What I Learned about Bees at Round Rock Honey's Weekend Beekeeping Class

One Saturday morning in September, I was standing in a large, white suit with thousands of honey bees politely buzzing just inches from my face. It was a scene from a nightmare, in which I could almost hear Nicolas Cage screaming, "Not the bees!" But it was real: I'd signed up for this. So it was nice to hear instructor Juan Campos assure me that the bees were just "bumping" us, with no plan of attack.

Almost every weekend, Round Rock Honey offers an introduction to beekeeping class in Copper Canyon, a half hour north of Dallas. Juan packs a lot of information into his class, answering questions from how to know if a hive is healthy to my inane pondering, "do bees poop?"

Here's what I learned.

Boy bees are lazy outcasts
The male drones are relegated to the hive, where they are worthless beyond fertilization. They can't sting, protect or make honey. They are at the queen's beck and call and when she tires of them, she orders her guard bees kick them out of the hive. All the bees you encounter in your backyard or at the park are lady bees.

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A New Guide to BYOB dining in the Metroplex, eatsBYOB.com

BYOB goes for cans too, right?
Holly Johnson takes a zealot's approach to imbibing in a glass of red with dinner. She doesn't always like to be told what to drink and how much to pay for it. So, she set out on a mission to find every BYOB restaurant in the Dallas region, and luckily for us, she's sharing her list.

And I think we can all agree that while sometimes it's nice to go out and have a great meal paired with a fancy-pants wine, every now and then, it's better more economical to bring your own bottle.

That's why Johnson decided to start eatsBYOB.com, an ever-evolving list of BYOB restaurants in North Texas.

Johnson spent the past two months scouring the area and then called each spot to verify the status. For instance, often a new restaurant will temporarily offer BYOB as an option before it get their liquor license.

At this point, Johnson feels comfortable that she's given her list a thorough parsing.

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DEBC Turns 1, and We Have Four Tickets to Giveaway for the Party

For all you hopheads and general revelers looking for something to celebrate, if you have the wit, we have a deal for you.

This weekend the Deep Ellum Brewing Co. is having its first birthday party, which we know you're all like "Oh, that guy is always throwing himself parties." Well, when you're a brewery you can be that guy, particularly if you have a cool courtyard and free beer samples.

So, we go our hands on four tickets for the party and want to share them with you. We'll give away one pair each to the two people who come up with the wittiest name for DEBC's next beer. Just fire away in the comments.

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While He Waits On Campo, Chef Matt McCallister Teaches Pickling 101

Matt McCallister.jpg
Kevin Marple
Chef Matt McCallister

Chef Matt McCallister likes to keep things moving. Formerly of Stephan Pyles, he's been hopping across the country keeping the fires hot at places like McCrady's in South Carolina, Alinea in Chicago and Daniel in New York City.

Back in Texas, one of McCallister's current projects is serving as the consulting chef for a soon-to-open restaurant in Oak Cliff called Campo Modern Country Bistro, which will bring Buenos Aires-inspired fare to the local restaurant scene. (Campo will be the next-door neighbor of Jonathon's, which Scott reviewed a few weeks back.)

That restaurant's not set to open for several weeks. So the intriguingly tattooed chef is filling up the time by hosting a cooking class at DUO, a culinary venue where you can take a class, hold an event or even purchase cushy dining luxuries like imported table linens.

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Fried Elotes. They're Real. You Should Make Them.

via Valerie and Michael at What We Ate
Deep-fried elotes. Hot damn.
​Last week, we posted our list of eight foods that should really be fried this year at the State Fair. And within minutes, our dreams became reality. Pecan Lodge fried burnt ends. Cane Rosso fried their pizza. Will from Lockhart Smokehouse fried foie gras.

And then we received a tweet from @WhatWeAte that made us go out and buy a fryer:

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Chef Sergi Arola Demonstrates the Artistry of Spanish Fine Dining

Photos by Lauren Drewes Daniels
Chef Sergi Arola visits Central Market.
Madrid was a little lighter this past weekend and Dallas a little fuller as chef Sergi Arola of Spain traveled here to dispense his passion for food, music, Harley Davidsons and life in general. Through Central Market's Passporte España event, Arola hosted three cooking classes locally and one in San Antonio enlightening us in the art of tapas and Spanish bravado.

Bearing a resemblance to Al Pacino, the chef sports a rock-star look with tattoos, black boots and aviator sunglasses. Visiting Texas for the first time, he quickly became enamored by the state and likened it to Spain by way of size and food -- noting that just as Texans have barbecues with friends, Spaniards have tapas with amigos.

"One thing I tell you, in Texas you would never eat barbecue without friends, right?" said Arola. "Well, the same goes for Spain. You always eat tapas with friends."

See, we're practically cousins.

As you may know, in Europe the best of the best restaurants are ranked with Michelin stars. (Yes, the same company that makes the tires. In 1900 the Michelin brothers made a restaurant guide for travelers, which was the inception of the now revered reviews.) Well, Arola's restaurant in Madrid called Gastro has been awarded two Michelin stars, which is considered outstanding. He has a bevy of highly impressive awards and successful restaurants in his back pocket, but the thing that caught my attention on his bio was that he is a "leader in the molecular gastronomy movement." Fearing his class may be like day surgery, I did a little research and watched a video that actually was part cooking and part science lesson.

