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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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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.

Farmers Market Recipes Encourage Healthy Eating

Certified Arkansas Farmers Markets will open April 17 in downtown North Little Rock and Searcy.

These suggestions from chef Michel Nischan, author of Sustainably Delicious, are tasty ways to get us to eat better.

Nischan, owner of  Dressing Room in Westport, Conn., and the creator of Wholesome Wave, a program to help underserved communities gain access to local food, has a simple philosophy: Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables from small farmers and you'll do OK. 

Central Arkansas markets include River Market Farmers Market, 400 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays, Certified Arkansas Farmers Market, 521 Main St., North Little Rock, open 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays, Searcy Farmers Market, Spring Park, Searcy, open 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, and Jacksonville Farmers Market, 9 Municipal Drive, Jacksonville, open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

Here are some of his recipes that appear in the July 2010 issue of Food & Wine:

Fresh Shell Bean and Tomato Stew (six servings)

  • Three cups fresh cranberry beans (from three pounds in the shell)
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 garlic cloves halved
  • 2 thyme springs plus 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • Pince of baking soda
  • 1 pound tomatoes, diced (a good use for perfectly delicious but less beautiful tomatoes often sold for less at farmers markets)
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt

In a saucepan, combine the beans, water, garlic, thyme sprigs and baking soda and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the beans are tender, around 30 minutes.

Drain the beans, reserving 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid in the saucepan. Discard the garlic and thyme sprigs. Add the beans and tomatoes. Simmer over moderate heat until the tomatoes are hot, about two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Add the thyme leaves and season with salt, then serve.

Instant Tomato Sauce: Chop overripe tomatoes and cook with a small pat of butter and fresh herbs until soft. Toss with pasta.

Peach and Fennel Slaw: Mix thinly sliced fennel with vinegar and salt. Add sliced peaches, flat-leaf parsley, tarragon and fresh lemon zest and toss again.

Raw Corn Salad: Cut fresh corn kernels off the cob and toss with cilantro leaves, shaved white onion and fresh lime juice.

Tomato-Avocado Spread: Coaresly chop varied heirloom tomatoes and smash in a bowl with a ripe avocado and sliced scallions. Season with salt and spread on crusty bread.

There's More on the Menu at Maddie's Place

Maddie's Place chef/owner Brian Deloney is celebrating his funky, friendly restaurant's 18-month anniversary by adding a bunch of appealing items to the formerly short, sweet menu. 

New appetizers: House Smoked Salmon Dip with grilled pita bread chips, $6

Spicy Boiled Shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, $7

Lump Crab Cakes with chile lime butter sauce and cilantro crema, $9

New po-boys: Ham and Cheese, Spicy Chicken, Pulled Pork, each $7

New entrees: Spicy Shrimp Boil with andouille, corn and potatoes, $16

Mississippi Catfish with slow-cooked greens, blackeyed peas and Creole tomato glaze, $15

Fish Tacos with cilantro lime slaw, chipotle aioli and fresh tomato relish, $10

Panned Pork lion with cornbread pudding, smothered green beans and homemade Worchestershire, $15

To see the full menu click here. 

Maddie's is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. For more information call (501) 660-4040.

ACAC's Membership Picnic, Dance Party Today

Arkansas Community Arts Cooperative will hold a membership appreciation picnic from 4-7 p.m. today at Allsopp Park softball field at the corner of Cantrell Road and Cedar Hill Road in Little Rock.

Enjoy a kickball game, hot dogs and drinks. Admission is free.

Not a member? This is a good opportunity to become a supporter of community art and find out more of what the Arkansas Community Arts Co-op is about. Volunteer membership is free if you lend your time to the organization. Contributor membership is $20 a year and Sustainer membership is a bank draft of at least 5$ a month. Learn more by clicking here

After the picnic, the ACAC presents Dance 'til You Disintegrate, a dance party fund-raiser for ACAC's Fashion Exhibition coming in July. DJs Cameron Holifield and Michael Inscoe will supply the music, and there will be a dance contest with prizes. It'll be held from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. at The Union, 3421 Old Cantrell Road. Admission is $3 for members, $5 for others. You must be  18 or over to attend. 

