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Life in DFW

My life as a wife and mom in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and all things fun about it!

Filtering by Tag: food

Hosting My Dad and Bro at The Stoneleigh's Perle on Maple

Debora Manusama

Dining here was an incredible experience. Executive Chef Wade Burch was kind enough to elaborate on their dinner menu, and I was lucky enough to have my brother taking photos and shooting videos for me there :)

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A Taste of France in the Heart of Grapevine

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

The beauty about being a foodie, a.k.a someone who loves food and is open to trying many different kinds of food (mostly gourmet), is that you get to travel the world without having to leave town. Finding different types of foreign cuisines is not that difficult these days, especially if you live in a big city. Last weekend, our 'destination' of choice was France, and we're so thrilled that we got to savor some delicious French-American dishes at Chez Fabien at the Main St. Bakery on Main Street, Grapevine.

We usually come here for breakfast on the weekends because we love the pastries like the Dessert Trio, Almond Croissant, and the giant macarons.  Or when we're in the mood for something more filling, we'd go for Le Parisien, Chocolate Chip pancakes, and Belgian Waffles.  

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This time however, we're going for the dinner menu! So I dressed up a little bit to welcome the weekend and the fact that I got to be off duty for a little while (what up clutch bag reference! hehe). Well not really. I am never off duty ;)

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We were greeted by a friendly staff who took us straight to this cute spot by the Le Place des Bisous sign, which means the place of kisses. Aaww...

Kisses aside, we were hungry, so it was time for us to order some appetizers. The bread basket had this creamy butter with scallion in it that I loved, and the escargot were buttery and flavorful, we couldn't help but to ask our server to not clear the plates yet so we could dip the bread in the remaining melted butter, garlic, thyme and all of those herbs!

J had just woke up from his long nap so he was a bit cranky. And by a bit I meant crazy cranky lol. The manager Pauline was very understanding though. We immediately ordered him some Grilled Salmon and Fries. What? Yes, they have good menus for kids, not just some basic mac n cheese or pb & j. And check out that old school entertainment! Etch the Sketch! But of course, being born at 2013, J thought it was an iPad.

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I asked our server Casey to surprise me and he ordered me the Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken. The chicken fell off the bone, you can taste the herbs all the way to the bone, and the purple baby carrots added just the right crunch to the whole dish.

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I paired it with their summer cocktail Concombre Bouquet which balanced the whole dish with its fruity, fresh taste. Mr.Man went with Pinot Grigio out of the 60 wine selections that they offer.

This is how I eat every day by the way. With a toddler boy holding my neck and jumping up and down around me lol.

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Mr. Man had the Friday night special which was the Bouillabaisse, a seafood stew that's originated from the port city of Marseille with ingredients like garlic, tomatoes, fennel, fish, and shellfish. Here at Chez Fabien, they add their own spin to it though by adding King Crab. The broth was on point, I would highly recommend you to try this dish instead of the more Americanized selections, although they do serve burgers :)

What added a more oomph to the whole French vibe going on here was the live performance by Isabel Crespo (she performed La Vien Rose!). If you can't make it here on Friday nights, there's also live music on Thursday and Saturday from 7 pm to 10 pm. That awesome sparkler birthday candle on the left is just what the bistro usually does for customers who are celebrating their birthdays. That's lit!

As a happy ending to our lovely evening, we savored some Banana Nutella Crepe and Bistro Bread Pudding. They are so generous with nutella on their crepes so if you love nutella like I do, you should order the crepes! The bread pudding is always available from breakfast to dinner, it's got the chewy texture that I like, and it comes with lots of peanuts! Yum! If you're allergic, make sure you let them know :)

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Over all, it was a sweet family nightout accompanied by sweet acoustic live music, delicious French dishes, and some craft cocktails (they make their own syrup and juices here!). The best thing was we didn't have to travel very far.  Can't wait to go back here :)

If you're coming to GrapeFest this September, Main St. Bakery will have a booth open outside the bakery/bistro serving their famous Croi-Dough and also sandwiches!  

