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Leslie Brenner Does NOT Get Dallas!

There. I said it.

I had a few good laughs over the viral media storm and commentary surrounding chef John Tesar’s* antics after Leslie Brenner’s three star review of Knife. While I don’t agree with how he chose to make his point (venting on social media, including a late-night “***BLEEP*** you” tweet and banning Brenner from his restaurants), I do understand why he was infuriated.

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As a native Dallasite, and avid lover of Texas cuisine, I’ve frequently been confused by the inconsistency of Brenner’s reviews. One day, she’ll scribe a glowing write-up, but will give the restaurant just two stars. The next, she’ll verbally sucker punch a place, then award a place three, or even four stars. How does that make any sense?

I sent an interview request to Leslie Brenner. She responded with a link to the Star Review Rating and Price Key, saying only “I hope this helps.”

I thanked her for the information, explained I have questions about the review process and would like to interview her, but she did not respond. I’d hoped an interview would help me understand her process and gain insight. But her lack of response seemed par for the course for Brenner, who’s had a long-standing reputation of being snooty.

What I really wanted to know was how a high-end, upscale restaurant and a casual neighborhood spot could both deserve four stars? Are people to believe a strip-mall sushi place, even a really good one, is performing at the same level of food and service as a fine dining restaurant? Since it’s substantially more difficult to operate a restaurant at the fine dining level, one would hope that would correlate to its’ ability to earn the higher ratings. The key alludes to this, but is unfounded when comparing Brenner’s reviews side-by-side. Shouldn’t only the best restaurants be eligible to earn the highest ratings?

I stopped reading Brenner’s reports a while back because they didn’t make sense and often lacked factual integrity. Brenner’s blunders happen frequently and have become infamous. When they occur, she refuses to acquiesce. No one’s perfect, but the only thing more damaging to a critic’s credibility is refusing to admit or correct an oversight at all.

Let’s just say Brenner’s not cooking with gas. In the 5 years of Brenner’s Texas residence and reviews, she’s managed to put her foot in her mouth (and sometimes both feet) when it comes to the most “Texan” foods of all.

With that I give you…

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UPDATE 10/4/14:Could the hottest new dining trend in Dallas be banning the city’s major critic from your restaurant?

* In the interest of full disclosure, I worked with chef John Tesar November 2011 to January 2013. The opinions expressed in my writing and through social media are my own. I have not been asked to write this article by anyone, nor have I received any form of compensation for my work.

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Culinary Chameleon Chef John Tesar from Seafood to Steak (Video: #WhoIAm)

John Tesar hit a home run last year with Spoon Bar and Kitchen, an ode to seafood that makes adventurous seafood lovers swoon. It’s the kind of restaurant Tesar would eat at if he was in New York, Chicago or LA. However in a landlocked city, Tesar’s Spoon has brought seafood to Dallas in a way our city has never known. Spoon overnights fresh caught whole fish, live oysters, scallops, lobsters and the like on a daily basis, focusing on high quality seafood and sustainable sourcing. The happiest time of the day in the kitchen at Spoon is when the whole fish are being broken down, it’s truly a sight to behold.

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Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

Now Tesar has done it again, only this time with steak! Knife, a modern steakhouse located in the posh Hotel Palomar, opened last week and the place has all the makings of another big hit. Having worked for chef Tesar in the past, I was excited to get caught upon his recent JBF nomination, the newly opened Knife Dallas and his plans for the future.

I asked, you’ve accomplished a lot this past year, were you disappointed to not make it past the semifinal rounds of James Beard? Isn’t a James Beard Award a big item on your bucket list? Tesar – “When you stop to consider how many great chefs there are and that there are millions of restaurants all across America, to be singled out for something like JBF is really big. You can’t take it for granted or be upset if you don’t win, it’s just such a huge honor to be recognized and it’s very humbling. The fact that I’ve been recognized as a Semifinalist on three occasions in our region is something I’m very grateful for. I know Matt McCallister and David Ugyur, the other semifinalist chefs here in Dallas. Matt’s food is great, FT33 is probably the most progressive modern restaurant Dallas has seen. David Ugyur’s style is old school classic Italian, food with integrity, his wife Jennifer is an amazing sommelier and they run a beautiful restaurant at Lucia. People like that are really changing the Dallas dining scene, giving more focus to smaller boutique restaurants. All of the chefs nominated have accomplished something really special and being put in that group very talented people like that, the 20 best from your region, it’s an incredible thing. If I was to ever make it to the finals, I think I’d faint and after that, I wouldn’t even know what to do. My bucket list includes a JBF award for sure, but just to make it to the finals list one day, that would be enough for me.”

NOTE: The video plays in Firefox and Internet Explorer, but if you use Chrome or Safari and receive an error code, click here to view it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/sq87Ld1MJeY

 

Tell me about Knife. How has the evolving dining scene played into your plans for Knife, and how do your goals for Knife differ from that of Spoon? Tesar – “With both concepts I put a lot of pressure on myself to create something truly special and unique, but Knife is very different from Spoon in that it’s much more affordable and approachable, so hopefully more people will be able to experience it. I would consider Knife to be more of a meat restaurant than a steakhouse, but Knife is more fun and less stuffy than a traditional steakhouse experience. Today’s diners are more savvy and are eager to try new things which is opening the door for chefs to be more creative. Knife offers high quality meats, steaks, underutilized specialty cuts, pork and wild game with a wide variety to choose from, so there’s really something for everyone on the menu, even for those who don’t eat meat.”

The menu at Knife covers all the bases. Those familiar with Tesar’s cuisine will recognize a few of Tesar’s signature items like his Penne Black Truffle Pasta, Avocado Fries and CVap Burgers, one, “THE OZERSKY,” is named after four-time James Beard Award winning video journalist and food writer, Josh Ozersky. Just as he did with seafood at Spoon, Tesar has really gone all out with respect to meat, even investing in a custom-built dry aging room where he can produce his own specialty dry aged cuts in-house that are aged anywhere from 45 to 240 days depending on the cut.

What does a 240 day dry aged steak taste like? The dry aging process and the fat of the cut (outer layer and marbling) helps to tenderize the muscles of the meat. Depending on the cut, some steaks are only aged 45 days but the 103 long bone in rib eye reaches it’s dry aging potential at 240 days. The result is an intense heady musky aroma of black truffles, blue cheese, foie gras and buttered popcorn that is so tender and juicy it melts in your mouth and might make you shed a tear of joy. It is suggested that the 240 day dry aged steak, at $80/inch, be shared by a table of 2-4 diners. Knife also offers a few seafood options that make sense for a steak place like oysters, lobster and such. There are also many other delightful surprises like a Ham or Bacon Tasting, or an 18-Hour Braised Crispy Pig Head that I, personally, can’t wait to experience. And for those people who are not fans of meat, Knife has plenty of inventive salads, pastas, soups and sides. Like Spoon, Knife’s space was also designed by Breckinridge Taylor. The interior is comfortable, warm and inviting, wrapped in rich warm woods and highlighted by striking contemporary art work and lighting.

***WARNING*** The following image gallery contains gratuitous meat shots! Vegetarians may want to look the other way.

Knife's Main Dining Room

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Chef Tesar is currently developing several other new restaurant concepts, including another seafood restaurant in a hotel in North Carolina and Tesar is also writing a book titled “Seafood Without an Ocean.”

www.KnifeDallas.com

At Hotel Palomar

5680 North Central Expressway

Dallas, TX 75206

(214) 443-9339

www.facebook.com/KnifeDallas

www.twitter.com/KnifeDallas

 

www.SpoonBarandKitchen.com

8220 Westchester Dr.

Dallas, TX 75221

(214) 368-8220

www.facebook.com/SpoonBarandKitchen

www.twitter.com/SpoonBarKitchen

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Philosopher Chef David Uygur Dishes on the Secrets of his Success

If you’ve been lucky enough to score a reservation at Lucia in the Bishop Arts District, you probably already know what a gem this place is. For those who haven’t already experienced it, Lucia is small (only 36 seats) and reservations are booked out months in advance because the food is so simple and lovely that it will transport you to a land far, far away. However, if you don’t have a reservation and you’re dying to check it out, you can try your luck at the four open seats inside at a counter (available on a first come basis) and there are a few non-reservation tables outside on the sidewalk that are used when the weather is nice.