For more information call (501) 244-2979.

Rock Town Distillery Is In High Spirits

The arrival of a 250-gallon copper pot still marks the opening of Rock Town Distillery, a 15,000-SF distillery and warehouse at 1216 E. Sixth St. near Heifer International in Little Rock.

The still will allow Rock Town Distillery to begin production of handmade premium small batch distilled spirits -- Brandon's Vodka and Brandon's Gin -- and to start aging Brandon's Bourbon. Each will be made from Arkansas grains.

Phil Brandon of Little Rock is the founder and president of the distillery. 

Brandon’s products should be found in bars, restaurants and liquor stores throughout Arkansas by September. Glazer's of Arkansas, the state’s largest wine and spirits wholesaler, will be its distributor. The spirits will be sold in 750ml bottles.

To read the full story in ArkansasBusiness.com click here.

Blades & Birdies at Hot Springs Farmers Market Saturday

Vendor Denny Holst of Blades & Birdies sharpens a patron’s garden tools during a recent Saturday at the Historic Downtown Hot Springs Farmers Market.

Along with Arkansas-grown vegetables and fruits, baked goods, meats, eggs and handcrafts, the Downtown Hot Springs Farmers Market, 121 Orange St., Hot Springs is offering the services of Denny Holst’s Blades & Birdies Saturday (June 26).

Blades & Birdies is a mobile professional knife and scissors sharpening company that also provides golf club reconditioning and re-gripping.

The Farmers’ Market operates from 6-11 a.m. Live music will be played from 9-11 a.m.

Market-goers can purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh-baked breads and other baked goods, plants, herbs, flowers, jams, jellies, honey, fresh meat products and eggs, and hand-crafted artisan items.

Blades & Birdies' rates are $2.50 for a knife blade, $6 for scissors, and $8 for lawn mower blades. Free estimates are available. 

Arkansas produce currently in-season includes beans, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, melons, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, sweet potatoes, okra, new potatoes, plums, peppers, tomatoes, squash and more.

The Hot Springs Farmers Market is open from 6 a.m.-11 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays through October. For more information click here. 

Cooks are Wild About Graters From Russellville-based Microplane

Microplane 2 in 1 rotary grater, $19.95

Microplane graters have been praised in the New York Times, Washington Post, and most cooking magazines. Their unique design -- once used in woodworking -- has been adapted to the kitchen with effective results.

The reason why Microplane graters and kitchen tools are so precise is because the company uses a patented chemical process to create extremely sharp cutting surfaces. Other companies use stamped teeth in their graters, which become dull over time. 

Microplane specializes in box graters, ribbon graters, spice graters, large shavers (for hard cheese and chocolate), extra-coarse graters (for grating onions, soft cheeses and cabbage), grater sets, slicers, sea salt shavers and more. To view the full line click here. There's free shipping on orders of $75 or more.

Learn Dutch Oven Cooking at Lake Ouachita State Park

Learn how to cook on a Dutch oven. 

Lake Ouachita State Park is offering a Dutch Oven Cooking Workshop from 5-8 p.m. June 26.

Through hands-on participation, class members will learn how to make several desserts including pineapple upside down cake, peach cobbler, lemon cake, and chocolate cherry cake. There will also be a demonstration on how to make biscuits and cornbread over an open fire.

Information on purchasing and caring for Dutch ovens plus details on how to control temperature and how to cook with coals will be covered. Bring your own drinks to the visitor center picnic area. The fee is $5 per person. No experience is necessary.

Cookbooks will be available at a discounted price of $10 for participants.

Reservations are required. Contact the park at (501) 767-8148, ext. 229. 

 

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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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