Fall Food Adventures in Arkansas

One of the most intriguing things to experience is a new taste – perhaps a seasoning or cooking method, the flavor of a different strain of ethnic food, an assertive new wine or a cocktail with a dramatic spin.

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Yes, Chef, I would like a Sun Gold tomato. No, I do not want anything to do with that pepper.

I’ve been on sensory overload this past week with new tastes in all of those categories thanks to an opportunity to spend literally hours with Chef Miles James and his brother Chef Lyle James at the renowned James at the Mill Restaurant in Johnson, Arkansas.

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Chef Lyle artfully arranges the presentation for butternut squash soup.

The results of all that exhaustive “research” (it’s a tough job, but somebody has got to do it…) will debut in an article in the November issue of Arkansas Life magazine, where I’m privileged to be a regular contributor.

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With the lovely and talented Katie Bridges, editor of Arkansas Life.

Our time together spanned a visit to Tri Cycle Farms in Fayetteville (more on this fantastic place and owner Don Bennett soon) as well as hours of time in the kitchen, watching the plates come together and finally sitting down to an incredible celebratory meal with Miles, Lyle and their completely adorable friends and family at the restaurant.

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Great branding at Tri Cycle Farms!

Thanks to that top-notch food experience, I’m now smitten with French sorrel as well as a unique heat-tolerant spinach and a new-on-my-radar California pinot noir – watch for all the details in the magazine. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.

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Yes, Chef – I DO need a bite of that tuna. Right. Now.

Trust me, my photos here do not come close to doing it justice, but maybe they’ll whet your appetite for the stunning photos in the article shot by the exceptionally talented Matthew Smith and Aaron Menken of Hatch & Maas Collective, who are officially my favorite new commercial and lifestyle photographers. The distinction is essential, because I’ll also always retain fierce loyalty to my friend Ed Cooley, who shoots amazing nature and location photography around the world. It is intriguing to me that Northwest Arkansas boasts three of the most mind-blowing photographers I’ve ever encountered – well worth your time to click over to their websites and check out their work.

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Chef Lyle, Matthew, Farmer Don, Chef Miles and Aaron.

As if it could get any better, my week culminated in a great meal with even better company at the new Table Mesa Bistro location right off Dickson Street in Fayetteville. I could have easily devoured three full orders of the crispy calamari and artichokes with shrimp, black beans, pico de gallo and chipotle aioli (pictured below), and I can barely stop thinking about the butternut squash enchiladas with spinach and goat cheese. It’s also a completely different experience from the downtown Bentonville square location, incidentally.

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Crispy calamari, artichoke & shrimp (front) and crab & avocado cangrejo (back) at Table Mesa.

All that to say that fall has been ushered in with grand foodie style, and I can’t wait to see what the coming months will hold!  What’s new at your table?

Oh, by the way – you know that teaser about a Ball mason jar giveaway I mentioned in the previous post?  The UPS man brought me a box full of goodies today!  You’re going to want to stay tuned.  Subscribe or follow via RSS/email so you don’t miss the details!

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One comment

  1. […] for food, wine and writing overlap once in a while with my real gig and I get to talk about fall food adventures in Arkansas, spend time chatting with some of the best new chefs in the region or gallivant around Moss […]

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