Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cool Yule Fuel to Fan the Flames of Holiday Festivities

Well, we've made it through Thanksgiving and are now into the Christmas section of the holidays, so I thought that an article on classic or forgotten Yuletide beverages would be warmly recieved on a cold Winter's day...

Cool Yule Fuel to Fan the Flames of Holiday Festivities

This is the time of year when we reflect upon our early childhood memories of joyous Christmas’ gone by and that trusty old Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, an Easy Bake Oven, some Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, or a game of Mystery Date.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I get all geeky when Thanksgiving gets near, and start watching every version of “A Christmas Carol” and all those Rankin and Bass claymation Christmas specials. I really get into the spirit of giving and making merry. I dream of sitting around the fireplace as the snow piles up outside, listening to carolers, while lights gently twinkle on the tree. The smell of holiday food simmering and baking sends aromas wafting through the house. I see visions of slipping into a hot buttered rum, some cidery wassail or some strong eggnog, to get me into a festive mood and chase away the chilling winter air.

As much as I love Christmas, every year it seems harder to get into the mood. However, I persevere in my search for those elusive holiday “spirits”. I believe that in our hearts, we all long for a traditional Dickensian or perhaps a Jean-Shepherd-like Christmas.

When I feel the need for a Dickens-Christmas-pub fix, I often head over to the Old Monk for a taste of jolly old England “Yule-tidings”.

To bring those traditional holiday “spirits” home, I offer a few historic holiday drink recipes. Their spicy goodness will warm the cockles of your heart or the heart of your cockles. These recipes should have even the ‘Scroogeiest’ of you singing White Christmas!

Mulled Wine/Glogg:

At Nick’s, the “alternate reality” bar in “It's a Wonderful Life”, Clarence the angel asks for a glass of mulled wine that’s “heavy on the cinnamon, easy on the cloves". Here’s a possible version of Clarence's Mulled Wine:

2 bottles of red wine
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1 orange
1 lemon

Put the zest of the fruit, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves into the water. Bring to a slow boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the wine and sliced orange and lemon. Warm on low heat for 40 minutes (do NOT boil). Strain and serve! Glogg is a similar Scandinavian holiday beverage that adds raisins and almonds. Recipes can be found online.


In Colonial America, rum was called "grog", so the name eggnog is likely derived from "egg-and-grog". George Washington was quite a fan of “the nog”, and his own recipe included rye whiskey, rum, and sherry! Atta boy, George!

From Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery by Eliza Leslie (1851)

“Beat separately the yolks and whites of six eggs.
Stir the yolks into a quart of rich milk, or thin cream, and add half a pound of sugar.
Then mix in half a pint of rum or brandy.
Flavor it with a grated nutmeg.
Lastly, stir in gently the beaten whites of three eggs (beaten stiff).
It should be mixed in a china bowl.”

*People have been drinking this for centuries, but you should heed all raw egg warnings.*


In English tradition, young women went "wassailing" with a bowl of drink, singing and wishing luck to the neighborhood. The drink was often spiced ale or cider with baked apples.

1 gallon apple cider
2 cups cranberry juice
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 oranges
Whole cloves
1 apple, peeled and diced
3 cinnamon sticks (or 3 Tbs. ground cinnamon)
1/2 to 1 cup brandy

Pour apple cider, cranberry juice, honey, and sugar into a crock-pot set on low, mixing carefully. As it heats, stir so that the honey and sugar dissolve. Stud the oranges with the cloves and place in the pot. Add the diced apple. Add allspice, ginger, and nutmeg to taste. Snap the cinnamon sticks in half and add. Cover and simmer 2 - 4 hours on low heat. About half an hour prior to serving, add the brandy and lookout!

Hot Buttered Rum:

An authentic Colonial recipe (except for the slow cooker). It’s like drinking a cinnamon roll with a kick!

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 pinch salt
2 quarts hot water
3 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
2 cups rum
1 cup sweetened whipped cream
Ground nutmeg to taste

Combine the brown sugar, butter, salt, and hot water in a 5-quart slow cooker. Add cinnamon sticks and cloves. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Stir in rum. Ladle from the slow cooker into mugs then top with whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg.

