Wine and Food Week Is BACK!
Wine lovers the wait is over! Celebrating its 18th year, Wine and Food Week returns to The Woodlands with a week of exciting events. Running from June 6 - 12, 2022, this food and wine extravaganza will feature events from informal to elegant. Enjoy new events like Grapes & Games, June 7 at The Woodlands Country Club or get dressed up for the elaborate Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase on June 11 at the The Woodlands Waterway Marriott.
New events for this year include: June 7 - Grapes & Games (Which wine goes with game night?), June 8 - Wine Around The World Wednesday (No passport needed!), June 9 - Rose Way: A Sweet Soiree (Who's ready to get Pretty in Pink?) and June 10 - For the Love of Texas (Boots & Hats optional.)
Returning this year is the very popular and usually sold out, Ladies of the Vine Tasting on June 10 at the The Club at Carlton Woods moderated by Tanji Patton of Goodtaste with Tanji. The week ends with the luxurious Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase on June 11. There will be hundreds of wines to taste while over 40 culinary talents compete for the title of Chef of Chefs. Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $125 or for an exclusive $175 VIP experience, guests can sample premium wines in the Bayway Cadillac VIP Luxury Lounge while mingling with celebrities and media.
Wine & Food week will honor the memory of Cleverley Stone with a lifetime achievement award. Stone was the founder of Houston Restaurant Weeks and an icon in the Houston restaurant scene. The ceremony will take place at the kick off toast for the Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting and accepting the honor on her mother's behalf is Katie Stone Cappuccio.
For a full list of events and to purchase tickets, visit wineandfoodweek.com
Tequila, Mezcal, Sotol and More!
The Nach-Yo-Ordinary Road Show Tour is coming to the Heights on May 21 at Domain Heights. This tequila and nacho tasting first started as part of the Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival, but has expanded to include events in Katy, The Woodlands and now the Heights. Domain Heights, a luxury townhome community, will be the host of this all-inclusive food and drink experience from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Tickets start at $45 per person.
A wide variety of spirits will be offered throughout the night which include tequila, mezcal, sotol and avila. Guests will be able to mingle with specialist while tasting and learning from various producers including Bribon, Corralejo, Desert Door, Don Julio, Dos Hombres, El Tesoro, Ghost, Lalo, Los Arango, Maestro Dobel, Mijenta, Milagro, Siempre, Tres Agaves and Veneno. Tequila enthusiasts will want to arrive early to secure a spot to the limited seating seminar, Translating Tequila, by El Tesoro Brand Ambassador Tyler Wang.
Those looking for a a more posh, exclusive experience will want tickets to the VIP Penthouse Party. The $75 ticket gets you access to a 4:30 to 5:30 pm private party with rare tequila selections, gourmet food selections and spectacular views from Domain Height's Sky Lounge. Afterwards, join the general admission event for more bites and sips.
H-E-B will feature a gourmet nacho bar for guests to nosh on complete with all the fixings. Other food options include specially curated bites from Chef's Table, Harold's Heights, Candente, Mala Sichuan, Studewood Cantina and Soto's Cantina. Get your sweet fix from Bundt Cake-A-Holic or Tequila lime ice cream from HTX Nitro Creamery.
During the evening, there will be a chance to win a Party Wagon worth $1,000 in tequila and swag. All raffle ticket proceeds will benefit Second Chance Network, which serves 20 orphanages and close to 2,000 children and youths.
For more information and to purchase tickets visit foodandvinetime.com
Nach-Yo Ordinary Tequila Tasting
Wine and Food Week fans will be happy to hear that the show will still go on. Events this year will look a little different and be spread out over the next few months instead of happening all in one week. First up is the Nach-Yo Ordinary Tequila Tasting on October 29, followed by the Wine Walk on November 12.
