Origin Naturally Transforms into Full-Service Local Eatery

Wild Caught SalmonOrigin Kitchen + Bar recently opened yesterday at 4438 McKinney Ave, next to Sushi on McKinney.  I had the privilege to taste some of their menu items for a media tasting. First thing you noticed when you walk in is the clean, fresh design of the restaurant, where you can sit at a table, booth or dine at the bar. You also have the option to sit at the Chef’s Table, where you can watch Executive Chef Jeff Smith and his team create menu items.

Origin features rustic California-inspired cuisine that will serve dinner, with a bistro-style breakfast, lunch and coffee bar. For starters, I ordered the Grass Fed Beef Tartare, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There is lots of flavor, and I like the sweeter tasting mustard to complement this dish.Grass Fed Beef TartareNext, I enjoyed Roasted Duck Breast that is soaked in Maine Root Orange Soda paired with coconut yam puree and artichokes. If there is one thing Origins does well, it is their purees. They make me wants to ask for an extra serving. 😉Roasted Duck BreastLastly, I finished this meal with their Vanilla Orange Ice Cream. Now this dessert, I really loved. I have to admit that I would just call it Vanilla Ice Cream, as I didn’t taste any orange. This dessert is the perfect way to end your meal, as it cleans your palate and is not too large. It comes with candied pecans and Cultivar Coffee reduction.Vanilla Orange Ice CreamLike Portland, OR and Seattle, WA restaurants, Origins tell you where they purchase their meat and vegetables, so you really see how local your meal is. Origin will offer counter service breakfast, lunch and craft coffee seven days a week, 7:30AM thru lunch at 2PM. Dinner will be served Tuesday through Sunday, 5PM – 10PM.   No reservations, complimentary valet available for dinner service.

New Year’s Eve 2013 Parties in North Texas

It’s time to start making New Year’s Eve plans. Yeah, I said it: New Year’s Eve. Some of you are probably panicking about all those new year’s resolutions that you’re going to make and break again in 2014. 😉 Well, it’s too soon to start worrying about that. You’ve got places to be. Don’t forget that last-minute New Year’s Eve planners pay the price – entry fees and tickets jump as that big day approaches. Be sure to get yours early and party like you mean it!Big D NYE FireworksBig D NYE is one of the largest and most dynamic New Year’s Eve celebrations west of New York City. Music, food, and fireworks are all part of what draw spectators to Big D NYE. However, one of the most amazing things about this massive New Year’s Eve celebration is it is free to the public. Of course, with a crowd so large packing into a relatively small area, I HIGHLY encourage you to utilize DART!

Cloud Nine in Reunion Tower celebrates the New Year at Five Sixty’s private event space. Guests will mix, mingle and nosh on an array of light bites by Five Sixty’s Executive chef Patton Robertson including Tuna Cones, Pork Belly Pot Stickers, Shrimp & Lobster Spring Roll, Lobster Sui Mai, General Tso’s Crispy Quail, and Ginger Licorice Glazed Pork Belly. A DJ will spin the party into the New Year as guests dance and sip on all-inclusive cocktails or order from a select bottle service menu. Tickets for the private party, which will include complimentary valet, can be purchased here.

Dallas’ Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House will ring in 2014 with a special New Years Eve menu. The menu will feature an array of traditional appetizers and salads including, Shrimp Remoulade, Del’s Salad and Oysters on the Half Shell, a special NYE feature 8 oz. Filet and 8 oz. Lobster tail.

Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck invites you to indulge in a five-course prix fixe dinner featuring a selection of Executive Chef Patton Robertson’s most delectable dishes. The celebratory evening will begin with a bang as diners enjoy incredible dishes such as Thai Snapper Sashimi, Peking Duck Dumplings, Glazed Pork Belly, Maine Lobster and Seared Local Wagyu Strip 2 Ways. Two seatings will be available at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. For reservations, please call 214.741.5560 or visit www.opentable.com.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center kicks off New Year’s Eve festivities early with a party that lets the kids celebrate the ringing in of 2014 without missing their bedtime. The special “Noon Year’s Eve” celebration begins at noon on December 31, where kids can don a New Year’s hat and count down to 2014 with a LEGO brick ball drop while enjoying sparkling grape juice (while supplies last).

