The only thing that’s wrong with Dallas is the brevity of fall. It lasts all of three weeks. Maybe four, if we’re lucky. But whatever God-sent perfect weather we have now is making want to devour everything that’s remotely pumpkin-related. If you’re crazy about pumpkins, too, jump here for the list of pumpkin favorites. Feast your eyes on these food beauties.
Costa Arabatzis and his Chef de cuisine, Richard Silva, are still tweaking the menu for The Greek, but One Arts Plaza is finally seeing the arrival of fresh faces starting on October 15. Come Monday, The Greek will open in the old Commissary space, where John Tesar once ruled the burger kitchen. The Commissary, to be honest, used to feel cluttered and claustrophobic. Tables were spaced six inches apart with barely enough room for waiters to maneuver between them. The burgers were great, but the physical space was not. People like me who enjoy their physical bubbles don’t like it so much when a stranger is almost sitting on top of you, definitely close enough to overhear whatever conversation you’re having with your boss. Not. Cool.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I dropped by The Greek to see what Mary and Costa Arabatzis did with the space. The restaurant is open and inviting, and tables are far enough apart for anybody – not just toddlers – to walk through comfortably. Who knows what it’ll look like once customers fill up the chairs, but for now, even empty, The Greek looks like it’ll give customers more elbow room to enjoy dishes like the ESP (a steak with polenta, flamed with Greek brandy, and an egg over easy on top).
If you missed yesterday’s 6th annual Fiesta Latinoamericana, I feel sorry for your taste buds. The chilly temperatures couldn’t keep the crowd from the daylong event of children’s workshops, live music, cultural dances, and, you guessed it, food.
Anne Marie Weiss, president of DFW Community Alliance, helped organize the event and knew food would be a main attraction.
“Food is a language,” she said as she directed me to the tents. “”It brings people together and opens doors.”
This language brought me under a tent in which 95 percent of those present barely reached my knees. I felt a little out of place but was determined to learn how to make tortillas at La Tortilleria. This event was definitely in the children’s tent for a reason. Volunteers had already prepared the dough (with an instant mixture of masa and water) so there wasn’t much left to do. Continue reading "Fiesta Latinoamericana Brings a Taste of Latin America to Downtown Dallas"
From 10 a.m . to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 6, I’ll be at Tzu Chi’s veggie food sales event (534 W. Belt Line in Richardson), stuffing my face with Taiwanese food.
Tzu Chi Foundation, a non-profit, is a global Buddhist compassion relief organization that has a branch here in Dallas. My mom calls it the “Asian Red Cross,” and the foundation is known for being a generous giver of material aid during times of needs (i.e. Hurricane Katrina). Every so often, Tzu Chi hosts a fundraiser where it sells authentic Taiwanese food in little booths and tables. There’ll be mantao (fluffy bread), luo buo gao (Chinese turnip cakes), red bean desserts, curry puffs, tofu plates, Taiwanese noodles, and other various small plates to eat.
If you’ve never tasted Taiwanese food before, Tzu Chi’s fundraiser is the best place you can start.2 Comments »
The interior is as stunning as the food. Colorful cactus blooms poke from shallow holes carved into a brick wall. A row of old wooden pallets has been sanded, stained, and backlit with rope lights. They hang on the main wall lined with banquettes. The community table was built with wood Reyes salvaged from the fence that once surrounded the restaurant’s dumpster. The railing at the entrance and the wall hangings were created from scraps of metal rescued from trash bins at Wooten Metal. Several customers have tried to buy the large mirror Reyes framed with acid-washed tin. The dining room is so personal that you can’t help but feel like you are eating in someone’s home.
Ed: Raul, everything in the restaurant, you found dumpster diving and trash bins? Most of everything in here is other peoples’ trash?Raul: Yes. Mmhm.Ed: So these are just crate pallets that were just thrown.. thrown away?Raul: Yes.
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Kudos to the State Fair for trying to add some ethnic stuff to its lineup of fried foods and people-watching this year. The Chinese Lantern Festival looks like Asian eye-candy from what photos I’ve seen. But let’s get our cultural facts straight, folks: The State Fair of Texas is celebrating the wrong holiday at the wrong time. The Chinese Lantern Festival traditionally occurs at the beginning of the Lunar calendar, which is in February. What we should all be celebrating right now is the Mid-Autumn Festival.
