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In this episode our intrepid band of adventurers (Rosemary, Vikki & I) drove down to my favorite semi-local spot, the Hill Country of Texas. Aside from some amazing BBQ in Georgetown (thanks for that recommendation, Jamie!), the trip down was uneventful. Well, except for that part where Lee the GPS guy directed us onto a road that didn’t exist, then got snippy when we didn’t take it and led us across a random bridge going the wrong way in the middle of nowhere at 11 pm. But that hardly counts.

Saturday we began our day at Bella Vista Ranch outside Wimberley, TX, home of First Texas Olive Oil Company. The Hill Country soil and climate are much like the Mediterranean, hence the abundance of wineries in the area. Olives and wine grapes make good neighbors, and at Bella Vista they sell both.

Our tour guide, Jack Dougherty, olive rancher

Our tour guide, Jack Dougherty, olive rancher


In one of the best deals of the weekend, we got a 2-hour tour that included a brief history of western civilization, the story of olive orchards in Texas, a stroll through the olive trees, an oil tasting, a vinegar tasting, and a wine tasting. All for only $10.
Olive grove

Olive groves at Bella Vista

They don’t call it Bella Vista for nothing–the view is lovely. I could just imagine a rather special dinner party at a white cloth-covered table set among the olive trees. I don’t particularly care for olives themselves…no actually, that’s not true. I can’t stand olives; I actually spit one out on a Greenwich Village sidewalk after the foodie tour guide persuaded me to try it. I knew better. Olive oil, on the other hand, is quite nice. And my personal prejudice didn’t stop me from admiring the olives growing on the trees.

olives growing on trees

Jack said some of them get to golfball size!

Fortunately, no actual olives were on the tasting menu so no spitting was required. We tried fresh cold-pressed olive oil, infused with various flavors (the blood orange smelled wonderful; I ended up with the garlic flavor). And the vinegar? Fig and vanilla . . . oh yeah. I’ll post a recipe when I figure out what to do with it.

I was a little saddened to learn that the soil in my yard is not olive-friendly. They’re pretty trees and I had brief fantasies of installing one in my landscape–for decorative purposes only, of course.

Olive tree

All that food talk made us hungry, so after a quick stop at the Wimberley Tourist Information Office and brief chat with the Mayor (seriously!) we headed here for lunch:

Leaning Pear, Wimberely, TX

The Leaning Pear, Wimberely, TX

Their specialty is locally-sourced food that’s fresh and delicious. We had . . .

BBLT

BBLT

A B.B.L.T.: nueske’s applewood smoked bacon with romaine, tomato and double cream french brie on toasted sourdough. (Brie + bacon = yum)
Porchetta Panini

Porchetta Panini

Porchetta Panini: slow-roasted herbed pork shoulder with rosemary aioli, sauteed peppers and onions and provolone on grilled focaccia. (Much lighter flavor than expected from the description.)
Salad Trio

Salad Trio

Salad Trio: Roasted Poblano Pimento Cheese, Texas Pecan & Black Currant Tuna Salad, Herbed Chicken Salad. All delicious.

And that was just the morning….

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