Friday, May 30, 2008

We Need Your Input

Lisa and I are constantly looking for Dallas area hot spots for a wide variety of foods and drink, and we need your input to help guide us on our "Best of Dallas" quest. Please let us know if you have any favorite spots in any of the following areas, so that we can check them out. We are looking for...

Best Bar Food
Best Bloody Mary
Best Breakfast
Best Burger
Best Comfort Food
Best Crawfish
Best Dive bar
Best Fish and Chips
Best Fries
Best Margarita (frozen and on the rocks)
Best Nachos
Best Onion Rings
Best Patio
Best Pizza
Best Restaurant Deals
Best Ruben Sandwich
Best Tacos
Hidden Restaurant Gems
Your Favorite Recipes

Oh, and let us know any categories that you feel we have overlooked. I look forward to your comments and suggestions.


Monday, May 19, 2008

It Costs How Much?

When reviewing a restaurant or compiling a "Best of..." list, price is always a consideration. "Am I getting a good value for my money?" is a question that we often ask ourselves, and while working on my "Best Burgers in Dallas" post, I came across an interesting article about the World's most expensive hamburger. This intrigued me. How much are people with disposable income really willing to pay for typically mundane or common dishes that have been taken to their highest level? Here are some outrageously priced gastronomic extravagances that are, or have been available.

Each bottle of the Danish Brewery, Jacobson Brewhouse's "Vintage Nr. 1" comes corked and wax-sealed in a green champagne-like bottle. The beer has 10.5 per cent alcohol by volume and is aged for six months in Swedish and French oak. Only 600 bottles have been produced and each sells for $393 per bottle.


A South Norwalk, CT company, Knipschildt Chocolatier, produces a chocolate truffle called "The Madeline." It is made with French Valrhona chocolate (one of the finest produced), fresh cream, vanilla pods, pure Italian truffle oil, with a French Perigold truffle for the filling. A single piece sells for $250 or about $2,600 a pound!


Caviar is undoubtedly considered one of the World's most expensive foods, but what caviar sits atop it's field where price is concerned? It's the Iranian Almas beluga caviar. Coming from sturgeons that are between 60 and 100 years old, these pale amber ichthy-oefs will set you back $48,750 for a 3.9 lb container, or $781.25 an ounce.


Back in 1995, Krug produced a scant 3,000 bottles of their Clos d'Ambonnay. One of the retailers that stocked up on this vintage bubbly was the iconic Connaught Hotel in London, where one can purchase a glamorous glass of this champagne for $1,544.00!


The Merchant Hotel in Belfast serves the "original" Trader Vic's Mai Tai. It is made with 17 year old Wray and Nephew Rum, which was used by trader Vic Bergeron to create the original Mai Tai over 60 years ago. Now there are only six bottles of the rum left in existence and each bottle sells for around $50,000. This nifty little bit of cocktail history will only cost you $1,475 per drink.


Grown in Indonesia, Kopi Luwak coffee beans certainly carry the highest price per pound, due to the nature of their harvesting. There is a small omnivore mammal called the Palm Civet, from the family Viverridae. These little cat-like creatures have the uncanny ability to select only the very best coffee berries to ingest. After digesting the fruit, the Civet excretes the berries which are then collected and sold primarily in Japan and the U.S.. It is said that an enzyme in the Civet's digestive tract breaks down the protein that causes the bitterness in coffee, thus producing a smooth, rich cup of Joe. A recent blind taste test at Stanford University concluded that over 1000 subjects could not discern Kopi Luwak from three other coffees, side by side, yet this bean still sells for between $120 and $600 per pound.

Ice Cream:

On Manhattan's Upper East Side, Serendipity 3 offers up not only the most expensive ice cream sundae, but the most expensive desert in the world. The "Golden Opulence Sundae" contains five scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, infused with Madagascar vanilla, covered in 23 karat edible gold leaf, drizzled with Amedei Porcelana, the world's most expensive chocolate, and covered with chunks of rare Chuao chocolate, which is produced from cocoa beans harvested by the Caribbean Sea on Venezuela's coast. It is then suffused with candied fruits from Paris, gold dragets, truffles and Marzipan Cherries. It is topped with a small glass bowl of Grand Passion Caviar, an exclusive dessert caviar, made of salt-free American Golden caviar, known for its bright golden color. It's sweetened and infused with fresh passion fruit, orange and Armagnac. The sundae is served in a baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet with an 18K gold spoon and served with a petite mother of pearl spoon, then topped with a gilded sugar flower by Ron Ben-Israel. You can get all this for $1,000.00.


