Dallas


Central Market (CM) in the Dallas area is allowing us to live, even if for just a brief moment in time, in the culinary hideouts of France from May 9-22, 2012.  Oh to be in France!  Those magical moments in time…err…to be in France while having your feet planted in Texas, I mean, which to some Texans it is even better.

Each year CM “armchair travels” us to a country known for its culinary riches, and wow, have they hit the high mark with France.  The event is called “Passport France”.  The employees greet you with a “bon jour”, and occasionally take a peek at their mini laminated phrase card – hey, you have to start somewhere!

You may know already that Dallas is a culinary mecca – the restaurants, the artisan bakeries, wine bars, etc.; however, I quite do not have the cash to imbibe in many of these experiences.  I must live vicariously through others (real and virtural friends); however, there is something for everyone, at any price point, to enjoy “Passport France.”  Just check out their beautiful hand out.  How about a jar of herbes de Provence actually FROM Provence (what a concept), a savory ham and Gruyere crepe to share with a lover, some Comte cheese aged 18 months, or a large pail of mustard from the heart of Burgundy?  None of these could even break MY budget!

But, let’s see for a moment, what else we can put our hands on:  cassoulet (a rich, slow-cooked casserole with pork shoulder, garlic sausage, and white beans), bouef bourguignon (say hi to Julia), 20 different varieties of French bread, steak au poivre finished with brandy, cognac, or vermouth pan sauce – oh, how my palate sings!  Just walk in and see what happens when you allow your taste buds give in to your senses!

Feel free to try samples around the store:  wine, champagne, cheese, bread, pastry, you name it.  Also feel free to purchase all the luxurious delights which will only be in the stores for a short period of time.  Now that I think of it, I am out of herbes de Provence to place in my French grinder.  Darn, I’ll have to take a trip back to

– A La Votre –

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Kay Zink (MOI!) was inducted into the Thursday’s Thirsty Girls this week.

Read on Thirsty Girl’s website, FB, and Twitter.  Links are below:

http://thirstygirl.com/2011/11/kay-zink/

https://www.facebook.com/notes/thirstygirl/thursdays-thirsty-girl-kay-zink/292026004164788

http://twitter.com/#!/beathirstygirl/status/137229524785053697

I am now an honoree of the fan-tabulous Thirsty Girl association which was co-founded  by Leslie Sbrocco and Gail Spangler.  I had the great opportunity to meet Leslie (the front end of Thirsty Girl) in Dallas earlier this year – my, is she a hoot!  In a very good way.

I also had the great opportunity to later host the Dallas Marilyn Merlot event by Thirsty Girl and Sigel’s.

http://www.atozinfandel.com/thirsty-girl%e2%80%99s-marilyn-merlot-wine-tasting/

I am thrilled, delighted and grateful!  Thank you TG!

Thirsty Girl, Sigel’s, and Marilyn Wines went all out to create a night to remember.  Marilyn wines produces many different wines including Sauvignon Blonde and Marilyn Merlot.  The Marilyn Merlot 2009 is the 25th anniversy wine that they have released.  Many are collectors of the Marilyn wines, so few have had the opportunity to taste it, even the people who sell it!  We tasted Sauvignon Blonde 2010, Marilyn Merlot 2009, Marilyn Merlot 2008, and Norma Jeane 2010.  It was held at Sigels on Greenville Avenue in Dallas, TX.  Sigel’s was so thrilled with the amount of people who attended, they told us they would love to do many more FREE tastings for Thirsty Girl.  Yee-Haw! (as we say in Texas).

A company called Rock Stars provided us with a model dressed as Marilyn, and of course, she was a great hit.  Gorgeous girl and really worked the crowd.

The main event for the evening was the drawing for diamond earrings (the winner must wait until later this month to find out if they won the faux or real diamonds) – diamonds ARE a girl’s best friend!

Fun was had by all.  Here are a few pictures from the event.

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Spanish wine – have you tried it?  A wonderful opportunity to get to taste incredible wines for incredible prices.  You can get a terrific wine for between $10-15.  Part of the reason I say this is that I can the chance to attend a Spanish wine tasting held at Whole Foods Market in Fairview TX.  The presentation was given by Chris Teague of Prestige Wine Cellars which was recently bought out by Glazer’s.  Chris is a distributor who really knew his stuff and was very prepared.  Maps, books, tasting notes, you name it!  Two whites and 4 reds – some good without food, some needed food, so we were offered cheese, bread, and olive oil baked almonds.

