by Leanne Holley, Editor, Texas Wine and Trail Magazine
The Turtle Restaurant in Brownwood, Texas is a haven for Central Texas foodies and wine lovers, many who travel over an hour from home just to enjoy the eclectic cuisine prepared by Chef Bubba Frank, himself a local. Proponents of the slow food and drink local movements, Mary and David Stanley, owners of The Turtle, have proven that high end dining can peacefully co-exist in a community that tends to favor BBQ over Cranberry-mustard Crusted Lamb. The Stanleys are strong supporters of the Texas wine industry listing several Texas wines at The Turtle Enoteca wine bar. Mary herself creates Texas wine inspired gelatos from time to time at The Turtle Gelateria, both located next door to the restaurant. The Turtle offers wine trail goers an excellent place to stop and dine, Brownwood being the half way point for the Way Out Wineries wine trail.
Texas Two Taste Chef Frank has paired Wedding Oak Winery’s Tempranillo Blend, Regency Bridge, with his Chilean Sea Bass. Regency Bridge ($21, available online) is a smooth blend of Tempranillo, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Carignan. Chef Frank gives Texas Wine and Trail a little insight into his culinary background and pairing choice, “Though I have a gift for Mathematics, somewhere between my 2nd and 3rd major, I realized that I would be much happier working with some facet of food and ended up declaring General Business Administration where I would be open to pretty much any line of work.
I took a summer job as a prep cook with a friend of my aunt, he was a Chef Ramsay type kitchen dictator however; he wasn’t as unpleasant as some of the coaches I’d experienced in 15+ years of athletics. I thought if this is as bad as it gets, I will be just fine. After that I was lucky enough to be mentored in the right direction by one of my uncle’s best friends Chef Alan Lake. He told me to “be a sponge,” so from that point on I was and still am. You can only be influenced by great people if you are first open to influence.
Being Italian I grew an appreciation for wine from a very young age, often being allowed a glass with dinner once I had made my first communion at 8 years old. However, I wasn’t drinking it for the buzz, but for the experience. You see, a perfectly paired glass of wine can bring a great meal to a whole different level. So, it’s natural that I really enjoy personally pairing a wine with food. Here at the Turtle I try to use local sustainable products, as it is part of our slow food mantra. That being said, I enjoy the fact that in recent years the quality of Texas wines has evolved tremendously.
About a year ago I was turned onto a local wine producer that, in their first year of production, put out some very good wine, not an easy task the first time around. I’m referring to Wedding Oak Winery in San Saba, TX. I had the luxury of taking a trip down to San Saba recently to try their full arsenal of wines.
One that I was particularly impressed with was a Tempranillo blend that they are selling under the label Regency Bridge, which happens to be one of my favorite Sunday picnic spots. What I liked about it was how versatile it could be; with a light body, light acidity and hints of cherry. I could taste it going well with a steak, poultry or fish; which is very uncommon.
I have decided to pair it with Chilean Sea Bass over cauliflower and St. Andre puree with a paella inspired chorizo ragout. Normally I wouldn’t pair a white fish with a red wine but the smokiness of the paprika and richness of the St. Andre make it work.”
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb spanish chorizo, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, halved
1 roasted red pepper, peeled seeded and sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup vegetable stock
1 pinch saffron
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
Place olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, once the pan is hot add chorizo and sautee a few minutes until all the chorizo is brown.
Add onion, garlic and roasted red pepper; saute until onion is completely translucent.
Turn heat to high and add white wine, cook until most of the liquid is gone.
Add stock, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer about 5-7 minutes, or until it has reached desired consistency
Add saffron, paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Cauliflower St. Andre puree
8 cups water
1/4 cup salt, plus more to taste
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1/4 lb St. Andre (brie or goat cheese will work if you can’t find it)
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
Pepper to taste
In a large stock pot bring the water to boil.
Add salt then cauliflower.
Boil until fork tender (7-8 minutes), remove from heat and drain cauliflower.
Let the drained cauliflower sit for a couple minutes in strainer to remove excess water
Pour the cauliflower back into the stockpot and mash well with a potato masher.
Add St. Andre, chives, salt and pepper to taste and stir until all cheese has melted.
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 chilean sea bass filets, skin on (approx 8 oz each)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 400.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.
Add oil, once hot place your filets, generously seasoned with salt and pepper, in the pan skin side down.
Saute for about 3 minutes then place frying pan in oven and bake an additional 8 minutes, or until fish has reached desired texture.
Remove from oven.
Spoon your cauliflower puree into the center of a plate, place sea bass filet in center of puree and spoon chorizo ragout over the top. Garnish with fresh chives and enjoy!
Wedding Oak Winery
316 E Wallace St San Saba, TX 76877
Open 7 days a week
The Turtle Restaurant
514 Center Ave Brownwood, TX 76801
Visit website for hours