Without food, we perish. Without stellar food, life is miserable. Fredericksburg, Texas has a ton of stellar food; little gourmet spots that will knock your socks off (or your belt if you eat too much). Yes, there is an interesting German history here, a brewery, wineries, spas, cool lodgings, festivals, and the very awesome National Museum of the Pacific War, but all that leaves you hungry. Less than two hours from Austin and San Antonio, Fredericksburg is a culinary treat.
Where’s the Beef?
It’s Texas, so there needs to be beef, pork, fowl and game. I adore Opa’s Smoked Meats who began in the 1940s as a meat locker; a place where, prior to widespread refrigeration, people stored their half a cow, whole hog, or whatever. These days you can pick up fresh made sandwiches from their deli counter, but more importantly, you can get their sausages. Their best is the jalapeno and cheddar cheese, an amazingly smooth, cheesy and slightly spicy sausage that is happily addictive, or any of the other dozen brands they make on site. Their beef tenderloin is also amazing, and they are one of the few places where you can get pickled quail eggs. Quail, though small, is big in Texas and you’ll find it on many menus, often stuffed with a jalapeno, like the version found at the Cabernet Grill, where it’s plated with dry aged beef, pork, and cheesy grits. Cabernet Grill also serves the largest selection of Texas wines, in flights or by the glass so you can get the true Texas feel. Since Fredericksburg was founded by German immigrants in 1847, you’ll find many German dishes like the Schinken Schnitzel; a thin, tender pork chop topped with ham and Swiss cheese and a brown Dijon sauce at the Fredericksburg Brewing Company, which is near perfect. Grab a brew they make on site and you’re good to go!
Fischer & Wieser, also known as Das Peach Haus, is known for, well peaches. Tree ripened peaches to be exact and that distinction is important because peaches have a life of just three weeks or else they taste like “wool,” says owner Mark Wieser. Their 12 acres of peach orchards behind the building are planted in a rich red soil, and they provide fresh in-season peaches, and canned with the season is over. But it’s their other foods; sauces and jellies that got me impressed. Specifically their Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. The sauce is exactly as the name implies: slightly sweet raspberry and a heat and spice kick from the chipotle peppers. This is a terrific sauce for grilling, slathering over cream cheese, even as a spread for sandwiches. Their store is all worn, creaky wood floors, and a butterscotch-colored cat that has no name who meanders about. They also have picnic tables out back looking out to the orchard and beautiful pine tress, which Mark’s father planted decades ago. This is a great stop and you’ll definitely leave with something.
If you don’t like chocolate there might be something wrong with you. On this Swiss-trained chocolate cheerleader and Chocolat owner Lecia Duke and I agree. Chocolat makes liquid filled chocolates not to be confused with weak imitations where the liquid center is injected. Oh no. Her chocolates are cast in an aggregate shell known as a sugar crust. Inside these bite-sized pieces of wonder you’ll find local wine, local bourbon and other great flavors like the South Texas Pecan Coffee, and the Maya Caya; cinnamon, cayenne pepper, clove and almond. Visiting her store you’ll notice that some of the molded chocolates have a light, almost iridescent paint to them. It is know as bluster dusting and it creates a beautiful dimensional aspect to her chocolates.
After all this you’ll need ice cream. Located on Main Street, Clear River Pecan Company makes their own ice creams, 35 flavors in all, including their award winning Mexican Vanilla, with its potent smoky vanilla, and a most excellent and balanced Mint Chip. Don’t be fooled, ice cream may seem simple, but the ratio of flavors and butter fat for that creamy dense texture is important. They also bake up cookies and other treats.
Full yet? You will be. This is Fredericksburg, after all.
Article and Photos courtesy of Michael Cervin