Sunday, October 19, 2014

Gumbo z'Herbes

I had never heard of Gumbo z'Herbes until last month when it was served to me by my friend Brian Kearns, Executive Chef of Oceans and Arthur's in Little Rock at a group dinner with several other friends where we had all signed up for a 4 course tasting at his restaurant.  He served it with an oyster on the side that we could add just before diving in. I had to look up gumbo z'herbes after that, so I found some great info at Saveur. It's essentially a meatless gumbo served during lent with greens, and since I grew up Catholic, I would have loved knowing about this dish! I also love kale, so of course I chose it as my greenery of choice. 

I have a love of Cajun food because Louisiana is a neighboring state of Arkansas where I grew up, and I visited the state often. I also visited New Orleans regularly because I shared an apartment with a girl from Louisiana in my college years. She attended Loyola University, and her family owned a company called Savoie's Sausage and Food. Needless to say, I sampled many of those great wonders!! But no wonder she never told me about this dish, there's no sausage in it!! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Shrimp Tchoupitoulas

Life has been really hectic and crazy. In a month and a half, we decided to move from Little Rock, AR to Portland, OR. The process itself was more challenging than any other goal I've had in my life. Buying my first house while simultaneously planning my wedding and exceeding monthly sales goals at the TV station I worked at were like a walk in the park in comparison. Interviewing with a panel of 4 sales managers for a pharmaceutical job against 500 other people. No big deal. Giving birth. Taking a 60 question test in 60 minutes and only passing if I miss no more than 2, and my job depended on it. Anyway, moving across the country, tying up loose ends back home, and establishing new things in the new home. I guess the best things in life are the most challenging and most rewarding!

The Faded Rose restaurant in Little Rock was one of my favorites, and I frequented it often. One of my favorite things to order was the shrimp tchoupitoulas from the appetizer menu. Without The Faded Rose in Portland, I needed to learn to make the dish on my own. I found the recipe on the Food Network web site. When Rachael Ray visited Little Rock, The Faded Rose was one of the restaurants she visited. The recipe on the web site was provided by Ed, the owner. 

  • 6 ounces cold butter, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
  • 2 ounces clam juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh garlic
  • 10 to 12 large shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled and de-veined, with tails
  • 1/4 cup button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, green part only
  • Day old French bread rounds, sliced 3/4-inch thick


Melt 4 ounces of the butter in a skillet. Add the Creole seasoning, clam juice, garlic and shrimp. Saute until the shrimp are pink. Add the mushrooms, parsley, and scallions. Saute until the mushrooms are tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining 2 ounces of butter and continue cooking until the sauce is creamy. Server over French bread rounds in shirred egg dishes or shallow soup bowls.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vondran Orthodontics

I've been shocked. I loved Little Rock. We paid in full a total of $3475 for my daughter's treatment plan, which included brace removal and the price for a retainer. He did not remove her braces, and he did not provide us a retainer. Now that we're out of the state, we're told by Dr. Vondran that we will not receive a refund for what we've already paid for. We're shocked. He has treated us like idiots, we feel manipulated, and we're totally confused. We should have only paid for services as we went along. Maybe it's just me, I would never charge a person for something they did not receive. Some people don't care about your satisfaction level of their business I suppose.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Restaurants I'll miss in Little Rock (in no particular order) Part Three - The Final of the 20

Sonny Williams' Steak Room

The Lobster & Filet
Grilled Halibut with Crushed Tomato & White Wine Butter
Scallop Appetizer Special for Valentines Day

The Faded Rose

Shrimp Tchoupitoulas
Gumbo & a nice people watching patio, mimosa

Chi's Restaurant Group

Chi's on Rebsamen: Thai Basil Noodles with Beef & Shrimp
Dim Sum Sundays at Chi on Shackleford
Also at the Shackleford location:  the half boneless duck selection comes with steamed buns, scallions, and hoisin.  One of my favorites!

Vesuvio Bistro

Sea Bass with Gnocchi
Shiitake mushrooms over grilled polenta
Charcuterie selection: prosciutto & asiago cheese


SO many great memories at this place!!  SO many........particularly happy hours with pharmaceutical rep friends always on the patio smoking cigarettes after a day of visiting with cardiologists about risk factors for heart disease.  Intimate atmosphere, higher price points, but quite memorable.
When they first opened, my friend Angelica and I ate there so often, we ended up on their print ad in the AR Times and on their web site.  I can't believe they took us down after all these years!
The  French Onion soup and steak sandwich option at lunch was a great deal, but it looks like the lunch menu has changed.  That may not be available anymore...


Just say gnocchi and I will be there.
Some of the best desserts can be found at Natchez.

The Fold

Sangria pitcher - YUM!!
Beet Carpaccio & Fun Atmosphere
Bright Lighting & Tasty Tacos!!

