Category Archives: Amanda

Product Review: Ben Milam Whiskey

Hey, North Texas: there’s a new bourbon in town, and it’s goooooood. Ben Milam Whiskey—Bourbon and Rye—are now available in select bars and liquor stores around town.*

As some of you might know, I like to know the story behind what I drink—it somehow just makes it taste better. Ben Milam Whiskey has a great story for those tried and true Texans. For starters, the distillery is smack in the middle of our fare state, Blanco, Texas. Additionally, the namesake was involved in the Texas Revolution and led the attack on the Mexican Army in San Antonio on December 5, 1835. Unfortunately, Milam took a bullet to the head on December 7th during the battle for San Antonio, but, on December 9th, the Mexican forces negotiated a truce and surrendered San Antonio.

Owner, Marsha Milam, fell in love with bourbon by visiting the bourbon trail in Kentucky. She (yes, she) loved how relaxed the whole process is; you can’t rush bourbon. There’s a beauty in that.

Like the bourbon’s namesake, Ben Milam Bourbon stormed onto the spirit scene and won double gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition for its 86-proof single- barrel bourbon. For those of you who don’t know, this competition is a blind taste test. In order to win the double gold, every judge has to rate the spirit a gold—this is no easy feat.

Currently, the bourbon bottles state the bourbon is distilled in Tennessee and bottled in Blanco, Texas by Provision Spirit, LLC. When Marsha started down the bourbon road, she was very specific on the grain bill and flavor profile she was after. She she started with purchasing already distilled spirit that was aging in oak barrels. She brought the oak barrels to Texas to finish aging and to bottle the final product in Blanco. The distillery in Blanco is currently distilling the same grain bill that Marsha first purchased. Due to bourbon aging regulations it will take a few years for the first bourbon distilled and aged in Texas to be bottled, but the product is well on it’s way to being a Texas native.

The corn and the rye that are found in Ben Milam spirits are from the midwest, but the water is from Blanco. As a true bourbon, it is matured in new charred oak barrels and the recipe is 51% corn.

*Currently, Ben Milam products are available in Austin, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. In Fort Worth, you can find Ben Milam at Fixure, Proper, King’s, and Chicotsky’s.


Ben Milam
BenMilamWhiskey.com
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The tasting room at Ben Milam Whiskey opened on Texas Independence Day (March 2) this year and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 1 to 6 p.m. Whiskey flights (which include both bourbon and rye), cocktails, and bottles are available for purchase. The tasting room is fairly small, but there is an outdoor seating area as well. Head to the website for more info on distillery tours. Blanco is located in the hill country, not a far drive from Austin or San Antonio.

Grey Goose Summer Cocktails

I recently had the privilege of attending a Grey Goose mixology class at Texas de Brazil in my fair city of Fort Worth. It was a night full of great cocktails that was enjoyed alongside other cocktail enthusiast and, lucky for us, a really elegant spirit.

Grey Goose uses fresh, French ingredients and is distilled only once using a continuous column distillation process; this single distillation process ensures the profile of the wheat remains in the vodka. Grey Goose uses wheat from three farming cooperatives in the Picardy region of France.
Fun fact: the grade of wheat Grey Goose uses is called “Blé Panifiable Supérieur”, it is the same grade used in high end french bread and pastries.

This class was all about staple summer cocktails. I knew I was in for a treat when the table was set with a plate of fresh fruit and a bottle of Grey Goose. (Susie’s attitude has always been “good + good = really good”. And this qualified) The first cocktail that we mixed was the Le Grand Fizz—one of the easiest cocktails to mix, and so refreshing. I decided to keep this one on-hand for my next pool day.

Next, we made a Caipiroska, which is a twist on a traditional Brazilian cocktail, the Caipirinha. The best part about this cocktail is that you can use a lime or muddle whatever fruit you like. The name loosely translates to “Little Countryside”. Mix in whatever fruit you have on hand and you are good to go! I loved pineapple in mine, which drove home the summer feel.

Le Grand Fizz | Picture courtesy of Grey Goose

Le Grand Fizz
1 1/2 parts Grey Goose vodka
1 part St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1/2 part fresh squeezed lime
2 parts chilled soda water
3 wedges of fresh lime

Build in an over-sized cabernet wine glass with ice. Add Grey Goose and St. Germain. Squeeze fresh lime and discard. Top with chilled soda water. Stir and garnish with fresh lime wedges.

Caipiroska
2 parts Grey Goose vodka
Whole lime
2 tsp. Demerara Brown Sugar
Fruit of your choice

Quarter the lime and muddle with sugar in the base of a Boston shaker glass. Add Grey Goose vodka, then cubed ice and shake. Empty all contents into a rocks glass without straining.

