Stonehouse Vineyard Luncheon
Stonehouse Vineyard Luncheon at the Texas Hill Country Food and WIne Festival
By Kate Thornberry,
12:09AM, Wed. Apr. 22, 2009
Every year as part of the Texas Hill Country Food and Wine Festival, area vineyards host Luncheons that feature local celebrity chefs and Texas wines. So far, I would have to say that the Vineyard Luncheons are the most enjoyable part of the Food and WIne Festival; the food is incredible (chefs like to cook for an appreciative crowd, I think) and the settings are spectacular (Hill Country Vineyards in April, at the height of the wildflower season). The price for these luncheons is absurdly low in my opinion ($65); you would pay more for just the wine in a restaurant setting.
I chose this year to go to the Stonehouse Vineyard Luncheon, largely because I really like Angela Moench, the lady who owns the vineyard, and I adore their Scheming Beagle Port. Angela won my everlasting admiration the day I met her, at a wine tasting event, when she informed me with a basilisk eye that other vineyards might try to salvage a bad year's grapes by fortifying the juice with added sugar and making "port" out of it, but that Stonehouse Vineyard's Port was made PROPERLY.
I am the World's biggest Proponent of making things PROPERLY. My enthusiasm for doing things PROPERLY has no bounds. I knew immediately that despite our obvious differences, Angela and I were sisters under the skin.
I lucked out in my choice, for the Stonehouse Vineyard event sold out, no doubt because Chef Jeff Blank from Hudson's On the Bend was doing the entree, and he is one of Austin's most renowned chefs.
I got seated with Angela and her husband Howard , her dear friend Chef Suneeta Vaswani of Houston, her husband Nanik , and two other ladies who seemed very nice and laughed a lot. Chef Vaswani made the first course, a tandoori cheicken salad.
This salad had definite Indian flavor, while remaining light and cooling, and was also fat-free. Delicate early lettuce was dressed with a simple dressing of lemon juice and cumin, then topped with pieces of tandoori roasted chicken and delicate sprouted mung beans and sesame seeds. Crisp slices of jicama added additional coolness, and the pairing of this salad with the Spicewood Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was perfect. Suneeta Vaswani was practically mobbed by folks wanting the recipe, and fortunately she had her cookbooks for sale at a side table. I plunked down $30 for her Complete Book of Indian Cooking, which I will review here in a few months after I have had a chance to try the recipes. If they are as delightful as her salad recipe, I know I will wear this cookbook out!
The main course was a house-made sausage-stuffed quail, sitting in a pool of cheese grits: an iconic Chef Blank style dish, and I announce to all: the Best Entree I have had at any Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival Event so far. Just look at it!
Dessert was a fresh-meringue coated Italian Cream Cakelet, with fresh Blackberries, by Dessert Queen Rebecca Rather, owner of the Rather Sweet Bakery in Fredericksburg. A stunningly lovely dessert, and it paired nicely with the Muscat. It was a little on the overly sweet side, but that didn't stop me from eating every bite.
If driving out to a gorgeous vineyard in the middle of a flawless April day, and eating the best food area chefs can dream up, impeccably paired with Texas wines, sounds like your kinda day: consider coming to one of these luncheons next year. They are the Best of the Festival.