Tag Archive : Life

So, this is awkward.

Okay, I know! It’s been forever! And, I won’t make any excuses because I cooked plenty of times; I ate plenty of times, took plenty of pics, and I neglected to tell you any of it since September 2015. So, here’s a quick catch up… since last we spoke:

Chicken Pesto Bake

I made a killer Pesto Chicken Bake in my handy-dandy toaster oven, using the last four sticks of mozzarella left in the fridge, a few remaining Roma Tomatoes, three skinless chicken breasts I reluctantly purchased in an effort to “be better,” and tons of garlic and basil that were in their last days of glory. I felt like I was on “Chopped” but instead of a basket, it was a molcajete full of garlic cloves next to items on my counter.

Emporium Pies in McKinney

I discovered Emporium Pies in McKinney, TX, and if I remember correctly, this one was a banana cream/caramel concoction – I really can’t remember for sure. It’s all a blur. I just remember taking this picture and waking from a sugar/happiness pie-eating induced coma on the couch – smiling and with a little bit of pie crust stuck to some whipped cream on my cheek.

Pan Braised Chicken Thigh with Herbed Potatoes

I hung out with my Grandma Ollie and made her some rustic braised chicken thighs with pan-roasted herbed potatoes. Easiest, no-frills deliciousness ever! She loved it. Basic but bomb-tastic and totally what I would also serve to Jon Snow if he ever came over to visit – and if wanted to bring over Melisandre as a thank you for the whole “bring me back from the dead” thing, that would be cool, too. Bear would love to chat her up, and maybe she could even whip up some magical dessert???

Charred Potato

At some point I went on a rustic/fire-roasted kick. We went camping in the mountains, and I pulled a Chef Mallmann move. I threw

Fire Roasted Meal in the Woodspotatoes into the burning embers of our campfire, and it was amazing. We ate “fire food” for days in the woods… right outside of our air-conditioned cabin that included cable TV. It was awesome.

Menudo and Horchata at Tipicos

Upon returning from the wilderness, I needed a taste of home, and so I indulged (using the term loosely here – I eat it all the time) in one of my favorite weekend comfort foods, menudo. Tipico’s in Dallas or off Beltline in Carrollton, TX has the BEST! And, what makes menudo taste even better??? Horchataaaaaaa! Just say it with me… “Horchataaaaaa!” Doesn’t it make you happy just saying it??? Horchataaaaaaa!

Pomegranite

I pretended I was mining for rubies and that I hit the motherload. So, I took a picture and then decided to eat the pomegranate because who was I kidding? I was hungry. There were no rubies. This pomegranate was the object of my desire, and I delighted it in, okay??? It was delicious.

Almond Milk Pancakes

I decided I should really start paying attention to my food allergies and that I should try not to drink milk straight-up anymore. So, I began a love/hate relationship with almond milk. I searched for “how not to hate using almond milk for pancakes,” and this recipe popped up. It was UH-mazing! I love these pancakes and have added all sorts of twists and turns to these bad boys. I make banana nut, blueberry, lemony, and bacon-filled pancakes using that recipe as a base, and it’s fantastic! Go almond milk! And, yes, I use Silk, but they didn’t pay me for that. Silk! Are you listening??!!!??

Attempted Pan de QuejoI made all sorts of stuff and played various versions of refrigerator “Chopped” like “I’m hangry and want something sweet – what goes with frozen almond slivers and a slightly browning apple?” I have to say, I’m pretty good at this game.

I had some huge wins in the kitchen, and I had some serious failures, like when I decided to try almond milk when making Brazilian Pan de Queijo instead of real milk – yeah, no bueno. Or, “no boa” as it were.

Christmas Cats

 

I got in touch with my inner cat-lady.

Met a Pretty Cool Husky

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made new friends with random animals waiting for their people on cool evenings, a.k.a. prepared to dial the cops if the dude with the dog in the car didn’t return very quickly, even though it was 60 degrees outside. He did, and the dog was definitely very happy and healthy.

Mariachi Pants

 

I wondered about the various types of fabrics that could have possibly been used to hold this mariachi in place while he beautifully belted out such high notes.

And, I visited several new spots in DFW, as well as Phoenix, Chicago, Kansas, Atlanta, Oklahoma, and a few other places during my business travels. And, many of those visits will find their way here!

So, there you have it! We’re all caught up!

Thanks for being patient – thanks for following my adventures via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram , and thanks for checking in.

Consider this my official re-entry into the stratosphere. We’ll chat soon… I promise! Horchataaaaaa!!!!

