and George Burns, NBC Radio Commercial Ad, circa 1940
Dining Out in Big D, Part Two
by Christopher Mariani
New York Corner: Pan America
by John Mariani
Man About Town: Boudin Odyssey
by Christopher Mariani
Notes From The Spirit Locker: Reposado Tequilas
by John Mariani
GOOD NEWS! Esquire.com now has a new food section called "Eat Like a Man," which will be featuring restaurant articles by John Mariani and others from around the USA:
The Bad Girl of Bourbon
DINING OUT IN BIG
D, Part Two
La Duni, on Oak Lawn Avenue,
is one of the
three La Dunis in Dallas and has been a favorite among locals and city
since 2004 when the location opened following the success of the
original on McKinney Avenue. Upon
entering the restaurant, you will be instantly hit with a perfume of
pastries, a thick whiff of fresh ground coffee and strong hints of
cinnamon. I dined for breakfast during a busy day and watched as cars
into the parking lot, engines still running, while customers ran in for
usual pastries and coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and to go orders of
Dunia’s famous migas wraps, filled
with eggs, bacon, three different cheeses, and then topped with a queso fresco. Based on the prompt
delivery of breakfast items from the counter staff, knowing what each
is going to order, it’s safe to assume the servers and cashiers are
repeat customers. For those who
actually have time to sit and enjoy one of chef Dunia Broga's (below) delicious
on the weekend, grab a table, pick from one of the many espresso and
selections, the vaca blanca being my
favorite, and order a few pastries to start while reading over La
and Brazilian inspired menu. The Nutella milk
chocolate cupcakes are among the best, soft,
and highly addictive.
Open daily, breakfast brunch Saturday and Sundays from 9am-3pm, lunch Monday-Friday, and dinner daily. Eggs Buenos dias dishes range $5.95-$9.95, pastries and sweets $4.75-$8.95, and coffees $2.75-$5.95.
Located in Dallas’ Arts District is
Stephan Pyles’ newest creation, Samar, an unfussy
yet coolly sophisticated multi-cultural restaurant with a diverse menu
unique design. Immediately after
opening, the Texas culinary legend (he also owns his upscale
namesake restaurant nearby) received very high praises for
at Samar, and now, one year later, I am happy to report the food is
better than ever, continuing to evolve and mature, with menu items that
from week to week. The menu is
divided into three sections, “Inspirations from Spain,” “Inspirations
Eastern Mediterranean” and “Inspirations from India,” all dishes served
portions meant for sharing. Each
section has approximately 10-12 dishes to choose from, the majority
so order at will and enjoy.
for lunch Monday-Friday, Dinner Mon.-Sat.. Dishes
614 W. Davis Street214-367-9367
Not in the center of Dallas but
definitely worth the drive
is Bolsa, located in the Bishop Arts District of Oak Cliff. Chef Graham Dodds (below)
who is responsible for Bolsa’a affordable Spanish-inspired wine list
created a fun, laid-back restaurant with tasty food and a Bohemian-like
atmosphere. The space was
originally an auto garage in the 1940’s and has since been transformed
restaurant with an open feel, leaving the three massive garage doors in
to offer plenty of sunshine during the day and a chic look at night.
dining room is centered by a lively bar where cocktail enthusiasts can
of the many specialty drinks, my favorite, the “Passion
ginger beer and habanero-infused passion fruit.
cocktail menu changes seasonally and is one of the few menus that
from ordering my staple Manhattan before dinner.
Bruschetta tasting $14, all
salads $8, flatbreads $12-$13,
and market specials $7-$25.
To read Part One of this article, go to click here.
NEW YORK CORNER
The PAN ★ AMERICAN
Mott Street (near Spring St.)
It's small, all right, with a few bar stools and a few tables all done in bright, affable colors. The wall across from the bar has an interesting pattern and texture, like Braille, lighted from below and above, shimmering with bas-relief bubbles. Into this happy little room they pump very loud, highly intrusive music, and when I asked if it could be turned down, our waiter, who was very cordial and efficient, asked half-bewildered, "You don't like Katy Perry?" I answered, through cupped hands, "I can't hear Katy Perry; all I hear are the pounding bass and drum lines." Anyway, it's not a place you're likely to spend a long evening at, even though it's open into the wee hours of the morning.
Our party roamed pretty much all over Pan-Am's menu, as created by veteran restaurateur Fernando Riquelme, formerly of Mesa Grill and Danube. Creamy guacamole is made fresh to order, so you can specify your liking for seasonings. Rabo Encendido are tasty spiced oxtail-stuffed turnovers, and everyone will clamor to order the minted lamb meatballs served with chipotle-laced yogurt. Cheese-rich queso fundido shrimp and peppery chorizo on top of melted pepper Monterey jack cheese with fresh corn tortilla chips lasted about two minutes at our table, with great relish.
