Saturday, October 31, 2009

New Mansion chef slips into town under the radar

Bruno Davaillon is here and already has cards! That's always a good sign! The new executive chef of the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek is in the house and is busily preparing his menu. Look for highlights to be filtering in over the next few weeks. We had the chance to say hello and welcome him to Dallas during a special wine dinner hosted by Shari Staglin from Staglin Family Vineyards. Bruno is engaging and friendly. It will be very interesting to try his cuisine. Eric Brandt remains in the kitchen as executive sous chef. Michael Flynn continues to run the wine and beverage program with great flair. Although, sadly, we learn that rising star sommelier Scott Barber is a victim of the recession. His position at the Mansion was recently eliminated. Downsizing is no fun for anyone. We hear that Scott is moving around the state doing some consulting, and one of his gigs is with his old colleague (and former Mansion chef) John Tesar at John's new place in The Woodlands. I thought you'd like to see the lowdown on Bruno. I checked out his bio on and share it with you here:

"Bruno Davaillon grew up as a member of a farming family in France's Loire Valley, which meant early access to fresh butter, cream, eggs, vegetables, and animals, dream ingredients for a future chef. According to Davaillon, "My great aunt had a big farm. At six or seven, I remember being in her kitchen, using all the natural products from the farm. That was the key." By the age of 14, after years of helping his family cook farmhouse meals, becoming a chef was a "natural choice."

A few years later, Chef Davaillon enrolled at Chateauroux Culinary School, where he attended cooking classes and apprenticed at La Ligne, one of the best-known restaurants in Tours. He performed admirably, and after he graduated from culinary school in 1982 with a CAP degree, he managed to stay on at La Ligne as First Line Cook.

Davaillon earned his first international restaurant experience as Lead Line Cook at Tante Claire, a Michelin Three Star restaurant in London.

For the next eight years, Davaillon cooked in France, as Chef de Partie at Domaine de Belmont and Chateau de Locguenole and as Sous Chef at La Vieille Fontaine and La Ferme St. Siméon. Davaillon honed his creativity during this stretch.

In 1997, Davaillon transitioned to the United States, working as a private chef for Ambassador Antonio Fernandez, planning menus for lunches, dinners and formal functions.

In 1999, Davaillon continued with his personal Manifest Destiny, accepting the position of Chef de Cuisine at Encore Restaurant in Los Angeles' St. Regis Hotel. Thanks to his high profile position and noteworthy performance, he earned his first Executive Chef post, at Beau Coup in San Francisco.

It was in San Francisco that Davaillon met a chef who knew Alain Ducasse. The famed French chef was planning his first Las Vegas venture, and Davaillon had a compatible approach to cuisine. According to Davaillon, "I never worked with Mr. Ducasse prior to Mix, but I always appreciated his approach to cuisine. I was very curious about what he was doing. It's very quality produce driven, very simple. Go direct to the flavor. There aren't six or seven flavors on the plate. It's very sharp. I have a similar approach." Ducasse agreed, and Davaillon was hired as Executive Chef at Mix. Davaillon moved to Vegas in April 2004 and the restaurant opened on the 64th floor of THEhotel by the end of the year.

According to Davaillon, "You can find classic dishes from Paris and Monte Carlo, but you can also find eclectic items, world cuisine." At Mix, the food is important, but they're offering a "great package," including a unique location and "feeling."

To stay seasonal, Mix changes the menu every three months. Despite being located in the desert, the restaurant is able to get every ingredient they want, eased by Ducasse's reputation in the industry.

Mr. Ducasse has final say on every aspect of what happens at the restaurant, food and otherwise. Every two months, he visits Mix to taste new dishes that Davaillon has developed. Once he signs off on a dish, it's promoted to the menu.

As with savory items, when it comes to desserts and wine, Mix reports to a corporate pastry chef and wine director at Groupe Alain Ducasse in Paris. Davaillon stressed that it's a collaborative relationship, not contentious in the least. "We still have freedom. They just want to know where we stand. They don't force us. We work together. It's a good team."

