Category Archives: Amanda

Firestone & Robertson Debuts a Bourbon

While most people know Firestone and Robertson Distillery (F&R) for their TX Blended Whiskey, their original plan of creating a bourbon is FINALLY hitting store shelves. (Actually, it probably didn’t hit many shelves because of the high demand for the product … and it was sold out within 15 minutes on those shelves!) The first bottles of TX Bourbon were released at the distillery on December 10. People started lining up around 7am the morning of to make sure they were able to get their hands on a bottle. (F&R was only planning on selling to about three hundred bottles, yet they ended up having to cut the line at 750.) Leaving a few hundred people without as well as leaving few bottles for liquor store shelves. I personally know that a Spec’s store in Fort Worth had a line waiting for the shipment. (… leaving those of us with 9 to 5s to revert to signing up for a wait list and hoping for our phones to ring.)

Now to Fort Worth’s newest shinning star–the bourbon. F&R prides itself on using local everything. They use Texas corn, Texas soft red winter wheat, Texas water, and Texas yeast. (The yeast strain they use was cultivated from a pecan tree in Somervell County.) Even the DNA analysis of the yeast took place in Fort Worth inside a TCU lab. (Go frogs.)

Courtesy of F&R

F&R is truly cultivating a Texas product. Once the mash is distilled, it goes into charred oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years. (Bourbon must be aged for 2 years by law). The oak barrels are what give the bourbon its color and flavor. The product that comes off the still is essentially moonshine, a clear corn whiskey. As temperatures fluctuate throughout the year, the whiskey interacts with the oak barrels, taking on some of its flavor notes. When hot, the oak barrel’s pores open up and the whiskey permeates into the oak. When cold, the oak barrel’s pores shrink and force the whiskey back into the barrel. This interaction is the key to making great bourbon. Without that interaction, the bourbon would not get the color and flavor from the oak. F&R barreled their first bourbon in March 2012. A long four and a half years later, they bottled that first batch.

I was honored to be one of the first people to sneak a taste of the bourbon. The first smell provides a soft hint of the oak barrel, and the first sip provided a hint of vanilla and a short, smooth finish. (The sweetness is what we’ve come to expect from F&R products, so we’re good with it.) As someone who enjoys bourbon, I was hooked from the first sip. It didn’t have a sting that I get from some other brands.

Courtesy of F&R

Now that we’ve gotten the fun out of the way, I’ll clear a little something up that may be lurking in the back of your mind … yes, it can be called “bourbon”. Some think that a spirit has to be made in Kentucky to be called “bourbon”, but not so. “The Federal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits (27 C.F.R. 5) state that bourbon made for U.S. consumption must be: produced in the United States, made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, aged in new, charred oak containers, distilled to no more than 160 proof, entered into the barrel for aging at no more than 125 proof, [and] bottled at 80+ proof.” (Thanks Wikipedia!) So there.

For those of you lucky enough to get a bottle of this first release, congratulations (I’m jealous). For everyone else, wait a few months and then you’ll get your turn … it’s truly worth the wait.

 

Firestone and Robertson Distillery – Bourbon
frdistilling.com
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901 W. Vickery Boulevard (Fort Worth)

Nose: oak, honey
Flavor: vanilla, honey
Finish: smooth, short
Aged: 4+ years
Proof: 82 (41% ABV)

They offer distillery tours on select Saturdays.

 

Oni Ramen

In the wake of losing Kin Kin Urban Thai, the space has taken new life as Oni Ramen–it’s a super casual atmosphere that provides you with super quick service a la other quick serve restaurants at lunch and table-side service at dinner. One of the biggest bonuses Oni provides are its hours–Friday and Saturday night they stay until 4 am. I mean Whataburger is great, but fatty, rich ramen sounds like a way better late night choice to me.