Malai Kitchen will offer a la carte specials and a five-course chef’s tasting menu, in addition to their regular dinner menu. Highlights from the menu include PEI oysters on the half shell with nuoc mam mignonette, slow braised panang curry short rib with jasmine rice and Thai eggplant, and spice rubbed Hanoi filet with Violet Crown cauliflower and wok vegetables. Reservations are available from 4 to 10 p.m. and can be made by calling 214.599.7857.

Max’s Wine Dive Fort Worth offers GREAT GATSBY BASH ON NEW YEAR’S EVE. Chef Stefon Rishel has developed a Gatsby themed menu featuring items including Blini and Caviar and Lobster Thermidor. Guests who arrive in 1920’s attire will receive 15% OFF their food purchase (includes Gatsby menu and MAX’s Classics.) Reservations are highly encouraged. To make reservation, please call 817.870.1108.

Shinsei, the hip Pan Asian restaurant by Tracy Rathbun and Lynae Fearing, is ringing in 2014 in style with off-the-menu dinner specials by Executive Chef T.J. Lengnick and a not-to-be-missed party with DJ Andre. Patrons can enjoy Shinsei’s regular a la carte menu in addition to dinner specials including: Oysters with crème fraiche and caviar, sea urchin and black rice risotto, spicy king crap legs, red curry and king crab bisque and Korean BBQ. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 214.352.0005.

Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar will ring in 2014 with a “Bottle & Bucket” special, featuring a bucket of Sissy’s fried chicken and a bottle of Moët. A six-course tasting menu will be available. The tasting menu will also be offered a la carte, and the regular dinner menu will be available. Dinner reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by called 214.827.9900.

Spoon Bar & Kitchen wants you to dive into 2014 with delicious seafood! Spoon is offering a New Years Eve tasting menu to ring in the New Year. The regular menu will also be available. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 214.368.8220.

III Forks is the perfect place to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  The legendary steakhouse is  using it’s downstairs dining area for traditional New Year’s Eve dining, while it will host New Year’s Eve Mardi Gras Style upstairs, complete with live entertainment.  Reservations are required for either celebration at 972.267.1776.

W Dallas – Victory mixes it up this New Year’s Eve with live music from Dallas’ hottest DJs, special room packages, a party 33 floors above Dallas and incredible views of the Big D NYE fireworks! Call 214.397.4123 for tickets and 877.782.0108 for “The Remix” room package, which includes a Wonderful room, a bottle of bubbly, dinner for two at Cook Hall and New Year’s Eve celebration goodies.

SeaWorld Celebrates Christmas All Month Long

SeaWorld Wildside ChristmasDisclosure: SeaWorld Antonio selected be to be a “Wildside Blogger,” which provided my family with an annual pass for SeaWorld and Aquatica San Antonio. This post was not reviewed by a 3rd party. All opinions are mine and may not reflect those of the company. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” All photos are mine and subject to copyright.

Waves of holiday spirit splash during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration! With everything from Santa to Shamu, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is where holiday memories are made.

More than a million lights, the holidays have never been brighter at SeaWorld. Festive displays adorn every corner of the park from Candy Cane Forest to the Nativity Scene.Candy Cane ForestSeaWorld Nativity

Sledding, snowmen, snowballs and playing with real snow add to family memories, and you don’t have to travel far north to experience it! SnowWorld presented by Coca-Cola is located back by the Penguin exhibit. Make sure to take a photo in the life-sized snow globe.CocaCola Polar BearsSnowWorld

Take a stroll down memory lane for a retro Christmas your family will never forget. Reserve your dinner with Santa and Mrs. Claus Christmas Covehere.SeaWorld Santa

SeaWorld is wrapping up 2013 with a bang. You can ring in the new year with SeaWorld’s New Year’s Eve Twilight Party with fireworks and music.

J Brand Has My Name Written All Over It

Oscar Denim GuruThe Duchess of Cambridge is wearing them, so are posh moms, Heidi Klum and Hilary Duff. J Brand has been a constant staple in every premium denim lover’s closet for years, and I had the opportunity to see their ready-to-wear collection and be fitted by Oscar, J Brand’s “denim guru.” Oscar has earned that title, as I left TOOTSIES Dallas, where they have the largest selection of J Brand Jeans, feeling confident in my denim and liberated by wearing the right size. (Note: I seem to like my clothes baggy, as I chose sizes that were 1-2 sizes bigger than I should. THANKS, OSCAR!)
J Brand Martini RPM: What is the most common mistake women make when buying denim?
OSCAR: Women always think they are one size bigger than they are. They focus on what they think their faults are rather than accenting the positives. Focus on the style and fit that looks best on you rather than hiding what you think is wrong.
J Brand Velvet RPM: Is there a fit or style of J Brand that is a universally flattering fit for most body types?
OSCAR: J Brand Maria High Rise Skinny is a universal fit for women.