 

OMGSDFWFOOD - Chef Francis Mallman

The last few days, I’ve been in a fog created by too much thinking and an overload of ideas. While that may sound very productive and possibly exciting to some, my general interpretation of this reoccurring event is like being strapped to a power grid for days with electricity coming out your ears and then having to sift through the lingering smoke to identify any remains of a usable thought. I get on these “I need knowledge” kicks and dive deep into culinary literature, documentaries, kitchen experiments and new restaurant discoveries. Most of the time, I end up with a new trick or two, a week’s worth of dirty dishes to clean and sometimes even something worthy to write. I start to think about everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing and then work backwards from there to illuminate my next steps from where I stand. And, for the first time in a while, yesterday the universe not only illuminated my steps but put a hand out to escort me over.

Just last week, my husband Bear and I decided to get Netflix. I know, VERY late to the party. We do Amazon Prime and never felt the need to add another subscription to our list. Anyway, the day before yesterday, I watched Chef, one of my favorite “feel-good and makes you want to make a grilled cheese sandwich afterwards” movies. P.S., my post-movie sandwich was crunchy, buttery, and amazing.

After the movie ended, Netflix auto-suggested a documentary series called Chef’s Table, the one everyone’s been buzzing about but I hadn’t seen since I didn’t have Netflix. What began as a curiosity quickly transformed into a profoundly intrinsic experience that left me desperate to latch back onto the power grid.

Essentially, for those who have yet to acquire Netflix (no judgement here), it’s a series focusing on chefs and their restaurants making a substantial impact on the culinary world in one way or another. They seek out the top restaurants in the world and bring light to the creation of their being. Season one highlights the journey of six iconic chefs, their gastronomic philosophies, creative insights, purpose, missteps and the reason behind their passion.

For anyone who just enjoys food and likes watching cooking shows, you might find this series fairly interesting. For those of you who live, breathe, work, and dream food, someone like me, this series will change your life. I watched all six episodes back to back. The first episode with Chef Massimo Bottura completely blew my mind and make me feel like a complete creative failure in life, all at the same time (in a good way), and somewhere around 3am, I got to the episode with Chef Francis Mallmann who, again, blew my mind then made me question some of my life decisions (in a good way) and flung me into the conclusion that true freedom is releasing those safe and invisible shackles which only you have the key to, so that you may fly as high as you’ve ever dreamed of flying.

“To grow and improve, you have to be there at the edge of uncertainty.” – Chef Mallmann.

Massimo Bottura TweetAfter getting about two hours of food-filled dreams, I reached out to Chef Massimo Bottura and his wife Lara Gilmore via social media to which he generously and graciously replied with a retweet (in my excitement, I forgot to include the word “the” in my tweet, but he responded so quickly, I didn’t have a chance to delete and resend – yes, I’m justifying an error).

And shortly thereafter, I noticed another tweet in my feed, but this time, from Chef Francis Mallmann, the Argentinian culinary icon who had, just hours before, inspired me to stop holding myself back from any part of my food-inspired dreams.

Francis Mallmann TweetLo and behold, there was the hand of destiny, calling me to come over and experience what I would consider a chance of a lifetime, a moment to a) personally thank Chef Mallmann for sharing his inspirational journey with the world and b) capture that moment plus any words of wisdom from this legendary figure.

 

I was less than an hour away from the Central Market location and was determined to not let this opportunity pass me by for any reason. So, I called the location to inquire further about his arrival. After speaking with the operator, calling again to speak with a floor manager who then said I needed to speak with the culinary school manager, all I ended up with was the ability to leave a message. I called three more times only to find out finally from the operator that Chef Mallmann was actually there for a private event which is why I couldn’t find anything on their website about his arrival.

He had inadvertently posted his visit… or had he?????

At this point, I knew that only I could unshackle myself from the confines of “private event” and risk that uncomfortable and awkward status of “stalker.” How could I allow this moment, this right-in-my-backyard moment, to slip away!?!

Then, the phone rang. It was Michelle, the culinary school manager from Central Market returning my original message.

Could it be that the food gods were moving pieces in my favor???

“So, that’s why I have received so many messages,” she said. “I’m sorry; it is a private event.”

I begged for a window and asked about possibly catching him once the event was over or perhaps when he might have a scheduled break. And, there it was, “He might have a moment between 3pm and 4pm, but that’s no guarantee you’ll get to see him.”

That’s all the encouragement I needed.

It was just before 3pm, and I needed to hurry to beat traffic. Yoga pants, t-shirt and ponytail uniform ready, I called my friend Bianca to join, warning her there might be a slight chance of being removed from the premises. She’s a rule-follower, but in true friend fashion, she reluctantly agreed and got into my vehicle since I was already parked right outside to get her.

For whatever reason I decided to take a different route to Central Market and allow Bianca to navigate the heavily trafficked waters of the tollway – something I never do. I used to work for Central Market many moons ago; I know exactly where I’m going and yet, we found ourselves barely arriving at nearly 5pm.

I’d missed it. I had missed my chance at being in the presence of an authentic culinary guru.

I didn’t care. I got out of the vehicle, quickly made my way in, and wrapped around the hidden stairs at the entrance. Straight up to the culinary school, determined to keep after the goal, I went – all while Bianca aggressively whispering, “We can’t go up there! It’s a private event!”

There he was. Standing at the top of the stairs, with a glass of wine in the middle of a group of people was the chef who had lifted my hesitation and breathed a draft of wind into the embers of my partially fulfilled culinary dreams, like a wooden bellow tending to its fire.

“I’m not coming up there,” whisper-shouted Bianca, as she poked her head around the corner of the stairs. I retreated back down and told her that she HAD to come up! I wasn’t going to let this moment pass, and someone had to take a photo!

Just as I got right back up to the top step, he had broken away from the crowd and was standing no less than two feet away from me and heading towards the hallway. So, I called out to him, “Chef Mallmann!”

With a beautiful grin and what appeared to be a sincere interest, he spoke with me for a few moments and allowed for a photo. I honestly can’t even remember if I told him my name, but what I do remember is that I did thank him for his inspiration, told him that I’d seen his tweet and that I knew I had to come meet him.

 

OMGSDFWFOOD - Chef Francis Mallman

While we should all understand that our strengths and abilities to achieve our dreams stem from our own ability to believe in ourselves, I am exceptionally grateful for the hand that destiny lent yesterday. Everyone needs a little inspirational reminder now and then to usher us along our path of destiny. Perhaps, the power grid session sparked more than I expected. I could not have imagined a better 24 hours of encouragement.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep; so, around midnight, I ventured out to one of my favorite 24/7 places in DFW, Café Brazil. This wasn’t my typical visit. I wasn’t looking so much to delve into the food and report back. This was just a good opportunity to soak up a little material and run with my thoughts.

The late night crowd painted a colorful picture as they entered the scene. I saw everything from young, energetic groups of friends meeting up for coffee to tired, older, much-better-looking-in-dim-lighting club goers. Some appeared to still be searching for the meaning of life but digging through the medicine cabinets and botox-filled syringes to find it – a very interesting collection to observe for a moment in time.

It’s funny. Comparing the two most distinctive groups, it almost seemed backwards. The younger group was a combination of happy, bright men and women who were relaxed and completely stripped down to their authentic self. They were a combination of alluring female beauties with little to zero make-up and seemingly not a care in the world, plus somewhat low-key yet attractive men who appeared completely intoxicated by the genuine behaviors of their female table mates. Both parties were entirely engaged and fearlessly diving into every word. They declared a tangible sort of freedom by laughing openly and heartily at jokes, enthusiastically sharing stories, and dynamically intertwining verbally with one another.

Whereas, the older group emoted a prison vibe, trapped in an evening they just needed to survive.

Each of the mature women repeatedly and somewhat desperately touched up their hair at the table, struggling to sit in a way that drew attention from the run-down, obviously disinterested men. They all sat in uncomfortable silence. The women’s faces were caked over with so much eyeliner and lipstick. Their postures were reminiscent of hungry puppies eagerly seeking a reward. One by one, they marched to the restroom to groom and primp, adding more shades to the color palette, drowning out the vibrant peachy hues of flesh to feature the gray, pasty spackled-on facades they relied on for attention. And, the men waited with emotionless and empty faces. I couldn’t really tell if they were miserable, just tired, or paralyzed from botulinum.

My food arrived – Chicken Crepes.

Cafe Brazil

 

 

 

 

 

I was actually in the mood for grilled cheese but remembered how much I enjoyed their crepes filled with shredded chicken, mushrooms and spinach and that spicy cream sauce. I also convinced myself it was the healthier choice. Per the norm, the plate was generous in portion and in flavor. I wasn’t disappointed and was able to return to my people watching.

In a way, it was refreshing to see the newer generation unshackled from the conventional standards and social pressures oftentimes suffocating young women. But, perhaps that’s my own projection,recalling when my always confident, brutally honest conversations sometimes led to discussions about “toning it down” and not wanting to “chase anyone off.”

And, I guess that’s what I mean about backwards. Stereotypically, the more mature group should have been the carefree ones, knowing their truth from experience and fearlessly wearing it as a badge. While the younger group might still be finding their truth possibly muted by society’s standards at that stage in life. That wasn’t the case here. That characteristically millennial poise and conviction far outweighed the older crowd’s desire for acceptance. Maybe the older group’s desperation was their truth?

Anyway, the younger group demonstrated confidence, not once relying on a flip of their hair or even the lean forward of a shoulder to entice responsiveness from anyone. They each appeared relaxed and uninhibited.