This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiu Jie) falls on Sunday, September 30, a day when there’s a guaranteed full moon. In the month leading up to the Mid-Autumn Festival, friends and family in Asia exchange rich Chinese pastries called mooncakes (yue bin).
Do the jump for a lesson on mooncakes.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: pumpkin-eating season. To kick-start your journey to pumpkin nirvana, I suggest you head to Afghan Grill or Nora Restaurant, both owned and cheffed by Matt Pikar, and order his version of Kadu. Pikar boils and then sautés thick pucks of pumpkin and covers them with slightly sweet and spicy yogurt meat sauce laced with onions, tomatoes, garlic, cloves, turmeric, cardamom, and mint.
I’ve removed my sad cell phone photograph from the top, but if you would like to get a glimpse of the dish, it is below.
You know what’s cooler than making your own whipped cream for the first time? This German spelling bee that’s happening at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Addison Oktoberfest, which runs from September 20 – 23 at Addison Circle Park (4970 Addison Circle Drive). Ja! If spelling bees aren’t your cup of tea, there’s also a singing competition called “German Idol” where you watch people do some crazy yodeling.Of course there’ll be plenty of bratwursts and strudels and beer, so no need to worry about going hungry. And pssst! Ticket admission is free if you go this Thursday, September 20, between 6 and 11 p.m. Otherwise, you should probably purchase your tickets right here. Ich kann es nicht erwarten.
Four months ago, Kyla Phomsavanh was part of a scary squabble that led to his departure from Thairrific, a restaurant originally opened by his own parents. Now the past is said and done, and Phomsavanh has clearly moved on by opening his new restaurant, Sakhuu, which is a tribute to his business partner/girlfriend Angel Young’s father. The name derives from “sakuu,” the Thai word for white tapioca pearl, and the extra “h” in the name comes from Young’s father. Mr. Khu “had to escape the killing field, go to Vietnam, and change his name to Tran,” says Phomsavanh.
Located at 4801 Bryan Street, Sakhuu offers dishes very similar to Thairrific’s when Phomosavanh was still controlling the kitchen there Expect the same popular stuffed wings, pad thai, and tom kha soup, but starting next week, Phomosavanh will be adding new items (“Sakhuu pearls” with tapioca skin wrapped around ground chicken, soup dumplings with curry flavors) to the menu. On Saturdays only, you can walk into Sakhuu and order a bowl of Thai noodle boat soup, which is a beef-based soup with meatballs and your choice of noodles.
Oh, and before I forget: This restaurant is BYOB-friendly.
I dropped by Desta last night to see what’s been going on with the Ethiopian restaurant ever since the owners, Yayehyirad Lemma and Yenenesh Desta, were found shot dead in front of their house after a long night’s work at their restaurant on August 15. For the past two weeks, mourners have been leaving fresh flowers in front of the empty Ethiopian restaurant, which is now temporarily closed until further notice.
DMN reported last week that a Dallas man named Abey Belette Girma, 37, is believed to have shot the married couple with a pistol because he claimed the two had “disrespected” him. Apparently, Girma was a customer at Desta.
Hopefully, the restaurant will be up and running again. Mac Mckennon, Executive Director of the Mutual Assistance Association For The Ethiopian Community, says the family is still hurting and figuring out what they will do with Desta. Mckennon plans to address the tragedy at the first Taste of Ethiopia this coming weekend at the Plano Centre, which will celebrate the Ethiopian food community in Dallas. ”We cannot not say anything about what happened,” says Mckennon. He’s right: Desta will be sorely missed during all the festivities.1 Comment »
The Mutual Assistance Association For The Ethiopian Community (MAAEC, Inc.) and The Ethiopian Day 2012 committee are putting on the first-ever Taste of Ethiopia, which will feature the “sights, sounds, and tastes of Ethiopia” at the Plano Centre on 2000 East Spring Creek Parkway on Labor Day weekend.
