Category Archives: Contributor

Shake Shack Plano is here!

Shake Shack Plano is now open for business! Blazing the trail for a lineup of pretty amazing restaurants planned for the new Legacy West development, the Plano Shack marks the second DFW location for the NYC chain; the first was in Uptown.

ShackBurger, Link Burger, and Fries

In addition to Shake Shack’s classic lineup of juicy burgers, crinkle cut cheese fries and frosty shakes, the Plano location features a special selection of locally inspired menu items. Sink your teeth into a Link Burger, topped with a Pecan Lodge jalapeño cheddar sausage link, and wash it down with something cold and local from Four Corners Brewing Co. or Deep Ellum Brewing.

Brat Burger

Oh, and by all means, save room for dessert. Locally inspired offerings at the Plano shack include a tempting lineup of custard concretes: the West Slide (vanilla custard, Sugar Ray’s old fashioned strawberry cupcake, and strawberry puree), the Top Twirl (chocolate custard, Top Knot banana chocolate cake and miso caramel) and the Pie Oh My (vanilla custard and slice of Emporium Pies seasonal pie).

PRO TIP: If you’re running by during your lunch hour, use the app to preorder and skip the line!

SHAKE SHACK PLANO
shakeshack.com
7401 Windrose Avenue, Plano (in Legacy West)

Opening Hours:
11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sunday – Thursday
11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Friday & Saturday

 

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)

The Brown-Forman Scotch Collection

There is no doubt that the company owning names like Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester has serious insight when it comes to truly great whiskey and bourbon. When the opportunity comes to taste scotch from three newly acquired, iconic Scottish distilleries’ brands that date back to the 1800s, you take it. Period.

The night with Brown-Forman started off with specialty scotch cocktails designed by the Global Brand Ambassador of their Scotch Collection (more on him in a minute) and a little talk so we could get to know the Brown-Forman team. 



Honestly, before this night, I had never tried (or even heard of) a scotch cocktail. The though in my mind was that just isn’t done because it would be a waste of a great spirit. When I asked the ambassador (who is from Scotland, naturally) if it hurt him that we were drinking scotch cocktails, he laughed and said, “Of course not! I designed them myself, and when you complement the flavors of the whiskey, there’s nothing wrong with mixing.”

We began with a traditional scotch cocktail, the Penicillin (BenRiach 10-Year, lemon, ginger, honey syrup), which is a stout cocktail with the perfect balance of bright flavors with the smokiness of the scotch. We then had a couple of less classic options like the Highland Game Changer (GlenDronach 12-Year, vermouth, cherry brandy, dash of absinthe) and the Bobby Burns (GlenDronach 12-Year, orange liqueur, and vermouth).

Once everyone was sufficiently lubricated, we moved into the tasting portion of the evening. The tasting was led by Stewart Buchanan, a Scottish native and Global Brand Ambassador of the Brown-Forman Scotch Collection. Stuart has been involved in the Scotch industry since 1993.

He has worked in virtually every position within the industry from production to warehousing, office work to hosting tastings and management. In 2004, he helped to restart the BenRiach Distillery, one of the sampled brands in the tasting, after it had been closed since 2002.

Needless to say, he is a world-class sommelier of Scotch (whatever the word is for that). With his production background, Stuart gives a unique insight into the different process techniques and what makes a whiskey individuality by using different styles of casks in maturation. All that said, he has an incredibly outgoing personality and is a dangerous drinking companion.


Now to the whiskey…

GlenDronach 12-Year-Old Original
Rich sherried, 12-year-old single malt matured in a combination of Spanish Oloroso sherry casks.

Proof: 43% ABV
Nose: Sweet aroma with creamy vanilla and hints of ginger and autumn fruits
Taste: Creamy and silky smooth taste with rich oak and sherry sweetness, full mouth feel, raisins, soft fruits and spice
Finish: Long, full and slightly nutty finish
Distillery: The Glendronach Distillery, founded in 1826 in the valley of Forgue deep in the East Highland hills and one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Characteristics of this distillery are heavy and robust using mastery of sherry cask maturation with a deep color and rich flavor profiles ranging from sweet and fruity to dry and nutty.


