Archive for category Misc.

Arkansas Ketchup Co. is Just About Ready

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Good news … a local ketchup-maker is about to release its product in the very near future. Better news … it’s pretty damn good.

Arkansas Ketchup Co. is hoping to have its unique ketchup ready for sale by this June. Owners John Crowley and Amber Davis-Tanner have created a slightly sweet, tangy, and spicy ketchup that is quite delicious.

But why on earth would you get into the ketchup business? Glad you asked.

Says Crowley, “Amber went to Oregon for vacation in 2016 and noticed that there were several companies making ketchup in Oregon. She always loved Arkansas tomatoes and wondered why no one was making ketchup out of Arkansas tomatoes. She told me about the experience, and I pestered her to pursue it and pushed her over the edge to start fiddling with recipes.”

After sampling a test batch John brought over, I can tell you this isn’t your typical store-bought ketchup. The deep maroon color and intense tomato taste are just a couple traits that really separate it from other ketchups on the market.

“You can really taste the tomatoes in the ketchup. It also doesn’t have any high fructose corn syrup or odd chemicals. Moreover, it’s not just ketchup. It’s a sauce you can put on anything you can think of. People have reported putting it on everything from eggs to fried rice to pork chops,” says Crowley.

Yes, this ketchup is versatile. I’ve eaten it on brats, eggs, baked potatoes, and, of course, French fries. Simply put … I love it, my wife loves it, and the kids love it. In June, it will be available to purchase on the website at $6 per 12-ounce bottle, with the hope of getting the ketchup in several locally-owned stores and restaurants in Little Rock.

In the meantime, go check out their Kickstarter campaign, where funds will be used to make the first official batch of Arkansas tomato ketchup. Says Crowley, “Up until now, we’ve been refining our process with tomatoes out of Florida and honey from Amber’s grandfather, Hillcrest Honey, and a few other places. We will be using the funds from the Kickstarter to buy a lot of great, vine-ripened, Arkansas tomatoes and honey.”

Here’s hoping it’s a big success.

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Girl Scout Cookie Restaurant Week Set for March 11-18

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March 11-18 is Girl Scout Cookie Restaurant Week and several of our local restaurants are participating by offering a Girl Scout Cookie-inspired dessert.

Here’s a complete list of participating restaurants (and what they’ll be making) in the Little Rock area:

@ The Corner Modern Diner – #letsgetmoussey a Tagalong Mousse Cup
Big Orange – Thin Mint Cookies & Cream Shake and Samoa Crush Shake
Colonial Wine & Spirits – Cookie & Wine pairing event (March 15)
Dinner’s Ready Catering – Entrée: Crispy Honey Lemon Chicken/Dessert: Luscious Lemon Cupcake
Izzy’s Restaurant – Thin Mint Meltdown Milkshake
Kilwins Little Rock – S’more Cookie Fudge
Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill – Choco-Samoa Flan
The Pizzeria – Do-si-do Nutter Pie
South on Main – Banana Pudding Do-si-do Jar
Table 28 – Lemoncello Sabayon-Savannah Smiles
ZaZa Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. – Tagalong Gelato

Also, on March 15 (from 4-7 p.m.), Colonial Wine & Spirits will have an event at their tasting bar where they will pair eight cookies with wine and beer and have a local wine expert present the wines.

Can’t make it to one of these restaurants but still need to get your Girl Scout Cookie fix? There are three ways you can buy:
1. Order from a Girl Scout
2. Visit a Girl Scout Cookie booth sale. If you need help finding one, just download the Girl Scout Cookie Finder app on your phone and enter your zip code to find a booth sale near you.
3. Have a Girl Scout send you her Digital Cookie link. You can order online and have the cookies shipped to you!

Do Si Do Nutter Pie at The Pizzeria

Do Si Do Nutter Pie at The Pizzeria

*photos courtesy of Girl Scouts and The Pizzeria

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My 5 Favorite BBQ Joints … Anywhere

Ribs at Joe's in Kansas City

Ribs at Joe’s in Kansas City

 

I don’t claim to be a barbeque expert. Hell, I’m probably a shade above a novice when it comes to the subject, but I have been fortunate enough to visit some great spots over the past few years. Simply put, these are my absolute 5 favorite barbeque joints.

Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que, Kansas City
This used to be called Oklahoma Joe’s, and while I’m still a little bitter about the name change, one thing is for certain, Joe’s serves the best pork rib I’ve ever eaten. It was so damn good seven years ago that it inspired me to go home and start a food blog called The Mighty Rib. Joe’s also specializes in burnt ends, a Kansas City classic. Don’t get me wrong, the burnt ends are great, but just make sure you try the ribs. The Z-Man Sandwich (beef brisket, smoked provolone cheese, topped with two crispy onion rings, on a toasted Kaiser roll) is also super popular, and the French fries aren’t too shabby either. Also, please go to the original location on W. 47th Ave. inside of a gas station. I know, I know … eating barbeque inside of a gas station sounds a bit sketch, but the place is nice. Go early, lines can extend through the parking lot.