Although just a tad overcooked that night, the spicy, marinated fried chicken came as arroz con pollo with saffron rice (left). Pork tenderloin comes in a red wine reduction with a warm apple-fennel slaw on the side. Stuffed poblano chilies came with quinoa and Swiss chard, and a delicious roasted cherry tomato sauce. There's a juicy churrasco steak, too, with a yuca nest and spicy chimichurri sauce that is a steal at $18. Actually all the prices are modest here, and you get a lot of food on the plate.
Don't miss ordering the yuca fries, and there is an array of sandwiches, which are particularly good for the late night munchies. A cocktail list is a big part of the draw here, too. The wine list, with about 30 selections is perfectly apt for such a place as Pan-American, whose aim is to please rather than surprise, though the cooking here has flair and the whole enterprise is exceedingly good-natured.
Desserts seem an afterthought here, but try the tres leches cake.
MAN ABOUT TOWN
by Christopher Mariani
A Boudin Odyssey
in the soulful city of
New Orleans eating at two of the famous Brennan restaurants among many
terrific post-Katrina restaurants and spending some late nights on
Street listening to live jazz while drinking a Hurricane, I wanted to
else Louisiana had to offer, so I headed north, over the Bayou, past
Rouge, to Lafayette. At first sight, I wasn’t too impressed with the
town, comprised of a tiny downtown with a handful of restaurants, some
shops and few gas stations. It wasn’t until I ventured out and stumbled
the village of River Ranch in Lafayette that I became intrigued. The
development in this area is mind blowing, an entire community of
mansions, small yet expensive Creole cottages, townhouses, plantation
replicas, all beautifully designed with French, American Colonial, and
architectural influences. The village is home to 2,500 people and is
expanding its retail and dining options, creating a chic little town
of money, boutique stores and a
much different atmosphere generated by
To contact Christopher Mariani send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES FROM THE SPIRITS LOCKER
Aged Reposados in New Bottles Try to
Tequila Market Back Up
by John Mariani
years, especially among the cheaper brands.
Chinaco—($60)—Chinaco’s self-proclaimed “Legacy of the Warrior Spirit” is based on a bureaucratic story of how “Guillermo González, the great-grandson of General Manuel González . . . battled against the larger distillers and successfully lobbied the Mexican government for an amendment that would allow for tequila production outside of Jalisco.” Whatever. Chinaco is made in the region of Tamaulipas, and has garnered something of a cult status. It is a pale yellow, very fruity, with distinct black peppercorn flavor on the mid-palate and a sweetness on the edge of the tongue.
Pistolas—($60) This is the one in the bottle shaped like a
bandit, which I’ve actually seen offered, unopened, on e-auctions as
d’art (go figure). I didn’t expect much from such gimmickry, but this
is a very
good tequila, with plenty of fruity flavors and an honest bite on the
1800 Reposado ($23)—I’ve always liked 1800’s añejo, and its reposado delivers a good amount of flavor for a very decent price. If you’ve never had a reposado, get this one and compare it with the lighter weight blancos.
4 Copas ($60)—The name supposedly derives from an old Mexican song with the line “we shall drink four cups,” although it’s also the number of cups traditionally drunk at the Jewish Seder. Labeled as “organic,” it is aged in charred American oak, which gives it a smokiness to go with its honey-like smoothness. This is one of the most highly regarded reposados in competitions, and it deserves its medals.
Riazul ($55)—This company’s blanco and anejo came on the market at the end of 2008 and the reposado, aged nine months (left), a year later. It is a very tasty tequilas, fresh with citrus and pineapple notes and good perfume in the nose, making it a fine choice for a margarita straight up. The marketing plan is to position it for a young, hip crowd, thus sponsoring NYC’s recent Fashion Week.John Mariani's wine and spirits column appears in Bloomberg Muse News, from which this story was adapted. Bloomberg News covers Culture from art, books, and theater to wine, travel, and food on a daily basis.
THE FREEDOM TO WORSHIP THE LORD
Believe It or Not! Museum plans to put on display a replica of
Leonardo DaVinci’s “Last
Supper” made entirely from lint by Laura Bell of Roscommon, Michigan,
800 hours to do enough laundry to obtain the lint to make
mural. Ripley's says it will
add it to their collection, which also includes “Last Suppers” made from a grain of rice, a dime and
“The Michelin guide has apparently been publishing in the UK for 100 years (though not consecutively). Well it's certainly behaving like a stereotypical centenarian: gripped by the need for routine, fixed to its bath chair, smelling faintly of ointment and bodily fluids.”--Jay Rayner, on the Great Britain and Ireland 2011 Michelin guide in The Guardian.
✉ Guidelines for submissions: QUICK BYTES publishes only events, special dinners, etc, open to the public, not restaurant openings or personnel changes. When submitting please send the most pertinent info, incl. tel # and site, in one short paragraph as simple e-mail text, WITH DATE LISTED FIRST, as below. Thanks. John Mariani
* From Feb. 16-25, the Tour de France Restaurant Group in NYC will host their 4th annual Winter Stinky Cheese Festival. This 10-day long, nine-restaurant festival will showcase inventive dishes inspired by stinky cheeses, incl restaurants Nice Matin, Marseille, Café D’Alsace, French Roast (Uptown & Downtown), Le Monde, L’Express, Maison and Pigalle. Visit www.tourdefrancenyc.com.