Then in walked another uninhibited trio, freshly pressed at the local bar. Cawing above the ambient sounds of glasses clinking and tables chatting, they were engrossed in deeply philosophical and obnoxiously loud debates regarding manhood, anatomy and body art – oh, and very polite. A vulgarity-studded stance on the true meaning of friendship became so spirited that one of the girls stood up at the table to apologize to the entire establishment on behalf of the group for their animated conversation, flashing the middle finger to her partners seated next to her in order to reprimand them, only to return to the discussion at full volume seconds later.

By this time, it was close to 2am. Then came the late night science fiction crew, the salsa dancing sexpots and the failed date leftovers, each clearly marked by their appearance and behaviors.

The sci-fi crew was formulaic – adorned with black rimmed glasses and Dr. Who attire, excitedly discussing the “Greybeards of Higher Hrothgar.” The salsa sexpots, both men and women, were dressed in perfectly placed, tightly-fitted designs that were screaming from tension, and the group was too busy ogling one another at the table to see their server peeved and waiting to take their orders. The “failed dates” came in two forms: pairs of slouching men reeking of defeat and separate pairs of limping women wondering why they had suffered all night in those shoes for nothing.

Then, there was me. The jeans and t-shirt sporting female sitting at the corner table, alone with her plate and a cup of coffee, occasionally smiling to herself and carefully scanning the room from time to time, attempting to appear inconspicuous but giving herself away by typing feverishly on her laptop.

Needless to say, I had plenty to observe.

There’s really nothing better than sitting at a comfy table, eating a comfy dish, and watching people get comfy with one another. Thanks for the late night inspiration, Café Brazil.

I’m alive! It’s been too long; I know. So, here’s what gives: I have zero excuses, and I simply ate/cooked a great deal, took pictures, took videos, posted to social media and totally ignored you. I’m an honest engine – what can I say? It’s the truth. I’m also good at dusting off, moving forward and trusting you can do the same; so, let’s virtually shake hands, make up and get Mash’d!

Mash'd - DFW - Food - Moonshine - Life

Four words: Fried Chicken and Ribs.

I’ve known about this place for a while and thought it was about time I went in to see what all the hub-bub was about.

Mash’d features American fare with a twist, infusing a library of house-made moonshines into a variety of unique offerings across the menu. Their bar and beverage menu is killer. Every drink we ordered stealthily delivered a mighty wallop with every smooth and graceful tasty sip. They incorporate infused moonshine into just about everything, and it works. Watermelon-infused moonshine, blueberry-infused moonshine, vanilla bean house-infused moonshine – good Lord, these people have caramel moonshine for those special occasions where you need a little more sugar with your alcohol! It’s brilliant!Guacamole - DFW - Food - Mash'd

Their moonshine magic also works its way into their mussels and bbq sauce. Mmmmm, bbq sauce. Their Bootleg Ribs are no less than spectacular. I’ve eaten a lot of ribs. These moonshining masters know what they’re doing with these babies. They’re fall-off, lip-smacking, finger-kissing, hum-while-you’re-chewing spectacular. And, it’s not like bbq-place ribs. Totally different animal. (well, not different animal but you know what I mean) These are more like “slow-roasted, basted in moonshine bbq and finished on the grill individually” sort of amazing. The flavors are sweet and spicy, tangy and salty, smoky and rich but not smokehouse sort of ribs. And, they’re served with a fresh and crisp coleslaw and “MASH’D tators” that need a little MASH’D makeover.

Those potatoes were the ONLY thing on the menu we tasted that were sub-par in comparison to the bar the other dishes had set. The appeal was that they were named as if they were some sort of special treat, and when they reached the table, they were just plain ol’ slightly garlic and cheese enhanced potatoes plopped on by a scoop that someone at Luby’s may have lost. They were just out of place, man. Totally out of place with everything else they had going on. So, if you get any dishes with the spuds, sans the Shepherd’s Pie, sub them out with coleslaw. Believe me, you’ll be happier for it and not feel like you just saw your childhood hero pick up a $20 bill someone else dropped and put it in his own pocket. Those tators were just wrong for the brand this place has clearly workedShepherd's Pie - Mash'd - DFW hard to build. All it would take is a little lemon zest – just sayin’.

But, let’s move on because that little side dish incident shouldn’t deter you from enjoying every other damn thing on the menu. And, let me say that the use of the potatoes on the Shepherd’s Pie is fabulous. They slather spiced meat and veggies on a pastry crust and top it all off with Parmesan-loaded mashed potatoes, a huge punch of flavor in a creamy bite.

Another killer dish was The Chicken. They serve up hot, crispy, juicy marinated fried chicken atop a soft bun with fresh, cold coleslaw and pickles. Chick-Fa-Who? Chick-Fa-What? This sandwich is just what the doctor ordered – she may not be AMA certified, but trust me – she wants you to eat this.

Overall, a killer vibe, outstanding service and badass food that will require some serious naptime after consumption.