Bolsa execuchef Jeff Harris shows what he can do when you put him in a box. He comes out fighting! The mandate: prepare a vegetarian meal for 20 to be served at Bolsa Mercado’s communal table as part of their ‘Meet and Eat’ series that takes place on Friday evenings. The result? A menu that even a carnivore could love. Check out Melisa Oporto’s pictures for a feast for the eyes. Continue reading "Bolsa Mercado Goes Vegetarian at ‘Meet and Eat’"
Cakebread Cellars is one of the most respected wineries in California’s Napa Valley and I was honored to be a guest at a tasting of their wines hosted at Bijoux, Scott and Gina Gottlich’s restaurant, in Dallas this week. Located in the exclusive Rutherford area of the valley, Cakebread epitomizes wines that represent their place: valley floor fruit from central Napa Valley and cool climate fruit from Carneros at the southern end of the valley which is, in archetypal California contrarian fashion, also the coolest part of the valley on account of its proximity to cool air funneling north from San Francisco Bay.
Continue reading "Report: Cakebread Cellars Tasting at Bijoux in Dallas"
Despite the 100-degree Monday night in July, Abacus Restaurant in Dallas was packed for a tasting of Kim Crawford Wines from New Zealand. Wine maker Anthony Walkenhorst brought the impressive wines; Abacus execuchef Aaron Studenmaier and Abbey Renager (pastry chef) produced impressive and complementary food. I was an invited guest and had a chance to interview him before the meal.
I was an invited guest at an unusual promotion for French wine sponsored by Wines of France (that’s the French taxpayer, I think) on Friday night. First was the location: it was here. South of downtown, just off Ervay, next to the railroad tracks at the point where Google stops their street view efforts or I would have seen that their map wrongly shows Kelley Ave. emptying into Ervay. There was no problem parking right outside the place. Somebody had probably stolen the car that was previously there.
Second was the building. It is called Off The Grid because it is an old Dallas Power and Light substation building restored inside to transform it into an event space. The red brick walls have been scrubbed up and black stairways installed to allow easy movement between its three floors. It is all achingly cool (to the moderately fit).
Third, was the format of the progressive dinner. We would start on the ground floor and then eat successive courses on the second and third floors, before returning to ground for dessert.
Fourth was the method of invitation. Virtually every one of the approximately 70 attendees had heard about the event through social media. Wines of France is touring the country from New York, to Chicago, then San Francisco, and now a grand finale in Dallas. Locals who followed them on Facebook or Twitter got an invite to the Dallas event. The whole concept was managed by social media PR agency Lushlife. Although based out of NY, their account peep, Lindsey Johnson, grew up in Dallas so she knew the ‘lie of the land’, so to speak.
Finally were the food and wine peeps at the Dallas end. Lushlife picked Campo execuchef (and Daniel Bouloud student), Michael Ehlert to prepare the meal, and Del Frisco’s wine director, Jennifer Jaco to handle and describe the wines.
Jump for the details.1 Comment »
Pity the lot of Australian wine makers. The past few years have seen sales fall (19% from mid-2010 to mid-2011 alone) in response to a rising Australian currency and a debasement of the image of Australian wine by a flood of industrial grade ‘critter wines’ into the US market. Ironically, these trends have occurred at a time when the quality of the top 10% of Australian wine is arguably better than ever.
This week Ocean Prime in Dallas held a media dinner to promote its new summer menu. Prior to attending, I knew its a steakhouse. I knew that the decor was upscale. But there were lots of things that I did not know. For instance, Ocean Prime placed third on D Magazine’s 20 top steakhouses in 2011. It also has about as many seafood dishes on its menu as it does meat. And, very importantly, Ocean Prime changes its menu seasonally.
