As I walked into the Food and Fiber Pavilion at Fair Park, my wife looks at me and says “I remember this from last year. Hope this year is just as good.” Last year highlights were Randall Copeland’s AVA and now Left Bank, Matt McCallister (with editor Steven Doyle acting as a sous chef) who was then with Stephen Pyles, and Balcones True Blue corn whiskey from Waco. This year had a lot to live up to.
How can you pass up Mr. Lemley’s tomatoes and other produce? All I know is this guy can grow groceries! We need a moment to savor this food porn.
Alright, time to get my grub and drink on. First up was pizza from Urban Crust, made fresh outside in their mobile oven. I wish I had gotten a picture of the pizzas but as soon as one landed on the table, they were gone and the wait continued. I was able to snag a slice of arugula, prosciutto and feta amidst the masses of hands and it was easy to see why the pizza disappeared.
Next door to Urban Crust was the Princess of Parigi, Janice Provost serving up one of the best Mac-and-Cheese I have ever eaten. Made from fresh Eagle Mountain Farm Cheese, it was a symphony of gooey, creamy, salty and delicious. Don’t tell Janice but I think I got a couple of helpings when she wasn’t looking.
Some of the other good food bites on our hoedown go-around was the pumpkin pie fudge from The Fudgemakers. Who needs to cook pie all day when you can just get fudge instead? Pair this with a Madeira or cream sherry and life will look so much sweeter.
Want something savory? Try the buttermilk biscuit filled with barbecue bacon from K Rathbun Concepts or maybe some Cajun fried turkey from Eat The World? One sight that I could not stop staring at was the pot of pork at the Chamberlain’s booth. Served on a rosemary pretzel, I could have had 3 more than I did.
But food is not the only attraction at the hoedown. Alcohol was flowing and samples were ending up in my hands (Got to love when this happens). Everything from Texas wine to Irish whiskey to Mexican tequila were being sampled.
Ambhar anejo tequila, aged for a very long time in Jack Daniel’s first use barrels was all things caramel and vanilla with faint hints of the agave creeping up the palate. Try sipping this on a cold day this winter and I guarantee you will be warming up.
How about cooling down with a Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Lemonade? No, how about an eggnog? Both were sampled and enjoyed with the edge flavor-wise going to the traditional lemonade. I thought the eggnog would have been better with the Maker’s 46 poured only 15 feet away! Yummy bourbon.
As things were wrapping up, I spent a couple of moments talking to some Texas wineries, Los Pinos Ranch Vineyard and the Red Caboose Winery. Los Pinos talked about the expansion of their tasting facility and the expansion of their production. I was definitely surprised by how much I enjoyed their Meritage blend (80/20 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot) and might have to take a trip out to see just what is going on in this expanding winery. Red Caboose Winery’s Evan McKibben talked about how this was a “disappointing vintage.”
Whereas most of the grapes in California and Spain are harvested near the end of September and into October, “we were picking our Viognier grapes on the 4th of July weekend.” Ouch. We will have to see if the grapes that were picked were ripe enough but this is going to be a tough year on many Texas wineries because of how damn-hot it was this summer.
Looking back on the hoedown, I cannot decide which year was better, a testament to how well this event was run and the quality of the people involved
I would like to thank a woman I will never have the pleasure to meet, Mama Ida Papert, founder of the Dallas Farmer’s Market Friends who passed away in January. This event was dedicated to her commitment and I believe the hoedown did her proud.