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A seriously fabulous good time is an understatement to describe the 10th Annual Rodeo Uncorked Best Bites Competition that took place at Reliant Center last night. Food and wine were plentiful as chefs and wineries were both on display. The chefs were showcasing their best coupled with a bit of persuasion in order to grab one of your purple beads that could ultimately lead to winning the Popular Choice Award. Attendees were each given five beads and as they sampled offerings from each booth, they chose their personal favorites. We are always down for a bit of schmoozing so we welcomed the dialogue. If selected, you could get one to five of these little jewels. We enjoyed the fact that many of the chefs were handing out full size servings of their dishes. The red beans, by Trulucks for example, was filled to the brim with sausage and rice and could have been easily been shared between 2-3 people. The wild mushroom and goat cheese tamale from TQLA was not what we would consider a “bite” by any means. We were stuffed by the first 5 stops on our list, but we continued on like true soldiers until our bellies were happy, fat and full.

The restaurants in the house last night were all serving up some really great food. BBQ, Creole, and Southern comfort foods seemed to be the choice of the evening as several restaurants chose dishes like gumbo, short ribs, and mac n’cheese. We can honestly say that we were so overwhelmed with the many food choices and options that we failed to indulge in the wines as much as we would have liked. This is definitely an event worth attending, so we will just make a mental note and do better next year. Many of our favorites walked away with wins, high praise, and recognition. We got a chance to taste many of the winning items but with over 65 dishes to choose from, we had to be strategic. Our plan included sampling some of our go to restaurants, hitting a few food trucks, and adding a handful of those that are on our “must try this year” list. We believe the plan was executed fairly well. We may need to work on the dessert to entree ratio, but hey, can you blame us?

Below were the Best Bites winners:

The Tasty Tradition Award is given to restaurants who have a decade or more of service, the Rookie Award is presented to a select first-timer in the Best Bites competition, and the Outstanding Showmanship Award is given based on both food and booth presentation.

1st Place Popular Choice Award – Royer’s Round Top Café (Junkberry Pie “AKA”- Crackberry Pie)
2nd Place Popular Choice Award – Jonathan’s The Rub (The lobster tacos were phenomenal)
Tasty Traditions Award – Joyce’s Seafood and Steaks (Bread Pudding)
Rookie Award – Cacao & Cardamom Chocolates (Mango Caramel)
Showmanship Award – Catering to Your Tastebuds
1st Place Trailblazing Appetizer/Entrée Award – Killen’s BBB (Barbecue Short Ribs)
2nd Place Trailblazing Appetizer/Entrée Award – Molina’s Cantina (Mini Pork Crispy Tacos were yummers!)
3rd Place Trailblazing Appetizer/Entrée Award – Frank’s Americana Revival (Short Rib Sliders)
1st Place Two-Stepping Bread/Cheese/Dessert Award – Cacao & Cardamom Chocolates (Mango Caramel)
2nd Place Two-Stepping Bread/Cheese/Dessert Award – Joyce’s Seafood and Steaks (Bread Pudding)

The champions from the 2013 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition, previously announced in November 2012, were also in attendance and handing out wine samples:

Grand Champion Best of Show – Alexander Valley Vineyards CYRUS,Alexander Valley, 2008
Reserve Grand Champion Best of Show – Williams Selyem Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2010
Top Texas Wine – Pedernales Cellars Viognier, Texas, 2012
Top Country Wine (Italy) – Bolla Amarone, Veneto, 2007
Top All-Around Winery – Messina Hof Winery, Bryan, Texas
Top Wine Company – E & J Gallo Winery, Modesto, Calif.
Top Sparkling Wine – Gosset Excellence Brut, Champagne, Non-Vintage
Top White Wine – Consilience Wines Viognier, Santa Barbara County, 2011
Top Red Wine – Silkwood Wines Alicante Bouchet, California, Non-Vintage
Top Sweet Wine – Yalumba Museum Reserve Antique Tawny, Barossa Valley, Non-Vintage
Top Value Wine – Cycles Gladiator Winery Pinot Noir, California, 2011

Now that the Best Bites Competition has passed, the Rodeo can officially kick off! Enjoy!

Urban Swank did receive complimentary media passes, but the opinions expressed are our own.

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.

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