Assorted updates, and what I’ve been doing

July 14, 2013

Where I've been. If you missed this, I sho' hate it for you.

Where I’ve been. If you missed this, I sho’ hate it for you.

Back here in the Land of the Razorback (or perhaps more appropriately, on this side of the state, the land of the Red Wolf), I am happy to report we are eating well. The bounty of summer just continues to pay off, and I continue to buy and cook lots o’vegetables.

In fact, we have more veggies than we can put in the fridge, because while Kate’s friend Laura was gifting her with veggies on Saturday, I was at the Hot Springs Farmers’ Market buying more veggies. Which is OK. We’ll use ’em all before they go bad.

I had made a spur of the moment, last-minute decision to take an overnighter back to Hot Springs on Friday, and attend the soft opening party at the Superior Bathhouse, Brewery and Distillery, a new enterprise begun by dear friends of mine in one of the historic buildings on Bathhouse Row. I’ve been involved in that project since almost its inception, and I wasn’t fixin’ to miss its debut.

The verdict? Worth the trip. Eighteen taps of craft brews, which will soon included the brewed on premises, with the natural Hot Springs water. Root beer and seltzer made with same.  A cooler with a bunch more beers, including an Imperial Russian stout after which I am lusting. Excellent small plates, including a pub cheese that is to die for, and black eyed pea hummus; Petit Jean Meats’ pastrami (which is kick-ass good, I am here to tell you); house-baked pretzels with house-made spicy German beer mustard; larger plates including locally raised and made bratwurst, savory mushroom streudel, and the beer braised shortribs, which I am dying to try.

Oh, and paninis, featuring fresh whatever’s-in-season, along with Kent Walker artisan cheese from Little Rock. They’re dedicated to sourcing as much stuff locally as they can. The current panini attraction features grilled squash.

It is a lovely spot to while away an afternoon or evening, watching the world go by on Central Avenue, looking at the Arlington, eating marvelous food and drinking fine, fine beer. They will eventually be brewing their own beer (Oktoberfest already on my calendar!), and distilling their own spirits. I am just All About This.

Interesting aside to the Superior opening, and segue into the Saturday morning excursion to the Farmers’ Market: The bratwurst served at the Superior come from JV Farms, an artisan farm in Bismark, which is between Hot Springs and Arkadelphia. I’ve been acquainted with Jay and Valerie for a while, having bought eggs and chicken from them, but they’ve only recently begun offering a selection of pork and sausages. I’ve bought their Italian sausage, which is exceptional. And I am here to tell you, their brats are exceptional, too. More highly seasoned than some, and with much less fat, they come five to a pound package, for $7, and well worth it, I might add.

They sold out Saturday morning at the market (but not until after I’d gotten my two packages), due in large part to people who had had them at the Superior the night before. Just FYI…if you missed yours….Park Island Market, Cafe and Organics still has some, or did later Saturday morning. You might could score them there, or wait until next Saturday.

Take those babies, poke some fork holes in the casing, and pitch them in the skillet with some beer, preferably a good, full-bodied lager. Let them poach over medium heat for 15 or 20 minutes, until the beer all evaporates out, and then sear them nicely on the outside. Done, and done. And if you can figure out how to make homemade spicy beer mustard, do that, and then make some honey mustard out of part of it. Carve you up some good cheese, and you’ve got a good light dinner, right there.

Speaking of light dinner, I have made today a cucumber salad with yogurt and dill dressing, and another salad of crisp-tender green beans, lightly steamed corn, white balsamic vinegar and corn oil, with some parsley and some herbs d’Provence, and I think I am fixin’ to have some dinner. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em share any of those other good summer recipes you’ve got handy, OK?

 

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