 

The One Who Keeps Learning & Never Settles

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

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Although I enjoy writing about my life and the fun things I do with my family, I miss writing about other people. After a thoughtful consideration and a little survey that I did with my readers, I have decided to revamp this section on my blog that has inspired many people since I first started it : Monthly Heroines! I don't know about you but I think our generation craves for the right people to look up to. So when I thought of who to feature on my 'comeback' edition, I thought of this girlboss that I've admired for a while, Kari Crowe, the owner of Melt Ice Creams and Motor Sisters Ice Cream. 

Read it, be inspired, share it, and happy national ice cream month!

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You are not a chef, you didn't have any experience in running your own ice cream parlors before, so what got you into opening Melt?

I had a passion for the food industry! I had been freelancing and photographing chefs, restaurants and food for a few years and when I started looking for a career change I really wanted an opportunity to add value to our community. Ice cream seemed the perfect fit for my community, it met my desire to stay creative and my excitement to build a business. The hot weather season that is so significantly long in Texas definitely creates opportunities for adding value with frozen treats.

Why ice cream (a seasonal business), and not a coffeeshop (people drink coffee year-round, at anytime of the day now) or anything of that nature? Watch the video to find out (and don't forget to subscribe! :)

https://youtu.be/IU34KpopNY8

After opening Melt, have you ever thought, "This was not a good idea"? What kept you going?

Opening a food business is no small feat, in my opinion it gets romanticized a little too often.  It’s hard grueling hours, and there’s no magic formula to make it successful.  I think as a business owner you always work through trying times and difficult seasons but how you respond, adapt and improve is what really matters.  We make mistakes, our employees make mistakes but the value for us is taking those mistakes and turning them into opportunities to learn to be better, smarter and stronger for our customers and the future of our business.  

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I think what keeps me going is learning to let go of things out of my control and improving the things that are in my control.  Building a culture and a team that understands our vision and the future of the company keeps everyone moving forward!

I read on your blog, that your husband quit his job last year. As a wife,were you panicked at all? What encouraged you guys to stick with Melt and go all in for this business together?

It was a very calculated decision that we planned for and he kept great relationships with his industry peers.  Mark coming on board brought a wave of leadership and dedication to push the organization to new strategic growth.  We have such different strengths that we can play off of and I’m so grateful for that.  

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What is the biggest lesson you've learned about opening/running your own business so far?

I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one. There are so many small things we learn every day and every week about business.  I would probably say...

the most impactful thing I’ve learned is to always keep learning, never settle.

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Any advice for my readers who might want to open their own business in the near future?

Dive into researching and understanding your market, your customer, and your product.  The more knowledge you have up front, the less surprise you’ll have when you launch!

Anything exciting coming up for Melt and Motor Sisters that you'd like to share? 

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Moving MELT was a big feat and our grand re-opening last weekend was amazing, our team and our customers rallied support. It was beautiful to be a part of! The new shop (1201 W Magnolia Ave #115, Fort Worth, TX, opens Tue-Thurs & Sun 12 pm – 10 pm and Fri-Sun 12 pm – 11 pm) allows us more production space, a larger patio and a larger parking lot as well as extended summer hours! We now have additional permanent flavors, seasonal cone pairings and seasonal sundaes! Coming up, we have Christmas in July, one our most beloved days of the year. We will celebrate this mid-year holiday with all things Christmas-related on July 23, you don’t want to miss it!

I’m proud of Motor Sisters in Dallas because the brand embodies women empowerment and  the ice cream offerings are fun and funky! Have you had the Amelia Earhart? It’s a combo of salty and sweet, crushed pretzels, crunchy peanuts and lots of nutella sauce! The Truck Yard is such a fun and eclectic place to be a part of!

 

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What are your all-time favorite ice cream flavors?

This is a tough question! I have loved a lot of our non-dairy options like Coconut Curry and the Velvet Vegan! But currently the summer sundae is my favorite!!!

A Cozy-Hip Coffeshop in Downtown Plano

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

It's not easy to find good Asian food around Dallas, so Mr.Man and I often go to places like Carrollton, Richardson, and Plano on the weekends, to satisfy our Asian cravings. Last Saturday, after having some really good salted fish fried rice for a late lunch in Plano, we somehow felt like going to  a coffeeshop instead of going straight home. We didn't know where to go, so we decided to try whatever we could find on our google map. And oh we're so glad that we did, because it lead us to found this cozy-hip coffeeshop in downtown Plano called Fourteen Eighteen.

