Real Ale Paired Beer Dinner March 11, 2010

The Turtle Restaurant, a slow food restaurant, recently received an Award from Wine Enthusiast Magazine for it's wine list, however few people know that we serve great craft made beers as well. The Slow Food Movement helps people rediscover the joys of eating and understand the importance of caring where their food comes from, who makes it and how it’s made. The Turtle Restaurant and Enoteca invites you to discover the joys of of eating and understanding how Real Ale Beer is made and who makes it at our first paired beer dinner with Real Ale Brewing Company, Blanco, Texas.

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."
-Frank Zappa

Texas has a hand full of great craft brewed beers, football teams, Southwest Air and probably a nuclear weapon or two (ain't that right Amarillo?). So ... Texas is a full fledged Real Country. Several of our favorite beers are made by Real Ale Brewing Company, established in 1996 in Blanco, Texas. Their beers can be found primarily in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and at The Turtle Restaurant and Enoteca in Brownwood, Texas.

Originally operating out of a tiny basement brewery on the square in Blanco, the brewery relocated in May 2006 to a brand new facility in Blanco, where they have increased production. The owner credits the Blanco River as having some of the best brewing water for the styles of beer that they make, obviously Blanco is an ideal location for the brewery.

A dedicated team of brewers produces quality handcrafted beer utilizing a 60-barrel stainless steel brewing system. They incorporate 100% malted grain, domestic and imported hops, and crystal clear water from the Blanco River into their unique recipes. Be sure to ask for Real Ale by name at your favorite places. Support our Texas brewers - Go Texan - Go Slow.

Real Ale is also a great destination for a day trip in the Hill Country. Currently their tasting room is open on Fridays from 2 - 5 pm with tours starting at 3 and 4. If you have a large group please give them a heads-up. For directions and more information, please call 830.833.2534 or send them an email (

This paired dinner, in honor of St. Patrick, is a great opportunity to meet the owner and brewer of Real Ale, Brad Farbstein and salesman Scott Hilaman. They will be here to guide you through their beers while our chef entertains your palate.

Here's the MENU, cost $35.00 per person. Reservations can be made online or by phone 325-646-8200. The Date is Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 7:00 pm.

First course: Turtle made chubby pretzels with Fireman's #4 beer mustard paired with Fireman's #4 Beer

Second Course: Choice of Shrimp Beignet with hop pesto, fried lemon garnish OR Leeks and Spinach Fritatta Wedge with fried lemon garnish paired with Rio Blanco Pale Ale

Third Course: Lamb Provencal Terrine, Smoked Raisin Mustard, Hearth-baked Crackers, Fried Pickle OR Rice and Eggplant Timbale paired with Full Moon Rye Pale Ale

Fourth Course: Shepherd's Pie - tender chunks of steak, with celery and onion in a hearty Brewhouse Brown ale gravy, topped with pepperjack and sour cream mashed potatoes and Veldhuizen Redneck Cheddar OR Shepherd's Pie with chunks of portabella mushrooms and onions in Brewhouse Brown Ale gravy, topped with the same decadent potato topping as the meat version paired with Brewhouse Brown Ale (but of course!)

Fifth Course: Coffee Porter gelato topped with crushed malted milk balls.

You will be quite full and warm and happy all over by the end of the evening.

See you at The Turtle Restaurant, 514 Center Avenue, Brownwood, Texas 76801, right across the street from City Hall in historic uptown Brownwood!! Bring your friends. Drink Real Texan Beer - Real Ale - Real Country.

An Early First Valentine

Trois Chansons by the French Impressionistic composer, Claude Debussy, are settings of poems by Charles d’Orleans to music. This Charles was Charles (1394-1465), Duke of OrlĂ©ans, a prince. He was wounded at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and imprisoned in England for the next 24 years (held for ransom, actually), during which he wrote most of his poetry, more than five hundred poems — including what some claim was the first Valentine sent to his very young wife, Bonne d'Armagnac, from prison. Sadly, Bonne died while Charles was pining away in The Tower. A manuscript of that poem is in the British Library, however I couldn't find a translation on line. This is the manuscript cover. You can see Charles writing at his desk through the artistic contrivance of a cut-away in the wall of the tower.

Upon Charles' release, he met Maria of Cleves, who was the daughter of a German Duke and a French Duchess also of the house of Burgundy, the older sister of Philip the Good, who arranged for Charles' release. Upon first sight of the 14-year old princess, it is said that he told her, "M'Lady, I make myself your prisoner." Maria went on to bear Charles his only son, Louis the XII of France. Maria would outlive Charles by many years, and would become a poet herself.

The imagery in Charles's poems is vivid, strongly visual, and so romantic. So much medieval French poetry is stilted stuff about unrequited love... sigh... oh Charles, my prince! I can understand why Debussy selected these old poems as texts for his scores. Here is a rendition of Debussy's Dieu! Qu'il La Fait Bon Regarder!
Listen, English translation below:

God! But she is fair,
graceful, good and beautiful.

All are ready to praise
her excellent qualities.
Who could tire of her?
Her beauty is ever new.

God! but she is fair,
graceful, good and beautiful!

Nowhere does the sea look on
so fair and perfect
a lady or maiden.
Thinking on her is but a dream.
God! but she is fair!