The craft beer scene is starting to hop! Recently Deep Ellum Brewing Company hosted a Brew B Q event in their brewing and beer patio. Could you imagine this get together happening in Victory Park rather than Deep Ellum? It’s all local Dallas beer, food, and people. (We don’t claim several of the necklaces.) Look out Austin, Portland, and San Diego, we’re headed to the top of the list.1 Comment »
Former stock broker Brent Rodgers and his company Roots Juices are ideally poised to cash in on the mainstream craze that is known as vegetable juicing. After leaving finance, Rodgers went on a year-long sabbatical travelling the world from South America to Australia. He discovered that people all over the world had discoverecd juicing. “I discovered juicing early on in my journey while in Peru. It was when I was on the Syria-Israel border that I had a light-bulb moment. There was this long line, which I thought was to get across the border. But it was actually for fresh celery and carrot juice. It was then that I realized this was a way of life and not just a trend,” he says.
Now he has a juicing plant in the Walnut Hill area of Dallas from which he and his employees turn out 10 flavors of juices that are, by almost any metric, exotic. Here are the flavors: Continue reading "Roots Juices’ is Freshly Pressed, Delivers to Dallas"1 Comment »
One thing that Irving residents know and do a darn good job of concealing from the rest of us is this: The town is patchwork quilt of ethnic culinary gems. From Indian markets to authentic Peruvian, and from Mexican tacquerias (with more choices of taco than you ever thought possible) to Honduran favorites – the choices are endless. If you want credible white tablecloth dining, head to the Four Seasons. But if you want a cornucopia of ethnic delights, start just one mile south on Belt Line Road.
Jump for a taste of empanada. Continue reading "Empa Mundo is an Empanada Gem in Irving"
Central 214 execuchef Graham Dodds is delivering on his promise to change the menu seasonally. At a media event last week, he introduced his summer menu and the restaurant showed some progress on other fronts, too. First, the restaurant has a new manager, Sean Kenneavy. He has taken responsibility for one of the major problems I cited earlier, a lackluster wine list. He has substantially redone it with wines drawn more widely than the earlier incarnation of second-tier California offerings. There are now 20 wines by the glass, plus eight dessert wines, and over 100 by the bottle. Sixteen of the wines are sparkling and source from Champagne, California, Italy, and Spain. On the table wine list, France and South America have more representation, but Spain is missing. There are only two token Texans (Red Caboose Syrah/Malbec blend and their blend named ‘Some of That Red’). So consider the list a step in the right direction with room for further improvement.
Last Friday, Pappas Bros. Steakhouse in Dallas held the latest in their monthly wine tasting series. This one was themed All-American Wines,which consisted of wines from across the country and included some of the states that you don’t normally think of as wine producers. As a result, there were wines from Connecticut, Virginia, and Arizona as well as California, Washington, and Texas.
Missing from the pictures is the 2011 Duchman Family Winery Dolcetto, Texas. Continue reading "Chalk Talk: Pappas Bros Hosts All American Wines Tasting"
Chef Vijay Sadhu doesn’t let anything like a failed restaurant concept keep him down. When his innovative, yet unpopular, Sutra, the modern Indian cuisine restaurant at the The Shops at Legacy closed, he gathered new ideas and investors and opened Pepper Smash, A Cocktail Kitchen. Sadhu reworked the Sutra interior, 86ed the Indian food, added an extensive mixology program, up-tempo music, and a snazzy website. The food is Modern American with a Mediterranean twist.
Recently I attended a tasting event for the media and many dishes we tried (seemingly the whole menu) were impeccably prepared. I have said it before but will repeat it again: Sadhu’s greatest strength is his ability to wring every ounce of flavor out of the ingredients he choses. So pick a protein, like chicken, that could be bland and put it in Sadhu’s hands. He grills it until the flavors of the Maillard reaction http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maillard_reaction emerge and balances them with tahini sauce.
Jump for more food and photos. Continue reading "First Look: Chef Vijay Sadhu Opens Pepper Smash In Plano"5 Comments »
Andrew Chalk chats with Beth Bizegaio of Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas about the slow, cold extraction of vanilla beans.1 Comment »
Former professional paintball players now make smooth vodka in Lewisville, Texas.