Monday, August 31, 2009

Wining and Dining in Downtown Dallas and Oak Cliff's "smoking hot" new restaurant

This week a One Arts Plaza fling, a new restaurant in Oak Cliff from Chef Tim Byres, and Dean Fearing gives "working like a dog" a whole new meaning: All we have to fear is Dean's singing itself!

One of our favorite restaurants, Jorge's in One Arts Plaza, has some really cool food and drink specials you ought to know about. Mondays bring Margarita specials for only 5 bucks--any flavor, all day; Tuesdays feature a Mini Taco Bar from 2 until 7, with the crispy bites going for only a buck; "Kids Eat Free" every Saturday for the rest of the month and through September. This is offered 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and please folks, only children under 12 are eligible and only two of the little darlings per adult entree, thank you! The adults can sip on "Bottomless Mimosas" for only $6, while the kids snack something more nutritious. I would add the caveat that the adult needs to bring a designated driver if this is their strategy. Celebrate with Jorge's on September 9th as they throw a "Fiesta" to commemorate their first year of operation in One Arts Plaza. Olé!

Note: Jorge's joins their restaurant neighbors by joining the "Savor Dallas Arts District Wine Stroll" on Friday March 5th. The popular afternoon event expands beyond the Dallas Museum of Art at Seventeen Seventeen Restaurant, the Meyerson Symphony Center and the Nasher Sculpture Center in 2010. Tasting locations will include the fabulous new Dallas Center for the Performing Arts facilities: The Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theatre. The OAP Restaurants (Dali, Fedora, Screen Door, Tei-An and Jorge's) will join Savor Dallas in the great DCPA Park that frames the outdoor environment on the East Side of the Arts District, for outdoor activities of food tasting, wine tasting, art and entertainment from 5 til 8 p.m. Get details at Tickets go on sale October 1st. Special advance purchase ticket prices will be available through December 31st, and tickets will be available "at the door" for the Savor Dallas Arts District Wine Stroll and the other weekend events.

Brother and sister team Holly and Kim Forsythe continue to rock the world with new and exciting things built from their Sambuca legacy. They are opening their new Sambuca 360 with a VIP private preview on September 1st. Check out their website (it's quite likely there are details on how you can get on the VIP list for the event benefiting Childrens Medical Center). Go to The new restaurant is in the Shops at Legacy, 5700 Legacy Drive, Plano, 75024.

Good news for Oak Cliff: Chef Tim Byres (Stephan Pyles, Rosewood's Mansion on Turtle Creek, Standard) and Bolsa restaurant owners Chris Zielke and Christopher Jeffers are opening a new eatery inside The Belmont Hotel. Now we can confirm that the restaurant is called Smoke and will officially debut mid-September.

Speaking of the Mansion, or should this be titled, "Fearing for your Safety"? Longtime Mansion scion Dean Fearing (with his own famous restaurant now, of course), is stepping out of the kitchen to hit the bandstand on September 9th. He'll be singing with Beatles cover band "Hard Night's Day" at a special gig commemorating 20 years of the McKinney Avenue Trolley. Run for your life! Women and children first! Only kidding. Dean plays a mean guitar, loves music, and "sangs pretty good for a Kentucky boy". When he's not getting Five Stars and national accolades at Fearing's in the Ritz Carlton, he can often be seen fronting his band of chefs "The Barb Wires". The show for the trolley and other fun things happens at FIG (Fashion Industry Gallery), 1807 Ross Avenue, beginning at 8:30. Admission is open to all, and is a $25 donation to help keep the 501C3 McKinney Avenue Trolley rolling down the tracks. Purchase tickets by calling 214-289-1126.

Chef Scott Romano invites you to what sounds like a scrumptious wine dinner at his Charlie Palmer at the Joule, on Wednesday September 16th, featuring the acclaimed wines of Fisher Vineyards. Wine Director Brandan Kelley will be on hand for the dinner, which is priced at $125 per person, ++. Make reservations at 214-261-4600. Visit the website for more details: The restaurant is located in Downtown Dallas, 1530 Main Street, 75201. Of course, if you love the Fisher Wines (and what's not to like?), Charlie's "Next Vintage" Wine Shop located between the restaurant and the hotel should have the evening's selections available to take home. It's a great opportunity to take advantage of retail prices for the wines you love. If you haven't been to Charlie Palmer's, it is one of Dallas-Fort Worth's most sublime wining and dining experiences. Be sure to try the appetizer homage to the State Fair of Texas: miniature Lobster Corny Dogs!