 

Photo Credit: Lucia Dallas

Photo Credit: Lucia Dallas

 

I spoke with David Uygur to discuss his unique approach to Italian cuisine and his recent James Beard nomination. I asked chef Uygur to describe the food at Lucia and what they do that makes it so special. “I want to feel good about the food we prepare and where it comes from. Style wise, I really do like Italian food, it’s what I’m most interested in. But since we’re in North-East Texas, we work with ingredients that are local. The cuisine is completely influenced by what we have around us and what we have to work with. In that way, the food at Lucia is very Italian-American as far as processes and techniques. What we do here is our version of Italian food. It’s influenced by the food of Italy, in that it’s all about the raw product and respect for the ingredients. I get inspired by traveling and the changing of the seasons. I love when it starts getting warm out after a long winter and you get the first peas of the season, ramps and green garlic, it’s a celebration of the ingredients. We make everything from scratch in-house as much as possible. I taught myself how to make charcuterie, we make that in house, too. We make all of our own bread and pastas, we butcher a whole hog every two weeks. I take a lot of pride in doing things like that, it’s neat.”

 

Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

 

I asked, now that people are becoming more educated about food, how do you think that has that changed the dining experience? Uygur – “I think it’s making things better, it always drove me nuts to see big restaurants with closed kitchens. It creates a disconnect between the kitchen and the dining room. People would look at the menu and talk to the waiter, order the food, they’d take the menus away and then the food just comes out like auto-mat. Ding! There it is, you know? The disconnect always drove me nuts. Back in the kitchen you could tell diners had no idea what it took to make that food be what it is. Today, I think people appreciate the fact that they can see the people who are preparing and actually tasting the food that’s being served. I stress to all of my cooks, they must taste the food. It’s good for people to see them eating it (not chowing down). But, people need to know that not only are you cooking it, you care about quality control. That’s crucial, it’s the only way it works. I like having that connection and for people to see how we do interesting things in the kitchen.”

David Uygur is no stranger to the James Beard House. He has been invited to cook there in the past, but this year was David’s first nomination for an award. I asked, it must feel really good to be recognized by JBF for your efforts. What a nice reflection of the attention to detail you place on every dish in your restaurant. What would it mean to you to earn such a prestigious award? Uygur was very modest and humble in his response and replied simply, “I don’t know. I mean, I think that all chefs are competitive, you know? It’s great to see new names from Dallas on the list too, I think it is a sign of how the Dallas food scene is evolving. But yeah. I would love to win a James Beard award, that would be a-w-e-s-o-m-e.”

NOTE: The video plays in Firefox and Internet Explorer, but if you use Chrome or Safari and receive an error code on the video, click here to view on YouTube: http://youtu.be/i2vwaO4AsVU

 

 

www.LuciaDallas.com

408 West Eighth St., Suite 101

Dallas, TX  75208

(214) 948-4998

www.facebook.com/LuciaDallas

www.twitter.com/LuciaDallas

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Now for Something Totally NEW & Different…

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We’re pleased to announce Urban Epicurious has formed a collaborative partnership with Rebecca Combs TV. Together we’ve formed a food media production company and are launching a new video article series, “Behind the Scenes” with B&B Food Media.

Here’s a sneak peek at our Sizzle Reel to give you a little taste of what’s to come:

NOTE: If you receive an error code on the video, click to view: http://youtu.be/r8vliLNLnMo

 

About B&B Food Media:

Bev Garvin and Becca Combs are two native Dallasites who are passionate about the culinary arts. It’s great to see how the growth of our city is attracting restaurant opportunities that are shaping Dallas into a culinary destination that shines on the national and global radar.

Our mission is simple, to tell the impressive and sometimes unbelievable stories about the fascinating people who bring fantastic foodstuff to our fine city and who are doing remarkable things in the Dallas food scene. In the interest of transparency, it is important to note that while we are available to hire for outside creative marketing and video work, we do not receive any monetary compensation from the restaurants, companies, businesses or people we highlight in our films. Our work is truly a labor of food love.

We have many more appetizing adventures in store and hope you are entertained along the way. If you like what you see, please be sure to comment and share our content with your friends or on your social networks to let us know that we’re doing good a good job. We sincerely appreciate your support.

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Up Close and Personal with Matt McCallister

Some people are obsessed with sports. But if you’re like me, it’s all about food and for this food fanatic, the James Beard Foundation Awards are the “Super Bowl of Everything Food.” When it was announced that none of the JBF Semifinalist Chefs and other category nominees from “Team Dallas” made it to the final round, I was bummed to say the least. I reached out to Matt McCallister, David Ugyur and John Tesar recently to hear their thoughts on the Dallas shut out.  What they had to say may surprise you.

Matt-McCallister-FT33-Hands

Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

I’ll never forget the first time I met Matt McCallister. He was packing up at the end of an event (not related to a restaurant). We had never met and I did not know who he was. I heard him say “I gotta hurry up and get home to butcher a goat.” I turned to him and implored, “Please tell me you’re a chef, and you are not involved some sort of satanic cult ritual or something.” He replied, waiving his hands emphatically, “Oh no, no, I’m a chef, I’m a chef!” – true story.

Matt has come a long way since he burst on to the Dallas dining scene a little more than four years ago during his first solo gig at Campo (formerly in Bishop Arts). He stands out because of his passion and eccentric creativity, starting with the seasonal ingredients he meticulously selects, sometimes foraging or even growing himself, peculiar protein choices, using cuts of meat often overlooked, right down to drawing out precisely how a dish should appear when plated.

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Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

I asked McCallister about his recent JBF nod and the Dallas snub. Here’s what he had to say, “Its’ been a crazy year since opening FT33. I don’t know, its nice to get recognition, especially when you work 90-100 hours every week and you’re just trying to put out the best food you know how to. I’m blown away by all the accolades we’ve received. We’ve got a great team. I think Ugyer and Tesar are both doing really great things and it’s also nice to see so many friends I know across the country being nominated as well.”

Chef McCallister hosts Guest Chef Dinners at FT33 on the third Monday of each month, he recently hosted a dinner with JBF Finalist – Best Chef Southwest, Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine (Austin). But never fear, coming up on June 16th he will host another with JBF Finalist – Best Chef Northeast, Matt Jennings of Farmstead (Rhode Island). Later this year on August 18th, you can also catch JBF Semifinalist – Best Chef Southwest, Seth Siegel-Gardner of Pass and Provisions (Houston).

Matt’s not too sad about the JBF shut out though, last week he was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 2014, he went on to say, “Even though Dallas is out of JBF this year, it’s still great to see so many Texas and especially Dallas restaurants progressing really fast in the dining scene. I’d like to see less quantity of restaurants openings but an even higher caliber restaurants opening in Dallas to keep that going and evolving from here.”

NOTE: The video plays in Firefox and Internet Explorer, but if you use Chrome or Safari and receive an error code on the video, click here to view on YouTube: http://youtu.be/qCM0cT2-i58

www.FT33Dallas.com

1617 Hi Line Drive, Suite 250

Dallas, TX 75207

(214) 741-2629

www.facebook.com/ft33dallas

Twitter: @FT33Dallas @ChefMattMcCallister

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Win a $50 Gift Basket for Your Valentine from Empire Bakery!

Dear Empire Bakery,

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways, Linzer cookies, shortbread cookies, chocolate brownies, cranberry scones and cranberry walnut bread and so many reasons more.

If you’ve eaten at any of the best restaurants in Dallas, Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, to Bolsa Mercado, or Lee Harvey’s, just to name a few, you’re already familiar with Empire Bakery Company’s delicious baked goods. What you may not know is they also have a retail store where they sell to the public.

