SHANNON BREWERY FIRES UP
Longtime home brewer Shannon Carter, an Austinite with Irish roots who moved to Keller two years ago to open his namesake brewery, is partnering with Keller’s 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 it’s more controllable.”
Carter’s 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 it’s more efficient and environmentally friendly, he says.
“I knew he was a home brewer in Ireland,” Carter says. “I’m 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 wasn’t 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 wife’s 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. “It’s 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+B
After months of construction, a name change and a chef change, AF+B is finally open inside the West 7th development, providing Fort Worth’s hottest dinner reservation. From the same restaurant folks who brought the city Fireside Pies and own Dallas notables CBD Provisions, The Porch and Victor Tango’s, 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 wasn’t looking to leave his lauded gig at Bolsa in Dallas, but he felt “an instant connection” with the AF+B concept. We’re 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 CAFÉ
Coffee-shop scenery has become more refined thanks to the Piano Pavilion Café, now open in the lobby of the Kimbell Art Museum’s 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 DELIGHTS
Bringing 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 line’s 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 TACO
There are no rice and beans, chips and salsa, or even queso or guacamole, and that’s because Velvet Taco is unlike any taco joint we’re 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 we’re really thrown for a loop. But it’s 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 that’s 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 eatery’s 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 that’s popular on the Hawaiian Islands, is nowhere to be found on the menu, we look forward to quenching our thirst this spring with Kona’s hibiscus margarita, which is as close to Hawaii as we get in Texas. 3028 Crockett St., Fort Worth, www.konagrill.com/.
ELIXIR OF LOVE
We’re crushing on Dude, Sweet Chocolate’s newest love potion — a cosmo-inspired chocolate sauce modeled after the contemporary cocktail. Made with lots of Breckenridge Distillery vodka (it’s 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 Valentine’s 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. It’s also [fabulous] with duck and anything ginger, like ginger ice cream or gingerbread.” Sounds like Valentine’s Day drinks, dinner and dessert are all set. 2925 Crockett St., Fort Worth, 817-945-2234, http://dudesweetchocolate.com/.
THE KING OF CHEESECAKES
A 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. Copeland’s 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 it’s now for sale for $59.95. Topped with the traditional plastic baby (usually found baked inside), the pies are made at Copeland’s 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/.
With Valentine’s Day on a Friday this year, restaurants are clamoring for diners by offering special menus and events. Here’s a look at standout options.