Santa Fe Eggs at Cottages at Limestone on Main B & B
Mussel Tomato (Potato) Leek Soup at the Nest

Rather Sweet cheesecakes
Saim Egg Rolls, August E’s

Food and Wine Festival Crowds Chef Leu Savanh, August E’s

Herb Scrambled eggs and vegetable hash, Cottages at Limestone on MainI was looking up cooking classes in Fredericksburg a while back and came across, “Grape Expectations Cooking School” and learned it was offered during the annual wine and food festival. We usually avoid going to Fredericksburg during the special events around the holidays but for some odd reason I proposed a trip for this weekend with our friends, Linda and Tom Collins, thinking we would have fun sampling the wines and enjoying the cooking demonstrations. Unfortunately, Linda and Tom were unable to come but we didn’t mind going alone. We had reservations at the Cottages at Limestone on Main, a B & B owned by Carol and Joe, native Texans who lived in California for 25 years and worked in the TV and motion picture industry. They moved back in 2004 after a stay at the B & B they later purchased. We’ve stayed here before and enjoyed the gourmet breakfasts prepared by Carol Seminara, a former food stylist and cookbook author (Cottages at Limestone on Main cookbook).

The couple bring “breakfast on a silver tray” to the cottage and everything is made from scratch.

Our first morning we were served herb scrambled eggs, potato-vegetable hash, hill country scones, turkey sausage, fruit and yogurt topped with granola, fresh orange juice and tea.

She uses herbs from her garden and everything is cooked just perfectly.

Not to get ahead of myself, the night before, Friday night, we had reservations at The Nest, my all time favorite restaurant. I’ve written about it before on my blog in previous posts. Friday night I ordered the soup, always the best thing on the menu. It didn’t disappoint and I enjoyed it more than anything else. A creamy mussel leek soup with whole mussels and thin slices of leek with excellent flavor. Funny, but the waiter insisted it was “tomato mussel soup”. I questioned him about the fact that there was not tomato in the pale yellow soup but he refused to admit it was probably “potato” not “tomato”. I ordered the special, a shoulder loin steak served with turnip mashed potatoes. It was so tough I couldn’t eat it and sent it back. They took it off the bill but it was a letdown. Steve’s Shrimp in Citrus Sauce was perfect. We had a complimentary dessert, chocolate tart. I couldn’t believe it but the tart had been nuked in the microwave until it was the consistency of rubber and inedible to me. Steve managed to choke some of it down. What happened to The Nest???

We had also stopped at Rather Sweet Bakery earlier in the day. Rebecca Rather has gotten so popular that she has turned her operation over to who knows who and the quality suffered.

We used to go there and stock up on cookies and pastries to bring back with us. Now we might get a cookie or two. The photo above shows some small (4 inch) cheesecakes, not very fresh looking, for $5.95 each. I tried a turtle brownie bar and it tasted like a solid piece of baked brown sugar covered with chocolate. Not good. Rather Sweet Bakery is like a big tourist trap now and it makes me sad. We discovered it back in 2001 when it was a tiny hole in the wall with just a few freshly made giant cookies, triple chocolate, oatmeal, sugar–and all delectable. Mass production changes things.

The Saturday morning breakfast started the day off well. Off to the festival–and a long wait in line to purchase tickets. $20.00 for admission and 6 wine tasting tickets. I was most interested in the cooking classes so we set off for the big covered tent holding the classes. We were able to get a seat way back from the front so we could not really see what the chef was up to and there was no mirror or projection screen set up. The first demo was Leu Savanh from August E’s. I have always loved August E’s and was anxious to hear from him. The demo was for Thai style slaw and baby back ribs with lemon grass, garlic and galanga leaf. Let me just say right now, the cooking school is a joke. Basically people just pass out recipes and the chef tells how he makes the dish, samples are passed out and wine is poured. The “recipe” for the dish was even strange.

He says to grill the ribs and then put them in the oven at 300 degress for 3 hours and they will fall off the bone. They were tender, but very gray and unappealing in texture. The slaw had a dressing that called for a cup of sugar and a full cup of fish sauce, among other things. This dressing would have been awful made according to the recipe. Guess everyone who tries the recipe will figure it out. We left the cooking school tent and ventured out to the festival to try some wines. Every Texas wine was represented from Becker to Grape Creek to ones we had never heard of. We sampled a few but the long waits in line were no fun. We particularly enjoyed MacPherson’s Viognier and Becker’s Malbec. Browsing the various booths and vendors was fun when we could get close enough to see and we did pick up some delicioius hot sauce, Valtoro, made by a man from San Antonio. We sampled various tidbits from Opa’s meats, lamb meatballs, and toffee. We tried another “cooking” demonstration later in the afternoon from Chrissy at CKC Farms. She is a young woman who started a goat cheese business at her family’s farm in Blanco when she was a young teenager. Her story was in Edible Austin and other magazines. The goat cheese is amazing and very popular. Her cooking demo was merely adding a jar of their goat feta cheese in olive oil to a bowl of cooked pasta. Buy the $10.00 jar of cheese and you can make this recipe. Not too impressive. I was ready to go by this time and the wine samples were giving me a headache. Wine, wind, smoke in the air, and big crowds were having an effect on me. Back to the quiet B & B. Much later we went to August E’s for dinner. I have memories of August E’s back when it was in the original building a few miles away but it’s since moved into town, modernized, gotten very big and very popular and like so many things here in Fredericksburg, has suffered. This seems to be a theme not just here, but in other places I love such as Santa Fe. Once the foodies discover, blog, review, and foodnetwork the place it starts to go downhill. Can’t keep up with the crowds is my guess. Anyway, I did enjoy the Saim egg rolls, pictured above. A well seasoned pork filling, crispy egg roll wrapper, wrapped in lettuce leaves. One gripe though, the lettuce and cilantro were wilted and not at all fresh and very skimpy in quantity. They used to bring a place of lettuce leaves and cold, fresh cilantro. Steve’s California roll with fresh crab was very good. Our entrees, the “special” filet and truffle fries was terrible. The tenderloin steak was tough! Of all steaks this cut is usually fork tender, but not so. We just sighed, ate what we could and got out of there. I have decided that Fredericksburg is no longer a food destination and I definitely don’t ever want to be here during a festival. Weekends are crowded enough but an event weekend is not good.
Our morning to leave, Sunday, and Carol and Joe brought our breakfast. I was able to pry the secret ingredient for their delicious vegetable hash out of them but I won’t tell you here.Carol was even generous and kind enough to bring me some of the secret ingredient. Our breakfast, again, was fanstastic. In fact, the two breaksfasts at Cottages at Limestone on Main were the best meals we had the entire time we were in town. Today she brought Santa Fe Eggs, a baked egg dish with corn tortillas, green chile, chicken, cream, and egg with melted cheese. It was really tasty and I will definitely make it at home. There was a really nice, moist coffee cake with banana, fresh fruit and fresh juice. Carol gave me the recipe for the Santa Fe eggs but I will not post it here since I believe she’s working on another cookbook. But, I will share it with Linda Johnson because I think it would be a perfect dish for her breakfast group.
If you want the recipes from Cottages at Limestone on Main go to their website and order the cookbook. Better yet, come to the B & B!