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The Eat Blog

News and notes on food, fine dining, restaurants and eating in Arkansas. A daily digest of favorite flavors leavened with your comments. E-mail tips and feedback to InArkansas.com Associate Editor Lauren James here.
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Vino's Plans A.M. Watch Party for Tour de France

Lance Armstrong and his RadioShack cycling team are competing in the 2010 Tour de France.

Vino's is celebrating the annual Tour de France bicycling race with a breakfast viewing party on Saturday (July 10). Doors open at 7:45 a.m., and the race starts at 8 a.m.

Enjoy breakfast pizzas (eggs, ham, cheddar cheese, red onion, bell peppers) and rosemary potatoes, coffee and mimosas while watching the race on all of Vino's TVs including the 80-inch projection screen. 

For more information click here.

Tapas and Wine Tasting at Diversion Tuesday

Enjoy three new tapas dishes as well as three wines at Diversion.

Try something a little different from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday (July 6) at Diversion, 2611 Kavanaugh Blvd., Little Rock. Along with a wine tasting of Roaring Meg Pinot Noir, Novella Synergy and Gemtree Shiraz for $10, you can add a tapas plate with a sampling of three new items  -- Duck Breast Prosciutto, Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and Beef Carpaccio -- that compliment the wines for another $10. 

 Call (501) 414-0409 for more information.

 

Which Restaurants Offer Gluten-Free Menus?

People with gluten intolerances, including those with celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis and gluten sensitivities, know that preparing gluten-free food is more than just leaving out flour, wheat, barley, oat or rye ingredients or derivatives.

Click here to see Gluten Free in Central Arkansas' list of restaurants offering gluten-free choices. There's also a list of stores that offer gluten-free shopping.

To learn more about Gluten Intolerance Group click here. 

Herbs And Supplements May Help You Focus

Challenging yourself may help maintain mental function. 

It's hard to concentrate on these steamy summer days. Delicious Living Magazine suggests the following herbs and supplements to improve focus and mental clarity:

B complex -- Recent research shows that supplementing with B vitamins can decrease the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia

Bacopa monnieri -- may help prevent memory loss and alleviate stress

Magnesium -- helps support healthy nerve and enzyme fucntion for improved focus

Ginkgo biloba -- its antioxidants help prevent cognitive damage

To read the entire story click here. 

For more information on natural ways to maintain mental function click here. 

Edgeware Mandoline Slicer: A Must For Serious Chefs

Edgeware Mandoline Slicer

Even the most dedicated cooks will admit that slicing and prepping ingredients are the least exciting aspects of preparing a dish. Smith's Edgeware, based in Hot Springs, makes food prep a pleasure instead of a chore with a high-performance mandoline slicer.

The Edgeware Mandoline Slicer ($179.99) features sturdy cast aluminum frame construction and includes a precision adjustment mechanism that allows users to cut foods in thicknesses from paper-thin to 9.5mm with the simple turn of a knob.

Five interchangeable surgical-grade specialty blades offer cuts from waffle to julienne and streamline virtually all slicing tasks, including a V blade made from German steel that neatly slices the most delicate of foods. A six-pronged Safety Grip Food Holder ensures safe slicing while allowing greater freedom and agility with 360-degree angle control. Cleanup is easy with dishwasher-safe construction.

Here's what Matt Fuller, chef and owner of Central Park Fusion Cuisine in Hot Springs, has to say about the product: 'We are finding the Edgeware Mandoline Slicer to have stellar performance. Collectively the chefs at Central Park Fusion have used close to a dozen different commercial quality mandolins over the years. The new Edgeware Mandolin surpasses anything we’ve used in the past. Insanely sharp, easy to use, and easy to clean. We are now spoiled! If you know anyone that in the market for a used Bron Mandolin they can mine for free. I don’t think anyone in the kitchen will touch it now that we have the Edgeware Mandolin. Thanks for making such a quality product.'

To purchase online click here. For more information call (800) 221-4156. Edgeware will be available at Williams Sonoma in August.

Smith’s also designs and manufacture of the broadest line of knife and scissors sharpeners currently available including manual and electrical sharpeners ranging from simple to sophisticated. The sharpeners incorporates a wide variety of abrasive materials including diamond, carbide, ceramic, bonded synthetic abrasives and natural Arkansas stones.

Watermelon: Back to the Rind

Watermelon is summer's most perfect fruit.

No matter how you slice it (or season it), watermelon is summer's most perfect fruit. It's hydrating during the hottest season of the year and it's full of needed vitamins and minerals. Plus, it's just plain delicious! 

Some of our fondest memories are of sitting outside on a balmy summer evening devouring ice-cold slices of homegrown watermelon. The mouthwatering scent of fresh watermelon still evokes those memories, whether we're eating it around the table, at our desk, or at an outdoor festival. Watermelon is more than just a succulent summer fruit though; it’s chock full of nutrients and vitamins. And since it's grown all over Arkansas, local melons abound. We strolled down to the Little Rock Farmers' Market to check out the local melon scene.

Here's what we found.

• Rumor has it that Cave City produces the sweetest watermelons in the state. See for yourself! Visit Mike Whitney, also at the Little Rock Farmers’ Market, and try out one of his Cave City watermelons.

• Watermelons are 92% water.

• In 1990, Bill Carson of Arrington, Tenn., grew the largest watermelon at 262 pounds that is still on the record books.