Owners Robert and Meaders Ozarow have been honoring the tradition of bread making in their Dallas, Texas, bakery for over 20 years. This family-owned and operated artisan bakery sells wholesale to many local restaurants and bakes European style natural breads, pastries, cookies, sandwiches and salads at it’s retail location (on West Lovers between the North Dallas Tollway and Inwood).

With goods this fresh, you can order your choice of bread today (download menu Empire Baking Menu), it will be baked from scratch in the morning and can be delivered tomorrow while still warm straight from the oven!

 

Roses are Red, Gluten is GREAT!

Sugar is Sweet & OMG are Those Brownies!?!?

Starting today through Friday February 14th, 2014 comment below, post on Facebook or Tweet your Valentines using #UrbanValentines and you’ll be automatically entered to win a $50 Gift Card from Empire Baking Company!

Valentine-Promo-Empire-Bakery-2014-COMBO

One lucky winner will be chosen. The more you post, tweet and share, the better your chances to win. Must be over age 21 to win. Winner will be announced on Valentine’s Day at 3:00 pm on social media. Winner must pick up Gift Certificate from Empire Bakery no later than 30 days after announcement, and my decision is final. So, bring on your most clever, funniest Valentines!

MORE INFORMATION:

Phone: (214) 350-0007

Online: http://www.EmpireBaking.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EmpireBakingCompany

Twitter: @EmpireBaking

Hours: Mon-Sat 8 a – 6 p | Sun 9:30 a – 4 p

Address: 5450 West Lovers Lane (at Inwood Lane), Dallas, Texas 75209

Click the map for Google Maps directions.

 

empire baking company directions

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Win an Invite to the Friends & Family Preview of Kitchen LTO

The highly anticipated permanent pop-up restaurant, Kitchen LTO makes its’ debut this week. The construction dust has settled, the staff has been trained, chef Norman Grimm has developed the menu (below) and Coveal Studios has designed a stellar space for the launch of Kitchen LTO’s first concept. As though that wasn’t exciting enough news, owner, Casie Caldwell, announced today they will be giving away preview invitations through social media to a few lucky people to attend the Friends & Family Preview this Monday September 9th, and Tuesday 10th, where guests can nibble, nosh and savor to their heart’s content.

Here’s what you need to do for a chance to win:

  • Like “Kitchen LTO” on Facebook
  • Follow @KitchenLTO on Twitter
  • Comment or Tweet “I can’t wait for ________. #KLTOImHungry”

The winners will be selected from the categories above, you’ll automatically be entered, (one chance for each new Like or Follow). If you’ve already done that, just tweet or comment about what you can’t wait to see from Kitchen LTO using #KLTOImHungry. You may tweet and comment as many times as you like, each counts for EVEN MORE chances for you to win. Kitchen LTO will announce each winners via social media. Stay tuned to see if you win.

Kitchen LTO’s Dinner Menu

This is a promotional post, written by Bev Garvin for on behalf of my client, Kitchen LTO, photo credit: Claire McCormack.

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Chipotle Coupons Support the Dallas Farmers Market

On August 6, 2013, in Shopping, by Bev Garvin
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Get Free Produce at Dallas Farmers Market this Weekend

JT Lemley, Lemley's Produce, Certified Organic, Local Farmer, Shed 1, Dallas Farmers Market

JT Lemley’s Produce (Shed 1 Dallas Farmer’s Market) has sold his locally grown goods at the farmers’ market since 1976!

Chipotle Mexican Grill is celebrating National Farmers Market Week by giving away $10 currency tokens at the Dallas Farmers Market! Get yours this weekend (August 10th – 11th) when you  stop by the Chipotle tent at the Dallas Farmers Market. Redeem your $10 currency token that day from farmers at the market for free produce of your choice. Tokens will be given away to the first 250 market-goers who stop by the Chipotle tent until noon each day, while supplies last.  Once redeemed, Farmers will receive back the full cash value of their collected tokens from Chipotle. This local farmers market initiative is part of Chipotle restaurants’ national campaign to donate $110,000 to 55 farmers markets across the country. The Chipotle tent won’t be serving food, but in addition to the $10 produce tokens, they will also be giving away recipe cards for classic menu items like its’ famous salsa and guacamole, “Grow Your Own” cilantro seed packets and a Chipotle coupon for a buy-one, get-one free (burrito, bowl, taco or salad entrée) menu items that can be redeemed at any area Chipotle location. What a great way support buying local, eating healthy and giving back to the community in a healthy way.

 

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About Chipotle’s “Food with Integrity”

“For nearly two decades, Chipotle has been committed to bringing customers better food from more sustainable ingredients, and we believe that supporting local, family owned farms is an important part of this,” said Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle. “Local food not only tastes better, but is better for the environment and contributes to vibrant communities throughout rural America.” Through its’ vision of Food With Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food from using ingredients that are not only fresh, but that—where possible—are sustainably grown and naturally raised with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food.

Mexican Grill is the largest national restaurant company to commit to organic, green earth-friendly practices. Today, Chipotle restaurants source 100% of their meat (pork, beef and chicken) from naturally raised animals that are raised humanely, in open environments, fed vegetarian diets and are never given hormones or antibiotics. Chipotle will soon offer Tofu to its menu, and its’ produce is from locally sourced (within 350 miles of the restaurant) certified organic farmers, whenever possible, and Chipotle has vowed to limit use of genetically modified ingredients “GMOs” or eliminate them wherever possible. Chipotle is also uses green practices in their operations like recycled napkins, and burrito bowls, aluminum and other eco-friendly initiatives. This video describes their culinary philosophy and how it supports these initiatives.

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Dallas Urban Acres Market Farmstead Kickstarter

On August 3, 2013, in Shopping, by Bev Garvin
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An Urban Farmstead is Coming to Oak Cliff

Urban Acres Market is wrapping up its’ Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 by August 5th to build a one of a kind Farmstead only five minutes from Downtown Dallas in historic Oak Cliff that will bring the farm into the city.On July 28th, they announced that they had reached the goal and were now going for the next mark of $45,000 by Monday, August 5th. To incent people to help them reach their goal, they have lots of cool prizes for donations of all amounts.

Urban Acres started between a few good friends who had an idea to connect farms with people who want locally grown organic food. Today, Urban Acres Market has become a wonderful source of local, organic food for about 2,300 people in the Dallas metroplex. At Urban Acres, their goal was to provide the public with access to the very best local and organic foods while supporting Texas farm families and artisans. So they created a co-op-style produce system with pick-up locations all over Dallas that make shopping easy and trying new veggies fun. The Kickstarter funding will allow Urban Acres to expand its’ scope and even better serve the community. Here’s the inside scoop:

 

The Urban Acres Vision

To create a small oasis, (approximately 1300 sq ft) in the historic neighborhood of Oak Cliff right in the heart of Dallas, that will bring together the best of Texas farms and local artisans all under one roof. Imagine a place where patrons can enjoy deliciously prepared local food, learn about aquaponic gardening, the importance of bees, feed the chickens and enjoy a cup of locally roasted coffee while relaxing in a rocking chair on the front porch.  A place for our community to interact over food, and the idea that local food matters while sipping ice tea.  It might just be the craziest thing, but so was bringing organic fruits and veggies from Texas farmers into the city and because of the Urban Acres family, this is a reality today.

 

The Urban Acres Farmstead Construction Check List:

  • City Permits, Demo, Construction, & Plans
  • 4 Foot Cheese Case
  • Open Kitchen to slice and dice veggies and fruit
  • 300 Sq Ft Aquaponics Garden
  • Bee & Butterfly Garden
  • Front Porch Patio with Communal Table & Rocking Chairs
  • Nice Beautiful Sign for Front of Store
  • Lights and Signs for Inside of Store
  • Big New Front Door

sand-creek-farm-e1361390077616

How Can You Help?

