Virginia B. Wood reports from the fields of lavender in this week's "Food-o-File."
It used to be that things slowed down here in the summer, but if the activities for the coming week are any indication, we're not just in for a hot one this year; it's going to be a busy summer, as well. Start the weekend off by celebrating Juneteenth at the venerable Victory Grill (1104 E. 11th, 472-8669), where they'll be partying all day Saturday and Sunday, from noon until 11pm, with five bands each day. Culinary offerings include New Orleans-style Creole specialties from Gene's New Orleans Style Poboys & Deli, barbecue from Sam's BBQ and Ben's Longbranch Bar-B-Que, and Southern comfort food from Victory and Charles Williamson. Check the ad on p.53 for ticket prices and band listings... Another great weekend option is an air-conditioned drive along the Hill Country Lavender Trail. Inspired in part by the glorious lavender fields in the south of France, four Hill Country entrepreneurs have planted lavender over the past few years, and it's flourishing now. Visit Charley and Ganell Pemberton at Lavender Hill (1378 River Run in Blanco, 830/833-9097) where you can stroll through the garden and purchase products they've made with it. Outside Blanco on the McKinney Loop, stop by Hill Country Lavender (1672 McKinney Loop, 830/833-5008, www.hillcountrylavender.com), where you can also pick your own or preorder a $20 box lunch and eat it under a sheltering oak tree in the fragrant field. The folks at Becker Vineyards (off Highway 290 West on Jenschke Lane, 830/644-2681, www.beckervineyards.com) celebrate their fifth annual Lavender Festival from 10am-6pm on Saturday and noon-6pm on Sunday. Lavender-inspired luncheons will be available by reservation ($45) each day (Cartwheels Catering of Kerrville on Saturday and Buffalo River Cuisine on Sunday) as well as snacks and sandwiches from Rather Sweet Bakery and My Own Chef. The fest offers lavender plants and herbs for sale, gardening tips and demonstrations, cooking demos, products to purchase, live music, plus wine tastings and winery tours. From there, head on up to Provence Hill Farms (Eckert Road off Highway 16 near Willow City, 830/685-3577) for some fresh lavender lemonade, soups, potpourri, and sachets. Check the Web sites for more details, maps, and hours of operation... Sunday, June 22, the first graduating class of the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Program at the Texas Culinary Academy (11400 Burnet Rd., 837-2665, www.txca.com) will receive their diplomas. The graduation ceremony will be held at 10am, Sunday morning, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel (208 Barton Springs Rd.), followed by a reception in the foyer of the Texas Culinary Academy. The graduating class includes about 100 students from all over the world. Congratulations to them all!... Asti Trattoria (43rd and Duval, 451-1218) invites you to their annual summer Farm to Table dinner this Tuesday evening, June 24, at 7pm. The four-course meal will include fresh organic produce from the restaurant's own garden as well as from Boggy Creek Farm. Dinner is $35, $48 with wine, and reservations are necessary... The Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Foundation welcomes the public to a benefit tasting party this Wednesday evening, June 25, from 6:30 to 9:30pm, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Texas wineries represented will be Alamosa Wine Cellars, Becker Vineyards, Fall Creek Vineyards, Haak Vineyard, Lightcatcher, Llano Estacado, McReynolds Wines, Pleasant Hill, and Spicewood Vineyards, as well as a select portfolio of wines from California's Kendall-Jackson Estates. Food will be provided by Ranch 616, Amuse Bouche Catering, the Cafe at the Four Seasons, La Traviata, Roaring Fork, Cafe Josie, Zin American Bistro & Bar, Hudson's on the Bend, and the Mansion at Judges' Hill. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling Valerie Armstrong at 327-3333.