For The Love Of Cheese
When I first heard about the well-known Quesoff event that was going down right around the corner from my house, my initial thought was, “Whattttt? An entire event dedicated to queso? How could this even be real?”
This weekend, the Mohawk (a bar on Red River Street) hosted the fifth annual Quesoff, an event dedicated to one of my favorite food groups: cheese! What an amazing concept. The Quesoff consisted of numerous restaurants and everyday laymen competing for their queso to be crowned the best in town. I can not think of a better way to spend a Saturday but to celebrate queso in a city that has some of the best I have ever tasted.
Although the doors didn’t open until 2:00pm, the long line of anxious queso-lovers had already started wrapping around the building by 1:00. Nobody wanted to take the risk of the queso running out before getting their hands on a taste. On a sidenote, thankfully there was a street vendor selling ice-pops to distract us from the scorching-hot Texas heat. (Not that we needed any more food to add to what we were about to consume, but still.)
When the doors finally opened, I immediately found myself in a flurry of excitement. The event was free, but all attendees had the option of paying $5.00 at the door for a bag of tortilla chips. (Of course a completely necessary vehicle for sampling the over 30 contestant’s unique batches of homemade queso.)
Each stand had their own homemade queso, most of them with a super clever team names and over-the-top themes. The vendors filled up little cups of cheesy goodness, and we went to town. And then we spent the next several hours repeating the delicious cycle over and over. The atmosphere was upbeat and the bar was full of people enjoying their weekend outdoors. In all, there were over a thousand people in attendance. In true Austin style, a live band was playing and people were crowded around the bar looking for a little bit of summer refreshment to go along with their chips and dip.
The Quesoff had five categories this year: meaty, spicy, veggie, wildcard, and this year they added a new category dedicated specifically to guac. O M G. It was damn near impossible to judge the quesos I tasted. I seriously loved them all and felt that they all had something unique and delicious about them.
At the end, some local restaurant owners voted for the winners in each category. One of the crowd favorites was Team Freedman, and they had my absolute personal favorite queso of the day. What made them the winner in so many people’s eyes? Their queso was made with brisket and was TO.DIE.FOR. That’s probably the reason why they were crowned the winners of the 2014 Quesoff and the winners of the Meaty Category in 2014 as well. They do not disappoint.
Immediately upon walking in, I stumbled across the cleverly-named stand hosted by Team Cheesus Christ. My friends and I loved their theme and costumes, and of course their queso too.
Team “Guac & Roll” had a delicious Tex-Mex Guacamole. They even shared their recipe which included avocados, lime, cilantro, jalapeno, shallots and salt. To me, the combination of these fresh and simple ingredients added up to pure perfection.
Lets talk about the team called “A Waffle Lotta Queso” for a minute. They put a really cool twist on their queso by pouring it over a mini waffle and serving it with strips of Bacon and Cilantro.
“Mighty Bird” really stood out as well. They offered samples of quesos from several of the categories: Spicy, Meat and Veggie.
I wanted to share with you this incredible event for several reasons. First of all, I think it was such a fun, out-of-the-ordinary way for a group of friends to spend the day together. (I mean, come on?! What can be better than gathering around with some of your closest friends with plenty of tortilla chips, queso and beers?)
Also, I feel that this is such a fun type of event for any city to host (it would even make such a fun neighborhood gathering!) This could be the perfect way to get friends, family and neighbors together for a little bit of competitive fun or even for a fundraising type of event. I encourage you to check out local competitions like the Quesoff in your area or try to host your own.