Tasting notes

Veggie Fair returns, Dish launches fall menu and you can win foodie swag!

Ahi-Tuna-Pica

A-HA, AHI! | Dish’s ahi pica is one of its best fall menu additions from new chef de cuisine Garreth Dickey.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

You can get deep fried bacon and fried butter and fried just-about-anything at the Texas State Fair, but this weekend, the fried foods are more animal friendly at the Texas State Veggie Fair, now in its second year. Sponsored by Jamey Scott with DallasVegan.com to celebrate and promote the health benefits and environmental impact of the vegan lifestyle, the festivities start on Saturday with the Texas premiere of the documentary Vegucated where, a la Morgan Spurlock, three meat-eating New Yorkers go vegan for six weeks. The screening will take place at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff on Saturday at 1 p.m., with the filmmaker in attendance.

That night, the animal rights group Mercy for Animals, founded by gay vegan Nathan Runkle, hosts the official kick-off party for the fair at Sons of Hermann Hall, starting at 7 p.m. Then on Sunday, you can enjoy the entirety of the fair — including a fried food competition (for which I will serve as a judge), music and speakers, as well as veggie food — at Winfrey Point on Lawther Drive on White Rock Lake. Admission is free to the fair and runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit DallasVegan.com or TexasStateVeggieFair.com.

North Texas seemed to progress quickly from sweltering heat to autumnal cuddliness with almost no transition time at all. I’m not just talking about the weather, but about the food as well.

It certainly feels like fall already at Dish. The new chef de cuisine, Garreth Dickey, has retooled the menu at the three-year-old restaurant, editing some of the regular items and adding all new ones. The coolest tweaks to the menu: A “weekly specialties” list, which Dickey swaps out each Wednesday, and a $35 prix fixe menu which allows him the opportunity to experiment with new recipes and you to be the first to try out what’s new.

The tender flat iron steak, already a staple of the menu, is still there, as are the selection of flatbreads. But burgers have been deemphasized in favor of tacos (the sweet and tangy Carolina pork tacos, $12 as a dinner entrée or two bucks each in the bar at happy hour, are a special now; don’t miss ‘em), and Dickey’s new prosciutto flatbread is the best of them all.

Perhaps the standout of the new items, though, is the ahi pica appetizer. More flavorful than the usual tuna tartare, this version sings with the slow-rising heat of scotch bonnet chilis and the tropical wisp of coconut atop a large wonton disk.

Dish doesn’t have a pastry chef, so Dickey’s desserts are simple yet exceptional. The caramel pot de crème has the personality of creamy butterscotch, and the sweetness of the banana cake is softened with a hint of saltiness.

This month, Café Brazil re-released its seasonal coffee blend — always popular with longtime regulars — as well as a new menu that exudes the fall season. Among the offerings: cinnamon pumpkins pancakes and French toast a la bananas foster, two sweetly indulgent breakfast items designed to raise your blood sugar.

Not to be outdone, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop on Preston Road in Plano lists “the Bobbie” as one of its most popular offerings. It is nicknamed “Thanksgiving on a bun,” and that about sums in up: Sliced turkey, stuffing and a cranberry relish recreate the sensations of turkey day with the convenience of a sandwich. In fact, it’s the perfect day-after Thanksgiving meal without all the mess and lost refrigerator space.

This year, the annual Beaujolais & Beyond Wine Festival, sponsored by the French-American Chamber of Commerce of Dallas, moves to the brand new Omni Dallas Downtown on Nov. 18. You can check out the big new convention center hotel while sampling wines from France’s Beaujolais region as well as American Rhone style wines, all set to a hip ‘60s-inspired theme. Participating restaurants include Parigi, Hotel St. Germain, Bonnie Ruth’s Café and many more. Tickets are $60 in advance ($55 for four or more) and available at FACCDallas.com. 

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online exclusive

Get some culinary swag! To win a pound of seasonal blend coffee from Cafe Brazil, a pint of Dickey’s barbecue sauce and more, email lifestyle@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Fat girls aren’t easy: ‘Charm’ works its magic

The MAC, 3120 McKinney Ave. Through Dec. 11. KitchenDogTheater.com.

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Margaret Fuller (Tina Parker) was a real person who seemed unreal to the society of her day. She was educated, opinionated, frank and kinda ugly — she hated corsets and the sexual repression of women. By the time she died, at age 40, she had had a child (probably out of wedlock), dated (probably gay) author Henry David Thoreau (Michael Federic0), and dabbled (probably) with lesbianism, all while breaking into the Good Ol’ Boys’ Club of the mid-19th century Transcendentalist Movement.

At least that what Kathleen Cahill suggests in her new play Charm, getting its Texas premiere from Kitchen Dog Theater. The title is ironic, as Margaret, despite her many talents, was totally lacking in charm. She dared challenge Ralph Waldo Emerson (Jeffrey Schmidt, a dead-ringer) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (Brian Witkowicz, hilarious), and irked a traditionalist like Orestes Brownson (John M. Flores). She was a woman outside her time.

KDT’s production — a fun, witty 90 minutes — captures the fairy-tale-like silliness of some very serious matters, especially feminism and sexual liberation of other kinds. Like Circle Theatre’s recent Bach at Leipzig, it tells historical facts with the freedom to turn  into a comedy. Hawthorne is a rabbity weirdo; Thoreau a bug-loving sickly nerd — a repressed closet case who moved to Walden Pond as a way of sublimating his sexual anxiety; Margaret lusts after a boyhood crush by the lake — a vast, blue parachute of rippling water. And the idioms are mostly modern, at once taking us out of its time and reinforcing how contemporary the ideas are (Margaret high-fives one of her friends).

The set, by Chase Floyd Devries, could have been designed for children’s theater: A serious of steps that resemble the books written by the literati that populate the play, in bright, colorful pastels. Just as interesting, though, is Parker as Margaret. Like her performance in Mr. Marmalade, Parker takes a childlike petulance and turns it into high tragedy. Things appear so simple to her — why can’t they really be that way? As with Dawn Weiner in Welcome to the Dollhouse, you sympathize with her even as you want to shake her. She may not have had any charm, byt the play has loads.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones