Great food and flavors are conversation topics worth having

Published on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 22:36 - Written by Christine Gardner food@tylerpaper.com

Food is something we all need and love on a daily basis. It’s also a favorite topic of conversation and it nourishes us physically, emotionally and socially.

Trips are planned around dining at specific restaurants or trying a region or countries cuisine. Gatherings with friends and family are anchored by a meal, and we all enjoy foods that remind us of childhood, special occasions or holidays.

Last week was my birthday, and I used it as an excuse to travel to Dallas and try some new restaurants, shop at my favorite food and cooking stores and bring home some Dallas flavor that I can’t experience in East Texas.

It also was research for a series of columns I am working on that highlight places to eat, drink and shop when getting away for a day or two in Dallas. Shopping and eating local is important to our community, but we also love to travel and try new things.

Starting a dialogue that promotes good and interesting places to eat ensures our experience is worthwhile and enjoyable. During the next several months I will be writing about some of my favorite Dallas eateries.

I also would love to hear from you so that some of your favorites can also be included. Once we get the Dallas list growing we can expand the destinations to include Houston, Austin, San Antonio and other points in between.

Even places outside of Texas are good to know. A lot of East Texans travel frequently to Colorado, New Mexico and other destinations. Just last week my parents were in Seattle and could have used some recommendations. Let me know your favorite restaurants, regardless of the destination, and I can start to create a list on tylerpaper.com that features the top recommendations.

One of the places in Dallas that you will be hearing more about in the coming weeks is The Mozzarella Company. Paula Lambert created her cheese empire in 1982 and is well-respected and renowned throughout the United States and the world for her cheeses, recipes and culinary knowledge.

Last month at the American Cheese Society competition several of her cheeses won awards. She won third place for her Caciocavallo, Pecan Praline Mascarpone Torta and Cella, second place for her Goat Ricotta and first place for the Deep Ellum Blue.

I had a chance to taste the Cella, which is a soft goat cheese wrapped in lemongrass and the Deep Ellum Blue. I also brought home some Burata, which is one of my favorites – a handmade mozzarella with a cream filling.

Mozzarella Company cheeses are available for order atwww.mozzarellaco.com and seasonally at Sweet Gourmet in Tyler. They are also used in some menu items at Rick’s on the Square.

It’s a privilege to be surrounded by so much great food and have the opportunity to try new things and experience new flavors. I experienced a dose of reality yesterday when I spent time at the East Texas Food Bank and learned how serious the hunger problem is in East Texas.

I was impressed with the amount of support they receive through volunteers giving their time or donations of money or food. They have many different programs to meet the needs of children, seniors, families and rural communities in need of assistance. Even with all the support and programs in place it is still not enough to change all of the counties serviced from critical status to at-risk.

Last week FRESH by Brookshire’s presented a check to the Food Bank for $9,086 as a result of the fundraising efforts from the Taste of Texas Steak Cookoff. It was a very generous donation, but what is even more astounding is how far that money will go to feed hungry East Texans. That amount of money can provide over 72,000 meals.

Look for my story in Sunday’s newspaper about some of the programs the Food Bank has put in place to help school children that are in need of assistance. Their Kids Café and Backpack program is helping to nourish young minds and increase focus and learning in the classroom.