What goes better with sunshine than a delicious rosé cocktail and a spectacular view of horses galloping in a field? I’m a little hard pressed to come up with anything else. Spending time with horses is such a wonderful thing to do, be that just sitting with them or even riding them. I have friends in Virginia who say that riding is one of the best things to do in Chincoteague. I don’t know what it is about horses, they have such a calming effect on me, I’m totally transfixed when I’m around them. That’s why I visited Black Star Sport Horses in Rockwall, Texas with a bottle of rosé in-hand!
Black Star Sport Horses is a full service training, show, and sales facility featuring an International Federation of Equestrians trainer. They offer riding lessons for all ages and skill levels, so no worries if you don’t know the tail end from the nose, they’ll help you figure it out!
The rosé I brought along is the Inspiration Rosé from Château de Berne, a 1,235 acre vineyard in Provence, France originally built by the Romans. On the CDB property is an 18th century 5-star château-style hotel, a Michelin Star restaurant, and an award-winning spa and visitor center. Oh, and they make some really fantastic wine. I’ll take a one-way ticket, please!
Château de Berne Inspiration Rosé is one of three bottles from the Provencal range of classics, only recently brought to the US. This dry rosé, with fresh strawberry, cherry, cranberry, and pomegranate notes has been awarded the 2018 Bronze by Texsom International Wine Awards and the 2018 Silver by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of American Competition. At 12.5% alcohol, it pairs well with light cheeses and a side of fruit.
The day we made it out to Black Star, it was pretty warm, so we decided to batch out a rosé cooler to cool us off a bit more. Picnics can also get messy, so it’s best to batch any cocktails out before heading out.
SUMMER PEACH ROSÉ COOLER 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups frozen peaches
4 cups rosé (I chose Chateau de Berne’s Inspiration Rosé)
1 liter club soda
Rosemary for garnish
With summer just around the corner, many people in the Dallas area will be thinking about enjoying some leisure time such as taking a vacation or entertaining at home. If you enjoy having friends and family over to your home, one great idea is to host a daytime garden party where you can all enjoy the great weather as well as a range of food and drink.
Hosting a party such as this at the weekend is a great idea, as it means that many people will be off work so you have more flexibility with regards to the time you have your party. You also need to make sure you plan your food and drinks menu properly so that you cater for all needs. Other than that, there isn’t a lot you’ll need to do, except making sure you have somewhere for people to sit like on teak garden furniture, as the great thing about garden parties is that you have ready made decorations in the form of the nature all around you.
Some tips that can help with your garden party planning: There are various tips that can help when it comes to planning a garden party for the summer. When it comes to drinks, creating delicious chilled cocktails is perfect for this sort of event. The first thing you need to bear in mind is that not everyone will be drinking alcohol. Some people may be driving and others may prefer to stick to soft drinks. So, although you can create sumptuous alcoholic cocktails for those that are able to drink, make sure you also have the ingredients to make some virgin cocktails (or “mocktails”) for those that are not drinking. If you have people who want to stick to water, or just have water there for anyone and everyone! Get your garden party Custom Water bottles, it could have the names of all your guests on, or the name of your garden party! The possibilities are endless and it will certainly stay in the memories of all who attend.
The next thing you need to consider is the food that you will be serving up. As it is summer and the party will be held outdoors, it is best to stick to buffet food that can be enjoyed cold rather than go for hot food. Of course, companies like Garden Site don’t exist for no reason, so if you are considering buying a BBQ for your summer parties, this may be something worth considering. Plus who doesn’t love grilled food? If you opt for bugger food, go for simple options that are likely to appeal to most people and are simple to make and serve up. Also, don’t forget about people that may have special dietary requirements such as vegetarians or those with certain food allergies.
Entertainment for your guests is also an important consideration when it comes to your summer garden party. You can’t go wrong by having some music by way of entertainment and these days you can just go on music streaming sites to download the perfect summer tracks for your garden party. You can then use a Bluetooth player to play the tune directly from your smartphone, which makes finding the right entertainment a breeze.
If you want to push the boat out or the garden party is for a special occasion, you may even want to consider hiring a marquee where guests can go to get some shade. In addition, you can put tables up in the marquee to set up your food, which will keep it free from insects and pests. There are other steps you can take to avoid pests too. For more information about tackling common pests such as spiders, ticks, killer bees, and ants, go to https://www.pestcontrolexperts.com/. Above all, using tables and food covers is an excellent way to prevent pests from ruining your garden party.
It’s September, which means it’s time for Oktoberfests across the world celebrating all-things German—most often seen: beer and brats. (Have you ever understood why they aren’t actually in October?)
