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Butcher’s Ball in Brenham 2017

Sustainability was the watchword as meat-lovers gathered to celebrate protein—as well as artisanal cocktails, fresh produce, locally-grown meats and rollicking country and western-influenced music—at the second annual Butcher’s Ball in Brenham. (Just how rollicking was the music? Dale Watson drove his own bus to get there.)Butchers Ball in Brenham 2017 Dale Watson bus

The day-long event was held at Rockin’ Star Ranch near Brenham, which provided exceptional indoor and outdoor facilities as well as the stunning scenery that makes Washington County famous. Plus, there was hospitality out the wazoo. Guests were greeted with a signature welcome cocktail at the registration desk.

For foodies of all stripes, it was a day of discovery.

Cheese made in the style of Italy by an Italian in Moulton. Check. Fresh black-eyed peas, black beans, red beans, lima beans and pinto beans sold alongside sweet potatoes and hand-dug purple potatoes. Check. Honey with the terroir of Central Texas. Check. Bourbon caramel sauce with roasted pecans. Check. Free-range pork raised on acorns as they do in Spain and Portugal. Check. Pina coladas served in a hollowed out pineapple. Check.

Panel discussions not only tackled the how-to of locally produced food but also the global questions of why. Differing opinions and experiences kept the interactive sessions lively and challenging regardless of the point of view participants brought to the proverbial table.

Demonstrations throughout the day, showcased the butcher’s art.

Then, there was the food. Restaurants, chefs and butchers from the across the area gathered in a tent competing for the Golden Cleaver, the crowd favorite award With avowed goal of outdoing one another, the purveyors ensured food lovers were the winners. Beef tenderloin with a chimichurri sauce. House-made sausage with house-made sauerkraut. (The sauerkraut was so good, people were asking for to-go containers.) A chorizo pizza on hand-tossed grilled crust. Grilled King Crab legs. Barbecued beef ribs—taken off the bone and pulled to perfection. An outdoor pan of paella large enough to feed the crowd. Pies, pies, and more pies.

In the Cajun French tradition of Le Boucherie (“The Butchery”) and the Spanish tradition of La Matanza (“The Killing of a Pig”) of killing and butchering a hog to feed a large crowd in one day, Team Boucherie and Team Matanza competed for the best hog breakdown and preparation. Ticket holders for Le Boucherie v La Matanza got the opportunity to “live like a chef” and assist with the preparations on either team.

All proceeds from the event that included an expansive silent auction of dinners, art and one-of-a-kind experiences, went to support Piggy Bank, Urban Harvest and Foodways Texas.