Cowboys + Gauchos is a Carnivore and Wine Lover Paradise


Boar's Head at Cowboys + GauchosHundreds of hungry Texans filled the grounds of the Salt Lake Pavilion on Sunday, February 24, for the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas’ third annual Cowboys + Gauchos. It was fantastic event featuring whole roasted antelope, wild boar, goat and lamb as well as dozens of wine from Texas, Uruguay and Argentina. Check out my previous story on What Are You Drinking?

Here are a few of the scenes from the event.

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Cowboys + Gauchos showcases Texan and Southern American cuisine at Salt Lick Pavilion

Nothing is more quintessentially Texan than the cowboy. This Sunday, February 24, cowboy culture from Texas and South America will be on display in all its finery at the Salt Lick Pavilion at Cowboys + Gauchos, an event hosted by the Wine and Food Foundation of Texas.

From 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., the public is invited to don boots and cowboy hats, while feasting on antelope, lamb and wild boar that have been roasted whole over open fires. There will be plenty of wine from more than a dozen Texan and Uruguayan wineries to wash it down. I have to say this is definitely one of my favorite food and wine events of the year. There is a sick amount of excellent food, the location is incredibly chill and the people are in a great mood. Check out my photos from last year’s event.

In its third year, Cowboys + Gauchos brings together several prominent chefs to show off impressive traditional Texan and Southern American cooking techniques, such as roasting whole animals on giant iron rigs. The event was inspired by Francis Mallmann’s book Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, and brought to life by Wine & Food Foundation of Texas Board Member, Howard Kells.

Roast pig at Cowboys + GauchosKells was fascinated by the concept of bringing together Texas and South American barbecue and wines in an outdoor event. He successfully built his own enormous iron grilling structure, patterned after Mallmann’s, and has cooked  a whole calf and whole elk at past Cowboys + Gauchos events.

This year guests will feast on South Texas Nilgai Antelope from Broken Arrow Ranch, lambs and a wild boar from IO Ranch and South Texas style cabrito prepared by Chef Jack Gilmore (Jack Allen’s Kitchen). The mouth-watering spectacle of roast meats continues with pork bellies from El Chile, beef tongue cooked by El Alma and various other treats from Café Josie, Fore, Live Oak Barbecue, Estancia Churrascaria and Sentelli’s Sweets.

Game guide and outdoor chef, Christopher “Tink” Pinkard, will roast a 100 pound pig. “I will start cooking my pig at 4 a.m. on my portable Cuban-style grill using mesquite for heat and pecan for smoke. Before cooking it I’ll brine the pig in a mixture of salt, sugar and water for 72 hours, which keeps it nice and moist,” says Pinkard. He recommends Pinot Noir or Cabernet to pair with his boar, but acknowledges beer is a great choice, too. “I can’t cook those pigs for eight to 10 hours without a beer.”

Live music and wineries will ensure a festive scene in the pavilion. Guest can try a selection of wine from Texas wineries such as Cap Rock Winery, David Mayfield Selections, Duchman Family Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, Flat Creek Estate Winery, Hye Meadow Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Spicewood Vineyards and William Chris Vineyards. This year there will also be five wineries from Uruguay on hand including Juanico Famila Deicas, Gimenez Mendez Eco Valley Wines, Pizzorno Wines Don Pascual, Bodega Bouza and Bodega Marichal.

Gary Knippa at Cowboys + Gauchos“This is the first time that so many Uruguayan wines have been assembled in one place to be tasted in the U.S. Guests at Cowboys + Gauchos will be the first people in Texas to taste them. It is a great event for Uruguayan wines because the gaucho culture is prevalent in the country,” says David Furer, the Wines of Uruguay spokesman and wine journalist.

“Wineries will pour up to 20 various wines including Sauvignon Blanc, which is [an] up-and-coming white wine in Uruguay, along with Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Merlot and Syrah. Of course there will be a prevalence of Tannat, which is the signature grape of Uruguay. It makes a full bodied wine that goes well with rich grilled and barbecue red meat.”

Tickets are available on Wine & Food Foundation of Texas site for $65 per person. Proceeds from the event will support up-and-coming chefs, sommeliers and excellence in the culinary and viticulture arts through scholarships and the underwriting of the TexSom beverage conference.

This story was originally on CultureMap.

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Fantastic fun at Cowboys + Gauchos


The Wine and Food Foundation of Texas held its second annual Cowboys + Gauchos on March 4, 2012 at the Salt Lick Pavilion. The Foundation picked a winning combination of roast meat and delicious Texas and South American wines. Tickets sold out and people were still calling, begging to be let in. It turned out to be a gorgeous spring day and the crowd was in high spirits. Here are a few photos of the fun.

