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Special Report: Foodways Texas Inaugural Event at Smoke in Dallas

Guests mingle on the patio at Smoke. photo by Andrew Chalk.

Last night,  Foodways Texas held its inaugural Dallas fundraiser at Smoke at Oak Cliff’s Belmont Hotel. Their mission is to promote, celebrate, and preserve the food heritage of Texas.

The evening began with a reception in the Belmont Hotel where, to accompany passed hors d’oeuvres, guests could choose between Tito’s Handcrafted Vodka (Austin) mixed in a variety of martinis or wine, which included Becker Vineyards (Fredericksburg) 2009 Fumé Blanc and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve wines. Beer lovers sipped Full Moon Pale Rye Ale, a brew from Real Ale Brewery in Blanco, Texas.  Good, Better, Best — a film which documents  the making of Texas sorghum syrup — played in the background.

Smoker at Smoke! photo by Andrew Chalk.

Opening speeches by founders Marvin Bendele, Robb Walsh, and chef  Tim Byres whipped the foodie crowd into a  noisy and festive food frenzy. After introductions, we sat  for a family-style dinner in the back room of Smoke. Several folks of the sold-out crowd braved the outdoor patio. Executive chef Tim Byres roasted the oysters listed on the menu below on an open pit. He melted the scampi butter and seared the chorizo to create a hearty take on the familiar shellfish.

The large tables gave guests the opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life who had come to learn about good Texas food. One look at the menu below is a great example of the diversity of Texas food. The menu looked like a nightmarish task for the kitchen staff, but  they handled it with aplomb. The wait staff, at least some of whom were volunteers from the Foodways Texas organization (I even ‘Observed’ a ‘moonlighting’ restaurant critic), made their way adroitly between tables, despite the crush.

The Brick Roux Gumbo Proved a Hit.photo by Andrew Chalk.

At the end of the meal, some guests learned to shuck oysters, taught by seafood supplier Jim Gossen. I shucked my first one ever and, maybe I’m biased, but its briny flavors seemed so fresh immediately after opening.

Look out for Foodways Texas next event, a symposium in February devoted to the edible heritage of the Gulf Coast.

The menu:

GULF COAST GATHERING

MONDAY, JANUARY 24th, 2011

SMOKE Restaurant

901 Ft. Worth Ave, Dallas TX 75208


Cocktail Reception

Pimento Cheese Croquette & Tejano Red Sauce

Pickled Shrimp with Rio Star Grapefruit

Salted Snapper & Fresh Masa

Smoked Sausage Kolache with Fruit Mustard

Chicken Salad & Celery Toast

Family Style Menu

Brick Roux Gumbo with Fresh Fish, Oysters & Andouille Sausage

Fire Roasted Oysters with Scampi Butter, Mexican Chorizo & Ash Salsa

Raw Oysters with Mignonette & Red Chile Vinegar

Grilled Whole Shrimp with Horseradish, Herbs & Pickled Relish Vinaigrette

Cornmeal Fish Fry with Green Chile Hushpuppies

Lettuce Salad with Radish Vinaigrette

Stewed Collard Greens with Sorghum

Hominy Casserole

Blue Cheese Cabbage Slaw

Mustard Seed Potato Salad

Spicy Charro Beans

Assorted Vegetable Pickles:  Peppered Green Beans, Sweet Carrots, Bread & Butter

Cucumbers, Cumin Red Onions & Jalapenos

Fresh Breads, Biscuits & Butter with Jalapeno Jelly

[SideDish paid to attend.]

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