Here in North Texas, We’re lucky enough to have two world-class festivals—in Addison and McKinney. McKinney’s FREE* Oktoberfest, which happens to be their 10th this year, will be held September 22-24, and this family-friendly three-day event will offer everything from strudel and steins to entertainment like live music, children’s events/activities, and more.
Did we mention beer? Because there will be plenty of it. “McKinney’s Oktoberfest features authentic German bier such as Hofbrau Original and McKinney’s own beers from Franconia and TUPPS breweries. Oktoberfest offers an excellent opportunity to try multiple German flavors and styles all at one event with a bier garden that covers 14 blocks.” If you want to learn more about German beer, they’re offering Meet the Brewmaster sessions (reserve a spot online). They’ll also be tapping a rare 200-year old keg. ? Now, that’s not messing around with the devil’s brew.
However, if you DO want to mess around with beer instead of drink it (at least for a short time), you can enter the Hofbrau Stein Holding Competition. The winner will get a paid trip to compete in Vegas. No kidding. If you’d rather move with it, they’re also having stein holding and beer barrel races along with giant beer pong. (Times when a beer gut doesn’t come in handy.) Hopefully, the barrels are made from some strong metal so that the precious beer doesn’t start spilling out during the race! You can find these sturdy metals somewhere like https://www.aluminiumwarehouse.co.uk/.
If holding a beer isn’t entertaining enough for you, they’ll also have live music on two stages, brat eating contests, weenie dog races, and children’s entertainment. (And you can’t forget the chicken dance.)
Friday, Sept. 22, 4 to 11 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 24, noon to 5 p.m.
*Some activities and food/drink require a nominal fee.
Admission and parking is free. Access a map of the free parking lots. A designated zone for drop-offs and pick-ups is located on the west side of Mitchell Park on Benge Street, between West Louisiana and West Virginia streets. Complimentary shuttle service is offered Friday and Saturday of the event. Festival goers can park off-site at First McKinney Baptist Church, and enjoy round trip transportation. Shuttles depart every 15 minutes.
Vino Palooza is a traveling wine and music festival that recently made a stop in both Fort Worth and Dallas this year. The Dallas event was held at Happiest Hour and featured wines from more than 20 different wineries as well as some beers and ciders.
J-Si Chavez from The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show hosted and several “Top 40” artists performed including Ryan Cabrera, Nash Overstreet of Hot Chelle Rae, and Ryan Key of Yellowcard, all in the name of helping local non-profit organizations. Snacks were provided, but the full Happiest Hour menu was available for those looking for substance.
The day couldn’t have been more pleasant at 75-ish degrees and sunny–everyone clearly enjoyed the wine, the music, and the atmosphere. This event is a must if you can grab a hold of tickets before they sell out!
Dallas is a great city. With more restaurants per capita than any other city in the US, it’d be impossible for me to put together a full list of my favorite spots to eat and drink (because I eat and drink a LOT), but I’ve pulled together SOME of my favorite restaurants and a couple other spots I enjoy for visitors to our fair city. I’ll add to it in the future … but it’s a good place to start!
EAT & DRINK
An Irish pub fashioned after a pub in Dublin, Trinity Hall offers a wide selection of whiskeys, food for any special diet needs, live music, and too many events to begin to list. Go for a refreshing Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer Moscow Mule on a warm evening on their patio … it doesn’t get too much better than that. (If you want to try Crabbie’s for yourself, check it out at a tasting or event next week during Crabbie’s Week! They’re doing fun activations all over Dallas.) 5321 E Mockingbird Ln #250 (Mockingbird Station), trinityhall.tv
E BAR TEX MEX If you were a fan of Primo’s back in the day (like eight years ago), then this is your spot; the owners and chefs from Primo’s moved here when the new owners took over. It’s by far my favorite Tex-Mex in Dallas–though I’m not sure if it’s the food or the nostalgia. 1901 North Haskell Ave Suite #120, ebartexmex.com
This craft cocktail spot is one of my favorite places in all of Dallas. The bartenders know what they’re doing, so trust them and don’t be a dick. Visit on a week night to get the full effect or during happy hour (which is surely one of the best values in Dallas) or while it’s raining. (They offer their hh prices anytime it rains!) 2418 Allen St (Uptown), parliamentdallas.com
POKEY O’S COOKIES AND ICE CREAM Guys … you’ve got delicious cookies and Blue Bell Ice Cream and they make them into a sandwich. It doesn’t get much better than that. 3034 Mockingbird Lane, pokeyos.com (Full disclosure … my parents own this place. But try it out and tell me it’s not delicious enough to be on this list.)
