The popular International Grand Tasting at Savor Dallas 2012 took place on Saturday night at Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas. Organizers noted the move from Dallas to Irving was to make it easier for the residents of Fort Worth to attend. Any worry that the change in venue would deter event patrons was quickly dispelled once the doors swung open. The place was packed, people shuffled around tightly, filling the venue as guests got the opportunity to hob-nob and rub elbows with some of the finest chefs in DFW. The food and drink were, of course, spectacular as chefs were well prepared to excite and surprise their guests this year.
While nearly every dish our small group sampled was delightful, we thought we would pay homage to some of the most exciting and delicious dishes presented this year. So here are (in no particular order) our picks of the Top 10 Best Bites of the 2012 Savor Dallas International Grand Tasting…
1. Kelly Hightower/Wild Salsa: Shrimp albondigas (spicy shrimp meatball) with ground pumpkin seed and onion, topped with cilantro and contija cheese. Definitely the spiciest dish of the night, but perhaps, my personal favorite.
2. Juliard Ishizuka/ Dee Lincoln’s: Tomato gazpacho with goat cheese, watermelon, cured chorizo, and micro arugala. Fine use of spice, temperature, and citrus, all together refreshing and unique.
3. Nick Amoriello/Meddlesome Moth: Shrimp and grits with pepperjack, jalapeno country gravy, and “tons of cream, tons of butter.” Hard to go wrong there.
4. Cesar Gallegos/Bolla: Smoked scallop crudo with avocado mousse, candied pepitas, jicama hot sticks, and a shot of Patron tequila. Bold flavors, unique presentation. I hope we get to see a lot more “hot sticks” in the future.
5. Jeff Bekavac/ Neighborhood Services: Street tacos of smoky, sweet barbecue brisket with a blue cheese coleslaw.
6. TJ Lengnick/Whiskey Cake: The Whiskey Cake, no one will question Chef Lengnick’s decision to bring the restaurant’s signature dessert to the party, nor do I think anyone will question its inclusion on this list. This thing is blissful.
7. Nicky Phinyawatana/The Mint: Minced chicken salad with lime, cilantro, mint, red pepper, served on baby endive and bok choy.
8. Pat Robertson/Five Sixty: Kobe beef tataki with asparagus salad, jalapeno ponzu, cilantro and fried garlic.
9. Kay Agnew/Margaux’s Bridge Bistro: Duck and andouille sausage gumbo.
10. Eric Brandt/Bisto 31: Escargot and pork belly with parsley pesto, walnut, and creamy polenta.
Recognition should also be given to the always brilliant Scardello Cheese with their lovely offerings of royal cheddar, landaff, and bleu debasque; JJ&B (Jellies, Jams and Butters) for their splendid sweet onion jam; and Kaurina’s original “kulfi” or Indian ice cream bars in mango, cardamom cream, and pistachio almond. Seriously, people were freaking out about this ice cream, myself included, which can be ordered here from artizone.com.