F. Duerrs & Sons (Est. 1881) created a batch of preserves to celebrate the company's 125th anniversary. Packaged in a hand-made crystal jar ($2,200), it contains 62 year old Dalmore whisky ($7,000 worth), Pol Roger champagne ($700 worth), and edible 23 karat gold ($250 worth). At $10,000 a jar, this equates to about $150 per slice of toast! The makers suggest that it be on white bread, not brown and spread with butter, not margarine (of course).


Norma's Restaurant in New York's Le Parker Meridien Hotel offers up the most expensive omelette in the world. Chef Emillio Castillo serves this "egg-ceptional" dish, nicknamed "The Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata" which consists of six eggs, delicately topped with ten ounces of Sevruga caviar and the meat from an entire lobster. This lovely breakfast can be yours for a mere $1,000.00. A smaller version is available for $100.00.


England, known for it's dinner pies, is home to the ultimate savory "dinner in a crust." The Fence Gate Inn near Burnley, Lancashire boasts an eight slice pie, based on the traditional beef and mushroom pie, filled with almost six pounds of Wagyu beef ($1,100), 3.3 pounds of Matsutake mushrooms, so rare that they are grown under the eye of armed guards ($4,450), two bottles of 1982 Chateau Muton Rothschild ($8,500), 9 ounces of French Bleus mushrooms ($26), 3.5 ounces of winter black truffles ($166), and four packets of 23 karat gold leaf ($600). It's also served with two bottles of Louis Roederer Cristal Rose pink champagne ($1,366). The cost? $15,900 a pie, or about $1,990 per slice.


No matter how you slice it, we love our pizza and apparently, some people are willing to pay through the nose for it. There is a little town in the south of Italy called Agropoli where one chef makes a pie called the "Ludovic XII" that is made from only the finest ingredients, from the special flour and Australian red salt from the Murray River, to lobster, tuna caviar, and the copious amount of Louis XIII Remy Martin cognac (up to $32,000 a bottle). A slice can be yours if the price is right; about $16,375.00 for the 15" pizza! For those on a budget, Domenico Crolla, a chef in Scottland has created a pizza that is topped with sunblush tomato sauce, Scottish smoked salmon, medallions of venison, prosciutto and a drizzling of vintage balsamic vinegar, then sprinkled with edible 24-carat gold shavings. Named the "Pizza Royale 007" after the elegant tastes of debonair agent James Bond, the over-the-top toppings also include champagne-soaked caviar and lobster marinated in the finest cognac. It just oozes sophistication. The gold-topped pizza, prepared with these amazing delicacies will sell for more than $3,700.00.


The Hempel Hotel in London's Baywater serves up atypical salad fare for the gastronomic pleasures of their wealthier clients. The Florette Sea and Earth salad is lovingly comprised by chef Raymond Blanc, of two types of caviar (Almas golden and Beluga, of course), kreel-caught langoustines, Cornish crab and lobster, and Florette baby leaf salad, tossed in Moulin Jean Marie Cornille olive oil and 30 year old Balsamic Vinegar. The salad is garnished with a basket, hand-made from courgettes (zucchini) with grated truffle, red romano peppers, potato, and edible gold leaf. $1,250.00 is all it takes to taste the "Sea and Earth."


Harvested by hand, it takes more than 75,000 stigma (a stigma is the pollen receptor within the pistil at the top of the pistil, the male part of a flower's reproductive system) from the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) to equal one pound of saffron spice. Each flower produces three stigma. You can see by the numbers how much painstaking work is required to produce this spice. Saffron is primarily produced in Iran, Turkey, India, Morocco, Spain, and Greece. Prices vary depending on quality, but high-end saffron sells for as much as $15.00 per gram or up to $2,700.00 per pound.


The original Da Hong Pao tea trees, in Wuyi, China, are over 350 years old. The Da Hong Pao tea produced from their leaves (loosely translated "Big Red Robe"), has only been available for public auction three times. Once each in 1998, 2002, and 2004. Previously, it had only been offered to government leaders, emperors, and religious leaders. In 1972, Mao Zedong gave President Richard Nixon 50 grams of the precious tea, during his visit to China. Nixon was apparently insulted with such a "small" gift, until an aid pointed out that 50 grams represented 50% of all the Da Hong Pao tea harvested that year. In 2002, 20 grams (about 2/3 of an ounce) sold for approximately $23,000 US. In 2004, the same amount sold for about $21,000.


The Macallan Fine and Rare Collection, 1926, 60 Year Old whiskey is the top dog when it comes to overpriced alcohol. Between 1926 and 1928 only 85 bottles were released worldwide creating quite a demand. So much so that one buyer was willing to pay $38,000.00 for a bottle. While the bottles have all been sold, the Old Homestead Steakhouse in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J. owns a bottle and sells a dram for only $3,300.00.