Frito Pie at Micklethwait

Frito Pie at Micklethwait

 

Micklethwait Craft Meats, Austin
Micklethwait is just down the road from the most popular barbeque joint in the world, Franklin Barbecue, and although the line is long, it’s not as insane as Franklin’s 3+ hour waitfest. And guess what? The cue is insanely good. Special thanks to Ken Dempsey for recommending this spot. It’s Texas, so the brisket reigns supreme, but everything at Micklethwait is fantastic, including the lemon poppy seed cole slaw, beans, jalapeno cheese grits, and potato salad.  Oh, and don’t forget about another Texas classic, the Frito pie … a dish that’s topped with their signature brisket, sour cream, red onions, cheddar cheese, and house-made, pickled jalapenos. Micklethwait is an immobile food truck, like most spots in Austin, so be prepared to eat in your car or on one of the outside tables. Arrive 30-45 minutes before open.

Bar-B-Q Shop, Memphis
All credit goes to Dax McDonald on directing me towards Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis. I barely knew Dax at the time (we were Twitter buddies), but this rec turned out to be so good, that I’m convinced it became the foundation of a our friendship. Dax knows his food, and Bar-B-Q Shop’s pork ribs (served dry) turned out to be the crown jewel of this food recommendations. The ribs stood head and shoulders above the competition in our 4-man Memphis barbeque tour about 3 years ago. And when you bite into one of these tender, well-seasoned ribs, you’ll know why. I can’t tell you much more about the other dishes at Bar-B-Shop, although it’s a personal goal of mine to return and try the legendary bar-b-que spaghetti.

Beef Rib at Pecan Lodge

Beef Rib at Pecan Lodge

 

Pecan Lodge, Dallas
I hate just about everything associated with Dallas. But then there’s Pecan Lodge, pound-for-pound my favorite all-around barbeque joint in America. Well, it’s no longer a joint, rather an enormous restaurant. Given the size, it’s quite a feat they pull off such amazing ‘cue. Props go out to Daniel Walker for the rec. What should you get? Glad you asked. The answer is everything, so go with a crew and just agree to order most of the menu. The signature beef rib, about $20 a pop, is like a pot roast on a stick, and a must-order. The fried chicken is even killer, as is a loaded sweet potato affectionately named Hot Mess. Pecan Lodge is another place you better arrive about an hour before opening. Also, be forewarned, you will eat way too much and will feel like death has descended down and touched your tummy. Pro tip: Order The Trough to-go and drive back to Little Rock. The $75 monstrosity serves about 4-5 and includes 1 beef rib, 1-lb of pork ribs, 1-lb brisket, 1/2-lb of pulled pork & 3 sausage links.

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Brisket Tacos at Valentina’s

 

Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, Austin
Louis Vasquez, thank you. You introduced me to the gift that is a Valentina’s brisket taco. It was the best bites of food I had during our 2016 Eat Austin trip, and frankly, one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten. This is an example of how great food is sometimes also the most simplistic. House-made flour tortillas, perfectly smoked brisket, and a dab of salsa and guacamole make for a taco that is the definition of Tex Mex. Valentina’s is another immobile Austin food truck, but they are also going brick-and-mortar in the very near future. Lines can be long, so be prepared to wait for greatness … and have a friend snag a seat next to the parking lot.

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20 Underrated Dishes at 20 Popular Restaurants

Pork Loin at Maddie's Place

Pork Loin at Maddie’s Place

 

Popular restaurants often make their mark by having certain dishes that build a steady following. But I’ve always been fascinated by some of the lesser known, under the radar dishes that give a menu variety and depth. Here are my 20 Underrated Dishes at 20 Popular Restaurants…

House Made Ricotta at The Pantry: The bacon-wrapped dates, meat board, and deviled eggs get all of the attention when it comes to starters at The Pantry, but do not hesitate to order this creamy ricotta. It’s simple but delicious, and I’m guessing is the only house-made version in town.

Pork Loin at Maddie’s Place: We’ve all got our go-to dish at Maddie’s Place … fried chicken, catfish po’boys, shrimp and grits, bbq shrimp….you name it. But the pork loin with sweet potato hash and butter soaked Brussels sprouts, all in a house-made Worcestershire sauce, is insanely good. And it never gets any attention. Pro tip, don’t go to Maddie’s if you’re counting calories.

Eggplant Parm at Capeo: It’s not the best dish at Capeo, but this hearty portion of eggplant Parm is about half the price ($19) as most other entrees and is delicious. If you can resist the Duck Valentine or the pork chop, the eggplant Parm is a great option.

Meatloaf at Table 28

Meatloaf at Table 28

 

Meatloaf at Table 28: Who in their right mind orders meatloaf at one of the swankiest restaurants in town? My wife does. Thankfully, she gave me a few bites and I can tell you that it’s pretty damn good. The meatloaf is served with a side of asparagus and mashed potatoes, and, like all dishes at Table 28, is beautifully presented.