This year's nacho and tequila tasting will take place at The Woodlands Country Club The Palmer Course on October 29 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $45 each and available online at wineandfoodweek.com. Guests will be served an individual gourmet nacho box which includes fajita meat, cheese, jalapenos and all the toppings prepared by Chef De La Cruz of The Woodlands Country Club. Chef Kevin Mason of Mason's Creative Catering will be serving tequila lime shrimp nacho bites.
Always wanted to know more about tequila and mezcal? Now's your chance. Industry experts will be available throughout the evening to guide and educate guests about all things tequila. There will be live music and tequila/mezcal tastings served both neat and batched.
In attendance will be Tom Nall, Master Distiller and owner of Republic Tequila. After leaving his successful Wick Fowler's Two Alarm Chili business behind, Nall set out to create a tequila that would represent the spirit of Texas. In 2017, Nall added a new spirit to his portfolio with Republic Whiskey, a bold bourbon blend.
Covid-19 protocols and procedures will be in place to help ensure the safety of all guests.
World Gin Day
World Gin Day is June 13 and I've partnered with Still Austin Gin to share one of my favorite summer cocktails - Bees Knees. Located in Austin, this local distillery is making a Texas Rye Gin that's perfect for sipping or mixing. Texas grains are milled, fermented and then steeped with over 10 botanicals including juniper berries, coriander, cinnamon, elderflower, citrus peels, tarragon and allspice berries.
A Bees Knees cocktail is super simple with only three ingredients - gin, honey and lemon juice. For this cocktail I used 1.5 oz Still Austin Gin, 1 oz lemon juice and .5 oz honey syrup. (Note: depending on the tartness of the lemon juice more honey syrup may be added.) Place ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled coup glass or a rocks glass with a square ice cube. Garnish with a sprig of lemon thyme and a dehydrated lemon slice.
Still Austin Gin is available at Spec's, Total Wine and Twin Liquors. Or if you're in the Austin area, stop by the distillery for a tasting and tour.
Discover the Wonders of Pavia
One of my favorite places to visit is Italy. The first time I visited was also my very first time traveling to Europe. Being cautious, I chose to visit the major cities of Rome, Florence and Venice. It was a wonderful experience and I have no regrets, but now I know sometimes the road less traveled can be far more rewarding.
Lucky for me, I was able to visit the province of Pavia as a guest of the Chamber of Commerce of Pavia. I instantly fell in love with the charming little towns, cobblestone roads and the welcoming people. If Italy is on your bucket list of travel destinations, then Pavia is worth a visit.
The town of Pavia is about an hour drive from Milan or a 30-minute train ride from Milan Centrale. Pavia is located in the Lombardy region and known for agricultural products such as rice and wine. The three main areas within the province of Pavia are Pavese, Lomellina and Oltrepo (aptly named as it literally means across from the Po River). The main towns to visit are Voghera, Vigevano and of course, Pavia.
The best way to enjoy Pavia is by foot, but the city does have taxis as well as buses. Many monuments from Pavia’s Medieval past can be seen throughout town as well as a plethora of beautiful churches and cathedrals. The 15th century Cathedral of Pavia boasts the third largest duomo in Italy. The Visconti Castle and the University of Pavia are also worth visiting. I was particularly enthralled by the statue of Minerva by Italian sculptor Francesco Messina. She stands tall and strong guarding the city with her shield and wisdom. However, Pavian lore has it that students who stare her in the eyes will never graduate.
The Lombardy region is famous for its cultivation of rice, especially Carnaroli (the king of rice) used for making delicious risottos. Sausage production is well-known in the area especially rich salami made from pork, duck and even goose. Restaurants typically serve farm-to-table cuisine and showcase products that are in season. Weekly farmer’s markets can be found around town and it’s a great way to peruse the local fare and gaze upon the myriad of colorful fruits and vegetables, stand in line for a taste of pancetta or grab a sample of fresh cheese.
