Upcoming Events: Oktoberfest Contests, Beer-and-Burger Pairings and Free Food Truck Lunches for All

Celebrate 20 years of artist studios at Lawndale Art Center and five years of the Lawndale Artist Studio Program with Tasteful Art, a special tasting event featuring local contemporary artists and chefs at the historic and beautiful Hofheinz House (3900 Milam). Lawndale is bringing culinary artists onboard for this unique and collaborative event, which features the plate as canvas.

Experience what happens when chefs David Buehrer (Greenway Coffee/Blacksmith), German Moquera (Roots Bistro), Randy Rucker (Briar and Bramble), Erin Smith (Plonk) and Jody Stevens (Jodycakes) turn over the plating to past and current Lawndale Artist Studio Program artists Nancy Douthey, Seth Mittag, David Politzer, Teresa O'Connor, Patrick Turk and David Waddell. The chefs willl provide the delicious ingredients and the artists will create magic on the plate.

The culinary culmination will be revealed as guests are treated to a tasting of dishes from some of the most innovative chefs in Houston today, hosted by award-winning chef Barbara McKnight of Culinaire. Adult beverages will be served, and other surprises are also in store. Tickets are $125 per person; call 713-528-5858 for reservations. All proceeds benefit Lawndale's Artist Studio Program and programs throughout the year.

If you enjoy shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes, join H-E-B this Sunday for the third annual H-E-B Houston Region Cake-Off at the H-E-B Pearland Plus store (2805 Business Center Drive, Pearland). More than 20 teams, each composed of two H-E-B employees from stores in greater Houston, will compete to see who has the best cake-decorating skills.

Each team will have three hours to decorate and display their creations. After the competition, a silent auction will be held to auction off all of the confectionary creations, with proceeds benefiting the Adult Reading Center. Houston-area celebrity judges will join forces to pick the best of the best in cake creations, including H-E-B Houston President Scott McClelland and Top Chef: Just Desserts contestant Rebecca Masson of Fluff Bake Bar.

The takeaway for the H-E-B Cake-Off grand prize winner? $500 in H-E-B gift cards and earning the coveted title of "H-E-B Cake Boss." Second place takes home $300 in gift cards, and the third-place winner will receive $200 in gift cards. Decorating takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, with awards given at 3 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Anyone who says there's no such thing as a free lunch hasn't met the Dos Equis Mobile Academy, which just arrived in Houston this week. In partnership with H-Town StrEATs, the "most interesting food truck in the world" will travel around town offering free lunches through September 22. The three dishes, developed by chef Jason Hill, are:

  • Grilled kangaroo with apricot wattleseed chutney
  • Australian rock lobster and sea urchin-stuffed wontons with yuzu marmalade sauce
  • Barramundi fillets wrapped in banana leaf with Chinese black bean and sambal

Head to one of the following locations to get your free lunch while it lasts or just follow @DosEquis on Twitter:

September 14: Bo Concept (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) September 15: Little Woodrows on White Oak (8 to 9:30 p.m.) September 16: Minute Maid Park (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Astros game at 1:05 p.m.) September 18: Art League Houston at 1953 Montrose (11 a.m. to noon) September 19: Kickball League at Roak Bar (7:30 to 10:30 p.m.) September 20: Warehouse Live (6 to 7:45 p.m.; Dynamo game at 7 p.m.) September 21: Minute Maid Park (5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Astros game at 7 p.m.) September 22: The Firkin & Phoenix (5 to 8 p.m.)

Hang on, folks -- there are so many good food events coming up, we had to break them into two pages. Read on...

Try something new at The Counter next week and enjoy a flight of four custom mini-burgers along with four beer pairings from local brewer Karbach -- all for only $13. Custom burger and beer pairings include a beef mini-burger with herbed goat cheese, roasted apples, prosciutto and a balsamic reduction paired with Karbach's Weisse Wersa Wheat, or a turkey mini-burger with Asiago cheese, carrots, sprouts, scallions and peanut sauce paired with a Hopadillo IPA.

These weekly "Mix It Up" days will run every Thursday, but this coming Thursday, September 20, will feature a rep from Karbach on hand at The Counter to speak with guests and answer questions from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Johann Sitter, owner of King's Biergarten and Restaurant (which is charmingly attached to Sitter's car wash in Pearland), wrote in to tell us that King's Biergarten is currently at No. 1 in The Best German Restaurant in America contest. Yes, such a thing exists.

To celebrate his No. 1 spot and to kick off the restaurant's 2012 Oktoberfest celebration, Sitter is hosting a party starting at 7 p.m. on September 26. Both the Friendswood and Pearland mayors will be tapping a wooden keg to kick the party off, just as they do in good old Munich. King's special Oktoberfest menu will be served that night and throughout October, featuring a special fall dish: schweinsstelze, a whole pork knuckle that's a Tyrolean treat.

King's Biergarten will also be holding a Bavarian Strong Man Competition at 7 p.m. every Monday night in October. The rules are simple: Grab a liter of your favorite beer and hold it upright as long as you can. Don't bend your elbow or spill any beer, and the winner keeps the liter -- and gets his beer for free. At the end of October, King's will crown the Official "Bavarian Strong Man" with a custom Das Boot trophy.

Chef Maurizio Ferrarese of Quattro is known as one of the city's best Italian chefs, and with good reason: He's a small-town boy raised in Vercelli, located in the Piedmont region of Italy. And now he's ready to share his expertise with you.

Ferrarese has begun offering private cooking classes, and these aren't just any classes: They're taught in the Quattro kitchen at the Four Seasons hotel downtown. These personalized classes can accommodate groups of two to 16 people, and can be set up to fit nearly any schedule. Each class lasts two hours and students get to eat what they prepare. In addition, the Quattro kitchen will prepare a salad and dessert along with a glass of wine, all included in the cost. For wine during class, the restaurant offers bottles of house wine for $38.

The classes are ideal for a romantic date, a party for friends, a way to entertain clients or even team building among co-workers. Costs range from $95 to $140 per person, depending on the food being prepared (ravioli, for example, is $110, while meat is $140). For information or to make reservations, call Astrid Calderon, Private Dining Manager, at 713-652-6248.

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