Foodways Texas and Smoke Let You
Step Out of Your Shell

One of the best invitations I've received this year was an e-mail beckoning me to College Station for the founding of Foodways Texas. Now, you too have the opportunity to support the organization, as august a group of chefs, food writers, scholars, fishermen, pitmasters, chuckwagon cooks and enthusiastic eaters that's ever assembled in the Lone Star state -- assuming augustness is compatible with drinking Texas beer and gorging on chili enchiladas.

Foodways Texas' Dallas members -- myself included -- are throwing a local fund-raising party in advance of the nonprofit organization's first-ever symposium in Galveston. The group, an affiliated institute of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas, will convene on the coast this February to "preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas," in accordance with its mission.

To put Dallasites in a beachy spirit, the Gulf Coast Gathering at Smoke on January 24 will feature a fish, shrimp and oyster feast; live music; an oyster shucking contest; and an oyster primer by Robb Walsh, former Houston Press food critic and author of Sex, Death and Oysters. I rang up a random firehouse on the coast, and a firefighter there -- who's hosted his share of shellfish-based benefits -- assured me we'd do right by his region so long as we had plenty of oysters and beer. We're taking his advice very seriously.

Tim Byres' menu for the family-style seafood supper follows. Tickets are $75, and can be purchased here. But, just like Gulf oysters, they're in limited supply: Don't dilly-dally.

Cocktail Reception Pimento Cheese Croquette & Tejano Red Sauce Pickled Shrimp with Rio Star Grapefruit Salted Snapper & Fresh Masa Smoked Sausage Kolache with Fruit Mustard Chicken Salad & Celery Toast

Dinner Brick Roux Gumbo with Fresh Fish, Oysters & Andouille Sausage Fire Roasted Oysters with Scampi Butter, Mexican Chorizo & Ash Salsa Raw Oysters with Mignonette & Red Chile Vinegar Grilled Whole Shrimp with Horseradish, Herbs & Pickled Relish Vinaigrette Cornmeal Fish Fry with Green Chile Hush Puppies Lettuce Salad with Radish Vinaigrette Stewed Collard Greens with Sorghum Hominy Casserole Blue Cheese Cabbage Slaw Mustard Seed Potato Salad Spicy Charro Beans Cucumbers, Cumin Red Onions & Jalapenos Fresh Breads, Biscuits & Butter with Jalapeno Jelly

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