Food Porn – Organic Roasted Beet Salad
From the Urban Epicurious Test Kitchen, produce from Dallas Farmers Market, Shed 2, Local Produce
Photo Credit: Bev Garvin
From the Urban Epicurious Test Kitchen, produce from Dallas Farmers Market, Shed 2, Local Produce
Photo Credit: Bev Garvin
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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 email@example.com with your credit card number to reserve your seats.
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.
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 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!
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!!!
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
Chef Tre Wilcox has a flair for the dramatic, or perhaps he’s just a mad culinary genius. If you didn’t catch him on Season 3 of Bravo’s Top Chef, don’t worry. You can still see him in action if you ask to sit near the kitchen at Marquee Bar & Grill in the renovated space next to the Highland Park Village Movie Theater that opened last summer. I’ve been several times and have tried many things on the menu, but this caused quite a scene as it was delivered to our table. My initial reaction was a resounding “WHAT!?!” out loud in the middle of the trendy restaurant, followed by “My God, are you kidding me?” This was a head-turner, and I have to say it was THE most memorable food porn moment I had last year, with good reason.
This one takes the prize for my #1 Hottest Food Porn Moment of 2011 because, well let’s just be honest here, the presentation was risque, practically obscene and it’s a vision I’ll not soon forget. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a shy girl, and it takes a lot to make me blush. My gastronomic obsession with writing about, photographing, and eating exceptional food is on a level that some may think is not quite right. But as a food connoisseur, I find it gratifying to the senses and I take a lot of pride in the quality of the content I produce. However, this was over-the-top, even by my standards.
This last gratuitous food porn visual is none other than the signature Marquee Chocolate Tart with Caramel Popcorn and Salted Butter Ice Cream. It made quite a statement just sitting there on the plate looking up at me like (queue music… bow chicky wow wow), “Hey there, you come here often? I know I’m tall, dark and handsome, and you wanna taste my forbidden chocolatey decadence, but are you sure you can you handle this?” At least that’s what it said to me, but with that, I’m curious to ask, if a picture is worth a thousand words, what words come to mind when you see this?
So there you have it! These were my Top 10 Hottest Food Porn Moments of 2011, but that’s just a little foreplay to get you warmed up. If you like these, there’s plenty more where that came from in the Urban Food Porn Portfolio. And since no self respecting Urban Foodie can resist graphic imagery that stimulates their unquenchable thirst for more, go ahead and like the Urban Epicurious Facebook Fan Page and follow me on Twitter @UrbanEpicurious, and I’ll promise to keep these coming!
Chef John Tesar’s farm-to-table menu at The Commissary in One Arts Plaza, features an array of imaginative dishes and a unique gourmet burgers in a casual upscale setting. There are about a dozen delectable burgers to choose from, each accentuating unique local and exotic ingredients. This Farmer Burger hit the spot one night with it’s perfectly cooked, juicy pink, medium rare center, of grass fed all natural beef, accompanied by a fried duck egg, speck and white Vermont cheddar on a brioche bun brushed with Eschire butter. This over-the-top hunky burger was served along side a fantastic stack of onion rings. It is the kind of burger one fantasizes about and would expect from a “Rock Star Chef” like Tesar. As you can clearly see, this burger is not for amateurs, it’s hard core all the way.
Sometimes you just crave something that’s nice, big, thick, juicy, smoky, and satisfying. And when you do, the nice folks at Lockhart Smoke House in Bishop Arts have just the thing – meat, and lots of it. This quaint neighborhood shop isn’t pretentious or fancy. When you walk in you’ll order at the butcher counter in the back, pay for your food and take it to your table. There are no forks, there is no sauce, their ribs are dry rubbed, smoked, served on butcher paper and sold by the 1/2 pound. This place is veritable sausagefest. No really, they proudly sell authentic German Kreuz sausages which originate back to Charles Kreuz in the 1900′s, and the famous Kreuz Market that’s still open today in Lockhart, Texas, (where this BBQ joint gets it’s name). They use the same time-honored traditions people have enjoyed for more than 100 years. The ownership has been passed down through the generations and changed hands a couple times over the years, but not much else has changed. This market-style eatery still sells quality smoked meats, and good old fashioned sides like deviled eggs, baked beans, mac-n-cheese, coleslaw, potato salad and so much more. Looks pretty tempting, no?
I have to admit, I work myself into a frenzy and get weak in the knees when I know I’m going to have dessert. Like a crack whore in a crack den, I’m hopelessly addicted, and I’m completely powerless to resist basking in the afterglow of a decadent meal by indulging in something sweet and sublime. I eat dessert pretty much every time I get a chance (way more often than I should), because a really good one makes me swoon.
