Food and Wine in Buffalo Gap
The annual Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit draws a congenial crowd to this Abilene-area outpost.
By Charles Lohrmann
I wouldn’t swear to the year, but I’m relatively sure it was 2005. Fortunately the year doesn’t matter, because the memory is timeless. The scene is the oak-and-cedar grove on the grounds adjacent to the Perini Ranch Steakhouse, just a short hop down FM 89 from the village of Buffalo Gap. The late-morning weather is perfect Texas April: blue skies, a velvety soft, cool breeze diluting a touch of the sun’s heat. Tables dotting the grove are draped with white cloth and set with cutlery and numerous wine glasses at each setting. One long table, actually several six-footers lined up end-to-end, is set with even more glasses—enough to accommodate the dozen or so experts who will soon be holding forth therefrom.
People take their places in twos and threes and talk quietly as they move among the tables. I had taken my seat a little ahead of the crowd and was pretending to review some notes as I daydreamed. If I’d seen angels floating overhead, it would not have been a surprise for me, for the scene was heavenly.
One surprise did come in a few minutes, though. Or at least, it ambled toward the scene. This surprise appeared in the form of a half-dozen Longhorns. About 40 yards away, then 30, the massive cattle, all sporting lengthy horns, plodded slowly in the direction of the tables, making the expected grunts and groans. The scene could have been staged as part of a Lone Star movie set, and, in fact, the people at the tables reacted non-chalantly, as if the creatures were only props.
Lisa Perini, however unruffled, was not allowing the scenario to achieve a screenplay denouement. Moving quickly, waving a clipboard and noisily urging the Longhorns to change course, she convinced the animals to stop, switch their tails a few times, and then slowly turn and stroll back from whence they came.
“They just wanted to know what was going on,” Ms. Perini said to the onlookers, who had registered just a hint of concern.
What the cattle missed, even if their attempted participation is now in the event’s history, was the Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit, an annual gathering of chefs, vintners, and associated sommeliers, restaurateurs, and enthusiasts who covey up one weekend each April to share stories, insights, and a hyper-developed appreciation of wine and food.
This is not an uncommon combination, you might say, noting the plethora of events laying claim to similar culinary turf, and you might be right. Except that the Buffalo Gap event has stayed small enough to be collegial and comparatively low-key, even as it attracts a who’s-who of food-world luminaries.
From the April 2012 issue.