Category Archives: Fort Worth

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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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.

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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.***

Big Taste of Fort Worth 2016

Gourmet cuisine from Tarrant County’s best restaurants, premium wines from local wineries, an open bar serving one of THE BEST Texas whiskies, and rubbing elbows with some of the most influential members of the Tarrant County community … and all for a good cause … that’s what makes a great night.

For 37 years, The Barrett Havran Memorial Big Taste of Fort Worth has been creating these great experiences. Every year, they partner with the best of the best Tarrant County has to offer, including a VIP wine tasting, and an incredible auction to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters. This year’s event was hosted at the beautiful Omni Hotel, in Fort Worth.

The live auction had several luxe packages including a seven-day stay in Tuscany, a Capital Grille dining experience with former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson (also a celebrity tasting judge at the event), and a luxury Fort Worth weekend including dinner for two at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, tickets to Bass Performance Hall, along with a night stay at the Worthington Renaissance Fort Worth Hotel complete with use of a new Lexus LS460 during the stay.

The silent auction included Pulsar Watches, various wines (oh, so many wines, including Champagne Taittinger, Robert Foley Vineyards, White Rose Estate) along with art, books, electronics, and clothing.

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The food tasting featured an all-star lineup of Whiskey & Rye our of the Omni Fort Worth, Del Frisco’s, The Capital Grille – Fort Worth, and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood.

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All the chefs brought their A-game to provide countless samples for guests to eat. There was absolutely no excuse for anyone to leave hungry … or sober, for that matter. (Thank you, Uber.)

About that … guests were invited to enjoy multiple open bars serving beer selections and Robert Mondovi Private Selection wines.

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The most amazing part was they were also featuring one of my new favorite whiskeys, Texas Silver Star.

This stuff … is amazing … and local. The artisans behind this concept are Mark Lusignan, Ben Alexander and Don Alexander of the Trinity River Distillery located in Fort Worth. This small-batch whiskey is distilled from select corn, barley and rye, and aged in new charred American white oak barrels for around 2.5 years. In addition, the team collects and stores rainwater in two 13,000 gallon steel tanks that they process and filter using reverse osmosis for use in their products. This event featured the Spirit Whiskey and, my personal favorite, Texas Honey. (Go out and find some. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.)

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In all seriousness, being a part of this event was completely amazing. The Barret Havran Memorial event supports Big Brothers Big Sisters’s mission to help at-risk youth graduate high school, avoid juvenile delinquency and prepare for college and job readiness. Seeing the outpouring of support from some of Fort Worth’s most influential community was incredible to witness.

The Fort Worth chapter of BBBS currently has 700 children on their waiting list. If you would like to learn how you can help impact these children’s lives, you can donate or volunteer at www.bbbstx.org.

Keep an eye out for next year’s Big Taste of Fort Worth event so you can be part of the change!

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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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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#FWFWF

Caledonia Spirits

I recently attended an event highlighting Caledonia Spirits and have been intrigued by the brand since. Each of their spirits is crafted in small batches with Vermont honey. (And this honey is le-git! I was given a jar of raw honey to take home and taste and I don’t think I will be able to go back to honey as I knew it. This raw, unfiltered honey has never been heated so it has traces of pollen, propolis, and beeswax.

Barr Hill Gin (90 proof) is handcrafted in small batches. Raw honey is added just before bottling with a finishing taste of juniper berries. Barr Hill Gin has a gold medal and “Gin of the Year” at the 2013 Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition and it won the a double gold meal at the 2012 New York International Spirits Competition.

Tom Cat Barrel-Aged Gin (86 proof) is aged for four to six months in new, charred American White Oak barrels. It has whiskey-like notes of oak and spice with a finish of juniper and honey.

Barr Hill Vodka (80 proof) is handcrafted in small batches completely from raw honey. It has notes of honey, flowers, and vanilla and has a very smooth finish and was (way too) easy to drink.

Oh, and all three of these products are gluten-free and kosher … so that’s neat.

CALEDONIA SPIRITS
www.caledoniaspirits.com
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If you are ever in Vermont and want to check out the distillery:
46 Log Yard Drive
P.O. Box 1249
Hardwick, Vermont 05843

Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 11am-3pm (July-December)