Trivia: On this hallowed ground, 1530 Main Street, site of the Joule Hotel and Charlie Palmer's, your intrepid wining and dining reporter once sold suits, ties, shoes and assorted mens furnishings during junior high and high school when my father ran the clothing store, Bond's, that was located here. You have my incredible love of retail sales and success as a clothing salesman (heh heh) to thank for my career re-direction (not a moment too soon) into broadcasting and food and wine. Here's to Hart, Schaffner and Marx. Cheers!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sizzlin' Ranch Style Paella, a Royal recipe, and a sipper to Savor from France

The Paella from Spain stays mainly on West Seventh Street and it's not plain when Michael does it.

One of our favorite all-time chefs, Michael Thomson, whose eponymous restaurant in Fort Worth's beautiful cultural district has been pleasing palates for over 15 years, is swaying to popular demand to serve Paella! Here's the caveat (apparently, this is a bi-lingual column): He's only serving it THIS weekend. In case you miss it, and I know I will 'cause I can't make it to Fort Worth this weekend, I am inviting you to inundate him with calls and emails urging him to do it again! Gently, kindly and courteously, of course. Quoth the Michael evermore: "Paella", is the National dish of Spain. Our "Contemporary Ranch" version of this Classic is a delicious blend of Seafood & Saffron scented rice dish highlighted with Shrimp, Clams, Mussels, Calamari, Chicken, Pork, and Smoked Andouille Sausage. Garnished with Artichoke Hearts, Roasted Red Peppers, Green Peas, and our Fresh Seafood~Tomato Ranchero Sauce. Enjoyed with a Bottle of Nice Red Wine, this will be a memorable meal You will be wanting to return for. Make Your reservations for Friday (lunch & dinner) or Saturday (dinner only) by calling the Restaurant at 817-877-3413. BTW, Michael also adds that they have spruced the place up, "newly remodeled". Please support one of our finest chefs whether or not he's serving ranch style Paella. Michael's is located at 3413 West 7th Street, Fort Worth, 76107.

Our friend "The Royal Chef" Darren McGrady (he was the chef at Buckingham for the Queen and also for HRH Dianna), posts a super summer recipe that we share with you now. Check out his website for more great foodie finds. Or, as he puts it: "Eating Royally, recipes and remembrances from a palace kitchen."

This months recipe:

Summer Ribollita

Next years Royal Chef Culinary Tour will take us to Tuscany

(for more information please call Southlake Travel on 817 657 9866)

So I thought I would share a delicious Italian soup/stew with you. Ribollita means reboiled and the stew tastes even better the second day "reheated"... I cant wait for this tour.

Serves 8

1 lb cannellini beans, cooked (dried or canned)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 medium red onions, peeled and diced
1 head celery, plus leaves, stalks ¾ inch chopped
1 head fresh garlic, peeled and sliced
1 lb Swiss chard stalks and leaves, stalks sliced into large matchsticks
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked from the stalks
1 bunch fresh mint, leaves picked from the stalks
1 bunch fresh marjoram, leaves picked from the stalks
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked from the stalks
3lb vine ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and rough chopped
salt and black pepper
10oz fresh spinach
2 loaves ciabatta bread, stale if possible, crusts removed

In a large heavy pan heat ¼ cup of olive oil, then add the onion and celery stalks. Stir and cook gently until they soften and brown. Add the garlic and chard stalks and continue to cook. When the garlic begins to color, add the chopped tomatoes. Season and simmer for 30 minutes: the tomatoes should reduce with the vegetables.

Stir in the chard leaves and then the spinach. Drain and add the cooked beans and
the basil, mint, marjoram and parsley. Tear up the ciabatta (1-2in pieces) and add to the soup. Check for seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste. The consistency should be very thick.

