Cupcake Truck Tour Kicks Off Food & Wine Fest

Cupcake Vineyards pairs food with fun

California-based Cupcake Vineyards showcased its wines on Thursday night in a showdown between Houston's Monica Pope and San Antonio's Jason Dady, with Top Chef Stephanie Izard acting as culinary host. Guests sampled dishes by all three chefs in a casual and delicious kickoff to the Austin Food & Wine Festival.

Chicago's Stephanie Izard, winner of Top Chef Season 4, was the culinary host of Thursday's event
by Melanie Haupt

Izard, who acted as judge in the cook-off between the two Texas chefs, served two dishes of her own, a trout tartare and a savory, saucy goat empanada. The newlywed Izard, chef-owner of Chicago's Girl & the Goat and Little Goat, chatted with guests and handed down the ultimate decision over whose cuisine reigned supreme in the backyard at Freddie's Place.

Izard's goat empanada
by Melanie Haupt

Chef Monica Pope and her team
by Melanie Haupt

Tasked with coming up with a dish to pair with a specific wine, Houston's Monica Pope of Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, paired Cupcake's Cabernet with her restaurant's signature shiitake mushroom dumpling, which rested in a pool of bleu cheese and honey sauce, somewhat reminiscent of sweet cereal milk.

Pope's shiitake mushroom dumpling
by Melanie Haupt

Chef Jason Dady preps his banh mi for the crowd
by Melanie Haupt

Jason Dady of San Antonio, chef of Tre Trattoria and other establishments, offered up a tiny-yet-spicy banh mi stuffed with pink shrimp and pork belly to go with Cupcake Chardonnay. Dady's sandwich was the winning dish, by a very narrow margin

Chef Dady's banh mi
by Melanie Haupt

Winemaker Jessica Tomei was on hand to talk up the vineyard's varietals, which were available for sampling. My personal favorite is the Sauvignon Blanc, sourced from Marlborough, New Zealand. "Our goal is to make wines that are accessible but sophisticated," said Tomei. The $10-11 per bottle price point, she argued, ensures that Cupcake is appropriate both for book club meetings and fancy dinners.

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Cupcake Truck Tour, Cupcake Wines, Monica Pope, Jason Dady, Stephanie Izard, Austin Food & Wine Festival

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