The Grand Wine and Food Affair 2011

May 18, 2011

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The Grand Tasting.

The Grand Tasting featured the most sought after wines in the world today and the talents of the country’s culinary superstars. The event will also featured The Grand Auction, a silent auction that benefits an endowed scholarship fund at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. The Grand Tasting was held at the elegant ballroom of the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of food and wine. This was my first year going to the Grand Wine & Food Affair and I had no idea that this many restaurants/chefs would be attending. I took around 500 pictures and managed to cut it down to around 200. I don’t want to lag this blog post with all the pictures so I figured I would just upload them to Flickr to keep them in the original quality and showcase them in a slideshow. The dishes pictured below are a few of my favorites of the night. The Grand Tasting was the hottest ticket for the Grand Wine & Food Affair, attracting around a thousand attendees. I would love to attend the events again next year! I recommend staying at the Sugar Land Mariott, it will make your food filled weekend much easier.

More information can be found at their website and Facebook fan page

‘South Texas’ Cerviche.
Fresh crab, redfish, rock shrimp, and baby octopus tossed in a tangy dressing. Topped with yuzu-chili aoili, fresh avocado and tortilla chip strips.

Served in a tall square cup, the deeper you dug with your spoon, the more goodies you found. 

Hotel Valencia 
San Antonio, Texas

White tuna tartare.
Topped with freeze dried strawberries and Meyer lemon curd with pickled ramps.

Chef Josh Watkins
The Carillon
Austin, Texas

Tres Leches Cake.
Smooth and creamy tres leches cake in the form of a.. push pop! Man, I haven’t had one of those since grade school. This was definitely the most innovative dessert that night.

The Burning Pair
Houston, Texas

I’m not exactly sure what this was, but it was light, flaky and delicious.

Perhaps Chef Maurizio Ferrarese of the Quattro at the Four Seasons hotel would like to share?

Test tubes filled with peach champagne.

Sushi taco.
Smoked hamachi, tuna, yuzu kenpie, cilantro and scallions tucked into a lightly fried wonton shell.

Chef Jason Hauck
Soma Sushi
Houston, Texas


Lobster corn dogs.
The Driskill’s version of ‘Surf & Turf’. Deep fried lobster corn dog topped on a beef brisket slider with manchego cheese, and horseradish barbecue.

Chef Jonathan Gelman
The Driskill
Austin, Texas

Sienna Sip and Stroll.

The all new Sienna Sip & Stroll, at Sienna Springs Resort showcased over 40 wineries with over 100 featured wines and a restaurant showcase with culinary delights displayed at 40 tasting tables. There were cooking demonstrations by award winning chefs like Efisio Farris of Arcodoro, fine artisans, and scrumptious samplings from restaurants like Ouisie’s Table, Branch Water Tavern, Fish City Grill and Mint Spice.Guests will enjoyed a host of activities including cooking demonstrations, mixologists and live music by Tropical Steel Tones Band and Salsa Cubana Orchestra in a tropical paradise.Live island sounds by the Tropical Steel Tones Band and Salsa Cubana Orchestra. Guests enjoyed Zacapa rum and fine cigars.

The food was simply amazing. Note to self next year, wear a summer dress and no high heels. I surely was not ‘strolling’, more like ‘stumbling’ after sampling many delicious wines.

Freshly made naan.
Need I say more? Freshly rolled out naan baked in a tandoori oven right before your eyes.

Chef Josh Watkins and me both want a tandoori oven! Maybe we can start up a naan cart with a portable tandoori oven? 🙂 Haha

They also had some of the most tender chicken I’ve ever had. Josh gives his stamp of approval on Mint Spice!

Chef Milind K. Patil
Mint Spice Bistro
Houston, Texas


Sienna Sip and Stroll would not be complete without the wine! I wasn’t able to catch the name of this bubbly but I liked it very much.

According to the bartender, it’ll make my panties drop.

Korean/Mexican tacos.

Ran into Jae Kim of Chilantro. The line was massively long so I snuck around the back to say Hi to him.

Chilantro with be going on a 2 month tour with McCormick over Texas and the West Coast. Congrats!

Jae Kim
Austin, Texas

Lobster Rolls.

This was my favorite item at the Sienna Sip and Stroll. Succlent pieces of lobster dressed in a light mayo and tucked between a buttery toasted slice of bread. It was so good that I waited in line for 20 minutes for it, twice.

Chef Shanna Horner O’Hea
The Kennebunk Inn

Bistro Brunch.

An around the world bistro brunch that will feature specialty dishes, international ales and wines from major wine regions of the world such as Italy, France, Germany, Spain,  Australia,  South Africa, California, and many more! The eclectic mix of Flamenco, Middle Eastern, Spanish, and Western sounds of Moodafaruka will complete this experience.

Bistro Brunch was the last GWAFA event. It took place on town square in front of Sugarland City Hall. Delicious food as usual. Only downer was the service. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was from California. They were extremely rude. She griped and snapped at my boyfriend and I when we both each took a sample. 

Cold water prawn dumplings.
Served with a strawberry black pepper aioli.

Juicy prawns coated with a light batter.

Bloody Mary’s.
Deep red drink paired with pickled okra, fresh celery and beef jerky topping. Salt and pepper coated the rim.

Not only did the Bloody Mary’s cure my hangover but gave me too. They really creep up on you!

Big Daddy’s Ass Burn

Smoked salmon crepes.
Filled with fresh dill, cream cheese and capers.

I could have these for breakfast everyday any day 🙂

Spanish Paella.
Most impressive stand at Bistro Brunch. Huge SIX FOOT pan filled with shrimp shrimp, sausage, and mussel, mixed in with a flavorful golden colored rice.


Oyster crema.
Franco-Japanese gourmet with an oyster crema, house cured salmon, and soy gelatine

I thought this was going to be over salty and heavy but it was surprisingly fresh and light. The cream was more of a light foam than a heavy sauce.

Chef Jean-Philippe Gasto
Houston, Texas

Disclaimer: Media passes were provided by Kaplan Public Relations. All opinions are 100% honest and this post was not compensated.


Jane Ko is the Austin blogger behind A Taste of Koko, Austin's top food and travel blog featuring the hottest restaurants and weekend getaways. Jane has been a speaker at South by Southwest (SXSW), Texas Conference for Women, BlogHer, and more on entrepreneurship and social media. She lives in Austin Texas with her dog and cat.