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When we walked in, we immediately fell in love with the 'living room' vibe that this coffeeshop has. I like the different sofas and chairs that all come in different colors and style, creating that casual, cozy vibe.

This corner by the window right here is my favorite, 'cause it has those vintage posters, that watercolor latte poster on the right, and the wooden wall in the background adds a little rustic feel to it too!

Next thing that caught my attention? This Emporium Pies sign right by the counter!!!

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I had just gone to the Emporium Pies shop in Oak Cliff earlier that day, but couldn't find my favorite pie, Ebony and Ivory (basically a nutella pie - so GOOD). But you know what?  The Fourteen Eighteen Coffeeshop had them! So I ordered a slice, a cup of hot caramel macchiato, and picked a cozy sofa for us to chill on.

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Love this floral table by our sofa. The coffee is excellent of course (roasted at Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters), goes perfectly with my mighty good slice of hazelnut pie. Where is the picture of the pie? Sorry, no time for photo, J was stuffing his face  with it before I could even get a shot of it.

It's amazing how sometimes, the best discoveries in life are made when you least expect them. 

Wherever you go this week, be open to an unexpected discovery. Who knows what you'd find!

Wine & Cake Pairing with Susie Cakes

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

At this point, I really believe that whichever trending eatery in the US that you see on social media would eventually come to Dallas. And it's true! From In-n-Out Burger to the Cupcake ATM, popular eateries are finding Dallas very appealing for their businesses. And Among many of them that are opening in the Big D, I am excited about this bakery called Susie Cakes. Not because it has its own reality show or anything :p but because they keep it simple and old school here.

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No fondant icing, they use buttercream for all of their cake decorations, so no printing or anything like that. And they use ingredients that you could find in your pantry. Nothing complicated that you can't spell. The recipes are inspired by the real and original recipes by founder Susan Search's grandmothers, Mildred and Madeline.

When I got there, I was greeted with these yummy light bites to prepare me for the wine and cake pairing session that they have put together for us local Dallas bloggers.

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After a few chit chats with the ladies, we went straight to the kitchen where all the magic happens!

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Lemon, Coconut, Celebration Vanilla, Carrot, and Red Velvet. Oh! And yes, those Texas Cookies were for us to take home.

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My favorite? It's a tie between the Lemon and the Vanilla Celebration. But I think, I would want the Vanilla Celebration cake for my birthday!

SusieCakes (9 of 10) It's got sprinkles baked in the cake, and the icing is in Susie's signature color that matches one of her grandma's mixing bowls. How cute is that color! Now, I didn't take notes of the wine, but I do remember that one of them was Rosa Regale, and it was delicious! I would drink it with any cake!

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Of course, they wouldn't let us leave without tasting some of their chocolate cakes & chocolate marble cakes. A perfect ending to our evening.

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Next, "Mr. Cakes" showed off this photo of him eating a cake by Susie's grandmas as a kid. They display it in store and also on their web.

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It's inspiring to see how Susie sticks with the simplicity of her grandmas' baking, and develop it into a successful business all over the country! Instead of following fads and what's hype, she sticks to what she knows and she loves, and you can taste it in the cakes, which taste like the cakes you would have at your grandma's.

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Thanks for having us, Susie! I would definitely come back in a few weeks for my birthday.

Welcome to Dallas :)

Savoring the Goodness of Texas Land, Air, and Water

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

When I first heard about this restaurant, I thought, "Law? Why would anyone name a restaurant 'Law'?" LAWeditedLAWedited-2

It turns out that the name stands for Land, Air, & Water. Not just any land, air, and water, but the ones in Texas. Yes, LAW is committed to sourcing their ingredients locally. So throughout the restaurants, you can sense the Texas theme going on, although it does not overpower the beauty of the view of Four Seasons Hotel's greenery, visible through the tall and wide glass windows.

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LAW Restaurant officially opened its doors on April 1st (just last week), but the night before, myself and a handful of others got a little preview of what it has to offer.

