All posts by Rachel P

Moviehouse & Eatery DFW Grand Opening

 Moviehouse & Eatery has just launched their first DFW location in Keller (with another one set to open in Flower Mound Spring 2015 and Craig Ranch (date TBD)) , and this lucky gal got to attend their grand opening celebration. This Austin based dine-in theater concept is begging to be moved to the top of your date night list. For a fun twist on your conventional “dinner and a movie”, Moviehouse & Eatery features eight dine-in theaters, complete with suhhhhweet, comfy reclining seating and a dedicated waitstaff. Oh, and a full-service bar.

Moviehouse Taps

You will definitely want to arrive plenty early to your movie in order to fully utilize Moviehouse & Eatery’s impressive full-service bar in the lobby. The bar menu features a respectable wine list, an interesting beer selection with a focus on local craft brew offerings, and a creative cocktail menu.  I had the opportunity to sample two tasty libations at the opening; first, the Blueberry Ginger Sangria ($7.50). The sangria was bursting with berry flavor, and was dangerously easy drinking. Secondly, I sampled the light and refreshing Cucumber Strawberry Mojito ($8.50), which was chock full of lovely, fresh strawberries with just the right hint of mint. Don’t worry, friends; the drinks do not stop flowing when the movie starts; the entire bar menu is available during your show. Whew!

Cucumber Strawberry Mojito
Cucumber Strawberry Mojito

I also had an opportunity to sample some of the menu items Moviehouse & Eatery has to offer, and believe me when I tell you that we are not talking about the neon-yellow, cheese covered, circular nacho chips of your childhood. Moviehouse & Eatery’s menu features a wide variety of creative dining options, ranging from shareable appetizers and pizzas, to salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Take a peek at the menu here to learn more about their tantalizing offerings.

photo 4

If, by chance, you’re a little less hungry (or a little more focused on liquid calories), Moviehouse & Eatery has plenty of snacking options at the M&E Treats Candy Bar in the lobby.

photo 2In addition to traditional offerings like popcorn and classic candy, M&E Treats offers a variety of gourmet sweets for your face stuffing pleasure. Case in point: I don’t think you’ll be munching on chocolate covered Oreos at your neighborhood dollar theater any time soon.

I had the opportunity to enjoy a movie at the grand opening event (“Big Hero 6”- it was really cute- I am 30- I don’t have kids- don’t judge me), and I can totally vouch for the ridiculously comfy reclining chair situation they’ve got going on in their theaters. Holy moly, this was an amazing way to watch a movie, and every other theater I’ve ever been to is  doing it all wrong and I didn’t even know it ’til now. So basically, you’re kicked back in a big, plush chair with your feet up, sipping on a beverage of your choice, and chowing down on some seriously tasty vittles.

Moviehouse Seating

I will leave you with this final warning: watching a movie whilst seated upright, drinking an $11 Dr. Pepper, and munching on a Totino’s Party Pizza  is going to be a *little* disappointing the first time you do it after your get spoiled by Moviehouse & Eatery. Trust me.

Moviehouse & Eatery DFW
250 Rufe Snow Dr., Keller, TX 76248
(817) 518-9091

Ticket reservations available online at themoviehouse.com/keller

For specials and upcoming events, visit Moviehouse & Eatery on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MoviehouseDFW

 

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Frisco

Perrys Bar 79

I consider myself a huge Perry’s fan. That said, when I learned their second DFW location was opening in my neck of the woods–located at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco–I was slightly (ok, ridiculously) excited. I had an opportunity to attend a “sneak peak” event at the new Perry’s location this past week … which was kind of the second best thing that happened to me last week.* (For the record, I’m pretty sure Susie actually shed a little tear when she realized she was unable to personally attend.**) Ohmylanta, folks. Consider my Perry’s fervor renewed and stoked. Wowsers.

This brand spankin’ new location (they opened their doors on 11/17) features some shiny, new bells and whistles in addition to signature features Perry’s fans will happily recognize. The dining room, capable of accommodating 350 guests, boasts Perry’s familiar towering wine wall. Features unique to this DFW location include a beautiful open kitchen concept, four private dining rooms, and an island bar. The restaurant has a decidedly open, airy feel … perfect for special occasions. The spacious and sumptuous Bar 79 (named in honor of the year the first Perry’s location opened their doors in Houston) provides a perfect space for a lively happy hour or pre-dinner cocktail. Like the Dallas location, an exterior patio is available for al fresco dining.

Perrys Wine Wall

The fact remains that the gorgeous aesthetics of the Perry’s Frisco location are basically a nifty bonus, because I’m pretty sure I would enjoy the food and drinks they serve here if I had to eat/drink them in a barn. Bar 79 presented us with an impressive array of creative and delicious beverage offerings at the preview event. I’m going to go ahead and say that it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite, so in no particular order, I delighted in:

Pineapple Ginger MojitoThe Pineapple Ginger Mojito – sweet pineapple paired with fresh mint, muddled with lime and shaken with Captain Morgan White Rum and just the right hint of ginger. I love unique mojitos, and this one was creative and refreshing.

Manhattan 46 – this classic cocktail is crafted with Maker’s 46, vermouth, and a dash of bitters, garnished with Luxardo cherries. If you aren’t familiar with Maker’s 46, this bourbon is finished in the barrel with specially seared oak staves, giving it a distinctive, oaky vanilla flavor. This cocktail was smooth as silk.

Classic Sidecar – this pre-prohibition era cocktail combines Hennessy VS, Grand Marnier, Caravella Limoncello, and fresh lemon juice. Just lovely.

Oolong Whiskey Spice
Oolong Whiskey Spice

Oolong Whiskey Spice – this one is new to the club, and I found it to be a most welcomed addition. Dickel #8 Bourbon, fresh mint, a hint of peach, fresh lemon juice, and yes, Oolong orange spice tea, give this cocktail a delightfully unique flavor. The flavor of the tea really shines through, but isn’t overpowering.

All mixology cocktails are $12

In addition to Perry’s stellar cocktail offerings, I had the opportunity to sample Perry’s Private Label Chardonnay ($13/glass, $52/bottle). This Sonoma County 2012 Chardonnay is a guest favorite, and I can see why. Pleasing notes of green apple, pear, and vanilla result in a lovely balance of sweet and crisp, with a long, lovely finish.

I had the opportunity to sample five eyes-roll-back-in-your-head-amazing dishes at the preview event (which was a good thing, since they were not stingy with the cocktails).

For starters, we enjoyed the Asian Ahi Tuna Tartare ($15.95). This was my first time to sample this lighter dish, and I can assure you it will not be my last. The tuna was remarkably fresh and delicate, crowned with a black sesame and teriyaki glaze. Crisp wontons accompanied this appetizer. I am generally not a big tuna fan, but I found myself wanting seconds of this dish.

Asian Ahi Tuna Tartare
Asian Ahi Tuna Tartare

Next, I was reacquainted with one of my favorite appetizers in DFW, Perry’s Signature Fried Asparagus ($16.95). As the name suggests, delicately breaded asparagus spears are fried, and then topped with tender jumbo lump crab meat. Holy smokes, I love this dish. So. Decadent.

Fried Asparagus with Crab
Fried Asparagus with Crab

If you are not familiar with THE Perry’s Famous Pork Chop ($36.95), you’d best acquaint yourself, ASAP. I love a good steak, as any good honorary Texan should, but Perry’s is a place where I really struggle with what to order thanks to this bad boy. SEVEN FINGERS HIGH, this hand-selected prime chop is cured, roasted, slow-smoked, and caramelized, then topped with Perry’s signature herb-garlic butter, and served with a side of apple sauce. Whew. In a glorious opening ceremony, the pork chop is carved tableside, while you look on salivating like one of Pavlov’s hounds. This might be the most tender, moist, decadent pork I have ever put in my mouth (sorry, every BBQ place ever).

Perry’s Famous Pork Chop
Perry’s Famous Pork Chop

I was so glad I had the opportunity to try the Chateaubriand, which is an off-menu item, available upon request (but I’m telling you about it now, so you win!). This beautiful tenderloin filet was presented with three sauces: truffle merlot, béarnaise, and roasted peppercorn; all three were spectacular accompaniments. The filet was melt-in-your-mouth good; velvety with a perfect crust. I see more of this in my future.

Chateaubriand
Chateaubriand

Finally, I was able to sample Perry’s Homemade Polish Sausage, a nod to Perry’s humble beginnings as a family-owned meat market in Houston. I am, admittedly, not much of a sausage fan- making me a decidedly bad honorary Texan. (Look, I am a native Floridian … and Floridian’s don’t know what sausage is, and there are some things we just can’t help about ourselves. But, I digress.) All of this was to say: I was so pleasantly surprised by this dish. The sausage, which was 85% lean, actually had quite a delicate flavor and texture. It was not remotely oily or greasy, but really tender and lovely, and I enjoyed it in spite of myself. The house-made BBQ sauce that accompanied it was tangy and flavorful. (And don’t forget the mustard!)