Oni has a few speciality ramen options on their incredibly straightforward and simple menu, as well as their signature miso (my personal favorite). From there, you can build your own if those options aren’t doing it for you. Pick a classic ramen then add extra protein, vegetables, and spice of your choice. Toppings include pork belly, chicken thighs, tempura shrimp, soft or hard-boiled eggs, leafy greens, bean sprouts, corn kernels, and many more. But, choose wisely when picking your spice … this isn’t the time to show off in front of you buddies. If you order it too spicy- you’re SOL because they won’t remake your ramen. The “mild” spice is made with ichimi togarashi pepper, “medium” is made with Aleppo and Thai pepper, “hot” is made with habanero and ghost pepper, “fire” is made with ghost/7-pot and scorpion pepper … and then there’s “demon”–a mix of scorpion X and Carolina reaper pepper. I was scared to go beyond “medium” for my whole bowl, but my spice tolerance isn’t that high. From my experience, there is a huge jump in spice between the “medium” and “hot”.

Tonkotsu: pork belly and light chicken broth seasoned with soy
Tonkotsu: pork belly and light chicken broth seasoned with soy

I tried their signature miso–pork belly, corn, bamboo shoots, and sprouts–that was absolutely delicious. The broth was super flavorful and the pork belly was fall- apart tender. I want to go back to try different things, but I really just want more of this signature miso. Life is hard.

GF? Vegetarian? They are super accommodating to customers’ dietary needs. They have a gluten-free ramen item (salt ramen with shirataki-yam noodles), a vegetarian option (cabbage-soy broth topped with woodear), and all ramen is available low sodium.

Ok, what about the drinks? My favorite thing to order with my piping hot ramen is cold sake. Oni has a Gekkeikan Sake machine that pours delicious, cold sake that can be ordered by the carafe. They also have a handful of other sake available along with cocktails. For cocktails, my favorites were the Gomper-san and the Lychee Mule. Drink prices are great all the time at Oni, but for a really good deal, go during happy hour.

Oni Cocktail Menu
Oni Cocktail Menu

BONUS: Tag #‎MyOniBowl for a chance to be featured at Oni as the Ramen Bowl of the Week where other diners can order, eat & enjoy your ramen customization process.

Oni Ramen
oniramen.com
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Chef Garcia’s Instagram
2801 W 7th Street (Fort Worth)
817-882-6554

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11am-2:30pm/5pm-10pm
Friday-Saturday 11am-2:30pm/5pm-4am

Milagro Tequila

To me, it always seemed that tequila was the shot you ordered after you had a few too many and needed an excuse for eating late night pizza. After my night of tequila tasting with Milagro Tequila, the spirit is so much more to me.

milagro-3

The night was an in depth look into the smells and tastes of different types of tequila. Before tasting anything, we were given an aroma kit with samples of all the different notes you get from tequila. (I think of doing this when tasting wine, but not tequila.) The twelve aromas ranged from lemongrass and pineapple all the way to black pepper.

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Now, Milagro is no ordinary Tequila. When the owners tasted the final product, they said it was a miracl (hence the name Milagro). The owners wanted to pay homage to the heritage of tequila, and it shows in the process. This tequila is made from 100% blue agave tequila from the Jalisco Highlands. (Blue agave is sweeter and creates a more fruity and aromatic tequila.) The master distiller employs a century old cooking method using a traditional hand built brick oven. The agave is slow-roasted for 36 hours. That is a long time in the tequila world, but it creates a much better tequila. Once the agave is roasted, it goes into Milagro’s two pot system for the distillation, a pot still and a column still. The column still creates the smoothness found in Milagro.

 

Curious as to how good Milagro really is? Milagro entered the San Francisco World spirit competition in 2007. The Select Barrel Reserve Repasado was awarded best of show. Not only did it beat out other tequilas- but rums, gins, and vodkas. Milagro currently has more awards than any other tequilas. Milagro ranges from $37 for Milagro Silver to $102 for the Select Barrel Reserve Anejo. My personal favorite is the Milagro Añejo. It has been aged in American oak barrels between fourteen and twenty-four months. This aging process gives this tequila a spicy and savory taste.