RPM: What “rules” for buying a great pair of jeans?
BE OPEN MINDED. Be open to multiple styles that will accent different areas of your shape in different outfits. You may need a few different pair of jeans to complete different looks – don’t settle on one pair or fit.J Brand Photo Ready

Empire Baking Company Rises to the Top For the Holidays

Empire Baking CompanyWhether holiday plans bring you “over the river and through the woods” or you stay nestled snug in your home, your family and guest will say “HALLELUJAH!” when they taste Empire Baking Companys holiday treats. Empire Baking Co. delivered to my family their amazing pecan pie, gingerbread (which was gone over a weekend by my WHOLE family), brownies (a crowd-pleaser!), scones and croissants. By the way, I am still dreaming about those scones, that are light and fluffy. We ordered some more for our family to enjoy on Christmas morning. 🙂
Empire Baking Delivery What a great hostess gift or celebration with your neighbors! Each is made from scratch with the finest ingredients including King Arthur flour, natural sea salt, Plugra butter, local pecans and Callebaut chocolate. And boy, you can tell these are the purest ingredients!

When looking to give a gift that will bless those with the most purest and natural ingredients as possible, give Empire Baking Co. a call! I mean, what great gift to give than to buy local and give the best to your special guests. 🙂 Merry Christmas to all – may your hearts be joyful and your stomaches satisfied!
Empire Baking Gift

Empire Baking Company
5450 West Lovers Lane
Dallas, TX

Crisp Salad Co. Adds More Green to Greenville Ave.

Crisp Salad Co.Crisp Salad Company, located right across the street from Dallas’ only Trader Joe’s, adds a healthy restaurant alternative by introducing a hybrid concept that combines the build-your-own-salad or wrap experience with a tastefully designed menu and a new, freshness-inspired touch.

My daughter and I had the pleasure of trying this fresh place for a media lunch. As the name implies, Crisp Salad Company is all about the salad, not as an appetizer or warm-up, but as an expertly chopped or deliciously wrapped healthy meal. The restaurant menu features seasonal, local and organic produce. The salad dressings are prepared in-house.

I ordered the highly recommended Street Taco Salad, which includes spicy chicken, romaine, grape tomatoes, grilled sweet corn, bacon, Texas Cotija tossed with jalapeño ranch. I washed it down with Maine Root’s Black Cherry soda. This salad had lots of flavor with just enough spice. Don’t be fooled by the word, “salad.” This dish will fill you up. Crisp packs all the ingredients, so you can enjoy in-house or on-the-go.Crisp Salad My daughter chose the Crisp Chicken Strips Kid’s Meal. (Go figure 😉 ) She passed on the mini-cupcakes for the grapes and carrots. What a great options for parents who are looking for ways to add more fruits & veggies to your kids diet.
Crisp Salad Kids Meal If you want to end your meal with something sweet, Crisp offers these mini cupcakes by “That’s Sweet,” a local Dallas boutique bakery, providing just enough of a finish to satisfy the sweet tooth, without producing what Crisp calls a “guilty dessert hangover.”

Crisp Salad Co.
2020 Greenville Ave.
Dallas, TX

*UPDATE* Reliant Lights Downtown Dallas For Your Holidays

Reliant Lights Your HolidaysReliant Energy will light up a new holiday tradition at the AT&T Performing Arts Center on this Friday, December 6, 2013 December 13, 2013. The “Reliant Lights Your Holidays” will feature a dazzling display of lights on the Center’s iconic venues and trees in Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park as well as a snow-filled play area. Southwest Airlines Holiday Concert and Fireworks Spectacular will headline with country star Jack Ingram and the largest fireworks display ever held at the Center.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will be joined by Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Reliant Sicily Dickenson to help flip the switch and illuminate 250,000 holiday lights across the Center’s campus. The length of the lighted strands would stretch 6.54 miles and are highly energy efficient LEDs custom made for the Center. The lights, which will remain on throughout the holiday season, will outline the Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House, Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, and 72 trees in Elaine D. and Charles A. Sammons Park.

