The wait is over! Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs celebrates its grand re-opening this Saturday, March 7 after closing last fall for a $7.8 million renovation. We gave you a first look back in February, and now we have even more photos to share!
Kids can get moving as soon as they walk through the front door: A spacious new entryway contains the Marvelous Motion exhibit full of hands-on interactives.
Downstairs, two major pieces are sure to be kiddie hotspots: the modern jungle gym called the Gyroid Climber and the two-story water tower.
Kids can splash around in the water feature, tossing colorful balls into streams that jet them high into the air--up to the second story, in fact. Cannons on the upper level allow kids to propel the balls even higher and into a funnel that drops them back down into the fountain’s central feature--a water vortex.
Families will find the museum’s popular cave maze, along with an expanded exhibit all about the Natural State’s underground. The Arkansas Underfoot exhibit explores 13 types of rocks and minerals and where to find them in our state.
Kids can also sort microfossils under a microscope, spend time inside the giant tree reading nook, and discover “yucky” science like bacteria and decomposition.
Then, step into the Digital Dome Theater for a telescopic journey through space and the simulated universe.
Plus, you’ll find The Workshops and tons of interactive fun: Make a stop-motion animated film; keep a beat on the electronic drums; power a hairdryer by turning a wheel and more.
The museum’s upgrades extend to the outdoors, as well.
Highlighting the serene wooded location, the Science Skywalk juts into the forest canopy 30 feet above the ground.
Visitors safely view the trees from a bird’s-eye-view and explore small exhibits in the tree house.
Adventurous youngsters can even climb around a cargo net suspended in the center of the walkway!
The museum will also offer all-new summer camps and field trips for all ages. For more info, visit MidAmericaMuseum.org.
Piro Brick Oven and Barroom has only been open for about three weeks, but its already become one of the places to be in Little Rock. And by patching the heartache of a postponed Food and Foam Fest, they definitely have our vote.
Originally slated for March 6, the 18th annual Food and Foam Fest fell prey to moody old Mother Nature and will now take place next Friday, March 13.
But never fear, thirsty friends.
Founders Brewing Co. from Grand Rapids, Michigan, was originally one of the breweries scheduled for the fest, but we’re guessing the team wasn’t too afraid of our Arkansas winter and now has a wide open schedule. Or they did until Piro came to the rescue.
Piro will host the Founders crew for a tapping of rare beers at 5 p.m. this Friday. Come learn about all things Founders and treat your tastebuds to a special occasion of unusual brews.
You can find Piro at 1318 S. Main. Learn more on the Facebook event page.
If there’s one thing we will never stop getting excited about, it’s food. This shared interest is why we love Steve Shuler and his work on LittleRockFoodcast.com. His recent list of the top 10 dishes he enjoyed from local restaurants in February has our stomachs growling. If you need us, we’ll be at one of these places. Here’s a peak at his list.
Italian Stallion at Hot Rod Wieners
Believe it or not, there was a brief moment in February that wasn’t wrecked by snow, sleet or other wintry unpleasantries. It just happened to coincide with the first Westover Wednesday event of 2015, and you could sense among chefs and customers how glad everybody was to get back to trucking. My personal favorite dish served at Westover was this delicious pizza-hot dog hybrid known as the Italian Stallion. Justin and Andrea Wilson create their own meaty, spicy marinara sauce for this dog, and the heat and brightness balance wonderfully. Pepperoni, provolone and basil all accompany an all-beef Arkansas frank, and the Arkansas Fresh hot dog bun serves as the perfect vessel for the dish. All of this will set you back five bucks, a pittance when you consider the quality and mass of this hot dog. Don’t let the potential messiness deter you. Grab a wad of extra napkins and settle in to enjoy what I believe is one of the best hot dogs Little Rock has to offer.
Honey Chipotle Burrito at Baja Grill
It’s the mark of a truly great restaurant owner that customers can notice an improvement in quality with every visit. Such is the case with Baja Grill, which has been better than I remembered each time I’ve eaten there since its grand opening. Craig and Melissa Roe have settled in nicely at their new Heights location and are churning out top-notch West Coast food. This burrito might be the best thing I’ve eaten at Baja. The Roes do pork extremely well; no fewer than four of their dishes boast a perfectly slow-roasted shredded shoulder that plays well with a wide range of accompaniments. This dish pairs the pork with a mellow, smoky honey chipotle sauce that brings just enough heat to keep the sweetness from taking over. Rice, beans and caramelized onions fill out the burrito, and a layer of Baja’s delicious cheese dip keeps the stronger flavors in line. It will be hard to order something besides this dish next time. Then again, the way the Roes keep improving things, they might just find a way to one-up themselves again.