Recipe by Darren McGrady, The Royal Chef

I call your attention to Grapefest, September 17-20 in Grapevine. An exposition of the best Texas wines, lots of fun for the family, and some mighty fine cookin! Our good friend, foodie Debbie Meyer-Gore is hosting the Culinary Pavilion at this year's Grapefest and sends this link to the schedule of demos:
It's a great way to welcome Fall, and have a ball! By all means, DO try the grape stomp. It's not as easy as Lucy and Ethel made it look.

Here's another wine find from our friends at Centennial Fine Wine and Spirits:

Taille aux Loups "Clos de Venise" Vouvray 2006

This delicious white wine is yet another example of a perfect summertime beverage that may also alter and change your perception of what a Chenin Blanc can offer. Chenin Blanc (also known as “Steen” in South Africa) is a very versatile grape varietal that can produce multiple styles of wine. As an example, when produced in the Savennieres region of Loire Valley France, it can be vinified bone dry with a mouthwatering acidity and refreshing citrus notes; however it can also produce light, semi-sweet wines with inviting green melon and honey like characteristics.

Specifically, Domaine de la Taille aux Loups “Clos de Venise” Vouvray 2006 (pronounced as Doe-main day la Tie O Lue Clo day Ven-ēs Voo-vray) is completely produced from Chenin Blanc grapes sourced from a few acres of vineyards located just outside the village of Vouvray within Loire Valley, France. The vines average from 50-75 years of age and are grown in soil mostly comprised of a mix of stony limestone and clay, which allow for the perfect ripening of the Chenin Blanc grapes. This Vouvray offers strong tropical fruit aromas and flavors of pineapple, mango and papaya with a hint of fresh ginger. The mid-palate reveals more citrus notes of pink grapefruit, nectarine and blood orange. There is plenty of bright acidity to keep it lively and should be quite long lived. Get it while you

Taille aux Loups "Clos de Venise" Vouvray 2006
Limited supply. Only 10 cases available at the following store.
Sale Price. $24.97. Retail $34.99. Save $10.02

6805 West Northwest Highway
Dallas, Texas. 75225

Remember, KRLD Restaurant Week continues until Labor Day at many of the top participating restaurants. Keep doing your part to enhance your life with fine dining and to help the great work of the North Texas Food Bank and the Lena Pope Home. The complete list of restaurants continuing the three-course special dinners can be found at,, or Bon Appétit!

Monday, August 17, 2009

There's Gold (Wine) in them thar hills!

Rocky Mountain Dining and an incredible mile-and-a-half-high wine find

OK, so John Denver got it right. Rocky Mountain High Colorado is spectacular! The eagles fly, you touch the sky, and you get so high with or without assistance from controlled substances (just try exercising at 8000 feet, or playing golf like I did). On a recent jaunt through South Central Colorado (between Colorado Springs, Buena Vista/Salida, and Crested Butte), we found another reason besides hiking, fishing, and skiing to visit: wining and dining. Most small towns are lucky if they have a grits and gravy cafe. Really upscale hamlets have the requisite Starbucks. Neither elicits visions of particularly interesting wine or cuisine. But in this part of the world, there are so many well-healed expatriates (lots of Texans and Californians), that the number of good restaurants per capita soars almost as high as Mount Princeton. And, this particular point in the rarefied air of the Collegiate Range is where our tale of flavor profiles and palate pleasers begins.

Our hosts for the week-long R&R are long-time residents of the area and were primed to take us to several of their favorite foodie hot spots during our all too short respite from the Texas heat. These world travelers with intrepid constitutions were taking us for hearty mountain breakfasts (Jan's Restaurant in Buena Vista), crusty pizzas from wood-burning ovens from local favorite Amica's (Salida), and belt buster sandwiches from hippy friendly High Country Hoagies (Salida). All very tasty we thought, good ingredients, ample portions, nice surroundings, and friendly service, but the Taste-O-Meter was only slightly moving. An excursion over Monarch Pass to visit a friend in Crested Butte produced a fine lunch at the Paradise Cafe, which features a very pleasant outdoor dining area, like most of the serene settings we visited. Great salads, burgers, soups, and sweet potato fries made this stop at the foot of Mount Crested Butte really worthwhile. If you haven't been to CB, think Aspen before Tiffany's: beautiful little shops, restaurants, nice people, and manageable crowds (not as expensive either). If I had a spare million, I'd grab one of those spiffy mountainside vacation homes at a steal. Listings are plentiful in a down market.

