Rumbles: Tamale Update at HT&T, Mac & Cheese Festival, and a New Restaurant

The opening of Heights Taco & Tamale Co. is still a few weeks away, but if you’ve been following the restaurant’s Facebook page, you know co-owner Scott McGehee and company have been hard at work trying to perfect one of its namesake items … the tamale. “Honestly, it’s been a real journey, having eaten every tamale on the “Tamale Trail” and hundreds of others from Florida to Texas. We really felt that there is none more exceptional than Ms. Rhoda’s. The HTT tamale aspires to Ms. Rhoda’s brilliance, but is unique. The greatest challenge was to find that perfect balance of creamy, yet not too soft texture of the corn meal/masa. The filling is traditional Delta-style with very high quality ingredients and well balanced. The batch where it all came together was “batch 49,” which was literally the 49th try to find our vision. Ben (Brainard) and I are as proud of this tamale as anything we have done, ever,” says McGehee.
A big congrats once again goes out to One Eleven at the Capital, which last week was named Semifinalist for the 2015 James Beard Awards in the category of Best New Restaurant. It’s tremendous news for not only the restaurant and its crew, but also for Little Rock’s entire food scene. Also, kudos to Chef Matthew McClure of The Hive in Bentonville, who was named a semifinalist in the Best Chef: South category. This is Chef McClure’s second semifinalist award in this category.
Trio’s will be hosting a wine tasting with Raptor Ridge on Thursday, March 5 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. “Join us and one of the winemakers from Oregon’s acclaimed Raptor Ridge Winery as we pair four wines with twelve of Trio’s culinary creations. Reservations required. Only $40 per person!”
I checked in with Bart Barlogie Jr., business partner with Piro Brick Oven & Barroom, to see how the first week went for SoMa’s newest restaurant. “It was a great opening week. For only being open to the public four days, we couldn’t have been more pleased by the execution of service we were able to present. We learned that we need to make a lot more than 180 pizzas to feed the weekend mass, but that’s a good problem to have to fix. The staff responded fantastically and with a few tweaks here and there, Piro is primed to give people great food and drink for years to come,” says Barlogie.
The 18th Annual Food & Foam Fest in North Little Rock is quickly approaching. The event is set for Friday, March 6 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Dickey-Stephens Park. “Food & Foam Fest is a craft beer festival offering samples of over 350 different kinds of beer, wine and cuisine from local restaurateurs. Food & Foam Fest raises awareness of America’s leading cause of disability, while raising much needed funds for research, health education and government advocacy to improve the lives of people with arthritis.” For ticket info, click here.
I honestly don’t know much about the place, but Pinnacle Valley Restaurant is now open. If you go or have already checked this new place out, please let us know how things went.
Get your brunch on with Chef Zara Abbasi Wilkerson at Eggshells on Saturday, March 7 from 9:00-11:00  a.m. Let chef show you how to make a perfect brunch. Cost is $50 and advance reservations are required.
This from Lost Forty: “The Lost Forty Brew Debut event series continues at Samantha’s Tap Room on March 2nd. Join us for a taste of our BREW DEBUT, the Belgian Blonde, in addition to our Love Honey Bock and Lost Forty Pale Ale. Receive a 5oz. Belgian Beer Tasting Glass with the purchase of the Belgian Blonde.The chef at Samantha’s Tap Room will also feature delicious shrimp and mussels appetizers made with Belgian Blonde Butter Sauce.” The event runs from 4:00-7:00 p.m.
The inaugural Mac ’N’ Cheez Festival is on Saturday, April 11 at War Memorial AT&T Stadium. From the coordinators: “Mac ’N’ Cheez Mania, Little Rock’s inaugural mac and cheese festival, is a fundraiser benefiting missions that serve children, hunger, health and education. This family friendly offers play space and booths for kids (of course all kids love mac and cheese!), yummy tasting, a mascot, t-shirts and some good music at an historic venue that’s covered for all weather and accessibility. Professional teams can register for $40, home cooks can register to participate for $20 and kid cooks 18 and under can participate in the Mac N Cheez cook off for free. Admission is $10 for adults and free for kids 12 and younger.”
Brewmaster Josiah Moody heads back to his old stomping grounds this Friday evening from 5:00-6:30 p.m. That’s right, he’ll be at Vino’s and you are invited to try his latest creation. “Named after his Belgian fiancé, Katchiri, Katchiri’s Bier is an 8% Belgian farmhouse ale hopped assertively with American hops. Expect berry, pine, and apricot aromas before spicy and fruity esters greet your palate, derived from Saison yeast. Very few kegs were made as most of the batch went into wine barrels for aging. Come on out to Vino’s back room to try a very special beer and meet Katchiri, Josiah, and Aria! Happy Hour prices and we’ll have a keg of Half Seas Over on tap as well!”

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