Girls on Food

Dallas

The 2018 Garden to Table Dinner Hosted by Independence Gardens Brings Farm to the Table For a Good Cause

Eating for a cause! It doesn’t get much better than that. I was honored and excited to attend the annual Garden to Table Dinner event hosted by Independence Gardens again last weekend.  A first grade teacher with a dream, Sarah Allen, saw a need and took action. Her students (and thousands others) live in an area referred to as the “food desert” because of the lack of grocery stores within walking distance from their homes. The need for access to healthy foods and the knowledge of nutrition is real. When she heard about Independence Gardens and their mission she knew she had found the perfect partner. Independence Gardens was found by Chonnie Richey. Being a first grade teacher myself, I am well aware of the effect lack of nutrition can have on children.

The six course menu was inspired by the fruits and vegetables growing in the community schools gardens and each course was cooked by a different local chef. Unfortunately, the weather made it impossible to dine outside. Nonetheless, the team transformed the cafeteria into a dream and the student entertainment was topnotch.

First Course – Chef Jennifer Bajsel
We started with a wonderful, comforting Roasted Apple and Squash Bisque. I overheard someone say it “tasted just like fall”. They were right it did; with hints of clove, cinnamon and the freshness of the apple squash.

Second Course – Chef Braden Wages/Yasmin Wages
Next up was the Thai Tuna Tartare. The diced sushi grade ahi tuna was perfectly seasoned with herbs including mint from the school garden. The homemade sriracha sauce was good and spicy.

Third Course – Chef Amanda Bensley and The Colony High School Culinary Program
The Blue Harvest Salad with Rosemary Dijon Vinaigrette and Mini Beef Tarts were next in line. The salad was dressed but not soggy and the crispness of the apples and spiced pecans were a wonderful addition. I was happy with the blue cheese, but one bite of the fresh goat cheese in the beef tart and I was in heaven. Wow!

Fourth Course – Chef Kyle Jones
The fourth course was another feast for the senses with a Sausage and Cornbread Stuffed Quail with Golden Raisin and Carrot Puree. The rich sausage and quail were wonderfully paired with the cornbread and puree.

Fifth Course – Oscar Miranda
For our next course we were introduced to Chef Miranda’s Vegan Cajun Polenta. The spicy and richly flavored jackfruit was amazing. The polenta brought down the spiciness of the cajun jackfruit. I would put this dish up against any cajun meat dish!

Sixth Course – Chef Cesar Barachina
Lastly, we we dined on Roasted Carrot Spice Cake with Candied Pecans, Pineapple Salsa and Cream Cheese Cremeux. The spice cake was moist and flavorful. I don’t often think of pineapple as a fall fruit, but is was a wonderful surprise to the dessert. I found myself trying not to lick the plate it was so good. Manners….

I also got to spend the evening with the winners of our ticket giveaway and my daughter. Four current and former educators. In a world full of negative news it was good to know people are making a difference!

West Coast Media Tasting: Summer Solstice Party at Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar in Dallas and Orange, CA

Carla: Girls on Food got invited to the super fun Summer Solstice Parties at Lazy Dog’s participating locations last week. So I attended one in Orange, CA and Dawn attended the Dallas one. We were celebrating both the beginning of Summer and the release of their the new Huckleberry Haze IPA house beer (by Golden Road Brewing).

The setup for the event was really cute and had different stations for us to try all the different beers on tap. Tons of beer information was provided to us by their knowledgeable staff who gave great insight into Lazy Dog + Golden Roads awesome approach to beer and food pairings.

Summertime Spread – Image by Carla

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar  
Locations spread throughout California, Nevada, Texas and Colorado
https://www.lazydogrestaurants.com/

