Friday, December 7, 2007

Eating Slow in Central Texas

Slow Food members Mary and David Stanley have brought big city cuisine with a slow twist to central Texas with their Turtle Restaurant in Brownwood, Texas.

The restaurant offers slow, fresh, locally grown foods, fresh baked breads and desserts and homemade gelato from The Turtle Gelateria, a recent addition next door to the restaurant. The Gelateria features classic Italian flavors like Lemon Sorbetto and Chocolate Hazelnut, but carries out the local theme with flavors such as jalapeno peanut brittle and Brennan Vineyard Muscat - cantaloupe sorbetto

The Stanleys, who also have a business making a line of naturally shaped children’s shoes called Bear Feet (cause bare feet are best), originally came to Brownwood to be closer to Cathey Enterprises, a holster manufacturer who handles the leather cutting for the shoes.

“George Cathy had grown up in Brownwood,” Mary explained. “The Chamber of Commerce recruited him to move his factory from Austin to Brownwood, which he did because the cost of his factory building was equal to four years’ rent in Austin.”

The move meant that the Stanleys had to drive to Brownwood from Austin to get their cutting done. The drive, coupled with the lower cost of living in Brownwood, made the decision to move there easy.

Mary and David have owned the building that houses the restaurant since 2000. After watching several tenants fail at that location, and deciding that they couldn’t remain in Brownwood without good fresh food, they opened their own restaurant.

“We called it The Turtle because the turtle symbolizes longevity and persistence,” Mary explained. “It shows that completion is more important to a journey than haste, especially on the road of life.”

They recently recruited Eric Aldis, who had been the Chef de Cuisine at The Ritz Carlton in New Orleans, as their Executive Chef. Eric, who had also worked at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, is a native of Katy. Taking on the Executive Chef duties at The Turtle allowed him to return to Texas and, as he puts it, “live a slower life style.”

The lunch menu caters to locals with seasonal soups such as curried pumpkin made from the varietal pumpkins Fairy Tale and Apple Dumpling and topped with cilantro infused yogurt, (the pumpkins are grown in De Leon) or Nouvella's grass fed beef hamburger on house-made black sesame buns topped with cheeses made by Stuart & Connie Veldhuizen in Dublin.

Dinner is more formal and may feature roasted beet salad, Texas Bar-B-que shrimp with Veldhuizen blue cheese coleslaw as an appetizer, venison flank steak with broccoli rabe and mushroom macaroni and cheese.

The restaurant is located in historic downtown Brownwood, which is the geographic center of the state and a two to three hour drive from Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex-- a perfect stop on a weekend getaway.

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