Whether you celebrate Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Yule, or Christmas, these drinks should warm up your holiday festivities and take you back to a simpler time. May the holiday “spirits” find you well and happy. Have a very safe and Merry Christmas and “God bless us, every one.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stop by the Pub for Some Grub and Suds, Bub!

October has been a crazy month at the Holman household and spare time has been in short supply. I can feel the holidays approaching and have already been putting together Christmas playlists for any party I might be inclined (asked) to DJ. The weather is turning cooler and it's time to star using the oven again, which means great savory aromas filling the house on grey, rainy days and the smell of cinamon wafting through the house as cookies and pies are baked.

I always look forward to this time of year and pull out all of my old Christmas DVD's. I'm a bit of an anglophile at Christmas-time and a fanatic when it comes to "A Christmas Carol". I watch as many versions as my wife can stand, during the holidays. The old Victorian Christmas hits a sweet spot with me and makes me long to head to the pub for some glog, mulled cider, or perhaps a hot buttered rum.

Unfortunately, there aren't actually many places in Dallas that you can actually find those old-world holiday beverages (other than making them yourself at home), but there are certainly a few good pubs in Dallas. My personal Christmas-time favorite is the Old Monk. When they put up their lights and garland, it make the place even cozier than it normally is, and it's comforting to me to sit at the bar, read a paper, nibble on a cheese plate, and just hang for a bit. So, for this month's article in Lit, I thought that pubs would be a good segue into the Fall season. So, here are my thoughts on the "Pub"ject (sorry!).

Stop by the Pub for Some Grub and Suds, Bub!

Ever been on a pub crawl, or perhaps you’ve just crawled into a pub before? A Public House or “Pub” is “an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed” says Merriam-Webster. They originated in the U.K. and have their beginnings in Roman Britain, which dated from AD 43 to about 410. Once the Romans established an infrastructure of roads in the U.K., the need for places to unwind, get something to eat and drink, and bed down for the night, greatly increased. Roman taverns and inns rapidly sprung up on major trade routes.
The origin of the pub, as we know it, began with the abbey breweries and monasteries of Britain, which emerged shortly after the Norman Conquest, in the mid-eleventh century. They were bustling hubs of socializing, business, and politics, as well as a place to let your hair down and get hammered.

Many influential people have had their intellects fueled by hanging out at the local pub including Charles Dickens, Dylan Thomas, and George Orwell. The “Ye Olde Fighting Cocks” pub in St Albans, Hertfordshire, an 11th century building on an 8th century site, currently holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest pub in England. Today there are over 53,000 pubs in the U.K.
Traditionally English pubs were solely for the purpose of drinking, and perhaps playing a couple of games of darts or cards. Little if any food was served, other than snack items like pickled eggs, chips, and peanuts, whose saltiness increased beer sales. If meals were available, they were typically akin to a ploughman's lunch (cheese, pickles, and bread and butter). In the 1950s some pubs began offering "a pie and a pint", serving hot steak and ale pies, made on the premises.
"Pub grub" quickly expanded to include other British food items such as fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and pasties (a pastry typically filled with beef potatoes and onion). Burgers and pasta dishes soon followed.

Since the 1990s food has become a much more important part of pub sales, and today most serve lunch and dinner, as well as a broad selection of Scotches, beers, and ales to choose from. Most in the DFW area also have full bars. Some pubs serve meals made to a higher standard and are called gastropubs, a phrase coined in England in 1991. Here the establishment’s major focus is on the quality of their food.

While many bars in the DFW area call themselves “pubs” or “taverns” I’m going to keep the scope of this article on the ones that I feel adhere to the pub genre most closely.

The Feargal McKinney and company pubs – These guys really have it down and have opened up some of the best, most authentic pubs in the area including:

The Black Friar - 2621 McKinney Ave. Dallas, Texas 75204 (214) 953-0599

Nice big patio. Directly across the street from the Idle Rich!

