SHANNON BREWERY FIRES UPLongtime home brewer Shannon Carter, an Austinite with Irish roots who moved to Keller two years ago to open his namesake brewery, is partnering with Kellers Samantha Springs to use natural spring water, untouched by chemicals and chlorine, to create his portfolio of beers. Now that the brewery build-out is under way and equipment is being installed, Carter is ready to fire things up literally. Do you want a wood-fired pizza oven or electric, he asks rhetorically. I think I get a better flavor with fire.The former branding professional and father of two will use fire, not steam, in his mash regime to delicately caramelize sugars in the brewing process, creating a vastly different flavor profile than that of traditional methods. Carter is unaware of another brewery in Texas that fire-brews its mash, and he had to travel to Minnesota to find guidance on engineering his plan.Fire is the way people brewed as long as there have been brewers, he says. But brewers started using steam because its more controllable.Carters fire-brewed process was inspired by his late Irish great-grandfather through a handwritten recipe found in an old set of carving tools. The procedure called for mash temperatures to be raised gradually by a wood fire, but Carter will use gas because its more efficient and environmentally friendly, he says.I knew he was a home brewer in Ireland, Carter says. Im guessing the recipe was from the 1840s. It was very basic water, malted grain and hops. I just set it aside, but it was years later that I realized it wasnt the recipe that was the key. It was the process that he used. I completely stole it from him. The process will soon result in five core brews an American blonde ale, an Irish pale ale, an aggressively hopped IPA, an Irish red (his wifes favorite) and a chocolate stout that Carter says will make for a great vanilla beer float.Look for Shannon Brewing products to be available by March at Northeast Tarrant-area restaurants and bars, including the Keller Tavern, FNG Eats and Blue Mesa in Southlake. Central Market stores and Whole Foods will carry the beers in 22-ounce bottles, which will also be for sale at the brewery thanks to Keller zoning laws. Carter is planning for brewery tours two days a week (most likely Wednesday and Saturday) and will offer a temperature-controlled tasting room where summer beer drinkers can beat the heat, and, by early April, a 2,500-square-foot outdoor beer garden. Keller is a great community, Carter says. Its really up and coming and growing by leaps and bounds. Once I found Samantha Springs, it was so serendipitous. It was a match made in heaven because I was looking for the purest, most wholesome ingredients I could find to put in my beer. I knew this would be the right place to launch our brewery. 818 N. Main Street, Keller, 817-400-1985, http://shannonbrewing.com/.MODERN CLASSICS AT AF+BAfter months of construction, a name change and a chef change, AF+B is finally open inside the West 7th development, providing Fort Worths hottest dinner reservation. From the same restaurant folks who brought the city Fireside Pies and own Dallas notables CBD Provisions, The Porch and Victor Tangos, AF+B equals modern-American tavern fare prepared with tried-and-true culinary techniques. (Think brining, pickling, fermenting, smoking and hardwood grilling.) Executive chef Jeff Harris says he wasnt looking to leave his lauded gig at Bolsa in Dallas, but he felt an instant connection with the AF+B concept. Were still salivating over the chorizo-wrapped Scotch eggs from the starter menu and the thick and tender pork chop. Treating the product with respect is the No. 1 goal in our kitchen, he says. We use various techniques to really bring out the inherent flavors of that item and try to let the ingredient shine on the plate. 2869 Crockett St., Fort Worth, 817-916-5300, www.afandbfortworth.com/. AN ARTFUL CAFÉCoffee-shop scenery has become more refined thanks to the Piano Pavilion Café, now open in the lobby of the Kimbell Art Museums new Renzo Piano Pavilion. With floor-to-ceiling windows and those vivid Renzo red chairs, the casual cafe is as sleek as it is inviting, offering a menu of cappuccinos and hot chocolate along with light bites and decadent desserts. When we visited, selections included brie and crackers, raspberry brownies and orange pecan pie. Plan for coffee and dessert after a museum tour or simply bask in the brightness of the beautiful new space with a beverage and a good book. Open 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Friday and Sunday. 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-332-8451, www.kimbellart.org/. DEAN & DELUCA DELIGHTSBringing a taste of New York City culture to Cowtown, The Cup owner Nancy Williams is now carrying Dean & DeLuca products in her Camp Bowie Boulevard coffee shop. Dean & DeLuca is an internationally known gourmet brand that I have enjoyed for years, she says. Now customers can take something away for later or take a special treat to share with a loved one. Williams is carrying some of the lines prettily packaged sweets and savory treats, including cappuccino almonds, dark chocolate espresso beans, chocolate covered peanuts and hickory almonds; she plans to add to her selection down the road. Promising that the confections pair well with the smooth quality of the Illy coffee she serves, Williams says the products make for thoughtful hostess gifts or, this month, valentines for sweethearts. 