Monday, February 27, 2012
Vaca y Vino Trial Run
Got invited to a trial run-through for an upcoming fundraising event on April 22 called Vaca y Vino. It's based on one of the seven classic grilling styles chronicled in Francis Mallman's cookbook of last year, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way. It was hosted at the Bridges Ranch, a gorgeous spread on the way to Wimberley, off of FM 3237. It is a new event venue for Lambert's and Perla's; also a pristine longhorn cattle ranch...a working ranch at that.
At the event Lou Lambert (Lambert's), Larry McGuire (Lambert's, Perla's, and Elizabeth Street Cafe), and Emmett Fox (Asti, Fino) will roast over oak coals a butterflied whole steer in the "Vaca Entera" style, draped over a custom rig built by Spillar Hitches. Sunday was a test of a half steer, provided by the Texas Beef Council. The lads started cooking the carcass at 8pm the night before. Here's a peek under the cover used to hold in the heat on this slightly chilly yet windy day.
Larry and Lou, tending the monster slab o' meat:
Lou and Emmett:
The primals were removed and slow-cooked separately: strip loin, ribeye roll, and tenderloin, and next to that, heads of escarole lightly grilling.
...there was a great nosh of grilled fresh fava bean pods...zip them open and enjoy the nutty treats inside:
...had some nice Malbec to go with:
...a pile of found deer antlers from the ranch:
...the table set up in the old corral under the monster spreading live oak:
Reina from the excellent Buenos Aires Cafe brought some delicious empanadas: light, flaky pastry encasing a rich filling of beef, garlic and onion, peppers, hard-boiled eggs, raisins, and olives. Their charm did not escape my gaping maw...several times.
Reina also brought a really simple but VERY nice garlicky vegetable-laden soup, perfect to chase away the chill:
....bowls of chimichurri were assembled, using green garlic and parsley straight from the garden, ready to slather on beef:
....sides were a superlative new potato salad:
...and the sweet, charred escarole with red onion, tossed lightly with sherry vinegar and olive oil:
...the slicing commenced and beeforama ensued......
....the way-incredible sausage was made by Lambert's, a chunky, spicy, garlicky blend of beef and pork:
...the complete finished gut-busting plate:
...friend, wine expert, and author Wes Marshall and his lovely better half Emily were across the table and smiling broadly:
...there was a grand finish from Perla's...a truly excellent tres leches cake adorned with fresh strawberries and strawberry sauce:
..here's a shot of the perfectly medium-rare haunch, post-feast:
ALL the chefs performed admirably and the crowd was absolutely gob-smacked. FANTASTIC food, grand setting, interesting crowd or chefs, writers, foodies, friends, ranchers, and what-not, a wonderful experience. When tickets go on sale for the event, DO NOT miss this thing!
By the way, the BEEF???? Freaking fabulous: tender, succulent, juicy, smoky....I could go on, but trust me.
For ticket info (which includes a free bus ride from ATX to the ranch and back), see:
Mick Vann ©