If you happen to travel to Pavia in the fall, make plans to attend Autunno Pavese. This long-running annual event is the largest food and wine showcase in the province. For four days, guests can sample the best culinary offerings of the region. There are seminars as well as a full-service restaurant offering a multi-course menu accompanied by Oltrepo wines for just 25 Euros.
There are many hotels to choose from in Pavia in varying price ranges, but you won’t find any big chains. I stayed in the Hotel Moderno, which was a lovely boutique hotel in close proximity to the train station and within walking distance of the town center. One thing to note for those that love their air-conditioning like I do, many European hotels either do not have A/C or turn it off after a certain time of year when the weather is cool.
The Chamber of Commerce of Pavia has developed an interactive website to help promote the rich heritage of Pavia. To learn more about this hidden gem visit, buonoasapersipavia.it
December 5, 1933 - otherwise known as Repeal Day, marked the end of the 13 years of Prohibition. The dark days were over and Americans were once again free to legally consume alcohol. In Houston, you can party like it's 1933 at these Repeal Day parties.
One Armed Scissor, 208 Travis
Owners of Not Too Sweet Ventures, Patrick Abalos and Justin Ware, will be holding their 2nd Annual Repeal Day Bar Takeover from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. with live Jazz music by The 3rd Rail Band. Expect a menu of modern classics and cocktails riffs with names inspired by Texas history.
The Oyster Bar at Prohibition, 1010 Prairie
Celebrate Repeal Day in style with Prohibition era costumes and music. There will cocktails featuring Bulleit and 50 cent raw Gulf oysters. The party starts at 4 p.m., but prime time will be from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Whiskey Cake, Multiple Locations
This annual Repeal Day party will feature $10 cocktails from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Starting at 9 p.m. drinks will only be $5! Save The Barrel whiskey flights will be offered for $19.33 and includes four pours of any Whiskey Cake barrel select whiskeys. Feel free to dress up in your favorite 20's attire and don't forget the speakeasy word of the night. Mention "Roosevelt" to your server and upgrade your Old Forester Old Fashioned to Woodford Reserve.
Prohibition Texas, 26420 Preston
This speakeasy-style bar in Old Town Spring celebrates the Prohibition era everyday, but on Repeal Day they are putting on the swankiest party in town starting at 7 p.m. There will be live music, build your own Old Fashioned, Flapper Girl shots and $1.933 Well Drinks (1 per customer). Costumes are highly encouraged.
Zest In The west
The 12th Annual Zest in the West returns to Château Crystale, 2517 S. Gessner Rd., on Wednesday, October 16 from 6 to 10 p.m. This event brings together over 25 of West Houston's best chefs and restaurants in order to raise money and compete for the coveted "Best of Zest" Culinary Award. The decadent evening includes gourmet bites, over 150 wines, craft beer and three stages featuring live music. There will be a silent auction and wine pull with proceeds benefiting scholarships for the West Houston Leadership Institute.
The 2019 Special “Guest of Zest” is Chef Marcus Paslay, the executive chef & owner of Piattello Italian Kitchen and Clay Pigeon in Fort Worth, Texas. Since opening his own restaurants, Paslay has garnered critical and commercial acclaim and has been featured in local and national media, including: CBS This Morning Saturday, Food & Wine, USA Today, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Good Day Fox 4, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas Monthly, Fort Worth Texas Magazine, D Magazine and more.
Two ticket options are available for Zest in the West and can be purchased at: zestinthewest.com
The Champagne Experience – 6 to 10 p.m.
Enjoy a VIP evening arriving first to “A Sparkling Affair” VIP reception hour being greeted with effervescent Piper Sonoma, passed hors d'oeuvres, a champagne bar and live music from Brenda Guy. The Grand Zesting opens at 7pm where guests will find 150+ fine wines, craft beer and culinary fare from West Houston's best restaurants. Unique experiences and items can be found at the West Houston Leadership Institute auction. Held in the Château Crystale courtyard and ballroom. Tickets $100.
