Saturday, July 20, 2013

Dallas - Highland Park Homes

Definitely one of my favorite places to go where I can quickly take in a wide array of homes of all different styles all well executed is a drive through the swanky Dallas neighborhood of Highland Park. I almost always make this a quick escape whenever I come to Dallas and each time I make my quick swing through I am never disappointed.

The first thing that caught my attention on this summer's trip was the amount of construction going on! It seems that nearly every third house had some construction project of some magnitude going on from a small bedroom or bathroom addition to a tear down and a new 20,000 sf estate being built!

The other thing I always love is the diversity in styles from a formal Italian Villa to a prototypical Dallas Hill Country Estate of course featuring that creamy Texas Limestone. I could spend hours absorbing the various styles and the plethora of details that make up those styles. To me that is the best part. I can snap several hundred photos in this quick pass through this Disneyland of residential architecture.

One of my clients introduced me to the neighborhood on my first trip here back in the mid 80's including an introduction to designers Loyd Taylor and Paxton Gremillion of the famed studio Loyd • Paxton of Dallas.  I love the size and high quality of this accessible neighborhood. As opposed to so many neighborhoods with homes of this quality this neighborhood for the most part is ungated so its wonderful to just drive or better yet walk all of the streets and soak in the architectural flavors. It would be like taking Encanto here in Phoenix and doing it Texas style - big!!! I have loved coming to Dallas ever since!

This most recent trip was compliments of my good friend Colin Snider of Bentwood Luxury Kitchens who brought me out to tour their showrooms and plant. Wow - fantastic work and what great people running the company. The care, quality and variety was wonderful to take in. From their fabulous Jack Arnold line of kitchens and cabinets to some of their more economical lines, they address a nice diversity of levels of cabinetry for the needs of a wide array of customers. Stay tuned on this and get ready for some exciting news from Candelaria Design and Bentwood Luxury Kitchens in the weeks and months ahead.

The city of Dallas is great and of course has many fabulous restaurants from barbecue to steak houses you can never go wrong in the Bid D! The economy of Texas is booming - with no state income tax it is amazing what happens - maybe I should do a tour and blog of Detroit as a contrast..... I highly advise you take the time to come check Dallas out and make sure to take that little jaunt through Highland Park.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Aspen Food&Wine Classic 2013

My oldest daughter, Tiffany, attended the Aspen Food&Wine Classic, much to her delight June 14-16th. Being a foodie as I am, she rapidly weaved her way through the crowds in an effort to try to taste as many treats & drinks as possible during her short breaks throughout the days. (She was there working for one of the exhibitors). She's taking over the blog post from here to tell us about her Food&Wine experience.  

The Classic took up one big square block on the Southwest end of town and was composed of two long tent rows with a smaller "feature" tent in the middle that was "Spain" along with a small lounging tent & a Patron Tequila popsicle stand. I never made it into Spain or had time to enjoy a Patron Pop, but plenty of people were always walking around with them & I heard great things were to be found in Spain.

What I was able to taste was the booth's next to me, which changed everyday! One day was "Rustique - Aspen's Country French Bistro" which sampled their truffle & roasted mushroom mac&cheese and lamb ragout. Another day, "TAG Restaurant" on Larimer Square in downtown Denver featured their chocolate lavender mousse,  but the real treat for me was the day "Franck Thirion's French Pastry" was our neighbor.

They had the most beautiful array of cinnamon rolls, chocolate filled croissants & petite French desserts that I could barely keep my eyes on my own booth & ended up sneaking bites all day long! Everything of theirs was so delicious & so authentic tasting. I have been to Paris & Italy multiple times and this was really on par or better than what I have had in my travels. I should add the owner couple are actually from France.

Last but not least, Food & Wine’s 2011 Best New Chef, Ricardo Zarate, from Peru offered authentic dishes like Carapulcra, a Peruvian sundried potato stew with crispy pork belly and chimichurri, that can also be found at his restaurants Mo-chica, Picca, and Paiche in Los Angeles. I also tried a cocktail called Chilcano de Guava, with Pisco, guava juice, honey, lime juice, & soda water that was definitely refreshing.

On that note, let me tell you about all the drinks. There was primarily red & white wines of course, but there was also a good variety of sparkling wines which are my favorite, oh & lots of booths offering cheese to complement along with Godiva Chocolates. Some of the white wines I tasted or photographed were Alfred Gratien, Cupcake Wines had a big display complete with a tiered cupcake display, Veuve Clicquot, Gosset Champagne Grand Rosé, and Gloria Ferrer.  

For red wines I saw Alexander Valley Vineyards displaying three different variations of Zinfandel & all their awards, Ruffino with a Riserva Ducale 2008 Chianti, The FMC, a Chenin Blanc from South Africa's Stellenbosch wine region, Croft's Fine Ruby Port, Fonseca's Vintage Port 2009, & Taylor Fladgate's 20 year Tawny & Late Bottled Vintage, which were served with either a cookie or a truffle, mmm.

It was a busy weekend & I really didn't have much time to sample for myself. I did get to people watch, and the people were as diverse as the food & wine offerings. I didn't see anyone famous but Mario Batali was doing a book signing nearby, "Ace of Cakes'" Duff Goldman led a chocolate demonstration, and many others were present (so I read) such as sommelier Jay Fletcher, & "Top Chef" head judge Tom Colicchio and fellow judge Gail Simmons. There were also all sorts of parties every evening that featured even more opportunities for delectable bites from the top restaurants & chefs across the country. The only one I know details on is the "Last Bite Dessert Party" at Hotel Jerome hosted by Gail Simmons & featuring dessert creations from Johnny Iuzzini, "Mr. Chocolate" Jacques Torres, "The Chew's" Carla Hall, "Ace of Cakes" Duff Goldman, and published cook Dorie Greenspan. Tickets were open to the public for only $125 and included "innovative cocktails" as well. I resorted to my own means of fun that night & enjoyed the napkin full of sweet treats I'd accumulated, free of charge, in my purse that day.

My weekend working in Aspen was incredible; I ate & drank the best of the best, explored an unbelievably beautiful town, befriended a few chefs, and even got to attend a private sponsored party at the Sky Hotel! I decided that weekend that I am definitely finding a way to work the Classic again next June, or even if it's just as a volunteer, I'm there!