We were greeted by a selection of wine, carefully picked by master sommelier, James Tidwell, and some delicious appetizers. From Chipotle-Agave glazed thick cut bacon (it's seriously super thick!) to Crab Deviled Eggs and Oysters - they got it all.

I know I could've tried their amazing salads like the TX Caesar, but I couldn't wait to try their Beer Can Chicken tacos (available during lunch daily) so I went ahead and get me some at the taco stations.

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On their regular dinner menu, they serve Crispy Duck Confit Tacos with foie gras, kale, and pickled red onions. Ooh, I would love to try that next time!

After tasting the 'Air', now it was time for me to taste the 'Land'. So I headed to the steak station for some seriously huge rib eye steaks.

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Look at those ribs sticking out! The steak was cooked perfectly, and well-seasoned. I like it even without the sauce. On their regular dinner menu, LAW also serves this BBQ Rib Tower that you don't want to miss!

And if you're wondering who's the guy behind these brilliant, Texas-inspired menus, here he is. Chef Jonathan Rivera.

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I was lucky to get this shot because he was running around greeting people and making sure that the food was served just the way they should. Thanks for stopping by for the photo, Chef!

Next, 'Water'! I've had some oysters for appetizers, but I was curious to try their Crispy Red Fish. 

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Served with some fire-roasted chilies, the fish was cooked perfectly, and I like the fact that it didn't have that fishy aftertaste that a lot of fish-dishes have. Even with the skin on, it was divine.

I didn't get to try everything because I was busy having great conversations with this couple who was kind enough to let me tag along on their datenight (thank you Hyon-Chin and James Keoughan!). But by this time, I was full. So you know I had to go straight to the dessert station!

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Yay, LAW S'mores! The graham crackers and marshmallows were house-made, and look at that torch! A fancy spin on a childhood favorite!

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These lemon & blueberry pies were my fave tho! Sweet and tangy, a good ending to a great dinner.

Oh but we couldn't leave without sipping some cocktails of course! So behold, the Zone of Truth.

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Patron añejo, patron silver, passion fruit, lemon and some powdered red peppers to give it a kick. Yum!!

So excited to welcome this restaurant to the city of Irving's already vibrant food scene. Can't wait for you all to stop by and try it too!  

Why Mommy-dates Are Vital for Our Survival

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

No matter how 'fun' and 'okay' my motherhood life might seem on social media (hashtag it #momlife hayyy ;) ), I am gonna be real honest with you and tell you this : I face real challenges that other moms face and there are days when I just snap and lose my patience. I remember crying in the restroom because I had J's poop all over my shirt last year. Sometimes we feel helpless and just overwhelmed, no matter how many kids we have and however young or old they are.

At those moments, we tend to think that we are the only one going through this, while the other moms have it all together. But let me tell you this : we ALL have those days in our walks as mothers and wives. So why go through it alone when you can have your fellow mommy-friends supporting you and cheering for you?

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That's why I think having a community of moms who uphold the kind of values you uphold is very important. We bring our kids to playdates so they can socialize and learn to interact with other kids, why don't we go on mommy-dates ourselves?

I'm so grateful for my friend and neighbor, Roselle, who has been able to pick me up and go on little playdate slash mommy-dates with me on almost every Tuesday. We've been to local libraries, Dallas Arboretum, and recently, a Midwestern-based restaurant that specializes in ButterBurgers and Fresh Frozen Custard, Culver's.

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Started back in 1984, Culver's has now grown to over 550 restaurants, including in the DFW metroplex. We went to the one in The Colony, which was just opened back in September of 2015. And of course, we brought our kiddos with us.

Roselle decided to try the Beef Pot Roast sandwich (left) with some BBQ sauce on top, and I tried the ButterBurger Cheese. Yum!!

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I like the fact that their ButterBurger is cooked-to-order and the patties are NOT frozen, seared to perfection, so you get that crust when you bite into it. Check them out on instagram to see more of their delicious burgers, sammiches, and more. 

Over the delicious lunch, Roselle and I talked about everything from parenting, Disney movies, to Beyonce! I love that when you carpool and go out for lunch with your fellow moms and their kid(s), you get to see how they deal with their kids, how they overcome challenges you might be facing or have yet to face. And be real, you know.