Urban Acres is here because of YOU – and they can’t do this without you. With your help, Urban Acres will create a unique gathering place for our community and help Dallas see that local food matters. In return, they are offering fantastic gifts featuring many of Dallas’ best artisans at each donation level.

Your Gift to Dallas:

  • An aquaponics farmstead for growing produce and education
  • A chicken run to supply the freshest eggs in town
  • An artisan cheese case crafting the best-in-Texas cheeses
  • A fun and funky community space for classes and events
  • A bee and butterfly garden
  • Farmstead-to-table events
  • Access to farmstead-to-table gourmet goods

Urban Acres Gift to You:

  • Exclusive farm tours
  • Special edition Urban Acres apparel and accessories
  • Aquaponics classes
  • Cooking classes with notable chefs
  • Fresh organic locally grown produce
  • A party with a chef
  • In-store exclusives
  • High-fives and immense gratitude

More Information: www.UrbanAcresMarket.com/Kickstarter

 

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Gourmet Cupcakes Invade Dallas

fluellen-cupcakes-logo

If you’re like me, you appreciate gourmet delights of all kinds, especially those of a sweet persuasion. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Sprinkles 24-hour Cupcake ATM in Preston Center (CRAZY idea – huh)? Well, this is kinda like that, only minus the 24-hour part. You see, there’s a new gourmet cupcake baker in town, and they have high aspirations of world domination or “The Best Cupcake on the Planet,” although they’re quick to point out there isn’t documentation to support this claim.

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Fluellen Cupcakes (the owners of Dimples Cupcakes in Frisco, TX) announced the soft-opening of their new Downtown Dallas digs at the corner of Akard & Elm. You may wonder about the name, Fluellen “flew-el-en” which is the owner, Keith Fluellen’s, last name.

This hip confectioner offers a warm and inviting neighborhood cafe that will feature a coffee bar (coming soon) with coffee, espresso, lattes, tea, hot chocolate, frappuccino, smoothies and other cold beverages in addition to its’ sweet treats. Fluellen offers an array of options from large cupcakes ($4/ea $24/6 $48/dozen), mini-cupcakes (2 dozen $48), cake pops ($2/ea), 10″ & 12″ cakes, bridal cakes (call for quotes on cakes), and corporate deliveries.

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Cupcake Flavors: Left-Coconut Vanilla, Center Top-Lemon Delight, Center Left-Banana Pudding, Center Right-Chocolate, Center Bottom-Red Velvet, Right-Snickerdoodle

Best selling flavors are Wedding Cake, Red Velvet, Banana Pudding, Strawberry, Lemon Delight and Cookies ‘N’ Cream. You’ll want to check their website for the cupcake flavor schedule so you won’t miss your favorites. I’ve tried several, and so far, my favorites have been Banana Pudding and Snickerdoodle.

More Information:

Phone: (469) 248-0856

Online: www.FluellynCupcakes.com | Facebook | Twitter

Hours: Mon-Thu 7 a – 9 p | Fri-Sat 7 a – 11 p | Sun 10:00 a – 7 p

Address: 1408 Elm St. (Corner of Elm St. & Akard St.). Dallas, TX 76202

Fluellyn-Cupcakes-Map

Click to View in Google Maps

 

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Dallas Trinity Groves Fork Fight Round 2 Recap

On July 19, 2013, in Foodie Fun, by Bev Garvin
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And the Winner is…

“Foodie Couture” Chef Uno Immanivong of Chino Chinatown!

Last night’s Fork Fight at 3015 Trinity Groves was a fully packed house of almost 300 for this epic battle of delectable delights, as seasoned chef, Norman Grimm duked it out against Foodie Uno Immanivong to the bitter end. Here’s how it all went down.

Trinity Groves, Fork Fight, Kitchen LTO, Chino Chinatown, Celebrity Chef Competition,Dallas, TX

Course 1 – Winner Kitchen LTO

Kitchen LTO’s Crispy Yellowfin Tuna Tartare, Tamari Glaze, Asian Pear, Avocado & Fingerlimes

Chino Chinatown’s Banana Leaf, Duck Confit Tamale with Roasted Heirloom Tomato Salsa & Crispy Duck Chip

In this round, there was no match. Kitchen LTO won, hands down. The subtle lusciousness of the rare tuna made me wish I had more. The duck tamale had good flavor, but it was cold when served and was seasoned with five spice, which is not my favorite seasoning. Also, the sauce lacked the depth of flavor it needed and there was no crispy duck chip.

Course 2 – Winner Kitchen LTO

Kitchen LTO’s Sake Glazed Pork Belly, Pink Lady Apple Puree, Sunchoke with Herb Salad and an Intermezzo of Watermelon Mint Granite with Tequila Lime Essence

Chino Chinatown’s Butter Poached Lobster Spring Roll with Pineapple Habanero Dressing

The pork belly was my favorite dish of the night, it was moist, cooked to perfection, and paired nicely with the sweetness of the Pink Lady Apples. It was all I could do to keep from licking the sunchoke off the plate!

The spring roll was nice, light and playful with enoki mushrooms sprouting from the tops. I liked it, but there wasn’t much flavor. Mine had just a small bite of lobster, and it was slightly overcooked. I hoped the sauce had the potential to make this dish a game changer, but it fell short because there was not enough and it had only the sweetness of the pineapple with no habanero, or even a hint of spice to be found.

Course 3 – Winner Chino Chinatown

Trinity Groves Fork Fight Round 2

Kitchen LTO’s Braised Short Rib, Seasonal Vegetables with Braised Marble Potatoes

Chino Chinatown’s Braised Mexican Coke and Lemongrass Short Rib with Grilled Bok Choy and Latin Sticky Rice

Chef Norm’s short rib was good, but the meat had overcooked as it was held in the warming drawer waiting to be served, so it was leaning to the dry side.

Chef Uno’s short rib, on the other hand, was a beautiful presentation that literally fell off the bone and it tasted even better than it looked, in spite of the “invisible” sticky rice (which was invisible because the rice didn’t turn out so chef Uno 86’ed it from the course), this dish was a total knockout.

Course 4 – Tie

Kitchen LTO’s Creme Fraiche Sorbet, Balsamic Reduction, Strawberries and Cracked Black Pepper

Chino Chinatown’s Pina Colada Cake with Salted Coconut Rum Caramel

The sorbet, even as it quickly melted into a puddle on my plate, was a lovely palate cleanser, the sweetness was perfectly balanced by the balsamic which intensified the perfectly ripe strawberries with an ambrosial essence that finished with the light subtle creme.

The cake was good, too. The salted caramel played nicely off the delightful little coconut cake which was a tad on the dry side, but tasted divine and was garnished by a powerfully alcohol-infused cherry. I think if this dessert had incorporated a little more of the caramel sauce on the cake instead of just as a drizzle on the plate, it would have been sublime.

Both chefs fought a hard battle but in the end, the dinner guests cast their fork ballots (literally forks in a bucket) and Uno Immanivong was declared the winner, congratulations, chef Uno! Next week will bring a new battle with two more restaurants at 3015 at Trinity Groves.

One last word of advice, these events are a lot of fun, but they are open seating which can be a little crazy.  I recommend arriving early and grabbing your seat as soon as you get there. This way you can sit back, relax and have a really great experience with your friends. Or, better yet, get a group together and purchase a table that seats eight people. This way you’ll have a reserved seat and will get a break off the full ticket price, too.

Here’s how each Fork Fight will go down:

Each fight is $75 per person (or $500 for table that seats eight people) which includes cocktails, two appetizers, two salads, two entrees, and two desserts, one from each competitor.

Doors open at 7:00 p.m., when cocktails are served. The seated dinner begins promptly at 7:45 p.m.

Each week, the restaurants compete, a winner is chosen by the public and that restaurant moves on to the next round to face-off a different restaurant each week.