Chef Davaillon is excited to be a part of the recent influx of culinary talent to the Las Vegas dining scene. "In the past five to six years, everybody's coming here. It's a competitive environment. It reminds me of New York or San Francisco."

Davaillon has traveled thousands of miles from the French farmland of his youth, and he's absorbed mountains of culinary knowledge since he first cooked in his Great Aunt's kitchen, but in many ways, his approach is quite similar at Mix. As always, his goal is to deliver market-fresh ingredients, simply prepared and stylishly presented."

The Cowboy Cook rides again! Our good friends Grady Spears and June Naylor are back in the saddle. "Cooking the Cowboy Way" is their latest cookbook collaboration. You'll have a chance to meet them and get an autographed copy of the new book at Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap on November 16th. Featuring hors d'oeuvres and Republic Tequila, it'll be a book signing to beat the band. Call 800-367-1721 for details and reservations. Talk about a great spot to catch up with a cowboy cook! Speak of the devil, Tom Perini and his wife Lisa are hosting their 5th Annual "Buffalo Gap Wine and Food Summit" April 23-25 at the Ranch. They always bring in a great lineup of chefs and winemakers. Stephan Pyles is among the highlights. Get details here

Happy trails, podner! Until we meet again. Jim

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thanksgiving bounty and blessings shared

It's the time of the season for yummy Thanksgiving treats and a birthday celebration for Dallas Fish Market

One of our top seafood restaurants is celebrating its second anniversary by helping a great cause. Congratulations to Mike Hoque and his team at downtown's Dallas Fish Market who will throw a party on November 16th to help raise money for the Austin Street Shelter. Bon Appétit named Dallas Fish Market one of America's Top 10 Seafood restaurants in 2008. They'd like to give something back to the community for the support they've had. Here's where you come in. Call or email Bea Feagin at the the Austin Street Shelter and arrange to get a ticket to the November 16th event: 214-428-4242, ext. 18, Tickets are $45 and proceeds go to Austin Street Shelter's work of providing emergency shelter and services to the homeless. As you might imagine, the Center is currently experiencing heavy demand. Besides a good time and a good feeling, your ticket gets you Chef Randy Morgan's signature hors d'oeuvres, classic cocktails and top wines. The invite says that Chanel and Macy's Galleria will provide gifts for event guests, too. It'll be worth it just to see the smile of gratitude on The Reverend "Bubba" Dailey's face. She's the executive director of the Shelter, and will be on hand to greet guests and celebrate the occasion.

Bistro Louise is taking reservations for Turkey Day. $45 per person plus tax, gratuity and beverages. $16.95 for children 5-11. See the complete menu and make reservations by visiting the website, www.bistrolouise. Louise is also offering a "Thanksgiving Dinner for 8 To Go Menu" and a la carte "Thanksgiving To Go Menu".

Or, how about Thanksgiving at a wine resort? The folks at Messina Hof Winery are welcoming guests to their unique setting in Bryan to enjoy a Thanksgiving Feast and their Texas wine country hospitality. Besides food and wine tasting, they have lots of activities going on year-round at Messina Hof including cooking classes, cool "murder mystery" dinners and movies in the vineyards. Get all the details at Messina Hof's website, or by calling 800-736-9463, ext. 234.

If Italian is to your liking for Thanksgiving, Bugatti Ristorante has a special menu for the 26th. Visit their website for details, or phone 214-350-2470.

The hardest working guy in show business, Chef Tre Wilcox now has a new lunch menu (in addition to new dinner menu and wine list) at Plano's Loft 610 Restaurant. And, former Abacus colleague Jermaine Brown signs on as executive sous chef of the restaurant. As long as Tre sent it, I thought you might like to see what's on tap for the lunch-


Jalapeno Marinated Jumbo Shrimp, with Jack Cheese Grits and Tequila Lime Sauce

Cucumber Yellowtail Roll, with Citrus Sweet Soy, Wasabi Sauce and Pickled Ginger

Mesquite Grilled Baby Lamb Chops, with Balsamic Honey Glaze

Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Champagne Sauce and Chive Olive Oil

