First things first: The 2011 Burger Bracket Championship is on like Donkey Kong this coming Monday, April 4, at Lucky's Pub. The first 100 people there before 6 p.m. will receive a ticket and a judging token and will have 30 minutes to taste samples from the Final Four burger joints. Winners will be announced at 6:45 p.m. sharp, 'cause we know you don't want to wait for the big news. Plus there's that whole Final Four basketball stuff going on that you'll probably want to see.
But before that, P.J. Stoops (a.k.a. Professor Fishheads) will have a variety of fish and seafood at this weekend's Total Catch Market that he's calling "nothing short of spectacular." The selection includes beautiful roughy, Gulf hake, golden tilefish, longtail bass that looks almost too pretty to eat and two kinds of snapper. Stoops points out that they'll also have Texas Appellation oysters and -- really exciting stuff here -- maybe even some softshell crabs. The market starts at 9 a.m. at 4410 W. 12th Street.
Afterward, put your fish on ice or in your fridge and head over to Montrose for the Menil Community Arts Festival. In addition to readings, musical performances, a drum circle and an indie book fair, there will also be a battalion of food trucks parked up and down the streets surrounding the museum. Old favorites like Melange Creperie and Oh My! Pocket Pies will be in attendance as well as Bullbutter Bros. Barbeque, H-Town StrEATS, the Houston Dairymaids and the Snowdog Ice Cream Truck. The event is free and runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., but remember to bring cash for the food trucks.
On the other hand, if you're looking to escape the NCAA-thronged city limits this weekend (and who would blame you?), consider what's pretty much the most wholesome thing we've ever run here on Eating Our Words: the Poteet Strawberry Festival. Yes, it's more than 200 miles west of Houston, but did we mention that it's a strawberry festival? And one of the oldest such events in the state? It's honestly a lot of fun, especially for the family, and although the full-weekend tickets are already sold out (see, it's popular!) you can still purchase one-day tickets for $12.50.
Last year, Brenner's on the Bayou hosted its first Wine Fest and despite my personal feelings on the event, it was such a huge success that it's now an official annual event. The second annual Wine Fest will kick off at 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, and run until 6 p.m. Be warned, however: Don't wear high heels, as you'll just mince around uncomfortably, leaving divets in the grass as you go. And bring a picnic blanket, as there is limited seating but plenty of lush grass to laze in along the banks of Buffalo Bayou. Tickets are $65 or $125 for a VIP pass.
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That same weekend, the festival that we once gave a Best of Houston® award to -- the annual Japan Festival -- is hosting its 18th such event in Hermann Park. In the past, festival attendance has topped 20,000, and because the Japan Festival is sending donations to the Japan Relief Fund and the Japan Red Cross, I'm hoping that attendance will stay strong this year too and that people will help out as they're able. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 9 and 10 and admission is free, but remember to bring cash for all the delicious Japanese food and drinks that will be for sale.
Menu of Menus is coming up quickly and we're excited to announce a new addition to the annual festivities: a food truck court. In addition to a new home at Spring Street Studios (yes, just down the street from Artopia's home at Winter Street), we'll also be featuring a curated selection of food trucks: MMM Cupcake, Zilla Street Eats, Sylvia's No Borders Truck and The Rolling Hunger. Tickets are on sale now for the smorgasbord, which starts at 7 p.m. on April 12.