Who wants to spend a long time mixing a cocktail and delay pool time? (My hand is not up … is yours?) Try out one of these simple, yet delicious, Grey Goose cocktails, and even batch them out if you’re feeling bold … you won’t be disappointed!

Grey Goose Vodka
GreyGoose.com
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Terra Mediterranean Grill

Who loves Mediterranean food? If your hand is up, head to Terra for dinner and drinks. Their food menu is extensive and covers all the basics.

Terra Mediterranean Grill has two great options—a lunch buffet for those of you who aren’t ready to commit to a single dish (or just want to stuff your face) and a traditional dinner menu for those who don’t have a fear of commitment or a binge eating disorder. I personally was not well-versed in Mediterranean food, so I first went to Terra for lunch to try all the things. Once I found my go-to lunch order, I knew I needed to head back for dinner.

I fell in love with on the of the most basic items on the menu—the gyro. I’m telling you, this meat is out of this world good. (Don’t judge me, but I have thought about it more than one time this week. Whatever.) The roasted lamb is cooked to perfection; tender, juicy, and full of flavor. If the meat isn’t enough, the gyro comes with saffron rice and perfectly grilled vegetables.

My favorite appetizer was the Haloumi Cheese. The cheese is grilled and has a salty flavor that compliments the pita bread nicely. It is so buttery-delicious. You can’t go to Terra (or any Mediterranean restaurant, really) and not order the hummus, it’s a must. Their hummus is delicious, light, and creamy, and it goes great with their baked-fresh-daily pita bread. The bread is fluffy and perfectly cooked … and they won’t judge if you ask for more. (I know, because I asked.)

Ok, ok, ok … food food food … now let’s talk drinks. Terra has a full bar and a damn decent wine selection. I tried a few of the cocktails and was not disappointed by any of them. My favorite has to be the house red sangria. Even though it seems simple enough, there are good sangrias and not so good sangrias. I also enjoyed the pineapple mojito. Even better news, both of these drinks are on the happy hour menu (see below). Because drinking and spending less makes them taste that much better. The bartenders are super friendly and know how to make great cocktails.

TERRA MEDITERRANEAN
2973 Crockett Street (Fort Worth)
5910 N. Macarthur Blvd. #121 (Irving)
The Shops at Willow Bend (Plano) – COMING SOON

terramediterranean.com
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Happy Hour
Monday- Thursday 5-7pm
$1 off all beers
$4 off all house wines
$2 off Sangrias
$5 House Margaritas and Mojitos

 

Chef Point Cafe

What would you say if someone asks you to go to a gas station for dinner? Well, Susie asked me to go dinner at a gas station … in Watauga … that Guy Fieri visited … and write about it. (Are you f**king serious? I really thought it was a joke.) But I went.

Chef Point Cafe, located in Watauga at a legit gas station. And I’ll tell you … this restaurant puts the tacos at Fuel City and the BBQ at Buccees to shame. (Hate mail for that comment can be directed to Susie.) It’s a sit-down restaurant about 20 minutes from Fort Worth and 40 minutes from Dallas, and it needs to be on all DFW resident’s bucket list. Drive up and you notice the working gas pumps, walk in and you notice the glass door beverage coolers. Yes, everything still resembles a gas station, until you look around and see the kitchen, the bar, and all the diners enjoying great food and drinks. To top it off, they have a huge, pet-friendly patio.

For starters, you must try the Lobster Mac n Cheese. While it’s on the appetizer menu, I could’ve handled it solo—not because it was small, but because it was that good. It is creamy with the right amount of lobster to compliment the gooey cheesy goodness.

For dinner, I highly recommend the Chicken Pesto Pasta. The chicken is tender and juicy, with just the right amount of seasoning. The pesto sauce was rich and decadent, and complimented the bow tie pasta perfectly. Be warned, the bowl of pasta could’ve fed a family of 4 … but I wasn’t complaining the next day when I ate the leftovers, they were just as good. I also got to try the Better than Sex Fried Chicken. The chicken was crispy on the outside, juicy on the outside, and full of flavor. (I will withhold my comments about the name.) It was served with a side of country gravy that was perfect for dipping. And, if the appetizer and main course isn’t enough, make sure to try the Bread Pudding. It was like a giant roll soaked in delicious syrup.

