Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Food Event in Dallas !! Iron Fork 2011

So I was in Texas last week (beautifully muggy hot ol' Texas), and upon researching events and things to do in Dallas, I was very pleasantly surprised to see a food-centric event (my faves!) being offered on a sweet ol' Wednesday eve!  Is that fate o' what?

Iron Fork was presented as a grand tasting event in association with Kent Rathbun, one of Dallas' most notable chefs and a former Iron Chef contestant.  For a mere $25 in advance, $35 at the door, or even cheaper with some sweet Groupon-type deals, one could taste bites and drinks from about 30 Dallas area restaurants and wine shops.  What a bargain!

The event was held at the Fashion Gallery Institute (f.i.g.), and while other websites stated the venue was far too small for this event, I thought it was rather large and spacious (Granted, it may be a matter of perspective as I am used to the tiny confines of New York).  Despite the size of the venue, it was fairly crowded (as any fine food event should be) since there were such a large number of vendors (a great thing!).

Here is a sampling of bites we ate!

Adorable couple from Dine with the King Designs
Dine with the King Designs' chocolate pecan pie.  Like chocolate chippy chunky pie; balanced sweetness with a great butter crust.
Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant offered lentil / chicken puffs.
The puffs were like fried triangular eggrolls filled with flavorful chicken meat and spices.  The lentil version was also nicely flavored!  

I particularly liked dipping the puffs into the accompanying fresh chili pepper salsa.
The best part about the event, in my super humble opinion, is the organization of the food vendors in every nook and cranny of the venue.  Each section of vendors featured a number of savory samples, at least one dessert vendor and at least one drink vendor.  Terrific balance of all the essential elements of a good meal.

Yummy pinot noir.
The Bambu team; the restaurant specializes in Thai cuisine
Bambu's fish cake with sweet/spicy sauce.  Reminded me of my mom's fishballs covered in fish sauce.  Was chewy and okay.
Snappy Salads, which focuses on serving healthy, high-quality food, dished up their popular Asian chicken salad, lettuce soup and lemon cookies.
J found the salad quite tasty
I enjoyed the beautiful, bright lemony cookies that were soft and chewy.
The lettuce soup was a surprise delight resembling the color of Thai green curry but tasting distinctly of pureed lettuce.  Sounds totally weird but was totally refreshing.
Pizza by Marco brought piles of pies; they claim to be Dallas' best pizza, as named by over 35 sites and publications.
I tried the Augustus slice: (olive oil, provolone, spinach, garlic feta & sundried tomato) and was impressed!  The pie had no tomato sauce and was still so flavorful and moist.  J didn't even notice the pie had no sauce - I like that (the pizza being that good, not him being that oblivious).
The Mozzarella Company  dished up three types of cheeses: fresh mozzarella, goat cheese with thyme, basil and tarragon, and a pecan praline marscapone
The pecan praline (left) was DELICIOUS - one of my favorite things that night.  Nutty and mapley, it was a treat!  The goat cheese (Diana, I know - you must be stunned) was so smooth and did not taste musty at all.  I didn't even realize it was goat cheese until J told me.  I was super impressed once again! If I'm back in town, I need to buy some cheeses from this downtown shop.
Dive Coastal, a seafood-focused restaurant, served up cubes of key lime pie, sushi rolls and ceviche adorned with golden plaintain chips.
The key lime pie was very good - bright, citrusy and refreshing.  The Dive Coastal representative cringed as I snapped this shot since the cubes were "so ugly" but I think anything with a graham cracker crust is great!
I really liked the ceviche also.  Usually I find ceviche too tart and sour, but DC's version was light and fresh.
The sushi roll was beautiful and good.  So fresh!  I am curious to check out their restaurant which boasts flavors from the Mediterranean, Carribean and California (solid coasts!).
Herrera's dished up taquitos, pulled pork tacos and pecan pralines.

I thought the pork tacos were okay but super bland; J said it was my fault for not getting the guac (so maybe that's its saving grace).  The taquitos were chewy and dry also.  One of the few disappointing vendors at the event.
Torchy's Tacos' originally an Austin shop and now newly in Dallas, brought samples of their ahi tuna nachos.  This thing was amazing!  Unexpectedly flavorful and remarkably fresh; the fusion of Mexican and Asian flavors worked well together.  I ate every bit of this sucker.  Definitely have to check out their Dallas shop soon.

House of Blues offered plates and plates of their cornbread muffins with some softened butter.  Solidly moist cornbread.

Dallas Fish Market had pretty spoonfuls of ahi tuna (at this point I decided I liked ahi tuna and cannot discern what is particularly good because they all taste good when fresh).
J Black's Feel Good Lounge plated chewy french bread topped with a fish green pepper medley of sorts.  Just had a bite of this and didn't find it particularly notable.
Dallas Chophouse served cute triangle plates of steak tartare with shaved parmesan
J really liked this - the meat paired well with the sharp tangy cheese slivers. 
Nuevo Leon Mex-Mex's pan seared chicken and salad.  The chicken was nice and moist, but the  serving was just too generous.  At this point, J and I might've met our food event saturation point, but we did appreciate the healthy portion!
Chameli served up chicken biryani (standard/unremarkable), but Greeshma's grandmother's food has spoiled my Indian expectations. 
My new favorite dessert find is Nothing Bundt Cakes.  They had four flavors to sample: red velvet, white chocolate raspberry, chocolate and lemon.

The chocolate was hands down the most delicious (I went back for seconds! Mehehe).  So ridiculously moist, rich but not too sweet and has chocolate chips inside!  Hello.  Love surprise chocolate chips.
J and I used to eat at First Chinese BBQ and grab bubble tea from Boba Latte, so it was neat to see them remain neighbors at this event.  Solid Chinese food and boba.  While waiting for a boba sample, a white guy behind me lamented on Asian people who insisted on taking pictures of everything (gulp!).  He could not have picked a more Asian table to make that diatribe.
Thin strips of beef wrapped with banhmi-like vegetables 
Banh.mi. like.
Woodfire Kirby's dished up my other favorite savory plate of the night - duck confit in a sweet, chip bowl.  Duck and chips in one?  Automatic best dish ever.  And it was moist and tasty to boot!
I wish Woodfire offered this on their regular menu!
Sweet Tomatoes' lemon lava cake.  Mushy. Lemony. Okay.
Il Cane Rosso's caprese skewers - fresh housemade mozzarella + beautiful cherry tomatoes + basil

You know what?  This wasn't even all the food.  There was still at least a handful more that I didn't try because I think at some point, it was not physically possible anymore.  We were completely stuffed and overwhelmed with everything, but I was so excited - this event was terrific and something that should happen more often in Dallas!  Obviously from the attendance rate (which was full of clubbin' Dallas girls, mind you), there is a demand, so hopefully they keep bringing these types of events to the South!

And thanks to the event, I have several new restaurants on my radar that I want to check out.

Thanks for everything Kent Rathbun!


  1. oh my goodness gracious!! i am SO PROUD of dallas of having such an awesome event, and i totally wanna go next time! that sushi roll is a work of art :)

  2. This looks so good! Everything from the chocolate pecan pie to the key lime pie (of course I gravitate toward the desserts!).

  3. Good job with the post! Keep up the good work!
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