Sriracha Pork Sandwich at The Southern Gourmasian
Finally, after nearly half a year of hard work, the team at The Southern Gourmasian is ready to open its new restaurant. The new location at 219 W. Capitol is open for lunch today, and, based solely on their food truck’s awesome record, it’s a destination you should seek out as soon as possible. I say that, because this month I finally finished trying everything on the truck menu, and I might have saved the best for last.
How do you improve upon Sriracha? Justin Patterson has found the best way I’ve ever tasted: by turning it into a Buffalo sauce. Just as Frank’s Red Hot is transformed using vinegar and butter, Patterson uses butter and lime juice to create his own special Sriracha “wing sauce.” It’s an inspired move that instantly makes sense while letting you taste a familiar ingredient in a brand new way. Of course, there’s more to this sandwich than a brilliant sauce, like one of the best smoked pork shoulders Little Rock has to offer. This pork serves as the foundation for other Southern Gourmasian delights (as you’ll soon see), but I really loved its classic use here. It’s the pork sandwich you grew up with done better than you can remember, in a way that you aren’t likely to forget.
To see the remaining favorites on Shuler's list, check out his post here.
Snow, snow, go away. Come again, um, never. Though old man winter keeps trying to bring us down, this weekend brings with it one sign of spring that can’t be denied: daylight savings time. We’ll lose an hour of weekend bliss, but rest assured we can fill the remaining hours with plenty of fun events. There are trunk shows and art shows, festivals, food events, fundraisers and so much more.
Cantrell Gallery Benefit for CARE, 8206 Cantrell Road, Little Rock: Attention all animal lovers! During a special, limited-time exhibit, Cantrell Gallery will feature the art of R.S. Perry and donate 70 percent of proceeds from sales to Central Arkansas Rescue Effort for Animals (CARE), whose mission is to rescue animals, raise awareness for spaying and neutering and advise local animal shelters on animal welfare issues. The gallery is hosting a special opening night reception from 6-8 p.m. this Friday, weather permitting. Check the gallery’s Facebook page for updates.
*Update: Due to complications cause by the weather (ugh), the decision was made to postpone this reception until Tuesday, March 10.
M2 Gallery’s Anniversary Show, Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11525 Cantrell Road, Suite 918, Little Rock: Speaking of art, M2 Gallery in Pleasant Ridge is celebrating eight years of business. To mark the occasion, the gallery is hosting an anniversary show from 6-9 p.m. this Friday and will debut the work of international artist Sabine Danze of Paris. Works by local artists--V.L. Cox and former Woman to Watch Lisa Krannichfeld--will also be on display, and guests can enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks. For more info, contact Mac Murphy at 225-M2LR or email email@example.com.
Catherine Page Trunk Show at B. Barnett, Pavilion in the Park, 8201 Cantrell Road, Little Rock: If you’re looking to add a little spring pop to your jewelry wardrobe, don’t miss B. Barnett’s Catherine Page Trunk show this Friday, Saturday and Monday. Page’s pieces are exclusive to the fashion boutique and incorporate stunning natural stone, vibrant fibers and gold accents to create a truly unique line of baubles. For more info, click here.
Julie Vos and Christine A. Moore Millinery Trunk Shows at Barbara/Jean, 7811 Cantrell Road, Little Rock: Featured in Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Real Simple and more, Julie Vos’s jewelry line features semi-precious stones paired with luxe gold. See them for yourself and try on a few new looks at Barbara/Jean this Thursday and Friday. For more info, click here.
You know you’re going to need a few fancy hats for all of spring’s garden parties and soirées. Get a jump start on the party season and visit internationally known hat designer Christine A. Moore at Barbara/Jean on Friday. Her spring 2015 line, which features feminine silhouettes and bright pops of color, will be available for you to peruse. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to mingle with the designer herself. Find out more here.
Lanterns! Festival at Wildwood Park for the Arts, 20919 Denny Road, Little Rock: This annual deep-winter festival returns to Wildwood this weekend. Now in its seventh year, the nighttime celebration will showcase the park lit with luminaries and fire pits, winding around six areas designed to represent six different cultures: Ireland, Asia, Mexico, Austria, 1950s America and Shakespeare’s England. Guests will enjoy food and entertainment that evokes the spirit of each culture. The gates open at 6 p.m. each night. Find out more about the weekend’s festival here.
