There was no one in line at this polling place at 9:15 this morning. I couldn’t find my Sam’s Club card, so I presented my voter registration certificate. My ballot was No. 127. I noticed that in every single contested race, the Republican was listed first. (I always thought the person listed first has an advantage, so this must be decided by a coin flip or something. Not that I’m complaining.) The poll worker said there are 1,103 voters in the precinct, and 33 percent of them voted early, down a little from 2008′s pace. Now for the important part: If you get out and vote, you’re entitled to a free order of chips and guacamole today from Taco Bueno. Â¡Hurra por el proceso democrÃ¡tico!
“It was as if a silent specter in a hooded cloak had tapped my shoulder at darkest midnight. I was in.”
That’s how Jacquielynn Floyd describes being chosen to be one of this year’s judges in the Great American Spam Championship at the State Fair, in this rather entertaining (but paywall’d) column. Apparently, it’s just about impossible to break into the Spam judging game. Here’s how she puts it:
“Years ago, when I half-jokingly mentioned to officials of the fair’s Creative Arts competitions that I wanted to try judging the Spam contest, they behaved as if I had casually suggested that I might like a seat on the Supreme Court. I was advised to recalibrate my goals.”
There are eight spots, and judges from the previous year get first dibs. There hadn’t been an opening in a while. There are several judges who’ve judged Spam for more than 20 years. Floyd only got in because someone else died. She never actually says how she was chosen — especially since she’d only consumed Spam twice in her life. (Maybe the column was part of the deal?) Or what it is about this particular cuisine that creates such loyal judges. Or how these other judges got their gigs. Or how much Spam they eat a year.
There’s so much more I want to know about this salty group.
As Nancy reported earlier on SideDish, that new restaurant at Dallas’s Klyde Warren Park is expected to help support the park’s ongoing operations. So, how much dough will the park pooh-bahs be looking for exactly? According to Jody Grant, chairman of the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, a pretty good chunk. The park’s annual operating budget will be about $2.5 million to $3 million, Grant says, and “our challenge will be to run the park on a break-even basis.” He hopes the Savor/Relish venture–a partnership between HM Capital Partners chairman John Muse (photo by Billy Surface) and chef John Coleman, formerly with the Ritz-Carlton here–will “cover as much as 20 percent of our budget–that’s total, for food and beverage services in the park, including catering.”
Don’t expect to sit down for a fancy meal there once the park opens next weekend, though. “The restaurant will open after the park does. We anticipate in the June, July timeframe of 2013,” Grant says. “We might be able to get it open sooner than that, but everything has to work perfectly. Building this restaurant on top of the bridge has been very complex, so what we thought was a perfect plan turned out not to be so perfect. The devil’s very much in the details. Even with simple things, like signage, for example. We’ve spent hours and hours just dealing with the signage issues–how to do it tastefully, so that we don’t have so many signs sticking up that it looks like a cemetery, is a challenge!” Grant made the comments in a special issue of D Magazine about Klyde Warren Park that’s due to “drop” next week.
A trusted FrontBurnervian writes in to say that at Liberty Burger at Forest and Inwood today he saw John Wiley Price eating lunch with someone. I will give you five possible names. Answer in the comments.
a) Gene Street
b) Laura Miller
c) Lucy Billingsley
d) Jason Witten
e) Cary Pierce
Despite this being the height of bikini season, I craved fried chicken for dinner last night. I pulled into my neighborhood outpost for the Richardson-based Golden Chick chain, and I was informed that they had run out of yardbird. (The horror!) As I waited in the parking lot for my grub, I had time to stare at the mascot, whose name could not be ascertained through 30 seconds of Googling, and contemplate two questions:
1. Is there another restaurant whose mascot is an anthropomorphized version of the very food it serves?
2. Why the glasses?
Irving-based Chuck E. Cheese has a new look, courtesy of the Richards Group. Thoughts?
A co-working FrontBurnervian points out that New York Magazine has a story about Dallas-based 7-Eleven’s hopes of making greater inroads in Manhattan. Not having been to New York in many years myself, I was surprised to learn the convenience store chain isn’t already there in a big way. They’re currently making deals with mom-and-pop corner bodegas to get them to convert into 7-Eleven franchisees.
The company’s big advantage in this effort may be its proprietary Retail Information System:
The RIS, as it’s lovingly called, is operated via a device that looks like a massive PalmPilot, a large tablet computer with a stylus. If you have five Buffalo-style pasta salads on Monday night and aren’t sure whether to reorder, it’ll tell you, for example, how many Buffalo pasta salads typically sell in your area on warm Tuesdays.
Dave Little is a local standup comic and really terrible basketball player. He’s got himself a new concept called Little at Large, wherein he takes a mic and goes around bothering people. Worth your time:
Have you been doing your best to support all your favorite restaurants in our annual Readers’ Choice: Food and Drink voting? Have you been visiting the site every day to cast your ballots? You haven’t? Â Well, I’m not here to judge you. Â I’m here to implore you to vote today, tomorrow, and Sunday. Â For those are your last three opportunities.
