Category Archives: Food

Casa M. Spice Company Gives Bland Chicken Hope

I’ll be honest, I’m not a great cook. It seems like everything I try to cook just ends up bad, blah, or (unintentionally) bruléed. I tend to have a problem of going to the store, standing in the spice aisle, and buying all of the spices on the shelf in hopes that my chicken will turn out not … bland.

After trying Casa M. Spice Company‘s spices, I now see a glimmer of hope for my kitchen. These spices can make anything delicious; your brisket, pork, watermelon, or even cocktails! This awesome company has flavor covered.

Why this company is different: because it is all about family. When I met the owners Mike and Manny, I was taken aback by how much they truly care for their spices and the people that support them. They are committed to making every meal great. As said on their (super cool) website, “Here at Casa M Spice Co™, we prioritize great flavor, because great flavor makes great food, and great food makes great memories.”

All of their spices are:
– Gluten Free
– MSG Free
– Low Sodium
– Dairy and Nut Free
– Animal Product Free
– Made in Texas

They care about their customers so much that they’re completely transparent about their mixes; their website lists exactly what goes into each blend.

Chain Reaction. The perfect spice to rim on a mango margarita! This base spice complements a margarita well and it would be perfect for a day at the beach or by the pool. You can also add this to a bloody mary or a corona for a little extra kick!
Ingredients:  salt, garlic, paprika, spices, peppers, & onion

Cattle Drive. This rub was my favorite! It was delicious on the brisket we tried and it added an extra texture to the meat. Add this rub to any beef, and you’ll be sure to be the best grill master in town. I’m drooling thinking about it … so please hold while I wipe my keyboard.
Ingredients:  spices, sugar, onion, salt, garlic, paprika, & peppers

These seasonings are sure to make everything you eat and drink amazing. Sign up to be the first to know when these spices launch! They’re sure to spice things up in the kitchen … and the bar. (We had to use the pun. Sorry, not sorry.)



CASA M SPICE COMPANY
casamspice.com

ORNO—No Ordinary Wine Bar

I promise you, I had every intention of ordering wine when I arrived at ORNO last night. It is a wine bar, after all. As I walked through the front door, I saw the matte black wall of wine—individual bottles stood on floating shelves with their respective names and origins neatly written out in white chalk. Beneath this display sits a long, cushy leather banquette, the majority of which was already occupied by what I observed to be a big, happy group of friends who were enjoying the company and their meal.

Courtesy of Orno


The restaurant has a cozy, neighborhood vibe with good music, perfectly low lighting, and a quirky live aquarium display on a large flat-screen TV set right in the middle of the back bar.


… now we come to one of the reasons why I never ordered the wine. I perused the cocktail list that the server presented, and quickly spotted a spirit that I didn’t even know I was craving: mezcal. As if on cue, the bartender walked over from behind the bar to say hello and ask if we wanted to order some drinks. My date ordered a sangria while I ordered an El Viejo.


Once I tasted the mezcal, I never turned back. Every cocktail I subsequently ordered centered around the smoky, agave spirit, and I only requested that each new mezcal drink be different from the last.

Turns out, the friendly bartender was Nael Rodriguez, the owner of this fine establishment. He was also a food runner, server, greeter, gracious host, and seeming jack of all trades. During the meal, he informed me that, during ORNO’s design phase, he made sure that everything in the build-out facilitated the ability to jump from one position to the other with as much ease as possible. From the bar, he could still an eye on the food coming out of the kitchen as well as on the front door to welcome guests. It’s actually brilliant.

Speaking of food coming out of the kitchen … ORNO’s cuisine offerings are top notch New American bites, and by “New American”, I mean it highlights aspects of many cultures that make up the fabric of our wonderful country. For example, I requested that he surprise my date and me with a three-course dinner of his choosing, no dietary restrictions or food allergies to worry about. Nael smiled and disappeared, promising that our first course would arrive within an hour (he’s a funny guy, that Nael!).

Within a few minutes, a dish of  sweet and spice lacquered pork belly bites arrived at our table, with earthy and sweet aromas wafted my way and made my mouth water. The meat melted in my mouth, and the fresh slaw of julienne veggies in the center offered an appropriate balance to the depth and unctuousness of the fatty pork.