The Idle Rich - 2614 McKinney Ave. Dallas, Texas 75204 (214) 965-9926

Love the bar and the deck on McKinney. Great for people watching. Try the Silver Dollar Burgers and Cheese Boards.

The Old Monk - 2847 N Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 821-1880

You can’t beat this place on a rainy day… It feels like you’re really in the British Isles. Both the staff and the Fish and Chips rock!

Dallas also hosts several gastropubs, of which my favorites are:

The Meddlesome Moth - 1621 Oak Lawn Ave. Dallas, TX 75207 (214) 628-7900

A menu with interesting ingredients for the Dallas Palate (animal parts that we don’t usually see in these parts). Great patio!

Cock and Bull - 6330 Gaston Ave. Dallas, TX 75214 (214) 841-9111

A small, intimate place in Lakewood with a very ambitious menu that they adeptly pull off!

Some of my other top “Pub”-lick intoxication locations are:

Ginger Man - 2718 Boll St, Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 754-8771

One of my favorites! Built in an old two-story house, you can lounge in the lounge upstairs, or sit on one of the two patios. Live music on Saturdays.

Capitol Pub - 2401 N. Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 887-9330

Situated nicely on Henderson. Good food and a wraparound deck outside. Check for kitchen hours - between lunch and dinner you can only get pizzas.

Trinity Hall - 5321 E. Mockingbird Ln. # 250 Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 887-3600

Very authentic feeling Irish-style pub, right next to the Angelica Movie Theatre. Impressive menu and they often have live music on the weekends.

The Dubliner - 2818 Greenville Ave. Dallas, Texas 75206 (214) 818-0911

Popular with bikers and the SMU crowd (location, location, location). Great selection of Single Malt Scotches and beer. Widely considered one of the best Irish pubs in Dallas.

So drop by your local public house for some bubble and squeak (potatoes, cabbage, and roast beef) or some bangers and mash (sausages with mashed potatoes), sip on a jar (pint of beer) of black and tan (Half a pint of Guinness Stout layered over a half a pint of Bass Ale) or a priest’s collar (a pint of Guinness Stout topped with an inch of hard cider), throw a bloody rousing game of arrows (darts). You’ll have a brilliant time and be glad you did! Cheerio.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Looking for a Long-Lost Recipe?

I've been thinking about this for some time and often get requests for old, forgotten recipes, or recipes from long-closed restaurants, and I usually have pretty good luck tracking them down. So, if there's a dish from an old favorite restaurant that you're longing for, or perhaps your Grandmother used to make something that you've been craving, or maybe you had a traditional menu item from family get-togethers of your youth that you'd love to be able to make. I have an uncanny knack (and a few resources) for locating just such recipes and would love to help you find them. If you'd like to shoot me an email, I'd be happy to try and help you locate these recipes, or simply answer any other culinary questions that you might have. Now, I'm not promising results on every question, but I'll certainly give it good a shot. I look forward to hearing from you.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If You Think the Cowboys are Lame, One of These Bars has Got Your Game…

It's time for another of my article from the upcoming issue of Lit Monthly. This time I tackle the football issue of where to watch non-Dallas Cowboy NFL football games in Dallas. A lofty task at best! But here goes...

If You Think the Cowboys are Lame, One of These Bars has Got Your Game…
By Greg Holman

How do you keep the Dallas Cowboys out of your yard? Put up a goal post. What’s the difference between a dollar bill and the Dallas Cowboys? You can still get four full quarters out of a dollar. What do the Cowboys and a possum have in common? Both play dead at home and get killed on the road. OK, so not everyone is a Dallas Cowboys fan, but football season is upon us and the promise of autumn looms large on the horizon. The scent of grilled brats and burgers waft from backyard grills and stadium parking lots, and it’s time to pull out those old jersey’s to gear up for some tailgating, chips and queso, and copious quantities beer.

Pre-season talk of the Cowboys making it to the Superbowl, which will be hosted at “Jerry World” in Arlington this year, seems a little far-fetched, given the effectiveness of our offensive line and Romo’s lack of trust in his receivers this season, but I root for the Boys anyway. And since Dallas is a football town and the home of “America’s Team” (five-time Superbowl champs), it would stand to reason that if you live in Dallas, then you’re a Cowboy’s fan, right? Well, that’s not always the case.

