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.)
My 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.
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.
The best of the best came out during the weekend of the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival. I was able to attend four of the seven events during the festival. Each event was unique and extremely well-planned and executed.
The Grand Tasting Friday night was overwhelming to say the least. There were more than one hundred restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries represented in the Worthington Hotel’s Grand Ballroom. I had to plan a strategy to make it all the way though so that my stomach and liver didn’t hate me at the end of the night. (Or the next day, for that matter.) The highlights were, of course, Fort Worth favorites such as Rahr & Son’s Brewing and Firestone & Robertson Distilling.
#latenight Desserts after Dark at 809 Vickery was a short Uber ride from the Grand Tasting. This event was all about who had the best dessert and who could make the best cocktail using Firestone & Robertson’s TX Blended Whiskey. (I’ll bet you $50 that Susie was really upset that she had to miss this event.) There were eight desserts and eight drinks featured. My favorite drink was the Proper Manhattan from Proper. I also enjoyed the Texas Peach (TX Whiskey, vanilla bean simple syrup, Texas peach preserve, pistachio foam and cinnamon) from Bob’s Steak and Chop House. The Fan Favorite of the night was from Thirteen Pies. It was called John’s Banana Milk Punch (TX Whiskey, cream, house-made banana puree, and a farm egg, garnished with a banana marshmallow and vanilla cookie crumble.)
Saturday night consisted of cowboy boots and lawn chairs at the Burgers, Brews, and Blues event. This event was held along the banks of the Trinity River with eleven chefs and twenty-two craft breweries showcasing the best each had to offer. The live music included sets from James Hinkle, the Michael Lee Clemmer Band, and the Chris Watson Band. I am always up for a good beer, so this was probably my favorite event of the weekend. There was a good mix of local breweries such as Rahr, Lakewood, Rabbit Hole, Panther Island, and Martin House. Unfortunately, the lines were extremely long for the burgers, so I opted for more brews than burgers. (Oops.) My favorite burger that I did wait in line for was Rodeo Goat’sChaca Oaxaca which was a beef/chorizo burger with avocado, queso fresco, fried egg and tabasco mayo. (Yes … it was delicious.)
Sunday Funday wrapped up the weekend at the Coyote Drive-In. There was a wide variety of food trucks to sample during this event, but my favorite food truck in attendance was definitely Salsa Limon. The food truck is usually parked next to The Cellar at 2919 West Berry Street (across from TCU) and their tacos can also be found at their permanent location located at 929 University Drive. They are all about serving the best Mexico City-style tacos in Fort Worth. PRO TIP: Add plenty of jalapeño cream salsa if you like a kick to your tacos!
Bravo, Fort Worth … bravo. If you have the chance to attend any of the events at next year’s, make it happen. It’ll give you the chance to find some new Fort Worth treasures and enjoy old favorites.
Chef Eddy Thretipthuangsin (most just call him Chef Eddy), of Bite City Grill, has done it again. He has recently opened Kin Kin Urban Thai in the West 7th development in Fort Worth. The space, previously MK Sushi, has been completely transformed into a modern, clean, comfortable restaurant.
Kin Kin means “eat, eat” or “let’s eat”. Chef Eddy has created a menu of traditional Thai dishes along with American favorites with a Thai twist. Kin Kin has been a way for Chef Eddy to pay homage to his mother as well as the country of Thailand. His mother, Pat, helped create many of the menu items … she used to cook for the Thai royal family and Eddy began his culinary career by learning from her. He spent a month traveling Thailand to help shape the menu at Kin Kin. He says, “Bangkok is one of the most vibrant culinary cities.” So thankfully, he is sharing that with Fort Worth (and soon Dallas).
It was very difficult to choose what to order first because of the great selection, so my strategy was … what would be a great bar snack? (I know you are reading this to find out about the drinks – duh.) If you’re coming to Kin Kin in to hang out and have a drink, order the shrimp chip for a snack. They are this glorious, airy chip that remind me of Cheetos. Who wouldn’t like upscale Cheetos? The pork and shrimp dumplings were delicious, and are served in a traditional bamboo basket with green cabbage and soy sauce. I’m pretty sure I will have this as my meal next time I am there. My other favorite bar snack was the Bangkok shrimp (crispy shrimp, garlic, cilantro, sweet plum sauce). I don’t think you could go wrong with anything on the menu and I give everything I sampled two thumbs up.
Chef Eddy’s brother, Chris, is the mastermind behind the drink menu. The difference between the drinks at Bite City Grill and Kin Kin is the complexity. If you go back and read about the Bite drinks, you will see that they are on the elaborate side and you’re given bitters to control taste. The drinks at Kin Kin are simple and to the point. My favorite cocktail was the Lychee Margarita (tequila, Soho Lychee, fresh lime). Crisp and refreshing, I have admit that my glass was empty before I knew it. If you have never had lychee before, it has a similar taste to a pear or grape and it’s a great combination with the lime of the margarita. I’d say that this is a go-to “summer tasting” drink. The Tom Yum Bloody Mary (lemongrass infused vodka, bloody mary mix, Sriracha) is flavor roller coaster. It’s a fusion of Tom Yum soup and a Bloody Mary.
Kin Kin also did a great job of choosing their beer and whiskey options. The two categories are “Far East” (imported Pacific Asian options) and “Down the Road” (local Texas options) for each list. (P.S. Did you know that Japan is doing some seriously awesome things with whiskey? Yeah … it’s happening.)
The service was amazing from the moment I walked into the front door; everyone was very hospitable and the service was prompt. Parking is easy and convenient and Kin Kin Urban Thai is located right next to the garage entrance (which has free parking – just don’t forget to get your ticket validated before you leave).
Opening Summer 2015: 11661 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75230 Opening April 2015: 3211 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219
Unfortunately, Kin Kin does not have any happy hour specials yet. As the restaurant takes root, that might be an addition for the future. Currently, the only special is for take out ($1 off the price of each item in your order).
A few weeks back I trudged through the ice and snow to the sixth annual Barleywine and Swine event at Flying Saucer Fort Worth. Not only did they offer over twenty different barley wine selections, but a huge plate of all things swine. (Because that just makes everything better.) It was the perfect way to warm up on a cold, icy day.
I am a novice when it comes to barleywine, so for those of you like me–here’s the condensed version: it’s a strong English ale that range from 8%- 12% ABV. The only reason it has any connection to wine is because of its high alcohol content and that its matured in wooden barrels. Barleywine can be cellared for years and usually age like wine. Other than that, it’s all beer. Its subtle caramel notes comes from a prolonged boil and hops are used throughout the brewing process. Barley wine can be sweet or bittersweet with the smell of fruits to super hoppy.
Out of the few American barley wines that I tasted, my favorite by far, was from the Breckenridge Brewery. It’s a 10.1% ABV beer with molasses and black cherry accents. This beer is cold conditioned for three months and barrel-aged in fresh, American Oak barrels for 6 months. For those of you who like your beer extra hoppy (not me) go for the Epic Barley Wine Ale. This 10.1% ABV is brewed in Salt Lake City. I could only have a few sips due to the hoppiness of this beer. The Firestone Walker Sucaba is a 13.5% ABV that is brewed in California with subtle chocolate and vanilla flavors. This one was pretty sweet, which make for a great after dinner treat. Each barleywine was served in a brandy sniffer for $6/6oz pour.
If you haven’t had a chance to stop by Flying Saucer in downtown Fort Worth, it’s worth the trip. It is in walking distance to the newly renovated Sundance Square (which is amazing) and they have loads of craft beers on tap and a huge patio … what else could you possibly ask for? Keep up to date with their fun events, like Barleywine and Swine, on their website.
I made the trek to Fort Worth, y’all. I don’t do it often, so you must know it was because I knew something special (read: delicious) was waiting for me. In this case, it was worth the drive. #SDDContributor Amanda (covering Fort Worth) and I stopped into Vivo 53 in Downtown Fort Worth accompanied by a delightful representative from their PR company. I threw my hands up and let the experts decide what to feed me, and that was a great decision.
We started with Chicken Meatballs (free range, served with tomato sauce, rucola, and red onion) and they were hard to find in all of the greenery, but worth the search. To go with our appetizers, the bartender brought us a round of their best selling drink, the Vesuvius (serrano pepper, 360 organic vodka, blood orange juice, strawberries, ginger beer, and organic agave). It really had a kick to it, enough so that I was regretting that I’d forgotten my heartburn medication! The flavor was strong and delicious, so I’d order this one again … but I’d try to be more prepared next time. Their version of Bruschetta featured three crostini–corona fagioli (beans) with herbs, chilies, and sea salt, a smoked albacore tuna with peppers and chives, and a chicken liver pate with capers, prosciutto and lemon. I really loved all three (and especially the pate), but the table seemed to like the tuna one best. (Babies.) You can order them by flavor or a trio of the three.
Drinks kept flowing and the table ordered the North Texas Breeze, Italian Mule, and Aquila Artiglio. The North Texas Breeze (Deep Eddy Vodka, St. Germain , Thai basil, lime, pineapple juice, honey, and prosecco) is their second best seller behind the Vesuvius, and for a good reason. It was perfectly light and sweet, but with good body. The Italian Mule (raspberries, 360 organic vodka, lime, balsamic vinegar, and ginger beer) was an interesting take on the traditional Moscow Mule and the balsamic vinegar gave it a bit of extra complexity. (Oh, and they’d run out of raspberries, and when my friend ordered this drink, they had someone run out to get more. That’s service.)
I’m not even sure how to start my description of the dinner we had. Suffice it to say that everything was delicious and the pasta dish haunts my dreams. We enjoyed the Brussels Sprouts that were roasted just so with a nice bit of oil … and it’s too bad that I ate them all and didn’t leave any for my fellow diners. Do yourself a favor and order their Vivo Truffle Fettuccine cause OMG. I mean … I like truffles, but this stuff was beyond. The flavor was just strong enough to be intriguing, but definitely wasn’t overpowering.
