Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Day of Aesthetic Appreciation

Our Southern Winter Wonderland Adventure
Day 6: San Antonio
We awake to the sounds of little Eddie cooing and gurgling in the kitchen while Madonna fixes our breakfast--baked strawberries topped with cinnamon rolls, and a second course of skillet potatoes topped with an egg and bacon.  Needless to say, this is more calories than we should eat all day, but we adore it--a classic B&B overindulgence. 

We spend the morning visiting four of San Antonio’s five historic missions.  We skip the Alamo, which is front page news today, because the Texas Attorney General just issued a 38 page report that is very critical of the practices of the daughters of the Republic of Texas, who have been responsible for managing the Alamo for over 100 years.  He accuses their leadership of misappropriating and commingling funds and failing to take appropriate care of this Texas treasure, but he also takes care to praise the 7,000 volunteer ladies in the organization who generously donate their time to historic sites and causes, providing an invaluable service to Texas.  Custodianship of the Alamo has been transferred to a state agency, and the Daughters are in turmoil.  

We have been to the Alamo and the other missions before, done guided history tours and read the historic plaques, but today, we are just enjoying them as an aesthetic experience (and maybe a bit of a spiritual one, as well). 


Online it seemed like it might be worth an hour or two visit, but the McNay Art Museum turns out to be an extraordinary place where we spend the whole afternoon and are the last out when they lock up for the day.  The McNay Museum was the first museum of modern art in Texas, founded by local artist/school art teacher/art collector Marion McNay in the 1940s.  She turned her large home into a museum where she displayed art from her impressive collection of over 300 works (a lot of it from periods we wouldn’t consider modern).  When she died in 1950, she willed the home, her artwork and 23 acres of formally landscaped grounds around the home to a foundation that she generously funded to maintain the museum.  There have been multiple wings added to the home and thousands of pieces of art acquired since then.  Photography is allowed.  We are smitten.


The final aesthetic treat of the day is dinner at the Culinary Institute of America restaurant Nao, dedicated to introducing diners to the finer flavors of Mexico and South America. 

 Food is served in small exquisitely presented tasting portions--like tapas, but smaller--priced at $9 per plate.  Just about every dish includes ingredients we have never heard of. Our server recommends three to four plates per person--we end up sharing seven courses, including one sampler of four different ceviches. 

 Our taste buds are going wild trying to decode the flavors and handle the heat.  This is recreational eating on a very high plane.

 San Antonio’s famous Riverwalk is all lit up for the holidays and is supposed to be quite beautiful, but by the time we finish dinner we agree that we have reached our capacity for aesthetic stimulation today.   And, tomorrow a very long drive across Texas awaits us.


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