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For dessert, I tried the Frozen Custard made with cold-pressed vanilla and fine dairy. This one's the Chocolate Chip Cookie Concrete Mixer. I added some brownie bits too!

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Roselle tried the flavor of the day which was Cherry Cheesecake and she said it was super yummy!!

We ended the afternoon by taking photos (and being photobombed by our sons) and taking a long ride home together.

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Wherever you are in your journey of motherhood, don't ever feel like you are alone. Find a good friend and hold on to them. Support them and cheer for them, because we are better together.

Getting The Heat at Zest Fest 2016

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Although my tolerance towards spicy food is not that high, I am married to a dude who puts a crazy amount of hot sauce into everything he eats. So when we found out about a festival dedicated solely for spicy food/condiments, we knew we had to check it out. Especially because there were contests and celebrity chefs doing live cooking demo too!

That's Mr.Man, trying the Mild to Wild Pepper & Herb Co.'s "Stupid Hot" Sauce. It is stupid hot y'all. As in, the kind that could make your brain stop functioning for a few seconds- kinda hot. We didn't know who was going to eat it at home if we got a bottle of it, so we got their Red Savina Garlic sauce. Mr. Man actually shook the guy at the booth's hands, because the sauce has successfully got him all sweating and speechless.

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Each year, vendors compete to win the Fiery Food Challenge through a blind tasting involving the event-goers. If they win, vendors get to bring home this award right here. Like Smokin' Texas Gourmet, that has won quite a few times now, and not only for their food but for their cocktail mixers too!

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With a storefront in Keller, TX, Smokin' Texas Gourmet offers a variety of gluten free spices, all-natural and artisanal condiments, seasonings, hot sauces and custom products by chef Peter Mollett.  The one on the picture above is their delicious Jalapeño Honey Mustard. You can order online and have it delivered to your home!

Now, it was time for us to get some lunch. All of these spicy sauces got us craving for some serious grub. So I ordered some ribs with some Eddie Deen BBQ sauce that we had previously sampled with some pickle and sausage (right picture).

Next, it was time for some dessert! We're so glad that we found the Texas Toffee booth after all of the spiciness we've had that afternoon! Loved the 'Gotcha Toffee' (cinnamon & ghost pepper), but my favorite was the dark chocolate pecan! You can find out more about their candy selections here. 

Notice on the picture on the top left, they have the trophy? Yes, we weren't the only ones obsessed with Texas Toffee. You should definitely check it out too :)

You can catch glimpses of what went down at Zest Fest by clicking play on the following video. And...don't forget to subscribe!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CNIr4I59_Y&feature=youtu.be

 

Now if you're a fan of spicy food who wants to try out different products every month that you can't get in a regular retailer, Heck That's Hot might just be what you need. 

   It is a monthly subscription of a box of spicy food from salsa, beef jerky, dip mixes to chips and everything spicy you could think of (7 to 8 items in total) for just $30/month.

With the cold weather and the storm that have just passed, do you think you're ready for some heat? :)

I know I'm not. Ugh...

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Sweet Gifts from the Corner

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

It is exactly ONE month before Christmas, and though a lot of people are more occupied with Thanksgiving and Black Friday shenanigans today, I'd like to take some time to celebrate the fact that the most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner! Speaking of corners, as you can see, J and I have just savored some delicious sweets that we got from the local Corner Bakery  to celebrate this day. I've always liked going to the Corner for some quick bite, both savory and sweet, so when I saw these pretty sweets on the store display yesterday, I couldn't help but try them! Well, most of them at least :)

   And this got me thinking : if any of you has already felt the anxiety of all the holiday shopping and entertaining, it is probably best for you to take care of the 'little' things first. Like getting the stocking-stuffers for your loved ones ready or simple yet sweet gifts for the people you really want to show love and share joy with this Christmas, like your colleagues, neighbors, or favorite teachers. And nothing says sweet like a bag of these Red Sugar Cookie Bites right here.

   Soft and sweet, just the way the little kid in me likes it :) If you need more for entertaining, you can even order a 5-dozen assorted cookie bite tray with flavours like M&M's, chocolate chips, monster, toffee, and classic sugar!