Polish Sausage
Polish Sausage

Perry’s has a variety of tempting specials throughout the week, for your eating and drinking enjoyment.

  • First, allow me to fill you in on one of the best lunch specials in DFW: Every Friday, from 11am-4pm***, you can enjoy Perry’s Famous Pork Chop with a side of whipped potatoes and apple sauce for $12.95. It basically costs me like $10 to eat at Chipotle on any given day (not that there’s anything wrong with Chipotle), so this is a NO BRAINER. In fact, I just got angry at myself that I haven’t had the opportunity to take advantage of this deal more often. Now that we have a Perry’s location in the great white north, that is fixin’ to change.
  • Perry’s popular Social Hour is a steal! Social Hour features a variety of mixology cocktails for just $6, wine by the glass starting at just $5, and a selection of tasty appetizers starting at just $5.95! Social hour takes place Monday-Friday, 4-6:30pm, and Sunday, 4-9pm. Check out the Social Hour.
  • Perry’s Bar 79 features live entertainment, ranging from classic lounge piano to lively jazz trios. Enjoy classy live music Monday-Thursday, 6-10pm or Friday-Saturday, 6-11pm.

 Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille
2440 Parkwood Blvd, Frisco, TX 75034
214-494-4645
Reservations, Menus, and Hours of Operation: Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille, Frisco

Notes from Susie:
*Rachel got engaged this past weekend, y’all! Congratulations to Champ and best wishes to her. 🙂
**I’ll admit that it was more than a solitary tear …
***If you show up at 3:45pm, you can enjoy the pork chop special (order immediately when you sit down) and then get right into Social Hour.

DIY Bloody Mary Bar, starring Zodiac Vodka and Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary Mix

I enjoy brunch. Good thing for me, because I’m pretty sure if you live in DFW and the “powers that be” find out that you are ANTI-BRUNCH, stealthy ninjas will break into your house while you sleep, extract you from your bedroom, and deposit you somewhere else. Maybe here; I’m not sure, though.  In my humble opinion, the best part about the brunch ritual has nothing to do with fancy eggs or $17 french toast. Brunch drinks, my friends. Brunch drinks. More specifically, the ever-versatile Bloody Mary. When I am really honest with myself, without something tasty to sip on, eggs are just breakfast. And sometimes, especially following a particularly “spirited” Saturday night, public appearances before mid-afternoon on Sunday can be … challenging.

That being said, WHAT IF … hear me out here … WHAT IF, I were to forego said outing, and enjoy my own, fancy-pants, custom, (BOTTOMLESS!) Blood Mary bar, in the comfort of my own home? PJs + couch + dog + football +Bloody Mary bar … think about it. It’s perfect. So perfect, it had to happen. Allow me to share with you the beauty of my own, personal DIY Bloody Mary bar – and read on for some ideas on how you can construct one of your own.

bloody 7I think it goes without saying, a high quality vodka is a must when concocting the perfect Bloody Mary. Let me tell y’all about Zodiac Vodkaa handcrafted, gluten-free American potato vodka, new to the market and hailing from Idaho. I can honestly say that I have not been this excited about a new spirit discovery in a long time. Zodiac is silky smooth with such a clean finish, you can literally sip it. Apparently this is attributed to the fact that Zodiac uses 100% pure water from the Snake River Aquifer, which is then filtered using hand cut Canadian Birch Charcoal. According to Zodiac, this process results in a naturally sweet, pure, gluten free, and distinct tasting vodka. I tend to agree. I used Zodiac Vodka for my Bloody Mary bar, and I suggest you do, too. You will not be disappointed.

Secondly, you are going to need to hook yourself up with an exceptionally tasty Bloody Mary mix. With so many delicious options on the market these days, there really isn’t a need to make one from scratch. Take for instance Powell & Mahoney’s Bloody Mary MixThis classic “vintage” take on the Bloody Mary (recipe circa 1926!) is deliciously thick and robust. Mildly spicy, it serves as a perfectly delicious base- tasty enough to drink undoctored, but mild enough to be highly doctor-able. Powell & Mahoney’ s Bloody Mary mix was cast in the starring role in my Bloody Mary bar – and I highly recommend you give it a screen test in yours.

Now, let’s get started …

  • Make sure you have a respectably-sized glass.  No one likes a tiny Bloody Mary … or one that’s hard to stir.
  • First, rim your glass with something delicious. Penzey’s Prime Rib Rub is a great option; use lime juice instead of water to make it stick.
  • Fill your glass 3/4 full+ with ice.
  • Fill the glass 1/3 full+ with vodka.
  • Top with Bloody Mary mix.  (Don’t fill it too far or you won’t have room for the rest!)
  • Let’s talk goodies. This is the fun part. The sky is the delicious limit, and you can get as creative as you want. Here are some suggestions, ranging from the obvious to the outrageous:

Bloody 3

FIXIN’S

– celery (duh)
– lemon or lime (duh)
– olives (spicy, garlic-stuffed, blue cheese stuffed, etc.)
– pickles (McClure’s are delicious)
– pickled okra/beets/cauliflower/carrots/green beans
– crispy roasted Brussels sprouts
– cooked bacon
– oysters
– pearl onions
– baby shrimp (or hell … make ’em big.)
– jalapeños
– pepperocinis
– marinated artichokes
– capers
– hard boiled eggs
– cheese squares
– ginger

seasonings

Seasonings

– cracked pepper
– Old Bay seasoning
– celery salt
– Creole seasoning
– garlic powder
– Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
– Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic seasoning blend
– smoked paprika
– cayenne pepper

suces

Sauces

– Worcestershire sauce (duh)
– pickle juice
– olive brine
– hot sauce
– Sriracha
– BBQ sauce
– horseradish
– Chipotle Tabasco
– steak sauce

My personal philosophy tends to be something along the lines of: the more stuff I can cram into/on top of that glass, the better. So, don’t be afraid to go nuts. And the good news is, if you aren’t satisfied with your first Bloody Mary attempt, you can mosey on over to (*your very own*) kitchen and make another one.

Bottom line: everything tastes better in PJs. Sorry, not sorry, Uptown.

Bloody Mary 5

*I was graciously provided with complimentary products to try from Zodiac Vodka and Powell & Mahoney. Deeeee-licious!*

Cook Hall Fall Menu Tasting

Cook Hall, located at the W’s Dallas-Victory hotel- has rolled out a new menu for the fall, and I was lucky enough to attend a tasting to see what they have in store for the season. In case you are unfamiliar, Cook Hall is an American gastropub, with a heavy emphasis on craft cocktails, craft beers (including some nice local offerings), and thoughtful wine selections. Their menu places a heavy emphasis on both small plates and family style dining options that encourage sharing and socializing.

I had the opportunity to try two of their craft cocktail offerings. Holy. Moly. Sooooo, so Good. It was really difficult to pick a favorite, but they really weren’t playing fair with their first offering, the Garden Smash (Nolet’s gin, cilantro, Fresno chili, and lime, $12). I’m pretty sure they must’ve known I was coming, because this drink was RIGHT up my alley. The Garden Smash was delightfully fresh tasting, and so interesting, with a bevy of strong, distinctive flavors playing off of each other in this zippy little cocktail. Apparently I do not stand alone in my enthusiasm for this drink, as I was informed the Garden Smash is their #1 seller.

Garden Smash

 

Next up was the Autumn Giant (Plymouth gin, Green Chartreuse, St. Germain, Lemon Juice, & Simple Syrup, $12). I really love gin drinks, so again, this was not a tough sell for me. The flavors in this cocktail were so unique, words don’t come easy to describe it. Sweet, but not too sweet, with an interesting kick. Totally refreshing, and would definitely order it again.

Autumn Giant

I was way sad our super-tasty cocktail hour was over, that is, until they began parading out our starters (“snacks,” per the Cook Hall menu). We sampled a small plate featuring Pecorino, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Pistachios ($9) which consisted of sourdough toasts accompanied by herbed goat cheese, Asian pears, and crushed pistachios; this tasty plate would be a great, light dish for sharing. Next was the Chicken Liver Mousse, and … my fellow diners thought this was great – I mean, they were really blown away by it … and moreover, I am apparently a 6 year old child at heart because I just can’t, y’all. I just can’t.

Moving on…to maybe one of my very favorite dishes I sampled all night … the Butternut Squash Soup with Oyster Mushrooms ($8). So-stinking-good, y’all. This soup was incredibly decadent and creamy, drizzled with a fresh pesto garnish, and chock full of delicate oyster mushrooms that added a seriously tasty element of surprise to this rich fall favorite. Basically, this soup alone is reason enough for me to come back.

Oktoberfest and Butternut Squash Soup

On to the entrees (“Plates”!). First, let me tell you about my very fav, the Crispy Sea Bass, served with roasted Brussels sprouts, heirloom carrots, and spiced apple jus (heh) ($28). This was one of those dishes that made me want to reenact the whole When Harry Met Sally Katz’s deli scene. My eyes rolled back in my head with every bite. Chef Nicholas Jimenez’s creative spin on this fish dish incorporates bold, surprising flavors, like horseradish and mint- which were perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the apple. I loved this unexpected dish.