3909 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-735-5226.NOT YOUR ORDINARY TACOThere are no rice and beans, chips and salsa, or even queso or guacamole, and thats because Velvet Taco is unlike any taco joint were used to in these parts. Throw in the fact that sides include Tater Tots with herbed goat cheese and that the house dessert is red velvet cake, and were really thrown for a loop. But its best to consider these tacos as mini meals served on tortillas including corn, blue corn, flour or even lettuce and then the menu is a little easier to comprehend. Standouts include the cornmeal fried oyster taco, tikka chicken with cilantro basmati rice, crispy calamari and the breakfast bacon-and-egg frittata thats served all day. Located in the middle of West Seventh Street action in the former Gold Standard bar space, the Dallas-based eatery with order-at-the-counter service adds another late-night dining option to the area one where the crowds are served until 4 a.m. on the weekend. 2700 W. Seventh St., 817-887-9810, www.velvettacofw.com/. ALOHA TO KONA We visited Kona Grill at NorthPark Center in Dallas for sushi back before sushi was cool in Fort Worth. It always was a favorite during the trendy eaterys popular happy hour; the outdoor patio was hopping, and the rolls and cocktails were on special. Now Fort Worth has its own Kona Grill in the West 7th development, complete with a rooftop terrace and street-side outdoor seating at the corner of University Drive and Crockett Street. The Arizona-based chain features Hawaiian-inspired dishes like macadamia nut chicken, pulled kalua pork sliders, chicken satay and miso-sake sea bass. And although poi, the traditional Polynesian pudding made of taro thats popular on the Hawaiian Islands, is nowhere to be found on the menu, we look forward to quenching our thirst this spring with Konas hibiscus margarita, which is as close to Hawaii as we get in Texas. 3028 Crockett St., Fort Worth, www.konagrill.com/. ELIXIR OF LOVEWere crushing on Dude, Sweet Chocolates newest love potion a cosmo-inspired chocolate sauce modeled after the contemporary cocktail. Made with lots of Breckenridge Distillery vodka (its the first ingredient), cranberry juice and orange liqueur, the potent potion ($8 for 4 ounces or $30 for 16 ounces) is out just in time for Valentines Day and is well-suited for more than just topping sorbet or stirring into your coffee. It makes the absolute best martini, says Dude, Sweet visionary and chef Katherine Clapner. Combine two parts vodka to one part potion, shake over ice and strain. Its also [fabulous] with duck and anything ginger, like ginger ice cream or gingerbread. Sounds like Valentines Day drinks, dinner and dessert are all set. 2925 Crockett St., Fort Worth, 817-945-2234, http://dudesweetchocolate.com/. THE KING OF CHEESECAKESA vibrant part of Mardi Gras tradition is the sugary, braided Danish dough we know as king cake, historically baked to honor the biblical three kings who presented gifts to baby Jesus, and most commonly feasted on during the Christian celebration of Epiphany. Today, the colorful cinnamon streusel pastry now comes in many forms, including stuffed with cream cheese, strewn with beads or even drinkable by way of flavored vodka. Copelands of New Orleans, which recently renovated its location inside the Southlake Town Square Hilton, uses creamy cheesecake as a base for a purple, green and gold version of the dessert, and its now for sale for $59.95. Topped with the traditional plastic baby (usually found baked inside), the pies are made at Copelands Cheesecake Bistro in New Orleans and serve 14. Order now, they say, before they sell out; Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday) is March 4. 1400 Plaza Place, Southlake, 817-305-2199, www.southlakecopelands.com/.VALENTINES DININGWith Valentines Day on a Friday this year, restaurants are clamoring for diners by offering special menus and events. Heres a look at standout options. Bonnells Fine Texas Cuisines three-course menu includes a sampling of appetizers, plus roasted tenderloin with diver scallops and a his and hers chocolate lovers surprise paired with sparking Rosa Regale. $90 per person. 4259 Bryant Irvin Road, Fort Worth, 817-738-5489, http://bonnellstexas.com/. Lannys Alta Cocina Mexicana is hosting its Valentines dinner Feb. 14 and 15. Three courses will include paella or seared scallops, bone-in ribeye or sea bass, and chocolate cheesecake or rosewater creme brulee. $95 per person. 3405 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-850-9996, www.lannyskitchen.com. At Sera Dining & Wine, diners can ask for one of chef Brandon Hudsons specials: braised short ribs ($30), whole-roasted snapper ($32) or chocolate napoleon ($10) for dessert; available Feb. 13-15. 2418 Forest Park Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-927-7372. Olenjacks Grille in Arlington offers a three-course special of beef tenderloin ($55) or scallop capellini ($45). Dessert includes red velvet cheesecake or strawberry pistachio mousse cake; available Feb. 13-15. 770 Road to Six Flags E., Arlington, 817-226-2600, www.olenjacksgrille.com. Visit Café Modern for dinner and a movie for $49.95 per person. A Man and a Woman will start at 8:30 p.m. following cocktails and music in the lobby, and a three-course dinner in the café. 3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth, 817-738-9215, www.themodern.org. At The Classic at Roanoke, dates can plan for Valentines Day lunch, which includes four courses for $35 per person. The restaurant will also serve a four-course dinner for $69 per person on Feb. 14 and 15. 