Curious about Texans' reception to this concept, I asked Arola if, after teaching a few classes around the state he thought people "got" this molecular gastronomy movement? Well, Sergi obviously didn't write the marketing brochures that preceded his visits because he shied away from the label.

"First of all, all cuisine in general is molecular," he said. "If you take a T-bone and put salt and pepper on it, it's a chemical process. And to be very honest, great food doesn't need any extra label. There are only two types of cuisine. Right and wrong. Good or bad."

So, no need for the Bunsen burner, flask and goggles I brought. Bummer.

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So, You Think You Know Meat?

meat judges.jpg
For this week's Dish column, rather than eat at another restaurant, I spent time in the company of people who will ultimately choose the meats served there.

Many meat industry professionals -- the experts who work at ranches, slaughterhouses, distributorships, groceries and chain restaurants -- get their start as collegiate meat judges. Team members travel around the country, sizing up steaks and assigning grades to carcasses.

One of the first lessons competitive judges learn is how to identify various cuts. How hard is it to identify a pork chop, you say? Texas A&M has thoughtfully provided the answer through a 40-question sample retail cut identification test posted on its website. Yes, any practiced carnivore would recognize No. 39 as tripe. But just what's that hunk of flesh labeled No. 23? Betcha even IBM's Watson would struggle to come up with "mock tender roast."

Give it a go here.

Follow City of Ate on Twitter: @cityofate.



Whole Foods Wants Me to Be Healthy.
Good Luck With That.

Anyone have a good recipes for blueberries with, say, bacon?
At least when Whole Foods Market asks you to trade in cheese-covered gristle for a sporkful of hummus, they know they're asking a lot.

So that's why they plan to hold your hand through most of it. This month the store launched the Eat Right America 28-day Challenge, a program that encourages eaters (and shoppers, of course, all those wonderful, loaded Whole Foods Shoppers) to adopt a nutrient-rich diet to "achieve optimal health." Thanks, Whole Foods. With vernacular like that, I'm already feeling better about myself.

Just to make sure you don't tip into a pile of fire ants and poly-unsaturated fats, Whole Foods won't take the training wheels off. After signing up for the 28-day challenge, participants will receive an individualized nutritional and personal assessment, a daily eating plan and a month's worth of e-mail support and access to the Eat Right America online member center.

The store offers short Saturday classes for free geared to help you retain the momentum of your nutritional evolution. This Saturday I checked out the Pantry Stocking class which, you know, taught me how to stock my pantry.

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Cake Balls: Easy to Make, Easier to Make Jokes About

Photos by Brooke Nottingham
All innuendos and dirty jokes duly noted, I prefer my food in compact ball-shape. I like cheese balls, sausage balls, popcorn balls and meatballs. Thanksgiving always has and always will find a Butterball in my oven (sorry, Stephan Pyles.) So for dessert my natural choice is cake balls.

If cupcakes are the washed-up, allegedly drug-addicted B-list star of last year and pie is the 2011's fresh-faced starlet with a freshly inked CoverGirl contract, then cake balls are the kind-hearted girl who did really good in the talent show last fall and will make it, one day. Or at least, that describes the girl who gave me the recipe when I worked with her at Yankee Candle last year.

A cake ball is a nugget of an imploded cake, and they fit right in with my repertoire of recipes that don't contain any actual food. Or cooking.

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Viking: A Little Lesson in How the Other Half Cooks

Woman, where's my meatloaf?
I don't own any kind of Viking appliance. But if I did, now I know what I would do with it.

I didn't realize that the "Experience the Viking Difference" cooking class at the Viking Cooking school referred to the difference a Viking appliance can make in a cook's life. Corporate executive chef Scott Campbell explained that switching to a Viking appliance (which symbolizes a commitment to the "Viking lifestyle") is like switching from an eight pack of Crayolas to a 64-pack. The class had as much to do with cooking as that metaphor does.

But I enjoyed the class. It was a free infomercial about the history of Viking, the wonder of Viking and the love of Viking, sprinkled with cooking tips. Just from the chef's advice, I feel confident that I can find my way around a Viking broiler, even if I may never be wealthy enough to own one. (MSRP for a typical Viking range: If you have to ask, don't bother asking.)

The six-student class was set up at the bar of a demonstration kitchen inside the Viking School. Campbell bustled back and forth from the kitchen, delivering a three-course lunch and enthusing about Viking products. Laura Heibel remained with the class and also gushed about Viking, explaining why they are the best, most efficient and innovative appliances. By the end of the hour-long class, I was convinced. If you're going to buy Kenmore or Maytag, you may as well just build a campfire and cook that way.

My five classmates all owned Viking appliances, so they were enthralled with the demonstration of the range's brass rings and built-in griddle. I sat quietly and nibbled on my herb vinaigrette-drenched salad. The grimy gas stove that came with my apartment is good for heating soup, burning chicken and leaking gas. A broiler may lurk somewhere beneath the thick layer of carbon and charred food, but until I get renter's insurance, I'm definitely not going to check.

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