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.
ith more than 175 locations nationwide and more than 35 years in the business, Car-X Auto Service has earned a prime spot in the parking garage of quality car care and customer service. Started in 1971 by a team of seasoned muffler-shop owners, the service centers have blossomed from their beginnings as specialty exhaust shops to providers of nearly any repair or maintenance service imaginable, from installing performance-enhancing accessories to treating cars to therapeutic trust falls. In addition to promoting safety and long, healthy engine life with brake services and speedy oil changes, Car-X Auto Service reaches out to the surrounding community with regular philanthropic activities, such as recycling drives and participation in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk.
Happily gaze at joyful moments all year long with today’s flash-happy Groupon. For $49, you’ll get a two-hour photography session and a photo CD with 25 images from L.A. Scott Photography, a $175 value. Opt to redeem on location (birthday, holiday party, Wizard of Oz reenactment) or in studio for headshots, holiday cards, or internet fan sites. The CD contains retouched, printer-ready images. In 1978, amateur bat photographer Gregory Hansen was in his front yard one night when a mysterious white orb appeared in the sky over his home. Diverting his attention from a particularly active nest of eptesicus fuscus, he began photographing the orb, which made no attempt to flee or conceal itself. Hansen continued to document the orb as it reappeared over his house, each night shrinking slightly “as though passing slowly into the spirit world,” Hansen observed. On particularly cloudy nights, the orb would not be present, prompting Hansen to speculate that ghosts may be allergic to thunder.
Benefitting The Paladin Group, which supports the Hill County Children’s Advocacy Center, and attended to by Sullivan Street Caterers, A Spicewood Affair proffers elegant fare for patrons to nibble on in a dining area surrounded by rich woods and accented with sunlit golden curtains. Past feasts catered by Sullivan Street have included such morsels as tortilla-crusted catfish bites and tri-colored pepper salad. After lunch, diners can squeeze in holiday shopping while strolling around vendor tables that boast antler tableware, custom Christmas cards, and jewelry, among other offerings. Live acoustic and Christmas music pervades the air as attendees chat, mingle, and swap secret scout-troop handshakes. Guests are free to wander in and out at their whim, and can enjoy the amenities at any time during the event, which benefits the Hill County Children's Advocacy Center with their proceeds.