Do you like free — well, not technically — samples? Do you like fine meats and cheeses? Do you like grilled cheese and/or mac and cheese? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Houston’s first Cheese Fest may be your ideal event.
On Friday, Nov. 4, the Cheese Fest is coming to downtown Houston. For an entry price of $35, guests will get unlimited samples of artisan cheeses, fine foods, mac and cheese, grilled cheese and a drink ticket, on top of live music. For $75, a VIP ticket will get you access to all that in addition to a choice between wine and cheese, beer and cheese or bourbon and cheese tasting. While all of these samples are included in your ticket price, there will also be opportunities to purchase the items you try.
Around 50 to 60 different producers are providing samples, including some of my personal favorites such as Cypress Grove (chevre goat cheese) and Point Reyes Farmstead (blue cheese).
Although the event is titled the Cheese Fest, it also features complements to cheese such as crackers and olives. Creminelli Fine Meats and other producers of charcuterie, sausage and prosciutto are also attending, providing protein to your balanced meal of samples. In addition, there will be jams, cheese spreads and varieties of honey to taste, along with some sweets like chocolate for dessert.
The main course of samples will be comprised of grilled cheese and mac and cheese served by local restaurants competing to be the winner of the “Meltdown” and “Macdown.” There are currently three local restaurants — the Cheese Course Bistro and Cheese Market, Shade and the Cheese Bar — vying for the trophy, but the organizers of the Cheese Fest are still in the process of finalizing the list and expect at least one more restaurant to join each competition. As a guest, you get to be the judge, which means you have the privilege of trying the contenders — as many times as you want, of course — before casting your vote..
The Cheese Fest is an outdoor event that will be held rain or shine at Hermann Square, the park right outside Houston City Hall. A Colorado-based band called Thunder and Rain will be playing bluegrass music throughout the night.
Finally, logistics: You can take the Metro light-rail, which has at Main Street Square about four blocks from Hermann Square, so you don’t have to worry about driving through rush-hour traffic downtown to get to the event. General admission tickets are sold online for $35 up until the event starts, but they are not sold at the door. You can find more information at thecheesefest.com/events/houston.