BenRiach 10-Year-Old
Fresh and smooth single malt Classic Speyside. It is unpeated, fruity and matured in American Virgin Oak wood.

Proof: 43% ABV
Nose: Crisp, green orchard fruits, stem ginger and tangerine mellows to creamy vanilla with a delicate note of mint and a twist of citrus with a barley back note.
Taste: Warm toasted oak spices through green apple skins and dried apricots with hints of peach and soft banana. Touches of aniseed and lemon zest contrast the fruit and add to the crisp barley finish.
Distillery: The BenRiach Distillery was founded in 1898 in Northeast Morayshire that uses 100% Scottish Barley sourced from farms across Speyside and Northeast Scotland. They are known for using a wide variety of casks for maturing and finishing. BenRiach is one of only two remaining Speyside distilleries to seasonally produce whiskey using malted barley from its own traditional floor maltings.


BenRiach 10-Year-Old Curiositas
Peated single malt distilled from heavily peated malted barley giving this scotch a fresh, peated expression with smoky-sweet notes.
Note: Peat is a traditional source of fuel that is taken from the land and consists of compressed, decaying plant material. Different processes in sourcing and the varying locations of Scottish distilleries give varying flavors of smokiness unique to where the Scotch is distilled. BenRiach uses Highland Peat that is taken from the top layer of soil and has charcoal and campfire notes, unlike the salt-water infused peat used in coastal distilleries that have a medicinal and iodine notes.

Proof: 46% ABV
Nose: Aromatic peat smoke with hints of honey, fruit and mellow oak
Taste: Pear front followed by a complex hint of fruit, heather, nuts, oak and wood spices.


Glenglassaugh Evolution (my favorite of the evening)
Distinctive whiskey matured in ex-Tennessee Whiskey barrels which gives it a unique flavor compared to other Scotch whiskeys.

Proof: 50% ABV
Nose: Combination of sweet barley, pineapple and vanilla with deep oak spices and caramelized pear.
Taste: White peppery oak through crisp green apple with hints of salted caramel and ripe banana.
Distillery: Glenglassaugh is an award-winning distiller founded in 1875 on Sandend Bay on the Moray coast of Scotland that is on that Highland and Speyside border. Their Scotch, both peated and unpeated is matured in beach side warehouses that gives it salty notes, but uses Highland malt that creates a unique flavor of three regions. They are known for innovation of their newer whiskeys, but have old stocks going back to 1963.


Brown-Forman created a truly amazing and educational evening. Due to the recent acquisition of these distilleries and their commitment to knowledge and quality, this scotch whiskey is currently available in limited quantities in the United States. Specifically, in the Dallas area, you should be able to find them in Total Wine and Specs. If you are looking to sample, we were informed that the Standard Pour and Whiskey Cake in Plano were the only two watering holes that were mentioned to have stock. Not to worry, though, the Brown-Forman team said they would be more widely distributed later in April and May. Save up your money and go grab a bottle … or three.

Haystack Hits w/ New Dallas Location

We all know there’s no shortage of burger joints in the Dallas area, but Haystack Burgers and Barley is quickly making a name for itself.  With the opening of their second location in Oak Lawn’s recently renovated Turtle Creek shopping center, Kevin and Jenny Galvan are shooting to recreate the success of the original Haystack in Richardson.  From what I’ve experienced, they are well on their way to creating another cult following.

Among the many things to like about Haystack (from its friendly staff, great parking to the inviting ambiance) is that Haystack’s menu offers the right amount of variety for a place with “burger” in its name, including plenty of choices for salads and sandwiches.

Among the ridiculous parade of items I was able to try at the last media event, there were a few notable things that I had to share::::
The ranchero chicken-stuffed jalapeños are an old family recipe that was passed down to Kevin, and for good reason. Served with ranch these hit the spot.  Not a fan of spicy things?  The friend pickles and homemade mozzarella sticks are solid options.