 

Honorable mentions are rewarded to the ridiculously delicious Fresh Tagliatelle, with smoked bacon, tomato, jalapeño, and arugula ($19). I have to admit that I’m generally not a big bacon fan (I know, I’m barely human), but the smoky-spicy-bitter trifecta  (aka bacon-japs-arugula) really rang my bell. 10/10, would get again.

TagliatelleSeaBassScallopsShrimp

Also sampled:

  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich – served on a ciabatta roll (baked by the delicious  Empire Baking Company in Dallas) with spiced fig jam, goat cheese, and arugula ($13); the sweet fig spread and delicious, fresh bread made this sandwich just special.
  • Seared Shrimp – served atop warm lentils, with Linguica sausage ($24); holy crap, this was buttery and decadent. I PROMISE YOU, you have never had lentils this good.
  • Caramelized Beef Tenderloin – with a red wine miso glaze & potato gratin ($38); tender and flavorful tenderloin, with creamy, cheesy, potato-y goodness.
  • Seared Scallops – in a soy yuzu broth, served top spaghetti squash ($26); surprising ingredients in the broth (burnt popcorn and Thai chiles) gave this dish a uniquely interesting kick.

Tenderloin

PSA: If you don’t save room for dessert at Cook Hall, you’re doing it wrong. My favorite offering of the evening was the Autumn Cheesecake, decked out in a Riesling gelee and a crown of poached figs ($8); decadent ricotta cheese and a moist, cinnamon graham cracker crust set this cheesecake apart from the ordinary, and, the Riesling gelee … I mean, really? Need I say more? Also delicious were the S’mores with Graham Cracker Ice Cream ($8); house-made marshmallows? Yes please. And finally, the Warm Spiced Pear Crumble, paired with cinnamon ice cream ($7), which is basically like autumn in your mouth. I also want to go ahead and say that they serve up an amazing cappuccino ($5).

Cheesecake

Cook Hall features a multitude of very nice happy hour specials and signature events. For your consideration:

  • Check out Cook Hall’s 5@5 menu, featuring 5 cocktails and 5 snacks available for $5, at, you guessed it, 5 PM.
  • Live music and $5 draft beers are featured from 9:00-12:00 on Thursday evenings. Check out the live music schedule, here
  • Cook Hall features a bi-monthly beer dinner; I can attest that October’s was amazing (and you’ll get to hear all about it, soon! Stay tuned…).Their next beer dinner is scheduled for early December. Check back here for more details, at a later date.
  • Pro tip: You know how parking is like, really, really expensive for Mavs games/Stars games/concerts at the AAC? All you have to do is purchase one (delicious!) entree, and Cook Hall will hook you up with FREE PARKING during events, friends. Don’t forget to have your ticket validated- and don’t forget to tip your valet 😉
  • Brunch is offered on Saturday and Sunday, from 11:00-3:00.

Additional Info:

Cook Hall Dallas at the W DALLAS – VICTORY
cookhalldallas.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
2440 Victory Park Lane, Dallas (Victory Park)
214.397.4111

Mon – Thurs. 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM
Fri/ Sat. 11:30 AM – 11:00 PM
Sun. 11:30 AM – 9:00 PM
Reservations available online at Cook Hall Dallas, or via Opentable

 

Candy Cocktails Recipe Book

Are you having a Halloween party? A Christmas party? Any other kind of party, in life, at any point in the future? Do you like booze? Do you like candy?  If you  have answered yes to any of these questions,  listen up: you’re going to want to hear this*. Candy Cocktails, people. That’s right … cocktails that taste like candy. Cocktails that are MADE USING CANDY. Enter: “Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist“.

(*If you did not answer, “Yes,” to any of the above questions, do not read on. Go here, instead.)

I received “Candy Cocktails” just in time for Halloween, but this cocktail recipe book by the Good sisters (curators of Fashionably Bombed) is chock full of fun and inventive cocktails for every holiday (Candy Cane Martini, anyone?). Holiday-themed libations represent only a small segment of this gorgeous little recipe book, however; in its pages, you will also find cocktail recipes highlight just about any kind of candy you can think of. Forget everything you think you know about dessert drinks … until you have sampled a Liquid Candy Bar, a Candy Fishbowl (yes, it has Swedish Fish “swimming” in it.  Shut. Up.), or a Pop Shot (yup, that would be a shooter integrating Pop Rocks), you know nothing.  Just imagine preparing a custom cocktail for your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/sister/bestie/grandma/mailman based on his or her favorite candy. How much do I love this idea? (A lot.)