Not a bad start, Mr. Rodriguez.

Nael then took us from Asian-inspired fare to more Italian flavor with the Pig & Fig flatbread.  The crispy, thin crust held a light layer of Alouette Brie cheese that was topped with delicate slices of prosciutto, dollops of fig preserves, and bits of candied cayenne walnuts. Simple. Delicious. No one item overpowering the rest, each playing off one another so well that before I knew it, the whole flatbread disappeared. Oops!


So far, Nael is two for two. Where was he going to take us next?
To the Caribbean!

For our last course, Nael presented us with the Voodoo Shrimp—a half pound of jumbo (and I mean JUMBO) shrimp dressed in a Caribbean-inspired BBQ sauce that intrigued us to the point that we tried to identify as many spices in the sauce as we could. There was such complexity and depth of flavor that eventually Nael had to come by and reveal that there were no less than 18 spices that make up the sauce and that the sauce had to be made a few days prior to serving so all of the flavors could deepen.

It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? As consumers, we go eat out at restaurants and the dishes we enjoy take mere minutes for us to consume and enjoy. We usually don’t think about the time and work that goes into composing our meals, but in the moments when we do stop to really consider it, it’s usually when some part of us recognizes that the food was made with thought, care, and love.

… and that’s ORNO.

I truly love it when a meal inspires me to wax romantic about the dining experience, and the best part about this meal is just how comfortable the setting was. The space housed around 24 seats in the dining room, and no more than maybe 8 seats at the bar. If I lived in the Cedar Springs area, I could see myself stopping in there at least once a day, even if just to say hi to the staff or to grab a cocktail.

ORNO is a neighborhood gem that’s bursting at the seams with soul. And, in a tricky restaurant city like Dallas where every week is a laundry list of flashy openings and abrupt closings, I hope that ORNO’s quiet charm and culinary approachability ensure that it’s here to stay a while.


ORNO Restaurant
facebook.com/ornodallas
3908 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas (Cedar Springs)
(469) 726-2004

Closed Mondays, Open Tues/Wed: 11AM-10PM, Thurs-Sat: 11AM-11PM, Sun: 11AM-4PM

2018 Dallas Chocolate Festival

“Chocolate Wasted” is an understatement. Prepare to get chocolate obliterated.

If you love chocolate, you are gonna love this. Dallas is lucky enough to have an annual chocolate festival. A yearly celebration of all things cocoa.

This year’s Dallas Chocolate Festival celebrates the “Future of Chocolate”, an exploration into where the chocolate industry is headed. A $35 ticket* gets you access to the main hub of the festival when all the demos and samples take place! 70+ exhibitors will be on show during the festival, which runs September 7th-9th at the Fashion Industry Gallery downtown.
Tickets to the main event on Saturday, September 8th can be purchased here.

The first night of the festival features a VIP Party with chocolate cocktails, treats, goody bags, and more. Most of the vendors will be at the VIP party so you can sample and purchase once you’re a little tipsy on the chocolate cocktails. (Make sure to Uber home!) Tickets to the Friday night VIP Party are $75, but you could buy a two-day pass that’s good for Friday and Saturday for $100.
You can purchase VIP Party tickets here.

The final day of the festival is when all the workshops take place. Here you can learn how to make chocolate from bean-to-bar and everything in between for just $100 per person, or you can take part in a very extensive tasting experience for $60 per person. If your tastebuds are still kicking, you could even do both for $150 for the all day pass. The workshops will all take place at the Preston & Forest Whole Foods.
Tickets to the workshops can be purchased here.

No matter what day you choose to go to the Dallas Chocolate Festival, you’re bound to taste some delicious chocolate made by local chocolatiers … and you may just learn something about the chocolate industry.

I was lucky enough to attend a preview for the Dallas Chocolate Festival, and there’s a lot to look forward to. Make sure to get your tickets online and plan to ramp up your sugar intake in the week before so your sugar rush isn’t a handicap at the festival. Because there’s a lot of chocolate to be had.

