Rodeo's Best Bites Competition Crowns the Winners
The Tasty Traditions Award went to Mario's Seawall Italian Restaurant in Galveston for "Mommas Meatballs," hefty beef meatballs with a great Parmesan flavor and slightly spicy garlic tomato sauce, for which I'd gladly make the trip out to Galveston. Mario's also picked up an award from the judges in the Trailblazing Appetizer/Entrée category.
Chef Kiran with her bison burger.
Third place went to Indian restaurant Kiran's -- an unlikely winner at a competition so known for barbecue and seafood. But chef Kiran created wonderful (and generously portioned) bison burgers with cumin and caramelized onions and a large potato wedge with cayenne pepper and black salt on the side.
Mario's meatball took home second place, while first place went to chef Randy Evans of Haven for his take on Frito Pie. He purchased tiny Frito bags and filled them with juicy wild boar chili, cheese and fresh diced onions. It was difficult for me not to eat the entire bag of Frito Pie in front of me, even when I knew I had more food coming, because it was so tasty. One of my fellow judges proclaimed he was a chili snob, but even he was loving Haven's dish.
Want to win big in Texas? Always make Frito Pie.
We finished the evening with an array of wonderful desserts, but there was a clear winner in this category as well. Second place went to Ooh La La Dessert Boutique, who wowed with a giant serving of white chocolate bread pudding with a side of crème anglaise laced with quite a bit of liqueur.
First place in the dessert/cheese plate category went to Annie Rupani of Cacao & Cardamom Chocolates for the second year in a row. This year she wowed with a tiny but beautiful bite of dark chocolate with a pineapple habanero filling. Spicy, sour, sweet and totally unexpected!
This chocolate was the belle of the Rodeo!
In spite of a few technical difficulties -- we heard from a number of restaurants that they had no power due to overloaded circuits -- all the chefs and caterers produced some pretty impressive dishes, which bodes well for the upcoming Rodeo season eats. I hope someday I'm hungry again.