5 reasons every Houston food and alcohol fan should attend the 2018 Tastemaker Awards

There are plenty good reasons to attend Tastemakers. Photo by Kirsten Gilliam

Steven Devadanam is editor of CultureMap/Houston. This article originally appeared there.

You know the nominees and you’ve voted for your favorite new restaurants. It’s time now for Houston’s premier culinary event — the 2018 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards party presented by Woodford Reserve. Here are our top five reasons to attend this can’t-miss bash that's happening April 4 at Silver Street Studios.

1. A smorgasbord of Houston’s hot spots
Consider this a buffet of Houston’s best restaurants. Sample items such as peppercorn seared tuna from A’Bouzy, scallop crudo from Field & Tides, chicken biryani from Himalaya, a sausage sampler from The Pit Room, salmon poke from Pokeology, a venison puff from Yauatcha, and much, much more.  You’d need 10 times the ticket price — not to mention a month of your time — to sample this much fare.

2. The sweet life
After the savory hors d'oeuvres and entrees, get your just desserts at the Sweet Suite. Gorge on items such as bread pudding with smoked cream cheese from Alyssa Dole of Pinkerton's Barbecue, assorted petite fours from La Table, all-natural popsicles from Kicpops, truffles and macarons from Maison Pucha Bistro, and cream puffs from Killen’s Restaurants pastry chef Samantha Mendoza.

3. Cocktail hour
You’ll need something to wash down these delectable items, such as a Woodford Rye Old Fashioned; a Texatucky Tea; signature margaritas; a variety of red and white wines from ONEHOPE; and craft beers from Deep EllumAlaskan, and 11 Below breweries.

Also watch for the bartender showcase, which features sophisticated, signature sips from the Bartender of the Year nominees: Stuart Humphries of The Pass & Provisions will serve up the Anderson Fair (Woodford Reserve, lemon, dry Curacao, tea syrup, Angostura Bitters). Sarah Troxell of Nobie’s offers up the Ain’t No Holla Back Girl (Woodford Reserve, creme de banana, pecan orgeat, lime, Angostura Bitters). Kristine Nguyen of Nancy’s Hustle mixes up her Single K.O. (Woodford Reserve, Lustau Palo Cortado sherry, Cappelletti, lemon juice, simple syrup) cocktail.

4. Meet your host, Houston rap legend Bun B
Your host for the night is legendary rapper Bun B, who helped put H-Town on the current rap map as one-half of the duo UGK, and has since exploded with his own solo career. When not hosting segments on Vice or his own Trill Foods web series (or guest lecturing at Rice University), Bun is a veritable foodie and man-about-town at Houston’s restaurants.

With his latest album due this spring, is there any chance Bun might drop some bars? “There’s always the potential if I’m in the building,” Bun teases CultureMap. “On that day, in Houston, that might be the best place to perform. Not a promise — but if the drinks are flowing you never know.”

5. It’s the perfect date (or, the place to meet your future date)
In a food town such as Houston, you’d be hard-pressed to make a better date than what’s become the city’s signature culinary event. “This is great event to bring a date,” says Bun. “It’ll make you look cosmopolitan — you’ll look like you're dialed in to what’s hot — and who’s-who, and that you’re actually in that circle.”

But what if you’re single, and ready to mingle? “This party puts you in an extremely enviable social circle,” notes Bun. “And you’re gonna meet some like-minded people.”

General admission tickets are on sale now for $55; a portion of the proceeds benefits Second Servings of Houston. Get your tickets before they sell out, or risk missing a food fest like none other. 

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5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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