Melissa Runs

Sometimes, Melissa runs her legs. Sometimes, she runs her mouth.

Category: food

Melissa’s unsolicited advice column 1: Where to eat in Arkansas

So this week, Hillcrest Artisan Meats (or as known to the locals as “HAM”) won its Ham Independence for the second year in a row. Thousands of fans of Hillcrest Artisan meats clicked on a ballot showing their HAM love and as a result HAM gets a fancy acorn fed piece of pork. This year, Arkansans received spirited competition from the fans of The Cheese Shop of Des Moines with Jennifer Miller, the Food writer at the Des Moines Register, as their head cheerleader and smacktalker. After everything was said and done, several people invited Ms. Miller to come to Arkansas.

Well.. Jennifer, oh foodie writer, here’s where I would suggest you go. This is not an extensive list and others will disagree. As a member of the Little Rock Burger Caucus, I must give you a plethora of burger options. This is my list.

Driving from Iowa, I would suggest you take a stop in Bentonville and tour Crystal Bridges and the Walmart Museum. Foodwise. It’s
Crepes Paulette. Yes it’s a food truck. Yes it’s worth it. There are sweet and savory crepes and crepes that are both sweet and savory at the same time.

I don’t have much experience with Bentonville dining but I have heard great things about Tusk and Trotter, The Hive, and Table Mesa but I haven’t eaten at any of those myself.

Keep on driving THEN

Feltner’s Whattaburger in Russellville Arkansas. This place has been making burgers for over 40 years. The menu is simple but good: burgers, fries, shakes, onion rings, chicken stripes. As you walk through you can see the staff assemble your burger. I recommend a burger and a small order of fries. The large is enough to eat for a week.

When you get to Little Rock:

Of course, you have to stop by Hillcrest Artisan Meats. This artisan butcher serves a wide variety of yummy sandwiches during lunch. My favorite is the Georgie which is ham and butter on bread. You can add truffles for $2.00 more. It doesn’t need anything else. If you want to celebrate the beauty of Iowa, you can order the Brick-Pressed Prosciutto (La Quercia’s Prosciutto Americano, provolone, red onion, tomato, arugula, aioli). You can get it with chips or lentil salad. (lentil salad)

For Barbeque, I say Sims. I am a fan of the ribs myself. Just go with it.

Capital Bar and Grill is the hotspot for political movers and shakers. It has beautiful wood interior and a wide variety of cocktails. They serve fried black eyed peas as a free appetizer. I have yet to have a bad meal here. My recommendations: The country fried steak. The burger is a contender for one of the best in Little Rock. The pimento and cheese is slap your Mama good. Also, get the spiced pecans.

Find the Southern Gourmasian (it’s a food truck and it doesn’t have a set location) and get the chicken and dumplings. It is the best cheap dish in Arkansas. Yes BEST DISH IN ARKANSAS.. It comes from a truck. I told you. TRUST!

Mylo Coffee for breakfast is the way to go. They serve a whole host of pastries but foodies have been getting in fights over the Kouign Amann since Mylo first started peddling his wares at farmer’s markets. Okay that link was satire but I do recommend you try a treat with a drink of pour over coffee. You won’t be disappointed.

My big fat BBQ weekend

The House of Gee

The House of Gee

Several months ago, Kelly Gee and his lovely wife Erica started a Kickstarter campaign to procure a super duper mega BBQ smoker. The real name of the super duper mega BBQ smoker is the “Boca Roto” smoker. It is a BBQ machine. It has platforms that rotate above the flame. It is large enough to smoke a human body. Not that I advocate that sort of thing but it is feasible. I am pretty sure that is illegal so don’t point to this blog as permission. Leave human bodies alone.

Ahem..

So as a “Thank you” for all kickstarter donators who donated $25.00 or over, the Gees threw a celebratory BBQ at their house and provided a jar of the Super awesome Gee spice rub for your own BBQ needs. So this weekend. I took a trip to the House of Gee. Look it even has a plaque on the door. Is that charming or what?

Kelly didn’t hold back. He rubbed and smoked all the meats. There were ribs. There was chicken. There was pulled pork. It all had been rubbed down and smoked until it was JUST RIGHT. There was also a choice of 3 sauces: Tipsy Sauce (A bourbon sauce), Mustard Sauce, and the East Arkansas Red (a vinegar based hot sauce). This was tasty food. The ribs were tender and flavorful. The rub on the ribs was enough flavor that a sauce wasn’t necessary. The chicken was smoky. The bourbon sauce was sweet with a kick. The pork was also tender and made a dang fine sandwich.