Crispy Duck Spring Rolls with Pomegranate-Chili Dipping Sauce

Soup, Salads and Sandwiches

Soup of the Day

Caesar Salad

Mixed Field Green Salad with Carrots, Fennel and White Balsamic Vinaigrette (add Grilled Chicken +4)

Red and Yellow Tomato Salad, with Marinated Mozzarella, Basil Pesto and Balsamic Reduction

Asian "Field Green" Salad, with Sweet Chili Lime Dressing and Crispy Wontons

Baby Spinach Salad with Maytag Blue Cheese, Bosc Pear, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Marinated Chicken Sandwich with Chipotle Sour Cream, Red Onion, Lettuce and Tomato

Spicy Pulled Pork Sub with Butter Pickles and Provolone Cheese

The 610 Burger with Smoked Cheddar, Pepper Bacon and Dijon Mayo

Crispy Southwestern Chicken Sandwich with Pepper-Jack Cheese, and Avocado Pico

Herb Roasted Chicken Pasta with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Parmesan Cream Sauce


Grilled Wild King Salmon with Pomegranate Brown Butter and Wild Mushroom Risotto

Crispy Seared Lemon Sole with Bacon Whipped Potatoes, Asparagus and Chardonnay Sauce

Chili Spiced Fish Tacos with Spicy Jasmine Rice and Mango Pico de Gallo


Grilled Asparagus, Steamed Vegetables, Bacon Whipped Potatoes or Truffle Risotto


Lemon Tarragon Italian Custard, with Strawberry Champagne Sauce and Fresh Blueberries

The "Top Chef" Failed Banana Bread Pudding, with Toffee Sauce
Chocolate Brownies, with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce

LOFT 610 Urban Restaurant & Lounge 5760 State Highway 121 Suite 175 Plano TX 75024 (972) 377-2500

Hope you've had a chance to visit the new WineTastic on Lemmon Avenue near Inwood. They are doing an incredible job under the management of Terri Burney who previously owned Grand Tastings on McKinney Avenue. She and her husband Don ran the place. Unfortunately, Don had a heart attack in 2007 and passed away. Terri recently closed Grand Tastings and was very happy that the opportunity came up with WineTastic. It's still a retail store, but they have lots of tastings and special events. 214-559-8910 or

Meals are made for wine. Fess Parker once told us he even drinks a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc for breakfast, with his eggs. Cheers, Davy! (Daniel to younger readers).
Be well,

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Who's that knockin' at the Screen Door?

Mico and David are in the house and need to add a wing for their partners.

I stopped by Screen Door in One Arts Plaza on Friday to see if I could catch up with David McMillan and Mico Rodriguez. In case you hadn't heard, there's been a big change at the restaurant (you ain't seen nothin' yet!). In one swell foop, Chef Fitzgerald Dodd is out (and the Southern menu he served is soon to follow), and celebrity chef David McMillan (Nana, 62 Main, Consilient Restaurants) is in with plans to revamp the menu within a couple of weeks. He and Mico have formed a partnership called MCM Restaurants with restaurant mogul Robert Colombo (Trece, Villa O, et al) and Teiichi Sakurai from Tei-An "with a goal of developing creative restaurants that are conceived and run the best way possible". Screen Door is MCM Restaurant's first project. Mico is back in fine form after a 10 month hiatus from the restaurant biz. It was a rough ride. A divorce from his wife, Carolina Galvan-Rodriguez, a "divorce" from his partners at M Crowd (Mi Cocina), and what appears to be a divorce from the personal demons that caused his tragic descent after his meteoric rise with M Crowd, have produced a man on a mission. As Mico puts it, "Lucy (Billingsley) has asked us to come in and observe and make recommendations to get this place turned around. We've just started. We have a lot of work to do. Robert is a fantastic partner. David is a gifted chef. We plan to open restaurants, and I want to do a Mexican Food restaurant as soon as the non-compete clause is up in 19 months (from his break with M Crowd), but right now we are engaged to make this restaurant live up to its potential." As we speak, the swirl of activity around him increases. It is less than an hour until opening time. He is meeting with sales reps, planning upcoming events, and barking orders to employees to remove facades in the restaurant entrance and change seating arrangements. He is organizing a new wine list, and taking a call from Robert Colombo. He asks someone to get David for me and the dervish continues.