Here are the wines we tasted:

1) Paso a Paso Verdejo – white – similiar to a Sauvignon Blanc – spicy lemon and lime aromas with stone fruit flavors.
2) Martin Codax Albarino – white – citrus fruit, pear and peach flavors.
3) Borsao, Grenache (75%), Tempranillo, (25%)
Have bought this myself many times before.  LOVE it.  Although there is Tempranillo in the wine, it is unoaked, fermented in stainless steel.  The tasting notes the distributor showed us called it “sexy”.  Very fresh with aromas of red and dark berries, with fresh, juicy raspberry and blackberry flavors.
4) Monte Oton, Garnacha – black raspberry and cracked pepper on the nose, focused red berry flavor.
5) Wrongo Dongo, Monastrell – Have also bought this myself many times before.  LOVE it.  Known in Spain as Monastrell, known in France and the US as Mouvedre.  Red and dark berries on the nose, red currant flavor.
6) Volver Tempranillo – earth notes and spice box on the nose, flavor is supple-textured, super-ripe and concentrated.  It can be enjoyed now and over the next 8-10 years.

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Kay Zink of A to Zinfandel & Harold Partain of Epicopia Culinary Journeys decided it was about time they took to the streets of Dallas to see just what the city had to offer.  We can name our favorite restaurants, villages, truffle hunters, etc. in Europe, but what is here in Dallas, one wonders.
We decided to discuss our itinerary over lunch at Urbano Cafe on Fitzhugh near Bryan.  There we caught up with owner and Harold’s long time friend Mitch Kauffman.  Urbano is a wonderful neighborhood cafe who offers up plenty on the menu, including authentic Italian paninis.  They are also BYOB, but at 11am, we refrained, although thought about it!  I had a delicious pulled pork panini with cilantro pepper slaw and hoison mayo; Harold had the portobello panini which was fresh and had a well balanced flavor… a great sourdough style bread.
Jimmy’s Food Market is just next door and was our second stop.  Looking for some NY Deli style products with an Italian twist? Check them out! Great Parmigiano Reggiano for $9.99 a pound! Price hasn’t changed in the past 10 years Harold has been shopping here. The BEST Italian sausage in the city, for sure.  Saturday is a hopping day, but they still had time (and room) to offer peppered bacon with wine samples.  “They have the very best Italian wine selection in the city” – Harold.

In the name of research, our third stop was at Bottle Shop on Greenville Avenue, who just so happenned to be having a beer tasting.  We had the honor of meeting Wim Bens, brewer and founder, of Lakewood Brewing company.  Along with him was Willis, a volunteer and friend of Wim’s, and Chris Hanks, Director of Consumption (A+ for the title, don’t you think)?  The two beers we sampled were delicious and unique in style. One named Prince Albert… was reminiscent of a dark Belgium but not as bitter… very smooth. Apples… I believe I tasted some apple in there! Loved the lighter, spicier one… no lingering bite with it either. Look forward to LBC finding a new home and being open to the public.

Follow link below to video:
Lakewood Brewing Company

Fourth stop was the very colorful Mextopia restaurant on Greenville Avenue.  Lots of street construction out front but plenty of parking in the back. Terrific margaritas and great Mexican style food brought to us by Ricardo Avila.

Fifth stop on the culinary tour of Dallas was Dude, Sweet Chocolates! If you have not tried these beautiful chocolates concocted right in Oak Cliff on West 8th… get over there now! Katherine is changing the perspective of chocolate. Some unbelievable combinations and with names that will make you laugh… and bring back a memory or two or three!

Well by now, my iPhone had died which I had been using as my camera, so there are no pictures to see.  Scardello Artisan Cheese was next and pretty busy on Saturday afternoon as well. Located on Oaklawn just down from Lucas’ B&B this is without a doubt the very best artisan cheese shop in Dallas. Rich Rogers and staff have created a delightful place to spend a few hours with friends tasting cheeses and wines and some great sandwiches. If you want good cheese for your next party, check out Scardello Artisan Cheese, you will be glad you came.

Follow link below to video:
Scardello Artisan Cheese

Chocolate Secrets was on the agenda, located on Oak Lawn.  This is a local, family owned, gourmet chocolate and fine wine boutique.  We choose so many different chocolates, that I can’t remember the “notes” on all of them, but 2 of them were rather unique and quite different from one another.  The first was a perfect pairing of dark chocolate and a full-bodied cabernet; the second was organic black forest bacon cooked, then candied and encased in dark chocolate ganache.  We even picked up a bottle of Australian Shiraz from the Barasso Valley. The things we do for love!  Artisan Cheese, you will be glad you came.

Follow link below to video:
Chocolate Secrets

Well, it was time to get home and feed the doggies, so Harold and I departed, proud of the accomplishments of the day, but anxious for more.

If you should care to join us on our adventures, please let Kay or Harold know.  We had a blast!

Harold was sweet enough to add this comment:  Kay was a delightful and adventurous companion for the day. We did it all in the name of research! Dallas has a lot to offer and we just scratched the surface. From food to drink we see some day trips in the making in Dallas! Stay turned! Let’s Meet Up for food, drink, and travel.

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