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Blue Hills Round Top/Facebook

The fall iteration of Texas' most famous antique fair kicked off this past weekend in Round Top and runs through October 29. Starting in 1968, Round Top has become one of the largest antique shows in the country, drawing the likes of high-profile interior designers like Kelly Wearstler and Ken Fulk, who sourced several ideas for his work at the Commodore Perry Estate from the show.

Over its five-plus decades, one venue multiplied to miles of sites along Highway 237, where shoppers can scour for antique treasures in fields, barns, and tents. The two largest are the Continental Tent and the Big Red Barn, which comprises 30,000 square feet of textiles, art, furniture, and accessories.

Thankfully, one Austin interior designer Blair Burton, who has been traveling to the show for years on behalf of her clients, reached out via email to share all her tips and tricks.

Here are her top three insider secrets for making the most of the show:

Favorite venues
"My favorite venues are Marburger (of course), the Compound, the Arbors, and Blue Hills," Burton shares. "They all do such a great job of curating a lovely shopping experience. It's exciting to see how much The Compound has grown, it keeps getting bigger! I have found so many treasures for projects at Blue Hills, especially case goods, artwork and rugs."

Where to eat
"Royers in Round Top is an institution (restaurant and pie shop), and for good reason," according to Burton. "The people and the food are top notch. Below is a picture of me with Bud Royer, the owner and such a gem."

Royers Round Top Blair Burton poses with the owner of Royers, a great place to replenish between browsing.Photo courtesy of Blair Burton

"The venues have great food options now, too. Kettle corn is a must, and I always seem to need a little pick-me-up (or cool down) with homemade lemonade. Finish the day with Wildflyer Mead at Blue Hills, or a cocktail at the Ellis Motel in the middle of Henkel Square."

How to make the most of browsing
"The thrill of the hunt is invigorating," says Burton. "There is nothing better than finding the most unique pieces that *make* a space. I bring a list for each project, but also hold the list loosely, as we never know what we will find. Right now we have a long list for about 10 projects!"

To download a full .pdf guide to Round Top, check out the show's website and head to the homepage to buy tickets ahead of time.

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10 Houston restaurants score coveted James Beard Award nominations

2023 James Beard semifinalists

The James Beard Foundation has revealed the semifinalists for its 2023 Restaurant and Chef Awards. Ten Houston restaurants have been included in both national categories and the coveted title of Best Chef: Texas.

Considered the Oscars of the food world, the awards recognize outstanding chefs and other culinary professionals in a wide range of categories ranging from Outstanding Chef to Best New Restaurant. The awards also include media categories that will be announced at a later date.

Houston restaurants and bars are well represented among both the national and regional awards. Overall, the city earned six national nominations and four nominations for Best Chef: Texas. Perhaps one of them will follow Julep, the Southern-inspired cocktail bar that claimed Houston's first national Beard Award in 2022.

They are:

  • Outstanding Restaurateur: Chris Williams, Lucille's Hospitality Group
  • Outstanding Chef: Christine Ha and Tony J. Nguyen, Xin Chào
  • Emerging Chef: Victoria Elizondo, Cochinita & Co.
  • Best New Restaurant: Tatemó
  • Outstanding Hospitality: Theodore Rex
  • Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Nancy’s Hustle

Best Chef: Texas nominees

  • Greg Gatlin, Gatlin’s BBQ
  • Benchawan Jabthong Painter, Street to Kitchen
  • Ai Le, Nam Giao
  • Kiran Verma, Kiran's

Elsewhere, Dallas boasts 10 nominees, San Antonio has seven, Austin has six, and Fort Worth has two.

As with last year, the nominees include a wide range of barbecue pitmasters. Houston’s Greg Gatlin is joined by the pitmasters at five other restaurants. Building on Austin chef Iliana de la Vega’s Best Chef: Texas win last year, chefs who serve Mexican cuisine received six semifinalist nominations.

Notably, only two of last year’s James Beard semifinalists made this year’s roster. Chris Williams returns as an Outstanding Restaurateur nominee; Christine Ha and Tony Nguyen graduated from Best Chef: Texas finalists in 2022 to Outstanding Chef this year.

Finalists will be announced on Wednesday, March 29. The Foundation will reveal its winners at an awards ceremony on Monday, June 5, 2023, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Photo by Lindsey Cooper

Greg Gatlin, Gatlin's BBQ.

It only takes 3 steps to get medical cannabis in Texas

Easy As 1, 2, 3

As the Texas Legislature convenes for its 88th session, many patients, physicians, and advocates are pushing for expansions to the Compassionate Use Program, the state’s medical cannabis program.

