An Elegant Experience – The Chophouse on Bankhead

On Saturday evening, two of our closest friends went to dinner with us sans kiddos! This rarely happens, so we were all excited for an opportunity to spend time together. We mulled over various dining options on Saturday afternoon, and we decided to try a place none of us had ever been to before – The Chophouse on Bankhead.

I was beyond blown away. From the moment the open the door to greet you to the time they say good night, everything was perfectly executed. At no point during the evening did I think, “I wish they knew or did that.” The restaurant is located in Mt. Vernon, Texas, which was about a 20 minute drive for the four of us. Mt. Vernon is a fun town where my best friend and her family lives, so I already enjoy visiting there. The Chophouse on Bankhead is incredibly unique and different from the other restaurants currently there, though. Our meal was a true experience, lasting well into three hours.

We started with a charcuterie board, which was just fantastic. The executive chef pays such close attention to the details and pairing of foods. A lot of love and time went into each course. The homemade pickles, though, were my top pick from our appetizer!One we had enjoy the platter, we all opted for wedge salads with perfect, tangy blue cheese dressing. Since we knew we would have multiple courses, we chose to have each couple split the wedge, which the restaurant was more than willing to do.

I’m not even normally a huge lover of blue cheese, but I couldn’t help but each every delicious bite. Our entrees took the longest time of all the courses for us to decide what to eat. While the menu was vastly more expansive than this, my picks were narrowed to choosing between the mussels (l0ve), the ribeye (love) and the crabcakes (love). Simply because everyone who has left a review has raved about the steaks, the ribeye won out, which my husband and Jonathan also got. Sally opted for the crabcakes, which looked absolutely wonderful!

The au jus was the tastiest I’d ever had, and my baked potato was dressed perfectly. Even as big of a steak eater as my husband is, none of us could finish our steaks. This may have been paritally due to the food consumed prior to this course, but did we let our full stomachs stop us from ordering dessert (no picture of it….sorry about that!)? No, we sure didn’t. We ate our sticky toffee pudding like they had just told us the place was on fire – that is to say, very quickly!

Something that really pushed this visit over the top in every way were the extras they brought. An amuse-bouche was brought over by the executive chef himself prior to our meal, and I wish I had thought to take a picture of it! It was a delicious mousse resting on top of a quarter of a cucumber slice. The flavorful bite impressed us all. After our entrees were eaten, the chef again brought us another delight – coconut macaroons, which were perfectly creamy with that toasted coconut flavor throughout. The attention to every last detail was unmatched.

I will say, I felt a little odd taking pictures of the food, as I know that isn’t truly in accordance to etiquette. However, I had spoken with the executive chef and let him know about my etiquette business, so he was very encouraging of my blog post, which needed pictures.

All around the restaurant there were frame photos and newspaper articles about Mt. Vernon. The pictures were so neat to look at, but the newspaper articles took the cake! We learned about one poor man who was “minus his right little toe” after a mishap with his gun that shot the toe “clean off even with his foot.” Most of the stories we read about were just as comically written.

If you have the opportunity, I hope you’ll visit The Chophouse on Bankhead. The experience is magical, and I know you won’t be disappointed!

The Texas Dip

Everything really is bigger in Texas, including our curtsies. In Cotillion and Junior Cotillion, I teach the female students a traditional curtsy, which is where the person firmly plants their left foot on the ground while bringing their right foot behind their left foot. the knees are bent, and the person stands straight again. Especially given their age, this is a very appropriate curtsy.

However, at the International Debutante Ball, which is considered the most prestigious ball of its kind, debutantes from Texas perform the Texas Dip, as shown in the picture. As you can see, this requires a great deal of balance and flexibility. It is, however, quite graceful when completed. Debutantes are generally around 18-20 years of age and have completed multiple year of Cotillion courses.

Debutante balls are a fun tradition that I’m happy to bring to Sulphur Springs. Were you a debutante? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Thank you for reading!

Election Etiquette

Today begins early voting for the party primaries. To me it seems like this day has been a long time coming. Each election cycle, candidates begin earlier and earlier with this campaign season, even beginning prior to officially turning in their paperwork. I expect this on the national level. It takes an excessive amount of time to campaign across an entire nation. I’m more surprised when I see this taking place on the local level. Additionally, some forums turn into mud slinging instead of informational sessions, which benefits no one.

I currently serve on our local city council. I’ve been personally attacked. I’ve witnessed personal attacks on others. It needs to stop. Therefore, today’s post is all about election etiquette.

I’m not sure when we first entertained the notion that everyone we encounter is dying to know our position. Let me be the first to say, they’re not. Some of the people I respect the absolute most rarely volunteer information regarding politics. That is not at all implying they’re uninformed or that they don’t care. They volunteer. They donate. They seek to become informed. When asked, they’ll happily state who they support and why. However, at the end of the day, the also understand that some people dig their own graves. By being overly forceful in supporting someone, it is often a turnoff of that candidate to others who may still be in the decision-making phase.

If you feel the need to strongly support a candidate, make sure that you don’t dominate the conversation with only your candidate’s information. Be willing to listen. Be willing to learn. You may very likely stick to the person you were initially supporting. However, you may also learn why someone else doesn’t. When we ask for change simply for the sake of change, you may get what you ask for. By listening, you’re opening up the conversation to dialogue as opposed to a monologue.

