One of the biggest frustrations of the restaurant business is how hard it can be to get away. When you're busy, you need to be at the restaurant making sure everything is going as smoothly as possible. When you're slow, you need to be at the restaurant making sure everyone stays focused and positive - so, you know, you'll still have a restaurant when things are busy again.
"Next summer" is always the time that I'm going to get away - I'll fly straight to Provence and immerse myself in French language and French wine. But this year, instead of making it to France like I promised myself last year, I celebrated Bastille Day in the Texas French Bread kitchen. And here I am about to face another Texas August. So it goes.
That being said, I really do love Austin in the summer, and my favorite thing about being here now is the swimming. Now that the weather has finally breached triple digits, it's the best way I know to cool off and feel connected to my town. And my staff, for that matter - our favorite swim spots are a consistent topic of conversation at the restaurant.
Let's start with one of the great natural spring fed swimming holes in the world: Barton Springs. Two of our nighttime servers, Christa and Whitney, have started a weekly bike-to-swim tradition. This week they biked to Barton and then grabbed coffee on the east side. Last week they rode to another great summer spot, McKinney Falls in Southeast Austin, to wade around and picnic on the rocks.
My personal preference for morning swimming is Deep Eddy off lake Austin. While not quite as cold as Barton Springs, its spring fed water stays a brisk 73-74 degrees - perfect for lap swimming. Beginning my day there leaves me feeling balanced. The cool water puts everything in a healthy perspective and keeps my bad side hiding away in his cave.
But the clear TFB favorite is Shipe pool off 45th Street in nearby Hyde Park - we all sneak over whenever we can. Largely ignored in Austin, it's a gorgeous old WPA relic that the city threatens to close and replace with one of those sprinkler pads every year (stop threatening my zen, COA!). It's free and you can park right next to the entrance. At this time of year, you might just see me run from the car in my flip flops, jump in, paddle around, and then hurry back to work. Chances are you'll run into some other TFB staffers too.
So if you find yourself having trouble dealing with these summer temperatures, my suggestion is to go for an early evening swim to cool off and get yourself sorted. If you go to Shipe, be sure to wave. After that, join me at Texas French Bread for dinner so I can hear all about your own favorite swim spots.
This weekend's Prix Fixe will be prepared by our kitchen all-stars Dan and James. It includes a melon and cucumber soup, followed by an eggplant risotto with speck, and a slice of olive oil cake for dessert. Pair it with a glass or two of Beaujolais on our garden patio, which will feel relaxed and comfortable after that swim. Bring your dog. Enjoy our town. It's pretty great this time of year.