Posts Tagged ‘Cocktails’

Where I’ve been, where I’m going

Woohoo!

Woohoo!

Hola, chickadees! Long time no talk! I’m sure you’ve noticed recent long spells between my posts — I still love you so!! I’ve just been eating my way around town (which is a lot better than a ton of things you could be doing around town) …

Since October, I’ve been the local editor for Zagat.com’s Dallas blog. Yes, THAT Zagat (rhymes with “the cat,” by the by) – the esteemed and well-trusted restaurant ratings brand known for its burgundy book of who’s who in restaurants around the world.

Needless to say, it’s a BIG job. A full-time job, to say the least. But it’s work that I love — writing up the chefs, restaurants, dishes, drinks and foodie happenings all up and down DFW. A dream! As I’ve gotten the hang of it, though, I’ve not always been able to touch base with you, my chickadees, nearly as much as I used to. So I’m sorry for the distance (I really do still love you!) – definitely visit my musings at the Zagat blog daily. Hell, if you sign up for the Dallas newsletter, a little piece of me will land in your inbox every day! And now you know where I’ve been …

You might now be wondering why the photo on a thus-far foodie-centric post is one of a glorious resort and pool we would all kill to lounge around. Well, that’s the “where I’m going” part of the equation: This week, I’m heading to Arizona for a sponsored tour of spas in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

** squeeeeeeee!!!! **

scottsdale fairmont

I’m endeavoring — between luxurious and restful spa treatments — to share with you the highlights of the journey, from touchdown at The Phoenician‘s Centre for Well-Being to my visits to Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort (above) and the Spa at Agave inside the Westin Kierland (pictured way up top) to dinners in abundantly elegant restaurants. I can hardly wait! And I hope to delight you and inspire you to get out there and travel! Look out for more on this next adventure; I hope you’ll stick around for the ride!

Get discounted tickets to Iron Fork

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Iron Fork, the annual food festival and head-to-head chef competition, is back and slated for a May 7 run at party venue 333 First Avenue.

As in years past, attendees will get to stroll from table to table sampling bites from some of the best restaurants around, as well as sips of wine, beer and spirits/cocktails. All the while, the strains of live music will provide the soundtrack to the evening, which will culminate in the chef competition. Two chefs are each provided with a basket of foodie goodies, including one mystery ingredient, with which they must whip up a delicious plate of food. While they’re crafting the perfect dish, celebrity chef Kent Rathbun moderates the proceedings, always adding his usual color and humor to the affair. It’s yet to be announced who will go up against last year’s winner, Matt McCallister, but they sure will have their work cut out for them!

Presale tickets are now on sale for the 7 to 10 p.m. event, and — lucky for you, my chickadees — I have a handy promo code for you to use to snag a discount! Enter dallasdiva into the promo code space, and you’ll snag $30 general admission and $60 VIP tickets (which includes entry an hour before GA and valet parking). For now, that’s a savings of $5 off early bird tix, but considering that day-of entry is $55 for GA and $90 for VIP, if they’re even available, I say it’s best to get on the good foot and snag your tickets now! The presale period ends this Saturday, March 30, so get to it.

Meet my Bloody Mary ‘Mirror,’ courtesy of Stoli and SER!

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When Stoli challenged me to come up with a Bloody Mary “mirror” – a cocktail that reflected me, moi, myself – I was flattered. The premium vodka label made it clear the drink could either look like me physically (tres impossible, methinks, because have you seen me?! Wink!) or highlight a component(s) of my personality.

Well, being a foodie and knowing that there are all kinds of crazy garnishes for Bloody Marys, I decided to have my Bloody Mary Mirror highlight my epicurean side. To that end, the first thought that came to mind were tater tots – never seen those on a Bloody Mary! And when I think tater tots, I think of the wonderful, delicately fried housemade lovelies served at SER, the steakhouse atop the Hilton Anatole. These babies are my fave – lightly crisp on the outside with tender shreds of potato inside. Mmmm!

