Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival kicks off

Posted 12:10am on Friday, Mar. 28, 2014

The inauguaral Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival got off to a delicious start Thursday night, with crowds lining up at Billy Bob’s Texas to sample the wares of about a dozen Fort Worth restaurants -- and a couple of breweries, some Texas wineries and a distillery or two.

Mayor Betsy Price launched the fest at a VIP event preceding the 7 p.m. kickoff party, deftly “sabreing” a champagne bottle -- slicing its cork off, in other words -- as chefs participating in the party stood behind her, organized as if posed for a class picture.

The big event, though, was the kickoff tasting event itself, with chefs from Billy Bob’s Texas, Cafe Modern, Buttons, Michael’s Cuisine Restaurant and Ancho Chile Bar, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Waters Fine Coastal Cuisine, Grace, Fred’s Texas Cafe, Reata, Lanny’s Alta Cocina Mexicana, Ellerbe Fine Foods and Nonna Tata serving up small plates for a rumored 700 diners to sample.

All the food we tried was good, but standouts included Grace chef Blaine Staniford’s chorizo-stuffed dates, which had a perfect mix of subtle spiciness and sweetness; an oyster bruschetta from Waters that finished with a nice bit of heat; and Roc-Doc smoked red chile pork tenderloin with wonderful corn-ranch goat cheese Texas grits from Michael’s.

Russell Kirkpatrick, assistant general manager of Reata and co-founder of the fest with Reata President Mike Micallef, told recently that the fest is designed to highlight the increasing diversity of the Fort Worth food scene, which is growing beyond burgers, barbecue and Tex-Mex (but still representing those genres well). Although Dallas-based chefs such as John Tesar ( Spoon Bar & Kitchen), Stephan Pyles and Matt McAllister ( FT33) didn’t offer samples Thursday night, they will participate in other events during the fest, which continues through Sunday.

Local breweries such as Fort Worth’s Rahr & Sons and Martin House Brewing, and Granbury’s Revolver Brewing offered beers to go along with the food Thursday night, and Fort Worth’s Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co. had some whiskeys on hand to sample.

The fest will continue Friday with a $125 Grand Tasting from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Worthington Hotel, with more than 50 restaurants, wineries, craft breweries and distilleries scheduled to participate. And from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, there will be Culinary Plaza in Sundance Square, a series of cooking demonstrations featuring DFW chefs in the Sundance Square Pavilion -- the demos are free, but space in the pavilion is limited. For information on these and other fest events, go here.

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