Bonus family and hot pretzels

By Katherine Compton-Pope
Nov. 28, 2017 at 4:27 p.m.
Updated Nov. 29, 2017 at 7 a.m.

Soft pretzels

Soft pretzels   Contributed photo by Katherine Compton-Pope for The Victoria Advocate

One of the greatest quotes I have ever read about blended families is by Al Hodson when he said, "The only steps in this house are stair steps, and the only half is half-and-half creamer."

I am the product of a blended family. A few weeks ago, I went to San Antonio to visit with my "bonus mom," Mary.

She and my father have lived in Bala, Ontario, Canada, which is known as the heart of cottage country, for almost the past 30 years.

Mary is originally from San Antonio, and her sister, Katie, keeps a condo there, so she visits often and I am glad she does.

While I was visiting Mary, I decided to explore the Pearl Brewery complex; it is full of great shopping and food - two of our favorite things. After perusing the impressive selection of restaurants, we settled on lunch at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery, which is housed in the original Pearl Brewery building, and it is on the ground floor of the Hotel Emma.

I have not stayed at the Hotel Emma yet, but it won't be long before I do. The original brewery was founded in 1881, and the Hotel and Southerleigh have both incorporated elements of the original Pearl Brewery as pieces of architectural interest in their decor. I can only describe it as rustic elegance, and that alone is worth the drive to San Antonio.

In addition to bringing a comfort food twist to fine dining, the Southerleigh houses a true custom brewery, designed by Portland Kettle Works, featuring 21 different beers on tap.

I am not a big beer drinker, but I am a big food eater and Southerleigh did not disappoint. We were joined for lunch by Janet, Mary's lifelong friend, whom I adore. The only thing bigger than Janet's hair is her personality - she is a hoot.

Janet wears lots of bright lipstick and lots of shiny jewelry; she is right up my alley. She is the kind of gal whom you can go years without seeing and when you do meet up again, it is like no time at all has passed. We were seated in the bustling restaurant right across from the bar that showcases the restaurants wood fire oven and butcher station. My mouth watered greedily as I watched the butcher prepare the massive pork chops that were a feature on the dinner menu.

When it came time to order, I did what I often do and asked the server what the best thing on the menu was. In this case, he told me it was the cracker crusted red fish, but he quickly added that the Southerleigh fried snapper throats were a restaurant exclusive, so I decided to go with that.

Living this close to the coast, I thought I had had snapper every way you could have it, but I was so wrong. The impressive presentation was just the beginning; this part of the fish that my fishermen are quick to throw away, is bony for certain but also filled with succulent meat that was fried to perfection and served with a celery root remoulade that I could have eaten with a spoon.

I left so stuffed that I almost could not bring myself to shop - almost. We started our meal with the house made giant soft pretzel that featured two distinct dipping sauces, beer cheese and spicy mustard. The beer cheese was absolutely to die for, so good in fact that I asked the waiter how it was made and purchased a growler of their beer so I could recreate it.

When I got home, I made these pretzels and my own version of Southerleigh's beer cheese for my family. They were gone in a flash.

Katherine Pope is a wife, mother and Realtor. She loves cooking almost as much as she loves living in Jackson County. Katherine can be contacted by email at whatscookingkatherine@gmail.com.


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