The 53 in their name refers to the number of recipes they attempted to get to the perfect pizza crust. I’ll just say … it was definitely lucky number 53! The crust on their “pizze” is perfectly crispy and has a nice mix of delicate herbs that give it a kick of flavor. We tried the Bianca Pizza (mozzarella, sottocenere*, fontina cheese, parmesan, and sage) and the Burrata Pizza (bur rata, prosciutto, tomato, rucola, and grana padano). I’d order the Bianca again in a second, but the Burrata pizza, while good, wasn’t what I’d expected. The burrata is simple plopped on top of a cheeseless pizza with a pile of rucola on top. (I’m just preparing you because I was surprised. Friends look out for friends, ya know.)
Dessert, while difficult to find space in my completely full and satisfied stomach, was worth it. The Torta Fritta (fresh donuts rolled in sugar) were ah-mazing. The chocolate dipping sauce it’s served with was rich and warm. I had to stop myself from eating them all … stupid half marathon training. (Blame my sister.) We also tried out their Dolce Crema Bruciata (vanilla custard with brûlées sugar crust and fresh berries) was good … but I’d suggest ordering a second Torta Fritta if you have the room! Oh, and their bartender was nice enough to make me an off-menu espresso martini. It was just the nightcap I needed and kept me alert enough not to call it a night and head home to put on my comfy pants.
Vivo 53’s feel welcoming, yet clean and modern. The high ceilings make it feel much larger than it is. The seating area is actually somewhat limited, which keeps it intimate. A set of tables toward the back are separated by large walls, making each feel private. There are TVs in the bar to catch a game or two, and seats around the oven so you can watch the magic happen.
They JUST released that they’ll be offering happy hour … both regular and REVERSE! Stop in for the items below from 3-6pm and after 9pm EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK … that means Fridays and Saturdays. Eccellente, miei amici.
A bit ago I attended a happy hour with Ballast Point Brewing and Distilling at Bird Cafe. To be honest, I didn’t know much about Ballast Point before going to the happy hour, and I learned that Ballast Point began as a small group of home brewers in San Diego, California. Most of the beers are named after fishing terms. The labels have illustrations of fish to pay homage to the brewery’s origin’s. After they made a name for themselves through their beer, Ballast Point began distilling. The company now has seven spirits they call their own.
I began the night tasting some of Ballast Point’s beer on tap. For those of you who like hoppy beers, go for the Grunion Pale Ale (5.5%). It has a nutty flavor as well as a summer fruit aroma. This beer won the 2015 Best of Craft Beer silver award. Next, I went for the Scotch ale. Piper Down (5.8%) is now in the running as one of my favorite craft beers … it’s not super heavy and it has a smooth taste. I tasted a chocolate, sweet after taste with this brew. This beer won the 2015 Best of Craft Beer gold award. The name came from Scottish bag pipers that drank too much … the piper became top heavy and people would yell, “piper down” when they began to fall. (I have to admit, I went back two days later for more.) My last tasting was the Victory at Sea Coffee/Vanilla Porter (10%). As expected, it was a dark, smooth brew. I am not a coffee drinker, but that didn’t not stop me drinking this beer. It had more of a vanilla taste than coffee.
Moving on to the spirits, I was curious about the first cocktail on the list–the San Diego Street Car (Devil’s Share Moonshine, Ancho Chili liqueur, corn water, lime, Burlesque bitters, egg white). I was puzzled by this concoction, so I had to ask the bartender how he came up with this interesting drink. He said it was his version of elotes in cocktail form. He wanted to bring out the corn flavor of the moonshine rather than mask it. After understanding the background of the drink, it made me enjoy it all the more.
I would urge you to go to your local liquor store and try out some of Ballast Point’s spirits. Here’s your shopping list:
–3 Sheet’s Rum: made from pure cane sugar rather than molasses (80 proof)
–Fugu Vodka: Filtered 15 times (80 proof)
–Devil’s Share Moonshine (whiskey): hints of tropical fruit (98.6 proof)
–Devil’s Share Burbon: American oak barrels, hints of caramel and vanilla cream (92 proof)
–Old Grove Gin: made from juniper berries, rose, and coriander (88 proof)
For those of you who know Fort Worth, you know that there is a solid strip of amazing food and bars on Magnolia Avenue. I want to convince you to head out of your comfort zone and head past Hemphill to Proper. You will find easier parking and an amazing hole-in-the-wall bar. Proper put a smile on my face just by walking in the front door thanks to the comfortable, clean environment and seriously extensive drink menu. Not only do they have a lot of craft beers on tap, but they make some mean cocktails.
All cocktails are expertly measured to make sure you get consistent drinks each time you order it. The menu has ten signature cocktails along with thirteen classic cocktails.
My visit happened to be on Valentine’s day, so they had a few Valentine’s inspired drinks as well as beer flights. There was also another list of speciality drinks next to the bar, this week happened to be three drinks all including moonshine. I tried the Tennessee Farmer (sweet tea, moonshine, lime, honey, blackberries, bitters, and bubbles). This drink had a great taste and I would definitely order it again. I would bet that if you tried to stump this bartender … he’d welcome the challenge and rise to it.
If you are looking for a new place with a good vibe and great patio, Proper is your place.