Meanwhile, back at the headwaters of the Arkansas River in home-base Salida, while strolling and shopping we ventured past the most interesting looking dining establishment we had seen, with a picture of a chef (you can always tell the good guys in their white jackets), smiling next to Bobby Flay. Hmm. Might be on to something here. At least he hangs out with the right people. We took a look at the menu posted in the window: "Specializing in Colorado inspired cuisine; organic and sustainable ingredients; Chef/owner Kurt Boucher--The Butcher's Table." Well, at least it came by its name honestly. A chef with the French name for Butcher. A picturesque setting. A very palatable sounding menu. We got the phone number from the menu (719-530-9909) and decided to call for a reservation for an all-important birthday dinner the next evening for my darling, discriminating wife Vicki.

We arrived exactly on time for our 7 p.m. reservation. The place was nearly empty save for two tables near the back. Still early, we thought. People still out enjoying the beautiful weather. The dining room was set for a large table of 12, so we knew we'd have company eventually in the quaint room that seats about 60 to 70 altogether. The restaurant is fairly new. It has a very contemporary look. Open just a few months, but gaining a following, we're told. Perusing the menu we note a fine looking chef's three-course prix fixe menu: a baby wedge salad with Cambozola dressing, tomatoes, banana peppers, cucumbers, caramelized onions and smoked bacon bits offered for course one; a choice of locally caught black bass on a seafood nage, with grilled asparagus, ramps and foraged mushrooms; Chef Kurt's take on classic Coq Au Vin; and a Pasta du jour for the second course; and, pecan pie for dessert; all for $24.95. Looks like a great option. Let's check out the wine list and see if these selections will pair well. I remember several impressive names jumping off the list, but to tell you the truth, the only one I remember caused my eyes to jump out on cartoon stems. Everything else went out of my head when I saw the 2006 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay listed, way down at the bottom of the whites, for $24!!! Wait, this must be a split. Maybe it's the price by the glass? No. They are shown as a two price option with a slash (7/35 for example). The server informed us that it was neither, but was, indeed, the price for a full 750 ML bottle of the bottled gold. He said he thought the wine list was under-priced and that he tried to get the chef to raise the rates, but he insisted on wine values to compliment his cuisine. Wine value? This was the investment of the century. We ordered a bottle and told him to have additionals at the ready while we sipped the first. I said I thought this bottle would be on most restaurant wine lists for at least $125 to $150 and we giggled with anticipation. We Googled Chateau Montelena while we waited and discovered the suggested retail price for the bottle is $50. With the usual triple mark-up from retail to table (and sometimes more), this bottle could easily sell for $150 to $175 in most upscale establishments. Having just watched "Bottle Shock" in our mountain retreat the night before--the movie about Chateau Montelena's storied win in the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976--we laughed that maybe this was some of the "brown Chardonnay" that Jim Barrett thought he had produced. But, as it turned out it was golden and captivating and, unfortunately, only one of two bottles the restaurant had left in stock. I'd have rented a truck to haul off more if it were available.

Turns out that Kurt Boucher is a classically trained chef from Denver who happens to love cooking. The fact that his is the highest-end restaurant in an area with a clientele that appreciates good food is a plus. He likes to "put little wine surprises on the wine list for people who will recognize the treasure and enjoy it", he says. He plans to acquire some more Chateau Montelena, but the price this time will likely be around $36--still well below retail! I know there are other great finds on his list. But my head is still spinning from this epiphany. This place would be worth putting on your radar and if your travels take you to Salida, Colorado, stop by for a great glass of wine at a remarkable price, and a delicious menu prepared by a chef who cares. Bonus: his beautiful 10 year old daughter may greet you and seat you if it's not a school night. Check it out:

Other worthwhile finds in the area:

The Twisted Cork-Salida-719-539-7384
Laughing Ladies-Salida-719-539-4248
Benson's Tavern-Salida-719-539-9391 (also Wi-Fi hot spot)
Quincy's Steak & Spirits-Salida 719-539-3059 and Buena Vista-719-395-3160
The Golden Bee at the storied Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, with great Pub Food and Brews-719-634-7711

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Italian Family Style and Helping Hungry Families

How about some yummy Italian tonight? Or, "A Tasteful Pursuit"
with Stephan Pyles to help Share Our Strength?

