Savor Dallas: Winning Dishes, Awkward Plates and a Whole Lot of People-Watching

Savor went off smoothly this weekend. The International Grand Tasting, hosted at the Irving Convention Center, did not sell out but felt very near capacity by 8 p.m.. You can check out the food and the people-watching in our slideshow.

Folks in the know ate quickly and spilled out onto the patio to drink wine and listen to live music. Inside, people bumped elbows and jockeyed for positions to be served at tables handing out everything from pepper jelly on crackers and kulfi pops to mushroom meatballs and a chilled spring pea soup.

If you were there, you know the plate pictured above very well. The plastic artist's easel stamped with an American Airlines logo was my albatross for the first fifteen minutes of the evening. The large disk had a spot for everything: a notch for your wine glass, a couple of holes to hold your utensils, a big trough to hold food in the center and a handle to give the user a firm grip.

The plate was fine enough (if extremely dorky), but most of the foods were handed out on small plastic plates on their own, making the larger plastic tray superfluous. It wasn't quite as bad as the wine glass lanyard that I've seen at wine tastings recently, but the tray still was cumbersome, and I felt freed when I cast it away. I ditched the wine glass, too, as the folks behind Stella Artois were giving away prettier glassware, and a full pour that made the wine vendors seem stingy in comparison.

Five Sixty set up a booth at the event, and their offering was hands down the most elegant. A simple, tiny, plastic plate that could fit in a cupped palm, complete with a medicine dropper for carefully adding soy sauce and a little nub of fiery green wasabi. Savor-goers were given a choice between a brilliant-red tuna, salmon and a yellowtail sashimi that was easily my favorite bite at the event.

If I were to be compelled to attend next year, I'd like to see a bit more space for all the vendors and patrons. I didn't get the sense that many vendors ran out of food, but personal space was a premium, and excuse-me's were handed out as much as requests for chardonnay. I also would have killed to set down my glass at a stand-up table while I teared into the taco I picked up from Blue Mesa Grill, but tables were non-existent.

By 9 p.m. I'd had enough elbow-bumping and plate-balancing, so I made my way outside, just in time to hear a band strike up the opening chords to Frank Sinatra's "My Way." A few kicked off their shoes and danced like they were at a wedding as I swilled the last of my beer. It was quiet and calm outside, even with the band cranking, and you could see Downtown Dallas far off in the distance through the clear night air. The sight made me wonder why someone decided to build such a beautiful convention center in the middle of nowhere.

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