Champagne & Caviar VVIP Experience – 6 to 10 p.m.
Champagne & Caviar guests enjoy all the elements offered in The Champagne Experience, but they also indulge at The Ultimate VIP Luxury Lounge which includes lounge seating, premium wine selections, caviar tastings and Champagne Flights, plus the Spirits Patio, presented by Tippit Dental, with premium spirits and the sultry sounds of live music by Gabe Montoya. Special Guest of Zest, internationally acclaimed Chef, Marcus Paslay will conduct a cooking presentation of his award-winning dishes in The Ultimate VIP Luxury Lounge. Tickets $200.
Zest in the West is a community celebration hosted by the Houston West Chamber of Commerce and produced by Food & Vine Time Productions. Since its inception, Zest in the West has raised nearly $300,000 to benefit the West Houston Leadership Institute and Houston West Chamber of Commerce.
Labor Day marks the end of the summer for most people, but in Texas it means that it's time for the best craft beer festival in the U.S. This year marks the tenth anniversary for the Brewmasters festival at the Moody Gardens Hotel on Galveston Island. The three-day event offers beer lovers the chance to sample hundreds of the world's best brews including several "Taste It First" selections.
Reflecting on the past ten years, Clifton McDerby, Executive Director of Food & Vine Time Productions, Inc. said, "We were the first beer festival in the region and our goal was then and is now to offer an immersive learning and tasting experience. We think we've been successful in staying true to our original mission. Be the leader in craft beer education."
The foam-filled festivities begin on Friday with the Nach-Yo Ordinary Tequila tasting from 7 to 10 p.m. Sample a range of high-quality tequilas while noshing on nachos. Tickets are $30. The fun continues on Saturday with the BrewHaHa Grand Tasting from 3 to 6:30 p.m. In addition to hundreds of beer samples, guests can attend seminars and speak with experts in the Texas brewing industry. Tickets are $35. VIP tickets are $85 and include entry at 2 p.m., a private lounge area, light bites and premium samples.
Make it a beer-tastic weekend by attending all three events. A Weekender pass is available for $165 and the Moody Gardens Hotel is offering special hotel rates for Labor Day weekend. For more information and to purchase tickets visit BrewmastersBeerFest.com
Häagen-Dazs Spirit Collection
Häagen-Dazs new indulgent Spirit Collection is the perfect boozy summer treat. I am a long time HD fan (me and Rocky Road go way back). When I heard that they had combined two of my favorite pastimes - drinking and eating ice cream, I was ecstatic. The collection consists of five ice cream flavors, a cookie square and a non-dairy option. Don't worry, you don't need to be 21 to buy it. The alcohol amount is below 0.5%, giving you all of the flavor without the buzz.
According to flavor developer Aaron Butterworth, the flavors for the collection were carefully chosen to keep in line with Häagen-Dazs commitment to creating rich and indulging desserts. The ice cream is designed to be enjoyed on its own or paired with a cocktail. Bourbon was a natural pairing with vanilla and is showcased in both the Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle and the Bourbon Praline Pecan. The latter is great with an Old Fashioned, whereas I enjoyed the Vanilla Bean Truffle as a milkshake blended with more bourbon.
Rum Tres Leches combines white rum ice cream with ribbons of dulce de leche and chunks of Tres Leches cake. When I think of indulgent, this flavor is what comes to mind. This ice cream was heavenly all on its own, but a little rum made it even better.
Häagen-Dazs Irish Cream is a long time fan favorite, but it has been elevated and reinvented into two new forms. The Irish Cream Brownie has Irish Cream infused ice cream with chocolate brownie pieces and a decadent fudge swirl. The Irish Cream Cookie Squares are my personal favorite with just the right amount of ice cream in a portable package. Both of these pair well with an Irish Coffee.