Since 2015, the program has expanded twice, allowing for more than 150 conditions to qualify for medical cannabis.

For thousands of patients in the state, medical cannabis provides a safe alternative to opioid medications and effective relief for symptoms like pain, insomnia, anxiety, nausea, muscle spasms, and more.

Texas Original, the state’s leading medical cannabis provider, makes the process of getting a prescription easy. Receiving a medical cannabis prescription starts with a few simple steps:

Step 1: Find out if you qualify
The first step is to find out if you qualify by scheduling an appointment with a doctor registered in the Compassionate Use Program.

Several registered doctors offer convenient virtual appointments through telemedicine practices so patients can meet with the doctor from anywhere in Texas.

To set your appointment, visit Texas Original’s website and fill out the form. Veterans, first responders, teachers, and medical professionals are eligible to receive a free first appointment for a six-month prescription. If you belong to one of these eligible groups, simply check the box on the form.

Step 2: Talk to a doctor
During your appointment, the doctor will review your medical records and confirm if you are eligible for medical cannabis, then discuss your treatment plan.

Once approved, your doctor will add your prescription to the online medical cannabis registry, where it can be accessed by licensed dispensaries.

Step 3: Receive a prescription
After your appointment, call 512-614-0343 to place your first order. Texas Original offers the state’s leading medical-grade cannabis products, including Texas’ first fast-acting medical cannabis gummies.

All products undergo rigorous testing and the results are published publicly on Texas Original’s website for patients to access anytime.

The dispensary team will help you select your products, then schedule you for a pickup at a location nearest to you or arrange home delivery.

Medical cannabis provides Texans an all-natural option that may help alleviate symptoms like pain, insomnia, and anxiety that are commonly associated with approved medical conditions.

If you or a loved one are ready to start your journey with medical cannabis, reach out to Texas Original to get started. Plus, enjoy a 20 percent discount on your first order at Texas Original.

CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd celebrates Cab season with big, bold beauties from Napa

wine guy wednesday

Editor’s note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day. When Chris expressed interest in writing about wine-related topics for CultureMap, we said yes.

In this week's column, he shares his favorite Cabernet Sauvignon picks from Napa Valley. Take it away, Chris,

Cab Season. Big, delicious Cabernet Sauvignon from California's Napa Valley. Yes, Cabernet is produced all over the world, but today we’re talking specifically about Napa Valley.

Today, 40 percent of the planted vineyard acreage in Napa County is Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cab accounts for 58 percent of the value of the country's annual grape harvest. But has it always been this way? Let’s go back to the beginning.

George Calvert Yount (as in, Yountville) was the first to plant Napa Valley grapes in 1839. But it was Charles Krug who is credited with establishing Napa Valley's first commercial winery in 1861. Wineries started popping up all over, but hit two major setbacks in the early 1900s. The first was phylloxera, an insect pest of commercial grapevines that destroyed 80 percent of the valley's vineyard acreage. The second — Prohibition.

Think about that for a minute. Phylloxera followed by Prohibition caused nearly 30 years of devastation to the wine industry in our country. Imagine if that were to happen today. You wouldn’t have a bottle of wine from Napa Valley for more than 30 years. Unimaginable.

And then something cool happened. In 1944, seven vintners banded together with the idea that a rising tide raises all boats. Now, the Napa Valley Vintners trade association is 539 wineries strong.

British wine shop owner Steven Spurrier had an idea to organize a blind tasting of wines from the U.S., specifically Napa Valley, and French wines 43 years after Prohibition ended. He was a Francophile who loved French wines and didn’t think anything made outside of France could exceed the quality of French wines.

Spoiler alert: Napa Valley wines won in both the white (1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay) and red (1973 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon) categories. It was a sweep, which catapulted the perception of wines from California, especially Napa Valley, into the stratosphere. The story of the 1976 Paris Tasting was told in a 2008 movie called Bottle Shock, starring Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, and Chris Pine. I just watched this movie for the first time a few months ago. I highly recommend it.

Now let’s talk about four of my favorite Cabs. California Cabernet is all over the board — from large production to very highly-sought-after cult wines. These four wines are pretty easy to find and are great expressions of the areas in Napa where they’re grown. Vintages vary from year to year, but these wines always hold high quality and consistency. Please note that we’re coming up on the release on what would have been the 2020 vintage, but because of all the fires in Napa, most wineries didn’t produce wines that year. Just like you would go out and support your restaurants in times of crisis, it’s a good time to support your favorite wineries by buying up back vintages. These wineries have lost a year of production.