 


THE DALLAS CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL
The Dallas Chocolate Festival
September 7-9, 2018

Event being held at The Fashion Industry Gallery (FIG)
Fashion Industry Gallery
1807 Ross Avenue (Downtown Dallas)

*$5 for kids under 10)

Velvet Taco’s New Uptown Home

When Urban Taco outgrew its Uptown location on McKinney, we were all left wondering what would take its place in such a walkable and restaurant-filled area. It doesn’t really come as a surprise that another taco joint has taken its spot. But boy am I glad it’s not just any taco joint—it’s Velvet Taco.

While this new location is quite close to the existing location at Knox and 75, this location offers all the same tacos you know and love (and a couple new ones), just with a new patio view of McKinney Avenue instead of a highway.

Their menu features tacos with delicious base options like fish, chicken, beef, pork, and many others. My two favorite tacos, you ask? The Spicy Chicken Tikka taco and the Bacon, Egg Frittata Taco. Taco prices range from $3.50 to $6.75 and they allow substitutions if you’re a little picky or have an allergy. They also have “WTF” tacos and brunch tacos served all day in case “normal” tacos aren’t enough for you.

The new tacos available at this location are:
– Chicken & Waffles – crisp tenders, country gravy, green apple slaw, maple syrup, peppered bacon, red chili aioli, chives, waffle tortilla. $4.75
– Monte Cristo – strawberry jam, honey ham, gruyere, strawberry jalapeño salsa, powdered sugar, micro mint, French toast flour tortilla. $4.25
– Flank Steak & Egg Frittata – crispy potatoes, Sambal hollondaise, arugula, tomato, pickled fresnos, queso fresco, micro greens, flour tortilla. $5.25
– Ahi Poke (Raw) – sesame soy vinaigrette, arugula, pickled red onions, pickled fresnos, seaweed salad, wasabi crema, pickled ginger, black sesame seeds, lettuce wrap. $6.75

 

 

 

Don’t forget to grab a margarita and a side dish like Red Curry Coconut Queso ($4.95), Elote Corn ($4.25), or my personal favorite: Crisp Tots & Local Egg. The Crisp Tots are tater tots covered in herb goat cheese, smoked cheddar, avocado crema, chili butter, and peppered bacon, then topped with an egg for $5.25.

If you happen to look up from your tacos for a breath of air, you might notice some pieces of art work portraying Marie Antoinette. Well, you do know what her most quoted phrase was, right? “Let them eat cake!” And red velvet cake you must eat when frequenting Velvet Taco.

 


VELVET TACO
VelvetTaco.com
Facebook | Instagram
NEW LOCATION: 3411 Mckinney Avenue (Uptown)
OLD LOCATION: 3012 N Henderson Avenue (Knox-Henderson)

Savor the New Happy Hour at Savor Gastropub

Savor Gastropub in Klyde Warren Park hit us with the real deal—their all-new happy hour menu has arrived … and I’m just wondering what took it so long. With great deals on drinks and food, there’s no reason to not make it in to their (air conditioned!!) digs and try it out sooner than later.

For those who haven’t been yet, Savor Gastropub is a glass box-esque restaurant right on the North Western side of Klyde Warren Park. They have a chef-driven menu with shareable plates (or not shareable if you’re anything like me) and options for lunch, dinner, brunch, and even a pre-show option if you’re in a hurry to catch the latest performance downtown.

During their new happy hour, you can expect to see these great choices:
$3 select beers
$6 Sazeracs, Old Fashioneds, Sidecars, French 75s, Moscow Mules, Oleo Daiquiris, select wines, and their dangerously delicious frosés

Also included in the Happy Hour are these tasty dishes:
$3 Tator Tot Poutine smothered in cheese curds, gravy, and bacon
$10 Margherita Flatbread
$6 the Q Dog drowning in bacon, onion, relish, cheese, ketchup, and mustard
$6 Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders with horseradish pickle, roasted onion, maple vinaigrette on a brioche bun
and so much more!

Their delicious and highly flavorful happy hour runs 4-7pm Monday through Friday. Even more clutch, they offer happy hour ALL DAY when it rains or temps rise above 100ºF, which kind of makes the heat somewhat bearable.


SAVOR GASTROPUB
SavorGastropub.com
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2000 Woodall Rodgers Freeway (Downtown)

Luna Grill’s Newest Location

Eat Real, Fuel Good.
Luna Grill’s motto isn’t just a motto, it’s a way of life. When you eat real, good food, you feel good in return. Luna Grill aims to serve only the best real, good Mediterranean food and with their new Dallas location on Walnut Hill, they’re doing just that.