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MILAGRO TEQUILA
milagrotequila.com
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Blaze Pizza

Last week Blaze Pizza opened in Fort Worth and The Colony. Each restaurant is set up like a Subway … you can order off a menu or build your own and pick everything from the crust to the toppings. All of their pizzas are built on made-from-scratch dough using artisanal ingredients. Once you’ve decided on the toppings, each pizza is fast fire’d in 180 seconds.

Oh, and for those of you who need gluten free: they’ve got it!

Build Your Own Pizza from crust to toppings!
Build Your Own Pizza from crust to toppings!

Here is a tip: if you want more toppings, just ask; they won’t upcharge or tell you to stop. I have to say I wasn’t super satisfied with the amount of sauce or toppings on my pizza, but after talking to management, they let me in on that little secret.

Ok, Ok, Ok- I’ve talked about the pizza, but what about the drinks?? Each location serves beer from somewhat local breweries–the Fort Worth location had (512) Pecan Porter and Dallas Blonde. (I don’t know about you, but I think this is a total plus for a fast food pizza joint.)

Not only does Blaze have great food and drinks, they’re also super committed to giving back to the community. They offer local charities and groups the chance to do fundraising nights; once they approve an organization, they print the flyers and donate 20% of net sales from that designated day straight to that group. Pretty awesome, right?

BLAZE PIZZA
www.blazepizza.com
@BlazePizza | Facebook | Twitter

5925 Convair Drive (Fort Worth)
5050 SH 121 (The Colony)

Sunday-Thursday (10:30am-10pm), Friday-Saturday (10:30am-11pm)

***Blaze Pizza invited our team in to try out their (delicious) goods.***

Cold Hammer Stills Moonshine

Cold Hammer Stills moonshine is Texas to the core … with a bit of a sweet side.

All of the CHS moonshine flavors are all takes on popular candy bars. Of the three flavors I tasted, none had the harsh burn of a typical moonshine and they were all surprisingly sweet and tasted exactly like their name. I can honestly say that I am not a moonshine drinker at all, but CHS might have converted me. Here is the good/bad part: it can get you in trouble … and can do so quickly. I wouldn’t believe that something that smooth and sweet could be 70 proof!

Since it doesn’t have that typical, harsh moonshine kick, no mixer is needed, just pour over some ice. I could also see it as a great addition to a specialty cocktail. CHS Moonshine just might be the perfect addition to our tailgate drinks for 11am kickoffs. (I mean … it would definitely pair well with breakfast pastries.)

I got to sample the three flavors that will be in their first release–Almond Enjoy, Chocolate Cappuccino, and Peanut Butter. It was difficult to pick my favorite flavor–but I think I would have to pick Almond Enjoy. (I tend to lean towards anything vanilla and that is the main flavor I get from it.) Any of you coffee lovers out there (not me) need to taste the Chocolate Cappuccino. You first get a chocolate taste, the coffee flavors follow.

It hasn’t made it down the production line and to liquor stores just yet and the official release date hasn’t been set, but they’re hoping it will be available in June or July. (Stupid TABC and licensing laws.) The company is also hoping to release food and cigars once they begin selling the moonshine. Right now, they are playing with different recipes that work for each flavor of moonshine. (I got to taste cake balls made with Almond Enjoy. Talk about a guilty pleasure–I could have gone back for seconds… and thirds … and fourths!)

As Cold Hammer Stills say, “This ain’t your typical shine, grab you a bottle and let it take you for the ride.”

COLD HAMMER STILLS MOONSHINE
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click site here

Dry Sparkling Water

I was recently sent an assortment of Dry Sparkling Water in seven different flavors to try out. Dry is the product of the founder’s need to keep in touch with the culinary world after leaving it and it’s billed as an “unexpectedly crisp sparkling beverage”.