In addition to the lighting display, on Dec. 13th, Reliant Lights Your Holidays will include an entertaining lineup and festive activities.

  • Texas-born country star Jack Ingram is the headliner for the night. Ingram, whose hits include “Wherever You Are” and “Barefoot and Crazy” will perform on the main stage at 6:15 p.m. Southwest Airlines is sponsoring the performance.
  • An elaborate fireworks program, sponsored by Southwest Airlines, will cap the lighting ceremony. The fireworks show will be the largest ever held at the Center.
  • Additional special guest artists include the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet and characters from the Dallas Theater Center’s production of A Christmas Carol singing holiday tunes.
  • A children’s winter play area will feature 2,400 cubic feet of snow on top of the Donor Reflecting Pool. Children are encouraged to don coats and gloves, climb in the snow and have fun.
  • A special Reliant holiday photo scene has been created for photos using the Winspear Opera House as a backdrop. Families are invited to use the staging for their holiday photos. It will remain up throughout the season.
  • The Dallas Zoo is bringing some of its most popular animals for kids to enjoy.
  • The Master of Ceremony for “Reliant Lights Your Holidays” will be Jody Dean from KLUV-FM’s popular Jody Dean and the Morning Team.

The festivities begin at 5PM with holiday music, Dallas Zoo Animal Adventures, the snow play area and food trucks. FREE pictures with Santa are available, as well as the special Reliant holiday photo scene. Southwest Porch will offer drinks, snacks and a place to relax. Pearl Cup Coffee will also be open in the Information Center.

Immediately following the lighting ceremony, several performances will take place in the Arts District. Texas Ballet Theater will perform The Nutcracker in the Winspear Opera House; Dallas Theater Center will be hosting the opening night of A Christmas Carol – the first time the classic production has been performed in the Wyly Theatre; and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra will launch its Christmas series at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Tickets for all three productions can be purchased at www.attpac.org.

DFW Lights Up the Holidays

GPL CoverI love this time of the year where family traditions are made. One of ours is enjoying holiday lights. Bundle up your family, get out of the house and experience holiday lighting displays in North Texas!

GRAND PRAIRIE Area: With four million lights and two miles of lights and ending in the world’s longest light tunnel, the Prairie Lights Powered by Gexa Energy in Grand Prairie is not just a holiday light display, but a holiday light experience. For the second year, Gexa Energy is the title sponsor and is powering the spectacular drive-through display and Holiday Village attractions.

GPL Gexa EneregyALLEN: Watters Creek invites our shoppers to celebrate the most magical time of the year with “Celebration of Lights”, a fantasyland of animated light displays scheduled on the half hour from 5:30PM to 9:30PM. Throughout the holiday season the tranquil setting throughout the center will be, with the flip of a switch, transformed into a brilliant dazzling display with over 145,000 lights synchronized to music.Celebration of LightsADDISON Area: Elysa Ellis recommends you visit Vitruvian Park for “Vitruvian Lights” through Wednesday, January 1, 2014. Millions of Sparkling LED Lights will brighten the park, transforming it into MAGICAL HOLIDAY WONDERLAND!Vitruvian LightsARLINGTON Area: The neighborhood of Interlochen at Randol Mill Road & Westwood Drive is a MUST SEE until December 31, 2011. One of the largest holiday light displays in North Texas comes to life with more than 200 homes!

CARROLLTON Area: We make a special trip to see this one every year! (Hebron Parkway & High Sierra Dr.) This house brings to life Santa’s Workshop.  You know you are at the right house if Snoopy’s on the roof. A visit to DFW would not be complete without a glimpse at this spectacle for yourself.

SOUTH DALLAS Area: Kristen Martin also known as CandidlyRed recommends Kessler Park (W. Colorado and Lausanne). This is a wonderful neighborhood to view holiday lights. If you are in the area, you should stop by Emporium Pies for a sweet treat.

FARMER’S BRANCH Area: The Pharr Family house (14535 Southern Pines Cove) is highly recommended until January 1, 2013.  One of the most popular houses to visit in the DFW area is the Pharr family house who choreographs their 275,000 Holiday Lights to various holiday music. (Tune your radio to 95.9 to hear the music).  It’s definitely worth a visit.