If the food isn’t enough, the drinks are literally out of this world— they even have a Northern Lights Margarita to prove it. It’s a frozen margarita layered with a rocks margarita in the colors of the Aurora Borealis. One special touch at Chef Point is the bartender comes to each table to see if you have any questions about their drinks. I also enjoyed the Blackberry Smash which is TX Whiskey, Cointreau, and wildberry syrup. It was a refreshing, summer cocktail that goes down a little too easy! Chef Point has a full bar with a great cocktail menu.

The pièce de résistance that you may just have heard about is their “Bloody Best” Bloody Mary. It includes a double order of their spicy Bloody Mary and accompanied by a 16oz domestic beer and … well, a lot of things. Y’all … this thing has a slider, waffle fries, shrimp, fried chicken, and a hell of a lot of other things on it.

Picture courtesy of Chef Point Cafe

Another fun bit about that sprawling aforementioned dog-friendly patio? You can order something your furry friend from their Doggie Menu featuring things like the Hot Diggity Dog (a hot dog) and the Rover Easy (two scrambled eggs)—all served with brown rice.


Chef Point Cafe
ChefPointCafe.org
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5901 Watauga Road (Watauga)

Daily Drink Specials:
Monday- 4-6pm $4 wells
Tuesday- all day 1/2 price bottles
Wednesday- 4-6pm $3.50 drafts
Thursday- 4-6pm $1 off featured cocktail

Monday – Thursday 11:00am – 9:00pm
Friday 11:00am – 10:00pm
Saturday Breakfast 7:00am-11:00am
Saturday 11:00am- 10:00pm
Sunday 10:00am-9:00pm

Ancho Reyes Verde

Who couldn’t use an extra spice in their life … or at least in their cocktail? In Texas, it is completely acceptable to add salsa or peppers to most any dish, so why shouldn’t we do the same to our cocktails?

I recently had the privilege to try a liqueur made from poblano peppers, Ancho Reyes Verde, that just became available in Texas. For those of you who are already a fan of the original Ancho Reyes, this is its new, “fresher” counterpart.

Ancho Reyes Verde is made from the same poblano chile as the Ancho Reyes, but the peppers used are green chiles harvested a bit early, then roasted. The original uses the late-harvest, sun-dried peppers . The heat that comes from Ancho Reyes Verde seriously tastes like a freshly picked poblano pepper–it even smells fresh and earthy.  Surprisingly, the liqueur has notes of ginger along with fruits like pineapple and a slight tomato flavor.

Both Original and Verde Ancho Reyes liqueurs are quite versatile, which makes it a perfect element for cocktails. Original mixes well with brown spirits, whereas the Ancho Reyes Verde seems to mix better with clear spirits. I personally loved the Verde in a cocktail, but the flavors when sipped alone were quite pronounced.

Ancho Verde Margarita
1 part Milagro Silver Tequila
1 part Ancho Reyes Verde
1 part fresh lime juice
⅓ part agave nectar

Add all ingredients to a shaker, add ice, shake hard and strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass with half its rim salted. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Verde Chelada
1.5 part Ancho Verde
0.5 part lime juice
Big pinch of salt
12 oz Mexican lager beer
Salt for rim

Rim a cold beer glass with kosher salt. Add salt, lime, ancho verde to the cold beer glass and stir to mix. Add ice and beer. Garnish with a lime wheel.

 


Ancho Reyes Verde Poblano Liqueur
AnchoReyes.com
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80 Proof/40% ABV
Retail price: ~$33/750mL

Ancho Reyes Verde was launched in New York in 2016 as a limited edition spirit, and it is now available in the lucky states of Texas, California, Arizona, Illinois, Colorado, and Florida.

(Recipes and select cocktail images above provided by Ancho Reyes)

Fort Worth Food & Wine Festival

It’s almost time for my favorite weekend of the year..that’s right- the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. This year, the festival will be held March 30 – April 1, 2017. Tickets just went on sale, so don’t wait- or you will be sorry!

Here is a recap of last year if you need more convincing of how awesome this weekend truly is.

Head on over to the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival website to buy tickets … like now.

Piattello Italian Kitchen- Fort Worth

Marcus Paslay, for the win.

The chef and creator of Clay Pigeon has done it again. Piattello Italian Kitchen is now open in the Waterside development off Bryant Irvin and Arborlawn. This little piece of Italian food heaven features from scratch, seasonal dishes. Appetizers range in price from $6- $10 and entrees from $15- $44. The menu is fairly limited, but it changes frequently. You can’t really go wrong with anything you order–all of the breads, pastas, charcuterie, and cheeses are made in-house, and are made well.