Heitz Cellar

Founded in 1961, this historic winery entered an exciting new chapter when the Lawrence family purchased it in 2018 and hired a young master sommelier named Carlton McCoy. He has a fantastic vision for the winery and its future.

These wines age for years and years to come. One of my favorites is the Trailside Vineyard Cabernet, which comes from the eastern ridge of Rutherford. I personally like when you can find wines that has a good ten years on it. They've matured in the bottle but still have plenty of tannin and lots of rustic red fruit. If you’re part of their Wine Club, you have access to hard-to-find bottles and older vintages, which is really cool. We were lucky enough a few years back when we were visiting Carlton in Napa to taste a 1976 Heitz Cellar Bella Oaks Vineyard Cab. It tasted fresh and magnificent — tannins and fruits still intact. Pure joy.

Heitz cellar wine bottle A vintage wine from Heitz.Photo by Chris Shepherd

Chappellet

Donn and Molly Chappellet founded their winery in 1976. Their goal? To make wine to rival the great wines of Bordeaux. They bought land on Pritchard Hill — only the second winery there after Prohibition. Farming the hillside was difficult and expensive, but Donn and Molly were right.

Now, Pritchard Hill has been dubbed “Napa Valley’s Rodeo Drive.” I think that means it’s fancy and desirable. Chappellet’s Cab is a great expression of a mountain-grown Cab — dark fruits (dark currants, cassis, blackberries) with big tannin structure. Drinking a current vintage is powerful and even better on a chilly Houston evening.

I know this article is about Cabernet Sauvignon, but their Pritchard Hill Cab Franc is one of my favorite wines of all time. They also produce a stunning Chenin Blanc. They do it right.

Dunn Vineyards

Now let’s head over to Howell Mountain and talk about Dunn. In 1978, Randy Dunn and his wife purchased 14 acres on the top of Howell Mountain with five acres of Cab already planted. Now they farm about 42 acres of Cab They make Howell Mountain Cabernet and a Napa Valley Cabernet, a blend of Howell Mountain fruit and fruit from the Valley floor that they purchase. The top of the Howell Mountain Cab bottle is recognizable because it’s dipped in red wax. Just like the bottle, the wine is powerful and elegant and lasts for years. Contrast that with the Napa Valley Cab, which is more approachable with softer tannin structure (and no red wax).

Sidebar: When dealing with a wax top, you can spend your time trying to cut it off, but the best and easiest way is to drive your corkscrew straight through it. It will pop off.

One of my first wine memories was when I was a cook at a restaurant in Clear Lake back in 1996. The owner opened a bottle of 1984 Dunn Howell Mountain Cab for the chef and I to taste. It was one of those ‘aha’ moments that wine drinkers are lucky to experience. It opened my eyes — the aromas, the flavors. It’s a part of me now. If any of you happen to have a bottle of 1984 Dunn Howell Mountain Cab laying around, I would love to drink it with you.

Miner Family Wines

The final wine is near and dear to my heart. Born in 1996, Dave Miner became a custom crush client and started his own wine label. A custom crush client doesn’t own their own vineyards. Instead, they buy fruit from other vineyards and use it to make their own wines. Dave and his family have been friends for a very long time and continually impress me with the structure and depth of the wines. They make Bordeaux-style wines, Rhone-style wines, Burgundy-style wines, and little one-offs that happen all the time. My wife Lindsey and I truly love their wine club. But for the purpose of this article, let’s talk Oakville Cab.

Oakville is a region on the Napa floor known for powerful Cabernet — tons of dark fruits with cedar notes. Miner Cab is exactly what you would expect from Oakville. This wine is absolutely fantastic every time you fire up the grill. Also, be on the lookout for Oracle, which is a Bordeaux-style blend that’s predominantly Cabernet, and two different Pinots that we enjoy from Rosella’s Vineyard and Gary’s Vineyard from Santa Lucia Highlands.

I’m really excited to see where all four of these wineries are going. Get out there, pop some bottles, and celebrate Cab season. Don’t forget – 2020 was a tough year in Napa Valley and Sonoma, so support them if you can.

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Contact our Wine Guy via email at chris@chrisshepherdconcepts.com.

Chris Shepherd won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. He recently parted ways with Underbelly Hospitality, a restaurant group that currently operates four Houston restaurants: Wild Oats, GJ Tavern, Underbelly Burger, and Georgia James. The Southern Smoke Foundation, a non-profit he co-founded with his wife Lindsey Brown, has distributed more than $10 million to hospitality workers in crisis through its Emergency Relief Fund.