There is also a smoother and silkier choice that I really like, the Bar. From fudge brownie, maple pecan, to this one right here, cream cheese brownie, I like them all.

       

If you can't decide on which bar to get, you can also get the assorted bite-sized ones on a tray - Winning!

This next one makes a great gift for the hostess. You wouldn't want to come to a party empty handed would you?

      This Lemon Pound Cake that I got is wrapped in a red wrapping paper along with a cup of icing that you can spread just before serving the cake. You can also go with the signature Cinnamon Cream Cake which is boss! Now if you're more into something more petite to please the crowd, the Bottoms Up Bundt is what you'd like. What? Haven't heard of it? 

        No, no, they're not cupcakes. They're mini white and chocolate bundt cakes with a variety of buttercream and toppings like salted caramel, M&M's, and cranberry orange.

Oh it's gonna be a sweet, holly jolly Christmas in my home for sure! Hoping the same for your homes too :)

Blue Bell's Homecoming at Big State, Irving

Debora Manusama-Sinaga

Having lived in the Las Colinas-part of Irving for 1.5 year now, I had never really been to what they call the 'downtown Irving' area until just yesterday. The only time I went to this part of the city last year was to pay for my speeding ticket at the Municipal Court (yeah, I know, I'm not proud of it haha), so I didn't know that there were more than just courts and malls pass the 183 highway! Oh my gosh, how could I miss it!  

So what brought me to the area yesterday? The return of Blue Bell Ice Cream to North Texas. I was invited by a friend of mine from Visit Irving to attend a little celebration of the ice cream's come back at the legendary Big State Fountain Grill. They were going to give away free scoops of blue bell ice cream from 1 to 3 p.m. , so of course I said yes to the invitation.

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One of the oldest joints in the area, this place used to be a clothing store and then turned into a drug store, and now a restaurant.

 

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It's very colourful and bright, with a vibrant and retro vibe that I like. Very family-friendly, in fact the waiters treat us like family here.

 

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I am glad that I decided to have lunch here before getting in line for my free scoops of Blue Bell. Look at those pretty tiles!

 

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So why is Blue Bell such a big deal, here in Texas? I might never fully understand that, because I'm not from here. But I can tell you that it's more than just ice cream here. It's like a tradition. I remember trying Blue Bell for the first time at a friend's house when we first got here, and they told us that "It's a Texan thing, you just have try it!". So we did, and we liked the Dutch Chocolate and Cookies n Cream!

 

Anyhow, a few months ago, Blue Bell issued a recall due to listeria found in some of their products (read here). It was the first recall they've done in 108 years! Yesterday, thankfully, they have managed to make a come back in North Texas, with better and improved products of course.

 

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I invited a friend of mine, a fellow mom-blogger, Roselle to join us. Her son, Ezra couldn't wait any longer! He wanted his ice cream a.s.a.p.! Oh, I feel you, Ezra.

 

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It was still 12.30, and the ice cream was not going to be served until 1. So, a grilled cheese wouldn't hurt, would it? :) The housemade fries were also delicious!

 

A few minutes later, people started lining up. Oh, it's time!

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Yasssgimme gimme gimme!

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Sonja and Jay, a lovely couple I just met yesterday, savoring the Dutch Chocolate and the Buttered Pecan ice cream. They're the nicest people! Recommending me on what and where to eat around the area, and telling me how amazed they were at the fact that I was carrying J with my Boba baby-carrier. "We didn't have that back in my day. That looks hard to me!," Sonja said.

 

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The next 2 hours were filled with media people taking photos and recording videos around the store. The news coverage was aired on NBC 5 yesterday. The journalist, Eric King, had actually talked to a elderly couple who took a day off from work, just to have some Blue Bell scoops at Big State yesterday! What a devoted love they have for the ice cream!

 

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More than just the ice cream, my little one was interested at the Jukebox. Something that his generation might not even know if it wasn't for retro places like Big State.

 

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So, my little one took a 50-minute nap, had 2 scoops of ice cream, and discovered a jukebox,while I had 3 scoops of ice cream, a cheeseburger with housemade fries, and a great chit-chat with my mommy friend. Ah, what a good day. Welcome back, Blue Bell! Can't wait to pick you up on my next grocery shopping ;)