Rana Abla left Paris with her mother's recipe for sable cookies, the popular soft, crumbly biscuits of France. She made them for friends and gave them as gifts. Now she operates Sableh Sweet & Savory, a bakery dedicated to creating sinful treats. Besides jam-filled sables, she offers a large selection of European-style items that includes French macarons, cakes, and cake pops, alongside hard-to-find Greek loukoumades and Lebanese namouras.
PIECE OF CAKE
Pastry specialist Samantha Rush, the woman who turns out some of the best macarons and muffins in Dallas, created a sweet, all-occasion present. Her UN-CUPCAKE, a cupcake baked inside a glass jar, is a perfect party favor, teacher gift, or wedding memento. Eight signature flavors are available—wedding cake, chocolate ganache, lemon crunch, caramel coconut & cream cheese, s’mores, red velvet, strawberries & cream, and caramel macchiato. (Other flavors are available for the holidays.) Ordering for a special event? Have the top monogrammed. Just have a sweet tooth? Pop one in the microwave for 10 seconds and dig in. Rush Patisserie, 1201 Eldorado Ave. 214-749-4040. rushpatisserie.com.
While Sandy Korem, founder of The Festive Kitchen, munched on her snack mix and tried to think of a name for it, all she could repeat was, “This is freakin’ awesome!” The name stuck. This sweet and salty addiction—made with tortilla chips glazed with brown sugar, dried cranberries, corn and rice cereal, and peanuts dusted with cayenne pepper and chile powder—is the perfect crunchy treat for large family gatherings. With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s safe to say that watching the Cowboys beat the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving Day is incomplete if you aren’t noshing on this freakin’ awesome snack. A 14-ounce bag costs $12.95.
When Liz Plimmer started The Tamale Company with her dad in 2007, she had no idea her labor of love would take off as it has. Now, when the Plimmers sell their six-packs of frozen tamales at local farmers markets and retail stores, they’re practically superstars. Every fall, customers religiously order these gluten-free, lard-free pumpkin tamales. “We call it a handheld pumpkin pie,” Plimmer says. She suggests serving them warm and crispy on the outside, with whipped cream, condensed milk, or spiced peaches.
HONEY, I’M HOME
A love of handcrafted spirits led to the creation of North Texas-based Texas Silver Star Whiskey. Founders Mark Lusignan, Ben Alexander, and Don Alexander, along with majority investor Chad Willis, believe hard work and integrity will help make their small-batch, Texas-made whiskey a household name. Also, they blend their American oak-aged Spirit Whiskey ($34.99) with wildflower honey from Round Rock Honey to create Texas Honey liqueur ($32.99).
YOU SCREAM, WE SCREAM
A new way to beat the summer heat: customized ice cream sandwiches from the Coolhaus food truck. The mix-and-match options are mind-boggling. Choose a cookie (oatmeal, red velvet, potato chip and butterscotch, double chocolate chip with sea salt) and pair it with an ice cream (spiked egg nog, brown buttered candied bacon, beer and pretzels). Not adventurous? They offer Tahitian vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies. Vegan? They’ve got you covered.
HOW SWEET IT IS
The desperate-for-something-new downtown lunch crowd is swarming all over The Hospitality Sweet. They’ve given up their Subway sandwiches for the creative paninis, salads, and baked goods at this bright and cheery spot located just inside the front doors of the post office on Ervay. They open early and serve a mean breakfast egg strata with Brie, bell peppers, and potatoes, along with gourmet coffee from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. Order a boxed lunch and head down to Klyde Warren Park, or stop in for a cup of joe and some damn fine pastries. They also cater and do weddings.
GETTING FIRED UP
Chef Tim Byres is no stranger to fire. He builds one every day at his restaurant, Smoke, in Oak Cliff. Most of the items on his menu are cooked without the use of gas or a stove, instead prepared over fire or smoked. In his new book, Smoke: New Firewood Cooking, Byres details how he came to love all things wood-fired. Most of the recipes are geared for live-fire or grill cooking, and Byres explains how to create different fires, ranging from a simple kettle grill to an upright pig roaster and a barbacoa pit. But even if you don’t cook or have plans to bury a whole hog in your backyard, Byres’ book is a great read.
Texans thrive on entrepreneurial spirit. Even more so if there are actual spirits involved. JEM Beverage Company co-partners John Straits, Evan Batt, master distiller Michael Pfeiffer, and designer Ben Jenkins have combined their talents to embrace this notion. Together, they have released a line of four liquors: Red River Texas Bourbon Whiskey, Stingray Spiced Rum, Southern Son Vodka, and Western Son Texas Vodka. The vodkas are made from 100 percent American corn and distilled 10 times in JEM’s Carrollton warehouse. The result is a clean, smooth vodka designed to make you proud to drink Texan.
For 10 years, mother and daughter Amy Wiede and Shannon MacDonald whipped up batches of chocolate toffee to give to family and friends. Based on the positive feedback—even their dentist approved of the crunchy candy—the duo launched Fowler’s Toffee. Each small batch is made with pure butter, sugar, roasted nuts, and either white or milk chocolate swirled in steel pots. Currently, they offer two varieties of toffee and three barks, each sold in quarter-pound to 2-pound boxes. I’m partial to the milk chocolate almond toffee, unless it’s raining. Then I reach for the white chocolate cashew. Or is it the other way around? $5.95 to $39.95 per box.
LET’S MAKE A DILL
Jessie Dalton and his wife, Mildred, started out selling her pies, pastries, and mayonnaise door to door. Mildred chose to spice up her mayonnaise with some relish, but she couldn’t afford to buy it, so she planted a cucumber garden. As the cucumbers grew, so did their business. They began selling pickles in a grocery store in Fort Worth in 1926. That store eventually evolved into a massive enterprise called Best Maid Pickles. The company, which is still family run, sells pickles, dressings, and relishes. They also offer a fancy line of FARM TO MARKET single-barrel pickles. The cucumbers are grown in West Texas, and the flavors range from garlic dill to chipotle lime. Ready to try a Bloody Mary pickle? It’s an eye-opener without the booze. Prices range from $2.50 to $5.