A Texas food festival draws crowds and stirs appetites at Dallas Heritage Village.
I look forward to Chefs for Farmers’ Main Event every year. The shindig, which partners Texas farmers and producers with chefs and restaurants from across the country, is a time to get a taste of the possibilities when cooks get to play with ingredients as close as possible to the source.
This year’s Main Event was held Sunday, November 4, at Dallas Heritage Village, a living museum, just south of Downtown Dallas. Interspersed between the historic buildings and landmarks like the Gano Log House, Browder Springs, and a blacksmith’s shop, were more than 45 chefs, 30 wineries and distilleries and eight breweries from Texas, Colorado, New York, and beyond. And I ate my way through them.
Here are my top five picks.
Chubby Dog Farm and A Bar N Ranch Cured Cold Cut Muffaletta – Cured
I’ve been smitten with Cured, the restaurant, and Cured, the concept, from my first meal at the San Antonio, Texas, restaurant in 2014. The eatery is on my must-visit list for Alamo City restaurants, and if Cured is being represented is at a food festival, I make sure to attend said event. The muffeletta sandwich — composed of house-cured (naturally) bologna, salami, and cappicola offset by a briny olive salad and held together with mild Swiss cheese — was the first dish I ate at Chefs for Farmers yesterday, and one of the finest. The light, squishy sesame-seed bread offered the perfect framework. And was another example of chef-owner Steven McHugh’s blending of time in New Orleans and his dedication to supporting local, right down to having butchers in-house.
Chubby Dog Farm Pork Sausage With Barton Springs Mill Warthog Grain – Petra and the Beast
Bold with a bouquet of apples and herbs, the Barton Springs Mill warthog grain, says Misti J. Norris, owner and executive chef of charcuterie laboratory Petra and the Beast, is something “I would like to make into a sour beer.” The sausage was firm and rich. It cut nicely with the accompanying grain.
44 Farms Pho Carpaccio – Uchi-Uchiba
The Vietnamese noodle soup that’s a go-to for cold days in America got the broth-less treatment from the Uchi-Uchiba team. Replacing the liquid base and spoon was a thin medallion of beef carpaccio that was well-seasoned and large enough and sturdy enough to act as a wrap for the noodles. I scarfed it down in maybe, maybe two bites.
44 Farms Lengua and Gnocchi – Magdalena’s Catering & Events
Beef tongue (lengua in Spanish) can put off some folks. But, when properly cooked, the offal cut makes for a tender, subtle base or featured ingredient. Such was the case with this light and piquant dish from Magdalena’s, a Fort Worth, Texas, weekend supper club.
A Bar N Wagyu Beef Tongue Pastrami Reuben-Inspired Taco – Meat Church
The Reuben sandwich—a composition of corned beef, biting sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, zippy Russian dressing between slices of pressed rye bread—was likely invented in the 1930s by Reuben Kulakofsky at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. The pastrami burrito history goes back to the 1940s and 1950s Los Angeles, the product of Mexican American and Jewish populations living side by side. This being Texas, where pretty much everything gets the barbecue and tortilla treatments, Matt Pittman of Meat Church BBQ and chef Cody Sharp, turned an iconic American nosh and it’s link to the City of Angels to create a Lone Star State treat with a base of chopped smoked beef tongue pastrami (subbed for the corned preparation) slapped with dressing upon which were floating punchy mustard seeds. The base for this selection was a corn tortilla from La Norteña Tortilleria, a Dallas-based tortilla factory. And since food is always better from the source, the experience was made all that more pleasure by the sight of Norteña’s owner flipping tortillas next to the Meat Church smoker.
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