Oklahoma

Local Product, Buy Local

Hot Stuff

Rt. 66 is on fire, thanks in part to a local Incubator

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A "hot" new company is growing in Tulsa. Born at the Kitchen 66 incubator, Baby D's Bee Sting is the spicy new venture of Dillon "Baby D" and Ashley Hargrave. I have known the Hargraves for many years, and long known him to be involved non-profit organizations, while Ashley was usually the one posting culinary creations on social media. I was delighted when I heard that they had decided to combine their passions to create a project that would benefit both lovers of all things spicy, and eventually the community. Dillon, who serves as Literacy Director for Neighbors Along the Line, hopes to create a company large enough to employ former students who have completed the GED program that he oversees.

The Hargraves' new line of hot sauces has been spreading quickly throughout the community. Not only is the popularity growing through their list retail outlets, but through word-of-mouth by enthusiasts who regularly share their favorite uses for the 5 varieties of sauce, which is delivered via a pipette dropper. The recipe is delightfully simple, using pepper mash, cider vinegar, onions, garlic, and salt. There's even a handy little "Bee-sting Rating" on the bottle, which lets you know how hot they are, based on an 8-bee rating scale.

Currently, the 5-sauce lineup includes:

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Original - This is the HOT one. A blend of red peppers, combined with the salt, vegetables, and cider vinegar come together to pack a punch. Fortunately, the sauce is dispensed via a dropper, so you can control just how much you get and where it goes. According to the Bee-sting scale, this comes in at 7 bees, so I'll be curious to see what Baby D comes up with that will reach the top of the scale.

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Jalahellño - For those who love the flavor of chile peppers, but don't love the burn as much, this one's for you. Still relying on the 5 basic ingredients in the original, a milder green pepper blend replaces the hotter red chiles to offer a sauce any palate can handle. Jalahellño rates 2 of 8 on the Sting scale.

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Yellow Jacket - I'm not going to lie, this is where I start playing favorites. I love all of the Baby D's sauces, but if I was moving to a desert island, this is the one I'd be packing. While this pretty yellow sauce does have some heat to it, it's really all about balance, which lets the flavor of the chiles shine. I put this on everything. Really, sometimes even in drinks. Yellow Jacket rates at 4 of 8 bee stings.

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Okie Sunset - Love the flavor of the Yellow Jacket, but want just a bit more fire? This one is for you. A combination of the peppers in the Original and the Yellow Jacket, this is a great compromise between heat and flavor. I'm all about this one on eggs. Okie Sunset sits right in between its two contributing sauces, at 5 of 8 bees.

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Sweet Stang - The newest in the line, Sweet Stang is basically a hot honey, with just a little dash of cider vinegar. It is a blend of local honey, infused with Jalapeño and Habanero peppers, and finished with ground Carolina Reaper chiles. To me, this screams "COCKTAIL!" Of course, it also says things like "blue cheese" and "ice cream" as well. Sweet Stang only sports one bee on the heat label, but the flavor is all there.


All 5 of the Baby D's products can be found on their website, and are also available in Tulsa at Barn 66, Bodean Seafood Market, Chimera CafeKitchen 66 and Mr. Nice guys. In OKC, I carry them at my shop inside The Rustic Pearl Galleria at 3031 NW 23rd St.


Click here for Wenchy recipes using the Baby D's Bee Sting Products!

Community Events

Cheers to another successful Wine Forum of Oklahoma!

For the past decade, one of the premiere events in Oklahoma has been held biennially at Oklahoma State University. The Wine Forum of Oklahoma is not just another fundraising "party" where guests gather to eat and drink. It is an educational experience, for both patrons, and for the students who present it.

It is no secret that I love the Oklahoma State University School of Hotel and Restaurant Administration. Their team of educators do a tremendous job of shaping the next generation of the hospitality industry, in Oklahoma and beyond. The Wine Forum brings together chefs, vintners, sommeliers, and other industry professionals for a weekend of food, wine, and education. Sure, there is plenty of eating, drinking, and merriment, but the real value of the event is in the seminars. It brings Oklahomans the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most impressive names in the wine industry.

I attended the event the first year it began and had a wonderful experience, so in 2012 when I was asked by chef and educator extraordinaire Phillippe Garmy to present a seminar at the next year's event, I was honored. This year was the third Wine Forum at which I have hosted my cheesy talk, a I decided to switch things up a bit.

