Savor Dallas Wine Stroll

I was really struggling to come up with a birthday present for Candy. I was going to get her a Keurig single cup coffee machine, but right before I went out and bought it she developed some stomach problems related to coffee and told me she would have to quit drinking it. So I was back at square one.

Surfing around the web and checking facebook I came across an upcoming event here in Dallas that I, frankly, had never heard of. It was called Savor Dallas – and it is a multi-day, multi-location, celebration of food and wine and stuff like that. One event was called the Arts District Wine Stroll.

The Stroll was billed as:

The popular “Arts District Stroll” sets the stage for the two-day festival on Friday, March 30th, 5-7pm, where guests can enjoy wine and food tastings in the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Meyerson Symphony Center, and the Winspear Opera House. A group of the popular new Food Trucks will be selling their goodies along Flora Street during the Stroll.

So I guess it is something like a pre-paid pub crawl, except with a little more class.

Well, it looks like we might be on to something here. Walking around the Dallas Arts District, visiting four beautiful public buildings, all designed by Pritzker Prize winning architects, while sampling food and wine along the way. Meanwhile the usual flotilla of Food Trucks waits along the route in case you don’t get enough along the way.

That sounded like a plan to me – so I logged in and bought a pair of tickets online (good thing I didn’t wait – the event sold out a few days later).

The event ran from five to seven – only two hours long. We didn’t want to waste any time, so I took a half-day of vacation from work and we decided to take the DART train down there to avoid any traffic or parking hassles. We arrived at the Winspear Opera house right at five o’clock, had our tickets scanned, received a green wristband and a wine glass, and we were off.

The thing was great. There were over fifty spots pouring out samples of wine spread among the four locations and a healthy handful of food spots. We hit the Winspear Opera house first (an excellent sake there, in addition to the wine), then moved next door to the Meyerson Symphony Hall. These were crowded, but the lines moved quickly and we were able to sample a good selection of wine and some excellent food.

I carried my camera and a small Moleskine Notebook with a matching fountain pen. I tried not to take too many pictures – it was really hard to hold a wine glass, little tray of food, and steady the camera enough to take decent photographs. I was going to take notes on particularly good wines – wines that Candy liked – I’m not a good judge, I like everything,… but it wasn’t really necessary, we simply picked up brochures and business cards from stuff we liked.

After the Meyerson we walked down to the Dallas Museum of Art. I liked it the best. Because it was down on the end and a longer stroll than the others, it was by far the least crowded and there weren’t any lines at all.

Best of all, though, they had a Tequila Sampling station. There were two attractive young girls in white skintight spandex minidresses mixing various tequilla concoctions and pouring out trayfulls of shot glasses for us to snatch up and sample. Some of the mixes (coconut and grapefruit juice) were a little off – I much preferred the straight, smooth tequila – but it was all pretty damn good. I could have parked myself in front of the tequilla sampling place, while waiters kept coming by with strange little hors d’ oeuvres – like lamb on plantain chips or oysters in tiny ice cream cones – all night long.

But it was time to move on and we walked next door to the Nasher for the final half-hour of the festivities. The Nasher garden is a perfect spot for something like this – a healthy crowd milling about the grass lawn of the garden, sheltered by the groves of perfectly groomed trees, sipping wine and eating food while about a billion dollars of modern sculpture looks on.

I slowed down on my alcohol consumption there – only trying a couple of wines – but there was some really good food. I had never had tuna tartare tacos before – and they were very good. I hate to say it, but with all the fancy top-shelf restaurants demonstrating their wares, I think the best thing I had was the tomato basil soup with mini croissant from La Madeleine. It was exactly what I wanted right then.

Everybody seemed to be having a blast. It hit just the right note – fancy enough to enjoy a special night out, but not too upper crust to be unpleasant or stressful. Candy made some new friends and I enjoyed the very diverse and interesting crowd. I even liked the fact that at two hours it was fairly short. It seemed to end right at the right time, we had all had our fill but didn’t get too worn out yet.

I’m definitely going to give this a shot next year. I’ll have to remember to get tickets early again – I’m sure it’ll sell out. It would be nasty if the weather was bad – you wouldn’t want to stroll around in the rain or a storm…. but if that happens I could simply find the tequila place and stay right there.

The crowd milling around in the Winspear Opera House, sipping their wine

In the Winspear Opera House - the wine folks would only pour a taste, but the beer people, like these Stella Artois reps, would give you a whole bottle poured into a big cup. Yeah!

In the Meyerson Symphony Hall.

At the Meyerson

Wine at the Meyerson

The light pouring into the Dallas Museum of Art

The Tequila girls at the Museum of Art

Tequila

One of the nice things at the Museum of Art is they had some semi-live music - a guitar player using some pre-recorded backing. It was very relaxing and everyone hung around and talked.

Pouring wine while the folks from Rush Hour, by George Segal, look on.

George Segal, Rush Hour

The happy crowd in the Garden at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

The Nasher Sculpture Garden

Hanging out at the Nasher on the stone wall in front of The Bronze Crowd, by Magdalena Abakanowicz.

Bronze Crowd, by Magdalena Abakanowicz

Folks at the Nasher

Making Tuna Tartare Tacos

I can’t say we tried everything they had on the Stroll – but I know we tried most of it.