The Fork Fight full line-up is scheduled as follows:

Wednesday, July 10: Round 1 with SOUK vs. Casa Rubia Winner SOUK!
Thursday, July 18: Round 2 with Kitchen LTO vs. Chino Chinatown Winner Chino Chinatown!
Thursday, July 25: Round 3 with Amber Jax vs. Saint Rocco
Thursday, August 1: Round 4 with LUCK vs. Resto Gastro Bistro
Thursday, August 8: Round 5 with winners of Round 1 – SOUK vs. Chino Chinatown 2
Thursday, August 15: Round 6 with winners of Round 3 vs. Round 4
Thursday, August 22: Round 7 with winners of Round 5 vs. Round 6
Thursday, August 29: Final round with Sharon Van Meter vs. winner of Round 7

You can purchase tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com “Fork Fight” or just click the link.

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Open Casting Call – Does Your Cuisine Reign Supreme?

Calling all chefs and gourmet cooks, the Food Network would like to hear from you for a show where you can compete to win up to $20,000! If you’re one of those people, you know the kind, the ones who can make something amazing out of nothing and whip up a gourmet delight effortlessly. Or whose recipes are as inventive as they are delicious, this is your chance to shine.

GGG Flyer Final
The Food Network is conducting a nationwide search, looking for highly skilled chefs and professional cooks from all backgrounds. Any style of cooking is welcome. Whether you cook at a fine dining restaurant or own your own diner, are an executive chef, sous chef, private chef or caterer. Or, even if you’re a simply a gourmet home cook and you think you have the chops to make mincemeat out of the competition, you should apply.

From the producers of Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, this new series will put talented chefs and professional cooks to the test in the ultimate supermarket-themed showdown. To navigate the aisles of this high-pressure competition, you’re going to need clever cooking solutions and supermarket savvy. From shopping on a budget to substituting out-of-stock ingredients, contestants will have to race against the clock to survive. If you think you have what it takes to be the last chef standing, they would love to hear from you.

To apply, simply send an email to: grocerygames@rrstaff.com with your City and State in the subject line of the email.

In the body of the email, please send the following information:

  • Your first and last name.
  • Best contact phone number to reach you.
  • A recent photo/headshot preferred.
  • List your current occupation.
  • Describe your culinary background.
  • Why you think you have what it takes to win.
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Dallas Trinity Groves Fork Fight

On July 12, 2013, in Foodie Fun, by Bev Garvin
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The Trinity Groves Fork Fight Competition is Heating Up

If you haven’t ventured over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge yet, you now have a really good reason to do it! In September, about a dozen new shops and restaurants will begin opening as they make their debut in Phil Romano and company’s commercial real estate/restaurant incubator venture project.

Between now and then, to give the hungry public a taste of what’s to come, Trinity Groves has cooked up a bracket-style competition where eight new restaurants will compete against each other and the guests get to decide who wins by voting with their forks! The winning restaurant will face-off in Round 8 against culinary godmother, Chef Sharon Van Meter, owner of 3015 at Trinity Groves event space (where the events are being held) for the finale on August 29th.

This is your opportunity to be the first to see what each new restaurant will soon have to offer early this Fall. The first round was held on July 10th and ended with, Souk narrowly beating rival Casa Rubio.

Dallas Trinity Groves Fork Fight Competition Kitchen LTO vs Chino Chinatown July 18, 2013

On Thursday, July 18th, the 3015 at Trinity Groves event space will heat up again as Round 2 of Fork Fight kicks off. This time, Kitchen LTO’s first chef, Norman Grimm, will compete against Uno Immanivong of Chino Chinatown.  You may recognize Uno from ABC’s chef/reality competition The Taste, where she was mentored by Anthony Bourdain.  It should be an interesting battle, given Norman Grimm has worked under and was mentored by another famous chef, Traci Des Jardins of Jardinière, a French influenced California fine-dining restaurant and the highly regarded chef, Sharon Hage, formerly of York Street in Dallas, TX.

Casie Caldwell, Owner of Kitchen LTO, is so excited about the competition next week that she even wrote a song called “Goin’ Down to the Fork Fight” that is featured in this smack talk video:

In response to Kitchen LTO’s video, Uno Imannivong of Chino Chinatown released this video from her “publicist,” a.k.a. her adorable daughter, Emma:

Here’s how each Fork Fight will go down:

Each fight is $75 which includes cocktails, two appetizers, two salads, two entrees, and two desserts, one from each competitor. You will not leave hungry!

Each Fork Fight will be is a seated dinner with four courses from each chef (eight courses total), an open bar (cocktails and wine) and all service and gratuities are included for just $75/person or $500 for table that seats eight people!

Doors open at 7:00 p.m., when cocktails are served. The seated dinner begins promptly at 7:45 p.m.

Each week, the restaurants compete, a winner is chosen by the public and that restaurant moves on to the next round to face-off a different restaurant each week.

The Fork Fight full line-up is scheduled as follows:

Wednesday, July 10: Round 1 with SOUK vs. Casa Rubia Winner SOUK!
Thursday, July 18: Round 2 with Kitchen LTO vs. Chino Chinatown
Thursday, July 25: Round 3 with Amber Jax vs. Saint Rocco
Thursday, August 1: Round 4 with LUCK vs. Resto Gastro Bistro
Thursday, August 8: Round 5 with winners of Round 1 – SOUK and Round 2
Thursday, August 15: Round 6 with winners of Round 3 and Round 4
Thursday, August 22: Round 7 with winners of Round 5 and Round 6
Thursday, August 29: Final round with Sharon Van Meter vs. winner of Round 7

You can purchase tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com “Fork Fight” or just click the image above and it will take you to the ticket page.

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See Paula Deen in Dallas

On July 1, 2013, in Ooh Squirrel, by Bev Garvin
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As the Butter Churns

Paula Deen Gets a Texas Welcome from Mayor Tom Leppart with custom Stetsons for her, her husband Michael and even her dog.

 

Paula Deen continues to experience serious financial fall out after admitting she used racial slurs in her deposition statement given in a lawsuit filed against Paula Deen Enterprises by a former employee. On Friday, her publisher, Ballantine Books (a Random House company), announced that it, too, has withdrawn from their relationship. Ballantine Books will not publish Deen’s new book titled, Paula Deen’s New Testament, All Lightened Up, nor will it publish the four other books she was contracted to write. This was shocking news, considering the book was ranked #1 on Amazon’s Best Seller List based on overwhelming pre-sales of the book, scheduled to be released on October 15th.

Ballantine Books joins the growing list of companies that have severed relationships with the estimated 100-million dollar Paula Deen food merchandising empire, including the Food Network, Smithfield hams, the Novo Nordisk diabetes drug company. Restaurant partner, Caesars Entertainment, announced it will remove Paula Deen’s name and rebrand the restaurants it owns in several states. And major retail partners selling Deen-branded merchandise will be phasing out remaining inventory from food products, cookware, and health and wellness products, to various home and decorative products sold at Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, J.C. Penney Co., Sears and Home Depot. QVC also announced that it will “take a pause” from working with the southern cook.

UPDATE: 7/4/13 – The Food Network announced that Barry Weiner, Paula Deen’s long time agent, will no longer represent Ms. Deen, raising further speculation that, perhaps there is more to this than a single instance of using a racial slur.

Paula Deen to Appear in Dallas this September

However, never fear Paula Deen fans, The Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show, coming to the Dallas Convention Center September 21-22, 2013, has said it plans to continue with Paula Deen as the headline presenter for the show, and issued this statement on their website:

“Paula Deen has been a friend of The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show for many years. She has apologized and we are taking her apology at her word and moving forward accordingly. MetroCooking does not condone or believe in the use of derogatory slurs by anyone. This is a nation of forgiveness and second chances. In that spirit we intend to go forward with the MetroCooking Shows in Houston, Dallas and Washington, DC as planned with Paula as a presenter. At this time we have no plans to do otherwise.”

Tickets to attend the show to see Paula Deen range from $65 for a one-day general admission ticket, $95 for reserved seating, $140 for a photo-op including brunch, up to a $400 VIP experience including the brunch, photo-op, reserved seating, an apron, access to the VIP Chill Lounge and an autographed copy of “Southern Cooking Bible” (released Oct 2011).