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There will be meat! Cowboys + Gouchos carnivore fest coming March 4, 2012

Gaucho grilling at Cowboys + Gauchos

When you see a whole elk roasting over an open fire flanked by a lamb, a pig and a goat, you know you are at a carnivore-friendly fest. Chefs slice broad slabs of meat as the smell of roasted meat and barbeque swirl on the breeze while people twirl to Gary Knippa’s country tunes and watch dance performances by Nostalgia Tango. That’s exactly what you can expect to experience this Sunday, March 4, 2012 at the second annual Cowboys + Gauchos, a Wine & Food Foundation of Texas fundraising event. What better way to celebrate the 176th Texas Independence Day than by channeling your inner cowboy?

    • What: Second Annual Cowboys + Gauchos
    • When: Sunday, March 4, 2012,12:00 – 4:00 p.m.
    • Where: Salt Lick Pavilion, 18300 FM 1826  Driftwood, TX 78619 (not the BBQ restaurant)
    • How much: Foundation members: $40, non-members $50, children ages 13-20: $10 per person (non-refundable), children ages 12 and under are free
    • When you go: Purchase tickets online before you go. While the Foundation expects a great turn-out by members, you don’t need to be a member to attend. Check your pretense at the door and come for a good time. The attire is cowboy casual and you’ll want a hat to keep that gorgeous sun out of your eyes. Little cowboys are welcome to run wild on the sprawling property and play yard games. And don’t forget a package of toothpicks.

This unique event was dreamt up by Foundation board member Howard Kells, former owner of Doña Emilia’s South American Bar & Grill (now closed). He watched renowned Argentine chef Francis Mallmann wow Anthony Bourdain with his grilled meat in No Reservations, Season 4, in Uruguay and was enthralled. The France-trained Mallmann left the fussy world of fine dining behind with a keen interest to return to simplistic gaucho cooking (the word ‘gaucho’ being the call-name for Argentine cowboys).

As grilling is central to South American cuisine, it also serves as the inspiration for Cowboys + Gauchos. Kells wanted to emulate the massive scale grilling that Mallmann practices. He designed and custom built an immense grilling rack based on the one used on No Reservations by watching a recording of the show over-and-over and painstakingly recreating it. The one-of-a-kind rig is stout enough to roast a whole steer and even has the ability to adjust the cooking height and angles. The meat is grilled over a main fire, which is continually fed with coals drawn from a smaller side fire.

Wine and Food Foundation Executive Director, Marshall Jones, makes it all happen. He is the guy that landed a donation of all of the grilling wood from Butler Wood in South Texas. He is the guy that sources the whole 240 pound elk, pig, boar, goat and lamb. He is the guy who will stay up all night to roast the elk, starting at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night, tending to it until it’s ready to eat around 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. He’s the guy that will ring the cow bell throughout the event to signal when another new meat is ready to serve. That’s a pretty cool assignment for a guy who runs a foundation.

Don’t be confused, this isn’t just a meat orgy or Paleo Diet convention. There will be other delightful dishes serve by Austin-based restaurants. Chef Charles Mayes will celebrate the 15th anniversary of Cafe Josie with a seafood dish at Cowboys + Gauchos. Other dishes include antelope chili and smoked quail from Wild Bubbas Wild Game Grill, cabrito and sweet potato tacos from Mansion at Judges Hill Restaurant & Bar, chocolate BBQ pork ribs from Zocalo Cafe and a selection of sweet and savory empanadas from MMMpanadas. There will be other delectable treats from Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, El Alma Restaurante Bar and Live Oak Barbecue. Delysia Chocolatier will provide a selection of truffles and the whole feast will be finished with s’mores roasted over the fire. There might be some vegetables, but you don’t have to eat them.

While Mallmann’s gaucho grilling influence initiated the concept for the event, the similarities between the gaucho and the cowboy, coupled with the Wine and Food Foundation’s bent on promoting local fare led to the prominent inclusion of Texas wines. Eight Texas wineries will be pouring on Sunday with an additional four South American vineyards.

Ed Auler, founder of Fall Creek Vineyards, will be pouring the limited production Fall Creek Vineyards Tempranillo, Salt Lick Vineyard, Texas Hill Country, 2009. This is a stellar wine that is hard to find and shouldn’t be missed. McPherson Cellars will pour its 2009 Sangiovese, 2010 Tre Colore and 2010 Rose of Grenache-Syrah. There will be a wide selection of meat-friendly reds and thirst-quenching whites from Alamosa Wine Cellars, Becker Vineyards, Duchman Family Winery, E.&J. Gallo Winery, Gauchezco Vineyard & Winery, Casa Lapostolle, Llano Estacado, Spicewood Vineyards, Terrazas de los Andes and Vineyard Brands.

If beer is your thing, Thirsty Planet will have barrels of Thirsty Goat Amber Ale and Yellow Armadillo. Sweat Leaf Tea will provide tea to keep us hydrated.

Organizers are expecting a crowd of about 350 hungry revelers and hope to raise upwards of $5,000 to support the Foundation’s work. Proceeds from the event will support up-and-coming chefs and sommeliers through scholarships and the underwriting of the TexSom beverage conference.

I’ll be there with a big, grease-smeared grin on my face. This article also appears on CultureMap.

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