So go tell us where to find, among other things, the best Indian food, the best French food, the best bakery, the best wine bar, the best burger, and the best pizza in town.
Can’t believe how close some of the votes are in our Best of Big D Readers’ Choice: Food and Drink poll. Especially the competition for best coffeehouse. That one looks like it’s going to come down to a difference of just a few votes.
If you want to ensure that your favorites win, remember to return once a day (including the weekends) to cast your ballot. We’re not shutting it down until March 25. Â And even if you’re not near your desktop or laptop computer, just pull out your smartphone or tablet device and you can vote just as easily.
You love to eat, and you love to drink, and most of all you love to insist upon bossing your friends and neighbors around, telling them where they’ve got to go to find the greatest grub in Dallas. Seriously, they tell us you’ve been truly insufferable lately, and they’ve asked us to intervene. We’re here to provide an outlet.
Voting has opened in our annual Readers’ Choice poll, and for the next two weeks we want to know your favorite restaurants and gourmet shops. You can vote once a day through March 25. The winners will be featured in our August 2012 issue.
We’re in desperate need of your opinions. Â So get to it.
As always, you’ll have two weeks to cast your ballots, and you can vote up to once a day on your desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. VisitÂ Dmagazine.com after 12:00 a.m. March 12, and it should be obvious where you can vote. Then return every day through March 25 to do it all over again.
The results of the Best of Big D Readers’ Choice Â – which will include our recently concluded shopping poll, plus three additional rounds of voting in the coming weeks – will be published in the August 2012 issue ofÂ D Magazine.
We’ve added some new categories to vote on this year. Take the jump to see the full list, and start thinking about your favorites.
Loyal readers will remember Daniel Vaughn from our February 2010 cover BBQ cover story. Dude kinda knows a thing or two about meat and the smoking thereof. I had the pleasure of getting my fingers sticky with Daniel one afternoon not long ago in Oak Cliff. It was like a master’s class in meat. There are times still when I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about brisket and Daniel.
So it is with great pleasure that I point you to the news that Daniel has signed a book contract with Anthony Bourdain’s new line of books for Ecco (a HarperCollins joint). Huzzah to Daniel. Couldn’t happen to a nicer (or more meat knowledgeable) man.
Update (3:15) – An alert FrontBurnervian asked me why I didn’t mention that local boy David Hale Smith did this book deal. As I’ve written before in this space, Smith was once a friend of mine. But then our families went on vacation together one time in Vail, and Smith, after over-serving himself at dinner at Grouse Mountain Grill, went on a 15-minute diatribe about how spineless the French are, how they were all “surrender monkeys” during World War II. My wife’s grandfather, a cheesemonger in the Loire Valley before the war, fought bravely and died in the Battle of Vercors. We spent the rest of the meal in silence, and I have not talked to Smith since. That is why I intentionally did not mention that he sold Daniel Vaughn’s book.
WFAA Daybreak host Ron Corning got too caught up in his personal anecdote about the blue cheese chocolate at Dude, Sweet Chocolate and ran out of time to ask Raya about where she got the lingerie that she’s seated next to during the segment (much to Uncle Barky’s delight).
Don’t worry: Raya will explain more about the “sassy” undergarments a little later on ShopTalk.
You can find all our Dallas Valentine’s recommendations here.
While the organizers of last year’s North Texas Super Bowl are wondering why the football gods couldn’t have delivered us the weather we’re having this week in 2011 – instead of the Snow-and-Ice-Mageddon we got –Â Smithsonian.com reflects upon another Texas contribution to our country’s annual orgy on football and new television commercial campaigns: the Frito.
Those little fried corn chips were given birth in San Antonio in the 1930s, and they remain a cornerstone of business for the Plano-based Frito Lay company, which owns the trademark for the “Frito Chili Pie”: officially aÂ “packaged meal combination consisting primarily of chili or snack food dips containing meat or cheese corn-based snack foods, namely, corn chips.”
But Smithsonian traces the true roots of Fritos much further back in the history of the Americas:
As much scorn and derision as today’s leading nutritional gurus heap onto processed foods, it’s worth noting that Fritos arrived here by way of a Mesoamerican staple and their invention and flavor owes a debt to one of the greatest food processing technologies ever invented: nixtamalization. The 3,000-year-old tradition adding calcium hydroxide–wood ash or lime–so greatly enriches the available amino acids in masa corn that Sophie Coe writes in America’s First Cuisines that the process underlies “the rise of Mesoamerican civilization.” Lacking this technology, early Europeans and Americans (who considered corn fit for slaves and swine) learned that eating a diet exclusively based on unprocessed corn led to pellagra, a debilitating niacin deficiency causing dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death.
Just a little something to think about as you’re dipping your chips this Sunday.