Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I think we may have found just the spot at Port Royal, in Port Aransas on Mustang Island. With three families from North Texas, one from Michigan, plus a grandma, we numbered 15 and had rented four 1,300 square foot, 2Bed/2Bath condo's on the beach. Being "off season" the room rates were very reasonable, about $130 per night, but the weather was very "in season" with daytime temps in the mid-80's. We had a fully decked out kitchen, the only thing we needed for Thanksgiving was a big roasting pan. And the resort had 5 pools and 6 hot tubs, the pools weren't heated so we wussy adults purchased floaties and dipped our toes in - the kids jumped right in like it was warm. The beach was a short walk over the dunes on a boardwalk, and every day we went down to see what was newly deposited.
Food wise - well everything down there revolves around the gulf, so most places feature a "Catch of the Day" directly from the ocean. A majority of the group (not me) went fishing one day, and while 18 fish (and one stingray) were caught, thankfully none were brought back to cook (I don't mind the catching, but I can't take the smell). With a full kitchen in each condo, we really didn't eat out much, instead opting for a dine-around at each others' pads. But for those who don't want to cook, the resort had a full service restaurant, and the town had many restaurants to choose from.
We saw pelicans feasting on fish churned up by dolphins in the bay, diving down over and over again in a frenzy. BIG birding area - one day I saw an osprey take off from one of the tidal pools with a wiggling lunch in his talons. Fisherman swarmed the many piers in the area, and equipment was easily rented by the day at several locations. There was a golf club on the island, about 10 minutes down the road, and Corpus was only a 20 minute drive south, the girls HAD to go see a movie that had just been released.
Between our families, we have three boys all heading off to college next year, but all agreed to come back down for Thanksgiving if we do it again.
Mayhaw Jelly, by Pleasant Acres says it's a "Certified Product of Louisiana" (Pineville). I have no idea what a mayhaw is, and for a jelly it's pretty runny, but we're cracking it open and spreading it on our bagels in the morning - or throwing it away if it's horrible. I believe there are some football games on tomorrow, so we'll be dishing up Evan & Burt's (Fort Worth)"Jalalujah" Green Fudge, made with jalapenos, water, onions, vinegar and other stuff.
Evening appetizers will be from Napa, we brought back jars of tapenade: Roasted Portobella with Porcinis & Shallots; and Mediterranean with Olives, Capers & Merlot, all by Made In Napa Valley. We can move on to Tortilla Soup by Chef Dean Fearing, and a salad with Sevy's Caesar Salad dressing. I had already planned on roasting a chicken for dinner, now I'm going to glaze it with some of Dean's Silky Orange Blossom Sauce. We also saved a tenderloin and a NY strip from Christmas to have, we'll sprinkle them with a little of Chef Richard Chamberlain's Steak Rub. To go with the Starthistle honey (Pat Brady, 989-754-6415 - brought back from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last summer) will be warm cornbread.
Best of all, dessert. Vanilla ice cream with lots of Sander's Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge, another Michigan staple. And then I'll have some free space in my pantry.
But this year I'm going down to the restaurant and enjoying a great meal with friends to celebrate the end of 2008 and cheer in good times for 2009. We have two delicious fixed-price menus, the three course menu is $39.95 and is available to those who are seated by 6:30 or earlier. Or, you can dine from the four course menu all evening, it has more selections in each category and is $64.95 - and it includes a complimentary champagne toast for those who last until the ball drops in Times Square. I'll post the full menu, maybe you'll decide to come to eat as well. 8201 Preston Road (Preston @ Sherry Lane), (214) 265-7389 for reservations.
Preston/Forest has certainly seen a "food explosion" over the last few years, this opening brings the total number of places you can get something to eat to 25. Fine dining (The Mercury), Greek (Ziziki's), American Grill (Woodland Grill), Spanish-kind-of (Chic by Barcelona), Italian (Prego Express, Penne Pomodoro), Tex-Mex (Mi Cocina), Asian (KU Sushi, Pei Wei), seafood (TJ's Fish Market, Mainstream-soon to be Rockfish), coffeehouse (Starbucks), subs (Quizno's, Potbelly's, Jimmy John's), cafe (Corner Bakery, LaMadeleine, Chocolate Angel II), salads (Snappy Salads), barbecue (Sonny Bryan's), hamburgers (Scotty P's), gelateria (Paciugo), fast food (Jack in the Box), and grocers (Whole Foods, Tom Thumb).
Guess there's many of us in the area that enjoy eating out.
Yesterday in the mail, came a beautiful navy blue folder, enclosed within was a City of Dallas Special Recognition for Helen Corbitt, with a gold seal, red ribbons, the whole shebang. It states:
WHEREAS, Helen Corbitt was born in New York and moved to Texas in 1931 from her job as dietitian at Cornell Medical Center in New York City to manage the tearoom at the University of Texas; and
From Gma Gerry, Sevy received Eric Ripert's new book, On The Line; The Stations, The Heat, The Cooks, The Chaos and The Triumphs Inside The World of Le Berdardin (with Christine Muhlke). Lots of pictures, I especially like the ones in the Fish section, which includes a statement on each about usage or flavor. They also have a sketch of Le Bernardin's kitchen layout and many, many staff pictures. The back half of the book is mostly menus with some sketches of how a dish would be plated. In the far back there's a list of "sources for other hard-to-find items", like squid ink, smoked salt, dried rosebuds, tamarind concentrate.