CarlaRight of the bat I wanted to try to Huckleberry Haze IPA and I fell immediately in love. Normally I’m a tequila or vodka type of gal (effective and calorie conscious drinks) so a lot can be said when I admit to an immediate infatuation with a beer. Huckleberry is super unique to beers and in this case a labor of love between Chef Gabe Caliendo at Lazy Dog and Head Brewmaster at Golden Road, Victor Novak.
Beer Tower – Image by Carla
For those unfamiliar, Hazy IPA’s are made when the hops are added at the end of the beer making process. In doing so the beer acquires a sweeter taste rather than a hoppy one. Fruit notes also tend to stand out much more with this process and they definitely did in this brew. You can totally taste the berries as well as a tiny hint of strawberry and other tropical flavors.
All the other beers provided were perfectly picked for summer. The Ankle Buster Blonde was pretty tasty and the Stargazer Nitro Stout was a bold choice. I totally recommend the Stargazer to anyone who loves a refreshing iced coffee on a hot summer morning.
Dawn: The new summer menu was something to howl about! One of my favorites was the Street Corn Wheels, perfectly grilled sweet corn on the cob seasoned with lime, garlic, queso blanco, tajin and cilantro.
Street Corn Wheels – Image by Dawn
Carla: Zero guilt was felt as I ate multiple of the new Grilled Artichokes. I was glad to have something so healthy and yummy! Seasoned with lemon and herbs then cooked on the grill these little veggies were incredible with their house made roasted garlic tahini.
Artichoke – Image by Dawn
CarlaThe mini corn dogs were the perfect size to nibble on while trying out the different beers. The Sun Spanked Red Ale contrasts beautifully with the corn batter and Nathan’s all beef hot dog.
Dawn: These babies are not are NOT the cereal-filled mini dogs of your childhood. These are all beef hot dogs dipped in a slightly sweet batter and served up with some IPA mustard and ketchup.
Corndogs – Image by Dawn
Carla: Finally the Chili Peanut Wings really stole the show. The sauce and flavors are rich while tangy and would pair great with either the Howling Hive Hefe or the Ankle Buster Blonde. Fun fact: Hef beers such as Howling Hive Hefe are made with German yeast and from this acquire the taste of banana and cloves. Go ahead and try it, its a super palpable taste.
Dawn: The wings are caramelized in mixture of pineapple juice, fish sauce, lime, jalapenos, garlic, ginger, chili flakes, crushed peanuts and cilantro. Think Kung Pao wings!
Chili Peanut Wings – Image by Dawn
CarlaAll in all, I’m glad Lazy Dog is as ready as I am for summer. Beers, bites and best of all the occasional cutie dog on the patio!
Thank you so much to C Squared PR for inviting the West Coast Girls on Food Team to this tasting. Although all food and beverages were comped, all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.  

Between the Buns Slides into Home Plate with Their Inaugural Slider Event

Last Saturday the Dallas Observer and Whole Foods held the first annual Between the Buns – Slider EventThirty of Dallas’ hot spots were busy cooking some of their most tempting treats for the taking. Seriously, there really isn’t a better biteful than a slider and a great vehicle to pretty much get anything into your mouth! 

Between the Buns
Dallas Farmers Market
920 S. Harwood St.
Dallas, TX 75201

There were sliders for every taste and eater. Here are some of the best bites of the day….

Hutchins BBQ – Pulled Pork
If there is one thing Hutchins knows how to do it is BBQ and this slider was no exception. Sauce-laden and juicy to the last bite with a nice crunch from the coleslaw.

Full Circle Tavern – The Italian Stallion
The Italian seasoning was spot on and the peppers added a little bite. Mamma Mia!

Arepa – BBQ Jackfruit Arepa
Shout out to all my vegan and gluten-free foodies! This fluffy corn cake was stuffed full of seasoned jackfruit and jicama slaw. A great change from beef or pork.

Snuffer’s – Bacon Cheddar Slider
Man, I love a poppy seed bun! his baby was filled nicely with a beef patty smothered in Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese and bacon.

Dot’s Hop House – Club Schmitz Burger
Dot’s Hop House pays homage to a Dallas legend with their namesake burger. Two patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and housemade pickles. Club Schmitz would be proud.

Easy Slider – The Mini Mac
Move over golden arches there is new burger in town that has you beat. This double-decker has two angus beef patties, American cheese, lettuce, onions, pickles and special sauce. It is small in stature, but mighty in taste.

The Dapper Doughnut – Strawberry Bella Mini Doughnut
After all that savory goodness it was time for something sweet. Warm and yummy, this mini doughnut was just what I needed to finish off the bevy of burgers.

The inaugural Between the Buns is in the books! Clear your calendars for next year’s event.

