Shelby's Social Diary

A walk on the wild side: Tempting tastes of Randy Rucker's conāt highlight Tapas On The Trails

A walk on the wild side: Tempting tastes of Randy Rucker's conāt highlight Tapas On The Trails

News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Sara Sams_Lee Beekma
Lee Beekma , Sara Sams Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Guest_Chef Randy Rucker
Jody Stevens , Randy Rucker Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Houston Arboretum
Arboretum supporters enjoyed a beautiful sunset during the Tapas on the Trails event. Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Chef Dan Budd_Eileen Hatcher
Dan Budd , Eileen Hatcher Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Teresa Walker_Paul Walker
Teresa Walker , Paul Walker Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Lynette Fous_Barney White
Lynette Fous , Barney White Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012
Before the sun went down, the Arboretum trails were busy with supporters. Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Keely Pate_Debbie Markey
Keely Pate , Debbie Markey Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Jenny Flessue_Jeremy Flessue
Jenny Flessue , Jeremy Flessue Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Cari Shoemate_Ben Shoemate
Cari Shoemate , Ben Shoemate Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Brandon Cooper_Danielle Mauz
Brandon Cooper , Danielle Mauz Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Alyssa Varty_Candy Varty_Michael Varty
Alyssa Varty , Candy Varty , Michael Varty Photo by Oksana Manning
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Sara Sams_Lee Beekma
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Guest_Chef Randy Rucker
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Houston Arboretum
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Chef Dan Budd_Eileen Hatcher
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Teresa Walker_Paul Walker
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Lynette Fous_Barney White
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Keely Pate_Debbie Markey
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Jenny Flessue_Jeremy Flessue
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Cari Shoemate_Ben Shoemate
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Brandon Cooper_Danielle Mauz
News_Tapas on the Trails_February 2012_Alyssa Varty_Candy Varty_Michael Varty

What a treat for urban dwellers to take a break from the asphalt jungle and pass an evening in the forested setting of the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center. Doing just that were more than 250 "Tapas on the Trails" partygoers, who strolled the recently-restored Willow Oak Trail that meanders through the preserve's 155 acres, adjacent to Memorial Park.

The chilly temps Saturday night did little to dampen the spirits of those meandering at their leisure through the wooded setting where they paused at the four food stations for gourmet sustenance and wine pairings.

Chef Randy Rucker, working on his soon-to-open conāt in the Museum District, tempted the taste buds with dishes such as brisket with wild onions, chickweed and sassafras glaze, cooked over hay, and a smoky porridge of steel-cut oats and sorghum with locally-foraged mushrooms and lichen.

The first food station featured raw oysters and pickled shrimp and smoked fish from the Gulf. At the second, guests could fill their plates with seasonal vegetables and greens topped with creamy egg and cracklings.

The culinary walk on the wild side concluded at the Meadow Deck where famed pastry chef Dan Budd offered grilled cheesecake sandwiches with drunken berries. Since Tapas on the Trails inaugural event three years ago, Budd has been flying in from his post at Taste Budd's Chocolate and Coffee Cafe in Red Hook, N.Y. to prepare the desserts.