FOOD & DRINK

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The 100-Year-Old Fruitcake



THIS YEAR COLLIN STREET Bakery celebrates its 100th year of making fruitcakes so good that people actually eat them instead of using them for doorstops. “What Dom Perignon is to champagne and Romanoff is to caviar, the Collin Street Bakery is to fruitcake,”’ proclaims People magazine, The secret? Omitting the bitter citron thai most people dislike.

Twenty-seven percent of Collin Street’s almost 2-pound fruitcake is pecans, mixed with cherries, papaya, pineapple, raisins and just enough batter and honey to hold it all together. The flavors of the nuts and fruits shine, resulting in a not-too-sweet break from the usual holiday goodies.

Collin Street has been a hands-on operation for owner Bill McNutt Jr. and family since 1946. Located in tiny Corsi-cana, Texas, the bakery produces about 4 million pounds of fruitcake yearly.

The bakery’s shipments circle the globe, with a customer list that includes Princess Caroline of Monaco, Vanna White and Nolan Ryan. Collin Street Bakery often gets mail addressed simply to “Fruitcake, Texas,” and has a Sri Lankan customer who pays for her fruitcakes with tea leaves. For the rest of us. the cost is $15.75, which includes shipping. Call 1-800-248-3366 to order.

-Suzanne Hough

LUXURIES

The Return of Caviar



THE AURA OF EXCLUSIVITY SURROUNDING premium cigars has more or less gone up in smoke, now that you can see men puffing stogies on the sidelines at kids’ soccer games. And premium hand-rooled cigar brands are now available at Tom Thumb grocery stores, for Pete’s sake.

So what’s next on the lux list? Caviar. Restaurants and hotels around town that added special areas for smoking cigars are now making room on their menus for the heat that has, according to The Wall Street Journal, again become all the rage in New York and Los Angeles.

Bruce Sobol, owner of Caviarteria Inc., a New-York-based distributor, says his sales have increased 20 percent from 1995 to 1996. Much of that increase nationally is attributed to Generation Xers getting their first taste, he says. But here in Dallas, orders from an older crowd are responsible for caviar’s resurgence, says Niki Hawkins, associate manager at Martini Ranch.

The six tins he orders each week go quickly. Customers , eat caviar with a straight-up martini as an appetizer before a dinner of salmon and steak, he says. Al The Mansion, maitre d? Wayne Broadwell says the $100-an-ounce caviar sells consistently. In addition to eating it on toast points, he adds, customers like entrées that are prepared or garnished with it. -Aérienne Ciletti

DRINKS

New Furnishings for Margaritaville

DRINKS

New Furnishings for Margaritaville

SAY “TOP SHELF MARGARI-ta,” and what comes to mind? Any aficionado of Texas’ year-round state cocktail will tell you: The tequila must be fine, the lime juice fresh, and the all-important orange liqueur that rounds off the drink’s sharp corners must be the best that money can buy. Which, in the past, had been lots of money-until Dallasites Denise and Rusty Fenton found a happy alternative two years ago at (where else?) Nuevo Laredo’s Cadillac Bar. When the couple nosed out the ingredient that made the famed watering hole’s margaritas the best they’d ever tasted, their vacation turned into a quest to bring Mexico’s own never-exported orange liqueur to the home-folks. Result: Their Luna Top Shelf, as premium as-but less pricey than-the French liqueurs that set the standard, is now in major local restaurants’ margaritas, from Star Canyon to Snuffer’s, Good Eats to Fog City Diner, and (of course) such leading Tex-Mex oases as Chuy’s. J. Pepe’s and Matt’s No Place. Find it on major Dallas liquor shelves too. tagged in the teens and labeled with the ultimate margarita recipe: 1 ounce each of prime tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice and Luna Top Shelf premium orange liqueur, pour over ice and, as the instructions unnecessarily put it, repeat as necessary.

-Betty Cook

CHEAP EATS

Alfredo’s Cafe



MISS YOUR TURN FROM NORTH HENDERSON to McMillan and you’d plow into one of the best-kept casual dining secrets in East Dallas: Alfredo’s Cafe, aspiffy little place that stands in the V of those streets’ angled intersection. The cuisine is Italian, of a freshness and quality belied by its rock-bottom prices- how long since you’ve had excellent grilled salmon, shrimp scampi, chicken parmigiana or veal marsala for less than $9, including a lavish side of pasta? The highest number on the entrée menu is the $10.95 artichoke grill, and most listings are far less, with main-event pasta in the $6 to $8 range. The open kitchen’s toma-to-and-basil sauce is sheer from-the-garden poetry on plump manicotti, lean linguine, or even solo on the restaurant’s classically sturdy bread; the vinaigrette on dinner salads is good enough to drink; and a third of the menu’s offerings include calorie and fat gram counts. Owner Alfredo Mirza opened his own place two years ago after managing other people’s eateries in Paris, France and here (Rodolfo’s, specifically) tor years. His staff, as international as its smallworld neighborhood, runs a gamut from Greek to Hispanic and, yes, Italian origins. All are united here to prove that the planet’s favorite comfort food doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Service is eager, wine and beer are at hand and hours are quite accommodating. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday-Thursday; H a.m.-midnight, Friday & Saturday. 1924 N. Henderson, 214-823-6050.

-B.C.

HOLIDAYS

GIFT-GIVING FOR THE GOURMAND

In a holiday gift dilemma? Aim right at the palate and you’ll score a success every time. Most people love champagne, so pick up a bottle or two of the bubbly that Cook’s magazine just rated the best in a recent tasting: Charles Heidsieck (about $30). If you’re feeling flush, accompany it with the new Champagne…Uncorked’., a witty little book brimming with champagne anecdotes and recipes IS 18.95).

Charm carnivores with a box of steaks from the Prime Access catalogue, rated best mail-order steaks by Cook’s. Call 1-800-314-2875 to order four boneless 8-ounce strips for $59.95 plus shipping.

The Mansion on Turtle Creek’s tortilla soup is so popular that it’s being vacuum-packed and sold through The Horchow Cooks’ Collection catalogue, a fact that TV’s Robin Leach happily shared with a group of people at The Mansion as he spooned his bowl clean. Call 1-800-456-7000 to order it ($35 for 2 quarts, $11.50 for shipping), and order a video of its creator, chef Dean Fearing ($25).

And finally, that staple in so many homes: chocolate. Visit Neiman Marcus’ epicure department for the irresistible little dark chocolates made by Petrossian. Laced with either Petrossian vodka or French cognac, they’re $38 per tin.

-S.H.

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