Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Getting Into the Christmas Spirit

New Braunfels Choir

The Christmas season is upon us, and we’ve been taking advantage of the shopping, dining, and entertainment available in the area.  New Braunfels SquareHere in New Braunfels, we visited the Wassailfest, an annual event held in the city square.  It was a beautiful, warm night, and the Christmas lighting and decorations, especially at the courthouse and gazebo on the square, were magical.  New Braunfels GazeboWe checked into the Wassailfest booth, where we picked up a map of the many Wassail-dispensing tables.  Provided by merchants and organizations, each Wassail was given a score and then tallied to determine the festival’s best.  We had fun wandering around with the crowds, sampling Wassail and checking out the stores.  Shelter SantaFor those who haven’t tried it, Wassail (at this festival), is hot spiced cider, and each of the 40 or so booths offered a different variation.  After a while, it became difficult to assign points on the voting sheet since they all began to taste the same – but then came #38, with the usual spices plus RUM!  It quickly became our number one favorite; too bad they dolled it out in little 2-ounce cups.  All in all, it was a great night with friends, festival food, and wassail – just the right start to the holidays!

Casbeer's at the ChurchIn a world of chain restaurants with walls full of fake memorabilia, we’re always in search of a unique dining experience.  We certainly found one this weekend, when with our friends Rollie and Carol, we visited Casbeer’s at the Church for their once-monthly Gospel Brunch.  Casbeer’s is housed in a 100-year old former Methodist church, complete with pressed tin ceilings and European-style Tiffany stained glass.  The downstairs is now the restaurant and bar, and the sanctuary, complete with original pews, is now the music area.  We first visited Casbeer’s on Thanksgiving, where we had a great buffet followed by dessert while sitting in a pew and watching the movie “Alice’s Restaurant”.  What could be more fitting for a Thanksgiving afternoon?  And afterward,we didn’t even have to take out the garbage!  (you have to remember the song or movie to understand this). 

This visit, we were treated to a buffet brunch, with all of the standard items plus chorizo and eggs, carne asada, and enchiladas.  Gospel BrunchThe food was delicious, but the intriguing thing about this restaurant is that everyone is amazingly friendly, and you’d think it was a reunion the way that complete strangers start talking to one another – maybe it’s the “spiritual” environment.  Casbeer's Gospel BrunchWe had a leisurely meal, with a second trip (the one for dessert doesn’t count), and then settled back for the “Gospel” part of the brunch, provided by Miss Neesie and the Earfood Gospel OrchestraMiss NeesieWhat a surprise – not just a couple of performers, but a truly professional group – three horns, two guitars, an accordion, drummer, and of course, Miss Neesie,  who amazed us with her wonderfully bluesy, throaty voice.  Rollie, Carol, BrendaWe sang along, clapped, and generally just had a great time – after all, how can you beat a great meal, great friends, and outstanding music?  Sure beats a visit to Applebee’s. 

Brenda and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a truly happy and memorable Christmas season!  May you have good health, great fun, and a tailwind in your travels! 

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