Chef McMillan earned his stripes as Hollywood caterer to the stars (among them Barbara Streisand) before accepting Paul Pinnell's offer to take the kitchen helm at Nana in the Hilton Anatole. The restaurant rose to 5 star prominence before David left to open his widely acclaimed 62 Main restaurant in Colleyville. Bedroom communities are notoriously rough places to run upscale restaurants. David closed his dream place and started overseeing concepts with Tristan Simon's Consilient Restaurants (including Hibiscus, Victor Tango's and Fireside Pies). He is steady, mellow, and one of the most supremely talented chefs I have ever known. He is glad to be back in action again and is looking forward to putting his imprimatur on the Screen Door menu. Check them out as you venture downtown to see the new AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Tre rocks the house and Plano

One of the best chefs on the planet, Tre Wilcox, is in full swing with Loft 610. (He'll be joining us for the Savor Dallas International Grand Tasting on Saturday March 6, at the beautifully renovated Sheraton Dallas Hotel in Downtown Dallas.) He has created a new menu for Loft 610. As long as he sent it to me, I thought I would share it with you:

Crispy Duck Spring Rolls, with Red Chili- Pomegranate Dipping Sauce Jalapeno Marinated Jumbo Shrimp, with Jack Cheese Grits and Tequila Lime Sauce
Cucumber Yellowtail Roll, with Citrus Sweet Soy, Wasabi Sauce and Scallions
Mesquite Grilled Baby Lamb Chops, with Balsamic Honey Glaze
Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, with Champagne Sauce and Chive Olive Oil
Braised Pork Belly, with Pickled Cucumbers, Fennel and House BBQ
Seared Rare Hawaiian Tuna, with Spicy "Thai Style" Mushroom Sauce

Soup and Salads

Soup of the Day Mixed Baby Field Greens, with White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Caesar Salad, with truffle cheese
Red and Yellow Tomato Salad, with Marinated Mozzarella, Pesto and Balsamic
Asian "Field Green" Salad, with Sweet Chili Lime Dressing and Crispy Wontons
Baby Spinach Salad, Fried Oysters, Blue Cheese, Bosc Pear, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Hawaiian Escolar, on Stir Fried Rice with Shiitake Mushrooms and Yellow Curry Sauce
Poached Maine Lobster and Seared Sea Scallops, on Angel Hair, Tomatoes, Capers, Basil
Wood Grilled Salmon, with Bacon Whipped Potatoes, Asparagus and Chardonnay Sauce
Pan Seared Nova Scotia Halibut, with Baby Brocolini and Spicy Ginger - Lemongrass Broth
Herb Roasted Chicken Pasta, with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Parmesan Cream Sauce
Blue Cheese Crusted Prime Ribeye with Mixed Fingerling Potatoes and Marsala Glaze
Smoked Bone-In Pork Chop, with Mushroom-Scallion Risotto and Balsamic-Port Reduction
Braised Beef Short Ribs, with smoked cheddar-jalapeno bread pudding and grilled jicima slaw
Grilled Buffalo Tenderloin, on Sweet Potato Puree, Wilted Spinach and Ancho-Shiner Sauce

Grilled Asparagus, Steamed Vegetables, Bacon Whipped Potatoes or Truffle Risotto

Lemon Tarragon Italian Custard, with Strawberry Champagne Sauce and Fresh Blueberries
The "Top Chef" Failed Banana Bread Pudding, with Toffee Sauce
Golden Cake, with Blueberry Honey Syrup and Rum Whipped Cream

They have also expanded the wine list. LOFT 610 Urban Restaurant & Lounge, 5760 State Highway, Suite 175, Plano TX 75024, 972-377-2500.

Mama Mia, that's a tasty pizza pie!

