That ‘s D for Dallas and my trip to surprise my friend Shea for her birthday. Brandon and I had been planning this for a couple of months, so it was gratifying that she was very, very surprised!! It was a whirlwind trip full of food, fun and just being together after almost 4 years. Nine-month old Madeleine took to me right away, and she was such a joy. Brandon booked a lovely room for me at The Highland. Owned by the Hilton, I think it was the nicest and most comfortable hotel room I have stayed in for a long time.

Friday night dinner was at Meso Maya in the Lakewood area of Dallas. Queso Poblano for the table, Short Rib Relleno for Brandon, Mole Poblano with Chicken for me, and Ensalada Mercado with Salmon for Shea. Much yumminess all around. Some of the best Mexican food I have experienced lately.

Saturday morning, and we ate brunch Uptown at Bread Winners. This place is obviously very popular and the food is definitely the reason. My benedict was made with pulled pork. I opted out of the spicy hollandaise but their regular one was spectacular! Brandon’s BW Sandwich was not your average ham and egg on ciabatta.

This was our culture day with a trip to Meadows Museum on the Campus of SMU, located in the Highland Park district. They were playing Navy that day so football traffic made it quite a challenge for museum parking. It was worth the aggravation though because the Salvador Dali exhibition, “Poetics of the Small 1929-1936” was fascinating. I would call these works a little less surreal.

Saturday was also Shea’s birthday, and her wish was to have Brandon barbecue steaks. What a great idea!!! These filets were perfection due to the exceptional skills of the chef. A variety of roasted vegetables and a luscious bottle of red wine made it a perfect meal.

Late Sunday morning and a drive to Oak cliff and early lunch at Lockhart Smoke House in the Bishop’s Art District. This is Texas barbecue at its finest. It is consumed here in a very unusual way — no plates, food piled high on butcher paper. Brandon hit the condiment table full of spicy items that I did not try. You order at the counter and they cut the meat right there. We got a little of a lot of meat — ribs, brisket, chicken, turkey, quail, with sides of deviled eggs, mac and cheese and cole slaw – all with a southern kick.

Then we took a leisurely stroll through the Bishop’s Art District, browsed through a few shops and had cocktails while listening to some blues music at Whitehall Exchange.

Some R & R back at the Mayberry homestead before we set out for the DFW airport. They live near White Rock Lake which is a beautiful place to stroll (or jog if you are up for that), picnicking, fishing, and/or sail-boating. No swimming or motor boats allowed.

The neighborhoods, especially where Shea and Brandon live are so charming – lovely brick and stone, lots of green areas and TREES – so many beautiful trees!!

Our last meal together was some Tex-Mex at Mi Cocina. We ate pretty light. We were still full from all that barbecue earlier in the day. Chicken quesadilla, chicken and rice soup, a couple of salads suited us just fine. Note last item on the menu!

I had such a good time. The Mayberry family is very special. Baby Madeleine was an angel. She went with us everywhere and never made a fuss. What a good girl! I’m back home, and I miss them already.

The Other Thing – The little mosquitos in Dallas are mean!!!