Congratulations to Morris and Mike Salerno, and the entire Salerno Family, for 25 years of great Italian dining at Salerno's in Flower Mound. Sublime and tasty Italian food that makes it worthwhile to drive to the 'burbs if you live downtown or even half-way across the Metroplex. Heck, if you lived here you'd be home by now, so take any freeway to any freeway and follow the signs to Salerno's. Check out these daily specials:

Mondays - All You Can Eat Lasagna, Salad and Bread $7.00/person
Tuesdays - Buy one entree (valued at $8.50 or more) and receive the second entree for 50% off
Wednesdays - Half Price House wine by the glass
Thursdays - Ladies Night! Half price margaritas, Martinis and House Wines
Saturdays - Free Tiramisu with the purchase of (2) entrees - totaling $25 or more
Sundays - Half price appetizers

Salerno's Italian Restaurant is located at 3407 Long Prairie Road, in beautiful downtown Flower Mound 75028, 972-539-9534.

Stephan Pyles again hosts a unique dinner event to raise funds to support Share Our Strength's efforts to end childhood hunger in the United States. The fabulous dinner "A Tasteful Pursuit" takes place at Stephan's eponymous restaurant in Dallas at 1807 Ross Avenue on Sunday August 30. Participating chefs include:

David Uygur, Lola;
Sara Johannes, Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck;
Dan Yamauchi, Motor City Casino Hotel, Detroit
Bradford Thompson, James Beard Award winning chef/Food & Wine Top Ten Best New Chefs
Arturo Romanillos, Pastry Chef, Stephan Pyles

There are silent and live auctions to help raise additional funds. We bid on a cool item last year that Gary Cogill put together with tons of DVD's and a real Indianna Jones Fedora. Very slick. My wife thought the wine items were more to here liking. Tickets are $175 per person or you can host a table for $5000. Call 888.273.6141 for reservations. Or make reservations online:
"A Tasteful Pursuit" Reservations.

[If the link doesn't work, paste this gobbledygood into your browser:]

News flash from After shuttering his long-acclaimed Café Annie, trailblazing Houston chef-restaurateur Robert Del Grande has unveiled its successor, RDG + Bar Annie, in a new construction near the Galleria; the three-in-one concept spans two floors and features a lounge, a casual bar area and an upscale dining room serving expensive Southwestern-inflected New American fare, including some Annie classics like wood-grilled squab; tying it all together is the handsome decor done up in vibrant earth tones with mahogany touches. 1800 Post Oak Blvd., Houston; 713-840-1111

Morton's The Steakhouse is offering a secret email only menu for summer dining, featuring items like steak and seafood for two for just $99.99. Get on the Morton's email list by clicking on the link below. Or, just pop in and tell them you heard about the special menu that you can only get if you tell them you heard about the special "Escape to Morton's This Summer" menu. I don't think there is a secret handshake, or a password, but there are some tasty looking items. Enjoy!


Choice of Any Two Signature Salads

Two Single Cut Filets
Or $58 per person if you select one
of the following three steak enhancements:

Double Cut Filet Mignon • Prime Ribeye Steak
Single Cut Prime New York StripChoice of Two:
Broiled Sea Scallops, Colossal Shrimp Alexander
or Jumbo Lump Crab Cake
One Signature Potato &
One Fresh Vegetable to Share
Choice of Two:
Morton’s Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake
or Key Lime Pie
Pair your dinner with a Bottle of
2007 Estancia Pinot Noir, Monterey
2008 Franciscan Sauvignon Blanc, Napa
for an additional $45 per bottle.
This special is exclusively for you and a friend, and not offered
on Morton's menu. To receive this great menu, please mention
this offer on every visit now through September 30, 2009.
Visit to sign up for more great email offers.
Price does not include tax or gratuity.
Price may vary in select US locations & Canada.