You can purchase tickets to see Paula Deen in Dallas here.

Other ticket options and information can be found on their website at www.metrocookingdallas.com.

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Honey Bee School is now in Session

I don’t normally write about deals I find on the internet, but this offer from Amazon Local is WAY too cool to not share!

Round Rock Honey, in Round Rock, Texas is offering a bee keeping classes in a few cities including “Dallas,” (actually in Copper Canyon, TX just North/West of Lewisville).

bee, bees, honey bee, honey bees, round rock honey, bee hive, bee hives, bee pollen, bee supplies, bee keeping, beekeeping, beekeep, beekeeper, beekeeping school, organic honey, raw honey, honey bee hive, bee hive,

Did you know that, Round Rock Honey company operates one of the largest bee keeping schools in the U.S.? For those interested in learning about bees and the art of harvesting honey, Round Rock Honey offers classes via its Beekeeping Academy. Led by Round Rock Honey owner Konrad Bouffard and his team of expert beekeepers, each students is given an opportunity to “suit up” and learn the finer points of organic beekeeping. Classes are available year-round in Texas (Round Rock, Dallas, Houston and Waco), as well as California (San Francisco, Redwood City and San Diego), and Madison, WI.

Below is a link for you to purchase your tickets to bee keeping school. Whether you’re just curious to learn more about these fascinating creatures or, perhaps, if you’re so inclined to think you may want to build a honey bee feeder of your own, this is a great place to go for information. Tickets are normal $125/per person but are only $45 with the promotion below with options for two or three people as well. This deal will be offered by Amazon Local through tomorrow, June 11th, so get it now if you’re interested!

The bee keepers at Round Rock Honey (just outside Austin, TX), are obsessed with the engineering prowess of honeybees. They do their best to mimic the bees’ magnificent process as they strive to produce a superior honey. Their honeybees collect nectar from over 90 different sites in order to capture the vast array of pollens in all of the Central Texas “microclimates”. Before bottling Round Rock Honey they don’t heat or filter the honey, instead they harvest the hives then separate the honey by centrifuge at room temperature to preserve all the natural enzymes, pollen and floral essences the honeybees put into it, creating the highest quality flavor. They test their honey with three different independent labs several times each year to ensure pollutants never find their way into your favorite natural sweetener. In layman’s terms, Round Rock honey is 100% pure and raw Texas honey.

Three-Hour Beekeeping Class for One, Two, or Three People

Round Rock Honey
Sold by Round Rock Honey
The Details

You may be busy as a bee, but we hope you slow down and enjoy this sweet deal from Round Rock Honey. Whether you think donning a full bee suit or coming face to face with 60,000 bees is cooler, this class introduces you to both, along with a plethora of beekeeping-related information.

  • $45 ($125 value) for a three-hour beekeeping class for one
  • $79 ($250 value) for a three-hour beekeeping class for two
  • $129 ($375 value) for a three-hour beekeeping class for three
  • Gain hands-on experience at an apiary, including honey extraction and honey tasting
  • Instructors are known for their commitment to teaching organic beekeeping and safety
What You Need to Know
  • Limit 10 vouchers per purchaser; additional 10 vouchers may be sent as gifts
  • Single option: limit 1 per person per visit
  • 2-person option: limit 1 per pair per visit
  • 3-person option: limit 1 per group per visit
  • Entire value per voucher must be used in a single visit
  • Appointments are required and subject to availability
  • Merchant cancellation/re-scheduling policy of 24 hours applies; voucher subject to forfeiture
  • Must be 7+ to redeem
  • Signed waiver required prior to redemption
  • Location, date, and time of class will be sent upon redemption of voucher; email merchant at bkschool@roundrockhoney.com for details
  • Available for use beginning the day after purchase
  • PROMOTIONAL VALUE EXPIRES FOLLOWING DECEMBER 13, 2013
  • PAID VALUE EXPIRES 5 YEARS FROM THE PURCHASE DATE
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Millions Against Monsanto

On May 29, 2013, in Eating & Drinking, by Bev Garvin
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Dallas March Against Monsanto GMOs

Millions Against Monsanto Global March, Dallas, TX, Dallas City Hall, Downtown Dallas, Just Say No to GMO,

 

On Saturday, May 25th, people all over the world participated in an international protest movement called the “March Against Monsanto” also referred to as “Millions Against Monsanto.” The Dallas march started at 1:00 p.m. at Dallas City Hall and traveled eastbound to the Dallas Farmer’s Market, then returned back to Dallas City Hall. Marches were held on the same day all over the world, spanning six continents and 33 countries, with thousands of events taking place, including marches held in most every major city in the United States, which were all synchronized to begin at 11:00 Pacific Time.

Millions Against Monsanto, Dallas City Hall, Dallas, TX, #MAM

“If the FDA/EPA only had a brain – March Against Monsanto”

The purpose of the march was to raise awareness about Monsanto company and the dangers of genetically modified organisms, “GMOs,” to make government officials aware that there are a growing number of people who do not support Monsanto and who want GMO ingredients to be labeled on food packaging, and to shed light on the global impact GMO food production has on our health and the environment.

This was the first time I have ever participated in a “march,” and it was quite an experience. There were families and people from all ages, races, cultures, creeds, walks of life, some on bikes and even a few in wheelchairs, representing a variety of political views. It was incredible to see the diversity of people who came out and how they expressed their passionate opinions, during this peaceful protest demonstration by dressing up in costumes, waving signs and chanting things like “People have a right to know. Just say no to GMO.” Patrick Stark, chef of Sundown at the Granada, was there sporting a mohawk, and dressed as the grim-reaper. Chef Stark has also vowed to convert Sundown at the Granada to be a 100% GMO-free restaurant, the first restaurant in Dallas to offer a GMO-free menu to further support his commitment to this important issue.

 

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Dallas Cinco de Mayo 2013, Cinco in the City, Dallas Official Cinco de Mayo Block Party

Looking for something fun to do in Dallas this weekend to celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Well you’re in luck because here’s the scoop:

Dos Equis, Red Bull, and ILiveInDallas.com are teaming up with the Infinite Agency to host the most epic Cinco De Mayo party you’ll go to this year! Cinco In the City Block Party – The Official Fiesta of Dallas starts at 2:00 pm Saturday, May 4th, and goes till midnight Sunday, May 5th.

The shindig will go down in none other than the parking lot of the Downtown Dallas El Fenix. The fiesta starts at 2:00pm and the bands go on from 6:00 pm -10:00 pm. Come out, or you’ll be regretting waiting three hours for those “free” margaritas around town. Why wait until the 5th, when you can listen to music, chow down, and drink-up wearing cheap sombreros and fake mustaches a day early? The official sponsor is Dos Equis, which there will be plenty of to drink.

About El Fenix: El Fenix was founded in 1918 by Mike Martinez, El Fenix is known for its brand of Tex-Mex cuisine, and has been a Dallas staple for almost 100 years.

You can RSVP to the event on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/562807547096652/

Official Twitter Hashtag: #CincoInTheCity

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Cedars Food Park Dallas

On July 28, 2012, in Foodie Fun, by Bev Garvin
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Cedars Food Park Grand Opening Bash

#UrbanFoodie Tweetup Saturday, July 28th, 2012

There’s a NEW Food Park in town, in case you haven’t heard, located in South Dallas at Heritage Park (formerly known as Old City Park). The Grand Opening is Sat 7/28 and I thought it would be fun to get a group together to check it out! We’ll probably get there early and head over to Lee Harvey’s for beverages on the patio afterwards.
Cedars Food Park Opening Bash!

Food Trucks: Good Karma Kitchen, Nammi, Ruthie’s Rolling, Jack’s Chowhound, Gandolfos, The Butcher’s Son, Cafe con Leche, Free Wheel’n Cafe, Crazy Fish, Sshaam BBQ, 4 Seasons, Three Lions, Rock-N-Roll Taco, Cajun Tailgators, Rockin Ricks Enticed, Rockstar Bakeshop, Coolhaus, Uptown Popcorn & Dude Sweet Chocolate!

