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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 Associate Editor Lauren James here.
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Go-and-Do: SoMa's Chef Series Begins Tonight with Georgia Pellegrini

Image by Waynette Traub

There is no way to miss South on Main in SoMa.

The South on Main chef series you have been waiting on starts tonight (Thursday) with Georgia Pellegrini.

The chef, author and TV personality will sign copies of her book, "Modern Pioneering: More than 150 Recipes, Projects, and Skills for a Self-Sufficient Life," and demonstrate how to make a watermelon keg for your summer parties.

The event is free, but all are asked to RSVP. If you would like to reserve a copy of Pellegrini's book, the cost is $24.72 and can be completed here. The book reservation will also get you a gift bag filled with goodies like a Western silicone baking mat, items from Riceland and a treat from SoMa.

South on Main will also be offering a "Modern Pioneering" dinner tasting menu this evening.

The chef series was announced by SoMa earlier this month. It's hoped to bring chefs from around the country to Little Rock.

For more on Pellegrini, check out this video preview of her book.

Last Day to Vote for Hillcrest Artisan Meats in Ham Independence Contest

Image by Hillcrest Artisan Meats

We told you last week that Hillcrest Artisan Meats would be defending its crown in the La Quercia Ham Independence contest

Fan voting opened Saturday and closes today (Tuesday). As of 9:25 a.m., H.A.M. is in first place with 6,531 votes, roughly 41 percent. The Cheese Shop of Des Moines, which has 6,162 votes, or about 39 percent of the vote, is the closest competitor.

The winner of the contest, which pits participating shops from across the country in a fight for the most creative and revolutionary display, gets a whole Acorn Edition Prosciutto leg.

The ginormous piece of pork is aged 24-36 months and weighs between 15-30 lbs. The meat comes from a pig fed a 60 percent acorn diet for at least three months.

The contest is all part of Ham Independence Week, a week-long festival, put on by La Quercia Cured Meats of Iowa, that celebrates the artisan cured ham and all its glory.

To vote for Hillcrest Artisan Meats, click here.

Ray's More than Mex Family Dining Now Open in West LR

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There's a new Mexican restaurant in west Little Rock to try out!

Ray's More than Mex Family Dining recently opened at 10815 Colonel Glenn and it has quite the offering! The restaurant, big enough to seat a couple hundred in addition to about 50 on the patio, is family-owned and named for Arkansas Sports Hall of Famer and former Arkansas Razorback Ray Hamilton.

James Long, the manager and chef who is better known as Chef Jimmi, says the restaurant should not be confused with Tex-Mex.

Ray's offers several appetizers, including queso, salsa, guacamole, pork fritters and a smoked and fried pork skins dish dubbed "Razorback Back." There also plenty of salads, including caesar and mix field greens.

You'll be sure to get your taco fix as well with offerings like pulled pork, carnitas, shrimp and chicken, just to name a few. Other dishes include quesadillas, tamales and burritos. Ray's also offers some tasty-looking and sounding sandwiches. There's the Cuban Sandwich, complete with roasted pork loin, shaved ham and swiss cheese, the Kansas City Pig, which includes roasted pork butt and the chef's own BBQ sauce, and the Buenos Aires Dip, featuring slow-roasted prime rib. 

And we can't forget about the Woo Pig Sooie that boasts fried pork tenderloin with BBQ pulled pork, black pepper bacon, swiss cheese and fried egg!

Want an added bonus? Ray's has empanadas and they are made fresh daily!

The bar is still being developed, according to Long, but there are frozen, regular and flavored margaritas now available, in addition to beer and wine. Right now, Long said there are also a few rums available and within the next few weeks, whiskeys and vodkas should be ready to order.

The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, check out their website.

Bruno's to Close for Vacation Sunday, Reopen July 8

Image by Bruno's Little Italy

We recommend you stop by Bruno's in the next few days, because it is scheduled to close for a little R&R.

Bruno's Little Italy announced yesterday on its Facebook page that it will close Sunday through July 7 for vacation. It's set to reopen July 8.

The Italian restaurant is located at 310 Main St., Suite 101 and is open 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Be sure and stop by this week!

The Pantry to Close July 1-10 for Remodel

Tomas Bohm, owner of the Pantry, has an extensive Czech culinary background.

If you cannot stand the possibility of going more than 10 days without eating at The Pantry, you may want to stop by the Rodney Parham location soon!

The Pantry announced on its Facebook page that it will be closed from July 1-10 to renovate and reorganize its kitchen ahead of the anticipated opening of The Pantry Crest. 

Tomas Bohm has previously said he expects the second location in Hillcrest, at 722 N. Palm St., to open in August.

Because of the closure, the restaurant will be open Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. to give its faithful customers another opportunity to enjoy the food.

Go-and-Do: South on Main's New Chef Series to Bring Georgia Pellegrini This July

Image by Waynette Traub

There is no way to miss South on Main in SoMa.

We all know that Little Rock has a burgeoning food scene. And the folks at South on Main hope to continue that trend.

The SoMa eatery recently announced that they will be launching a new chef series starting next month, aimed at promoting and celebrating chefs while changing the food culture of Little Rock for the better.

The first event is set for July 3 and will feature Georgia Pellegrini, a chef, author and TV personality. The night will include a book signing, appetizers and a signature cocktail from her new book, "Modern Pioneering." Additionally, there will be a Q&A session and Pellegrini will demonstrate how to make a Watermelon Keg. 

South on Main is looking to bring in exciting chefs from across the country for the series.

The event is free, but guests are asked to RSVP here. For those who would like to reserve a copy of Pellegrini's book and recieve a goody bag, the cost is $24.72. Click here to do so.

Le Pops' Heights Location Now Open

Le Pops Gourmet Ice Lollies officially opened its new location on Kavanaugh Boulevard over the weekend.

They announced the opening last Friday afternoon on their Facebook page.

The newest Le Pops location is at 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd. Others include at Hillcrest Artisan Meats, the Little Rock Climbing Center, both Pizza Cafe locations, the Little Rock River Market and All Aboard Restaurant.

"It meets a number of our primary criteria and everything came together in such a way that it ended up being the space that we selected," owner Laurie Harrison told Soirée last month.

Le Pops specializes in handmade, frozen treats made from all-local produce. The pops are $2.75 each and include flavors like salted caramel, banana pudding and avocado. For an extra 25 cents, customers can dip their pops in chocolate.

For more information, check out their Facebook page.

Diamond Bear's Arkansas Alehouse is Now Open!

Image by Diamond Bear Brewing Co. Facebook

It's the day we've all been waiting for, the Diamond Bear Brewing Co.'s new restaurant, Arkansas Alehouse, is now open!

The local craft beer maker made the announcement on its Facebook page today.

The brew pub will seat about 120 to 130 guests with room for 25 more in an additional tap room. As far as food goes, the pub will offer pretzels, brats, soups, sandwiches and appetizers.

It's a busy time for Diamond Bear, which is moving its brewery from downtown Little Rock, across the river into a 16,000-SF spot at 600 N. Broadway in North Little Rock, the same spot as Arkansas Alehouse. For more on everything that Diamond Bear has going on, check out the full report at our sister publication, Arkansas Business.

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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 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 your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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Who doesn't love a cookie to satisfy their sweet tooth? In this month's issue of Little Rock Soirée, Editor-In-Chief Sandra McGrew highlights nine of the best cookies around town. Yum!
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