Candy Corn InfusionCandy Cocktails is going to have you “mixing outside the box,” if you will. I can attest to this because I found myself preparing candy corn infused vodka early this week. One of the really awesome things about this book is the fact that it gives you directions on how to create variety of sweet liquor infusions using at little as 1/2 cup of booze. Gone are the days of having to spend $17 a pop on multiple, giant bottles of random flavored vodkas that you know are probably only going to use once or twice to make that one cocktail you just had to have, on a whim (I mean, I don’t know many people whose “go-to” drink features marshmallow vodka, do you?). This section of the book is really quite practical and useful (as candy infused alcohol goes).

I prepared two Halloween inspired “Candy Cocktails” in the Plano branch of the Susie Drinks Dallas test kitchen.

Candy Corn CocktailFirst, the Candy Corn Cocktail,- hence the candy corn infused vodka. This drink was so pretty and festive, and just BEGGING you to serve it at your Halloween bash. It was not sickeningly sweet, and really, it was incredibly reminiscent of a lemon drop, with a subtle hint of something different. (You guessed it, genius … CANDY CORN!!!)

Peanut Butter Cup CocktailNext, the Peanut Butter Cup Cocktail, which was every bit as rich and decadent as it sounds. Interestingly (and only mildly disappointingly), this cocktail does not contain actual peanut butter cups (aside from the garnish). As the sisters point out in their book, sometimes the point is for the drink to taste LIKE the candy, as opposed to actually containing the candy. This blended concoction was comprised of vodka, crunchy peanut butter,  crème de cacao, and whole milk  (omg). This was 100% dessert, and they really nailed the peanut butter cup flavor. Nom.

If you are looking for a collection of really fun, unique cocktail recipes, getchoself a copy of Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist, today!

Available at Barnes and Noble (check out their nifty in-store pickup feature!), or on Amazon, for just $13.68.

FALL into Skinnygirl Vodka

I consider it fate and not merely a coincidence that two bottles of Skinnygirl Vodka appeared on my doorstep on October 3rd, less than 24 short hours away from October 4th, which just so happens to be NATIONAL VODKA DAY.  As if that wasn’t enticement enough, Skinnygirl was kind enough to share some recipes featuring fall flavors (apple!) in order to help us kick off the season with a festive yet (practically) guilt-free libation! Ladies of DF/W (and guys … if you’re into that sort of thing), Halloween is rapidly approaching, and we need all the help we can get before it’s time to squeeze into this year’s “Sexy ____ “  (insert profession, zoo animal, beloved children’s character, etc.) getup.

First, a little bit about Skinnygirl Cocktails: Bethenny Frenkel’s (yup, that Bethenny Frenkel) line of low-calorie alcoholic indulgences came onto the scene with the introduction of the Skinnygirl Margarita back in 2011. Skinnygirls (and would-be Skinnygirls) near and far apparently clamored for more, as Bethenny has since rolled out a line of Skinnygirl ready-to-drink cocktails (I need to get my hands on the Skinnygirl mojito…), a Skinnygirl wine collection, and yes, a variety of Skinnygirl naturally flavored vodkas.

Skinnygirl Vodka with natural flavors is available in the following intriguing varieties:
– White Cherry Vodka
– Tangerine Vodka
– Cucumber Vodka
– Bare Naked Vodka

I received a bottle of the Skinnygirl Tangerine Vodka in addition to a bottle of the Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka for my sampling pleasure.  I enlisted my boyfriend to join me in my taste-testing endeavor, and he agreed to do so. (Though he did request that I refer to this product line as, “Skinnypeople Vodka” in my write-up. Request denied.)

I prepared two of the “fall flavor” cocktails based on recipes Skinnygirl provided. I will give the disclaimer that each of these recipes can be prepared with either apple juice or apple cider. I was disappointed to learn that my neighborhood grocery store had yet to roll out their apple cider for the season when I went to pick up my non-alcoholic goodies, so I had to go the AJ route*. If you decide to replicate these tasty little treats, I might go for the cider if you have it available. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

*Note from Susie: surprisingly, WalMart usually has Martinelli’s Apple Cider in stock.

First, the unanimous favorite: the Crisp Apple Cooler. This seemingly simple cocktail consisted of Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka, apple juice, agave syrup, and a green apple garnish. Easy enough to throw together, right? This cocktail tasted like a delicious candy apple in a glass. The Skinnygirl Bare Naked Vodka was perfectly smooth and blended beautifully with my mixers. We could not discern that this was a low-calorie alternative to classic vodka. In other news, I think this would be uhh-mazing with a caramel rim. Wait, does that defeat the purpose of sipping on low-calorie booze? Let’s consider it a compromise.

