Travelling can be extremely difficult. When travelling I always search for the out-of-the-ordinary, that special feeling of belonging, of being awestruck by a view, a place, a dish. In reality, though, I often end up accepting that less than perfect is all I can get. A cool restaurant serving mediocre food. Or the other way round: the food is great but the place has the look and feel of a crematorium.The mattresses in the boutique hotel are of a Spartan firmness. The beautiful beach hotel is right next to a construction site and drilling wakes you up rather than the sound of seagulls.
The Sage Hill Inn
Nevertheless, we keep planning road trips, because travelling can be very rewarding too. Every trip it happens a couple of times: I arrive at a place where I get that “this is it” feeling. Last week, when discovering the Texas Hill Country near Austin, The Sage Hill Inn above Onion Creek did just that. It’s a fairly remote hotel, situated on a large ranch, overlooking the lush, green, Texan landscape. You can easily spend days here hiking, swimming in the pool, relaxing, and eating.
Feel at home
Staying at The Sage Hill is like spending the night at the house of a dear friend. The inn cats jump into your lap when you enjoy the sunset on the porch. You are welcome to enter the kitchen to get yourself a cold beverage from the fridge. Guests are welcome to the abundant and beautiful vegetable garden. The rooms are quite large and modern with luxurious bathrooms, which is something you don’t find often in the countryside.
Eating from the garden
The inn has its own kitchen brigade, because breakfast and dinner are included. A bell invites the guests to the dinner tables, and every day a different three course meal is served, preferably made with veggies from the garden. Throughout the day, homemade ice tea, freshly baked cookies, and these energy bars are available. I kept sneaking in to grab another bar, so eventually the chef shared the recipe with me. He uses peanut butter in his bars, but I rather prepare them with almond butter. They are wonderfully chewy and extremely easy to make.
Texas Energy Bars
About 15 bars
Action Time: 20 minutes + cooling
4.5 oz/125 g rolled oats
8 oz/225 g soft dried figs
2 heaped tbsp honing
2 tbsp agave syrup
2 heaped tbsp almond butter
2.5 oz/75 g unsalted almonds, coarsely chopped
2.5 oz/75 g unsalted pumpkin seeds
1.5 oz/50 g dried cranberry’s, chopped
Extra: food processor, square baking pan (about 8 x 8 inch/20 x 20 cm) covered with parchment paper
1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Spread oats onto a baking sheet and toast for about 10-15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile remove the hard stem ends of the dried figs. Process figs in a food processor until it forms a thick sticky paste. In a small saucepan, heat the honey with the agave syrup, almond butter and a pinch of salt. Stir until it’s kind of liquid.
3. Remove the oats from the oven and mix in a large bowl with the figs paste, honey mixture, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cranberry’s; I think the easiest way to do this is by kneading it with your hands until it’s thoroughly mixed.
4. Press the mixture into the baking pan and press down firmly. Flatten the top with the back of a spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for several hours (or overnight). Remove from the pan and cut into 15 small bars. Store them in an airtight container in de fridge for up to a week.