Menchie's Grand Opening, 17801 Chenal Parkway, Suite B, Little Rock: We don’t care what the fahrenheit says; froyo is our fave all year long. And lucky for us (and you, of course), there’s a new frozen yogurt spot in town: Menchie’s. Located in The Promenade at Chenal, Menchie’s is celebrating its grand opening with different perks each day from Saturday, March 7 through Friday, March 13. The sweet lineup includes free and discounted froyo, free t-shirts and more. Let your cup runneth over. Click here for more info.
Reclaimed Helena Kickstarter Push Party, Domestic Domestic, 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd., Suite C, Little Rock: Domestic Domestic in the Heights is all about American-made and Arkansas-made, and so are we. From noon to 3 p.m. this Saturday, the store is hosting a “push party” with cocktails and cookies for Reclaimed Helena’s upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Locally owned, Reclaimed Helena takes salvaged wood from the Delta and turns it into stylish new furniture pieces. Come out and support this Arkansas company, nibble on cookies and learn more. Find more details here.
Bolly Holi Day at CALS’ Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock: Holi is a popular Hindu festival that celebrates the arrival of spring, and the Central Arkansas Library System is marking the occasion in a big way. On Saturday, March 7, CALS is hosting a day of Bollywood films at its Ron Robinson Theater. The trio of films, all of which are Hindi with English subtitles, will begin at noon and run through 5:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Find out more here.
ESSE Purse Museum’s Common Threads Opening Reception, 1510 S. Main St., Little Rock: On Saturday, March 7, a new exhibit is opening at ESSE Purse Museum in SoMa. “Common Threads” is said to honor the common feminine threads of creation, inspiration, sewing and family tradition that tie generations together and weave the rich, mysterious fabric of life. Works on display include mandalas made of jewelry, buttons and beads by Dallas artist Pamela Nelson; 20 steel wire replicas of artist Chelsye Mae Garrett’s great-grandmother’s sewing machine; Florine Thomason’s button collection; and more. During an opening night reception, guests can meet the exhibit’s four artists/contributors and enjoy refreshments. Visitors are also encouraged to bring buttons to add to the communal art project, "Button, Button, Who's Got the Button." To read more about the event, click here.
The numbers don’t lie. Walk into Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. — the new fast-casual eatery specializing in authentic, northeastern China dishes — during lunchtime and you’ll be greeted by a line anywhere from 10 to 30 people deep. But fear not, with a limited menu featuring steamed dumplings, noodle bowls, steamed buns, and sides like seasonal slaw, in a cafeteria-style setting, wait times are often short. Simply put, reviews thus far have been overwhelmingly positive and we know why.
The women behind this food frenzy are owner Lisa Zhang and her daughter, director of business development Rebecca Yan. Believe it or not, this is their first venture inside the restaurant business.
“Three Fold is a window to Chinese food culture and traditions, with a special focus on pastry. I’d like people to see a good blend of western and eastern food culture. For example, we’re serving eastern food in a western atmosphere while cooking in an American kitchen. My hope is that Three Fold will be a place where one can find a moment of joy and relaxation in our hustle bustle and stressful world,” says Zhang.
While Zhang oversees the food side of things, Rebecca Yan mans the front of the house, making sure things are running smoothly. As expected, the first few months of operation have posed some challenges.
“Turning a fine cuisine into a fast-casual menu item isn’t easy. We want to provide quick service without jeopardizing the quality and carefulness in handling each dish. One of the toughest challenges is to embed this standard into our staff,” says Yan.
Besides great food, there is another added dimension to the Three Fold dining experience that lies within Zhang’s background in science.
“Yes, I have a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. It’s a major influence in not only the kitchen but also in how we set up the business. For example, we decided to use only biodegradable disposables to prevent our customers from consuming chemicals when dining, but not at the expense of jeopardizing the environment. The disposables costs us over $1.20 per meal — seen as an arm and a leg in this industry — but we’re upholding this direction to benefit the lives of our customers even if it’s minor in the grand scheme of their daily lives,” says Zhang.
This attention to detail translates to all aspects of the business, from the beautifully classic interior, to delicious dumplings, to fair and affordable prices. The combination of these factors has led to a big turnout from the Little Rock community.
“To be honest, it’s been a surprise for us that we’ve been welcomed so well in the past few months. As a foreign cuisine, I thought that it’d take a while for people to accept and become fans,” says Zhang.
And believe it or not, Zhang doesn’t cook with recipes, instead striving to teach her staff that Chinese cooking is often based on a sense, rather than a standardized recipe. There are no thermometers or timers, and workers are taught to identify the taste and doneness.