Happily, SER also has a slate of Stoli flavors on hand, and at the bar, Nina fixed up a beautiful Bloody Mary just the way I (have come to) like it: spicy, not too thick, with a beefy Worcestershire sauce undertone and a salt-free rim. I liked how the squeeze of lime she added came through subtly, too – very nice! She asked for my choice of skewer to show off the taters and rested it gently on the glass – voila!

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In case you’re wanting to try this at home, get your tots ready and whip this up:

4 oz. Tomato Juice
2 oz. Stoli Vodka
2 dashes of Worchestershire sauce
2 dashes of Tabasco
Sriracha to taste (we likes it spicy!)
A squeeze of lime
2 or 3 baked or fried tator tots

Add tomato juice, Stoli, Worcestershire, Tabasco, sriracha and squeeze of lime into a glass and pour back and forth between another glass. Serve with a lime wedge and tater tots on a skewer.

This Bloody Mary perfectly reflects me because it’s got a luxe component (Stoli), the food component, and it’s spicy, hearty and a little bit tart. Poyfect!

Meantime, snag some components for a sublime Bloody Mary at the next stops of Stoli’s #SearchForMary mobile trucks. Tomorrow and Friday they’ll be the Sigel’s at 5757 Greenville Ave. from 1 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, they’ll be at The Foundry in Oak Cliff from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, they’ll pull a double-header, at East Dallas’ Vickery Park from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and then at Lower Greenville’s The Dubliner from 4 to 7:30 p.m. You can grab cocktail fixins from the truck then mosey on into the bars for the actual drink. Just don’t try to hail the Stoli #SearchForMary trucks like I almost did the other day when I spotted it at a gas station – this ain’t a cab 😉

[Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Stoli, with whom I’m partnering on the Search for Mary for paid reimbursement. I wouldn’t work with a brand I didn’t love, though, and I heart Stoli so! Savor Stoli Responsibly. STOLICHNAYA® Premium Vodka. 40% Alc/Vol. Distilled from grain. William Grant &Sons, Inc. New York, NY. © 2013 Spirits International, B.V.]

On my search for Dallas’ signature Bloody Mary

search for mary

So this week, I’ve been on the hunt for something peculiar, considering my experience with it.

Stoli, the premium vodka, has asked me to find a Bloody Mary that best represents this fair city’s local flavor. I LOVE Stoli, and am totally flattered and super-jazzed to work with them, buuuuut … I don’t exactly love Bloody Marys. Argh!

To me, the classic brunch cocktail has always tasted like spiked, thinned-out gazpacho … or I wish it would! I like gazpacho, but I’ve never understood the appeal of tinny-tasting tomato juice loaded with liquor and all manner of tart garnishes. That said, I *have* had one very delicious Bloody Mary once, made with house-squeezed tomato juice and so spicy it brought tears to my eyes. I loved it, so for Stoli’s so-named Search for Mary, I made my challenge to not only find a “local flavor” version but also a Bloody Mary that’d make a convert out of a non-fan like me a convert. Game on!

With a guiding hand from Stoli’s Dallas-based Brand Ambassador (and all-around diva) Liz Scobee, I popped into some of Dallas finest watering holes face-first, sipping the famed red cocktail everywhere I landed. Soon I landed upon a Bloody Mary that not only made me swoon but, to me (as a foodie), epitomizes one of the enduring favorite foods that Dallas is famed for.

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The lovely Miranda at Henderson Avenue’s Capitol Pub crafted for me a supremely satisfying Bloody Mary that had not only a hit of spice that any Dallasite worth their salt would love (thanks to sriracha!), but also had a terrifically round meaty flavor, thanks to a healthy dose of Worcestershire sauce – it was such a nice, beefy kick that it made me want a plate of fries or hash browns to go along with it! Not to mention, the Worcestershire brought to my mind (and tummy) a big, juicy steak, the kind that Dallas still loves so much – health kicks be damned – and is famous for. Her usual garnish during the Saturday and Sunday brunch during which her Bloody Mary is popular is an olive, a pickled pepper and a pickled green bean, though she was out of the latter on my visit. No worries – I adored her straightforward, peppy and not-too-thick/soupy cocktail just as it was, and I can’t recommend it enough as a terrific example of our local flavor!