For Christmas, I gave hubby three food books, The New Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst (4th ed.), replacing a dog-earned 2nd edition we've had for 13 years. The latest version has 2,700 more entries than our old copy, obviously a significant upgrade to this indispensible dictionary of food and ingredients.The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook was a trip down memory lane, we lived in Poughkeepsie while Sevy was a student at the CIA, 22 years ago. Poorer than church mice, we made it through a very cold winter living on homemade pasta in a 100+ year old house that had been converted to apartments. But it was worth everything, their level of excellence in education and food in unparalleled, and it led to a job back in Dallas post-graduation. The cookbook has some technique pictures, but is mainly just recipes - I love that it includes a ribbon book mark in case you lose your page.
Alinea, by Grant Achatz was an exercise in weight lifting just to get it to the check out. 395 pages of glossy, luxurious paper in a double-wide binding, it's as much about the beautiful pictures as the beautiful food. Chef Achatz is reknown for his devotion to food as art, both visually and flavorfully at his restaurant, Alinea, in Chicago. Contributors to the book include Michael Ruhlman, Jeffrey Steingarten, Mark McClusky, Nick Kokonas, Michael Nagrant and photos by Lara Kastner.
I have one jar left, sadly not for me but for friends who's enjoyment of my first batch inspires me to make it again and again. Hey Kevin & Jodi!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
From Morgan, the manager of the new store, word comes that they've opened - just in time for Christmas. They are open for lunch 7 days a week and until 8pm on Monday through Friday. Telephone 972-788-4600.
My mother-in-law happens to be a huge chocolaholic, so I'll be stopping by today for a little Christmas day dessert.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
They have multi-spice gift packs, or you can pick out your own. My favorites are the international spice mixes, you can add them to sour cream for dip, toss them into mashed potatoes, make salad dressings. They have use suggestions that I've never thought of.
Let's review the foodie holiday gift suggestions so far: #1 was the Bloody Mary infused vodka; #2, cooking classes at the Dallas Farmer's Market; #3 pie mixes from Hearne, Texas; #4 - a FREE membership to Dallas Uncorked. I have more to come.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
We're running a December by-the-glass special, a nice healthy "Sevy"-sized pour for $16, or a bottle for $60. Come by and try it!
We'll see how the new additions do, fruit-wise. Ms. Figgy set many fruit last year, but by the time they had ripened they had been stolen by those #!(@&#*&#$ squirrels. This year I've got two secret weapons, who are lately discovering the joy of hunting them down, right Deuce, Tres?
I learned so much from the 1 hour class at Northaven Gardens, if you are considering a home garden you might want to attend one of their (did I say FREE) classes. You too might come home with a few new friends.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
Anyhoo, don't ask my why I responded, except it was fun to write. Ya'll already probably know most of it already if you've been reading my posts. Well, except maybe the toilet-fixer thing.
I had not previously met one of the dinner guests, Ms. Hayley Hamilton, but she was extremely knowledgable about wine and the food business, it made for great conversation throughout dinner. She's the founder of Dallas Uncorked, a social group that is "dedicated to providing an outlet for both the sophisticated wine aficionado and the curious novice, to further their knowledge and appreciation of wine, in an informative and social atmosphere."
"Our members include novice and experienced wine drinkers, all with a common desire to learn about wines in an affordable and relaxed atmosphere. You won’t find your typical “wine snob” at our events! We are average, everyday people from all walks of life that love to socialize, drink and learn about wine. Our members can expect to meet many new professional and personal contacts, while learning about wine and food during monthly walk-about tastings, happy hours, and sit-down dinners. So if you are seeking a way to up your wine IQ in a fun, friendly and hip atmosphere, Dallas Uncorked is the organization for you."
I was floating around their website this morning, and this looks like a fun group. They have monthly meetings around Dallas, and they've gone on trips to learn about wine, places like Argentina and Oregon. The group photos reminded me very much of our recent Cattle Barons Chef trip to Napa - drinking wine early in the day can do that.
So Holiday Gift Tip #4 - give this one to yourself - membership is free. Sign up to join their group and attend some of their fun events in 2009.
The Chef Chairman is Brian Luscher of The Grape, and Chef participants include John Tesar, The Mansion on Turtle Creek; Jim Severson, Sevy's Grill; Keith Hanks, House of Blues; David Uygur, Lola; Joel Harloff, Dali Cellar and Wine Bar; David McMillan, Consilient Restaurants; Nick Badovinus, Neighborhood Services; Kevin Garvin, Neiman Marcus.
I just sent over Sevy's recipe for our Corn Chowder, but for this event he's planning to top it with a very nice garnish of Crispy Lobster. I may just have to help work this event, it sounds too delicious to miss.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Oh, and I have a new assignment, selling yearbook ad space for their first ever graduating class - now this is something I love doing. $300 full page, $175 for half - email me.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
It was obvious we were about to enter Oz, the samples of fruits on the sidewalks gave a warning that this was not going to be just another gourmet market. And opening the door led us right down the main hall to culinary heaven. Standing there, right across, was Acme Bread Company, selling crunchy-crusted, still warm sourdough loaves. I purchased 4 or 5 different types of bread and rolls. Next to them, an outlet for Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, their Mt. Tam is my favorite Triple Cream (yes, it does make a difference!) Brie. While the line was long inside the store, outside they were selling sampler bags for a flat $20, so we grabbed one of those. Next shop, delicious-looking cured meats, too many to choose from, luckily they also had a cone-filled assortment of various shaved proscuitto and salamis, a flat $8. Carrying our purchases, we came to store #4, Ferry Plaza Wine Bar, merchant of fine wines, and their house brand was pretty good too. So we ordered some wine flights and sat eating our bread, cheese and meats, and toasted our first two hours in San Francisco.
This is the market template that everyone in Dallas would love to see downtown, local produce, local food production companies, thriving businesses and a tourist attraction. Yummy.