The product is meant to be a suitable substitute to pair with food in place of alcoholic beverages. But … if you’re an SDD Contributor … you find out how it’s going to pair with booze. (It’s what you do, because, are drinks really meant to be enjoyed without liquor? Not if I can help it. At least not after work hours. Or while sick.)

Of the seven flavors, I enjoyed the Vanilla Bean flavor the most.  I was, however, a little shocked that it had 16g of sugar considering it was supposed to be a “healthy” alternative option.

Here are the recipes I tried and highly recommend!

Bourbonbon

Bourbonbon
6 oz. vanilla bean DRY
1 1/2 oz. bourbon
Ice
Mix in a highball glass

Pinapple Spritzer
3 oz. juniper berry DRY
2 oz. light rum
2 oz. pinapple juice
squeeze of lemon

Other drink recipes using DRY can be found here.

Click here to find Dry Sparkling Water near you.

Fredericksburg Weekend Getaway

Looking for a weekend getaway without the hassle of long distance travel? Hop in the car, head down 35, and make a visit to Fredericksburg, Texas for wine tasting rooms, vineyards, breweries, sightseeing, and even a distillery. I’ve rounded up my favorite things from my last visit for anyone planning a getaway to the area affectionately known as Fritztown.

A few quick tips:

  • Fredericksburg is the only city in Texas with an open carry policy … BOOM. Carry around your beer or wine (no liquor) on the street!
  • You can find many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and even ranches in the area for housing.  Some vineyards may even have their own lodging available.
  • Take sunscreen … you’re going to be outside.
  • It’s just more than 4 hours down to the Hill Country from the Dallas area.  (Just head to Austin and take a right!) And you’ll want to have a car to get out to some of the further out vineyards and locations.
  • There’s more to do than eat and drink (though we won’t judge you if that’s all you do). They have plenty of shopping, outdoor activities like hiking and Enchanted Rock State Park, peach picking, and plenty of festivals and events.
  • Do your research before heading that way.  There’s a lot to do and you don’t want to spend your whole trip deciding what to do next!  (VisitFredericksburg.com is a great resource.)

Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten is located on Main Street in downtown Fredericksburg. They have a small tasting room, but even better is there patio with several tables to enjoy the great hill country weather. Six of us stopped by after a late breakfast and enjoyed a few bottles of wine. I personally did a tasting here before switching over to one of the bottles we bought for the table. If you’re looking for a drink to cool you down on a hot summer day, I highly recommend the sangria. (I bought a bottle to bring home with me.)

Pontotoc Vineyard Weingarten
pontotocvineyard.com, 512.658.0023

320 West Main Street

Grape Creek has two options in town–a tasting room on Main Street in downtown and they have a vineyard just outside of town on Highway 290. (They have a third location in Georgetown as well.) We stopped by the tasting room one evening in town before heading to dinner and tried a few wines. I liked everything I tried, but settled on a white wine to sip on while we relaxed. Out of all the places I visited, Grape Creek was my favorite; I truly liked every wine I tasted.

Grape Creek Vineyards
grapecreek.com, 830.644.2710

Highway 290, Main Street, Georgetown

grapecreek-main-outside

Compass Rose Cellars, located in Hye, is a must-visit. Stop by Compass Rose to enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing on a patio with a picturesque view of the surrounding hills, enjoy a tasting of some great wines with some great food, or grab light lunch from a truly great chef. Compass Rose has it all. We went through a full wine tasting led by the owner, and the chef has some incredible food pairings that really transform the taste of the wines.

Make sure you make an appointment if you plan to do a tasting as they really value customer service and don’t want to do what they call a “drive by tasting”. Compass Rose prefers to spend time with you during the tasting to really elaborate on the wines you’re enjoying. If you want to continue enjoying their hospitality, this little gem also has “casitas” if you want to stay the night.

