Birthdays are a big deal at The Schell Cafe. Of course there are presents, a party, and the usual hoopla that accompanies birthdays with a houseful of littles. Today I want to celebrate a different kind of birthday.
Two weeks ago the whole family traveled up to Dallas for the famed Texas vs. Oklahoma football game. The weekend tradition is non-negotiable in our household. Only this year we took all four children. (No one told me my overnight babysitters would flee for the hills when I had a fourth child!) Finding a hotel for the ever popular weekend that would also accommodate all of us was no simple task and we stayed at a newer boutique hotel downtown. Off the beaten path for us, it was really fun to explore our hometown from a new vantage point. A vantage point that was significantly brightened as we pulled up to the hotel which was located on Commerce Street between Akard and Field Streets. What’s the importance of the address you wonder? Our home for the weekend was a cafe away from the flagship downtown Neiman Marcus.
Growing up in Dallas had many advantages. While Husband and I made the decision not to live there, it is still home for us and nostalgia bathes me in a warm embrace every time we return. I have my usual haunts, favorite restaurants, must-see friends, and memory lane drives. But, Neiman Marcus is perhaps the most emotional and nostalgic place of them all.
Neimans is not about fashion for me. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but I couldn’t distinguish a pair of Jimmy Choos from their fancier cousin Manolo Blahnik. I’ve never been a fashionista, but I do appreciate beauty. And Neimans, my friends might just be the most beautiful man-made place on earth. Sounds shallow I know, but this truly has less to do with material things than it does with culture and tradition.
Neimans is a destination. My grandmother traveled to Neimans with my mother from Amarillo in the 1940’s, and her mother before that. The dress I wore home as an infant from Baylor Hospital came from Neimans, as did my first stuffed animal and Madame Alexander doll. Years later it was at Neimans that my mother and I picked out my wedding dress. Having lunch at the counter at the Mermaid Bar was a rite of passage. One I’ve shared now with my own children. I can taste the orange spice iced tea and the chicken tortilla soup as if I were sitting at the blue and white tiled counter now. I remember the annual fall Fortnights. Each year downtown Neimans brought the culture, products, and celebrities from a different country to Dallas. I vividly remember riding up the narrow escalators in eager anticipation of each floor and the extravaganza it would hold.
A recent Dallas publication said, “Mention Neiman Marcus Fortnight to any Dallas woman over 40 and her eyes begin to glow.” I am not alone friends.
So today the girls and I made the famous Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookies to honor the 100th birthday of this grand institution. As 6th generation Texans, I hope my girls will add baking these cookies to their own collection of Neiman Marcus memories.
Happy Birthday Neimans!
Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1/2 c butter (1 stick)
- 1 c light brown sugar
- 3 Tbs granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp instant espresso coffee powder
- 1 1/2 c semi sweet chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 300. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Beat in egg and vanilla for 30 seconds. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda in to creamed butter. Stir in espresso and chocolate chips.
Press down dough with back of spoon into 2-inch circle. Bake 20 minutes.