Skinnygirl2Crisp Apple Cooler
1 ½ parts Skinnygirl® Bare Naked Vodka
¾ part apple juice
¼ part agave syrup
Green apple slice for garnish

Stir agave syrup with vodka in the base of a shaker until the agave syrup dissolves. Add apple juice and shake thoroughly with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a green apple slice.

Next, the Fall Festival-tini, consisting of Skinnygirl Tangerine Vodka, apple juice, light rum, and lemon for garnish. The tangerine flavor added some subtle interest to this grown-up apple juice concoction. I might suggest skipping the rum and doubling up on the Skinnygirl Tangerine if you are looking for a citrusy kick; especially if you are going the apple cider route. Heck, you could even get fancy and toss in some cinnamon, or nutmeg, for a festive punch.

Fall Festival-tini
1 part Skinnygirl® Tangerine Vodka
3 parts apple juice/cider
½ part light rum
Lemon wedge for garnish

Mix ingredients in a shaker, and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Just for good measure, we also sampled the Skinnygirl Tangerine Vodka on the rocks … you know, in the name of science. We found it to be light and refreshing, without any kind of a fake, “diet” taste. This was a pleasant surprise. With Skinnygirl’s help, I will be slithering into that “Sexy Orphan Annie” costume in no time.

Here are some additional Skinnygirl recipes, for your low-calorie sipping pleasure.

*Samples were provided free of charge. Thanks, Skinnygirl!*

Keeping it LOCL at NYLO Plano

Chances are, you may already be familiar with NYLO Hotels’ Southside  property; after all, the hotel is home to SODA Bar, NYLO’s trendy rooftop watering hole which boasts what is arguably one of the city’s best views of THE BEST SKYLINE IN THE WORLD (Nice try, Chicago. Better luck next time). Here is something you may not realize: The original NYLO hotel, which opened its doors in 2007, is located just up the road, in Plano. You may find yourself wondering: In the absence of the illustrious SODA Bar, what does Southside’s big bro to the north have to offer us suburbanites?  Let me assure, the answer to this question is a resounding, “Plenty!”

NYLO PlanoI was lucky enough to receive an invitation to sample the new menu at NYLO’s restaurant and lounge, LOCL. Before I get into the highlights of the evening (food and booze, duh), I would be remiss in not mentioning how hip and unique this NYLO property truly is. Upon entering the lobby, I forgot that I was in Plano after about two seconds. The decor is modern minimalist, with dim lighting and geometric shapes and colors that give the lobby an art deco feel (hello, suspended egg chair). LOCL is NYLO’s indoor restaurant and lounge area, where the minimalist vibe continues, as evidenced by polished concrete floors and exposed ducting. Polished silver antlers adorn the chandeliers, giving you a subtle reminder that you are, in fact, still in Texas. The LOCL menu tasting event took place outside, on NYLO’s amazing terrace. I’m not really sure what NYLO could have done to make their courtyard (read: event space) any more awesome. The courtyard features a good-sized gazebo with a bar area, and beyond that lies a sleek lap pool, flanked with a giant, kick-ass fireplace. Just beyond the terrace, a large event tent beckons you to partake in a night of clumsy, drunken dancing at a wedding or office Christmas party.

NYLO PlanoNow, onto LOCL. I had the opportunity to sample four of LOCL’s fresh and inventive cocktails during this event:

  • First, my personal favorite, the “Grapefruitini” (Deep Eddy Ruby Red vodka, Cointreau, grapefruit juice, sugar rim, $12); The grapefruit juice in this tart and tangy cocktail made all the difference in the world; it tasted very fresh, and really made this drink pop. Riiiight up my alley. Yum.
  • NYLO Tini
    NYLO Tini

    The signature “NYLO Tini” (Tito’s vodka, pomegranate liquer, triple sec, pineapple juice, presecco, $12); Pomegranate lovers, this one is for you. The pom this drink brings to the table is not subtle!

  • The “Basil Lemondrop” (Tito’s Vodka, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, fresh basil, sugar rim, $12); fresh and lovely, sweet with a hint of basil.
  • The “Southern Lady” (Tito’s, creme de cassis, triple sec, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice, pineapple, juice, prosecco, $12); Pineapple lovers, apply here. Aptly named, this drink was sweet and bubbly.

