It’s a tricky thing, writing about Valentine’s Day. There isn’t a whole lot to be said that isn’t well-worn territory at this point. Which makes sense, I guess, because Valentine’s Day, from the little candy hearts that say ‘be mine’ to the ubiquitous red cupids and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, seems not to have changed much in aesthetic sensibility or theme since I was a kid (minus the Mr. T Valentines, unfortunately). See, Valentine’s Day is not about originality*; so why would writing about it be different? And Valentine’s Day certainly isn’t about subtlety either. If love itself is a metaphoric ballet, Valentine’s Day is a metaphoric lap dance. With ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ playing in the background. Loudly. You can’t ignore Valentine’s Day. Tricky or not, I can’t just not write about Valentine’s Day on Valentine’s Day.
When I arrived at Chocolate Secrets last night to attend the invite-only chocolate tasting put together by Sander Wolf of DallasChocolates.org with master chocolatier Michael Recchiuti, I was expecting a group of snobby chocolatiers discussing chocolate in much the same way as wine snobs go on about the nose, finish, and body of wine. Instead of jargon, everyone was antsy to share their love stories – the unique ways they all came to love chocolate and their fight to make sustainable businesses out of making these confections.
Recchiuti is in town to be a part of Central Market‘s Chocolate Collection. His love story with chocolate involved the last Shah of Iran (Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī) and Bill Gates. If you are itching to know the six degrees of separation, jump with me.
I’ve updated the list of restaurants hosting special Valentine’s Day menus. Check it out. I’d hurry and call, if I were you.
Our ShopTalk editor, Raya Ramsey, has plenty of cool suggestions for presents any girl would probably goggle at.
Do me a favor and swear off chocolate Hershey kisses this year. Buy some Bark Chocolate for your special someone. Matt Shelley loves it, and so did the entire D office.3 Comments »
Still looking for the perfect drink on Valentine’s? If you’re trying to create an air of romance, or just whip up something fun and creative on Valentine’s night, consider one of these tasty cocktails that will put you in the mood for love.
Wild Strawberry Seduction
2 oz. SKYY Infusions Wild Strawberry
1 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 oz. Apple Juice
½ oz. Honey Solution
2 Medium Basil Leaves
2 Medium Strawberries
Directions:Muddle basil, strawberries and lemon juice. Add remaining ingredients. Shake and double strain into coupe glass.
4 oz Sparkling Wine
1 oz Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka
Directions: Pour chilled Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka into a flute. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a strawberry.
1 ounce Shellback Spiced Rum
3/4 ounce Sloe Gin
1/2 ounce Falernum
2 ounces Brut Champagne
Lemon Twist Garnish
Directions: Combine liquids except champagne in cocktail shaker with ice. Stir or shake according to preference. Strain into chilled flute. Top with Brut Champagne. Garnish with lemon twist.
For those of you wishing to avoid the crowds of people rushing out for their prix fixe this Valentine’s Day, plan an intimate dinner at home. You can spend the money you save on a day-after couples’ massage.
Normally, I would give tons of advice about how to get the pasta from the kitchen to the table in less than a minute or how to time your courses, but I won’t. The whole point of eating in for Valentine’s Day is that you can eat at 5:30 or 10:30, or you could never get past the cocktails and leek and chard tarts. Chocolate ganache can be better for breakfast anyway.
Well, perhaps a few pieces of advice are in order. If you want to eat this savory tart (jump to see the photo) as badly as I do, you need to remember one crucial point: the puff pastry must be defrosted in the fridge the day before you bake the tart. You really don’t want to see how ugly a last-minute defrost of puff pastry can be in the microwave. And, really, I w0uld be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that you really must have your butter and asparagus shavings ready the moment you pull your pasta from the boiling water. Fun can be structured. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
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Little brown bags (nostalgic images of childhood frivolity and happy lunchtime indulgence) arrived at the D offices yesterday from a charmingly peaceful young woman. Katy Priore runs Bark Chocolate, and her philosophy and method of cooking is as enchanting as the chocolate is delicious. “It’s made with love, and that’s the most important ingredient… the fundamental importance of cooking with intention.” She delighted a few of us with samples of seven different chocolate barks, each unique and definitive in its flavor profile. Her chocolate coupling calls to mind the ethereal pairing of Zeus and lightning, Elizabeth Taylor and diamonds, Ryan Gosling and eyesight. Let the listing begin.
This chic is twisted, flip city. That is why we love her. This Valentine’s Day Clapner, of Dude, Sweet Chocolate, is designing 300 limited-edition chocolate hearts. Real hearts. Life size. Solid dark chocolate filled with waffle cone, Cocoa Puffs, and her chocolate crack. They are $45. I’d say hurry.
Alan “Patric” McClure, owner of Patric Chocolate, is the kind of guy who blushes when you tell him, “My editor sent me here because you’re famous.”
We’re standing in the middle of Central Market’s busiest intersection – a place where people and grocery carts collide – and it takes him a couple minutes to recover from my forward introduction. When McClure gathers his thoughts, he launches into his insane foodie-ism and then does something completely unexpected: he starts modeling with his chocolate. Tyra would be proud.
Jump for some funny photos.
Nick Badovinus and chef Dan Riley have been hunkered down for over a year developing the menu and creating all kinds of delicious roasted meats for Off-Site Kitchen. Today he is finally opening the doors!