Dallas, being an international business hub, is home to many transplanted football fans from other parts of the country that are still loyal to their old hometown teams, so I thought that I would offer up a list of Dallas-area bars that cater to the athletic supporters of NFL teams, other than “Da Boys.”

A few of the divisions (the AFC South, NFC South, and NFC West) aren’t well represented here in Big D, and I’m not sure if that’s because we don’t get as many people moving to Dallas from those particular cities, or just because these teams suck and their fans could care less about watching them. But whether you’re a Cheesehead, a Pat, or you just want to know “Who dat?” there’s a place for you to root your home team on to victory, and feel right at home, here in the Metroplex. Below is a list of teams and their corresponding supportive bars…

AFC North:

Cincinnati BengalsMcKinney Avenue Tavern - 2822 McKinney Ave., Dallas, TX 75204 Phone: (214) 969-1984

and Buffalo Wild Wings – 5000 Belt Line Rd. #100, Addison, TX 75001 Phone: (972) 701-9464

Pittsburgh SteelersMalarkey’s Tavern - 4460 Trinity Mills Rd., Dallas, TX 75287 Phone: (972) 931-7300

AFC East:

Buffalo BillsStadium Café - 4872 Belt Line Rd., Addison, TX 75254 Phone: (972) 701-0030

New England PatriotsMcSwiggan’s Irish Pub - 6910 Windhaven Pkwy. #105, The Colony, TX 75056 Phone: (972) 820-0688

AFC West:

Denver BroncosSharky’s - 17453 Preston Rd., Dallas, TX 75252 Phone: (972) 713-0201

and Bronco’s Sports Bar and Grill (the owner is Ron Faurot, a former NY Jet) - 900 Airport Fwy. #166, Hurst, TX 76054 Phone: (817) 498-0600

Kansas City ChiefsCape Buffalo - 17727 Addison Rd., Dallas, TX 75287 Phone: (972) 381-9796

Oakland Raiders - Hat Tricks Sports Bar & Grill - 101 E Corporate Dr. # 300, Lewisville, TX 75067 Phone: (972) 315-8406

NFC North:

Chicago BearsFrankie’s Sports Bar and Grill - 3227 McKinney Ave., Dallas, TX 75204 Phone: (214) 736-1608

and TNT Sports Page - 14902 Preston Rd. #716, Dallas, TX 75254Phone: (972) 661-1130

Detroit LionsCape Buffalo - 17727 Addison Rd., Dallas, TX 75287 Phone: (972) 381-9796

Green Bay packersVernon’s Bar and Grill - 5290 Belt Line Rd. #142, Dallas, TX 75254 Phone: (972) 661-3707

Minnesota VikingsTNT Sports Page - 14902 Preston Rd. #716, Dallas, TX 75254Phone: (972) 661-1130

NFC South:

New Orleans SaintsThe Quarter - 15201 Addison Rd. Addison, TX 75001 Phone: (972) 788-1919

NFC East:

Philadelphia EaglesAustin Avenue Sports Bar and Grill - 935 W. Parker Rd., Plano, Texas 75023 Phone: (972) 422-8003

Washington Redskins - Austin Avenue Sports Bar and Grill - 935 W. Parker Rd., Plano, Texas 75023 Phone: (972) 422-8003

While a good number of these establishments show non-Dallas games every week, be sure to call in advance of your visit to ensure that the game you want to see will be shown. Some of the teams with smaller Dallas fan bases move their watching parties around. A good place to locate other non-Dallas-team-friendly-bars is on that particular team’s website, in their fan forums.

So, don’t let the fact that you live in Dallas, and insist on rooting for an inferior team, keep you from showing your teams colors. You and at least two or three of your like-minded friends (if you still have any) can make one of these local bars your home-bar-away-from-home and holler to your heart’s content. It’s OK; we won’t hear you over the cheers of all of the Cowboy fans.