Of course, there were sides. There was blue cheese slaw. There was potato salad. There were bacon wrapped jalapenos. There was deserts: cupcakes, brownies, diet coke cake (?)

As you can tell it was a feast.

Kelly Gee knows how to smoke a rib.  Potato salad is at the bottom and to the right is the bourbon sauce

Kelly Gee knows how to smoke a rib. Potato salad is at the bottom and to the right is the bourbon sauce

And there were friends. All the foodie friends I have met at different foodie functions were there. Kevin of the Mighty Rib and Red Lobster Biscuit coma fame was there. So was Dan the writer over at Eat Arkansas. Greg of Rock City Times. Thanh of Red Kitchen Recipes. Joel from Southern Ash and his wife Amanda. It was a good time.

Sweet Love fall cupcake extravanganza

On Tuesday, Kelli, ninja baker and owner of Sweet Love had a “fall flavors tasting” on Tuesday. All the new fall flavors in mini cupcake form for free. It was a tasty treat-o-rama. I got to see many of my twitter friends like Erin, Paul Strack of CustomXM, Kelli the baker, Micca… A BUNCH OF PEOPLE OKAY!..
Here are the pictures.

New fall flavors in mini cupcake form

New fall flavors in mini cupcake form

From left to right: Snicker Doodle, Caramel Apple, Bananas Foster, and Pumpkin Pie

The snicker doodle was based on the flavors of the popular cinnamon covered cookies. The cake is a vanilla base with a cinnamon buttercream icing. It was my favorite.

I didn’t have the caramel apple but I was told there was real apple chunks in the cake.

The Bananas foster was a banana cupcake with what I think was a vanilla cream cheese frosting. My talent of distinguishing between butter cream and cream cheese frosting is non existent. A banana cupcake is very similar to banana bread. The frosting did not overpower the cupcake.

Pumpkin pie. (Sorry I didn’t eat this one)

More fall flavors from Sweet Love

More fall flavors from Sweet Love

From Left to right: Spiced Rum, Pumpkin Latte, Italian Cream, and Some Like it Hot (dark chocolate with a dash of Cayenne)

Spiced rum was with a cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Latte was a pumpkin cupcake base. It was moist and had a consistency similar to the banana foster cupcake but with the cinnamon and nutmeg associated with a pumpkin pie. The frosting was a cream cheese frosting covered in a dusting of cinnamon.

Italian Cream

Some like it Hot is a dark chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate frosting with a dash of cayenne. What can I say but pure deliciousness. The cayenne is not overpowering and merely enhances the dark chocolate.

September Burger Caucus: Mugs Cafe

1/2 pound beef burger with avocado, cheese, and a spicy sauce

1/2 pound beef burger

September 18th was National Cheeseburger day and the Little Rock burger caucus celebrated it at Mugs Cafe in the Argenta neighborhood of North Little Rock. I arrived a little late so the burgers were being delivered to some as I ordered. It was a nice mix of politicos, media hounds, and other random folk. I am “other random folk”.

Mugs is a coffee shop that also serves food. As a result, it doesn’t serve fountain drinks such as Coke or Pepsi. You can buy bottled sodas such as ginger ale, grape soda, and similar bubbly drinks. The decor and layout is definitely a coffee shop vibe with tables spread out for socializing. There is a couch and comfy chairs in the back of the place.

The burger itself was a very generous half pound of beef with “bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, pepper jack cheese, and a spicy mayo on an onion roll. Served with sweet potato and apple hash.” (quoting the menu on the website) The pepper jack and spicy mayo means this burger has a kick but it complements not overpowers the beef. It still taste like a hamburger. The sweet potato/apple hash was interesting. I ended up smashing the sweet potatoes with my fork and eating them like mashed potatoes. I wouldn’t characterize the sweet potatoes as mushy though. This was, in my opinion, one of the better burgers in Little Rock and I advise that you make the trek to North Little Rock and check it out.

The best hog is the one in a smoker

Here is a confession. I am pretty apathetic about football. I don’t hate it. I think some schools spend way too much money on it but as far as an extracurricular activity goes, you could do a lot worse. I was in high school marching band so I do understand football. I do manage to have a good time when I go.

