Well, it might not have been the best day for our beloved Razorbacks, but Saturday was a great day for cheese dip. Jess and I headed down to War Memorial Stadium on a perfect fall day for this year’s World Cheese Dip Championship, a celebration of all things melted, gooey, and perfect to dip a chip into. We had a great time visiting with all the folks serving up their cheese dip, and everybody seemed to be having a great time. The booths were lined up all around the field at War Memorial, and wide open space was a nice change from the crowded concourse at Dickey-Stephens park where the event was held last year. The volunteers and event staff were very friendly, and they deserve a great deal of praise for their efforts in making this event a yearly tradition in Little Rock. It’s certainly become a must-do event for us, and our write-up of the event last year still brings in traffic.
Jess and I split once again on which professional dip we liked the most – and it was the same split we had last year. Jess’ pick for best professional again this year was the offering from Ferneau, a lobster and sweet corn dip that I thought was tasty but not as good as their blackened crawfish tail dip last year. As for me, I still didn’t think anybody there outdid Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro – their rich, creamy dip is wonderful by itself, but the dollop of fresh salsa that they put on top just makes it stand out for me. Dizzy’s would go on to win the People’s Choice for best dip, which makes them the undefeated cheese dip champs. We were also excited to see one of our favorite amateur groups from last year, the ladies of Meadors, Adams, and Lee insurance – they had a good dip last year (a spinach dip) but I thought they really outdid themselves this year with a spicy, rich dip with just the right amount of smoky bacon. They were my vote for best amateur, although the Team Roberts dip that won the People’s Choice award was also tasty.
Although queso is generally associated with Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants, our local pizza restaurants were well represented at the Championship. Entries from U.S. Pizza, American Pie Pizza, and Pizza D’Action were all very tasty, and the buttery, smooth dip from American Pie was one of the best dips I tried all day – even though by that time we were about ready to hit the cheese dip wall. I don’t ever really think about ordering chips and cheese dip at a pizza place, but it’s something that I’ll definitely consider in the future at any of those three places, especially with one of U.S. Pizza’s tasty sandwiches. I think this year’s festival had better white cheese dips than yellow this year – with Bar Louie serving up an oddly pink-colored dip that tasted a lot like pimento-cheese to me (which was a good thing). There were several attempts to mimic the cumin-inflected yellow cheese dip that Mexico Chiquito (who sat out this year) made famous, with varying degrees of success. I hope that the event keeps growing – I’d like to see dip booths on all sides of the field next year! And since everybody loves seeing pictures, we’ll post a few more of our favorites below.
Here’s everyone lined up waiting to get in.