November 15, 2010

Dining in Texas Hill Country

Eating is something I take great pleasure in. Whether I’m cooking, testing a new restaurant or enjoying an old standard it’s the exploration of flavors, smells and the environment that fill me with deep happiness. Last night, the rents and I found our way to Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood, Texas. Driftwood is situated in the Texas Hill Country just outside of Austin and close to my parents’ home in Buda. Famous chef Damian Mandola built Trattoria Lisina and the neighboring Mandola Winery from the ground up. This is his baby and it shows.

Trattoria Lisina’s setting alone would have even the most anxious nut relax in to the landscape. Upon entering the front gate we were greeted by a family of deer to the left and beautiful rows of young grape vines to the right. The restaurant is surrounded by gardens filled with native Texas plants and flowers. You can buy a bottle of wine (or two) and relax in the gardens while you wait to be seated.

It’s packed every night with folks who need an experience. The dining room is studded with hat wearing cowboys, typical, and women dressed in their Sunday best. Don’t get me wrong, you can come to Trattoria in your favorite pair of skinnies and still get seated but people seem to want to get dressed up when they come to this place. The food warrants it.

Now begins the foodie’s wet dream. Make sure you get a hearty glass of Chianti to enjoy with your meal because, baby, it only gets better from here. My parents started their meal with a fresh basket of focaccia bread and olive oil, and I ordered a meaty charcuterie platter, a perfect starter for someone who cannot eat dairy or gluten (if you are eating alone ask for the platter sans cheese). The appetizer was lightly dusted and fried calamari with two gloriously sweet and spicy dipping sauces. Mom ordered an Al Funghetto pizze, Dad had lasagna and I, well, the osso bucco, of course! It was a beefy, tender, melt-in-your mouth experience that I could repeat again and again. I shared the bone marrow treat with the parents who had to take a sip of water after enjoying the gelatinous nibble of the gods. Trattoria serves copious amounts of gourmet fare so be prepared to bring a little home with you.

In fact, I think I’m having osso bucco for breakfast…

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