Renzell: The Perfect App For Fine Dining Lovers

The world of foodie apps is like the wild west right now. Developers are striving to become the next big thing, but few apps offer anything unique to stand out from just being a local restaurant directory. I thought I had seen it all with these apps, until GOF blogger Marcie told me to check out an app called Renzell and it has since become my go-to restaurant directory app.

Cocktail from Redbird in LA, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Why Renzell?

It’s for those with impeccable taste –  What separates Renzell out from the other apps is a restaurant directory that is specifically hand-picked by Renzell staff of fine dining establishments in major metropolitan cities. This app isn’t here to help you find a new coffee shop, it’s to help you find the perfect special occasion spot. Think Marea in NYC, Redbird in LA and Alinea in Chicago.

Be undercover –  Members can rate restaurants anonymously through their surveys, which are scored based off overall numbers, no long write-ups required. Their surveys are broken down into categories like ambiance, service, food and cocktails. What I love about this so much is that it’s not public what scores users gave, so I can quietly and candidly score spots. See full list of restaurants here.

Prove it – There is also more accountability in the scores than other review apps. Members are encouraged to show proof of dining by providing a receipt from their visit. This makes me feel better when I read the scores, cause it’s lessening the likelihood of fake reviews.

Get rewarded! – The more you survey and/or provide proof of receipt, the more goodies you can get! Recent rewards include Starbucks gift cards, SoulCycle classes, a month of free Spotify premium and so much more.

With membership benefits, secure anonymity and consistent app functionality, I will consider myself a “lifer” Renzell member.

  • Featured image – Strozzapreti from Marea in New York, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

When the Wabi House in Dallas is Rockin’…

I’ve heard rave reviews about Wabi House for some time now. The loudest reviews have been from my twenty-something daughter and her friends who visit Wabi House no less than once a week. Located in the Lower Greenville area of Dallas; not exactly my neck of the woods. Last week I made the trek to Lower Greenville to meet the twenty-something gang for dinner. It was worth every mile of the drive. 

Wabi House
1802 Greenville Ave., Dallas, TX 75206
http://www.wabihouse.com

The entrance is decorated with a vibrantly decorated mural and outdoor seating with an open bar…weather permitting of course. The interior of the restaurant is decorated with punches of framed color set against pale walls with Edison bulbs hanging from a dark, wooden-beamed ceiling. The long, narrow dining room is filled with comfy booths and a few seats overlooking the kitchen.

Sweet Corn Fritters

We started with a couple of small plates. The first was the plate of Sweet Corn Fritters. These amazing morsels are made with niblets of corn cut fresh from the cob which is perfectly seasoned with salt and sansho pepper then drizzled with a spicy aioli. These babies were heavenly. The corn was sweet and savory with just enough breading to hold it all together. The drizzle of aioli was just the right amount of heat. Did I mention we devoured three orders!

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Lounge Here in Dallas

When I saw that a hip bartender friend of mine checked into a place called ‘Here’ last year –he intentionally misnamed the place to maintain secrecy– a place with a name that begs the question, “Where?”, I was instantly intrigued. Since then I’ve been to Lounge Here many times, sometimes twice in one week because I love it so much but was hesitant to write about it because I too, wanted to keep this little East Dallas gem all to myself!

Lounge Here
9028 Garland Rd., Dallas, TX 75214
http://www.theloungehere.com

What’s so special about Lounge Here? For starters, it’s easy to overlook its plain, white exterior among the vibrantly painted shops adjacent to it. Second, it’s nestled in a neighborhood known for housing more mature and laid back residents (think Austin vibe before it was overrun with hipsters!) than flashy Highland Park or Uptown neighborhoods.

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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Smoked Dallas

I was so excited to attend Smoked BBQ Festival again this year. How could I go wrong with BBQ, live music and trailer park olympics? I’d be a fool not to attend.

Smoked Dallas
Main Street Garden Park, Downtown Dallas, TX
http://www.smokeddallas.com/

Culling down my favorite bites from the sixteen pitmasters and chefs was a tall order, but I conquered. I narrowed it down to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

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Promise of Peace Gardens Presents: Okrapalooza in Dallas

Brussels sprouts—smoked, charred, covered in bacon. It doesn’t matter how they are prepared; they remain the darling veggie. But one non-profit, Promise of Peace Gardens (P.O.P.) gives the spotlight to another veggie: okra. That’s right, okra.