I've loved chocolate stout ice cream since my first bite at Fat Cat Creamery, so I was very excited about Häagen-Dazs Stout Chocolate Pretzel Crunch. The malty flavor of the ice cream with a pop of fudge and a hint of salt from the pretzels was the perfect combination of flavors. I paired it with the equally indulgent 11 Below Negative Space Milk Stout.
The biggest surprise of the entire collection was the non-dairy Amaretto Black Cherry Almond Toffee. Black cherry jam and almond toffee pieces are folded into the creamy Amaretto-infused frozen dessert. "The special thing about our Häagen-Dazs non-dairy Amaretto Black Cherry Almond Toffee is that we use a rich and creamy almond butter base (not almond milk)," explains Butterworth. "We are able to achieve a super rich and creamy taste and mouthfeel that almost makes you forget you are eating non-dairy." Indeed it does. I found myself enjoying it way more than I expected, especially with a drizzle of Amaretto on top.
The Häagen-Dazs Spirit Collection is available at stores nationwide and retails for around $5.29. The ice cream comes in 14 oz. cartons and the cookie squares are sold in a 3 count package.
Disclosure: I am the spouse of a Nestle employee. Product was provided for me to sample, but all opinions and photos remain my own.
Wine & Food Week in The Woodlands, is one of my favorite times of the year. Running June 3 - 9, this week long culinary celebration has events for every taste and budget. Take a stroll through Market Street with your friends while sipping wine and noshing on bites or get glamorous for the Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase. Here's a quick guide to some of the week's must attend events.
It's A Guy Thing, June 4 from 7 - 9 p.m.
Enjoy the perfect guys night out with big bold wines, craft beer and man grub from featured restaurants like Kirby’s, the Silver Whisk, JJ Watt’s personal Chef, Kobe Beef and more. Sit down for a shoeshine, puff on a cigar or soak in the live music. Meet Master Sommelier and 2018 Wine Wizard, Guy Stout and Master of wine and founder of MyVinoType.com, Tim Hanni. Tickets are $30 per person.
Dirt-y Talk Seminar, June 5 at 5:30 p.m.
This structured wine tasting with Oregon Wine Person of the Year, Rudy Marchesi of Montinore Estates takes place at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center. Learn about Biodynamic and organic farming, and sustainable wine making. Guests will also get a tasting profile done by Tim Hanni author of “Why You Like the Wines You Like.” Tickets are $45 per person.
HEB Wine Walk, June 6 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Market Street rolls out the red carpet for the H-E-B Wine Walk with savory bites, wine and craft beer and live music by Mango Punch in Market Street’s Central Park. Features include a craft beer garden, VIP room, H-E-B Anchor areas, GOYA Food’s Chef Pantry and over 25+ food tasting stations. Tickets start at $40. VIP tickets are $75 per person. VIP tickets include early entry, specialty wines and a private tasting area.
Sips, Suds & Tacos, June 7 from 6 - 9 p.m.
It’s a taco take-down where tacos of all shapes and sizes are served up with all the fixings and one taco takes all the glory and the trophy. Over 20 top contenders will compete in the challenge and there will be plenty of suds to wash them down with. Grab your friends and get the weekend started at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center. Tickets are $30 per person.
The Wine Rendezvous Grand Tasting & Chef Showcase, June 8 from 7 – 10 p.m.
The last night of Wine & Food Week ends with the ultimate wine and food tasting featuring hundreds of wines and more than 60 culinary teams from the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America all in one elegant ballroom vying for the title of GOYA Foods Chef of Chefs. Hall of Fame lifetime achievement inductees and Houston icons Michael Cordúa, and Carmelo Mauro will return to see who takes the coveted trophy and $5,000 cash prize. Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $125 per person.
Visit WineandFoodWeek.com to purchase tickets and see exclusive hotel deals. Make it a staycation and enjoy all the Wine & Food Week events!
About the Author
I like eating, traveling, and enjoying liquid libations. I'm all about great wines, signature cocktails, and local brews.