This next bit is important to state. Don’t wear candidate-specific items while voting. You will likely be asked to leave if you wear anything supporting a particular candidate to the polls. Make sure you leave the campaigning at home or at least outside of the specified area during early voting and on election day.

Most of all, seek to be an informed voter, and don’t feel pressured to vote a particular way. Listen not only to what people say but how they say it.

There are no perfect candidates. None. However, there are people you will find who are willing to listen and willing to prioritize items that are of utmost importance to you.

If you are a candidate during this election cycle, I wish you luck and peace. Also, know that there are many other ways of contributing aside from obtaining an elected position. If you do not win, please consider this.

Thank y’all for your time!

 

Southern Traditions

I am absolutely mesmerized by various Southern traditions. The South is uniquely made up of various culture, creating a new one in its own right. I love this so much. However, it’s easy to be drawn into other cultures and fail to see what’s so special about your own.

For me, this is best highlighted by my own family’s Christmas Eve meal. Instead of having the same food each year and having that be our tradition, we explore new cultures and even time periods. In 2016 we had an Italian feast, and in 2017 we were transported back to the 1950s. This is our personal tradition.

I’ve always been one to romanticize what others do. After watching Pocahontas, I desparately wanted to be Native American. It’s this way with everything, though. I think it’s what makes etiquette so special to me. Traditions are the foundation of who we are, making traditions a cornerstone of culture. I get such a thrill learning about new people and new cultures.

I had the opportunity when I was in undergrad to study abroad in China. Again, I was struck with wanderlust. I genuniely felt sad at the thought of leaving this world without ever having seen it.

While we may not be able to travel extensively now, I enjoy bringing other parts of the world to my family.

However, it’s also important for me to not forget about the culture I live in. I mean something on a more micro level, though, than Southern. The South has several regionally distinct areas that all have their own sub-culture and traditions.

Today I want to highlight a favorite tradition of mine here locally in Hopkins County, Texas – Hopkins County Stew. It’s amazing. If you’ve never tried it, I enjoy mine best with crackers crushed in it to soak up some of the broth, loaded with cheese and a side of pickles (which may or may not also end up in the stew). It’s simple and comforting. If you’ve never made it before, this cold weather is the perfect time to start! Enjoy! Learn more about our annual stew contest! Fun fact: I worked this event the day before Grant was born!

P.S. If you try it, let me know what you think!

 

Fun Weekend Full of Grace

So this past weekend was one full of fun, family, friends and grace. As is pretty par for the course for me, I overbooked the whole weekend. Due to the grace of friends, it all ended up being okay, which I’m very thankful for!

Each Saturday before July 4th, we have our Independence Day Concert, which is hosted by the Sulphur Springs Symphony League. The Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra sets the perfect patriotic tone, and a beautiful fireworks show follows the performance. I work for a local bank that is one of the major underwriters of this event, and we hand out free goodies to the attendees each year. I knew I would need to be in town that evening, but I woke up on Saturday morning raring to go. We decided to head east in Pittsburg, Texas.

     Grant and Katherine about to enjoy hotlinks!

I’m a big supporter and lover of small towns. We first went to enjoy Pittsburg hotlinks (I had the amazing frito chili pie….truthfully, I love all concession stand-like food), and my kiddos split a buger but devoured more than their fair share of hotlinks, as well.

After we ate, we headed over to Efurd Orchards, where we got to pick our own blackberries.

               Picking blackberries!
              A rare picture of just the two of us.

As you can see by the clouds, the weather wasn’t the best, BUT that did mean amazingly cool temperatures, which I loved! The entire place was beautiful, but watching my kiddos’ faces as they picked blakcberries took the cake. We even remembered to get a family photo!

                                The whole family.

After we finished picking the 3 1/2 pounds of berries (enough for a cobbler and extra snacking berries!), we headed back to the main area for ice cream (the kids got strawberry, and I chose peach) and peaches for days! If I had had enough sense, I would have gotten a watermelon, too, for a party we had on Sunday.

Happy kids with homemade strawberry ice cream!

We were going to run by Los Pinos winery, too, but time (and the rain that ended up coming) got the better of us. We made it back in time for me to work my shift and to watch the beautiful fireworks!

              The WHOLE family (my mom’s side).

Sunday was my aunt and dad’s birthday. After church, we headed out to my aunt’s house for a birthday lunch for the two of them.

Then, just after presents, we headed over to our friends’ home for swimming and grilling. And my etiquette fail of the week.

I had told my friend I’d bring watermelon to their house for Sunday. However, that’s literally what I did. I brought the watermelon. It wasn’t cut up or even cold. 🙁 Thankfully, with the help of Sharla and the grace of Chelsea, it worked out. But I’m still beating myself up about it today BECAUSE….etiquette is about consideration of others. I hate that I just brought an uncut watermelon. By letting myself run out of time, I wasn’t able to do everything we were doing to the best of my ability. And that bothers me. I’m very grateful to have friends who just wanted to spend time with us, but I never want to take advantage of them. It helped me realize I truly ENJOY etiquette and consideration of others, which will be my “why” for next time.

Thank you for reading!