Sometimes it’s the small things that make a place stand out, or in this case, the large ones. Haystack’s burgers are a steal given the size and price and of course the taste.  I don’t think you can really ever go wrong going with a restaurant’s signature item(s), and the Haystack Burger is no exception.  With fried onions, BBQ sauce, cheese and bacon, it’s their signature for a reason.My personal favorite, however, was the Escabeche Burger.   A burger with a bit of a kick thanks to the pickled jalapeños and chipotle mayo mingling with melted pepper jack plus bacon and Haystack onions.

Want to try something a bit different? Haystack has you covered with the Chicken Fried Burger-just like it sounds and topped with jalapeno-bacon cream gravy.  On a lighter note, the Portabella salad is a stand-out.  Topped with a generous portion of grilled portabella, gorgonzola cheese and homemade balsamic vinaigrette, this salad is a nice alternative for those wanting something less heavy.

For those with a sweet tooth, there is a solid variety of shakes and the banana pudding.  Oh yes, the ‘Nana pudding.  Go ahead and splurge … it’s worth it.  Creamy, decadent, full of flavor… and nostalgic, for sure!

Now, I can’t forget the alcoholic side of things, can I ? Of course, not … Haystack offers a great beer selection featuring draft pours from local Dallas breweries, numerous American craft beers, and, not to be missed, the Haymaker.  The Haymaker is Haystack’s frozen signature drink, made with orange juice, ice tea, lemonade and Maker’s Mark served in a mason jar, and is a concoction that will appeal to everyone with a refreshing, light, citrus taste, yet plenty boozy. (As I learned the hard fun way.)

It’s nearly baseball season, and nothing seems more appropriate than enjoying Haystack’s massive burgers and a huge selection of craft beers while watching a game. The new location of Haystack Burgers and Barley really hit the mark … again.  Well done!

Haystack Burgers & Barley – Turtle Creek
Facebook | Menu 
3838 Oak Lawn Avenue,  Suite 175
Dallas, TX  75219
(214) 377 – 7802

Thanks to Kevin and Jenny for inviting me to check out the new location and sample the menu!

 

 

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.

Chicken In The Front, Party In The Back

If you’re a fan of the Truck Yard atmosphere and grandma’s quality southern fare, then you’re in luck.

Quincy’s Chicken Shack is the newest family style, neighborhood picnic-esque restaurant to pop up in Coppell. Now, all you Dallas folk are thinking, “Coppell? That’s way too far just for some chicken…” but I assure you, it is well worth the drive. This fresh, family-friendly place will have you fed and on the way to your fried chicken coma in just 11 minutes. 

First, let’s talk atmosphere. Located right near Coppell Old Town Pavillion, the restaurant features an outdoor patio that’ll make your heart sing. Full bar, truck-turned-stage for live music, and string lights to make all your pictures Instagram gold. 

Speaking of the bar, Quincy has come up with some outstanding cocktails to go with your meal, and the southern theme is strong. Our favorites in our group were:

Mint Julep: bourbon, home grown mint syrup, soda water

Grandma’s Secret (personal favorite): sweet tea vodka, taverna, lemon, black tea

Shoofly Punch: Enchanted Rock peach vodka, peach puree, ginger liqueur, lemon, champagne, topped with a peach ring! This one is a southern spin on the French 75

Backyard Party: frozen lemonade spiked with your choice of citrus vodka/blueberry vodka/sweet tea vodka/ whiskey with mint

Dee’s Lunchbox: beer cocktail with white rum, orgeat, lemon, topped with IPA

Bottled Manhattan: a perfect manhattan made with Herman Marshall whiskey, vermouth, bitters, luxardo cherry

Tequila Mockingbird: Blanco Tequila, lemon, triple sec, watermelon juice

Now, let’s get to the food. The restaurant serves its offerings family style, so come prepared to share … or prepared for a fork fight.

First up is some black-eyed pea hummus to keep things light and fun. Then you have a choice of a fried chicken or a rotisserie chicken dinner basket for the table. Each one comes with cornbread, rotisserie potatoes and loaded potato dip, southern beans, and a seasonal side. What makes this chicken so darn good is that all of it’s cooked in the rotisserie, and then either served like that or flash fried for 3 and half minutes. 