I did not fully appreciate when I arrived at this event how badly I would want to put on my stretchy pants by the end of the evening. I was fortunate enough to sample a LARGE selection of fun and creative dishes from LOCL’s newly revamped menu.

photo 1 (14)General Manager Joe Massar (a most gracious host, I might add) explained that Chef Anthony “Tony” Knight set forth to “step outside the box,” regarding the marriage of flavors and textures in his menu additions. An excellent example of this would be my favorite of the four appetizers we sampled, the “Green Apple Guac“. This was pretty much exactly what it sounds like: your traditional guacamole recipe, blended with small bits of crisp green apple. This at-first surprising flavor combination lent itself to a marriage of zesty and sweet; crunchy and creamy. In addition to the expected side of traditional corn tortilla chips, the guac was served with an assortment of fresh veggie slices, and yes, crisp green apple slices. This appetizer seemed to be a crowd favorite. Other tasty starters, or “Big Boards,” if you will, included “Shrimp Summer Rolls” with cashew cucumber sauce, the fresh and tasty “Ode to Acapulco Shrimp Cocktail” with zesty tomato and avocado, and “The Big Cheese,” a beautiful cheeseboard, featuring 5 farmstead cheeses, local honeycomb, dried fruit, and nutty bread (all “Big Boards” are $12 and feed 3-4 people). 

photo 2 (11)We sampled three salads, including my personal preference, the gorgeous “Chop Chop,” which consisted of baby kale, mountains of crunchy vegetables, chopped egg, and a light, fresh vinegar based dressing. Fresh mint really popped in this salad. Also delicious were the “Toasted Haloumi Cheese” salad, featuring arugula, two kinds of tomatoes, generous chunks of cheese, and a hint of mint, and the “NYLO Caeser,“a deconstructed take on the traditional Caeser  featuring parmesan cheese, anchovy filets, and DEEP FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS…yes, you read that right (All salads are $9; salads are large enough to share).

Flank Steak
Flank Steak

Following the appetizer and salad courses, I felt my food coma coming on…and that’s when the entrees made their appearance. The stars of the show were the “Peppered Flank Steak,” ($12) featuring tender strips of marinated beef seared to a lovely medium temperature accompanied by some delicious mushrooms that were definitely not of this earth, and the “Dragon’s Breath Burger,” ($9) featuring melty white cheddar, hot horseradish, house mustard, and chopped onion; juicy and tender, this burger definitely lived up to its name…and, the hand-cut French fries ($6) that accompanied it may have brought a little tear of joy to my eye. Also sampled were the “Wicked Garlic-ky Chicken,” ($12)

Mahi Mahi
Mahi Mahi

served with feta tzatziki and warm pita, “Crab Fried Rice,” ($12) featuring jasmine rice, gulf crab, and basil, and the “Market White Fish,” ($12) which on this particular evening consisted of a lovely curried mahi mahi creation served atop steamed banana leaves with assorted spring vegetables. Additionally, we were treated to delicious “Texas Beer Battered Zucchini Sticks,” ($6) served with a spicy romesco dip, and our “Something Green” ($6) for the evening, crisp, garlicky broccoli rabe, which was perfectly prepared.

Finally, dessert. I felt like a real American Hero at this point in the evening, sacrificing my personal comfort and future good health in the name of food and beverage blogging. The “Blueberry Crisp,” and the “Chocolate Mousse”  (dessert prices and availability may vary) we sampled were a perfect, sweet ending to this immensely enjoyable event

In conclusion, I’m sold; NYLO Plano is a great spot for locals and visitors alike to sit back and enjoy a tasty cocktail and a delicious meal. Do yourself a favor and check out their new menu, soon.

Here’s the scoop on NYLO’s happy hour: Drink specials and promotions rotate on a daily basis, and the schedule changes month to month. Friday evenings feature live musical entertainment. Be sure to check out their website for happy hour times/prices and entertainment schedule. Here is the scoop for October:

October 2014 Happy Hour/ Live Entertainment Schedule

NYLO PLANO AT LEGACY
972.624.6990
8201 Preston Rd, Plano, TX 75024
Website | Facebook

LOCL Restaurant & Lounge
Reservations are not required; walk-ins welcomed

Breakfast:
Monday-Friday | 6am-10:30am
Saturday & Sunday | 8am-12pm
Lunch/Dinner:
Monday-Thursday + Sunday | 10:30am-10pm
Saturday | 10:30am-12am
LOCL Bar:
Sunday-Thursday | 11am-12am
Friday & Saturday | 11am-1am

Breakfast Menu | Lunch/Dinner Menu