Tasting notes

Posted on 16 Dec 2016 at 6:00am

Holiday Edition: Tamales, tacos and spreading hope during the season

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The holidays are upon us, and calorie counting decreased with the thickness of sweaters. Here are some foodie events, items and ideas that will make you jolly — and perhaps even get a belly like a bowl full of jelly.

Anastacia Quinones (AQ to her friends and followers) took over the kitchen at Bishop Arts’ Oddfellows last summer after stints at Komali and Kitchen LTO. She’ll be back in Trinity Groves on Dec. 19 for an event close to her heart: A fundraiser for Genesis Women’s Shelter. AQ was so impressed by the services the charity offered, she enlisted a dozen fellow chefs around town — including those from Hattie’s, Uchi, Cedars Social, Parigi, CBD Provisions, Resident Taqueria and more — to participate in a foodie-centric Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. Master mixologist Leann Berry will be conjuring up some cocktails recipes. It’s a great way to have fun and do something important for people in need during the holidays. The event runs 6–9 p.m.; advance tickets are $60.

If you’re from Texas, you know that while Thanksgiving is about turkey, Christmas is about … tamales. Yes, that’s a tradition that I never grow weary of. Cantina Laredo offers to-go orders of their house-made chicken or beef tamales every day through Christmas Eve, for $16.95/dozen. Just give them six-hours notice and you can celebrate this centuries-old delight. Available at all North Texas area locations.

The hot new Uptown joint Shake Shack is just as famed for its milkshakes as its burgers, and it’s rolling out a new lineup of designer nogs for the holidays (each for $5.79). A trio of season shakes are now available. The chocolate peppermint tastes like an indulgent candy cane, while the sugar cookie (topped with sprinkles!) reminds you of mom baking in December. I was less impressed by the take on pumpkin pie, but instead, try the brownie hot chocolate (ask them to over-foam it for a moussier version) and you’ll be full of Christmas cheer.

If you wanna get warm — physically, spiritually and culinarily — two-step into Stampede 66. Stephan Pyles’ accessibly upscale Uptown eatery has a great deal weekdays, with a taco bar and happy hour from 4–7 p.m. Better yet, Music Mondays offer live bands performing while you sip finely-crafted cocktails and dine on discounted bites at the bar.

Cedar Grove at the ilume is gussying up brunch this weekend, with a pop-up cocktail cart of Cointreau on Dec. 17 and 18. Then the rest of the week, you can enjoy happy hour from 4–6 p.m. Tuesdays–Fridays with the 4-5-6 offer: $4 mixed drinks, $5 glasses of wine and $6 martinis, as well as half-price deals on all food.

We’re used to checking out Bread Winners for brunch… during brunch hours. But the local institution also offers that brunchy feel at dinnertime. Items introduced this fall bring the homestyle feeling to the evening hours, with items like salt-and-pepper chicken wings, a decadent brisket-based meatloaf (also made with pancetta!) and a blackened redfish topped with a rich crab beurre blanc. Toss in a cocktail (like a classic Manhattan or Leo’s Old Fashioned) and and a few shady friends, and you’ve got the makings of brunch at sunset.  — Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2016.

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