Wines at the Savor Dallas Wine Stroll:
14 Hands Winery
Abbazia
Alexjandro Fernández
Apothic
Becker Vineyards
Black Oak
Bridlewood
Cambria
Carmel Road
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Columbia Crest
Comenge
Concannon Vineyard
Condado de Haza
Cupcake
Darcie Kent
Dow’s
Edmeades
Edna Valley
Emilio Moro
Fall Creek Vineyards
Farrier
Flip Flop Wines
Frei Brothers
García Figuero
Ghost Pines
J. Lohr Vineyards
J Vineyards
Lapostolle Winery
LeBaron Ranch
Les Cadrans de Lassegue
Louis M. Martini
MacMurray Ranch
Matarromera
Montecastro
Murphy Goode
Neige
Ortega Fournier
Prats + Symington
Protos
Red Diamond
Ritual
Santa Cristina
Selección de Torres
Sequoia Grove
Twin Springs
Veramonte
Viña Arnáiz
Vizcarra

Water Supplied by:
FIJI Water

The Tequila
1800 Tequila

Sake:
TY-KU Sake

Beer:
GreatBrewers.com
Hoegaarden Beer
Leffe Blonde
Shock Top
Stella Artois Beer

Food:

Meso Maya
La Madeleine
Texas Spice
Jorges Tex-Mex Cafe
Garlic Expressions
Pho Colonial

What I learned this week, March 30, 2012

In his defense of Obamacare, the Solicitor General quoted from the Preamble to the Constitution. I’m sorry, but I wasn’t immediately familiar with the exact wording of the Preamble – but I found this video that explains it all.


Strangest of Places



Abundance Is Our Future (and We All Know It)


A Museum on the Streets of Rome



The odd and amazing story of Sealand

Sealand is a small country located off the British coast on an abandoned WWII artillery platform in the North Sea.



Things I want to do in Dallas (coming up)

Candy and I have tickets to the SavorDallas Wine and Food Stroll tonight down in the Arts District. I bought them for her birthday.

The Deep Ellum Arts Festival is coming up April 6-8th. My favorite band, Brave Combo will be there. I’m trying to save enough cash to buy another sculpture by David Pound.

April 14th is Ciclovia de Dallas – where the Houston Street Viaduct will be closed to traffic and open only to bicycles. Looks like fun – another bridge party.

Free concerts in the Dallas Arts District. Unfortunately, these are on Thursdays and my writing group meets then – but I might be able to work something out.

Any other ideas? What am I missing?

Free Things to do in Dallas


For all of you Mad Men fans out there:


Seven Things I Wish I’d Have Known When I First Became A Photographer

  1. Care about what you are photographing
  2. Learn how to use your camera and stop changing systems
  3. It’s not the camera that makes the shot – it’s the photographer
  4. Find the light first, the background second and the subject third
  5. If you photograph people or make pictures professionally understand that being nice is better than being good
  6. The best photographs in the world happen when …. there is solid, real emotion and/or love
  7. Serious photography is about protecting memories, telling stories, keeping moments

Sorry, I’m sure this is more interesting to me than it is to you….

Jimmy’s Food Store

A while back, Candy had this wine at an Italian restaurant in Fort Worth. It was Lacryma de Christi del Vesuvio – which translates as “Tear of Christ.” It’s a type of wine produced on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. We had been looking for the stuff all over the Metroplex and nobody had it. They all said the same thing though, “have you looked at Jimmy’s? If anybody has it, they will.” I looked up Jimmy’s Food Store and found it was on the corner of Fitzhugh and Bryan in East Dallas. Today we had some time and drove down there.

I’m familiar with that area. For years I went through there twice a day on my way to work downtown – either driving or on a bus. It was always a poor area, pretty lively, but not the place you wanted to wander around after dark. Lately, though, a lot of the run down old apartments and crude homes have been torn down and the area is primed for redevelopment and gentrification.

Meat Case - Italian Sausage and more

Do you like Nutella? - here's an eleven pound jar for seventy dollars.

Jimmy’s Food Store is a fantastic place. It’s the motherlode of specialty Italian food and wine. I heard the owner talking – he’s been in the same location for forty-two years. The neighborhood has been through some serious changes over that time, but his store has stayed the same. It was crowded with people buying Italian groceries – about a quarter of them speaking Italian.

The store isn’t very big, but holds a lot of goodness, crammed in as tight as can be. The biggest area is dedicated to wine, a huge selection of Italian wines, arranged by region and type. You can learn a lot about wine simply walking the aisles and reading the little articles they have taped to each variety.

Sure enough, they had a couple Lachryma Christi whites (the one red they carry was sold out). There was a Mastroberardino and a Vini Nobilis. We bought one of each and a couple other bottles of wine. We picked up some pasta (Pastosa – imported from Brooklyn!) some cheese and a couple of sauces to go with the pasta.

A couple of Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio

This is the kind of place you don’t want to go when you are hungry. You will buy too much stuff. In addition to the wine and groceries, back next to the meat counter, is a little place where you can order sandwiches. We bought a Cuban and a Muffaletta, some drinks, and took them out to a little table out by the street. The day had started out crisp, but the Texas sun was warming everything up quickly.

Mufalletta - big enough for about three meals

Cuban Sandwich

Seating out on the street.

It was really nice sitting out there on the street eating sandwiches and enjoying the day. There was even live music – a partly blind man, Vincent Van Buren,  playing harmonica and singing the blues (and a lot of old Beatles tunes).

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Vinnie Van Buren 1

Vinnie Van Buren 2

Vinnie Van Buren 3

Vinnie Van Buren 4

Video – Partially Blind Man Plays Harmonica at Local Food Store

Antonio Ramblés – Dallas’s Italian grocery

A lot of restaurants use Jimmy’s Sausage – Like Fireside Pies

What’s Worth Drinking - Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio