Mediterranean Meets McKinney
By Karina Sanchez
Annie Stokes’ grandmother was born in the Province of Malaga, nestled in the Andalucia region of Spain about 8 miles inland from the Mediterranean. Her birthplace and her spirit were the inspiration for Stokes to create the McKinney, Texas tapas restaurant, Café Malaga.
“I was enamored with the relaxed lifestyle of the Spanish people, especially when it came to the tapas style of eating,” says Stokes. “Tapas lend themselves to sharing and pacing a meal which, in turn, leads to an unhurried, friendly kind of ambiance.”
Stokes brought the spirit of the Mediterranean to McKinney three years ago. Today, the very nature of the Spanish region lives through the fresh, locally grown food that Café Malaga uses to keep its dishes inviting.
Stokes finds the freshest ingredients for daily specials at Motley Herbs in the McKinney Farmers Market. Think variety, including French rocket arugula, Italian wild arugula, red French shallots, Yukon gold potatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cherry-husk tomatoes, true lemon cucumbers, tah tsoi (a Korean mustard green), blood sorrel, Montana giant garlic and much more. Paul Magedson, who raises lambs in Celeste, Texas, is her go-to guy for “incredible lamb.” Together, the fresh and local products, though simple in nature, combine for a complexity that excites every bite and mimics the nature of their Mediterranean roots.
Because consumers are now more aware of what they’re eating and where it comes from, Café Malaga’s focus on freshness is not only central to its continued success, but says Stokes, “I feel certain that bringing [our customers] more locally grown and organic choices is very well received. The farmers are out there raising the food, so the
ball is definitely in my court now.” Café Malaga is located at 111 West Virginia St., McKinney, TX, www.cafemalaga.com, 972.542.9996
Support your local wineries and vineyards and get a gift from the Texas Department of Agriculture, GO TEXAN Wine program.
Grab a “passport” and start traveling. We got our first stamp at the Calais Winery in Deep Ellum where you can you drink wine by the glass or take home a bottle.
Our next stop, Brushy Creek Vineyard in Alvord, Texas, is one of the few wineries that grow and bottle
Texas grapes. They offer some unique wines made from Spanish and other warm-climate grapes. One that caught my eye and had me signing the waiting list was Rkatsiteli. It may not be available until next year, but based on samples of their other wines, it’s definitely worth the wait.
GO TEXAN Wine Month starts in October. Check out the website to find a complete list of wineries, gotexanwine.org or to find out more about the passport reward.
A few weeks ago, the eDFW staffers enjoyed an evening under the stars at Cool Thursdays, a weekly event celebrating food, music and fun. Behind us, arranged on a tray perched on a picnic basket, lay fresh strawberries from the Farmers Market and sausage and cheese from Jimmy’s. Another nearby group munched on fried chicken. Our own picnic spread included locally made goat cheese, tomatoes, bread, and fresh Texas blueberries, all gleaned from the shelves of the Lakewood Whole Foods Market. The sweet, succulent hickory and alder smoked salmon that came from TJ’s Seafood Market (at Preston and Forest) made a sweet and savory addition. Blueberry salsa, a summer edible DFW recipe, provided an irresistible accompaniment for our chips and crackers, and the crowning glory was wine from Times Ten Cellars in Lakewood.
Cool Thursday Concert Series is in its twelfth year at the Dallas Arboretum. The stage overlooks White Rock Lake and is on an elevated slope so each and every reveler has a good view of the festivities. The series offers two seasons, spring/summer and fall. Fall season begins on September 17th. For a complete list of bands and ticket information, check the website at www.dallasarboretum.org or call the Cool Thursday’s hotline at 214-515-6518.
Plenty of food, drinks, blankets, chairs and your dancing shoes are required gear to guarantee a good time under the stars. And, you never know when edible Dallas & Fort Worth might show up to join in the food and fun and check to see what’s in your picnic basket.
For help preparing that picnic, visit Whole Foods Market in Lakewood or give their concierge desk a call and ask them to pack a custom picnic basket for you. The number, 214.824.1744.
For more than 60 years, the Renfro family has been bringing delicious and innovative products to Texans and folks across the country. An inspiring story in these economic times, in 1940, with the Depression still a vivid memory, George Renfro took a big risk and started making and selling Mrs. Renfro’s Salsas. Now, some 69 years later, with a similar economy and a renewed focus on local foods, Renfro’s products are still going strong. An example for modern day artisans shows you what time and patience can accomplish. Newest products available are Pineapple, Pomegranate and Tequila Salsa. You can find Mrs. Renfro’s in your favorite stores and online at www.renfrofoods.com
Bread for the Journey
By Spike Gillespie
Whole Foods Market’s Jenny Brown loves her job. As program administrator for their Local Producer Loan (LPL) program, she plays a pivotal role in helping small local producers procure low-interest loans. The daughter of a serial entrepreneur, she grew up witnessing how much hard work her father put into his businesses; she knows
firsthand how her program can change lives.
As with any loan process, certain criteria must be met by the applicants. With the LPL program, one strict consideration is product quality. Whole Foods maintains a very specific list of what is not allowed in a product line—no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors, for example. And companies must, of course, be local, which, by Whole Foods’ definition, means within a seven-hour drive of a regional store. (The company is divided into twelve semiautonomous regions around the U.S. Applicants are screened regionally before their requests reach Brown.)
“Applicants need to have a specific project they’re going to use the funds on that will help them grow business,” explains Brown. “It’s not for operating expenses, but it could be for purchasing equipment or livestock, or to get organic certification. Also, the company needs to be viable—the program doesn’t provide emergency funds.”
Of the $10 million earmarked for the program, $2.5 million have been granted since 2006, in amounts ranging from $1,000– $100,000. In the Southwest region—Louisiana, and Texas—six loans have been granted.
Dallas-area loan recipients include beef producers Wesley and Kelly Adams of Adams Blackland Prairie and Weldon and Ann Warren of Holy Cow Beef. Both ranches used their loans to purchase cattle. Philomena Aceto of Philomena Food Company spent hers on a convection oven and packaging, and pasta sauce maker Jim Blumetti,
president of Blumetti’s Gourmet Foods, says his loan provided some much-needed growth fertilizer even in the wake of a tanking economy.
“We did everything we could to try to be the first in line for the program,” says Blumetti, whose company previously had spent nearly six years growing from one sauce to three. To further expand his product line, Blumetti needed to find a way to finance things like product testing and package design, as well as provide upfront samples and market new flavors. Thanks to the LPL program, Blumetti’s was able to double the number of sauces in the product line in just six short months.
Austin coffee roasters Travis Kizer, Joshua Bingaman and Troy Authement of Owl Tree Roasting are buying a new roaster with their dough. Bingaman says the new equipment will allow them the capacity to roast beans for Whole Foods, and also allow other local businesses to customize exclusive, organic, fair trade blends to their liking.
Local Austin confectioner Tracy Claros of the Sticky Toffee Pudding Company says she used her loan to develop two new flavors for her product line, both of which she was able to introduce last year at a food show in New York.
“I am really pleased,” says Claros. “So many small businesses start out bootstrapping, with no capital to speak of. A lot of us used credit cards when you could get low interest—that’s completely dried up. This program is a less stressful way of getting money, and it’s also quicker and easier than applying for a small business loan. Jenny has been super supportive—she really believes in the program.”
Of course the program benefits Whole Foods, too—they ultimately carry the loan recipients’ product lines. But Brown is quick to point out that there’s much more going on than simply lining shelves. “This benefits the community,” she says. “It’s a creative way to support local producers, and it’s great to be able to see some amazing success stories.” For more information, and to apply for the Local Producer Loan program, visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com/values/local-loans-apply.php.