“The first thing we are going to do,” says Mac Mekonnen, the Executive Director of MAAEC, “is have the coffee ceremony.”
Mekonnen explains how Ethiopians have a unique way of drinking coffee – since the drink’s name did derive from the region of Kaffa after all – and the ceremony entails three steps: roasting, grinding, and boiling it in hot water. Then people just sit around drinking very strong coffee (most Ethiopians don’t add sugar). Sitting and drinking where the tradition part comes in.
“In Ethiopia, time is not money,” says Mekonnen. “They talk about their families and friends, and sit around. In this country, you grab and go coffee. It’s a very unique experience…”
After the coffee ceremony, food and samples from three Ethiopian restaurants (Ghion, Ibex, and Lalibela) in Dallas will be provided to guests. There’ll be dance performances, a fashion show, and short films during the entire program that runs from Sept 1-2, 11 a.m. to midnight both days.
Greetings from the other side of the Pacific Ocean! I’m sorry to hurt your stomachs, but I can’t resist sharing this photo of Din Tai Fung’s xiaolongbao (steamed soup dumplings) in Taipei, Taiwan. Look closely: There are at least twenty delicate folds twisted into a spiral shape on top of each bun (I counted), and the skin is so thin it’s practically translucent. So naked are these xiaolongbao, you can see the shrimp and pork filling swimming inside a shallow pool of hot soup. Who wants to die and go to soup dumpling heaven with me? Alright, then, stay with me here…
Nora isn’t just the name of owner/chef Matt Pikar’s seven-month-old daughter, it’s also the name of a restaurant on Greenville Avenue serving the kind of Afghan food I could probably eat every single day for the rest of my life. Ever since Nora officially opened on July 18 after two weeks of soft opening, new guests have already become repeat customers. Apparently it only takes a couple bites to get hooked on Matt Pikar’s spices. Something – maybe the way they can magically transport you from Dallas to the Middle East – is simply addictive about them.
Jump for more beautiful photos by Desiree Espada.
In conjunction with July’s Best Suburbs issue, I’m traveling to 10 different ‘burbs in the DFW area for a semi-weird cross-city food tour. I’ll be documenting all my finds in these ‘Burbalicious posts that’ll be peppered throughout June and July. If you feel like your suburb deserves a shot at some SideDish love, email me and I’ll ask my Magic 8 ball if I should go. Last time, I went to Irving.
I didn’t think it was the brightest idea when Jason, the Web Editor, suggested that I find an ethnic restaurant in Sunnyvale, the whitest town in North Texas. Mary Dews, a previous counselor for the Dallas Tenants Association in the mid-1980s, filed a lawsuit against the city this year for perpetuating racial segregation and Sunnyvale’s maintenance of its all-white character. Memories of sitting across from skinheads in St. Petersburg’s subways suddenly came to mind when Jason told me to travel to Sunnyvale. It was one of the last suburbs on my list to visit. I dreaded the trip.
I figured it’d make big headlines if someone killed an Asian woman in Sunnyvale (or at least make it onto Frontburner), and Jason would inevitably feel terrible guilt for making me go there. That’s the worse that could happen, right? Yelp led me to a Wai Cafe, a restaurant that serves Chinese food and burgers. Entirely skeptical of this concept, Desiree and I drove 15 miles east of Dallas towards 3839 North Belt Line Road where we found the most fascinating Chinese restaurant I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting… in the whitest town of North Texas.
The ladies and gents of the Web Team crowded around my desk area as soon as I uploaded the above photo into Photoshop. Jason Heid thought it looked like “rotten mashed potatoes.” Liz Johnstone called it “caviar.” Best of all, ShopTalk Editor Raya Ramsey dubbed it “old lady food.”
No, my good people. This here is shaved ice with a large helping of pudding, red beans, and ai yu jelly from Tapioca House in Chinatown. Shaved ice, a popular dessert in East Asia that we eat in the summertime, is just crushed ice with syrups (like condensed milk), fruit toppings, and other random Asian junk with weird textures we like that other people don’t (mochi, jellies, pudding, you name it.) You can put anything you want on it, and usually you select from a multitude of toppings for your favorite shaved ice mixture. It’s extremely important to pick strong combos so when the ice melts, you still have this tasty goodness at the bottom of your bowl to slurp up.
