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Under the Texan Sun

15 November 2009 1,401 views 9 Comments

Today I experienced a little piece of the old country out in the Hill Country. I milked a goat by hand, walked among olive trees, and dined in a structure built over one hundred years ago.

If you are part of the Tasty Touring Facebook group, you received an invitation to join the Hill Country Food and Farms tour sent out to all group members. If you are a member of the Facebook fan page, you might have seen the invite through your news feed.

The event came together after connecting with Gitana and Amelia Sweethardt, the sisters who own Pure Luck Farm and Dairy, award-winning cheese makers and supporters of the American Cheese Society and Slow Food Austin, two awesome organizations focused on nurturing gastronomic artisans like the Sweethardt’s and their families.

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Lindsay and Luke pose with a few of the Nubian and Alpine goats.

The tour began at 9 a.m. at Pure Luck, located in Dripping Springs. There were about 30 or so folks from Austin who woke up early for the tour ($10/person.)

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Narissa pets a new friend.

This had to be the most friendly and photogenic goat. Check out those ears!

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One of the babies jumps up on the fence as the group begins to walk away. Have you ever seen a cuter pair of cloven hooves?

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Next it was on to the milking, which happens every day at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the farm. This poor lady had to wait 5 extra hours to relieve her udders. We were all glad to help her out. Check out the album for more tourers milking.

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Aaron Brown is a friend and talented filmmaker. No goats were harmed in the shooting of this documentary….

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Gitana (left) and Amelia Sweethardt. Aren’t they adorable? Gitana was an awesome tour guide too.

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The Pure Luck tour ended at around 11 a.m. At that point, some folks went home, others drove to The Leaning Pear in Wimberley for brunch, and a handful of us went to Bella Vista Ranch for an olive tour inspired by April, The Hungry Engineer.

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John, owner of Bella Vista Ranch, shows off an olive tree ready for harvest

Below are how some of the olives look after they have been picked. I snuck some into my pocket to try later even though John had cautioned that they would “burn your taste buds for five minutes after biting into one.” He was right.

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Fact: Olives contain capsaicin, a compound that causes the burning sensation we experience in foods like hot peppers.

Everything was very pastoral. See the image below that reminds me of the farm behind our house when I lived in Ottawa, Ontario as a toddler (yes, I like to drop the fact that I’m Canadian into as many conversations as possible).

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Photo Credit: Adam Holzband

After the tour, John offered us samples of the olive oil. Straight. From a cup. This looks like pee and it was weird to be drinking olive oil straight. I much preferred it when we were finally allowed to dip it in bread and mix in balsamic. The tour also includes tastings of Bella Vista’s wines and lots of knowledge dropped for $10.

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We finished the Bella Vista tour at 2 p.m. and decided to drive in to the town of Wimberley to grab an afternoon snack/lunch at The Leaning Pear before it closed at 3. It was delicious and we sat outside to enjoy the beautiful day.

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Panzanella Salad

I ordered the Panzanella Salad because I was dying for fresh veggies, and also because it came with cheese (mozzarella) and olives (kalamata) and it seemed like a fitting end to the day. I soon realized that they had forgotten to add the olives and when I asked our sweet waitress Leslie about this, she brought out a little ramekin of them for everyone to try. Yum. Olives are much better pickled than fresh!

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Thank you to everyone who made today’s tour so much fun. It was a pleasure to spend the day with you. For those of you who couldn’t be there, I hope you can join us on Saturday, Dec. 19 for the beer and cheese tasting (details TBA).

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