Maddie's Place

Potato Crawfish Gnocchi & Much More Awesomeness
Grilled Salmon with Roasted Garlic Grits and Stewed Okra
Half Jambalaya add seafood
Chef Brian's hog at the AR Times Hog Roast

South on Main

Great place to hang out with friends.  That's my husband in the green. Next to him is Brett. See, we found Brett's iPhone 5S in the middle of the road on Highway 10. When he called his phone, we answered, and we met up at South on Main. We all hit it off & became friends. Hopefully something like this will happen to us in Portland!
The Ribeye Cap on the lunch menu
Too hard to say no

Cheers in the Heights

Smoked salmon spread and a lovely outdoor fireplace
Chicken & Dumplings!
Half of the Sea Scallops entree at lunch

Brave New Restaurant

Herb - Crusted Spiced Salmon

Mahi Mahi special of the day - I only wish parking was better!  But always delicious.

Thanks for all of these wonderful dishes, Little Rock!  I will miss seeing you all!!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Little Rock Restaurants I'll Miss (in no particular order) Part Two

Oceans and Arthur's

Now that I'm not working downtown, I'm spending more time in West Little Rock where I live.  I live minutes away from some of the best restaurants in Little Rock, including Oceans and Arthur's.  I've written about Oceans before here.  
Oceans at Arthur's is known for delicious seafood dishes and phenomenal sushi by Alex.  Alex is so well known and so talented at his art, the owners have chopsticks with his name on them.  
The two restaurants are side by side, so you can order off both menus at any time.  My favorite from Arthur's would have to be the duck breast from the appetizer menu.  The wagyu ribeye is also a favorite of mine there.  The wine lists from both restaurants have a nice range of selections.
The Wagyu Beef Carpaccio is my daughter Gianna's favorite.  My other daughter Sasha loves the mac & cheese and french fries.  Arthur's is Sasha's favorite restaurant in Little Rock, probably because they treat her like a Queen every time we eat there!  But that should say a lot because I can't even explain how picky that girl is.
Thanks to Chef Brian Kearns and his wonderful team for always making every dining occasion exceptional for me, my family, and my friends.

The same owner of Oceans and Arthurs has just recently opened Kemuri, the Japanese restaurant in Hillcrest on Kavanaugh.  Dining there with friends last night brought back so many memories of Ferneau, and I bet the crowd there also felt the same as I did because they looked so much like the same people I used to always see when it was Ferneau.  It's the kind of place where you can move around, mix, and mingle.  We've been missing that.  I also thought the food and atmosphere were extraordinary.  Below were two of my favorite dishes of the evening:

Forty Two

I can eat mussels almost everyday.  They're a lean protein.  So I've had the Mussels and Fritz from Forty Two at the Clinton Presidential Center numerous times.  They're steamed in a rich chardonnay broth and topped with saffron aioli.  The fritz are just the way I like them too, skinny and crispy.
Several of my lunch companions have enjoyed the Arkansas Summer Ratatouille as their entree.  It's composed of locally cultivated shiitake mushrooms, roasted eggplant, local squash, heirloom tomatoes, pearl onions, garlic, smoked hominy, and soybeans tossed in a big-bold cabernet tomato sauce and served on a bed of Arkansas grown Arborio rice.
Here Sasha stands on the patio of Forty Two where the Terrace Gardens yield herbs and vegetables for head Chef Stephen Burrow's seasonal menu planning.  Big open windows let in a lot of natural light in the restaurant, providing a nice view whether eating inside or outside.
You can see Burrow's "contemporary southern-colonial" approach applied in the delicious Cracklin's from the small plates menu.  I could eat these all day long.  Oh how I'll miss these!  

I think Burrow is quite an accomplished chef at such a young age. 
I do wish I could have another one of these smoky shrimp corn dogs.  Our table loved them!
The house made pickles also wooed me.  I want a big jar of these!

Dugan's Pub & Stratton's Market

When I worked downtown, two of the places I frequented the most were also owned by the same owners and resided side by side in the River Market District.  I love eating salads for lunch, and Dugan's has some great ones.  Above you see the Steak Salad which is prepared just the way I like my salad: thinly sliced against the grade and a perfect medium rare.  I'm also a big fan of their House Caesar Salad with chicken.  The portions are huge and the prices are reasonable.
Dugan's Pub is a fantastic place to hang out to watch sporting events and live music.  You'll see the owner Don walking around greeting his friends and regulars.  I like the Happy Hour wine specials too.  

Stratton's Market carries just about everything you need if you live or work downtown.  Even if you're just in the area, check out the ready made breakfast or lunch offerings.  
One night we had a great meal of a rotisserie chicken from there.   Local olive oils, local farm fresh produce, house made mozzarella, and their own pesto made this market a favorite of mine to frequent!
Stratton's is your farm to downtown resource.

Hillcrest Artisan Meats

Friday afternoons and some Saturday mornings were my usual times to drop by Hillcrest Artisan Meats to forage for goodies to make weekend meals.
I tried several cuts of meats, including the teres major which I prepared in a spring roll recipe which was featured on Eat Arkansas.
Prosciutto di Parma or La Quercia Prosciutto were almost always a part of my buy at H.A.M.
Nduja (spicy prosciutto spread) was a surprising discovery I made there which I'd never sampled before.
The brick - pressed prosciutto sandwich with lentils was one of my favorite sandwiches to order whenever I craved a sandwich.  That Arkansas Fresh baguette made it the best ever.  The lentils are amazing.