Here are some of my favorite dishes from the preservative-free and antibiotic-free restaurant:
For starters, you’ve got to try the Dip Trio with Garlic Sauce—Spicy Feta, and your choice of either Classic or Spicy Hummus (get the spicy). Then, take your pick of entrees. I tried the Norwegian Salmon and the Never, Ever Gyro (a blend of beef and lamb that has never been administered hormones or antibiotics). Each entree comes with rice, salad, pita, and your choice of roasted tomatoes or carrots.

 

 

 

If you’ve still got room after their massive plates, you can finish the meal with a baklava, or their special choclava (a chocolate baklava, duh).


LUNA GRILL
LunaGrill.com 
8165 Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 1300 (North Dallas)
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Deep Ellum’s Newest: DoHolics

Count your blessings that you don’t have to wait too long for DoHolics to officially open in Deep Ellum (right next to Chills 360)! The safe-to-eat cookie dough shop will be ready to host you on July 20th! I got a special sneak preview of some of their offerings so you can drool while you wait not so patiently.

First, you start by picking cup or cone, but I think these colorful cones are hard to pass up on! Then you choose from their 15 different flavors like Cookie Butter or Matcha … then add whatever toppings your heart (or stomach) desires.

What makes this cookie dough safe to eat? Well, it’s made with heat treated flour and pasteurized eggs, which makes it totally indulge-able. They’ve made something delicious that we really aren’t meant to eat totally edible … that’s kind of like making a unicorn.

And speaking of the fabled creatures … did I mention they have cookie shots with UNICORNS ON THEM?!

Had enough yet? Get ready for DoHolics to open up to the public on July 20th.


DoHolics
2646 Elm Street (Deep Ellum)
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Hudson House Brunch

The first time I visited Hudson House, I decided it’d be my new Friday afternoon martini spot the weeks I don’t go in for the pork chop special at Perry’s Steakhouse. This seafood spot in the Park Cities is a gem. While life usually gets in the way (of both), I have found another brilliant time to visit Hudson House … brunch.

The menu is American with an East Coast flair, and the spot itself is adorably Nantucket—expect plenty of heavy wood and tile with brass accents in this open restaurant with plenty of natural light. The staff is friendly and very happy to help your table decide on a spread. We gave the delightful bartender on the day how many dishes we’d like and what sort of items we enjoy and he sent out what he recommended. And I’ll tell you, that’s the way to do it.

Their cocktail options are on point. Mimosas and bellinis for $5, cocktails for $8-11, and their pièce de résistance, THE Royal Bloody—their original bloody with bleu cheese olives, a huge shrimp, and an oyster. (It’s a little steep for a brunch cocktail, but it’s a real photo opp. If I had it to do over again, though, I’d opt for the $20 bottle of prosecco. What a damn good deal, right?! I went for a bloody mary followed by a gibson … because vodka is breakfast liquor and they make a mean martini.

Per the food, you’ll find the usual trappings of a brunch menu—toasts, egg dishes, and some sweet options. And, really, everything is quite visually appealing. (You’ll want to ‘gram most of what hits the table.) Their toasts—avocado, country ham, and salmon—are delicious and the bread is perfectly crispy. If you’re into a benedict situation, ops for one of their three options—one being lobster, and damn, was it good. The eggs were prepared perfectly and the lobster was tender.

If you’re looking for something on the healthier side, they offer oatmeal and granola bowls along with a Power Breakfast (poached eggs, sliced avocado, maple bacon, and berries). We skipped those options and went for oysters instead. They do oysters well here. All East Coast options, and all listed on a board with descriptions. My favorite part of the presentation was that they actually mark which are which with colored picks and a color-coded menu. I hate it when I order a couple different kinds and have to guess which is the super salty one my neighbor prefers.

Stop in for a visit and you can enjoy an entire day in walking distance. Grab brunch at Hudson House, catch a movie at Inwood Theater, maybe a foot massage … sounds like a brilliant day to me.


HUDSON HOUSE
hudsonhousehp.com
4448 Lovers Lane (Park Cities)
(214) 583-2255