DETAILS & Twitter Contest:
Meet at 5:30 pm at the General Store:
* 15 of Dallas Best Food Trucks
* Beer, Wine & Music
* Family, Friends & Pets Welcome
Door prizes at 6:30p for people tweeting with #UrbanFoodies:
* Most number of Tweets #UrbanFoodies
* Funniest Tweet of the Evening
* Best Picture Posted (Instagram/Twitter)
* Honorable Mention
Post Tweetup at Lee Harveys 8:00 pm
Twitter: #UrbanFoodies

Be Sure to “Like” the page if you havent already
www.Facebook.com/UrbanEpicurious

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Bolsa Mercado

On July 24, 2012, in Foodie Fun, by Bev Garvin
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Bolsa Mercado Summer Meet & Eat Pop-up Dinners!

Executive Chef Jeff Harris of Bolsa has kept pretty busy this summer. In addition to running the popular Bolsa on Davis St in Oak Cliff, each Friday Night, he’s also been hosting pop-up community-style dinners on the big table that seats 20 inside at Bolsa Mercado next door.

Last Friday evening, that long table hosted a gathering of delightful dinner company. The food and the conversation flowed as nicely as the wine pairings. Next week, and on the last Friday of every month, Chef Harris will feature a vegetarian dinner menu. And with the lovely local ingredients they source, and organic fruits and veggies at their peak of season, a vegetarian dinner at Bolsa Mercado is something even this meat eater would love.

Each dinner is $75/person and includes five or more courses with wine pairings and gratuity included! The menu is announced the Monday before each dinner. To attend call (214) 367-9367 or email contact@bolsadallas.com with your credit card number to reserve your seats.

Bolsa Mercado Meet & Eat

Picture 1 of 6

Prosciutto, goat’s cheese, local honeycomb and red grapes.

Bolsa Mercado:
(214) 367-9367 | 614 W. Davis St., Dallas, Texas 75208
www.Facebook.com/BolsaDallas
www.BolsaDallas.com
@BolsaDallas
 
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are my own – This article was written for CraveDFW, where you can find information on Food, Arts, Music and events in Dallas and Fort Worth!

 

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Dinner Party Menus

On July 13, 2012, in Foodie Fun, by Bev Garvin
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Gastronomy by Donnie DeBoer

I feel so fortunate to have people in my life who share my passion for incredibly amazing food.  Recently, dear friends, Donnie & Lindsey DeBoer invited a few of us over for a very special dinner party in their home because they wanted to “do something nice for us.”

You see, Donnie loves to cook.  He’s one of those creative-genius types, a former professional musician turned software engineer.  Donnie isn’t a chef, but he’s very seriously into food, culinary arts, artful food presentation and he likes to experiment with molecular gastronomy. Donnie’s wife, Lindsey, is equally amazing.  She’s possibly one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and she’s a psychologist, who does competitive yoga.  Yes, I know that sounds odd, most people would think yoga isn’t competitive, but it is true.  Lindsay and Donnie were the ultimate host and hostess and this was no ordinary dinner party, it was a culinary adventure that I feel lucky to have been a part of.

 

The Dinner Party Menu

Donnie worked on the menu for several weeks, drawing out ideas for the plating of each dish, experimenting with various cooking temperatures in his sous vide, perfecting each element of every dish and sauce, importing exotic ingredients from near and far.  The result was a brilliantly executed meal that was a true work of art.

The Menu

Picture 1 of 9

Dinner at Lindsay & Donnie DeBoer's Home 06/17/2012

The dinner guests in attendance were Omar Flores (Executive Chef – Driftwood), Michael Flynn (Director of Wine & Beverage – Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek), Beth Stark (Days of Taste Chair – AIWF), Brad Murano (Creative Director – Splash Media/The Brad’s Blog), Maria Whiteside Mejia, and me, Bev Garvin (Director of Marketing & PR – Spoon Bar & Kitchen/Urban Epicurious).

Thank you doesn’t begin to express my gratitude for what Lindsey and Donnie put into making this dinner for us.  I just hope to be able to return the favor some day!

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Processed-Foods

On July 10, 2012, in Ooh Squirrel, by Bev Garvin
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Much Adieu About Processed Foods

The other day I wanted to make something to eat.  I was standing in my kitchen staring in the fridge and looking at the pantry when I realized, much to my surprise, I have quite a bit of highly processed foods in my very own home!

This was shocking to me because over the past two years I have, for the most part, eliminated processed food from my diet.  If it comes from a drive through window, a box, a can or a bag, it is likely I will not eat it.  This lifestyle change has made a dramatic and positive impact on my health, my weight, my mood and my energy levels.  Some of this stuff, like canned goods, had been in the pantry for a while, others were in with baking stuff.  Some I had recently purchased, but none of it was real food.  None of it was wholesome or nutritious, and there was nothing I actually wanted to eat at all.  I found myself standing there in shock thinking “Why do I even have all this crap!?!”

So I decided to dispose of it, to purge my home of processed foods and (finally) get this vial and iniquitous lack of sustenance out of my home once and for all.  It felt liberating to say “Adios, Ramen, Rotel and taco seasoning mix! Arrivederci, instant polenta, tomato sauce and Kraft macaroni and cheese, you give me the blue box blues! Adieu to you canned fruits and veggies, cookie, cake and muffin mix, sugar-free jello and instant pudding, too!”

When I was done, I realized there was actually quite a large quantity of this so-called “food” sitting on the table.  My original intent was to throw it all in the trash. Then I thought, that’s pretty wasteful, maybe I should donate it to a food bank?  But then I was even more conflicted as I wondered, is it morally right to give food I don’t personally feel is fit for human consumption away to others?  Even if it meant it would provide them with a meal they might not have had otherwise?  Could I honestly feel good about giving someone a bag of toxic rations?  What is the right thing to do?  Would it be better to break it all down dispose of the ingredients and send the containers off to the recycle bin?

I’m sincerely conflicted about this because both have a negative impact.  I’m interested to hear what others think.  I’m curious to hear from others, what do you think I should do?

UPDATE: I sincerely appreciate everyone’s comments and feedback.  I decided to donate the food to the North Texas Food Bank because they are really short on food reserves at this time of year, and I agree that it would be better for some one to have a meal than go without even though I would personally rather go without food than eat a meal made with a bunch of processed foods.

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Ice Cream Scoop

On July 1, 2012, in Eating & Drinking, by Bev Garvin
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Homemade Ice Cream for National Ice Cream Day!

Today, July 15th is National Ice Cream Day! Homemade ice cream and I have a long-standing love affair that goes back to when I was just a little girl. Every summer, my Dad would make homemade ice cream, and I looked forward to it like nothing else.  My father made all kinds of ice cream flavors, vanilla ice cream was always a hit, sometimes chocolate ice cream, or peppermint, even coconut.  And sometimes he would make ice cream with fresh fruits like strawberry or peach at the peak of the season.

We had an electric ice cream freezer, the kind with a motor on the top, you would put outside in a shady spot on the porch.  He’d make the ice cream base, pour it into the container, fill the bucket all the way to the top with ice and rock salt, then turn it on and let it go.  The motor would spin, churning and turning the ice cream for what seemed like forever.  When it was finally finished, the fantastic frozen fantasy was oh, so good.

To this day, ice cream is synonymous with summer to me, and making homemade ice cream is something I still really love to do.  I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, with two containers that I keep in the freezer for any time the mood strikes, and it’s a pretty handy kitchen gadget for making ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt or a variety of other cool creations.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

I love the simplicity of homemade ice cream, and how, once you have a basic ice cream recipe, the flavor options are pretty much endless.  With so many flavor options, you might think making ice cream is difficult, but it’s actually kind of hard to go wrong.  I recently read about some pretty sketchy ice cream flavors, like cicada ice cream (yes, it’s actually made with those annoyingly loud, gigantic insects that hang out in trees all summer long). Which just goes to show, that just about anything might taste good when made into ice cream.  Since July is “National Ice Cream Month,” I thought I’d kick it off by sharing a few of my favorite homemade ice cream recipes.