We had some kind of fun the other night getting to know Jay Jerrier who owns Cane Rosso, the company that makes delicious mobile wood-fired pizza. He and his team are making pizzas every Wednesday night at Lakewood favorite Times Ten Cellars. Stop by beginning at 6 p.m. for a delicious Neapolitan pizza and a tasty glass of wine with Times Ten (they have just opened a new location in Fort Worth, too--near University Drive and 7th Street in the Cultural District-- 1100 Foch St, Fort Worth, TX 76107, (817) 336-9463. Cane Rosso has imported an authentic Italian wood-burning oven and housed it on a custom trailer that can be transported directly to events. We are planning on having them with us at Savor Dallas during the Arts District Wine Stroll on Friday March 5th, and during our "Sunday FunDay" benefit for the North Texas Food Bank on Sunday March 7th, at Dallas Farmers Market. You can contact them to do some incredible pizzas for a party or school function you have coming up. 214-577-6747, Get more details at their website, They adhere to the strict standards of the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana. They use only imported "00" flour, San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and house-made Flor di Latte to create an extremely fresh and light pizza. See you at Times Ten Cellars!

And now the whole sordid story can be told. Drum roll please!

Besides being one of the country's best (and wackiest) winemakers, Randall Grahm, the original "Rhone Ranger", owner of Bonny Doon Vineyards is a helluva writer. His new book just landed on my doorstep last week (thanks to University of California Press!). "Been Doon so Long--a Randall Grahm Vinthology" is a collection of some of the wild and wonderful works that readers of Randall's newsletters and other missives have been howling over for years. From the Hugh Johnson forward:

"This eclectic collection at last brings to a wide audience the irreverent, zany voice of Randall Grahm, visionary California winemaker and founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard. An iconoclastic send-up of the wine industry and a celebration of unsung grape varieties, the book features, among other things, Grahm's hilarious literary parodies - Joyce, Kafka, Pynchon, Salinger, and others - together with song lyrics, snarky satires, poems, lectures, and more. Subtle undertones of gravitas with faint suggestions of earnestness lie beneath the humor, however, as Grahm passionately addresses the state of wine today: Where in wine does "greatness" truly repose? How might true originality in New World wines be found? Do New World winemakers have the integrity and courage to unreservedly embrace terroir? This trove includes a very personal take on Dante's Inferno (Grahm's own vision of Wine Hell) and a collection of tunes from the rock opera "Born to Rhône." Other pieces offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of the Rhône Ranger wine movement and of Bonny Doon itself, told through the story of its adventurous wine labels. Been Doon So Long is a highly entertaining journey to find the "truth of all things that may be found in the unlikely medium of a wineglass." (I really wanted to find a way to say "Quoth the Raven, 'never more'.")

If you love wine and revile those whom take it too seriously (see what I mean), by all means buy this book as quickly as you can. Quoth the website ever more: "For more information and to follow the book tour, visit: Order online or by phone 888.819.6789 and we will happily send an inscribed book to any number of your dearest friends. For shipments to far flung Old and New World destinations, please contact the Mothership directly at or 1.831.425.6705." See what I mean? Even the commercials are fun with Randall.

Just had lunch with Adam Richardson who is winemaker for Cupcake Vineyards (and Concannon Vineyard), and International wine director for Underdog Wine Merchants based in Soledad, California. Adam is a native Australian, and former aviator with the Royal Australian Navy. He has been a serious winemaker for more than a dozen years. The delicious Cupcake Wines mostly from the Central Coast of California include Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand), Riesling (Yakima Valley, Washington), Petite Sirah, and Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina). Suggested retail on the wines is $13.99. They are infinitely inviting, and comforting as, well, a cupcake. Underdog is making some great wines from around the world under the aegis of The Wine Group, and more are on the way. Look for them at a friendly retail outlet near you.

G'day, Mate! Drink responsibly.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Art of hand-crafted wine and food explored

Craft Dallas and Newton Vineyard join Jim White and the KRLD Dinner Club for a spectacular wining and dining experience.