It's Good For You

• Low in fat and calories: Watermelon is naturally low in saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol. Two cups of diced watermelon contains 80 calories and 0g of fat and saturated fat.

• Lycopene: According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, watermelons are the “Lycopene Leader” in fresh produce, having higher concentrations of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been shown to help guard against cancer-causing free radicals.

• Heart health: According to a 2007 study by the United States Department of Agriculture, watermelon consumption increases free arginine and citruline, which can help maintain the arteries and blood flow.

• Vitamin A: Found in watermelon, this vitamin is important for optimal eye health.

• Vitamin C: Helps support immune system defenses against infections and viruses, as well as free radical damage.

• Potassium: A two-cup serving of watermelon has 10 percent of the daily reference value for potassium, a mineral necessary for water balance in the cells.

Receipe Without Rind

Watermelon, toasted jalapeno and shrimp pico de gallo
(courtesy of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Watermelon.org)

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno
3 tablespoons minced fresh shallot
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice from 3 fresh limes
2 cups minced watermelon
2 cups chopped, cooked and cooled,
 peeled and deveined shrimp
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup diced roasted red pepper
Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:
Heat the oil in a heavy non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the jalapeno, shallots, and garlic until golden and toasted around the edges.  Remove from heat and add soy sauce and cumin. Cool.  Scrape the cooled ingredients into a bowl and toss with lime juice, watermelon, shrimp, parsley and roasted pepper. Season with pepper to taste. Serve with chips and margaritas, fish tacos or atop grilled salmon. Serves 6 to 8.

Melon Camps
Watermelon festivals in the city, or just a short drive away

31st annual Cave City Watermelon Festival
This festival, in the city that claims to have the “sweetest watermelons,” offers free entry.
Thursday, August 12-Saturday, August 14
City Park, 1033 N. Main, Cave City
Charles Landers, (870) 283-5959, CaveCityArkansas.info

Hope Watermelon Festival
Thursday, August 12-Saturday, August 14
Fair Park, Hope
Mark Keith, (870) 777-3640; HopeMelonFest.com, HopeMelonFest@yahoo.com

Whole Foods Watermelon Fest
A free event, featuring ice-cold watermelon slices and more.
11 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, July 3
Whole Foods Market,
10700 N. Rodney Parham  
312-2326, WholeFoodsMarket.com

Craws for a Cause

The annual crawfish boil, Craws for a Cause, benefited Baptist Health’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and was held at Dickey Stephens Park.

The annual crawfish boil, Craws for a Cause, benefited Baptist Health’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and was held at Dickey Stephens Park.

Wine Tasting: The Art of the Glass

Georg Riedel

Would we like to sip wine? Absolutely. Would we like to meet Georg Riedel? Certainly. Would we like to learn more about wine glasses? Well, sure. But what we got in exchange for our R.S.V.P. was much more than imagined.

We arrived early and sneeked a peek at the room setup. Each place was set with four different glasses atop a paper placemat marked with numbers and letters. We took a seat at the front of the room to get the best photographs of our presenter, who arrived and made his way to the front of the room amidst applause.

Riedel began by pointing out that drinking is one of the most natural actions. “If you are not smart enough to drink, you will not survive.” With that, he instructed us to nose, swirl and sip the Riesling from the Riesling Grand Cru glass. It was sweet and delicious and smelled of fruits. Riedel then told us to pour it out into a plastic cup and take a whiff. Surprise registered throughout the room in audible “wows.” The nose, which had formerly been bright and strong, was completely dead. I smelled nothing. And then when I sipped it, the flavors were off.

Riedel explained that glasses are made a certain way to complement specific wines. The Riesling Grand Cru glass, for instance, is tall and tapered slightly toward the top. Among other reasons, the glass is made this way to make the drinker tilt his head back farther, forcing the wine to hit the palate in a certain spot. When Riesling hits the palate any other way, the flavor, the nose and even the mouth feel is different.

The same goes for the Chardonnay we drank later in the Montrachet glass. This glass has a very round, bell-like bowl, allowing the wine to enter the mouth in a broader stream. We were taken with how buttery and smooth the wine felt and tasted in this glass.

Pinot Noir was next, and it was served in a Pinot Noir glass with the exact same bowl as the Montrachet, but taller and with a curved lip. It tasted perfectly delightful in the glass in which it was meant to be served, but bitter in the Montrachet glass.

We finished with a Cabernet Sauvignon in the Cabernet Sauvignon glass. Full-bodied and rich in berry flavors in the Cab glass, the tannins were discordant in the Pinot Noir glass and downright foul in the Montrachet glass.

Experiment complete, we noshed on hors d’oeuvres created by Capital Hotel Chef Lee Richardson, while Riedel outlined his top four ways to increase wine pleasure.

• Select good company with which to drink.

• Serve wine at the proper temperature; white not too cold, reds slightly chilled.

* Decant wines. The flavors of most wines improve when decanted.

• Pick varietal specific glasses. You need five total glasses to cover it all: two whites and three reds.

To get the full experience like us, you can purchase Riedel glasses at the following locations: Kitchen Co. in Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 11525 Cantrell Road, Ste. 910, 663-3338, KitchenCo.net; Eggshells, 5705 Kavanaugh Blvd., 664-6900, EggShellsKitchenCompany.com; or Fifth Season, 10020 North Rodney Parham, (877) 440-0543.

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About The Author
What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of InArkansas.com be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make InArkansas.com your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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