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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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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.

Go-and-Do: Tuesday Nights at Little Rock Farmers Market

Image by C. Waynette Traub

We all have another reason to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Little Rock Farmers Market!  

In case you didn't know, in addition to its Saturday hours, the farmers market has started an after-hours shopping time from 3-7 p.m., every Tuesday through August at its regular place in the River Market.

The "Night Market" is entering its third week tonight, and Charlie Oppedisano, retail manager for the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, says the market is excited about the new, mid-week operation.

So far, numbers have been good on Tuesday, even during the first night when weather was less than ideal, Oppedisano said. 

The additional hours offer the perfect opportunity to for folks to stop by after work, and stock up on fresh fruits and veggies before dinner. In addition, Oppedisano said the market is seeing quite a few downtown dwellers coming to shop.

"We think it'll be a positive," he said. "We like the vibe."

The Tuesday market will continue through Aug. 26, so be sure and check it out this summer!

For more information on the Little Rock Farmers Market, check out their Facebook page.

Ferneau's 'Good Food' Moving to Argenta

Executive Chef Donnie Ferneau, Rocket 21

Good news, North Little Rock! Good Food by Ferneau is moving into the old Argenta Market spot on Main Street!

Donnie Ferneau, chef and owner of Good Food, announced it this morning on his new catering and takeout venture's Facebook page. Ferneau said he will be providing dates for the move at a later time.

Good Food is currently located at Pulaski Presbyterian Church in Hillcrest from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Ferneau's new business focuses on healthy food, both gluten- and sugar-free, for people on the go. 

For more on the business, check out our story here

Donnie Ferneau is Making Some 'Good,' Healthy Food

Executive Chef Donnie Ferneau, Rocket 21

There's a new healthy food option for the busy folks of central Arkansas, and we think you may have heard of the owner.

Good Food by Ferneau is the brainchild of Donnie Ferneau, the former owner and chef at Ferneau in Hillcrest which closed in 2011. His goal for his new catering and takeout business is for busy people who would still like to eat healthy. 

The menu changes frequently, usually every day or every other day, and includes, on average, a few entrees for lunch and dinner, in addition to a salad and a snack or two. Previous menu items have included chicken thighs, shrimp and cauliflower grits, fresh strawberry and pineapple fruit salad and pork carnitas. And he's using as much local food as possible.

The idea is for healthy foodies to be able to come by Ferneau's current spot at Pulaski Presbyterian Church in Hillcrest, get the food to go and eat for lunch, or later at home for dinner. 

"For those with busy lifestyles, after going to the gym or being at work, you don't really want to go out to eat," Ferneau says. "There aren't that many — only a small handful — of healthy food options in Little Rock."

Ferneau says his meals will help his customers stay on clean, healthy food paths during the week. The idea for the healthy food option is something he's always wanted to offer.

"I started being active some time ago, and the one thing I noticed is it's hard to make gains," Ferneau says. "70 percent of the gains you make in the gym are done in the kitchen. If you're working out and not eating right, you're not going to see the results you want."

After leaving the restaurant scene, Ferneau took about a year and a half to study food and dieting. Now, he's ready to share what he's learned with central Arkansas. So far, business has been "overwhelming," Ferneau says.

"I didn't realize it would be this big of a response," he says. "I feel silly for not doing it sooner."

What adds to the welcoming response is the reactions Ferneau says he used to get at his restaurant when he attempted to make healthy dishes.

"They would look at me like I was crazy, and say 'no bacon?' or 'no cream sauce?'" Ferneau said. "It was hard to gauge off the previous clientele."

Now, instead of packing on the pounds, his clientele is shedding them. Ferneau said some of his customers have averaged multiple pounds a week on his meals. 

"I'd say about 90 percent have been happy with the food," Ferneau says.

Most of the meals are between $10-$13. Salads and snacks are usually around $5. Those who sign up for a whole week get 10 meals for $100, which can save between $15-$20. 

In the future, Ferneau says he has plans for shipping his meals nationwide and having dispensaries across central Arkansas.