Ask five of your best wine friends to name their favorite Napa Valley wines and I betcha NewtonVineyard is somewhere on their list. Newton's picturesque vineyards overlooking Napa Valley were planted on Spring Mountain beginning in 1977. Su Hua and Peter Newton believed in the quality, character and rich flavors of higher elevation fruit. Newton eventually became one of the world's most desired wines. We are pleased to present a special pairing of Newton Vineyard varietals with a four-course menu from Craft Dallas in Victory Park on Tuesday October 27th. Seating for this special dinner is limited to 40 guests and is priced at $120 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Our special guest of honor is Ellen Flora, Senior Wine Ambassador and National Spokesperson for Newton Vineyard. According to Ellen, “There is no other property in Napa Valley as unique in such a faceted positioning of steep hillsides and the pioneering arrangement of these vines. The wines from this property are truly about the place – the ultimate terroir story."

Tom Colicchio's craft | DALLAS received 4 Stars from The Dallas Morning News. craft | DALLAS is known for its unique marriage of the finest ingredients, haute cuisine and family-style service. The food prepared at craft | DALLAS is a celebration of the integrity of seasonal ingredients and skillful execution. This unique dining experience serves as the perfect culinary companion to the wines from Newton. Complimentary valet will be provided. For Dinner Reservations Please Contact Michelle Tran at 214-397-4177. Get more details at the "KRLD Dinner Club with Jim White" website. And now for the pièce de résistance, the pairing:

First Course
Roasted Turbot, Braised Baby Fennel and Razor Clams
Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay 2006, Napa Valley

Second Course
Muscovy Duck, Quince Confit and Baby Turnips
Newton Unfiltered Merlot 2005, Napa Valley

Third Course
Wagyu Beef Cheeks, Celery Root Purée and Braised Horseradish
Newton "Red Label" Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley
Newton Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley

Fourth Course
Pain Perdu, Brown Butter-Hazelnut Ice Cream
Riche, Domaine Chandon Sparkling Wine, California

Nana at the Hilton Anatole is creating a Revana Vineyards Wine Dinner with special guest Dr. Madaiah Revana on Thursday October 22nd. Chef Anthony Bombaci is putting together a lavish four-course meal to pair with the wines. Cost per person is $200. Call 214-761-7470 for reservations.

A good time event for a cause happens on October 19th at Palomino, dine during "Celebrate the Cure" and the restaurant will donate 10% of sales. Just call 214-999-1222 for reservations.

Clay Pit in Addison has some tempting events on the schedule for you to experience: "Souther Spice Food Festival" on October 17-18th, and a "Taste of Punjab" on October 24-25th. Get details at

Chef Jean-Marie Cadot and his partner Gaspar Stantic are hosting a fabulous Louis Latour Wine Dinner Tuesday, October 27th at Cadot Restaurant. The price is only $65 per person, plus tax and gratuity. The restaurant has only been open a few months and already is gaining a big following. No wonder when two of our finest chefs get together, the results should be great, . and they are, at Cadot! It's located in the one-time Mediterraneo space at Preston Road and Frankford in far North Dallas.

For details on the dinner visit their website: or call 972-267-5700 for reservations. See the tasty menu below. Bon appétit!

Reception Menu
Cheese Gougere
Snail in Pastry
Smoked Salmon Rosace on Toast
First Course
Warm Venaison Terrine en Croute with Black Currant and Frissee Salad
Second Course
Filet of Trout with Crawfish and Morels Sauce
Third Course
Traditional Beef Bourguignon Stew
Fourth Course
Warm Chocolate Gratin with Griottes

Our friends at White Rock Coffee, Nancy and Bob Baker, are in an Autumn state of mind. Their cool java boutique is pulling out the pumpkin stops! Stop by Pumpkin Lattes, Pumpkin Chai, Pumpkin Spiced Tea, Pumpkin Scones, Pumpkin Muffins, bread, cheesecake, brownies (got tired of writing pumpkin!), even Toasted Pumpkin Seeds. And, join them October 17th, 2-5 p.m. for a Susan G. Koman fundraising event: "Cupcakes for the Cure". White Rock Coffee is located at 10105 E. Northwest Highway in Dallas, 75238.

How decanting will make you appreciate that wine even more (from our friends at Bottle Notes)

Why decant?

Most wine drinkers have seen the sculptural, wide-based wine vessels, but some may think they're just for show. On the contrary, many believe you should never drink a good bottle of wine without decanting it--and for good reason.

