We place the reporting of the Spain Adventure on hold to write about “Fredericksburg with Fourteen Fun Friends.” Early on the Thursday before Easter fourteen friends of Gourmet Gallery loaded onto a luxury coach from Brazos Valley Travel that took us on a four day adventure.

You know us! Emphases–food and wine. We have some recommendations to pass on to our friends who did not get to go with us. And let me tell you that you missed a great time with lovely travelers.

Three Cheers for the Top Three 

1. The three wineries:
 Texas Hills Winery, Johnson City. Kathy Gilstrap gave us a private tour and we tasted five wines for $5.00. Their Kick Butt Cab is one of their best-known wines and one of our favorites. (They also had some cheap Pinot Grigio that accidentally missed a step in the wine-making process. The Cab was better.) A mid-sized winery, the grapes are grown there and in other parts of Texas,.
Becker Winery, just off of US 290. We bought sandwiches from Dutchman’s Meat Market, and had a picnic under the porch. The lavender was in bloom, a band played part of the time we were there. Six wines for $10 and we got to keep the glass. Many of Becker’s wines are available here and in some restaurants in Fredericksburg. A beautiful setting, a lot of visitors on that day before Easter.
Sister Creek Winery, just north of Boerne at Sisterdale. David, the tasting room manager, had an employee who knew the wines well, conducted the tasting. The Burgundy and Bordeaux wine-makng techniques are used for making the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines. These traditional wines are aged in 60 gallon oak barrels for up to three years. Look for the old cotton gin between East and West Sister Creek. Not fancy buildings, but some good wines. They also have a tasty pinot grigio.
We made a surprise stop at Pedernales Cellars. this winery is being enlarged; so, there was more construction than wine-tasting. A glass of viognier a treat on the front porch and the view was quite nice.

Now to the food:

August E’s,  San Antonio Street, Fredericksburg. This was recommended and worth the visit. Our group’s food choices ranged from egg rolls to New Zealand lamb. The service was near perfect, the food well above the average and the wine list offered an adequate selection.
Fredericksburg Herb Farm,  on Whitney Street. This lunch stop was included in the cost. I had eaten there more than once and was confident of the quality. We were given the choices of quiche and fruit, chicken salad and fruit, meatloaf and veggies and chicken potpie. I was a little dubious of the meatloaf, but all the offerings were tasty. One drink order was confused, but that was easy to correct. Flowers were in bloom, the gardener helpful with explanations, and the new Sunday Houses are a charming addition to the property.
Cabernet Grill, on the Kerrville Hwy just across from the airport. Food was excellent from the crab cake, Curried Pheasant, Sausage and Apple Chowder to the sesame crusted fried shrimp with mango slaw, or the pan-seared trout or the Golden Fried Eggplant Pirogue topped of with Chicken Fried Pecan Pie with Jack Daniels ice cream. Wonderful food and perfect service! Many Stars!

Food and wine were the focuses, but other adventures included the First Friday Art Walk, a performance at the Rockbox Theater, a late night stop at the Lincoln Street Wine and Cigar, a little time for shopping, quick lunch and viewing of the poppies and other blooms at the Wild Seed Farm, a drive over the Willow Loop Road (the bluebonnets were in decline, but the white poppies were spectular) dinner at the Gin on Nolan’s Creek in Belton.

A busy four days with fourteen great traveler–the bus driver included. Now aren’t you sorry that you missed it!!!

I am including the recipe for the chowder at served at Cabernet Grill.

Curried Pheasant, Sausage and Apple Chowder

1/3 salad oil
1 cup celery, cut in 1/2 dice
1 cup carrots, peeled and cut 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 cup, yellow onion, cut 1/2 cide
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons madras curry powder
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup flour
5 cups pheasant braising liquid, chicken stock or water
1 1/2 cups potatoes, cut 3/4 inch dice
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup smoked polish sausage, sliced
2 cups braised pheasant meat
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried apples, diced

Heat salad oil in a heavy bottom soup pot over medium heat and add in celery, carrots, onions and garlic.  Cook the vegetables slowly, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften and onions begin to turn translucent
Add curry powder, thyme and bay leaves to the pan and stir into the vegetables.  Allow to cook for about three minutes stirring frequently until the mixture becomes very fragrant. Do not burn the spices.
Add the flour to the pan and stir until incorporated
Add the braising liquid or combination of liquids to equal five total cups) to the pan one cup at a time, stirring in each time until fully incorporated.
Add the potatoes to the soup and allow soup to simmer for about twenty minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Add cream sausage and pheasant to soup and simmer for about five minutes.
Adjust season with kosher salt and black pepper.
Add a little dried apple to each cup or bowl and ladle hot soup over. Serve immediately.
If you are completely out of pheasant, braise chicken thighs and drumsticks with salt, yellow onion, carrots, celery, bay leaves and thyme and chicken stock or water. Substitute the shredded chicken for the pheasant. Different taste, but entirely pleasant!
Happy traveling and happy eating.