Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Vickery Park

Is there a hotter location right now than Henderson, what w/Tei Tei, Fireside Pies, Hibiscus, Hector’s etc? (that's rhetorical, the answer is no.) Vickery Park, a new restaurant-bar, scored a site in the thick of it, where Big Fish Little Fish used to be. For now, VP is still in "soft opening" mode, so it’s just a few snacks, but these ain’t no chicken wings: mussels in champagne lemon-butter garlic sauce, grilled vegs, Dos Equis ribs, pizzas w/ housemade dough. With chef Eric Najera from the Green Room in the kitchen, there’ll be a full menu, altho Vickery Park will always be lounge first, restaurant second. It’s already a big hang for the service industry, a late-nite drop-in for chefs and servers who work on the street.

2810 N. Henderson Ave, 214-827-1432

Monday, May 30, 2005

Guittard gourmet syrups

sorry this is not a holiday-appropriate BBQ sauce or such*

On a bottle of fudge topping, the First Ingredient should be “chocolate”. Good luck finding that. (Scharffen Berger’s is one of the few but it’s $9.95 a bottle… at Central Market, fyi.) Mosta the crappy choc syrups start w/ “fructose,” and that’s true of Guittard, too. But Guittard is also a superior chocolatier (used by pastry chefs, up there with Callebaut & Valhrona), and to give fructose corn syrup its due, it does facilitate pouring, into, say, a coffee beverage. Guittard is a small, slightly wiggy Calif company, and its hotly-desired syrups hadn’t been available to Me-The-Consumer until, well practically just now. SuperTarget has them in milk choc and caramel, in animal-printy squeez bottles; no sign of the dark choc, but maybe my SuperT was just out.

*but hey, some people eat ice cream on Memorial Day, so there.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Kit Kat orange & creme

a NYCE exclusive! no applause necessary. really. stop. i mean it.

Hot-hot-hot Kit-Kat spinoff alert! CVS has ‘em NOW: orange & crème Kit Kats. It's a limited edition with an orangey cream coating (which ech consists mostly of artery-clogging palm kernel oil, but let’s not bogue our new-kit-kat-spinoff high, shall we). Orange Kit Kats are old news in Europe, but theirs is more sophisticated, w/ la-dee-da Seville and/or blood orange fillings. Guess they hadda dumb it down for Americans (outsida the U.S., Kit Kat=Nestle; but here it's Hershey. weird, eh). The Kit Kat Thing is off the hook: wild spinoffs we can’t get and a Kit-Kat cult seen on candy blogs everywhere. In the U.S.: we briefly got mint Kit Kats last Xmas; a limited-edition triple choc came out in January (never saw that, tsk); and white choc graduated from limited-> year-round product. so much to say about Kit Kat!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Takes The Cakes

Millie Ortiz had been making cakes for 20 years, but it was always a side thing. Three years ago, she created a website -- and her business boomed. Last year, she decided to make it official and look for a space. She was having dinner at Bavarian Grill when she spotted a “for lease” sign on the storefront next door. It previously housed a caterer and, lo and behold, had kitchen gear. And that’s how Millie Got Her Cake Shop. No pies, no pastries, just decorated cakes. It was a fortuitous time to open, it being wedding season, and there isn’t a whole lot of competition. She’ll accommodate the occasional walk-in but she mostly bakes to order and so appointments are recommended.

221 W Parker Rd #520, Plano. 469-467-9620

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Grab A Slice

It hurts to say so but the pizza at Grab A Slice is only fair. On the plus side: toppings are fresh, food's made to order, nunna that greasy sheen you get at the chains. But if you judge a pizza by its crust (as well you should), the brought-in product here doesn’t cut it, no matter how much care was invested in its selection by owners Tina & Leah Bennett. But the sisters had a reason, and this gets to what’s cool about Grab A Slice: It’s in a kiosk hardly bigger than a closet, 500 sq ft tops, w/ a kitchen shoehorned inside and employees spilling outa the windows. They deliver, of course, but you can stop by and do as the name says: grab a slice, served, they claim, in 2 ½ minutes.