* In February, March & April, in Phoenix, AZ, the Arizona Biltmore will
host a series of “Inside the Chef’s Studio” cooking classes conducted
by noted cookbook authors and leading food magazine editors.
Complementing the Saturday and Sunday classes will be gourmet dinners
on Saturday night hosted and the menu created by the author or editor.
Classes $50 pp including the author’s cookbook; dinners $75 pp. Call
800-950-0086 or visit arizonabiltmore.com.
On Feb. 28 in
Santa Monica, CA, Wilshire Restaurant and Chef Andrew Kirschner host an
winemakers from esteemed Paso Robles wineries, JUSTIN Vineyards &
Thacher Winery, Alta Colina Vineyard & Winery and Treana & Hope
Wines. The five course menu with paired wines is $85 pp. Call
reserve. . . . On Mar.
Kirschner hosts an evening with
winemaker Jean Hoefliger of Alpha Omega Wines. The five course menu
wines is priced at $100 pp. Call 310-586-1707 to reserve; wilshirerestaurant.com
* On March 8, in Atlanta, RA Sushi will celebrate Mardi Gras with a Mardi RA Masquerade Ball featuring a costume contest for guests, a live drag show performance by The Armorettes, food and drink specials and a DJ. The first place costume contest winner will receive a $100 gift certificate for RA Sushi, and the second place winner will receive a $25 RA Sushi gift certificate. Call 404-267-0114; RAsushi.com.
March 17, Herons at The
Umstead Hotel and Spa
in Cary, N.C., hosts its inaugural event in a series of five wine
events with Pasta + Wine from 6 to 8 p.m. Executive chef Scott
de cuisine Steven Greene and sommelier Justin Tilley’s menu features
unique pastas dishes paired with complementing wines. $45
pp. Call 919-447-4000; theumstead.com.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~FEATURED LINKS: I am happy to report that the Virtual Gourmet is linking up with four excellent travel sites:
Everett Potter's Travel Report:
I consider this the best and savviest blog of its kind on the web. Potter is a columnist for USA Weekend, Diversion, Laptop and Luxury Spa Finder, a contributing editor for Ski and a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler, ForbesTraveler.com and Elle Decor. "I’ve designed this site is for people who take their travel seriously," says Potter. "For travelers who want to learn about special places but don’t necessarily want to pay through the nose for the privilege of staying there. Because at the end of the day, it’s not so much about five-star places as five-star experiences." THIS WEEK: When Illness or Injury Strike, How Do You Get Home?
Eating Las Vegas is the new on-line site for Virtual Gourmet contributor John A. Curtas., who since 1995 has been commenting on the Las Vegas food scene and reviewing restaurants for Nevada Public Radio. He is also the restaurant critic for KLAS TV, Channel 8 in Las Vegas, and his past reviews can be accessed at KNPR.org. Click on the logo below to go directly to his site.
Tennis Resorts Online: A Critical Guide to the World's Best Tennis Resorts and Tennis Camps, published by ROGER COX, who has spent more than two decades writing about tennis travel, including a 17-year stretch for Tennis magazine. He has also written for Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, New York Magazine, Travel & Leisure, Esquire, Money, USTA Magazine, Men's Journal, and The Robb Report. He has authored two books-The World's Best Tennis Vacations (Stephen Greene Press/Viking Penguin, 1990) and The Best Places to Stay in the Rockies (Houghton Mifflin, 1992 & 1994), and the Melbourne (Australia) chapter to the Wall Street Journal Business Guide to Cities of the Pacific Rim (Fodor's Travel Guides, 1991).
The Family Travel Forum - A community for those who "Have Kids, Still Travel" and want to make family vacations more fun, less work and better value. FTF's travel and parenting features, including reviews of tropical and ski resorts, reunion destinations, attractions, holiday weekends, family festivals, cruises, and all kinds of vacation ideas should be the first port of call for family vacation planners. http://www.familytravelforum.com/index.html
ALL YOU NEED BEFORE YOU GO
nickonwine: An engaging, interactive wine column by Nick Passmore, Artisanal Editor, Four Seasons Magazine; Wine Columnist, BusinessWeek.com; email@example.com; www.nickonwine.com.
MARIANI'S VIRTUAL GOURMET NEWSLETTER is published weekly. Editor/Publisher: John Mariani. Contributing Writers: Christopher Mariani, Robert Mariani, John A. Curtas, Edward Brivio, Mort Hochstein, Suzanne Wright, and Brian Freedman. Contributing Photographers: Galina Stepanoff-Dargery, Bobby Pirillo. Technical Advisor: Gerry McLoughlin.
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