Now, hold your horses. The dining room is tiny. Off-Site Kitchen is basically a take-out restaurant with a few stools inside and some picnic tables outside. Here are some pictures of what you can expect. The food, inspired by “what line cooks eat,” is basically simple sandwiches and breakfast burritos made from quality roasted meats. Roll the Badovinus quote of the year:
“It’s light industrial food,” he said. “It’s the kind of food you want to eat before you go solder something.”
Off-Site Kitchen will be open for lunch only from 10:30AM until 3PM for the next two weeks. Then the breakfast menu will kick in and they will begin serving at 7AM and will remain open until 7PM. “After we hit our stride, we’ll start rolling out the meat-by-the-pound program,” Badovinus said. “I’m so excited. This place is a real man cave.”
The original date for OSK’s opening was February 14, 2011. After Badovinus missed his mark, he decided to workshop the place and open on Valentine’s Day this year. “You see how many financial sacrifices I made to pay for my original vision,” Badovinus said. “I mean I’ve got a wheelbarrow of pork rinds down here. Who doesn’t love that?”
Badovinus was only half-joking about the Valentine’s Day opening. He and chef Dan Riley have used the Off-Site Kitchen space to tweak the menus of Badovinus’ other restaurants (Neighborhood Services, Neighborhood Services Tavern, and Neighborhood Services Bar & Grill). They also use the huge kitchen as a commissary for the other restaurants. The receive, portion, and distribute all of the meat and seafood at Off-Site Kitchen.
SOLDER, EAT, REPORT. No call-in orders. Plan to show up and wait.
[Also, Neighborhood Services Bar & Grill in Preston Royal will open for lunch in two weeks.]
The menu and photos are below.
Megan Wilkes and Mary Gauntt have a wish. They want to make Dallas a pie-friendly city. They have been testing pies, selling pies online, and creating a business plan for a real pie store called The Emporium. To get the feel for how their pies and plans will work, they to pop-up up this weekend in a century-old cottage at 314 N. Bishop. On Saturday (9AM-2PM) and Sunday (2PM-7PM), they will be selling pies: Drunken Nut (bourbon pecan with shortbread crust), Smooth Operator (French silk chocolate in a crispy pretzel crust), and a secret-ingredient Mardi Gras concoction. You can buy a whole pie or a slice and pair it with Cultivar Coffee.
Go. Eat. Report. You can find them across from Hunkys Hamburgers on Bishop Ave. at 8th St.)
Wanna see some pie porn?
Imagine for one second that you happened to forget that it was Valentine’s Day next week. Maybe you were busy at work, maybe you were simply swamped with World of Warcraft, who cares. You forgot and now your wife is giving you the what for. I know how you feel, I’ve been there before. There’s a reason the arms of my micro-fiber couch have sleepy-drool stains on them.
Fear not compadres, there is a foolproof way to get yourself out of the dog house and back on that lovely pedestal.
Step 1: Flowers (they are all suckers for dead plants).
Step 2: Learn the value of a good-ole, tear jerkin’ apology.
Step 3: Surprise her with a night out at Stephan Pyles.
You wife will be putty in your hands.
Though the taste of great Champagne dances on the palate like you were drinking stars from the sky, illuminating the tiny bubbles mimicking diamonds in a glass – the reality is that such a luxury is hard to afford every day, even special days like Valentine’s. I am a big believer in opening up a special bottle on a random Tuesday, but not every special bottle has to cost you an arm and a leg. A bottle is special because you think it is, so here are some special bottles of bubbly that are all under $25. A few selections were sent for editorial consideration.
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva is one of the best bang for your buck bubbles from the famed Ferrer family in Spain. Costing just around $10 a bottle, and often less, this bone dry artisanal Cava from Spain’s Penedès region blends the traditional Cava grapes of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo together in the classic méthode champenoise technique, which is then aged up to 3 years in the bottle. A bubbly to start or end a meal with filled with wild flowers, tropical fruit and citrus with balanced, bright acidity. Continue reading "What To Drink Now: Valentine’s Bubbly On A Budget"
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the mind turns to finding the perfect way to say I love you. Though jewelry is always sure to please; unique, personal gifts that speak directly to your sweetie mean everything, especially when that gift comes in a bottle. Here are a few ideas, some sent for editorial consideration.
Give him or her the ultimate gift: their own barrel of wine. Crushpad allows you to do this. Housed in a state of the art facility in Sonoma, CA, Crushpad brings the excitement of making wine to the everyday guy or gal. If your sweetie (or you) has ever wanted to have the hands on experience of making wine from vine to bottle (i.e. finding the grapes, working a harvest, fermentation, choosing your barrels, designing a label, creating your blend and bottling your own wine) now you can. The best part? You chose your level of involvement. With a highly respected team on site at Crushpad, novice winemakers have the chance to learn the ins and outs of the business from experts, or take advantage of Crushpad’s knowledge and enjoy a more hands off approach while still enjoying the end result: a barrel all their own comprising of 25 cases of wine. With vineyards ranging from the Central Coast of California to Sonoma and Napa to some of the finest in Bordeaux the land and varietal opportunities are divine, giving participants the chance to make their own Bordeaux blend from Margaux, Russian River Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa’s Stagecoach Vineyard. Everything is included in barrel. The price ranges from $6,000 to about $12,000 each depending on the varietal and vineyard. If your wine is good enough, they will help you with a plan on how to sell it publicly.
Continue reading "What To Drink, and Give, Now: Valentine’s Day"