Morton's 501 Elm Street, Dallas, TX 75202, Phone: 214-741-2277

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Restaurant Week" Etiquette, or Don't try this at home!

Restaurant Week "Etiquette"
By Jim White

As a veteran of 12 "Restaurant Weeks" I have some observations and suggestions to share. To be clear, that is 12 annual "Restaurant Weeks" dating back to 1997, rather than 12 weeks in one swell foop as some restaurants do tend to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the combination celebration, fundraiser time period well beyond the official "week". But, that's a good thing all around. First of all, it gives you a chance to try more of the great restaurants that are participating. And, just as important, it helps raise more funds for the North Texas Food Bank and the Lena Pope Home. The effort raised nearly a half-million dollars last year. This year, with over 120 restaurants, some of whom are restaurant weeking until Labor Day, it's got to exceed that amount. This is where you come in.

"Restaurant Week" is a contact sport; not for the faint of heart--or digestion. By all means, DO organize your friends in groups of 4, 6, or 8, and encourage them to recruit others to go out to as many restaurants as possible. Invite friends and family to town. Telling them you're saving money on taking them out is optional. I'd stress the good cause angle and look like a hero in mom's eye. Next, divide and conquer--try some of the restaurants on the list you've never heard of. They're all good, and this is an ideal way to discover something new and exciting. Be SURE you have a reservation. While most of the restaurateurs would probably let you in if they have an open table, the rules say "you must have a reservation". This is a courtesy to the restaurant so they know how much to buy and prepare. "Hey, I woulda baked you a cake if I'd known you were coming!" Please make sure you KEEP your reservation. Worse than not having one, is making one and then not showing up. You just aced someone else from getting a table and stiffed the restaurant. Bad manners. Bad Karma. If for some reason you cannot keep you reservation please call and let them know. These are talented people, but they are not mind-readers. When you arrive, please let them know you are there for the Restaurant Week reservation you have. This will insure that you are offered the proper menu AND that the donation mechanism engages (I believe it's a simple process of counting noses, or heads, or mostly what you have one of). Nothing worse than wandering into the restaurant, asking to be seated, having the regular menu, paying more for it than a Restaurant Week meal, AND not getting that all-important donation generated to the Food Bank or the Lena Pope Home.

I encourage you to enjoy the food and wine pairing that most of the chefs have created. They have worked hard on this. It will enhance your meal. You may try this at home, once you have received guidance from the professionals. The other strategy that many people employ is to buy a better bottle of wine than usual. The logic goes something like this, "Well, we are saving money on dinner, so let's splurge and buy that wonderful Single Vineyard Chardonnay we've been wanting to try, or Estate Bottled Cab, or highly allocated Pinot." You get the picture. In the end, it all balances out.

Now, the critical factor after a wonderful three-course dinner, the Central Market "Fourth Course", and the great wine, is to be sure and take care of your server with a worthwhile tip. Twenty per cent is the recommended percentage, but of what total? Let's play a game of "pay it forward" here. Why not round up your dinner tab, say, 15-20 per cent (to about what it might have cost if you weren't getting the Restaurant Week special), add in that nice bottle of wine, and heck, even figure the final gratuity with the tax included, and figure your 20 % on that amount. THEN you are giving the hard working server, a reason to appreciate the fact it's Restaurant Week. He or she will treat the next table even nicer than they did you. And, you'll have a warm, rosy feeling inside because you have done something nice. Given the choice between being a big tipper, or a penny pincher, always go for the former. You will like yourself much better. The generous action will definitely get filed in your "Good Karma" folder of life.

The most important advice I have for you concerning "Restaurant Week" is: ENJOY! Bon Appétit! Thanks for your support of the great causes and the wonderful restaurants participating. Gotta go! But remember, as we used to say on The KRLD Restaurant Show with Jim White, "If anybody asks you what you're making for dinner. Tell them RESERVATIONS, for Restaurant Week 2009!