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.

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This is NOT what I had for dinner. This is the special, duck breast, which I stole from their Facebook page. It looks good, too, but I bet it was no better than my dinner.

This is NOT what I had for dinner. This is the special, duck breast, which I stole from their Facebook page. It looks good, too, but I bet it was no better than my dinner.

Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, y’all. If you have a Germanic/Eastern European/Slavic cell in your DNA anywhere, go, right now, to the Steinhauskeller in Hot Springs and indulge it. If you don’t, pretend you do, and go anyway.

You will NOT be sorry. And I say that on the strength of a single meal. It will not be my last there. Because this may be the restaurant that puts the Austrian Village, of which I have in the past waxed eloquent, in the shade.

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Well, it’s like this. After a period during which things have been, by turns, stressful, frustrating, and downright unpleasant, I figured I’d get back to you on a positive note, and share a really inspiring food-related story.

Well, getting to visit with Bill would put a positive spin on anyone's year!

Well, getting to visit with Bill would put a positive spin on anyone’s year!

A new program in Arkansas launched yesterday, designed to provide microloans, crowd-funded, to entrepreneurs in the state. Kiva Zip provides small, zero-interest loans to small businesses and start-ups. I’m privileged to have been asked to be a trustee for the organization — i.e., one who recommends borrowers, who then complete a loan application, are interviewed by a Kiva loan team, and, if approved, see their loan appear on the website. From there, social media and small philanthropists all over the world take over. You can register as a lender, browse the loans, and pick one or two or a dozen to support. The minimum loan is $25. 200 loans later, that borrower gets a PayPal payment, and is off to pursue his dream.

There are 32 Arkansas loans on the website right now. Of those, 17 are food-related. They range from a creamery and soda fountain to organic vegetable farming to artisan candy to a market in a tiny Delta town that’s the only source for food and drinks for 22 miles, to an artisan cheesemaker who’s turning his hobby into his livelihood.

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The week that was

June 9, 2012

You know it’s a good party when there’s a line to get in.

One problem with living in Hot Springs is that there’s so much cool stuff going on you often can’t get around to all of it. Which, sometimes, when the stuff is fun and not work, means you Do Not Cook.

And sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with that, either.

This week has been opening week of the Hot Springs Music Festival, which is just absolutely some of the coolest stuff of all the stuff that Hot Springs offers. Musicians come from all over the world and for a solid two weeks, will play a dozen or more chamber performances as well as a half-dozen full orchestral concerts. It’s sensory overload, and it’s marvelous!

It’s also hell on cooking. But there is still good food to be had — including at one of the social events of the season, Flavor of the Park.

Long tables full of yum. And lots of satisfied diners.

Flavor is one of major productions of the Greater Hot Springs Chamber (my own employer). It features goodies from about 20 restaurants, beer and wine from local distributors, and a good time being had by all. We have it down at the Farmers’ Market Pavilion, and for a change, this week it was merely warm, not sufferin’ hot like it was last year.

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