How to Make Ice Cream

Modern day ice cream freezers make it easy to enjoy homemade ice cream all year-long.  Start with a simple Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe.  Once you master the basics, you can get really creative with more sophisticated ingredients to create gourmet ice cream flavors that are really fun to explore.

Lemon Olive Oil Ice Cream

Lemon Olive Oil Ice Cream with Lemon Olive Oil Simple Syrup, Candied Lemon Zest & White Chocolate Covered Almond “Olives”

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Chocolate Ice Cream

Balsamic Strawberry & Black Cracked Pepper Ice Cream (Strawberry Ice Cream)

Georgia Peach Ice Cream

Lemon Olive Oil Ice Cream

Lavender Fig Ice Cream (Lavender Ice Cream)

Local Honey & Black Garlic Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Happy Ice Cream Making & Eating!

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Three Little Piggies Went to Private Social

I recently attended a Social Media Club Dallas’ Annual Member event where a friend and fellow social media colleague, Cathy Katoe, won tickets to Chef Tiffany Derry’s third Saturday special lunch at the newly opened Private | Social on McKinney Avenue in the Uptown area of Dallas.  There was only one problem, Cathy doesn’t eat pork so, she gave it to me.  I was so excited to check this out. You see, this was a chance to eat part of a whole roasted suckling pig, and I’m on a mission to try just about everything (except bugs, they just don’t appeal to me), yet oddly, I had not yet crossed this off my list.

When the big day arrived, I got there early because I wanted to see this spectacular culinary display up close to get a few good shots pig pictures, and I was glad I did.  Top Chef Master Tiffany Derry actually cooked three little pigs, two for the lunch service and one as a thank you for her hard working staff.

I’d been to Private | Social many times before and it was good, but this was in a league of it’s own.  Most people have never seen, let alone know how to cook, a whole pig. When I first saw the amber hue of the fully cooked swine resting in the kitchen, it’s crispy shiny skin immediately made me think of Peking duck. What followed next, was delightful.  Each dish worked really well together. The meal was earthy, hardy and quite savory.  The whole suckling pig was brined for 24 hours, then was seasoned with fennel seeds, fronds, oregano, garlic confit, lemon zest, orange zest, salt and pepper and roasted on a sheet pan in a convection oven. It was served sliced and in a bowl with a clear pork broth and garnish of dill. The texture of the perfectly crispy skin crunched as I tasted the moist and juicy, tender meat inside.  The texture and flavor was incredible.

The pork was served with a Caesar salad made with dandelion greens Tom Spicers FM 1410, a parsnip puree that was pure heaven and THE best greens I have ever had in my life.

 

The entire meal was nothing short of amazing, it made you feel special, like you just had Christmas dinner.  Thank you, Master Chef Derry for creating such a delightful meal, and thank you Cathy Katoe for paying it forward to me (I’ll have to find a way to appropriately thank you).  Chef Derry announced this week that she’ll will be hosting a series of Top Chef Cooking Classes with some of her fellow Top Chef colleagues this summer, perhaps we’ll have to check that out.

 

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What do you get when you take 30+ of the most talented local Dallas Chefs, from the very best restaurants in Dallas, add in 30+ local Artisans, Farmers and Ranchers, throw in a dash of music, and a little20+ a lot of wine, food, people and fun at Lee Park on Turtle Creek Boulevard?

Chefs for Farmers is a grassroots organization that celebrates all things local. They are a group of volunteers who put on no-fuss events in support of local farmers, as well as the chefs and businesses that participate in the local food movement that donates 100% of the profits to charitable causes. Their goal is to raise awareness for the local locavore movement in Texas connecting chefs with local food resources. Each year the event has grown and has a different theme. This year they’ll be Mixin it Up on the Boulevard on Sunday May 6th, 2012 from 1-5 at Lee Park on Turtle Creek Boulevard!

What You Need to Know:

This will be THE Ultimate Food and Wine Festival because it will feature the very best of the best our local market has to offer, a day of great food, libations, music and a “special” featured guest performance entertainer you will NOT want to miss!!!

  • Amazing Creations By More Than 30 Chefs
  • Vino and Spirits From Over 20 Wineries and Distilleries
  • Mixologists Pouring Potent Libations
  • Farm and Artisan Display
  • Best Dish Competition Sponsored by Artizone
  • Grab a Blanket
  • Bring Your Own Wine Glass to Donate to Café Momentum
  • Tracks spun by local DJ’s

What: Chefs for Farmers – Mixin it up on the Boulevard
When: Sunday, May 6th, 2012  1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Where: Lee Park – Turtle Creek Boulevard
Why: 100% of Proceeds donated to Meals on Wheels & Water for Chizavane
How Much: One / $60 – Two / $110

Buy Tickets: GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY – LESS THAN 100 LEFT!

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Top 10 Food Porn Shots of 2011

On January 17, 2012, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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My Hottest Food Porn Moments

I don’t know what it is about taking tawdry snapshots of tantalizing food and posting pics of it for all the world to see, but I take great pleasure in doing so.  There’s just something about seeing a drop dead gorgeous plate of food that I find tempting and irresistible.  I had such a hard time narrowing this down to just ten images.  I hope you will take pleasure in this peep show of my Top 10 Hottest Food Porn Moments of 2011 as they are published throughout the week.  I’ve saved the best for last, and the rest are in no particular order, so I’ll just start with breakfast.

Where There’s Smoke There’s FirePancakes

If you haven’t ventured over to Smoke Restaurant next door to the Belmont Hotel on Fort Worth Avenue in Oak Cliff for brunch, you need to.  Executive Chef, Tim Byers pulled out all the stops when he planned the brunch menu, and the Ricotta Cheese Pancakes are a perfect example of how he did just that.  Each dish on the brunch menu is unique and, as such, these are no ordinary pancakes.  They are not flat, thin, heavy or slathered in butter, and there is no maple syrup, nor will you even want it.  No, what you will be served when you order this is nothing short of transcendental bliss.

These babies are made with ricotta, which makes for delightfully fluffy mile-high pancakes.  In fact, just one is about the height of an entire pancake stack at most places.  And they are topped with apricots that have been poached in vanilla, fresh blueberries and creme fraiche with just a kiss of powdered sugar on top.  I’ve had the pleasure of eating these many times, and I often share them with others so we can have something savory too.

 

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From Instagram –

On December 20, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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dfgrille foodporn
, Del Frisco's Grille – Dallas, Dec 21, 2014 @ 05:33
dfgrille foodporn
Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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From Instagram –

On December 18, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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foodporn
, Adelmo's Ristorante, Dec 19, 2014 @ 04:31
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Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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From Instagram –

On December 18, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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, Adelmo's Ristorante, Dec 19, 2014 @ 03:55
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Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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From Instagram –

On December 18, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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foodporn
, Adelmo's Ristorante, Dec 19, 2014 @ 03:51
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Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicuriousfoodporn
, Adelmo's Ristorante, Dec 19, 2014 @ 03:49
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Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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From Instagram –

On December 18, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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, Adelmo's Ristorante, Dec 19, 2014 @ 03:18
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Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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From Instagram –

On December 14, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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christmascookies foodporn
, , Dec 15, 2014 @ 03:09
christmascookies foodporn
Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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From Instagram –

On December 14, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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christmascookies wreaths foodporn
, , Dec 14, 2014 @ 21:31
christmascookies wreaths foodporn
Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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From Instagram –

On December 13, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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, Clark Food & Wine Co., Dec 13, 2014 @ 18:50
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Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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From Instagram –

On December 11, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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, Front Room Tavern, Dec 12, 2014 @ 00:59
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Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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On December 7, 2014, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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, Veritas Wine Room, Dec 08, 2014 @ 03:22
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Photo Credit: Bev Garvin – Urban Epicurious

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