For history geeks and artistic souls, for heroic swashbucklers and children-at-heart, nothing beats the massive and acclaimed Texas Renaissance Festival that comes to town every fall. Since its inaugural production in 1974, the beloved Ren Fest has grown to include 55 acres of medieval theme park merriment that now welcomes over 600,000 guests annually. But beyond the jousting tournaments, the puppet shows, and the lute and harpsichord concerts, the star of this Texas-sized show is the magnificent food and drink.
Last week, the Ren Fest treated members of the media to a sneak preview of the dishes it plans to showcase this year at the “All The King’s Favorites” food and wine tasting—which, as it happens, took place at the DoubleTree Hilton near the Galleria, not the festival grounds—and introduced a hungry and eager audience to a fanciful historical meal that took us straight to the cobblestoned streets of 16th century England.
The dozens of food vendors and restaurants at this year’s Ren Fest will feature the typical main attractions of hearty turkey legs and an assortment of other roasted meats from pork roast to succulent steak. But also included at the festival is a range of delightful snacks that may or may not have a Ren bent to them, including sauerkraut balls, Scotch eggs and fried pierogie. Even less decidedly medieval: nachos-on-a-stick (a crowd favorite that would do the State Fair proud) as well as chocolate-covered strawberries and gourmet caramel apples for those of us with a sweet tooth.
Speaking of delectable desserts, this year’s Ren Fest boasts a wide array of sweets from flourless chocolate torte to crème brûlée. There's even deep-fried baklava, which you can wash down with the four different varieties of mead that will be for sale from Enchanted Manor Winery in nearby Magnolia.
Enchanted Manor ferments local Texas honey and blends it into a traditional mead as well as three other options: a Queen Mother’s Mead, a Bochet and a Session, the latter of which boasts a lower alcohol content than the rest. This saccharine-sweet drink was the most popular beverage during its time, drunk by the Danish warriors in Beowulf’s battalion and even featured in more recent fantasy literature such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Middle Earth novels and George R.R. Martin’s thrilling Game of Thrones series.
Food and drink weren’t the only attractions at the All The King’s Favorites feast, however. Guests also spent the evening mingling with the esteemed Father Christmas, a terrifying pirate and a delightful fairy, among others. We even got a chance to grovel before Ren Fest royalty when the King and Queen themselves made an appearance. Those wishing to get a royal audience of their own can book tickets online to The King's Feast that takes places every day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for the duration of the Texas Renaissance Festival, October 10 to November 29. Feast tickets are $99 per person and include an equally extravagant menu—but they sell out fast, so booking ahead of time is encouraged.
Texas Renaissance Festival; October 10-November 29; 21778 Farm-To-Market Rd 1774, Todd Mission, TX 77363. Tickets start at $26.