Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Fest is one of my favorite foodie events of the year. I attended for the first time 7 years ago and had so much fun that I have volunteered every year since. I always start the fest with one of the luncheons in the Hill Country at a winery. For the last few years I have been lucky enough to attend the luncheon at Fall Creek Vineyards.
Susan and Ed Auler are luminaries of the Texas wine world. The very first fest 25 years ago, the legend goes, was planned around Susan’s kitchen table along with a now megastar in the wine world, Karen MacNeil, author of the Wine Bible and beloved PBS host.
Here is the menu we enjoyed with pictures:
By Chef Jon Bonnell
Peregrine Hills Chardonnay
By Chef Josh Watkins
Fall Creek Vineyards Tempranillo, “Salt Lick Vineyards”, 2008
By Chef Randy Evans
Llano Estacado Moscato
Chef Jon Bonnell prepared a creamy gazpacho that perfumed the air with the scent of white truffle. The soup was topped with blue crab and Texas Gulf shrimp and matched with a crisp Chardonnay from Perregrine Hills.
It is no secret that I am a big fan of Josh Watkins. He shines like no other at the Carillon. But have you ever had a steak cooked to a perfect medium rare at any kind of large event off site from the restaurant? Josh’s solution is to cook the steaks sous vide, which basically means searing the meat off, sealing in a plastic bag, and then placing them in a large warm bath where they can be brought up to the perfect temperature. Another advantage to sous vide is that almost the entire steak is the correct degree of doneness and not just the pink center with a ring of gray around it. The steaks where enhanced by a lovely Tempranillo from Fall Creek but what I really wanted was the big, bold, and hard to come by Meritus that Fall Creek produces.
Of course, as a pastry chef, dessert is my favorite! I have an obsession with lemon curd which almost bloomed into a business at one point and Randy Evans did not disappoint. The pound cake was toasted for textural crunch, placed upon a layer of lemony buttery curd, then topped with fresh Texas strawberries and lightly whipped cream. Beautiful and tasty, it inspired me to create a blueberry version over the weekend which I will post along with recipe soon. Chef Evan’s version was paired with a not too sweet, almost musky Llano Estacado Moscato.
What a great start to a lovely weekend!