There was no mistaking the tantalizing aromas suffusing the air even blocks away, calling all gourmands and CityCentre's passersby to Straits Asian Bistro Sunday afternoon. Battle curry was on.
Spicy curry, someone's grandmother's curry, chic curry, fusion curry, sweet curry, anything and everything curry was fair game at this first-ever Curry Crawl. A potpourri of spices, flavors and cooking techniques pit zealous Houston chefs against one another in a spicy crusade for the title of curry master from judges Greg Morago, Katharine Shilcutt, Ruchi Mukerjee and CultureMap's Sarah Rufca, and an audience choice favorite.
Sweltering 100 degree temps (can we get a hallelujah for the open bar?) couldn't keep away 350 guests supporting PULSE, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital System's newest young professional brigade, from savoring an ambitious spread of haute cuisine, signing up new members and bringing in $15,000.
Though taking a break sporadically to chill in the cool interiors, the ravenous pack pranced to and from al fresco tented stations fringing the restaurant in search of culinary genius. After all, spices are said to have medicinal qualities and these chi-chi patrons have a penchant for health matters.
Sweltering 100 degree temps couldn't keep away 350 guests supporting PULSE, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital System's newest young professional brigade, from savoring an ambitious spread of haute cuisine, signing up new members and bringing in $15,000.
Let food be thy medicine? Makes perfect sense for PULSE and crawl chairs Lindley and Jason Arnoldy.
Uchi Houston's foie gras curry cotton candy from pastry chef Philip Speer and artiste Page Pressley's green-lipped mussels with curry foam — heavenly creations. Straits' John Sikhatanna's generous rack of lamb with cashew couscous and a Singaporean curry had the hungry coming back for more.
And Queen Vic's Shiva Patel's balchão curry and crab kofta, inspired by Goa, a small coastal state in West India, was the talk of the town. Samba Grille, Pondicheri, Kiran's, Roots Bistro, Blu and RA Sushi also held their own.
Sugar Land-based Entice with Spice cookbook author Shubhra Ramineni's brought it all home with her curry philosophy: Curry has to have a liquid base, and no self-respecting serious cook will ever consider using a ready-made curry spice mix. Much can be done with salt, black pepper, turmeric, cayenne, cumin seeds and garam masala. Her second tome, slated to be released later this year, focuses on farm-to-table recipes for perking up local produce.
But why stop at veggies?
Chocolatier Annie Rupani's artfully gorgeous bonbons and candies were a spectacle, stopping foodies dead in their tracks to sample the union of sweet and exotic from her Cacao & Cardamom line. Mused by her travels, the black sesame-ginger ganache cocoa pods and gianduja mendiants with figs, pistachios and rose petals — a party in one's mouth. She's darling, too.
Second helpings? Why not thought restaurateur and celebrity chef Chris Yeo of Straits, who flew in from San Francisco, Courtney Zavala, Rachel McNeill with hubby Dr. Wayne Franklin, Miya Shay, Sylvia Forsythe, Underbelly's Chris Shepherd and his wife Rocio Gonzalez, Brad Freels, Phaedra Cook, Jenny Wang, Kate Graham, Robyn Trifiletti, Susan Farb Morris and David Morris, Susan Schneider, Nadia Leibovitz, Dr. George Younis and Ketti Awad.