FRISCO Area: The Frisco Town Square at Coleman Ave & Frisco Square Blvd  has a dazzling, choreographed holiday lights and music show until January 6, 2013. They also have carriage rides, a parachuting Santa and a Gigantic 3-Lane Snow Slide.Frisco Square LightsHIGHLAND PARK Area: A fan favorite is always the Highland Park area starting at Armstrong Pkwy & Preston Rd.  These exquisite holiday displays will delight both the young and old in this drive by tour of lights and displays.  If you feel adventurous, you can even tour the homes by carriage.

MCKINNEY area: This year marks the 5th year for the show that the Ahnemann family (7805 White Stallion Trail) calls “McKinney Christmas.” The show features 70,000 lights all synchronized to music, 7 different songs, snow machines, a 25-foot Christmas tree, a 10-foot Christmas tree, an 8-foot star, and leaping arches of light.

PLANO Area: I never turn down an opportunity to view the beautiful houses of the Deerfield Neighborhood at Legacy Drive & Preston Meadow until December 31, 2012. Grab a cup of hot cocoa or a gingerbread latte and take a drive through this festively illuminated neighborhood.

Spend the Holidays at the Dallas Arboretum

Dallas Arboretum AngelsHoliday at the Arboretum features Angels in DeGolyer, a The Dallas Pi Beta Phi collection of over 400 angels are elegantly displayed in the historic DeGolyer Estate in Dallas Arboretum. Angels of all sizes and shapes are decking the halls of the DeGolyer Estate this holiday season. Their curatorial team received their inspiration from the Annual Christmas Tree and the Neapolitan Baroque Crèche on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so the DeGolyer display is sure to be exquisite. Angels in DeGolyer runs from November 29 through December 31, 2013. It’s open daily from 10AM to 4PM.
Angels by the FireHanging AngelBrass Angels The Dallas Arboretum‘s tradition of serving elegant Holiday Tea in the lavishly decorated DeGolyer Estate continues this year. The formal three-course service is offered at Restaurant DeGolyer, which is prepared and presented by Gil’s Elegant Catering. Holiday Tea is served from November 29 through December 31, seven days a week at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for ages 12 and older, excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Prices for the Holiday Tea range from $47-$57 and include parking, admission to the Garden and access to the Angels in the DeGolyer display.Dallas Arboretum Holiday Tea

Dallas Arboretum
8525 Garland Rd
Dallas, TX 75218

* Buy One, Get One Free Wednesdays
* C.C. Young Senior Thursdays – $11 General Admission for those 65 and older and 20% discount at the Hoffman Family Gift Store
* Buy One, Get One Free Adult or Senior Ticket to the Children’s Adventure Garden, Monday-Friday, 1PM-5PM
* Discounted parking available online for $5

Ronald McDonald House of Dallas Ushers Trains at NorthPark

Trains at NorthParkChoo-choo! One of our family’s holiday traditions is going to see the Trains at NorthPark Center during the holidays. Trains at NorthPark, presented by Bank of Texas, centers around approximately 1,600 feet of track, 20 loops, 4 trolley car tracks and 24 Lionel train sets hauling more than a hundred pieces of rolling cars and pieces.
Texas Trains at NorthPark Imagine seeing Dallas’ skyline to include the Cotton Bowl and the State Fair with a clear view of Big Tex and the Ferris wheel. That is just one part of the miniatures created at this year’s Trains at NorthPark exhibit. The trains roll across the country with a stop on the East Coast at the White House, winter wonderland style, framed by the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the reflect pool. Trains that are hand painted roll in and around the area that is encased in a plastic box. On the other side of that display are numerous ones that reflex what are traditional scenes of New York City – the subway, Grand Central Station and the city’s skyline.
NYC Trains of NorthPark In another case sits a partial replica of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which include small colored row houses, with trains running in and around the area where water would normally be stationed around the bridge. You can see all these scenes as more than 3,800 square feet of trains with various holiday themes race round and round and round.

Trains at NorthPark is a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas. The House receives 100% of the proceeds, and that money is used to provide a home-away-from-home atmosphere for families coming to the Dallas area with children who are sick or seriously injured. To see it for yourself visit the exhibit on the second floor of the NorthPark Center between Free People and Sephora. There is a $6 cost for adults and $3 cost for children 12 and under.