Jump for ice.
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"
To gear you guys up for July’s Best Suburbs issue, I’m traveling to ten different ‘burbs in the DFW area for a semi-weird cross-city food tour. I’ll be documenting all my finds in these ‘Burbalicious posts that’ll be peppered throughout June and July. If you feel like your suburb deserves a shot at some SideDish love, email me and I’ll ask my Magic 8 ball if I should go. Last week, I ventured to the Russian Banya in Carrollton.
Euless, Euless, Euless. I honestly know nothing about you except that you lie in that hazy gray area between Dallas and Ft. Worth, and your name sounds a teensy bit like the word “useless”… but let’s not go there. I don’t feel like making 51,277 Eulessian enemies today. And, clearly, you aren’t because you offered my stomach something good to eat. How surprising and kind of you.
When I asked my friend Suzanne what to eat around her ‘hood, she suggested Thai Papaya Garden in Euless because “they have the best Tom Kha chicken noodle soup around.” Continue reading "‘Burbalicious: What I Ate in Euless"
Celebration Farmers Market: Joy Farm is back with some unique organic produce including Armenian cucumbers, sweet orange paruche and yellow currant cherry tomatoes, goldenrod, and black zucchini. If you’re on the market for sweet treats, Stephanie’s Premium Bakery will be out this weekend. She makes amazing citrus shortbread, but what you really want to try are her Triple C cookies (cherry, chocolate chip and chili flake). The spice of the red chili makes a late entrance behind the velvety chocolate and tart cherry, right about the time you start to think “these aren’t spicy.” Gotcha.
4515 W. Lovers Ln.
Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Coppell Farmers Market: This Saturday is Vendor Appreciation Day. Vendors will be provided breakfast before the market and customers are invited to show their favorite vendors and producers some love. Melons of all kind will be taking Coppell by storm this weekend. Pick out a juicy one while you listen to live bluegrass tunes by the Horny Toad Rangers.
793 S. Coppell Rd.
Saturday, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Continue reading "Farm to Market Report: Weekend of June 16-17"
Oops. I completely forgot to tell you guys that yesterday was Filipino Independence Day. Well, in case you feel bad for missing out on all the Filipino festivities in Dallas, lucky for you there hasn’t really been any big DFW celebrations yet. But this Ssaturday, the Deep Ellum Outdoor Market is hosting a Filipino Fest from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 2800 Block of Main Street. Once again, Deep Ellum is blocking off part of the street for a cool outdoor party, and hopefully it won’t piss off any restaurant owners this time.
But DEOM’s Director Brandon Castillo, a Filipino-American, feels certain that the festival is going to bring more traffic to Main Street, which could then trickle into more business for Main Street’s stores. Castillo partnered up with Zen Bistro‘s Chonney Richie (also of Filipino descent) to spearhead this celebration of Filipino art, music, and food, hoping to draw out some of the 30,000 Filipinos that live in the DFW area.
The event promises live music by Filipino artists like the Backwater Opera, June Marleezy, and the Tony Q Project. There’s also going to be a Filipino Cuisine Competition with four different categories people can enter: appetizer, entree, dessert, and cuisine. If you’re not sure what kind of food to expect, here’s what Castillo has to say about dishes from the Philippines:
The secret is out that Rami Rassas is no slouch in the kitchen. The homegrown MasterChef hopeful celebrated his culinary success at Avenu Lounge last night with family and friends – Darren Woodson and Shawn Marion, to name a few.
Rassas has always had a creative streak . He grew up in the kitchen cooking Mediterranean food with his mother, former owner of Leonardo’s Italian Restaurant and the driving force behind his culinary perspective. As he watched people enjoy his food, he discovered he had a passion for creating things that brought people pleasure. When the Mavericks were in the NBA Finals last summer, he took a leap of faith and designed a championship belt celebrating their impending victory. Once the title was officially won, Mark Cuban loved the idea, so Rassas began designing belts for the individual players.4 Comments »