday night, when a live band takes the outdoor stage. There's a timeless vibe to the restaurant, thanks in part to the vintage sign that towers high over the entrance: the same red neon light that spelled out "Angel's" back when the original location operated in Pasadena in the 1950s. Familiar faces?some who visited that eatery as kids?gather around the al fresco picnic tables, while the latest generation of diners burns off energy in a large play area. And, completing the homey atmosphere, Angel's even welcomes dogs outdoors with their very own canine-centric menu.
For humans?who get to sit both inside and out?Angel's chefs cook a menu as classic as their setting. Angus beef burgers, homemade chili, and crab cakes all stand as favorites, as do lighter offerings such as chicken tortilla soup and caesar salad. Hearty entrees are followed with timeless Americana-inspired desserts, including brownie sundaes and lemon ice box pie.
Designed by three-time Masters champion Jimmy Demaret, Point Venture Golf Club's nine-hole course cleaves through thickets of cedar trees along the north shore of Lake Travis. Although narrow fairways and small greens offer a challenge to advanced golfers, novice players can swing freely as the course is free of water hazards, bunkers, and wormholes disguised as divots. A relatively short course, Point Venture?s display of sharp doglegs frequently forces players to take shorter clubs to the tee box, effectively lengthening the course. Conversely, the winding fairways may tempt golfers to go for the high-risk, high-reward play of unsheathing their drivers at the tee, flying the corner, and setting up a short approach to the green.
Golfers can warm up their swings with a stint at the club's driving range or plan their attack by taking a digital course tour. Point Venture Golf Club also features a golf store and a floating restaurant for after-hole meals and experimenting with golf tees as toothpicks.
Eyes are like taxes: if someone's working on yours, you want them to be certified. Keri Burt, the aesthetician behind Big Sexy Lashes and a certified lash trainer with more than five years of experience, focuses almost exclusively on improving ocular aesthetics. Burt and her team apply several types of extensions: synthetic fiber extensions, which hold their curl for a uniform look; silk extensions with manicured tips; and soft, curly mink extensions that create a bold, natural look?like a skinny-dipper in a beluga tank. Lashes come in varying lengths and thicknesses, allowing staffers to customize applications and flatter each client's eye shape and personal aesthetic. The team uses fume-free medical-grade adhesives to hold extensions in place, even on windy days.
Burt's shop enables lash care beyond the salon by purveying beauty products such as Lash Bath, which removes eye makeup without damaging extensions. In case clients have other follicular concerns, the staff administers haircuts, above-the-neck waxes, and feather extensions.