504 N. Oak St., Roanoke, 817-430-8185, www.theclassiccafe.com. Artisan Baking Co. offers a take-home boeuf bourguignon dinner for four. Orders for the classic French bistro dish must be placed in advance and can be picked up between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Feb. 14. $34.95, 4900 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, 817-821-3124, www.artisan-baking-company.com/. Zambrano Wine Cellar offers a four-course dinner (available Feb. 14 and 15). It includes shrimp ceviche, choice of soup or salad, filet mignon or salmon spaghetti, and choice of dessert. $50 per person (wines not included), 910 Houston St., Fort Worth, 817-850-9463, www.zambranowines.com/. << Fearings Restaurantin Dallas serves a four-course dinner Feb. 13-16. Menu highlights include local Veldhuizen farmstead cheddar fondue, heritage beef tenderloin and a dessert duo of strawberry pie and a chocolate brownie ice cream sandwich. $95 per person , 2121 McKinney Ave., Dallas, 214-922-4848, http://fearingsrestaurant.com/. At Maxs Wine Dive, vegetarians will appreciate the zucchini and squash spaghetti, one choice on chef Stefon Rishels special menu, available Feb. 14-16. Couples can enjoy four courses for $100, and wine selections can be added for $30 per person. 2421 W. Seventh St., Fort Worth, 817-870-1100, www.maxswinedive.com/. The Tejas charter boat hosts a two-hour Valentines cruise on Lake Grapevine. It includes a three-course dinner, live music and a comedy show. Taking place Feb. 14 and 15, the dinner is BYOB and launch times vary each evening. $149 per couple, 972-514-4319, www.arispop.com/. Grapevines Vetro Glassblowing Studio & Gallery will host Flaming Cocktail Hot Date Night Feb. 7, 12, 13 and 14. Featuring flaming cocktails, hors doeuvres and hot molten glass, the event allows guests to create their own heart or flower. $175 per couple, 701 S. Main St., Grapevine, 817-251-1668, http://vetroartglass.com/.
4 quarts water
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar
10 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic
4 pork loin chops, preferably all-natural pork from a heritage breed, such as Berkshire or Duroc, cut to about 1 1/2 inches each
For the pork rub:
3/4 cup chile powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1. Make the brine: Place first six ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar. Pour the brine into a nonreactive container and cool completely.
2. Once cooled, submerge the pork chops into brine for 3 hours. Remove and pat dry. Discard the brine.
3. Make the rub: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl or shallow baking dish and mix thoroughly.
4. Coat each side of the brined chops with the rub and dust off any excess. Reserve.
5. Grill the prepared pork chops over a preheated grill at about 500 degrees, preferably over hard wood or hard wood lump charcoal. The smoky flavor given off from grilling over hardwood is hard to replicate, chef Jeff Harris says, but a gas grill will work. Grill until an internal temperature of 145 degrees, for medium, is reached. Let rest for 3 to 4 minutes before serving.
To serve: Plate the pork chops over the Cowboy Baked Beans and garnish with the Pumpkin Seed Salsa Verde.
5 ounces dried cannellini beans
5 ounces Appaloosa beans
5 ounces pinto beans
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1. Soak beans in water overnight.
2. Strain the presoaked beans into a colander. Place the beans into a large saucepan and cover with an extra 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, season with kosher salt and lower the heat to a simmer.
3. Cook uncovered until the beans are tender (about 1 1/2-2 hours). Make sure to stir the beans frequently and keep them covered with water.
4. Once beans are fully cooked, strain off any excess liquid.
5. Put strained beans back in the pot and stir in the bean base (recipe follows). Cook, covered, in a preheated 325-degree oven for 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed and keep warm.
For the bean base:
8-ounce slab bacon (AF+B uses Bentons brand from Madisonville, Tenn., but any good-quality slab bacon will work)
2 shallots, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
8 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons molasses
10 ounces crushed tomato
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1. In a large saucepan or cast iron pan, render the bacon until browned and crispy. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and place on a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat in the pan.
2. Add the shallots and garlic and sweat until tender, about 10 minutes. Deglaze with the bourbon and cook until almost completely dry.
3. Add the cooked bacon and the rest of the ingredients to the shallot/garlic mixture. Cook on medium-low heat for 30 minutes while stirring frequently. Reserve.
1 pound tomatillos
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon lime juice
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season the tomatillos and garlic cloves with salt and pepper and place on a sheet tray. Roast in the oven until caramelized (about 10-15 minutes). Cool slightly.
2. Puree the tomatillos and garlic with the remaining ingredients in a blender until smooth. Let it cool, and reserve.