So, next time you think that you have paid too much for dinner or a potable, just remember, there's always someone willing to pay more.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dallas Can Boast the Most

While pondering the sheer magnitude of some of the culinary review topics that I have tasked myself with, I began to wonder which U.S. city has the most restaurants per capita. So, I did a bit of research and came up with some interesting nuggets of knowledge to pass on to you. The city websites of San Francisco, California; Madison, Wisconsin; Washington DC; and Shreveport, Louisiana all claim this title, but as far as states go, The National Restaurant Association (NRA) says that California certainly has the most restaurants, overall with 87,225 dining establishments. New York State takes second with 58,027, Texas has 53,631, Florida sports 41,901, and Pennsylvania comes in with 31,466 restaurants, making up the top five states. The top five restaurants per capita U.S. cities, with a population of over 100,000, according to the NRA, are: #5 - Austin, Texas with 1,088 eating establishments and a population of 690,252, making their people to restaurant ratio 634 to 1; #4 - Louisville, Kentucky which has just over 500,000 people and 1,089 restaurants, making their ratio 510 to 1; #3 - Madison, Wisconsin has 221,551 people and 437 restaurants which makes their ratio 506 to 1; #2 - Wichita, Kansas with 360,715 people and 739 eating destinations has a ratio of 488 to 1; and #1 with a bullet and a drum roll.... Dallas, Texas!!!! with a population of 1,250,950 eaters and 2,666 eateries, has ratio of 469 people to each restaurant! Yeah! Were #1. So take this into consideration when reading reviews and "Best of Dallas" lists. For critics and reviewers, this is a veritable cornucopia, or feast, if you will, of places to try, but it also becomes a daunting undertaking when trying to compile a "best of" list of popular dishes like pizza, burgers, tacos, etc. Much of this info was gathered from the NRA website ( and from an excellent article by Kevin Fields at Get out there and try them all and let us know what you think is the best in Dallas!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's taking so long?

I know, I know... I've been remiss in my posting duties as of late. Not due to lack of research. On Saturday, Lisa and I went to a great new pub that will be included in my upcoming "Best Dallas Pubs" post, we had a fun surf n' turf dinner at Lenny and Dina's on Tuesday,
and we're starting a new dinner club, in a few weeks, with Kerry, so look for updates on those. Ed has suggested a thread on "How to trick your taste buds into believing that Hamburger Helper really is prime rib and lobster". I'm working on that one, but it prompted me to look for upscale versions of comfort food or home cooking recipes, so expect an article on that as well. Eat Dallas!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Deelish Fish!

The first couple of recipes I'm posting are Salmon/Aioli dishes that are both, real winners with the ladies. I was given this first recipe by our friends, Sid and Melinda. Lisa and Melinda have been raving about this one for weeks. Sid, a great bartender by the way, offers us his Baked Salmon with Wasabi Aioli. This recipe was designed for two servings, so adjust proportionally.

Baked Salmon in Wasabi Aioli

Aioli Sauce:
1 1/2 Tbl. Mayonaise
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. Dill Weed
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tbl. Lemon Juice
1 big tsp. Wasabi Paste
1 tsp. Tony’s Seasoning
Capers (optional)

Whisk all ingredients together and spread over salmon.
Bake at 425 degrees for 18 – 20 minutes. Make sure that you don't overcook it.

The next recipe is for my Hot Smoked, Koshered Salmon which I get frequent requests for. Our friend Toni loves it so much that she has asked me to teach it to her husband, Jeff (yes, we have lots of friends named Jeff) as a birthday present.

Cedar Planked, Hot Smoked Salmon with Garlic-Lemon Aioli

For this recipe, you will need:
A smoker (with an off-set firebox preferably)
Untreated cedar shingles or a cedar cooking plank
1 fresh, fileted, deboned side of salmon (skin on)
Kosher salt
White pepper

3/4 cup mayonaise
2-3 cloves of garlic
Juice from 1/2 lg. lemon
White pepper

1. First rinse the fish and pat it dry.
2. Place it on a foil covered cookie sheet and lightly sprinkle it with white pepper and cinnamon.
3. Completely cover the slamon with Kosher salt, until you can see no pink, and place it in the refrigerator for 3 to 6 hours (This is the Koshering part.) This draws out some of the moisture and removes any fishy flavors.
4. Get your fire started in your smoker (I prefer pecan or red oak wood) and let it rise to about 250 to 275 degrees
5. Soak your cedar in warm water while the smoker is heating up.
6. When your fire is ready, rinse the fish in slowly running water, just to get the salt off. The cinnamon and pepper should have bonded to the fish.
7. Very lightly pat it dry, taking care not to remove any of the seasonings.
8. Place the salmon on the smoker for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it has a nice dark color and little fat pockets begins to turn white on the surface.
9. Prepare the aioli while the fish is smoking.