Now, if you’re ready to get your hands on a Bloody Mary, of course stop by Capitol Pub when you can. But also keep in mind that Stoli’s got some drinks on wheels that you can track down this weekend and next!

Stoli’s Bloody Mary Mobile Trucks are crisscrossing Dallas, offering samples of drinkies starting at Sigel’s liquor store in Addison today until 8 p.m.; it’ll also be there tomorrow from 1 to 8 p.m. The food truck-like vehicle will then land at Dish on Cedar Springs from 11 to 7 on Saturday, then hang out from 11 to 7 at Capitol Pub on Sunday. If you find it, pop in for a sip of some stuff and definitely tweet out your find, using the hashtag #SearchForMary.

[Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Stoli, with whom I’m partnering on the Search for Mary for paid reimbursement. I wouldn’t work with a brand I didn’t love, though, and I heart Stoli so! Savor Stoli Responsibly. STOLICHNAYA® Premium Vodka. 40% Alc/Vol. Distilled from grain. William Grant &Sons, Inc. New York, NY. © 2013 Spirits International, B.V.]

Savor — the flavor of Klyde Warren Park

Savor cocktail

I had the chance to sample Savor, the sleek new Klyde Warren Park-adjacent restaurant with glorious views of the downtown greenspace and skyline. Needless to say, the ambience is vibrant here — floor-to-ceiling windows all around lend the space a light and airy feel, as do the sexy thangs that populate the room, no doubt curious about the new resto that’s been in the works for months.

Seeing as I do Sunday yoga mere steps from Savor, I feel like I’ve watched it grow up, childlike, right before my eyes. This baby — which calls itself a gastropub — delivers New American standards in a setting I’d call more lounge-like than anything else. It’s ideal for hot dates and girlie get-togethers, whether at the curvaceous bar or on the patio watching contented Klyde Warrenites saunter by.

At a recent media dinner, highlights began with the fruity, gingery Savor Cup cocktail (top) a tantalizing mix of Stoli, strawberry, rosemary and honey. How refreshing!

Although I’ve never much liked raw tomatoes, I ate every bite of my tomato burrata salad (below) — watermelon chunks added a cool brightness to the plate, and a mole verde was wonderfully piquant, especially with the burrata. Mmmm. Kudos on the delightful plating, too.

Savor burrata

A chile-braised short rib needed a tad of salt to cut through its fat as well as the cream of the sinfully delicious aged cheddar mac it sat on top of (below). Otherwise, it was a tummy-warming, perfect-for-fall plate.

Savor short rib

An assortment of desserts arrived for sampling, and among them my favorite by far were the Salty and Sweet Pudding and the candy bar-like Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bite.

Savor dessert collage

While Savor’s price point is a little high for me to make it a regular hang, it’s too splendid of an atmosphere not to visit for a treat. I can definitely see myself lounging on the patio for the occasional cocktail and soaking up the scintillating park energy.

Note: A couple paces from Savor’s back door is Relish, an affiliated gourmet burger stand spun off from a popular food truck I used to gorge at right after yoga. Go. Have the mushroom and truffle burger with Old Bay fries. Thank me next time you see me.

Halloween thrills with The Diva and CultureMap!

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I’m pleased as pumpkin pie to announce that the fun and freaky folks at Mockingbird Station have asked me to co-host a Halloween party at one of my FAVORITE bars, The People’s Last Stand!

On Oct. 30 at 8 p.m., moi and CultureMap Dallas nightlife editor Jonathon Rienstra will welcome ghouls and goblins of the night of sips, snacks and supreme scares! There’ll be prizes for the best costumes, so whip out your best gear and dress to impress! Too, we’ll be handing out two drink tickets for all guests, and complimentary bites will be available — so far, this is win-win territory, chickadees.

The screens behind the bar will be showing horror flicks AND DJ Blake Ward will be in the house spinning up a musical storm. The bestest part? All this is free and open to the public (21 and up, of course)! I really, truly hope to see you there — do stop by and say hi. Not sure what costume I’ll be going for, but I always love the flapper look. Oooh, or perhaps I’ll get dolled up like Joan on Mad Men. Hmmmm, so much to choose from. You’d do well to choose fabulously to contend for one of the prizes. Whatever you decide, I hope to see you on Oct. 30! Make sure to RSVP at the event’s Facebook page here.