1100 W Main St. (at valley parkway) Lewisville, 972-353-5777 or 1-877-492-6874

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

White Rock Coffee Co.

After a year in the making, White Rock Coffee Co. is good to go. This independently owned coffeehouse-roaster at Northwest Hwy W of Ferndale comes from Bob and Nancy Baker, who live in the ‘hood. She was in software; he had a furniture store in Oregon and a West-Coaster's obsession with coffee. They're using PC beans -- fair trade (which guarantees the farmers get a fair wage) and beans certified by the rainforest alliance -- and roasting them onsite, thus fresh fresh fresh. The location, next to an animal hospital and a JITB, used to be a popeye’s chick but the Bakers rebuilt from the ground up with a Hill-Country-meets-urban theme … high ceilings, corrugated metal, stainless steel, stone. They'll have pastries from the best purveyors (Empire, Cheesecake Royale) and wanna have music on weekends too.

Opening Friday May 27 at 10105 E. NW Highway, 214-341-4774.

Monday, May 23, 2005

hot dog buns go wheat

Sara Lee -- “global manufacturer” and 3rd largest bakery in the U.S. -- has been on a health kick: In 2001, it acquired Earth Grains; then, last December, it created a whole-grain line called "Sara Lee Heart Healthy" (it's also pushing the "Sara Lee" brand*). The newest in that line (so new, a press release hasn't been issued yet!): wheat hot dog buns. You've seen wheat hamburg buns -- but wheat hot dog buns? It almost doesn't go with the idea of hot dogs which is why it's great. For those who care (zzz), the buns have 2 grams of fiber and 10% of your daily dose of calcium. Paired with a turkey hot dog or a tofu dog, it's practically like eating vegetables.

*(It should love this posting, don't you think? Let's namedrop Pepperidge Farm so as to avoid looking like a total shill.)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Dallas City Market

After the usual round of delayed openings that seem to go with ambitious new ventures, Dallas City Market, the food-to-go deal from eatzi’s/sipango vet Joe Goetze and partner Tiffany Darley, is doing business, sorta, on the SW corner of lovers and the tollway. It has the following: a deli case filled with prepared foods (which, oddly, the staff seems unable to describe over the phone – you’ll need to actually GO IN to find out that it's much like the eatzi's deli with items such as grilled tuna with sesame vinaigrette, like that’s so hard to describe), plus wine, cheese, Sbux, salad station, you’ve seen those before, and right on to all of that. But answer me this: what other urban market has “Danish-style shopping carts.”

5600 W. Lovers Lane, 214-350-TOGO (8646)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

charbay makes fruity vodkas

that's marko, slicing oranges. sigh
booze is booze and it’s not like there aren’t a buncha flavored vodkas out there. But Charbay, a boutique spiritier from napa valley, uses prestige fruit such as meyer lemons, key limes, and blood oranges. the vodkas come in fine opaque bottles worthy of holding perfume. and while this has nothing to do with anything, the family-run company has a dreamy front-guy, Marko Karakasevic, who’s a 12th-generation master distiller, oh yeah baby. in dallas, you can buy charbay at sigel’s, centennial, goody goody, etc. or else order your charbay cosmo at nikita, republic, zubar, o bar, morton’s, and the mansion. (grey goose=ancient history.) coming later this year from charbay: pear brandy and a vodka made with green tea.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

camille's sidewalk cafe

Nothing against Tulsa but it ain’t the pinnacle of fine dining. Yet it spawned Camille’s Sidewalk Café, a chain with 60+ units open and 650+ in development (that’s the key info when you’re discussing franchising concepts: how many UNITS). Camille’s is like a healthy-ish Corner Bakery, w/ wraps, paninis, salads, smoothies, cappuccinos. Cool things about Camille's: 1. They recycle Perrier bottles into light fixtures. 2. They take a trail-blazing approach to selecting locations. I.E., they opened one downtown, they’re putting two in the new int’l terminal at DFW, and they just opened this branch on 15th St. near 75. Which is Plano, yes, but at least not WEST Plano.

Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, 600 W 15th St #A, 469-467-8401

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

haagen dazs (again. sorry)

jeez, more haagen dazs fluff. what can i say, they’re coming out with a lot of new stuff; it’s almost summer; ice cream is a cornerstone of this blog; get off my back. These merit mention cuz they’re regular new ice creams (unlike HD’s cheezy repackaged Desserts Extraordinaire line, but I digress). ok, new flavors are: 1. vanilla bean (there’s also a new dreyer’s Double Vanilla; vanilla vanilla vanilla BIG in ice cream). 2. vanilla fudge brownie (yawn). 3. almond hazelnut swirl (almond ice cream, almonds, choc-hazelnut swirl). 4. triple chocolate (choc ice cream, fudge swirl, fudge truffle pieces). and 5. caramel cone (caramel ice cream, caramel swirl, choc-covered cone pieces). ok maybe a sabbatical now on haagen dazs, unless they intro more new products, that is

Monday, May 16, 2005

4 vegetarians and naan fans

Subzi Mandi: a crazy international (but mostly Indian) grocery-store+vegetarian-restaurant+flea-market+mall from the Northeast. The other half-dozen branches are in NY & NJ; this TX outlet opened Nov '04. Here's yer one-stop source for rose water, Indian dry & frozen goods, exotic produce. Once inside, you could be anywhere, including India, the main appeal being, “not Dallas”. The restaurant is Sher-e-Punjab, and has a $3.99 buffet w/ curries, dosas, chaat, aand naan. Stacy, who deserves a shout-out here-and-now for having discovered Subzi Mandi, says the saag paneer is eh but the 2-for-$1 samosas are pretty good. Store hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Restaurant: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-3 p.m., all day Sat-Sun.

4550 W. Buckingham, Garland. 972-235-4300

Friday, May 13, 2005

aurora: class

24K-gold quail egg, goat cheese quenelle, lobster, fig, pomme carmelises, vine-ripe tomato syrup, caviar tart, Meyer lemon, langoustine ravioli, John Dory, beef tenderloin, pan seared Diver scallop, piccholine olive oil, heirloom potatoes, chicken fricassee, "wild button mushrooms of the moment" ... tally it up, just the raw materials alone, and the $29.95 lunch at aurora (the foodie boutique starring chef avner samuel) is a steal.

Aurora is also hosting cooking classes one saturday a month, wherein you make dishes from four paris restaurants: L’Arpege, Taillevent, George V, and Alaine Ducasse, with lunch and wine, for $75. The May class is next Saturday, May 21, at 10 a.m.

4216 Oak Lawn Ave. 214-528-9400.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Starbucks' new frappuccino flavor

Green-letter day here at NYCE: Starbucks announced its frapp flavor for summer '05. I think this calls for festive type treatment, don't you? Mint Mocha Chip. (feel free to gasp in awe.) Marc, who is the Indian scout of NYCE, sussed out its existence over a week ago. Denials were issued by corporate but an operative at an undisclosed suburban Starbucks went ahead and made us the new drink before the official release date. ha-HA! Viva la revolucion! Compared to the more potent peppymint frapp Sbux had during Xmas, this one's kinda subtle. It'll be available thru Aug. 30. But big sigh here: can't they just bring back mocha malt? (summer 2003, good times)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Thomas' 12-grain English muffs