The best explanation for decanting a young wine that we’ve heard came from Tim Mondavi. He compared an undecanted wine to a green rose bud, closed and not fragrant. Pouring wine into a decanter helps that young wine "open up" and progress to a point where its aromas fill the glass, and your nose.

As wine is poured into a decanter, and as it sits in the wide basin, it interacts with oxygen in the air. This causes certain changes in the 500+ chemical compounds that exist in wine. While this may not be necessary for a bottle of Two Buck Chuck, you can certainly benefit from decanting a good young bottle.

Wines that have aged for more than 10 years do not need this opening up as much. However, decanting older wines separates the wine from any sediment that settled over time. In this case, you should pour the wine into a decanter, moving the wine bottle as little as possible and leaving enough wine in the bottle to prevent the sediment from getting into the decanter. If this sounds intimidating, you can always bring your bottle to a restaurant and have a sommelier decant the wine for you before your meal.

So give it a try–you'll undoubtedly notice the difference! To see some of our favorite decanters go to

The Zagat Guide to New York City Restaurants is out. Contact to buy the single guide for $15.95 or the "New York City Four Pack" that includes New York City Shopping, Restaurants, Lightlife and the City Food Lover's Guide, for $46.80. A $15 savings over purchasing the guides individually. Yummy see you at Balthazar for lunch!

Food trend to watch:
Liquor-laced shakes spike sales
at trendy food outposts around the country

Just like Grandma used to make? No wonder Grandpa was smiling!

Offering chef-driven flair with a cherry on top, spiked milk shakes are emerging as signature adult beverages at several upscale burger concepts around the country. Boasting names such as the Bourbon Malted, Grandma's Treat and the All Nighter, these liquor-laced concoctions offer comfort-food appeal with a grown-up twist when paired with their longtime partner, the burger, operators say. "In the food and beverage realm, it really doesn't get more comfortable than a burger and a shake," says John Rothstein of Laurent Tourondel's BLT Restaurants.

Remember, living well is the best revenge. Living well has nothing to do with being ostentatious.

Cheers! Jim

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Celebrate with Hector's on Henderson and when will Doug Brown's new restaurant open? Jim White has news you can use about wining and dining.

Happy birthday to one our dining treasures, and a labor of Love, Hector's on Henderson celebrating its fifth anniversary! Restaurant life spans are sort of like "dog years". It's such a tough business that being open five years is like 35 in any other "normal" business. Owner Hector Garcia would like for you to come celebrate with him by offering some free goodies if you stop by this week to wish them a “Happy Anniversary”. You will receive for free one of the items they have had all five years: The Shrimp and Grits appetizer, the Fried Chicken Livers appetizer, or the Candied Apple Crème Brûlée dessert. (Must purchase an entrée. One per person.) Says Hector, “It’s terrific to cross this milestone in Dallas dining. I have a great, committed staff, and wonderful clients, who propel me daily towards our mission in delivering Fun Fine Food.” For reservations, call or email (214-821-0432 or or just drop in. Hector's is located at 2929 Henderson Avenue, just East of Central Expressway. Visit their website for more details

Remember to join us Thursday night in the Dallas Design District for the fall fun at the "Slocum Street Style" event benefiting DIFFA. It's a free event beginning at 6 p.m. on Slocum Street near High Line. In addition to seeing the great design studios and antique stores, you can get a "preview" of Savor Dallas restaurants. Enjoy taste treats from Fedora Restaurant and Lounge, Jorge's, Paciugo Gelato, The Grill on the Alley, Go Fish Ocean Club, Lavendou Bistro Provençal, The Kitchen Table at Sheraton Dallas Hotel, and Hibashi Teppan Grill and Sushi Bar. Wash it down with tasty cold water from San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna (Savor Dallas' official waters), and enjoy some delicious adult libations. We'll see you there. BTW, get the full-tilt boogie---over 60 great chefs and more than 400 premium wines, spirits and imported beers at the Savor Dallas International Grand Tasting on Saturday March 6, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. Go to for the full schedule and to buy tickets. Special advance purchase prices on tickets now through the end of the year. International Grand Tasting tickets only $100 with this special "early bird" pricing (regularly $125). Get specials on all tickets to the Dallas wine and food event extravaganza. It's the biggest, and best, selection of star chefs and premium adult beverages in Texas.