Photo by Allison McClean

September 17th P.O.P hosts its 8th annual fundraiser, Okrapalooza at the dog and kid-friendly The Lot in East Dallas. From 11am – 2pm twenty celebrity chefs will create their best okra dish for guests to taste.

Chef Uno Immanivong (left) Guest (right)
Photo by Allison McClean

The Chefs include last year’s winner, Chef Peter Barlow of Flora Street as well as Chef Graham Dodds, The Statler; Chef Mark Wooton, Garden Café; Chef Thomas Archer, 3015 at Trinity Groves; Chef Daniel Pittman, Luck; Chef Anastacia Quinones; Chef Ryan Barnett, Lark on the Park; Chefs Noelle Hendrix and Nick Amoriello; Chef Uno Immanivong, Chino Chinatown and more!

Five celebrity judges will choose one top chef while guests will award the People’s Choice award. And in case you were wondering if there will be anything else to eat besides okra, Elizabeth Dryer, founder of P.O.P. promises me that we can expect much more!

Okrapalooza supports P.O.P. Gardens and its comprehensive programming aimed at restoring urban communities while making sure that all have high quality nutritious food on their plate. P.O.P. transforms unwanted land into thriving gardens and teaches low-income families about sustainable living. Portions of produce grown in P.O.P. gardens supply a few Dallas-area food pantries.

Purchase tickets online for $50 in advanced or $60 on the day of the event. Entrance to the event includes live music, all food and beer from Lakewood Brewery. Cocktails will be available for purchase. Get the discounted price of $40 by purchasing your ticket in person at North Haven Gardens.

Lebanese Tapas in Dallas: Zatar

In the not so distant past, a craving for any type of ethnic cuisine besides sushi or Mexican food would typically require a trip to the suburbs. But in the last few years, Dallas-proper has been the lucky recipient of a few establishments that fall outside the realm of New American or Southern cooking–not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Enter Zatar (Lebanese oregano or spice blend), a Lebanese tapas restaurant in Deep Ellum with an attached hookah lounge. The first time we visited, you’d never know that Zatar was then only 4 days old as they operated like a well-oiled machine with Chef Mo Khazem providing the most palate-pleasing food I’ve tasted in a long time. Even more impressive, this is the first restaurant for Lebanese owners and partners in life, C.K. Khoury and Mark Mansour, who modernized a few of the traditional recipes—the beef shawarma flatbread—in order to make their cuisine more accessible to Americans.

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Clucking Around in Lewisville, TX: Prohibition Chicken

Prohibition Chicken is the collaboration of Josh Babb and Sean Clavir (formerly of Musume, The Chop Shop and Chop Shop Live) and Chef Roger Kaplan (Restaurant Innovations). In addition to its great location, they chose Lewisville for the restaurant’s site because it lends itself to the old country vibe they were seeking.

Prohibition Chicken
201 W. Church Street, Lewisville, TX 75057
http://www.prohibitionchicken.com

The dining room is wonderfully rustic yet chic. The walls are covered in wood and the comfy booths are covered in flour sacks.

Rustic interior with natural lighting. Check out the phone booth door leading to the speakeasy.

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The Top of Dallas: Mirador Restaurant

The question I’m asked the most is “What’s a good new restaurant in Dallas?” Fortunately for Dallas residents and visitors alike there are usually at least two new options every 6 months. In this case my new favorite spot is in downtown Dallas on the top floor of a very posh boutique (Forty Five Ten) with a terrace that overlooks the art piece that locals call “The Eyeball”.

The Eyeball.

Mirador
1608 Elm St., Dallas
http://www.mirador-dallas.com

I had a feeling that Mirador would be great simply because of the culinary backgrounds of the two collaborating chefs, Josh Sutcliffe (executive chef) and Nilton “Junior” Borges (executive chef of The Joule Hotel). Sutcliffe, most recently, was executive chef at Filament and before that worked at FT33, both led by Food and Wine’s Best New Chef-Southwest and James Beard nominee, Matt McCallister. Borges also had a stint at FT33 as an executive chef. Prior to that, he was executive chef at Uchi when they earned 5 stars from the Dallas Morning News. Uchi, by the way, is also owned and operated by another James Beard winner, Tyson Cole.

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