Forget the Triple Crown in racing. Texas has its own cultural Triple Crown nestled in the lush pastures halfway between Houston and Austin. Round Top, which overflows with country antiques, nearby Festival Hill, where classical music wends its way through herb gardens and medieval masonry, and finally, Winedale, a little bit of London tucked away in the middle of Texas.
Twice a year, Round Top hosts a Country Antiques show, its roadside grasslands literally piled high in French enamel, stained glass, old time buggies, grandfather clocks, wooden grain buckets and benches, or Chinese wedding baskets painted a festive red, to name but a few of the treasures for sale.
Vendors travel from all around the US and bring wares from pristine New England, the jungles of Indonesia and everywhere in between. Whether you’re in the mood for a jeweled bargain gleaned from a roadside pile or the cool classic lines of truly fine antiques, whatever your tastes and pocketbook, there is something waiting to be loaded into the back of your pickup.
Over the years, we have taken to bringing our trailer along to accommodate oversized stuff, such as a Hungarian hay wagon, which, we were told, is twin to one purchased by Anthony Hopkins.
During the first week in April and October you can experience the carnival of roadside antiques. In the meantime, it’s time to visit Festival Hill, where you can wander through herb gardens with the scent of lavender spilling over the stone columns. You can even get a full tour that ends in a lavish lunch featuring recipes overflowing sage, rosemary, and thyme as well as lesser-known culinary spices.
Perhaps you’d like to attend a concert featuring the famed pianist James Dick and others or have your children take part in the acclaimed music camps. And don’t forget to tour the whimsical stone structures that transport you to ancient Roman or medieval Jerusalem.
And in July is Shakespeare at nearby Winedale, where University of Texas students spend two months in the Texas countryside studying and performing three plays in the converted nineteenth-century barn is the theatre. There are performances scheduled throughout the summer.
Whatever your choice, the only way to end your Triple Crown experience is to wind up in the hub of Round Top at Bud Royer’s famed café, where gourmet comfort food rules the day.
Here’s a recipe for one of his famous pies.
Bud's Buttermilk Pie
"When we took over the Café in 1987, the late, dear Garda Siptak, a local lady, would make one or two buttermilk pies a week for us. As time went by, we wanted to make our own pies and had to find a buttermilk pie recipe. I hate buttermilk, but when we found an old recipe on a buttermilk carton that had tons of sugar, I knew that I would never taste the buttermilk! FYI, buttermilk pie is like a chess pie or a dense custard pie and is best served chilled. " Bud Royer
1 each stick of butter (1/4 lb)
2 cups sugar
3 each eggs
1/4 cup flour
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 Tblsp vanilla extract
1 each Café's 10-inch pie shell
Cream butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and the flout to the sugar mixture. Then add and mix the buttermilk, vanilla, and nutmeg. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour or until it is set. YIELD: 8 servings
Recipe source: Royer's Round Top Cafe