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Top 5 Best Bites

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The 2011 Best Bites and Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup was the most gluttonous display of food and wine under one roof that these eyes have ever seen. In other words, I was in heaven. I had a few sips of wine but was really there for the food, and in the end, I had more bites than I care to divulge, but here were my Top 5.

5. Catering to Your Taste Buds (Crawfish Bisque Shooters) This bite -- or sip, as it was served in a cup -- really stood out for its varying flavors. Catering to Your Taste Buds took a risk, serving a somewhat spicy shot of creamy crawfish sauce to the crazed crowd of sample whores. Sweet and spicy, with nice little chunks of crawfish throughout, it worked for me. This was a smart move by Taste Buds.

4. Ooh La La Bakery (Salted Caramel Apple Cupcake) Ooh La La had such a wonderful display of mini cupcakes, but one in particular stood out--the salted caramel apple. The cake was moist, and the course salt mixed in with every bite of sweet icing, making this one magical dessert. It was creative, easy to consume, and certainly stood out amongst the many dessert bites I had that evening.

3. Royers (Fried Chicken) The People's Choice winner gets third on my list--still not a bad showing. Coming to the dance with a pile of cold fried chicken was absolute genius on the part of Royer's. It was such a simple concept, but in this setting, really stood out from all the gumbos, chilis and bread puddings. Why didn't I rank the fried chicken number one on my list? This was a best bites competition, and that chicken leg was just too damn big.

2. Rio Ranch (Signature Shrimp and Avocado Salsa and Homemade Tortilla Chips) Rio Ranch nailed it on every level, with friendly people handing out perfect bites of food. The long tortilla chip provided an excellent resting spot for the salsa and shrimp. The textures and flavors were magnificent, as was the presentation. It was light, easy to eat, and left me wanting to come back for more. That's hard to do at an event where the options are so plentiful.

1. Sage 400 (Miso Chilean Seabass) Sweet, warm, delicate, and buttery--all adjectives to describe the little chunks of bliss (also known as Chilean seabass) the crew from Sage 400 were handing out. I've never been to Sage 400. I plan to do something about that in the very near future.

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