The pictures of the food basically speak for themselves–every dish is outstanding. The pasta dish that crosses my mind about twice a day when I feel any sort of twinge of hunger is the most basic item on the menu is the Stozzapreti Cacio e Pepe (parmigiano, pecorino, and black pepper). So simple, but it is a must-order. A close second to that dish is the Spaghetti Pomodoro (San Marzano tomato, basil, parmigiano) that is also truly amazing.

They have figured out how to raise the bar on the most basic Italian dishes. Long story short- anything you order, you will come back for again and again (in my humble opinion).

I mean, the food at Piattello makes me drool just thinking about it, but those cocktails … yum. They have created well-balanced cocktail list with a little bit of everything. My favorite cocktail is the FunkyTown Punch (Tito’s, lemon, aperol, St. Germain, simple syrup). I could drink on a this all night long as it’s not too sweet and super refreshing. My other recommendation is the Goldrush (Four Roses Bourbon, honey syrup, and lemon). Again, this drink is super refreshing with a nice tartness from the lemon.

The current draft beer selection has a good mix, with something for every type of craft beer drinker with options from Rahr & Sons Blonde to New Holland Dragon’s Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout.

One word of caution: any choice you make from the bar will be pricey. They are worth it, but be warned–draft beers start around $7 and most cocktails are around $14, while wine ranges from $10-$16. Considering the entree prices, your one drink could cost more than your dinner alone.

I would highly recommend that you make reservations before you go; the handful of times I have dropped in for dinner, they were able to accommodate me, but I’m not counting on that to happen every weekend evening. There are a few seats at the bar, but that’s about it if they are booked up. (Reservations can be made on OpenTable.)

A great seating option at Piattello is the spacious patio along the Waterside Grove. The Grove is tucked back behind all of the retail so you aren’t looking at a parking lot, but rather a park with yard games and a community pavilion. So you have a chance of catching live music and some great people watching while enjoying dinner.

Piattello Italian Kitchen
PiattelloItalianKitchen.com
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5924 Convair Dr #412 (Fort Worth)

Sun-Thurs:
7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Friday & Saturday:
7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

 

Salsa Limon – Fort Worth Centro

I’m pretty sure most Fort Worthians (I think that’s what we are called) will agree that Salsa Limon turns out some of the best tacos this side of Arlington. That said, I was really excited to hear that they opened a new location in downtown Fort Worth in the Tower building. This isn’t just a typical Salsa Limon … oh no … because this one serves liquor. Now you can get a margarita or a spiked agua fresca while enjoying the yummy tacos. Blessed be the taco gods.

Salsa Limon is trying to honor and preserve true Mexican taquerias–they use only the freshest ingredients. Their best selling taco is the El Capitan, which just happens to be my personal favorite. A buttery, toasted flour tortilla, Oaxaca-Jack cheese, pickled cabbage, onion, cilantro, and whatever filling you want. BRB I have to go wipe my drool real quick. I’ve always gone with my “safe” order of a Chicken El Capitan, but I got to experience some different meats that might have changed my order. I tried the Tripa for the first time last week, and to my surprise, I enjoyed this Mexican delicacy. If you want to just trust me that it’s really good, but not know what part of the animal it comes from … stop reading now. For those of you who are curious: cow intestine.

Now for the salsa. I may or may not be known to ordering large quantities of their amazing salsa and to keep it in my fridge … but let’s not spread that around. So the tomatillo (my favorite) and piquin are traditional taqueria salas, and the jalapeño and habanero are family recipes. Basically, if you haven’t tried all of their salsas, especially the jalapeño, you must. I personally believe that the range from mild to crazy hot goes a little like this: tomatillo > piquin > jalapeño > habanero. Salsa Limon says that piquin is spicer than the jalapeño, but try it at your own risk.

salsa-limon-2

The difference between this location and the others, as previously mentioned, is that they have booooooze to calm your fired-up taste buds. I would recommend the sour margarita as it’s as pure a margarita as you can get here. All the limes are squeezed by their fun orange juice machine regularly, so it’s fresh fresh fresh. Not into margraitas? You can also add rum, vodka, or gin to their agua frescas. I personally enjoy the hibiscus tea with gin.

 

Bonus- This location is perfect for late night. I have always felt that downtown Fort Worth was lacking in late night eats- problem solved. They are open till 3 am Friday and Saturday nights. Double bonus- they have a pretty great patio that looks onto the streets of downtown.

Salsa Limon- Centro
Website
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550 Throckmorton Street (Fort Worth)
817-615-9760

Hours:
Monday- Thursday: 7am-10pm
Friday- Saturday: 7am-3am
Sunday: 7am-9pm