Set with the backdrop of the historic Pearl Brewery building, the final event for Culinaria festival week showcased the works of cooks, chefs, helpers and beverage pourers and offered everything from spicy chicken wings and spicy crawfish to grilled sliced Spam on burgers, brisket burgers and brisket quesadillas.
Chef Jason Dady and his crew from Two Bros. BBQ Market were serving up portions of brisket — and it was classic, with salty, peppery crust and luscious, tender meaty interior. No sauce for me, thanks — the beefy flavor on that ever-more-pricy cut of meat should not be muffled in any way!
One really hot burger, courtesy of chef Jesse Perez from Arcade Midtown Kitchen was the chorizo burger topped with green chiles, dressed with a spicy sauce and salty crumbles of cotija cheese. I’d have eaten two, yes, but there was quite a bit more to come.
I was impressed with Green Vegetarian’s Earth Burger — my first taste. Once upon a time, a veggie burger was made with cooked, mashed soybeans, topped with slivers of onion and carrot and alfalfa sprouts. They were edible. The Earth Burger has a good springy (I won’t say meaty) texture and flavor, and are a major leap above those we “enjoyed” back in the day.
Kiolbassa, it ain’t burger, but sausage is quite a classic barbecue item here in Texas. Far be it from me to pass up a bite or two of their good jalapeño or garlic sausage.
The Grand Hyatt put out brisket burgers, a using the flavorful brisket (85 percent) with a leaner cut (like strip loin) ground together after a little while in the smoker, then shaped and slapped on the grill over more smoke. I thought it was one of the most flavorful bites to be had.
Alamo Cafe brought brisket, for which we thank them. Not a purist’s version of Texas ‘cue, but a nice pair-up with Tex-Mex. They served brisket quesadillas, cut into wedges and served with a refreshing spoonful of sour cream. They get two solid “noms” for that dish.
After the event ended, the winners were in for popular votes for barbecue and burgers: Magnolia Pancake Haus and Jesse Perez for his Chorizo and Green Chile Burger. It was a great ending for an event that director Suzanne Taranto Etheredge said was the “best ever.”