Do you need the secret recipe? Just ask.
HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO ring the Mansion and ask Dean Fearing his secret for making crème br?lée? Or slip into the kitchen of the French Room and ask the chef how to make authentic coq au vin? Well, I did it. After experiencing the chocolate sacks at Gershwin’s, I called the restaurant and asked for the recipe. The chef not only told me, he invited me to the restaurant to prepare them.
I’m no Martha Stewart, but I was determined to make the chocolate sacks for my supper club. But I couldn’t just call and ask, or could I? 1 dialed. With trepidation I presented my case to George, the head chef. He said. ’”The best thing is for you to come in and watch Salvador make the sacks. Would Tuesday at 2:00 be O.K.?” You bet!
When I arrived Tuesday afternoon, the maitre d’ took me to meet the famous Salvador-I would have been lost without his expertise. I asked him if he had ever been asked to do this before. He replied with a shy smile, “No. you are my first.”
As I left, Salvador assured me that I would succeed, but to call him if I had any questions. The sacks turned out perfect, and I applaud Gershwin’s for helping me “bag” the honors.
The Quintessential Tastes of Summer
JUST LIKE APPLE PIE IN THE fall, winter’s beef stew, and strawberries in the spring, certain foods evoke the taste of summer. Take hot dogs, for example. Just about everyone likes to eat a slightly crusty hot dog grilled outside-its juices dribbling down the arms and into the grass. A tasty grocery store brand is all-beef Hebrew National, but the butcher counters at Hirsch’s (Plano) and Kuby’s (Dallas) offer even better versions of pop-when-you-bite-them tube steaks. Buy fresh-baked buns at Fuddruckers (Plano and Irving), where you can also pick up tasty burger buns.
As far as side dishes go, if there are better baked beans than B&M (grocery stores all over), I’ve yet to try them. Kentucky Fried Chicken’s slaw always tastes good-especially when doctored with some ground pepper. Another can’t-fail side dish is Tom Thumb’s tomatoes-stems and vines still attached. Sliced, and dressed with a little fresh basil, olive oil and sliced moz-zarella from The Mozzarella Company (Tom Thumb. Whole Foods), this side dish transcends any main course.
And dessert? Don’t be silly. Watermelon, all the way.-Suzanne Hough
WATER JOE DEBUTS IN DALLAS
Are you unable to face the day without that initial shot of coffee first thing in the morning? Do you keep mountains of change on your desk for those ritual six Cokes a day? Weil, say goodbye to coffee breath and carbonation-and hello to Water Joe, the original caffeine-enhanced natural artesian water.
David Marcheschi, the brains behind this beverage, likes neither coffee nor cola. so during those long study sessions back in college he thought to himself, “’It’s too bad someone just can’t caf-feinate water.” With that in mind, he found a chemist to develop a formula for caf-feinated water that didn’t disturb the water’s natural taste. He enlisted Nicolet Forest Bottling Company to bottle the formula: Water Joe was born.
Water Joe has now trickled its way down to Texas from its origins in Chicago. You can find it in the area at 7-11 and some Mobil stations, but Water Joe marketers have higher hopes: Maybe someday you can buy a bottle at the Texas Motor Speedway, the State Fair of Texas or Six Flags.
An inexpensive cure for Tex-Mex craving.
JALAPENO’S PROMISES TO BE “The Mexican Food Fix,” and it delivers. This little joint is the happy medium between dining out and Taco Bell. Originally confined to carry-out or delivery, Jalapeno’s recently expanded into the space next door to provide its regulars with a colorful and casual dining space where they can enjoy margaritas or beer (Jalapeno’s provides the setups if you provide the goods) with their Tex-Mex favorites.
But it’s the food that keeps the customers coming back: sizzling fajitas, cheese enchiladas with chile con carne, burritos and chimichangas. Each dinner plate is served with rice, beans and complimentary chips and salsa-even for take-out and delivery-and all for rock-bottom prices ($4.75 to $7.45 for fajitas). Or check out the daily dine-in specials that include iced tea and sopaipillas. And for those lucky enough to live nearby, coupons show up regularly in the mail. For family meals at home, consider chicken or beef fajitas, or enchilada meals designed for the couple (2), the group (4) or the crowd (8). All portions are generous, service is quick and friendly, and both you and your wallet will be full and satisfied. 3115 W. Parker Rd., Piano; 972-612-3800.-J.C.
Summer Wines for Beating the Heat
NOTHING KICKS THE ANAL-RETENTIVE STUFFing out of serious wine appreciation like a Texas summer. Fine wines at times may smell like perspiration, but you definitely don’t want to sip one while you’re sweating in the yard. And scouring a complex wine for delicate wisps of spice while swatting mosquitoes just isn’t appropriate form for connoisseurs.
So look for wines with summer survivability: refreshing, versatile, cheap quaffers. These wines do that and more-they pair as well with fresh fish and cheese as they do with weenies and [tool water (prices may vary).
1996 Baron Herzog Clarksburg Chenin Blanc ($6.49). If you only get one wine this summer, make it this one. It’s got subtle herbal tones and gobs of pineapple opening into soft nectarine flavors girded with lively acids. A lip smacker.
1996 Indigo Hills Mendocino County Chardonnay ($10). This Gallo incarnation is clean and agile with layers of vanilla and toast coupled with crisp green apple and citrus flavors.
1996 Springtown Savignon Blanc ($10). Light and refreshing with a forward pear nose tied to subtle peach and herbal layers, this wine from La Buena Vida Vineyards is one of Texas’ best.
1996 Simi Rose of Cabernet ($9). Bright strawberry and cherry flavors with a dash of spice open to stimulating effervescence-the perfect summer sipper.
Reserve St. Martin Rose de Syrah ($7). This sturdy Syrah from south-em France is berry-rich with tart flavors and a clean, dry finish.
Note: While summer wines should be chilled, resist plunging them into a cryogenic freeze. This might work for a Bud-a beverage popular with frogs and lizards-but a wine’s more delicate aromas and flavors can’t stand up to these reptilian shivers.-Mark Stuertz
BON VIVANT MARKET PROVIDES GOURMET TOGO
Far North Dallas residents, tired of the long drive to Eatzi’s, can breathe a sigh of relief-Piano will soon have an upscale prepared food emporium of Its own: Bon Vivant Market. “We chose Piano to launch our new venture because our concept appeals to busy professionals, home gourmets and entertainers who appreciate choices and restaurant quality food, but don’t always have time to cook,” explains co-owner Jim Ingendorf.
Bon Vivant Market is the latest in the trend of market concepts that bridges the gap between restaurants, grocery stores and gift shops. In addition to quality prepared meals, the store will offer European rustic bread and pastries, produce, wine and exotic cheeses, cigars, a floral design studio, the freshest in deli and a selection of Patricia Ryan hand painted crystal and designed gift baskets. Bon Vivant Market will also feature white-glove, full-service catering for occasions ranging from black tie weddings to boxed lunches.
Leslie Ingendorf and her husband Jim are co-owners in this venture, and they have assembled a culinary staff of experienced restaurant professionals: Executive Chef Dan O’Leary, former Executive Chef at the Hotel Crescent Court and Executive Sous Chef at the Mansion on Turtle Creek and General Manager Jim Lannom, former manager of Mi Piaci, Natura Cafe and Dakota’s. Together they have created what Lannom calls, “food as theater.”
Look for Bon Vivant Market later this month. They will be hosting a series of Grand Opening Specials, with a percentage of the proceeds going to select charities. 1801 Preston Rd., Piano, 972-713-8846.-J.C.