SOCIETY BY JACKSON VAUGHN
This little candle and knick-knack shop is impossible to leave empty-handed. They have clever Dallas-centric cards 403 N Bishop Ave (Bishop Arts District), shopatsociety.com
This minimalist home goods and furniture store may be a chain, but they always have the coolest haute barware and even some unique goodies like bitters and syrups to try out. Don’t miss their section featuring goods from local makers or the wine candles. 5307 E Mockingbird Ln #100 (Mockingbird Station), westelm.com
Ladies can get a little hippy dippy here with a fun selection of clothing, jewelry, and accessories and fun home items. 2928 N Henderson Ave(Henderson Ave), the-gypsy-wagon.com
The goods and duds from this local shop are fresh and delightfully subversive. Because, really, “Dallas: it’s what everyone in Dallas is talking about.” 1909 Greenville Ave (Lowest Greenville), bullzerk.com
With all the drinking I do in dark bars, sometimes I need to spend time in the sunlight.
CEDAR RIDGE PRESERVE
This is about as good as “hiking” in Dallas gets without making a day of it. Enjoy plenty of trails and some decent views, just make sure to take plenty of water. 7171 Mountain Creek Pkwy (Cedar Hill), audubondallas.org/cedar-ridge-preserve
KLYDE WARREN PARK
The park perched on top of a highway offers daily, free activities, and plenty of green space. Check out the food trucks that are different every day and Savor for a cocktail. 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Suite 403 (Downtown), klydewarrenpark.org
I love outdoor activities, and outdoor events that you can take your own goodies to are even better. That’s why the concerts at the Arboretum are a can’t-miss for me. Take a picnic (complete with booze) and enjoy the themed music, or simply visit to enjoy the grounds. 8525 Garland Road (Lakewood), dallasarboretum.org
***I am a paid endorser for Halewood International Limited and received compensation, including free product, for support of Halewood International Limited and its products.***
For years I had to listen to my fancy friend in New York talk about his experiences at a too-French-to-be-true tradition, Dîner en Blanc. As the story goes, everyone who is accepted to attend stands at the ready, traveling picnic in-hand, clad in white until the mystery location is revealed. Then, everyone descends on the venue and a party breaks out. I.was.jealous. Why didn’t Dallas have their own annual trés chic picnic? N’est pas juste.
The tradition began in France in 1988 when François Pasquier came back from a long trip and invited his friends to meet at a park and have a picnic. He decided to have the event annually and invite people to bring friends. It got so big that the cops began to shut them down before they began, so his solution was a last-minute venue revelation; the attendees would know each other thanks to their uniform–all white. His family and friends expanded the event to other cities over the years, and now more than 10,000 people attend picnics throughout the world every year.
2015 was Dallas’s first Dîner en Blanc, and it was quite a party. Everything is bigger in Texas, so the first year boasted almost 1,200 participants (a large inaugural dinner for a city), on the Ronald Kirk Bridge (formerly the Continental Avenue Bridge). We ate, we drank, we danced, we drank more, and we watched fireworks. Il était parfait.
Guests are required to wear all white and encouraged to get creative with their dress. The post-Labor Day white clothing ban be damned! Last year I donned a Marie Antoinette wig that landed me in the Huffington Post. (My outfit from last year will be tough to top this year. Pun completely intended.) The white-washed palate makes the idea of red wine somewhat terrifying, though.
[KGVID]https://secureservercdn.net/220.127.116.11/0f1.cac.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/IMG_1885.mov[/KGVID] Video by Rico Deleon
This year, the date has been revealed (Friday, September 30) and the “interest list” has been opened. Run, don’t walk, to vie for a spot. This exclusive event will have only 2,200 spaces and they’re released in phases–they begin with friends of the hosts/hostesses, then friends of those friends, and then the public applications are reviewed.
Tickets to attend are $37 and include transportation to and from the location and a designated space at the event. Only members can attend, and membership is $8 per year and members are given the chance to attend consequential years. You are expected to bring your table, chairs, table decor, food, and drink … and take it with you when you leave. Tables and chairs can be rented on-site and food and drink can be pre-ordered and picked up at the start of the event.
Rendez-vous au dîner!
Dîner en Blanc – Dallas
Friday, September 30, 2016 – 6:30pm
***Header image courtesy of Dîner en Blanc Dallas.
I sit on my couch covered in aloe vera on my sunburnt bits and hydrocortisone cream on my mosquito bitten bits, the faint whir of my dryer working on the second of three loads of bonfire-scented laundry waiting for Uber Eats to arrive with a juicy bacon cheeseburger reflecting on the incredible weekend I just experienced with Camp Our Way. The idea of returning to summer camp as an adult made me equally excited and trepidatious–outdoor activities, s’mores, new friends, bonfires, and other fun, but with booze and a touch of freedom, it got me so excited I’m thinking of looking into other camps such as this Summer Camp in Maine or others to get the most out of my summer! Yes, it’d be a blast … but would 15 years of aging since my last camp experience prove to be a damper on the camp highs that I previously experienced? I was a great camper back in the day–I had the towels with my name embroidered, wrote the ‘rents postcards, played the part of “Susie Camper”, and always seemed to find a camp romance. Well … it turns out that not much has changed.
