The Austin Chronicle

Food, Foodies, Foodways

Cookbooks and cultural conversation starters top our summer reading list

Reviewed by Claudia Alarcón, May 23, 2014, Food

Texas Hill Country Cuisine: Flavors From the Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant

by Ross Burtwell and Julia Celeste Rosenfeld
Creative Noggin Press, 196 pp., $34.95

A few years back, I had a freelance assignment to write about the Cabernet Grill's unique Hill Country cuisine, paired with the state's only 100% Texas wine list. I stayed in one of the cozy cottages at the Cotton Gin Village for the night, ate a wonderful dinner at Cabernet Grill, and had the pleasure of meeting chef/owner Ross Burtwell. So I was thrilled when I saw this cookbook, and even more so when I started browsing through it.

Burtwell enlisted the help of an excellent San Antonio food writer, Julia Celeste Rosenfeld, to share his story and recipes with the world, and the result is a book that resonates from the heart. Loaded with beautiful images, the book captures the essence of Burtwell's passion for all things Hill Country, his love and support for Texas wineries, and the recipes that have made the Cabernet Grill a unique travel destination. Interspersed with the recipes are insightful notations, tips on preparations and ingredients, and very special nods to the local producers from whom he sources his ingredients. From Hill Country quail to Pure Luck goat cheese to Texas rice, Burtwell and Rosenfeld give credit where credit is due. And of course, they offer his picks for pairing the dishes with Texas wines – the restaurant currently pours 90 different selections from 31 Texas wineries.

I was as pleased as a Fredericksburg peach to find recipes for the memorable warm Texas goat cheese appetizer and honey lavender peach crisp, alongside 129 other dishes I would love to make – or have someone else make for me. It is clear that this book is a labor of love, many years in the making. Pair it with a bottle of Texas wine for the perfect gift for homesick Texans and faraway fans alike. I look forward to cooking some of these recipes, following Burtwell's passion for the rich culinary heritage he so proudly demonstrates. And I think a return visit to the Cabernet Grill is also in order.

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