Flavors of April
Vaca y VinoSunday, April 22, 1-6pm
Bridges Ranch near Wimberley ($75-95; sold out)
In late February, I had the pleasure of attending the trial run-through of an event called Vaca y Vino that's coming up April 22 to benefit the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (www.farmandranchfreedom.org). The event is loosely based on one of the seven classic grilling styles chronicled in Francis Mallmann's cookbook of last year, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way. It will be hosted at the Bridges Ranch, an expansive and picturesque Hill Country spread northeast of Wimberley that serves as a new event venue for Lamberts and Perla's, while also functioning as a working longhorn cattle ranch.
For this coming Sunday, chefs Lou Lambert (Lambert's Steaks and Duke's Hamburgers in Fort Worth); Larry McGuire (Lamberts, Perla's, Elizabeth Street Cafe, Fresa's, and Jeffrey's); and Emmett Fox (Asti, Fino) will roast a butterflied whole steer over hot oak coals in the vaca entera style. The meat will be part of a four-course Argentine feast served at wildflower-bedecked tables set up in a rustic old corral shaded by a monster live oak. The first course will be some amazingly flaky picadillo empanadas made by chef Reina Morris of Buenos Aires Cafe, paired with local cheeses, Lamberts charcuterie, and breads from Elizabeth Street Cafe. Next is a vibrant spring vegetable soup with grilled scallion gremolata. For the third course, look for the meltingly tender beef to be matched with Lamberts smoked sausage (I especially loved this sausage) and a warm new potato salad with white anchovy, caper, and parsley, plus chimichurri and spicy horseradish sauces. The last course will be a tres leches cake with seasonal berries (one of the best versions you're ever likely to see).
The courses will be spread about an hour apart, allowing plenty of time to enjoy the luscious Argentine wines, Texas craft beers, and the music by Latino funk masters Brownout and classical Argentine tango maestros Glovertango. The ticket price covers bus transportation from Downtown Austin; unfortunately, the event is already sold out, so you'll have to hope they reprise it sometime soon.