This Italian Meringue Shortcake with Berry Compote by Executive Chef/Partner Chris Ward of The Mercury in the Preston Forest Shopping Center is a confectionery work of art that is as arousing and opulent as it looks. Visions of sugarplums dance in my head at the very thought of it. The sponge cake was incredibly fresh and moist. The plump, voluptuous berries had a luxurious mouthfeel as they erupted with exuberant intensity. Their ambrosia was undeniably enhanced by the mellow meringue and subtle softness of the fresh whipped cream. The entire dessert menu at The Mercury was taunting and tempting, it doesn’t get much better than this, but I think I must go back to experience the Chocolate Fantasmagoria with fresh fruit compote next time.
But just you wait, I have saved the best for last. Tomorrow I’ll announce the winner of my VERY Hottest Food Porn Moment of 2011, and your mouth will drop to the ground if it hasn’t already.
Another equally seductive sandwich, but for totally different reasons, is the Sweet Italian from Scardello Artisan Cheese near the corner of Lemmon and Oaklawn in Dallas. I stopped in for a quickie and grabbed this to go one day while out running errands at lunch. It’s lusciousness swept off my feet as I indulged in it’s niceties. The bread was a not too crusty, it was a fresh baked French baguette, inside was a very thinly sliced prosciutto and buratta (fresh mozzarella cheese), but what will make you beg for more is the fig confit. The combination of the fresh baked bread with the saltiness of the ham, the sweetness of the fig and the gooey melted cheese will put a smile on your face that will last for the rest of the day. The fresh spinach salad with dried cranberries and vinaigrette was an enticing side note to the sandwich, and I appreciate that it didn’t come with the same old a boring bag of chips.
This next dish comes from Local in Deep Ellum. Local is a modern American restaurant in the renovated Boyd Hotel, built in 1908. This quiet intimate neighborhood spot features many original architectural elements, and is land marked as the oldest standing hotel in Dallas. Local is a truly amazing hidden gem in the Dallas culinary landscape. The restaurant, owned by Chef Tracy Miller, features dishes whose main ingredients are grown locally, as the name implies, using the highest quality, freshest ingredients available from the local market year-round. This makes for a provocative seasonal menu because, no matter when you visit, or what you eat, you’ll know you can just sit back, relax, and take pleasure in the experience of artful dining.
This Lemley’s Peach Salad was both beautiful and decadent, beyond what words can describe. The peaches came from Shed 2 (the local produce shed) of the Dallas Farmer’s Market. It was served at the height of peach season, with a subtle, slightly creamy blue cheese and balsamic dressing. The flavors were so simple, but each shined with natural beauty as I ate every bite, tasted the last drop of balsamic nectar with my index finger, and lingered in the moment while I wished there was more after it was gone.
It’s exciting when a talented chef reinvents a dish and you get to experience it in a whole new way, like the very first time, only even better. This Crab Gazpacho from Nosh Euro Bistro, was lasciviously prepared and presented to me by Chef/Partner Jon Stephens as I sat, front and center, at the kitchen theatre chef’s table. This reconstructed dish, had a mouthwatering light and creamy avocado citrus broth, brunoise style vegetables in every color of the rainbow, and it was gratuitously crowned with sweet, succulent, jumbo lump crab meat. The flavors were flirtatiously fresh, bright and melodious, the kind of taste that greets you like an old flame who says “Hello Lover” as it leans in for a kiss on the lips.
Speaking of brunch, “Sunday Funday” wouldn’t be complete without eggs benedict. No matter where I go, if eggs benedict is on the menu, I’m gonna get some. This next sultry food porn moment happened one such Sunday at The Meridian Room in Exposition Park. These eggs benedict were prepared Florentine style (with spinach), thinly glazed with Hollandaise, and sat high atop Canadian bacon on a toasted English muffin. The piquant eggs were poached to perfection. It’s warm, silky, insides drizzled down onto the plate as I poked it with my fork to taste it’s golden yolk. It was sublime.
Since breakfast is quite possibly the most important meal of the day, I had to mention the Breakfast Panini at Il Cane Rosso in Deep Ellum. But this is no ordinary breakfast sandwich, it is very well endowed. You probably won’t be able to eat it all at once, even if you bring a friend along and share it. The ingredients are harmonious. Each playing an important part in the symphony of flavor that will explode in your mouth, starting with the bread. This amazing yeast bread is reverently baked in-house in a big red authentic Italian wood-fired oven. This stupendous loaf of toasty deliciousness is anointed with just the right amount of house-made calabrian chile aioli. The whole thing is then stuffed full of prosciutto cotto, fontina, scrambled eggs, tomatoes and peppery arugula. I often pop in on a Saturday (they aren’t open on Sunday) to pick up one of these bad boys. I take it home with me, slice it into six or eight pieces, and nibble on it all week long for breakfast. It is a great way to start your day.