"One of the main reasons people fall off in eating healthy is because of time," Ferneau says. "It has to be available to them. If we're in, say, North Little Rock, and the customer lives in west Little Rock, there are a lot of shiny signs in between there and here that are going to attract them."

Right now, Ferneau's operation is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday in Hillcrest. However, there are rumors his operation could be moving into the Argenta Market location on Main Street in North Little Rock. The grocery story closed in February.

To keep up with the menu from day-to-day, check out Ferneau's Facebook page.

Taste of Tuesday: Healthy Summer Meal Ideas from Elizabeth Finch

Order fresh produce and other local products online for Wednesday pickup at Eggshells Kitchen Co. 

Guys, it's June. You know what that means. It's time to get that beach-ready body for the summer and start feeling good. You know, what you should have been doing for months in advance.

It's okay, we've been procrastinators, too. To help us all out, we've enlisted the help of Elizabeth Finch, a board certified health and nutrition counselor.

She's sharing a few recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. These are meals that are sure to get you on the right track before the summer passes you by. 

For more from Elizabeth, you can check out her stuff on FacebookPinterest and check out her website. Thanks for the help, Elizabeth! We owe you!

Breakfast: Easy Blueberry Overnight Oats

The Ingredients:

•1/2 cup whole rolled oats

•3/4 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk

•1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (Fage 2 percent yogurt is a good choice)

•1/2 tablespoon chia seeds

•3-4 drops liquid stevia, if desired for sweetness

•1/3 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

In a bowl, mix together the rolled oats, almond or coconut milk, Greek yogurt, chia seeds and liquid stevia. Set in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, heat if desired, and top with the blueberries.

Lunch: Spinach Salad in a Jar with Chicken and Honey-Cumin

The Ingredients:

•1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

•3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

•2 teaspoons honey

•small pinch of ground cumin

•small pinch of sea salt

•1 cup cucumber, chopped

•1 cup red onion, chopped

•6 ounces cooked and cubed chicken (or try Beyond Meat's Chicken-Free Strips for a vegetarian version)

•2 tablespoons raisins, preferably without sugar added

•2 tablespoons raw, unsalted pecans, chopped

•3 cups fresh spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces

Directions:

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, white balsamic, honey, cumin and sea salt. Split the dressing between two wide-mouth, quart-sized mason jars. Add the cucumber and the onion, again splitting between the two jars. Do the same thing with the chicken. Next, add the raisins, pecans and spinach. Seal and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. When time to serve, shake the jar until all the ingredients are covered in the dressing. Unscrew the lid and pour onto a plate if it's available, or enjoy straight from the jar.

Dinner: Almond Butter Veggie Satay

The Ingredients:

•1 cup uncooked quinoa

•2 cups water, vegetable broth or chicken broth

•1/4 cup almond butter

•2 tablespoons rice vinegar

•1 tablespoon tamari or low-sodium soy sauce

•1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

•1/2 tablespoon honey

•1/2 medium red cabbage, thinly sliced

•1 cup carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

•1 medium onion, thinly sliced

•1 cup snow peas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

•1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

•3 cloves garlic, minced

•2 tablespoons coconut oil or avocado oil (Coconut oil and avocado oil are both great options for high-heat cooking because of their high-smoke points)

Directions:

Bring water or vegetable broth to a boil in a medium pot. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, make the sauce. In a bowl, whisk together the almond butter, rice vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, ginger and honey. Set aside. Heat the coconut or avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables to the skillet and stir fry for 8 minutes, until tender crisp. Lower the heat to medium-low, pour the almond butter sauce over the vegetables and allow to cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Serve the veggie satay over the cooked quinoa. If you'd like, you can also add cooked meat, chicken or shrimp to this dish.

Snack Ideas

Mid-morning: Green tea with a tablespoon unsweetened almond milk and a few drops of liquid stevia and 1/2 cup fresh berries or any flavor of GT's Synergy kombucha, which is fermented tea that is loaded with antioxidants and probiotics.

Mid-afternoon: Homemade trail mix made with 1/2 ounce raw nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, 1/2 ounce dried fruit, such as cherries or goji berries, and 1 teaspoon of dark chocolate chips (minimum 70 percent cacao).

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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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