Does everybody already know there was an actual Thomas – Samuel Bath Thomas, my my – who in 1880 created the English muffin? (which was a derivative of the crumpet. But hey, EVERYONE knows THAT.) Well ta-da Thomas’ has a new flavor: 12-grain. Thomas' website doesn’t list the 12 grains (but NYCE does! see below*); suffice it to say, you’ll feel oh-so righteous about eating toast. It's one in a so-called new Hearty Grains line along w/ Multi-Grain, Honey Wheat, Oat Bran, and 100% Whole Wheat. Longtime Thomas’ fans might recognize honey wheat, whole wheat, and oat bran as old news but a spokesperson (OK, it was a chick) says they tweaked the formula and thus can call them new. 12-grain, however = really R new

*wheat barley oats rye buckwheat rice millet amaranth farina flaxseed triticale sorghum = 12

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

JITB blueberry shake

no publicist lifted a finger to help me get this awesome pic

even tho its publicists NEVER CALL BACK OR GIVE YOU THE #&! TIME OF DAY (and this is true even when you work at a big daily paper, nevermind a dumb blog), Jack in the Box is totally the best fast-food chain. they're always introducing new items, such as last year's killer pannido sandwiches on ciabatta bread. now there's a new "signature shake" flavor: blueberry, trendy lately becuz BBs have cancer-fightin' antioxidants. not that you'll be thinking about that when you're sucking down this thick, ice creamy shake. it's a limited-time-only deal, prob just a few months altho the minxes at JITB won't divulge exactly how long

Monday, May 09, 2005

Firehouse Subs

Yay, another new restaurant chain. Were it not for its compelling backstory, Firehouse Subs might be just another Subway or Quizno’s. But Firehouse, which is HQ’d in Jacksonville, Fla. was started by two brothers who used to be firefighters. Even 4 yrs after 9-11, firefighters are still v.v. hot. The chain has 180+ branches and counting, mostly in the southeast, decorated with fire memorabilia: hoses, helmets, coats, photos of fires, etc. This branch in Plano is the first in the area, but not to worry, the owners have a contract to develop 99 more.

Firehouse Subs, opening Monday May 16, at 2304 Coit Rd. (at Park), Plano. 972-673-0077.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Most people learn how to eat and what to eat from their mothers. Marjorie Jane Sullivan of Ballardvale, Mass. taught me:

1. wheat not white
2. phooey to “tonic” (sodas)
3. vegetables = yum
4. If you scrape the mold off the cheez, it’s good as new.
5. “just try a bite”

These principles were very wise, and also fostered an enthusiasm for food and nutrition. You couldn’t ask for a nicer gift.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 06, 2005

supermarket pizza, an epic

FYI, this started out as a tout for California Pizza Kitchen’s new “Neopolitan” thin-crust pizzas, sold at grocery stores, about $5 a pop. But supermkt frozen pizza turns out to be hot + controversial. It's selling so well (up 2.1% in 2004, to $2.6 bil) that it's scaring the pizza huts of the world (sales = $20 to $30 bil). Foodies are into it: When I raved about CPK to my pal Stacy, she was ready w/ her new fave, Freschetta ("neither too saucy nor cheezy," she said. Stacy always has an informed opinion on just about any topic, esp. food). Spookily, Freschetta was just mentioned by D dining critic Nancy N on http://frontburner.dmagazine.com/; her mom hated it. So can we get back to my tout? Thank you. CPK has three flavors: Margherita (tomatoes & cheez), Sicilian (meats), and white (w/ spinach). Like any great saga, this has tragic ending: CPK's line is actually made by KRAFT. Kraft, the “category leader,” which also makes DiGiorno, Tombstone, and Jack’s. Sigh. Still, this is all better than Red Baron, right?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

affogato: word of the week

italian for "drowned," it refers to a drink-slash-dessert wherein an ice creamy product is "drowned" with booze, espresso, or both. locally, it first turned up a couplo yrs ago at Gelato Paradiso, at mockingbird station, where they drown gelato w/ liqueur. they were ahead of their time, cuz this is Affogato Summer, babe. Paciugo just intro'd a really good version, Affogato Al Caffe, where they're topping gelato with espresso (they even ordered special mugs). "affogato" got shout-outs in the may ish of Bon Appetit (spotlighting Italy), and starbucks is offering its frappuccinos "affogato style," where they blenderize the drink, then pour over a shot of espresso. paciugo + bon appetit + sbucks = 3, and as we all know, three makes a trend.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

