Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Texas Tipples: Chisholm Trail Lone Wolf Lenoir

Winemakers have to deal with a variety of natural troubles, such as lack of rainfall, unseasonable wet or cold, and crop pests and maladies. Two of the deadliest of these are phylloxera and Pierce's disease, and developing vines that are resistant is one of the top priorities of winemaking programs such as the University of California at Davis. But, here in Texas, one natural grape variety has built up resistence to both phylloxera and Pierce's: The very dark black Spanish grape also known as Lenoir (literally, French for "The Black"). Reports of Lenoir date back to the mid-1800's where it was discovered in Texas, then introduced to France. My wining partner and I sampled Chisholm Trail's Lone Wolf Lenoir during a tasting at their facility outside Fredericksburg, Texas.

In the tasting glass, Lone Wolf Lenoir is midnight violet in color, almost black. The nose sports rich plum and boysenberry. Very chewy on the palate, with blackberry and baking spices, and a raspberry, currant, and vanilla finish. Pairing Lone Wolf Lenoir with trail meats such as steaks, barbecue and game would be natural, as this tipple could stand up to any beef or red meat dish.
Hopefully, more Texas vineyards besides Chisholm Trail and Dry Comal Creek will see the light and begin growing this dark varietal. You see, while Lone Wolf Lenoir might be disease-resistent, true red wine lovers will be unable to resist its shadowy charms.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eat This: Steak en Salsa Verde at Chitos Mexican Restaurant

Quite often, a good way of finding a great dish at an eating establishment is to ask for your waiter's recommendation. Usually, he or she is eager to help, and will point out one or more of their particular favorites. However, if they reply, "Everything is good here," this can be a signal to be on your guard, because that can mean that nothing stands out and everything is mediocre. Happily, such is not the case at award-winning Chitos Mexican Restaurant, the friendly little taqueria tucked in behind a Chevron Station on Legacy Drive. Recently, I posed this very question to proprietor Gabriel Correro, and he smiled and offered, "It depends on how spicy you like it." If you like it kind of mild, I suggest the Asado de Puerco Rojo, however, it you like it really spicy, then I suggest the Steak en Salsa Verde." Indeed, I had loved the Asado on previous occasions when he recommended it, so I was emboldended to try steak. In due course, he brought out a pretty platter of steak sliced carne asada style, surrounded by a sea of zesty green tomatillo sauce and sided by good rice and beans and homemade corn tortillas. Paired with a tall, cooling Horchata de Agua Fresca, this dish is solid enough to make you want to come back again next time you need a fillup. However, you need not fill up on the same dish every time. Just ask Gabriel what's good, and he's certain to blow his horn for something wonderful.


301 Legacy Drive, Suite B

Plano, TX

972 527-2704


Monday, July 4, 2011

Eat This: West Texas Enchiladas at Tupinamba

Note: I first wrote about this old-time Tex-Mex classic a few years back. Not long ago, I decided to try them again. Here's what I found...

If you're from the Lone Star State, you've probably eaten enchiladas all your life, without realizing that the word in Spanish is actually an adjective rather than a noun. According to Tex-Mex guru Robb Walsh, enchiladas were originally called "tortillas enchiladas," or "chillied tortillas" in English, a term which refers to the traditional method of preparation where tortillas were dipped in chile sauce and lightly fried. These days, most enchiladas you encounter in Dallas will be rolled, but some restaurants also feature stacked enchiladas, alternating layers of fillings that are common in parts of West Texas and New Mexico. Longtime Tex-Mex stalwart Tupinamba combines thick, pancake-style tortillas with beef, cheese, chili gravy, and onions topped with a fried egg. Classic comfort food, which I will gladly stack up against any other Tex-Mex dish in town. Not Mexico City style, these enchiladas come from deep in the heart of West Texas.

In other words, as good as ever.


12770 Inwood Rd

Dallas, TX 75244



Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eat This: Rover Nuts at Irish Rover Pub

How appropriate that our beloved colleague Alice Laussade was nominated for a James Beard award for her story on State Fair fried foods. We Texans love to fry things, especially potatoes. And since it's quite difficult to get good French fries in our fair city, why not try frying mashed potatoes instead? Why not indeed. Irish Rover Pub, part of the burgeoning Celtic migration to our Northern suburbs, has concocted a beer-friendly appetizer of mashed potatoes, cheese, onions, bacon bits, and jalapenos rolled in bread crumbs and fried to a tasty golden brown. These munchworthy morsels pair wonderfully with a hearty brew such as the M & M (Murphy's Red blended with Murphy's Stout), served in a true ale-lovers 20-ounce size. (At Rover, the pint is the smaller of the two draft sizes served, a most welcome trend.) Giving new meaning to the term "beer nuts," these delectibles are best enjoyed with an evening of trivia, conversation, or a great band such as the Rumble Kings. Trust me, you'll go nuts for them.


8250 Gaylord Parkway

Frisco, Texas

214 618-6222

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eat This: Cedars Signature Griller at Cedars Woodfire Grill

Grilling brings out something primal in our Texan nature, best exemplified by the playful title of Bobby Flays book, Boy Meets Grill. (Yes, I know The Redheaded One is from The Big Apple, however he earned Honorary Texan status by marrying a Lone Star gal. From Big D, no less.) Speaking of which, it seems that Woodfire Grill establishments of one sort or another are springing up like ground hogs after a rainstorm hereabouts. But while Kennys and Zea Woodfire Grills are full-fledged restaurants, it would be nice if there were a fast casual place that did the same sort of thing, i.e. healthy grilling over a wood fire. Well, Cedars Woodfire Grill has just opened at the burgeoning intersection of Midway and Park and features woodfire grilling, but in a fast casual setting. Cedars offers bowls and salads featuring grilled meats, but also sandwiches such as the Signature Griller. Merely choose your protein from chicken, salad, steak, or baby Portobello and Cedars will grill it on rustica bread and add tomato, lettuce, grilled red onion, applewood smoked bacon, Cheddar cheese, and their own tangy, slightly sweet BBQ sauce. The steak is super tender and juicy because its grilled medium unless you request otherwise. Sided with good pita chips, Cedars Signature Griller is good enough to make even Bobby Flay forsake his gal for his grill, if only to make one for her as well. Such a gentleman!


6509 W. Park Blvd.

Plano, TX

972 378-1222

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eat This: The Italian Sandwich at Lone Star Coffee Bar

Today’s coffee bars serve more than java and jive. Now, breakfast, lunch, and even beer and wine service are offered in the hopes that customers will linger on into the afternoon and evening. One such place is Lone Star Coffee Bar, which in addition to serving genuine French Press coffee, adds breakfast tacos, baked goods, and sandwiches to the menu. Featured wiches include Club Panini, Turkey & Swiss, and the Italian, a mélange of meats and cheeses that would make Mussolini or Marlon Brando proud. All in a slender, storefront setting which includes plenty of comfy couches, chairs, and even a fireplace should you wish to linger. Currently, Lone Star is BYOB, yet they soon plan to offer Texas beers and wines so that you can get there for breakfast, spend the day surfing with free WIFI, and have enough libations to make sure you jump, jive, and wail your way well into the evening.


6800 Windhaven Pkwy, #105

The Colony, TX

972 306-4555

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eat This: Orecchietta Pasta at Fino's Italian Bistro

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” So begins the famous Marc Antony speech memorized by many a high school speech, drama, or English student back in the day, and immortalized by Marlon Brando in the infamous 1953 movie Julius Caesar. In modern Italian cooking terms, orecchietta is a home-made pasta from the Apulia region which is shaped to resemble a small ear. At Fino’s Italian Bistro, one of chef Alfredo’s favorite dishes to prepare is Orecchietta with spicy Italian sausage, broccoli, zucchini, and parmesan cheese in tomato sauce. If you cock your ear close to the plate, you just might catch a few strands of Shakespeare’s immortal verse. In any case, grab every friend and countryman and all the Romans you can find and head to this neighborhood gem for a pasta feast.