Right, Said Fred: Texas, Fredericksburg-style

The Hangar Hotel
No one thinks Texas does things small, but the small town of Fredericksburg does things right. This town of 10,000 people has a surprising wealth of possibilities for visitors. Accessed best from Austin or San Antonio (San Antonio airport offers free wireless, I like that) it’s an hour and a half drive from both. There are a diversity of places to stay in town, lots of B&Bs, Sunday Houses, and traditional hotels. But for a flight of fancy, literally, the Hangar Hotel, located at the municipal airport is a gem. Popular with pilots, it’s geared for anyone who loves great accommodations and a throwback style. There’s a 1940s feel to the place, they have USO dances on occasion, as well as a 1940s-style diner. Best of all you can watch all manner of planes take off and land, talk with pilots and step back in time. (http://www.hangarhotel.com/)

Replica of "Fat Man" which was dropped on Nagasaki

I had no expectations when I visited the National Museum of the Pacific War. But it’s a stunning, comprehensive overview of WW II from the perspective of the Pacific. Say WWII and Europe is what comes to mind for most people, but the war in the Pacific had an incalculable benefit to the ultimate victory. Represented at the museum are the stories barely spoken about and until now, rarely recorded; countless stories of heroic men and woman who fought against sometimes ridiculous odds, to help secure the Marshall Islands, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal and other locations most of us can’t find on a map. There is an actual Japanese sub, a replica of “Fat Man” the Nagasaki death bomb, accounts both visual and written of difficult times the Allies faced that most of us will never know. The museum needs several hours to absorb the full impact of what transpired there and how it related to the Allied victory. This museum is a massive effort, supremely designed, very emotional, and highly recommended. (http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/)

Jalapeno stuffed quail & cheese grits at Cabernet Grill
Eatin’ Time
Fredericksburg was founded by Germans in 1847 (how’s that for a segue!) therefore you’ll find many Germanic dishes like the Schinken schnitzel; a thin, tender pork chop topped with ham and cheese and a brown Dijon sauce at the Fredericksburg Brewing Company. Or veer slightly left and partake of the jalapeno stuffed quail at the Cabernet Grill, both great restaurants. But this town also has some fantastic gourmet items you should not miss. The raspberry chipotle sauce made by Fischer & Wieser is my latest love affair. They make other jams and jellies but this sauce is killer: slightly sweet raspberry and a spice kick from the chipotle peppers. This is a balanced sauce for grilling, slathering over cream cheese or whatever your can think of. Their store, all beat up wood floors and a nameless butterscotch-colored cat that wanders them, is a great stop. (http://www.jelly.com/)
Opa's Smoked Meat are a must!

Maybe smoked meats are your thing, you’re in Texas after all. Opa’s Smoked Meats began in the 1940s as a meat locker, a place where, before widespread refrigeration, people stored their half a cow. These days you can pick up sandwiches, but more importantly, you can get their jalapeno and cheddar cheese sausage, an amazingly smooth, cheesy and slightly spicy sausage, totally addictive, or any of the other dozen brands they make on site. Their beef tenderloin is also wonderful and they are one of the few places where you can get pickled quail eggs...uh, for those of you who are searching for them. (http://www.opassmokedmeats.com/)

The decadent filled chocolates at Chocolat
Then there is Chocolat, liquid filled chocolates which are stellar. These are not chocolates merely injected with various liquids, oh no; these small pieces of dark chocolate are cast, then filled with Texas bourbon, local wines, crème de menthe, etc. The difference is noticeable when you pop it in your mouth. The shell actually breaks into an aggregate of dark chocolate, known as a sugar crust, allowing the pure liquid to float over your mouth. Make sure you’re holding on to the counter. (http://www.chocolat-tx.us/)

Drinkin’ Time
The Fredericksburg Brewing Company does food and brews in a convivial environment.
The beers they make on site are not for hop-heads, these are friendly beers, soft and drinkable. Their Red Rock Ale for example has mild malts with a subtle mocha note. (http://www.yourbrewery.com/). Wine has been made in Texas as far back as the late 1700s and today the state is the 5th largest producer of wine in the U.S., which may surprise you except that most Texas wine is consumed by the 25 million Texans who drink it. Route 290 in Fredericksburg is the new wine trail with 10 tasting rooms. Tempranillo and Petite Sirah are the up and comers for reds. The white wines show good acids, and proper varietal characteristics. Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Viognier are the clear winners. The white wines from Grape Creek Vineyard are excellent for the area, and if you’re willing to shell out some bucks, the Cabernet and Merlot at Pedernales Cellars are terrific. (http://www.pedernalescellars.com/), (http://www.grapecreek.com/)

Route 290 is the wine tasting trail

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