First-timers can expect to see a trifecta selection of pork, chicken and vegetables paired with steamed dumplings, noodle bowls, or steamed buns, as well as side dishes of taro chips and seasonal slaws, like carrot and celery. Dishes come served with a small cup of dipping sauce, available in multiple levels of spiciness according to personal preference. There is also a simple kids menu featuring noodle bowls, pan-fried dumplings and mini steamed buns.
“Our menu is based off of this traditional, daily food consumed by people in Northern China. We’ve kept the traditional flavors but have invented a new work/service flow and threw in a few business secrets in the mix,” says Zhang.
And what does her daughter think?
“Lisa’s cooking is very simple, but always has surprising results and is embedded with amazing flavors,” says Yan.
So far, Little Rock agrees.
Soirée: What were you doing before opening Three Fold?
Rebecca Yan: I focused on my media company, after graduating from the University of North Carolina.
SO: Be honest, what’s it like working with your mother?
RY: Tougher than working with anyone else, as she’s a person that holds high standards with everything that she does.
SO: Did you grow up watching your mom cook?
RY: Cooking is a gene in this family. Actually, I normally don’t watch her cook, but assist her. Lisa’s cooking is very simple, but always has surprising results and is embedded with amazing flavors.
SO: Whose idea was it to actually start a restaurant in Little Rock?
RY: Of course it’s the “little chef’s” idea. She’s had this idea and has studied and planned for it for several years.
SO: Can diners expect to see any menu additions or “specials” in the near future?
RY: Most definitely. We will be introducing new variations on main entrées (noodles, dumplings, and buns) seasonally.
Today, March 4, is the National Spread the Word to End the Word Day! The campaign, supported by Special Olympics, Best Buddies and over 200 more organizations, raises awareness about the derogatory use of the term retard or retarded--also known as "The R-Word."
What started as a clinical description is now often used as hurtful, disrespectful language. Today, students and schools around the country will take the pledge to think about their language, embrace differences in all people and respect everyone.
Families and individuals can also get involved by learning more about the campaign, sharing your pledge on social media, and even getting involved with Special Olympics Project UNIFY. Project UNIFY is a new effort to engage whole school communities in promoting the values of dignity and acceptance through service learning. Through a series of Project UNIFY activities, the projects aims to support educational leaders in their efforts to reduce bullying, fear and misunderstanding while promoting respect, high expectations, and the joy of sport for all students and their families.
A first step in this effort is taking the pledge! Together with a coalition of disability organizations around the country, young people can lead an effort to ensure that all children with intellectual disabilities feel welcomed and accepted in school. Get started at R-Word.org.
It's a good week to be from the capital city. Earlier this week, we learned that county music star Jason Aldean is NLR bound in April, and now we have three more stars coming our way.
Kelly Clarkson is slated to hit the Verizon Arena stage on Thursday, Sept. 3. Aligned with her brand new album “Piece By Piece,” Clarkson will cover 36 cities starting in Pennsylvania and ending in New Jersey.
On her 2015 Piece By Piece tour, Clarkson is bringing along a cappella and YouTube sensation Pentatonix, fresh off their first ever Grammy win for Best Arrangement with their Daft Punk medley (which is insane, by the way).
If that’s not enough, singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson will join them as well. You might remember Hutchinson from his Billboard hits “Rock and Roll” and “OK, It’s Alright With Me.”
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 14. They are available at Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at (800) 745-3000 or online on the Ticketmaster site.
If you’re not hungry yet, you’re about to be.
Word on the street is that a new restaurant by the name of Del Frisco’s Grille iss headed for The Promenade at Chenal. Our sister publication Arkansas Business reported that the chain had “settled on a 1.78-acre site at the southwest corner of Chenal Parkway and the middle entrance to The Promenade.”
Serving up refreshing new twists on classic American favorites, Del Frisco’s offers a full menu of bar and grill specialities and signature cocktails. This is the chain’s first Arkansas location, and chefs will work to bring in regional flavors and locally sourced ingredients.
“We believe Del Frisco’s Grille is a great fit for The Promenade as it will provide shoppers with a modern, fun dining experience that is unmatched in the Little Rock market,” said The Promenade’s general manager Linda Hinton in a release. “We expect the new bar and grill to be a hot spot for lunch and dinner and even Sunday brunch; we can’t wait for everyone to give it try this fall.”
Yes, so it looks as if we’ll have to wait a few months before Del Frisco’s is up and running. Until then, we’ll just have to drool over its Instagram feed with genius concoctions like cheesesteak egg rolls and Nutella bread pudding.
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