Mama Chi’s Spicy Fish at Chi’s: This dish is served at the Shackleford location, and it’s one I’ve been touting for a few years. The delicate white fish is light and packs a flavor punch … especially if you are one who enjoys spicy food.

Israeli Couscous with Romaine at South on Main

Israeli Couscous with Romaine at South on Main

Israeli Couscous with Romaine at South on Main: This is really just a general plug for all of Chef (and former vegetarian) Matt Bell’s vegetarian options at South on Main. Most of them are outstanding, but fall under the radar, due in large part to more popular, meat-centric dishes like catfish, duck, rabbit, and steak.

Blackened Ribeye at The Faded Rose: When most folks (ok…at least some) think of TFR, red beans and rice, shrimp and grits, and fried catfish po’boys come to mind. But for the money, you might not find a better steak in town than their blackened ribeye.

Fried Shrimp at Doe's Eat Place

Fried Shrimp at Doe’s Eat Place

 

Fried Shrimp at Doe’s Eat Place: Speaking of steak, when you go to Doe’s, it is absolutely essential to order a 3-lb Porterhouse (medium rare). And while the tamales get all of the attention as a pre-steak appetizer, the jumbo fried shrimp are the better option. The breading is thick and the seasoning is sparse, but that’s ok, because dunking each one into the tartar sauce makes up for any inadequacies.

Greens at Gus’s: This only applies to the downtown location, as I’m not a fan of the WLR venue. Anyways, while it does have its fair share of detractors, the downtown Gus’s has very good fried chicken … and greens. The chicken gets all the attention, but the greens are also a must-order.

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Leeks at One Eleven

 

Leeks at One Eleven: The yellowfin tuna tartare is a popular meal starter, but the meager leek might be the way to go at One Eleven. Or hell, order both. The warm leeks are paired with pecans and bleu cheese.

San Francisco Cioppino at Trio’s: Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Peck Salad just as much as the next guy, but the seafood at Trio’s is very underrated. Try the Cioppino, which is loaded with sea bass, mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops. Just note, many dishes rotate in and out of the menu at Trio’s, and the Cioppino is one of them.

BLT Wedge at Big Orange (both locations): Big Orange is a burger dining destination for most folks, but I go for the salads, and while I typically order the more popular Thai Chop, my daughter opts for the underrated BLT Wedge. Now, I know what you’re thinking … wedge salads are so boring. Not Big Orange’s version, and it’s just as beautiful as it is tasty.

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Chicken Caldo at El Palenque

 

Chicken Caldo at El Palenque: I believe this is a Saturday only dish, so don’t get all pissy with me if you go on Friday night and it’s not available. But if you happen to be at El Palenque on a Saturday, get it. There’s probably damn near half a chicken hiding in that large bowl of head-cold-curing chicken broth.

Chef Salad at Vino’s: You know all of those awesome toppings that the fine folks at Vino’s put on their pizzas? Well, they also put them in a bowl … over lettuce … with your choice of ham, turkey, or chicken, and it’s a great alternative to pizza.

Thai Chicken Burger at The Southern Gourmasian: The steamed buns and spicy chicken and dumplings get all of the attention, as they rightfully should, but do not pass up the Thai Chicken Burger at The Southern Gourmasian. How they get ground chicken to taste so juicy is beyond me. It’s one of my favorite burgers in town. And yes, chicken can be a burger.

Beef Tenderloin at Kemuri

Beef Tenderloin at Kemuri

 

Beef Tenderloin at Kemuri: It’s hard not order that fancy, flaming sushi roll at Kemuri. In a town starving for quality sushi, this restaurant provides a good option. But damn, the beef tenderloin with onion rings is a must-order. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t get too excited over steak.

Meatball Sandwich at Raduno: The pizza, for obvious reasons, gets a lot of play at Raduno, but you also might want to consider splitting a meatball hero with a buddy. Tack on a Caesar salad for good measure. It’s pretty damn good, too.

Cheese Pizza at Layla’s: The Yogurt Plate or even a basic gryo are probably the two most popular dishes at Layla’s, but if you enjoy a nice, basic pizza, order the cheese pie. It’s something like $5 or $6 and is loaded with mozzarella. The pizza is no frills, but definitely one of the best values around.

Squash Blossom Veggie Sandwich at Hillcrest Artisan Meats: Going vegetarian at H.A.M.?!?!! Hear me out. I’m not saying this is an every-visit-kinda-sandwich, but if you’re looking for a change of pace, consider the very underrated Squash Blossom. This sandwich includes alfalfa sprouts, avocado, red onions, pepper jack, and tomatoes.

Taro Chips at Three Fold

Taro Chips at Three Fold

 

Taro Chips at Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co.: Sweet, salty, and wildly addictive … a bag of taro chips to go with an order of dumplings is an absolute must.

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