Food Nirvana at the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair

SFWFA 2015 Grand Tasting (7)In an effortless combination of the best of the best that food and wine has to offer the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair once again swept in town bringing good times, good people, and great spirits along with it.  The Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair is an annual celebration of all things culinary paired with the perfect spirit to match any occasion and paired perfectly with the cuisine.  The four day affair not only benefits a great cause with proceeds benefiting the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.  The event is a great way to expand what you like or thought you liked in the food, wine and spirits arena.  Armed with a pen or even easier your camera phone to record your favorites, your ticket to the events buys you access to check out some old favorites but a lot of new favorites and event restaurants and wines on your wish list to try.

SFWFA 2015 Grand Tasting (6)The weekend celebration starts off in a day celebrating the spirits with the On the Rocks Challenge.  From the best of the best bartenders the city has to offer you get an explosion of their creativity going wild and end up with a champ that reigns throughout the remainder of the weekend to make sure you don’t miss out.

SFWFA 2015 Grand Tasting (3)SFWFA 2015 Grand Tasting (4)The main event of the weekend is a glorious celebration of the best of the best at the Grand Tasting in the Sugar Land Town Square Marriott.  Every year for this event I try to prepare myself and every year I leave, although very happy, also feeling a little defeated that I did not get to try everything.  This year the culinary features set the event on fire.   I spent about 30 minutes going around and enticing whoever would listen to try the Frito Pie.  This gourmet take on a childhood classic made an overhaul of classic ingredients and adding an impressive flair with chipotle cream sauce.  I was in awe.  This combined with some other favs including lobster pizza, lobster mac and cheese, mac and cheese stuffed fried chicken I was literally floating on cloud nine.  When you combine the food nirvana with the bountiful selection of wines, whiskey and vodka who in the world could have a bad time.  Another great addition benefitting their worthy benefactor was the online aspect of their silent auction.  From trips to gift certificates you can bid on any and all from your phone and get in on the fun.

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Day two of the extravaganza was the Sip and Stroll at the old Imperial Sugar Factor and even spring showers could not stop the fun!  Spread between two building this event replaces some of the finesse of the Grand Tasting with sheer volume.  SLWFA 2015 Sip and Stroll (5)At this event you are sure to see some of your local favorites in food and drink pulling out all the stops.  I was pleasantly surprised by some up and coming restaurants with my number one choice being the Big Ben TavernSLWFA 2015 Sip and Stroll (10) SLWFA 2015 Sip and Stroll Big Ben TavernThey easily slide to first with their memorable bites including a peanut butter glaze on their chicken wings!  Other long time favorites like the Lobster Roll from Academe Brasserie had stomachs growling with lines wrapped around their booth for this savory delight.  The combination of sweets, eats, and drinks with a lively mix of music and entertainment was a sure winner.  SLWFA 2015 Sip and Stroll Lobster Roll and Me SLWFA 2015 Sip and Stroll Lobster Roll 1A great addition this year was the live demonstrations of beef 101 to help you sharpen your butchery skills and give some ideas on expanding your chef skills with beef.

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The final event of the weekend is a great recover from the hard core eating and drinking of the first two days.  With the Bistro Brunch you have a chance to take a little more leisurely approach and collect some great brunch favorites while you listen to some mellow tunes.  Although the weather forecast predicted rain my love of the fried lobster and waffles drew me back.  SLWFA 2015 Bistro Brunch (3)Of course the treat did not disappoint and with the delicious vanilla butter blessing my waffle it will likely draw me back year after year.  As with any celebration of food one of the best features is tasting combinations you would have thought of like the chicken slider with a pineapple slaw that had me coming back for seconds.  With the company of a great friend there is no better way to start the week and join in on the celebration of some of the things that make life worth living at the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair. SLWFA 2015 Bistro Brunch (2) SLWFA 2015 Bistro Brunch (1) SLWFA 2015 Bistro Brunch (4)





Bistro Brunch Recap

The Bistro brunch of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair changed up the status quo from the rest of a weekend celebrating wine by shifting the focus seamlessly from wine to food.  From Wednesday to Saturday the wine and spirits were the momentum that pushed the event.  Of course the food for the duration of these days was delicious and a great compliment to the extensive drink selection but it was clear on who was the superstar.  For the final event of the Affair the festival spotlighted food during their brunch extravaganza.

