We all know Fredericksburg for its myriad wineries, verdant Hill Country scenery, and charming German heritage. No one ever really says, “I’m going to Fredericksburg for the food.” It’s more about getting tipsy with the girls at a vineyard. But after dining at Emma + Ollie, I’m beginning to think we should reconsider the town’s culinary scene.
With fluffy, extra-large beignets and high-quality but unpretentious meals, Emma + Ollie makes for a dining experience quaint in atmosphere and rich in taste. Chef Rebecca Rather, who serves up breakfast, lunch, and Saturday brunch, constantly changes the menu based on what’s in season to ensure that diners get the freshest food possible.
I went with a classic grilled cheese and tomato soup combo, and I am not exaggerating when I say that it was some of the best tomato soup I’ve ever had. The grilled cheese is up there too, with rich, melty cheese and perfectly toasted sourdough bread that transformed a simple sandwich into the perfect blend of warmth and crunch.
The Emma + Ollie website bills the restaurant as comforting and homey: “We want all who come to Emma + Ollie to feel they have stepped into an elevated version of their own grannies’ kitchen.” Well, mission accomplished. (P.S. Don’t be afraid to order beignets as an appetizer—no one will judge.)
—Gianni Zorrilla, assistant editor
Treat yourself to a lemon cookie from Wackym’s Kitchen
I never buy store-bought cookies—never. So how a package of lemon shortbread cookies ended up in my shopping cart, I have no idea. Pandemic self-pity, I suppose. But there they were, so I ate one—and then wolfed down about five more.
The flavor was like fresh-squeezed lemonade on a summer day, the texture super crisp and incredibly buttery all at once. The lemon is still my all-time favorite, but maple pecan, salted caramel, and orange ginger are close behind. And there’s also take-your-breath-away triple ginger, plus around a dozen more.
The maker is a small-ish Dallas company named Wackym’s Kitchen, and you can find their treats at outlets including Central Market, H-E-B, and Whole Foods (not all flavors available at all times, though). The cookies are also sold online and in several other states. One final tip: Keep them in the fridge, and they’ll maintain peak crispness for days.
—Patricia Sharpe, executive editor
Watch a Texas star in Julie and the Phantoms
Though the Netflix series Julie and the Phantoms targets preteens, it’s found an audience with college students and twentysomethings. Directed by High School Musical creator Kenny Ortega and based on a Brazilian show of the same title, the show has a cheesy premise: High school student Julie, a gifted singer who’s given up music after her mom’s death, is the only person in Los Angeles who can see a trio of ghosts. The ghosts, who were members of a boy band in the nineties, are visible to others only when they perform with Julie, so they all form a new band, which helps her rediscover her love for music. The corny plot, however, should not dissuade you, nor should the clunky first episode. Give it a chance, and the show’s charming performances and foot-tapping, catchy songs will offer an instant dose of serotonin.
Twenty-year-old Katy native Savannah Lee May provides upbeat vocals and an entertaining performance as Julie’s high school rival, Carrie. May has two credits on the soundtrack, “Wow” and “All Eyes on Me,” both performed by Carrie’s music group, Dirty Candy. The musical numbers—with the attendant colorful costumes, wigs, and eye-catching choreography—are definitely where the series shines. May’s songs are unabashedly over-the-top and sassy, much like her character, and are a nice break from Julie and the band’s more emotional tunes. If you’re looking for a nice bit of escapism with fun music and low stakes (as I definitely was when I stumbled across this show), look no further than Julie and the Phantoms on Netflix, or even just the season one soundtrack.
—Morgan Pryor, editorial intern