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Sienna Sip and Stroll

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The giant outdoor food and wine extravaganza known as the Sienna Sip and Stroll held in the Sienna Plantation development in Sugar Land is just one of many epicurean events encompassed in the annual Grand Wine & Food Affair. Last Saturday, desperate housewives and oenophiles alike trudged upon a steamy slab of suburban glory to taste everything from salmon tartare to chopped-beef sandwiches. Some dishes were successful, while others failed to impress.

A huge consideration for participating restaurants and caterers should be the event, weather and crowd. The best offerings were easy to eat while standing up; were the right texture and temperature; and weren't too heavy considering the warm weather. It is still a mystery as to why some participants don't meet these simple criteria, unless of course, it's their first round in the ring of giant food tasting events, in which case, they get a pass.

The highlights:

HEB, the main sponsor, had a tent full of cheese samples, paired nicely with honey, fig cake and crackers. Most of it was self-serve, making it easy to navigate and helping the lines to move quickly. If you're a wine and cheese buff, you would have been pleased at this event.

Little Bigs/Reef/Stella Sola had a killer meatball slider with tomato gravy on ciabatta that was a little heavy for a warm day and a little messy for one-handed munching. But it was so good, it canceled out anything negative.

The Driskill Grill of Austin made a great showing with its truffled salmon tartare with watermelon. The sampling was light, but with deep flavors. It also included miniscule forks that would have been perfect for Tinkerbelle. The delicate tartare was a crowd favorite that paired nicely with Haak Winery's white Port, whose table was a few tables down. And yes, although Port is a dessert wine, the sweetness paired well with the watermelon in the dish.

Gigi's Asian Bistro had a meatball on a stick that was tasty, but crumbled onto the ground when eaten. The real star at that table was the Bang Bang Beef Salad (yep, that's really the name). It was served cold with fresh cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced purple onions and plenty of spice.

RA Sushi's seared tuna was simple, delicious, refreshing and perfectly prepared. The spicy mayo on top was not overpowering and offered just enough flavor.

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