Get a preview of the beautiful AT&T Performing Arts Center (part of the Savor Dallas "Arts District Wine Stroll" on March 5th), on Sunday October 18th. You have a chance to tour the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theatre and enjoy ongoing spotlight performances of jazz and modern dance, ballet, hip-hop, folklorico, ballroom, children's chorus, flamenco, African drum and dance, gospel choirs, chorale, family entertainment and more throughout the day. It's all FREE and open to the public. Part of the grand opening ceremonies by the Performing Arts Center.
Featured performances by flutist Nestor Torres, Ellis Hall and Eden Espinosa. Outdoor performance art by Mass Ensemble and Anti-Gravity and a fireworks finale. Hunter Sullivan and his 14 piece band perform in One Arts Plaza, across from the AT&T PAC from 6 until 10 p.m. It's a beautiful setting in which to take in the Dallas skyline, the Arts District, and enjoy some great food and wine, from Dali, Fedora, Jorge's, Screen Door and Tei-An. Party on! And, congratulations to all the folks at the AT&T Performing Arts Center for all their hard work. Yes, this used to be called the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts. Same great location, just a new naming rights sponsor: AT&T.

Here's a handy primer on Meritage wines. Just in case you wondered, it's pronounced like heritage, and not "mera-tahhg".

Meritage wines are provocative red or white wines crafted solely from specific "noble" Bordeaux grape varieties and are considered to be the very best wines of the vintage.

Meritage, pronounced like heritage, first appeared in the late 1980s after a group of American vintners joined forces to create a name for New World wines blended in the tradition of Bordeaux. The word was selected from more than 6,000 entries in an international contest. Meritage combines "merit," reflecting the quality of the grapes, with "heritage," which recognizes the centuries-old tradition of blending, long considered to be the highest form of the winemaker's art.

Meritage wines are growing in popularity and are currently the second fastest growing wine category in the industry. They are highly regarded for their aging potential, yet are completely approachable in their youth.

Many Meritage wines have proprietary names in addition to, or rather than, Meritage. In order to obtain a license and use the term Meritage on a label, a wine must meet certain criteria.

Red Meritage wines historically have been among the world's most highly rated wines. They are prized for their smooth, silky texture and complex, robust structure. While they age beautifully - often for decades - most are also very drinkable in their younger years.

A Red Meritage is a blend of two or more of the red "noble" Bordeaux varieties - Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and the rarer St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère. If the blend includes any other grape variety, it is, by definition, not a Meritage. Also, to qualify as a Meritage, no single grape variety can make up more than 90% of the blend.

White Meritage wines, while rare, are some of the most elegant and exquisite white wines crafted. The perfect accompaniment to seafood and poultry, White Meritage is a very food-friendly wine, but also is superb just on its own. Unlike many white wines, White Meritage is perfect for cellaring - growing more complex with age.

To qualify as a White Meritage, a wine must be a blend of at least two of three specific white "noble" varieties - Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais. No single variety can make up more than 90% of the blend. The wine does not qualify as a Meritage if the blend includes any other grape variety.

Quote of the week from our good friends at Snooty Foodie:

SideDish/Snooty Foodie

"Our good buddy, Elvis groupie, and the fastest wine taster in Dallas metro, Shawn Horne, has left as GM of Wolfgang Puck’s big gyrating ball in the sky Five-Sixty effective last week. We won’t say it was a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen or that wolves in sheep’s clothing were always lurking…but… Mr. Horne ain’t scared of heights either so you do the math. Unlike the real Elvis, Shawn hasn't crashed and burned (or overdosed). He's heading over to run the new restaurant Dish in the Illumina building on Cedar Springs and Douglas. Rumor has it Chef Doug Brown is also involved in the project and they are targeting a November 1 start date (which probably means February in restaurant speak). From the info we've seen, Dish appears to dance on the fringe of fine dining American - sorta like a chef driven Houston's."

Eat to live. Be well. Jim