12 February 2010

RGV food highlights

The Rio Grande Valley is home to some remarkably good eats. If you're inclined to feed birds, you need only slice an orange or grapefruit in half and firmly wedge it somewhere. Seed is always an option as well. Apparently there is a regional conundrum: the grape jelly trick that folks "up North" use for orioles doesn't work down here. Of course, there's always the excessive supplement of Bird Crack: peanut butter, lard and cornmeal. It works everywhere and should only be used as a cold weather supplement. That link is to Julie Zickefoose's blog, it's a follow-up on bluebirds getting gout because of too much Bird Crack. It's too high in protein and fat and natural, non-human offerings are obviously what they evolved for... so only when the bug supply takes a hit should it be offered at all.

Salineno doesn't follow those rules. I'm not sure what the long term implications are, but for quite a few years (decades?) now, there has been a constant supply of all things feeder related between November 1 and at least the end of March.

So Salineno gets the "Tub o' Lard Award" (it was the mix, not just lard!)

The Orange-crowned Warbler above accepted it on behalf of Salineno.

Moving on past Salineno to Alamo... we discovered a bakery. And what a bakery. El Manjar sticks with pan dulce during the week and offers lunch fare on weekends. Nope, there are no pictures of the actual food, we made sure of that (but look at their door). It's so incredibly hard to find a good Mexican bakery outside of the RGV. Being the good siblings we are, we even brought home a box of snackies for our Waco family. Mmm, empanadas.

Here's the map - it's just north of Santa Ana NWR by a few miles!
(hours are 6 am until at least 7 pm on weekdays)

View Larger Map

(Heh, I'm apparently the first person to review it: since birders need more voice in the valley, where better than on a food review?)

Aside from our repeat trips to the bakery, we stopped at an old favorite, The Republic Of The Rio Grande for some photogenic food to celebrate our whirlwind birding success.

In the background you see a Mediterranean pizza, sporting sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. In the foreground you see a citrus spinach salad (locally grown orange and grapefruit wedges) with seasoned pita and a vinaigrette dressing that was amazing.

Under the plates, you may have noticed some drawings. We split the Tecate, so the only explanation for the quality of illustration is that I'm dangerous with crayons.

From left: Matt, Heidi, Amazon Kingfisher (upside down), Rose-throated Becard (thinking about Jiff peanut butter), Belted Kingfisher, Crimson-collared Grosbeak (upside down), Roadside Hawk, Ringed Kingfisher. Green Kingfisher is above the green crayon, also upside down. The female seedeater didn't show up well because she's the color of the paper.

It's really too bad that we didn't get any photos of the Crimson-collared Grosbeak, nor "documentation" photos of the Roadside... I think the Texas Bird Records Committee would kill me if I submitted those sketches though!


  1. Hmm. That worries me, feeding this stuff year-round in warm ol' Salineno. I'm working on a recipe that will be more balanced, but not quite ready to unveil it yet. The Zick Dough recipe as it stands is pretty unbalanced. Crack for birds. Thanks for the shout-out and the link!

  2. Yay, our first celebrity comment! Salineno doesn't feed in the summer months, but I'm not sure that they ever get much more than two or three weather systems each winter that would cut the bugs down. The kiskadee count when we were there was 31 - so it's obviously an oversaturated area, population density wise. They do disperse by the end of spring though, so it's really just birders feeding their own habit (if that makes sense).

  3. "... our first celebrity comment!"

    What about my comment(s)?


  4. Matt, you're co-blogger... methinks that negates celebrity status for one's own blog ;-)

    Kelly is getting warmer though, good point!

  5. Hey its Manjars! J.D. Cortez one of the biologists at Santa Ana has a long and hilarious monologue about elderly LRGV residents going on their empanada runs and slowing down traffic for everyone else, good times in the LRGV!

  6. I can definitely see that - RGV drivers are just about as bad as FL drivers, seeing as they're pretty much from the same place =X So I take it you knew about this delicious treasure and didn't tell the rest of us? Sneaky! They sure weren't there last year, my bake-dar would have gone off.

  7. Ha, well I only learned about it last summer. You are right about LRGV drivers, it can be crazy down there.

  8. new Zick link - for a future post - http://juliezickefoose.blogspot.com/2010/03/zick-dough-improved.html