Compass Rose Cellars
compassrosecellars.com, 830.868.7799

1197 Hye-Albert Road (Hye)

William Chris Vineyard (also in Hye) is another great stop. To use the phrase coined by Compass Rose, this was more of a “drive by tasting”, but the wines were enjoyable and the vineyard had a great outdoor area. The tasting room was a little busy, but if you have an appointment they have a space dedicated for you at the tasting bar. We ordered a cheese plate here and had a glass of wine on the patio while listening to live music they provided outside. They have events and concerts on location regularly, so check out their events calendar to see what’s coming up before visiting.

William Chris Vineyard
williamchriswines.com, 830.998.7654
10352 U.S. Highway 290 (Hye)

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If you are a bourbon drinker, plan a stop to Garrison Brothers. If you have no interest in bourbon or the distillation process, skip this stop. (But then … why would you be reading a blog about drinking?) Their distillery tour is very informative and you get to see the entire process from grains to bottling. The tour does take a nice bit of time. During the tour they hand out a taste of the “white dog”, the product straight out of the still before it is aged in oak barrels. They also let you taste the bourbon at the very end of the tour … the final product, that is!  (Reservations are required for Saturday tours.)

Garrison Brothers Distillery
garrisonbros.com, 830.392.0246
1827 Hye Albert Road (Hye)

For the beer-inclined of you, carve out some time to carve your initials into one of the community-style picnic tables in the Fredericksburg Brewing Company tasting room. (Bonus points if you find Susie’s #SusieDrinksFredericksburg tag!) They brew their beers on-site and offer a range of brews, so try them all while enjoying food from their restaurant and see which is your favorite. They have a “Bed & Brew” for you to crash in … in case you’ve had one too many.

Fredericksburg Brewing Company
yourbrewery.com, 830.997.1646
245 E. Main St.

I’m going to give a shout out to the two companies that were involved on booking/driving my fiancé and I around on our tour. We reached out to Fredericksburg Uncorked based on a recommendation from a friend and asked for something relaxed where we weren’t rushed from stop to stop with no real time to sit and relax. We had some great conversation with our driver, Brandon, and it came out that he actually owned a different tour company, Moons Vineyard Voyages. (These companies all have a few they like to work with, and since Fredericksburg Uncorked was booked for the day, we were sent with Brandon.) He was a great driver and resource for us and we enjoyed getting to know him. He was an awesome host and was first class all the way. If you are looking for a tour/driver for your Fredericksburg outing, I highly recommend either of the above companies/contacts. They provided us with the perfect day.

FWFWF-Reserve Wine Tasting

The Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival has ammped up their game this year. Not only will they host a fabulous festival in March, they also have hosted special events thoughout the year. I was graciously invited to the reserve wine tasting that was held at the Modern Art Museum on February 4th.

This was a very intimate event where I enjoyed 26 pours of amazing wine. I should have gotten a medal for making it through all of them. (If you ever get the opportunity to attend any wine tasting, take it … it’s a great way to learn what you like.)

2012_SLDCSMy two favorite wines of the night were a treat because they have a bit higher price tags. I’ve been to Napa Valley a couple times and have learned that I love most wine that comes from the Stag’s Leap District. I was delighted to see something from the region–the 2012 Cliff Lede Cabernet Sauvignon (retails for $75); a complex wine with notes of blackberries and I get a hint of vanilla. Wine Spectator gives it 90 points and Robert Parker gives it 93 points.

My other favorite from the night was the 2012 Adobe Road Cabernet Franc from Knights Valley, Bavarian Lion Vineyard (retails for $58). This medium-bodied wine has notes of blackberries and cranberries and pairs very well with Italian food. The price is on the high end of most Cab Franc wines, but I think it is worth it.

I am so excited to attend this year’s festival in March. Tickets are on sale now and I would highly recommend going to #latenight- desserts after dark and/or Burgers, Brews & Blues.  Susie and I will see you there!


Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival 2016

March 31- April 3, 2016
fortworthfoodandwinefestival.com
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