Get your buns to Sissy’s brunch

Sissy's sardue

For those Saturdays when you’re looking to rise ‘n’ shine in the most Southern way possible, head on over to Henderson — Sissy’s Southern Kitchen just launched its new brunch menu, and it is dredge-me-in-flour-and-fry-me-up GOOD! I wouldn’t fib about the most important meal of the day, y’all …

Sissy's drinks

Once you’ve teased your tongue with some tantalizing beverages (above — I firmly recommend the Passion Peach Bellini!), make your way over to the heart of the menu. Among some of the standouts were this creamy, dreamy, hearty Chicken & Dumplings (below), with wickedly tender shreds of Sissy’s chicken, veggies and cornmeal-chive dumplings. Jaw-droppingly good stuff folks — I loved the way the dumplings just melted in your mouth, and the freshness of the veg assortment. The accompanying cornbread was exquisite.

Sissy's soup

Another high point on the menu was the NOLA-inspired Eggs Sardou — you know I love most anything New Orleans. Wink! The poached eggs over spinach and artichoke hearts (top) was surprisingly pleasing — surprising because I’m generally not a fan of whole artichokes, and this one was fine as could be under velvety hollandaise and alongside a generous potato hash.

But no visit to Sissy’s brunch (or the Southern U.S., for that matter) would be complete without Chicken & Waffles!

sissy's chicken

Two hot-out-the-fryer pieces of Sissy’s famous fried chicken come atop a crisp, mildly sweet buttermilk waffle with a big, ol’ pat of honey butter. My sampler dish came with a side of Steen’s cane syrup, but if that Dixie delicacy isn’t your thing, I say order up some of the organic maple variety. The cane syrup was a tad too reminiscent of molasses for me, but it didn’t keep me from wolfing down the waffle and the juicy, perfectly seasoned drumstick. I’m dreaming of devouring it again very soon. Oh, Sissy’s, may your Southern-fried culinary stylings never change! And, YOU, my chickadee, get thee to the East Dallas restaurant for Saturday brunch with haste. The restaurant hopes to expand to Sunday, but until then, clear out your Saturday and prepare to wait — it is certainly worth it.

Plano scores primo pizza with Taverna Rossa

Plano's Taverna Rossa rules | TheDallasDiva.com

Last week, I had the immense pleasure of sampling some sweet pizza pie love at Plano’s newest pizza spot, Taverna Rossa. What a cute spot! The interior’s all rustic-feeling, with tons of wood furniture and accents, lovely strung-up lights and even antler adornments, all of which give the place a relaxed feel. Too, there’s a stage where Taverna Rossa hosts local music acts.

Taverna Rossa, Plano | TheDallasDiva.com

I moseyed up to the bar and sampled the Rossa Mule, their take on a Moscow Mule, except with fruit-infused bourbon instead of vodka. It was brilliant — quite spicy, thanks to the potent ginger beer. I’ll have another, bartender! And I did! My friend Dr. Lucy thoroughly enjoyed a Mule and later the Thyme’s Up, an herb-tinged cocktail brimming with tart grapefruit and berry flavors.

Taverna Rossa, Plano | TheDallasDiva.com

But it’s the pies you want to know about, right? Taverna Rossa keeps them thin-crust and crispy, with delightfully crusty edges. I sampled a number of exotic house varieties, including the Kona Fire Pie starring jalapenos, pineapple nuggets and cashews (!!!). Not quite my speed, but tasty, with some textural pizzazz from the nuts and heat from the peppers. Aloha! Really, my absolute favorite pie was the All-American, with pepperoni, Luscher’s sausage, turkey canadian bacon, bacon, fontina cheese and a house-blend mozzarella. Simple yet stupendous, it was a saucy, juicy, cheesy pie — everything I love in a pizza. Between the welcoming vibe and decor, the tasty cocktails and the hearty pizza, Taverna Rossa brings a cool new Italian-flavored hub to the northern ‘burbs.

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