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Fredericksburg festival offers plenty of good eats

Helen Anders

Out here in the Hill Country, the bluebonnets are waning, the peach crop's emerging, and the only thing star-studded is the sky. So, the people at last weekend's Hill Country Wine & Music Festival were simply there for wine and music. They knew they wouldn't be hit by any wayward flour flung by a celebrity chef.

The laid-back Saturday festival at Wildseed Farms felt like the sort of grazing event California farmers markets and wineries throw on weekends. Wearing yellow wristbands with seven tasting tabs, folks meandered from wine table to wine table while listening to bands (Trevor Labonte, John Arthur Martinez and Joel Guzman, the Almost Patsy Cline Band and Thomas Michael Riley; nothing too rowdy) that took turns on one stage. The tasting lines weren't long, and the price was just $20. That's why some Austinites said they chose this festival over the simultaneous Austin Food and Wine Festival.

"The other one was too expensive. Besides, I love Fredericksburg," said Shannon Musgrove, who attended the festival to celebrate her birthday with Pamela O'Mary of Oatmeal. "This just seemed charming."

Fellow Austinites Bret and Cindi Zieman agreed. "This is in the Hill Country," they said, "and this was smaller. We really enjoy the country-type setting."

It was a wine and music festival, not a food festival, but nosh fare was available, and Austin food was well-represented with Lick ice cream, Dos Lunas Artisan Cheese (in sandwiches and in little containers with bread and grapes) and artisan breads and sticky buns from New Bread Rising.

"I just want the sticky buns to be gone before the end of the day, because I'm a weak man," bread baker Neil Sauke said.

The food at the festival's Friday night seven-course dinner with wine pairings was a bit more serious. About 50 people paid $100 each to help raise money for a Texas Center for Wine and Culinary Arts. Caterer Delicious Details prepared the recipes of Terry Thompson Anderson, who was signing copies of her latest cookbook, "The Texas Hill Country: A Food and Wine Lover's Paradise, Second Edition." (Russell Kane of Fredericksburg and Houston, the evening's co-host, signed his new "Wineslinger Chronicles.")

Texas wines were paired with such Lone Star State products as briny Gulf shrimp and lamb from Twin County Dorpers in Harper. This wasn't complicated food, but flavors were bold and well-blended. My own favorite: a tender medium-rare lamb chop with garlic, cilantro and jalapeño pesto, paired with a spicy Sandstone Cellars XI syrah blend. That pesto had just enough kick to let you know it was from Texas without having to beat you up.

Contact Helen Anders at 912-2590