Urban Harvest, Diners Benefit From Travaasa Farm to Table Dinner
Photos by Carla Soriano Chef Ryan Hildebrand's main course at the recent Travaasa farm-to-table dinner held at Eleven XI.
Wine dinners are a great opportunity to enjoy many different wines paired with food. The same goes for beer dinners. Now imagine a beer and wine dinner, where one of each is paired with every course. That's like the pairing dinner of the pairing dinner world. Travaasa Austin did just that recently and "kicked it up a notch," as Emeril Lagasse would say, by bringing their executive chef and some of Houston's most beloved chefs together to create a farm-to-table dinner to benefit Urban Harvest, the organization that hosts two weekly farmers' markets and "promotes healthy communities, sound nutrition and respect for the environment by educating children and adults and facilitating harvest and habitat gardens."
The dinner consisted of one course each from chefs Ben Baker of Travaasa Austin, Kevin Bryant of Eleven XI, Jon Buchanan of Trevisio and Ryan Hildebrand of Triniti. Brew pairings came from Buffalo Brewing Co., and the wines were sourced from all over. The meal raised $5,000 for Urban Harvest; evidently, Houstonians are more than happy to eat and drink for a good cause. And why wouldn't they be? Everybody wins when you eat and drink for charity.
Chef Ben Baker shone with his first course, a colorful arrangement of collard rolls with marinated zucchini noodles, green onion, roasted beets, cilantro, mint, orange-blossom dressing and poached fuyu persimmons. The herbs and produce were so fresh that they tasted as if they had been picked minutes prior to being served. None of the produce came from too far away -- it was sourced from Atkinson Farms, Cloudstone Farms, Plant it Forward Farm, Lightsey Farm, Sturdivant Farms and Utility Research Garden. Buffalo Bayou's clean, refreshing and smooth Watermelon Wit was the perfect pairing for the farm-fresh dish. The 2011 Care Tinto Roble that the dish was also paired with was a fabulous Spanish blend, but its intensity competed with the course.