Garlic-Lemon Aioli

1. In a bowl, mix the mayonaise with 2-3 cloves of pressed garlic.
2. Add the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
3. Let sit in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Remove the salmon from the smoker, plate and serve aioli, crackers, lemon wedges, and capers, on the side. Oh! and a nice bottle of white wine (Coppala Diamond Series chardonay goes well).

Thursday, May 8, 2008

And... They're off!

Last Saturday was the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby and our friend Kerry, who originally hails from KY, throws a Derby party every year, in honor of his father, who annualy elevated the "Bluegrass" bacchanalia to new heights. This year it was held at our favorite dive, Sharky's (on Pineland, right off of Greenville. We'll talk more about "The Tank" in an upcoming "Dallas Dives" entry), and despite the tragedy of Eight Belles, may she rest in peace, a wonderful time was had by all. Kerry served classic dishes from the region including burgoo, Kentucky hot wings, Cincinatti chili (5 way, if you know your C.c.), and some amazing Derby or "Thoroughbred" pies. Family and friends packed the place and ate and drank mint julep's to their hearts content, while everyone tried to out do each other in the Derby Day hat contest. Here are a few photos of the festivities...

Dad, Kerry, and me... Check out the Makers Mark Cigars!

Left to right - George, Jeffy (at the bar), Lisa (my wife), and Kerry

Sharon (great hat!) and Kerry

The owner of Sharky's, Mary, Lisa, Kerry, and part of Byrd

...and the rest of the gang!

We're all looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Th-th-th-that's all folks!"

Meat! Meat! Meat! This is definitely not a vegetarian site. For vegetarians, we will happily discuss food made from animals that once ate vegetables. Lets talk about pork for a minute. As Homer Simpson so aptly put it “Sure, Lisa—pork chops, ham, and bacon all come from one animal. Some "magical" animal.” So do sausages, ribs, and pulled pork sandwiches. Last September, 2007 (these entries will most likely not be in a chronological order of events) our friend Kerry, a phenomenal cook, decided to roast a whole pig. It was glorious! He and I did some research and found a method that doesn't involve digging a hole in your back yard, or spending 24 hours stoking fires and soaking banana leaves. Three Guys from Miami are the kings of this method of roasting. Kudos for the help from their website Although making the pit is a little labor intensive, many elements of it can be reused, and the results are amazing.

From left to right, that's Jeff, Jeff (or Jeffy as we affectionately call him), me, Mary's right shoulder, and Liz's left arm.

Tasting the crispy skin. Like a smokey pork rind.

People are very used the flavor of certain cuts of pork, such as ham and bacon. These cuts have been cured and/or smoked in order to achieve the unique taste that we associate with them. When roasting a whole pig, you don't get the variety of flavor that you would in the individual cuts. Because you rub the entire pig down with a mojo (a mixture of garlic, pepper, oregano, and orange juice, among other things), the flavor is relatively consistent throughout. The difference in cuts is in the texture. Preparing Porky in this method is not for the weak, or faint of heart. It requires muscle, a bit of help, and the ability to split a whole pig down the spine. We also love this method because it only takes about 6 to 8 hours of cooking time for a 100 lb pig. All said and done, the outcome is really worth the effort. It was a great day of hanging with friends, drinking mojitos and beer, listening to Cuban tunes, and eating copious amounts of hot, juicy, savory pork! Black beans and rice (aka Christians and Moors) make an excellent side dish. The food was so good that Kerry decided to do it again for the Superbowl, but that's an entry for another day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Bon Appetit and welcome to our blog. I, my wife, and our friends enjoy nothing more than filling our lives with music and joy, and our stomachs with the best food and drink that we can find or create. This site's goal is to share our knowledge of Dallas area restaurants, bars, and foodie related items with other gastronomic devotees. I have lived in the Dallas area since the mid-1970s and have been a foodie since childhood. I am a Texas State BBQ Championship award winner and a grand champion chili cook as well as an accomplished Mexican, historic, and high cuisine cook. Basically, I love food! We will be posting notes and photos from our outings and parties, reviewing restaurants, posting "Best of Dallas" lists (garnered from our experiences) in areas such as pizza, burgers, margaritas, appetizers, and anything food or drink related that tickles our fancy. We look forward to your input and suggestions!