Camp Our Way held its first public adult summer camp this past weekend just outside of Austin. Tiffany, one of my contributors, and I headed down south (in a tricked out, lifted Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro … a beauty of a tank if I’ve ever seen one), taking our time and making an experiencing of the 35 road trip–Czech Stop, Pokey O’s Waco, Coffee Bean, the whole nine.
Campers are invited to drive on their own (and surrender their keys upon arrival) or hop on the camp bus from their originating city. Since we were traveling from Dallas and not San Antonio or Austin, we got to camp a bit late; and let’s just say that the party bus must have been an actual party. We arrived and were already behind, but we did our best to catch up.
COW is working finding just the right camp to host–enough freedom to let the adults do their thing, but enough structure to make the camp experience fully immersive. You could say that they’re doing a damn good impression of Goldilocks right now.
The venue for this past session was Camp Young Judea, a Jewish (children’s) camp complete with a kosher cafeteria and brightly colored Semitic murals adorning the cabins and set on a quiet river. (Oh, and the cafeteria is kosher so we had to observe certain rules; only kosher items were allowed in the cafeteria, so we quickly learned that Lone Star Beer is kosher. Boom. And hence the bacon cheeseburger upon my return to Dallas.) We found the lodging itself to be perfect–the cabins were clean, bug-free, and allowed for enough privacy for everyone to be comfortable. If only I could afford to buy something like this as a holiday home myself, so I could re-live the camp experience whenever I wanted, but for now I’ll have to settle for a caravan which I’m just as excited to purchase. I was worried about the cost at first but then I heard about Auto Finance Online and how they can help you break it down into more manageable chunks. So now I have so many of these trips to look forward to. We unpacked, made our beds, and then headed to the party. The awkward “hey, where are you from, why are you here?” conversation started slowly and was egged on with drinks poured by the badass head counselor, Justin.
Each day campers were invited to take advantage of various activities–a high ropes course, zip lines, a giant swing, archery, etc. The beauty of this concept, though, is the freedom to do them only if you want to. Don’t want to break a sweat playing dodgeball? Sweat it out at the pool while working on your tan. Too lazy to do yoga? Do corpse pose in a hammock for a couple hours. Just don’t feel like being an adult? Head to the river and slide down the giant water chute. Just want to hang out? Stop by the treehouse with a beer or three. (Each camp will offer different activities, and the Dallas camp promises a lake, complete with a blob!)
So yeah … activities are fun, but doing them with a beer in-hand kind of makes them more fun. The entire weekend we had access to adult beverages. One of the “activities” was the chance to do a wine tasting with Flat Creek Estate, learn how to make Justin’s killer margaritas, and enjoy some hand-dipped root beer floats with Not Your Father’s (boozy) Root Beer.
Like I said … I’m knackered from all the fun (my memory foam bed was truly worth every penny I paid for it when I starfished on it last night), but it was a pretty fantastic weekend and I’m already missing the fun, people, and activities … and having a bit of trouble adulting.
That said … COW will be hosting other camps throughout the summer, including one for Dallas residents on Lake Trinity. I’ll be there–either as a counselor (if they’ll have me) or a camper–so come party with me at camp!
Last week I had the chance to host a date night with McKinney Moms Blog at Topgolf Allen! Guests were invited to enjoy live music, drinks, TG’s surprisingly delicious food, and some serious competition at the tee box. We started with tastes of their sangria, nachos, Mushi*, and Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls. (If you’re in charge of ordering, don’t miss Topgolf’s signature item, Mushi, which is cilantro sticky rice, beans, spiced chicken, and cheddar cheese rolled in a jalapeño tortilla.)
As mentioned, we were treated to some of Topgolf’s surprisingly good menu items. (I have to say that their prime rib was an unexpected delight.) They sweetened-up our game place by bringing by an order of Injectable Donut Holes (cinnamon-sugar dusted donut holes served with chocolate, raspberry jelly or Bavarian cream).
As mention … it was a couple’s night. Since I’m single, I thought I’d play cupid a little and invite some single friends to see if some magic could happen. (Oh … and Susie’s solution to awkward first dates? Golf bags. These babies will cut all discomfort with a knife … just make sure that you have your Uber app ready.)