The cowboys came out for the Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites competition and on Sunday night no one went home less than stuffed.
With food from over 60 Houston-area restaurants and more wines then we can count, it was a bonafide feast limited only to the three-hour window and the waistband on your Wranglers.
This year the layout of the event was much improved, with an inner and outer ring of vendors replacing the rows and cramped corners of last year. However, the signage was grouped at the side of each section, making it almost impossible as an attendee to tell who was serving what, or where, or to find your favorite restaurant. (I walked by some of my favorites like, TQLA and Ooh La La completely unaware until it was too late and I was too full to remedy the situation.)
Some of my favorite eats were Haven's Texas wild boar chili, the almond horns (among other pastries) from Phoenicia Specialty Foods, Killen's apple raisin bread pudding, Texas praline macaroons by Green Eyed Susan and the truffle mac and cheese from Max's Wine Dive (carbs + cheese + truffle = slam dunk for catering to crowds), the best mac and cheese of the night in a crowded field that included offerings from Del Frisco's, Jasper's and Capone's.
The people's choice winners for an entree or appetizer was Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse, which subscribed to the event's more-is-more philosophy, serving jalapeño bacon mac and cheese, a mini crab cake and sliced beef tenderloin. On the dessert side, the crowd chose Royer's Round Top Café for its assortment of pies — I tried the pecan and it would have been absolutely astounding had it not been cold.
The judges, a group of 20 media types and rodeo bigwigs, also had a private blind tasting before the doors opened. For the Trailblazing entree or appetizer, Hasta La Pasta Italian Grill came in first (they also won the crowd prize last year), serving beef short rib roast ragu on polenta grand parma and torta cioccolato frangelico. Molina's Cantina won second place for their delicious pork taquitos served with salsa verde. Third place went to Fleming's Prime Steakhouse for the blackened tenderloin and Fleming's potatoes
On the sweeter side, judges awarded the Two-Stepping Bread/Cheese/Dessert Award to Veldhuizen Cheese, who brought the Houston Dairymaids to hand out some truly incredible Texas Gold cheddar cheese.
Did you make it to Rodeo Uncorked! What was your favorite dish?