One of the fascinating and fun things about football is the tailgating. Tailgating is the practice of people setting up a larger than life picnic style feast in the parking lot of the stadium before the game starts. The particulars of tailgating differ depending on the school. The University of Arkansas plays football games at both the stadium on the main campus in Fayetteville and War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. For people not familiar with Arkansas, Fayetteville is in the northwest corner of the state and Little Rock is centrally located. For many years, Arkansas has tried to make the U of A to be “THE SCHOOL” of Arkansas complete with the Razorbacks being the state team. (Yes there is Arkansas State University and it is a division I school. Another story for another day). The purpose of having the games in central located Little Rock allowed people from all over the state to enjoy the Razorbacks. War Memorial Stadium is located in the middle of War Memorial Park, which includes a golf course. On game day, the entire span of land is filled with trucks, tents, BBQ grills, generators, and televisions.

About a month ago, I was invited to participate in a Kickstarter campaign to raise money so that foodie extraordinaire and hellraiser Kelly Gee could get a BIG ASS Smoker. He plans on competing in BBQ competitions. His first trial run was tailgating at the first Razorback game on Saturday. Now considering that his twelve year old kid kicked my butt in a pie baking competition, I was all about this BBQ.

Oh did I mention that people set up tailgating at like…. 9 in the morning.

I wasn’t having any of that. The game started at 6. I didn’t arrive until 4.

I saw a lot of my food loving friends including the real life urban legend Kevin, Arkansas’s biggest snark master Greg, Dan the Man who has a pair of jorts for every occasion (no really I bet he has a “wedding pair” and a “funeral pair” in his closet) and Kelly Gee, the owner of the Beastmaster and Grand Imp of central Arkansas.

By the time I got there, I got to taste some pork loin and some pulled pork. It was gosh darn tasty and better than some BBQ I have paid money to eat. I heard fawning praise over some wings and ribs. I guess next time I need to make fashionably late a little earlier. I bought some soda and other people had brought food. Dan bought some tasty meatballs. Erin made a plethora of Jello shots. The Cherry Coke one was my favorite.

Oh and the Beastmaster was huge. It would be the official smoker of Fried Green Tomatoes. — if that sort of thing wasn’t illegal and all.

Another friend had a tent further up the way. I visited him for a while and saw a bunch of people I knew.

That’s the thing about tailgating. It’s more about meeting up with people you know: it’s a class reunion, street festival, and happy hour all rolled up into one. If I had made an effort, I could have visited with over fifty people I knew personally and introduced myself to another fifty. But i was all about the relaxing.

Oh the game. Yeah. we won.

Sweet Love!

Last Saturday, I went to the super special preview of Kelli Marks‘s new bakery Sweet Love. It’s official grand opening is on THIS FRIDAY THE 13th but don’t let that scare you. This will not be scary, unless you want some scary good treats. (ouch! shoot me now before I finish this!)

Sweet Love is located at 8210 Cantrell Road in Little Rock across from Pavillion in the Park. It is in the same shopping center as Tzakiki’s. That’s right! You could get a gyro and a cupcake. How about that?! oh and on the other side of Tzakiki’s is a liquor store so it’s a full on party on this little slice of Cantrell. Don’t say I didn’t tell you about it.

Ahem.

So what will you find at Sweet Love?

You will see this cute little yellow table set up to get beverages. Yes the table will be there. I can’t promise that there will be coffee and pink lemonade but it should be tasty.

See Kelli in the Pink Baker’s coat. Yes that’s the maker of the treats. Be nice to her. The woman holding the baby is Kat and that baby, Nora Kate, is the most laid back chilled baby in the history of the world. She didn’t cry at all and there was a helluva a lot of noise in that place. I have never been that chilled out about anything in my life. EVER! The lady on the left is Sarabeth. She makes tasty salsa and took pictures with the fancy pants camera. My pictures are taken with a camera that probably retails for $19.95 now.

LOGO! Pretty!

These are chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. Yeah exactly. It tasted exactly like you think it would: Chocolate chip cookie dough covered in chocolate. She used mini chocolate chips so you had multiple chocolate chips in each cookie-dough-tastic bite.

These are mint chocolate brownies. These were make obnoxious orgasm sounding “ooohs” while eating them good. Unlike most things that are mint chocolate, the mint doesn’t overpower the chocolate. Instead, it’s a marriage of equals. There is both a strong mint and a strong chocolate taste in this brownie. It’s also on the gooey side but that just makes it better.

The pink flower covered cupcakes are chocolate cupcakes with vanilla butter cream. (the pink flower). The others are vanilla cupcakes covered in chocolate ganache.

I have a confession. These had coconut on top and as a result, I didn’t even try them. I was told these things were good.

So there you go. Go to Sweet Love and try some tasty treats for yourself.

© 2017 Melissa Runs

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

WordPress Web Hosting