Luckily, their lunch options aren’t all family style. Some lunch options they offer are a BBQ Chicken Sandwich, which is pulled chicken with Quincy’s root beer BBQ sauce, coleslaw, and rotisserie potatoes, and the Fried Chicken Sandwich, which is fried chicken tenders (available regular or Nashville Spicy) with garlic aioli, bread & butter pickles, coleslaw, and rotisserie potatoes. They also have a lunch salad, which features pulled rotisserie chicken on mixed greens topped with cowboy vinaigrette, green apple, corn, black-eyed pea hummus, and cornbread croutons. Lunch options will be available starting today, March 11th. 

If you’re still hungry after all that, they’ve got you covered. Desert is a bowl full of egg-free cookie dough (not today, salmonella!) and a seasonal handpie served with vanilla bean ice cream. 

Quincy’s Chicken Shack
QuincysChickenShack.com
Facebook
505 Houston Street (Coppell)
(469) 251-9080

  • Tues– Sat: Dinner only ; Sun & Mon: Closed
  • Tues – Thurs: 5pm–9pm, Bar open at 4
  • Fri – Sat: 5pm–10pm, Bar open at 4

Montes Wines – It’s a Family Thing

If ever you’ve felt like your wine needed a heartfelt backstory, Montes Alpha and Kaiken Ultra wineries have one for you.

Aurelio Montes Sr. and Aurelio Montes Jr. are the father and son of the century with their love for good wine as well as their heritage. The chilean duo not only have a namesake winery with a special commitment to the Chilean community, most notably a study scholarship given to the winery workers and their children alongside complimentary health and life insurance, but also like father, like son, Aurelio Montes Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps and opened up his own winery, Kaiken, in order to experiment with new terroirs and other winemaking practices such as biodynamics.
Fun fact: the Kaiken Ultra Winery was the second winery in the world to be awarded the Sustainable Certificate. Good for the community AND good for the earth? I don’t know what more you could want but they probably have it.

At Salum, a group of wine enthusiasts were treated to a tasting of wines from both wineries, as well as a paired luncheon. As we tasted the wines, Montes Sr. and Montes Jr. explained the back story of each wine and how they vary between the two wineries. 

Montes Alpha Chardonnay 2014
Alcohol – 13.9%
SRP – $19.90
Tasting notes: Shy in node expression.

Kaiken Ultra Chardonnay 2014
Alcohol – 14%
SRP – $20
Tasting notes: Bigger and deeper expression of oak and fruit.

Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Alcohol – 14%
SRP – $19.90
Tasting notes: Fruity expression with red berries, blackberries, chocolate, and mint.

Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Alcohol – 14.8%
SRP – $20
Tasting notes: Tastes of strawberries with a round mouth and soft tannins.

Montes Alpha Malbec 2014
Alcohol – 14.5%
SRP – $19.90
Tasting notes: Leaner, spicier, edgier, rougher.

Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2014
Alcohol – 14.5%
SRP – $20
Tasting notes: Riper with a wide mouth, gentle tannins, and tastes of dark fruit.

Montes Outer Limits CGM 2015
Alcohol – 14.5%
SRP – $24.90
Tasting notes: Velvety texture. Montes Sr. described this as “a wine for the younger generations who want to drink something different than their parents.”

Kaiken Obertura Cabernet Franc 2014
Alcohol – 14.7%
SRP – $35
Tasting notes: Best paired with light meals, salads, cheese.

Montes Alpha M Red Wine 2012
Alcohol – 14.7%
SRP – $98
Tasting notes: A Bordeaux blend with a bouquet that comes along elegantly.

Kaiken Mai Malbec 2013
Alcohol – 14.8%
SRP – $70
Tasting notes: considered a real taste of Argentina.

Montes Taita Cabernet Sauvignon 2007/2009/2010
Alcohol – 15%
SRP – $249
Tasting notes: “Taita” describes the emotion of speaking of your father with devotion and admiration and he gives back his wisdom with loving care. This wine spends 18 months in barrels and then 4 years in bottles before being released.

Salmon and scallop crudo with Texas grapefruit, orange blossom oil, pea shoots, and parmesan crisps
Paired with the Montes Limited Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2016 and the Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontes 2016

Braised lamb, rosemary puree with plum gastrique
Paired with the Montes Purple Angel 2013 and the Kaiken Obertura 2014

Bittersweet chocolate and sticky date pudding with stewed red fruits and Mexican vanilla chantilly
Paired with the Montes Alpha M 2012

 
Montes Wines
monteswines.com
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Salum Restaurant
salumrestaurant.com
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4152 Cole Avenue (Uptown)

Rebel, Rebel: Beer Mixology and Sam Adams Rebel Juiced IPA

Albert Camus once said, “Life is a sum of your choices.” It’s so easy to look around us and create a narrative of who we are, how we interact with those around us and the image we think we are projecting. For example, I like to think I am on this website reviewing just the most cutting edge projects, but I’m now realizing that I have carved out quite a niche with the fruit-infused beers, whiskeys, vodkas and moonshine.

I bring this up because now that these things are so widespread, they almost have a tendency to run together. This is not a shot at these products, but there’s only so many ways to convey “hey, it’s pretty good, especially if you like this flavor, but runs a little sweet.”

That’s why, when I had a chance to review Sam Adams mango-infused Rebel Juiced IPA, I perked up at the pitch. Rather than simply pour and sip, they suggested I use the beer as a base for three brunch cocktails designed to bring out the mango flavor of the beer. These weren’t the simple summer beer type recipes either, which made it much more interesting. I also had a recent experience ordering a beer cocktail at a well-known suburban cocktail establishment that ended with the bartender condescendingly asking me if I was sure I wanted that and if I understood how beer cocktails work, so I was properly motivated to make some good ones.  So, I gathered a few friends on a weekend night downtown, bought my ingredients and went to work.

Before I dive in, I will say this beer really does stand well on its own. A few of my favorite breweries have failed pretty miserably to incorporate mango, but this didn’t taste artificial at all. I like the standard Rebel IPA as is (read more here about its recent evolution) and would still stick with that straight up, but it was nice to have a fruit beer come in at over 6% and not have a hint of cleaning product taste to it.

Back to the cocktails, first up was the Rebel Rumba, which was the favorite of the group by far. It was tropical and the beer blended into the cocktail. We found ourselves playing with the curacao and rum ratios a bit more and created a stronger hybrid that had quite a kick.

Rebel Rumba
1/4oz orgeat
3/4oz lime juice
1/2oz Dry Curaçao
1/2oz dark rum
1/2oz white rum
3oz Sam Adam’s Rebel Juiced IPA

Combine all ingredients into a shaker and shake. Strain into wine glass, add ice and garnish with fresh mango or pineapple and mint.

Next up was the Juicy Fruit. Aperol has been a nemesis of mine ever since I first started trying to mix cocktails without measuring carefully. A little goes a long way, so I was very interested to see how this one turned out. I would suggest maybe going down to 1.5 ounces of aperol if you’re not into the taste (or just add a bit more juice), but this turned out really well.

Juicy Fruit
3oz Sam Adam’s Rebel Juiced IPA
2oz Aperol
1oz Grapefruit juice

Build in wine glass, add ice, garnish with half Grapefruit wheel.

The Gin & Juiced is technically the most like a summer beer, but the floral gin, juice and syrup was much more interesting than the usual combo. This was a strong second to the Rebel Rumba and another one we wanted to play with a bit more. We did add a splash of the grapefruit juice to a second batch and that also turned out pretty well.

Gin & Juiced
3oz Sam Adams Rebel Juiced IPA
1oz Bulldog gin
3/4oz lemon juice
1/2oz honey syrup (2:1)

Add ingredients, except beer, to cocktail shaker. Shake with ice, strain into Collins glass and top with beer. Add ice, garnish with lemon wheel.

Sam Adams Rebel IPA and Rebel Juiced can be found just about anywhere for a suggested retail price between $7.99 – $9.99.