Indian Dance TroupBrunch without question is one of my favorite meals of the day.  I love savory foods but often crave some of the sweet treats that you can only find on your plate at breakfast.  Brunch offers the best of both worlds as culinary creations can range from sweet to savory to salty all in perfect harmony.  Additionally there is no better buffet offered that what comes with brunch.  Because you choose what selections make up your plate combo you can nibble on smaller qualities but a much wider variety than most meals.  The Bistro Brunch hit the ground running by choosing the central location of Sugar Land Town Square to showcase some of the variety and creativity that can come from brunch.  By offering food selections from paella to French toast and brunch drink staples like Bloody Mary’s and mimosas as well as a wide wine selection the Bistro Brunch covered all the basis of deliciousness.

Lobster and waffles Although I had some really great surprise selections in favor from bagels to salad there was one clear stand out favorite in my book.  The masterminds over at the Burning Pear in Marriott Sugar Land Town Square cooked up a showstopper in their Fried Lobster and Waffles with honey butter and the bacon wrapped quail with jalapeno jam.   As the Houston summer was on the rise it was a toasty out on Sunday, making waiting in line not my top priority.  Nevertheless I decided to wait my turn and mockingly teased Chef Kourtenie Tyson when approaching the service that it better be worth the wait.  At that Chef Tyson ensured I would quickly be in the midst of a foodgasm.  Long story short…he was right.  Fried Lobster and bacon wrapped quailWith stuffed quail wrapped in crispy bacon giving off a kick of spice in the jam and fried lobster that would make me gladly slap my momma the offering was a little slice of heaven on an early Sunday afternoon.  Top that off with a great band that makes you want to move your feet and a fun performance by NAACH Bollywood dancers the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair left an impression that has me drooling in anticipation for next year’s fun.

Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair Sip and Stroll

To Be or not to beThe Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair outdid themselves once again with another great opportunity to discover new food and drinks in a setting perfectly suited for the occasion.  This day time jump into exploration of new foods and wines offers a chance to both wind down and wine up.  Sip and Stroll 1Set in the Imperial Sugar Factor grounds the Sip and Stroll lets you pick your pleasure as you walk through the buildings and tents throughout the grounds.



Tullamore DewFrom the second you walk in, greeted with a smile, your glass and champagne you get a sense that the fun is about to commence.  The layout for discovery is split between two buildings and the outside tents.  BandThe great music and band drew me quickly to the outside tents where the beer garden offered an opportunity to check out some of the best brewers you could find in the state.  St. ArnoldsFrom hometown favorites such as St. Arnolds to craft beer experts the selection was the equivalent to a beer lovers dream and offered an opportunity for tasting rarely offered to beer lovers at a wine tasting.

As with the Grand Tasting the power of the event is in the fusion of what you come across.  Just as you think you have had your fill of drinks or your last taste of food you wonder upon something that gets the blood going and the inspiration to make the space you need.  With all of the wine and food booths set up you have to go in with a plan of attack on how to make it all happen.  Tres Leche from ChurrascosThe larger building serves as the main stage for the tasting with rows and rows of food and drinks in the mix.  Gourmet Hot DogsLocal favorites and everyday staples are highlighted as they remind you of the great quality that made them beloveds in the first place.

The event also gave a chance to continue the exploration in to Mexico as you escape over to building two.  The festival gave a great nod to Mexico with some of my personal favorites, Churrascos, and tequila heavy hitter, Don JulioDon Julio.  There is also the chance to really challenge yourself to take the fun and love of the food and wine that brought you to the festival home with you with the cook book pop up shops.  For a foodie getting a chance to meet these authors serves as an extra inspiration to bringing the recipes to life at home.  After all the exploration was done you still have a chance to grab a seat and enjoy the music and great vibe of the Sip and Stroll.