the sandwich thing

“Gourmet” sandwiches first arrived like two years ago, and the trend won't quit. Potbelly keeps opening branches (one in FW), as does our local chain Which Wich (Galleria and Uptown, where Quizno’s was, by Tin Star), Starbucks adds new flavors (egg salad), everyone’s into it, even 7-11, whose new samwiches include turkey on cheddar-jalapeno bread (whoa, just like eatzi's), ham w/ cappicola on Jewish rye, and Buffalo-style chicken on "country white Artesian" bread. Hmf, Artesian – you suppose they mean “artisan”? Hey, whatever. If it means there’s better sandwiches at 7-11, by all means.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

haagen dazs secret agent man

bizzy bizzy over at HD HQ. they
1. updated their iconic label
2. introduced a Light line with 50% less fat
3. pulled off a packaging switcheroo that was deliciously sneaky (though not as nefarious as Frito-Lay re-labeling their yucky Wow chips "Light"). HD, which is a Nestle property, took the "dessert extraordinaire" line (creme brulee, bananas foster, etc) which had been tanking in the supermarket and relabeled it to look like regular HD ice cream. no more faux-fancy label, no more corny "extrordinaire" name

this carton: now collectible (sob!) Posted by Hello

Highlands Cafe: power to the people!

Lake Highlands has itself some foodie activists. The neighbors - 20 of them - wanted something besides fast-food that was still reasonably-priced, so they pooled their dough and created Highlands Cafe. It serves basic American (burgers, sandwiches) with touches of ethnic (Asian salad with crispy noodles) and upscale (grilled salmon); most of the dishes are $10 or less.

9661 Audelia Rd. 214-349-2233

Monday, May 02, 2005

marshmallow: flavor trend

or maybe it's s'mores. anyway, here's the proof in two new (parallel) ice cream flavors:

Haagen Dazs S'Mores Light Ice Cream
"...new twist on a classic favorite. sinfully rich Dutch chocolate ice cream swirled with marshmallow ribbons and crisp milk chocolate-covered graham cracker pieces."

Ben & Jerry's Marsha Marsha Marshmallow (chocolate ice cream w/ fudge chunks & toasted marshmallow & graham cracker swirls)
"...we tweaked and re-tweaked this flavor's classic mix of ingredients to make it more irresistibly campy."

surely they'll sell these at Sprouts (see below) Posted by Hello

Sprouts comes to texas

It’s a little like David taking on Goliath but Sprouts, a natural food store chain based in Arizona with a dozen or so stores in AZ and CA, will open its first TX store in Plano at the corner of Legacy and Coit (as spotted by the Plano guy). Sprouts was launched by Stan Boney, a health-food store vet who founded Boney’s and ran Henry’s, two Calif chains. He sold out to Wild Oats (the tragic little guy in the natural-foods industry that everyone seems to rape and plunder) in 1999 and signed a non-compete clause, but that expired and so sprouted Sprouts. It has the usuals: organic produce, bulk bins, vitamins, natural meats, fancy cheezes, but is said to be cheaper than WF. In any case, it’s a lot closer for Plano eastsiders than driving all the way to friggin Preston & Park. opening is set for july; address & phone coming soon

fruitcakes in mckinney

If you’re the kind of dog who’ll drive anywhere for free samples – even, god forbid, mckinney -- the Antique Company Mall in the old downtown just opened an old-timey general store w/ TX foods. The freebie is coffee; you’ll have to shell out for canned goods (done by Bill and Diane Haight, who own the whole mall), salsas, BBQ rubs, merch from Mary of Puddin Hill, Colt’s Chocolates, and Katy’s Sweet Confections.

Antique Company Mall, 213 E. Virginia Parkway, McKinney. 1-972-548-2929.