When the opening date for the new Wayne Hirst Center for Beverage Education was announced for November of 2016, it seemed like the perfect time to debut the schools newest event, the Craft Beer Forum of Oklahoma. I was excited to be hosting the "Cheese and Beer" seminar, as that is one of my favorite classes to teach. When it became apparent that the final stages of construction were going to be cutting a bit too close for comfort, the event was postponed until April of 2018, which would be it's regular time in the future.

Talking with some bummed out craft beer lovers about their disappointment in the cancellation of the event, I decided to integrate both beer and wine into my talk at the 2017 Wine Forum. It is a question I raise frequently in my cheese classes. Which actually pairs better, beer or wine? There are mixed opinions, and I believe it not only depends on your overall preference between the two, but also very much on the cheese. I decided to let the audience decide, by pairing both a beer and a wine with each segment of the cheese selection.

Tasty Research

Our wine selections were provided by Scott Large, of Provisions Fine Beverage Purveyors. I wasn't familiar with Bodkin wines, so when Scott told me he wanted to bring Chris Christianson in from Sonoma County to present the class with me, it was a great opportunity to get to taste through his selections as I worked on the cheese lineup.

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From the Bodkin lineup, I first chose the Cuvee Agincourt, Blanc de Sauvignon Blanc, which is actually the first sparkling Sauvignon Blanc produced in the united States. Since I was pairing both beer and wine, I had room to select 4 wines and 4 beers. This covered 2 of my usual bases at once, since I often use a Sauvignon Blanc as my first wine selection due to it pairs so well with goat's milk cheeses, and I always showcase a sparkling of some sort. It was perfect for my first 3 cheeses (Cypress Grove Chevre's "Bermuda Triangle,"  Vermont Creamery's "Cremont," and Marin French Cheese Co.'s Triple Crème Brie). For the second section of the cheese wheel, I went rosé, which can be a tricky pairing with cheese. The Hotspur, a rosé of Syrah, actually made a perfect partner for the Cremont, and worked well with. Big, bold reds can also be tricky, as they will often overpower the cheese. Bodkin's The Hill and the Vale Zinfandel was a wonderful match for a cheese produced by another Sonoma Country artisan, Vella Cheese Company. The 7-month-aged Dry Monterey Jack, which is rubbed with oil, unsweetened cocoa, and black pepper, served as a formidable match. The spicy notes of each complimented one another, and the richness of the paste more than held its own with a bold wine. Besides that, I just love examples of great terroir pairings. The fourth wine was specifically chosen to match with a blue, since it almost always rounds out my cheese selections. The Crown Jewels is a dessert wine, made from a blend of red varietals. The sweetness is the perfect balance for a creamy, salty Bleu d'Auvergne.

2017 "Wine vs. Beer" Seminar

2017 "Wine vs. Beer" Seminar

Bring on the Beer!

Adding in the beer component this year added an extra challenge: choosing beers that weould pair well with the same cheeses that paired with the wines. Again, it took a few tasting sessions (it's a dirty job, and I'm glad it is mine!) but I found 4 beers that worked with the prospective lineup. My friends Chris Converse and David Ernst at Atlas Brands were kind enough to provide their expansive international portfolio of beers, and the fine folks over at Roughtail Brewing Co. represented the local craft beer community with their popular Roughtail India Pale Ale. Brasserie DuPont's Saison DuPont was a great match for the soft creamy cheeses at the start of the wheel. The Roughtail IPA was an excellent match with the Barber's 1833 Cheddar
Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout was a great match for the cheddar, as well as the Dry Jack, Uplands Cheese's Pleasant Ridge Reserve, and the Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda from Westland Kaas. To pair with the blue, I would normally go with a Barleywine, but since they are out of season and the selections are slim, I chose Ayinger's Celebrator Doppelbock. The rich maltiness was a great match for the boldness of the blue.

The Winner?

Probably partly due to the large number of wine lovers in the group, wine appeared to win by a hair, but overall, a delicious time was had by all. I think a lot of at attendees found some new favorite pairings they might not have thought of, and I had a great time presenting with Chris, Chris, and Dave.

A Grand Finale

As always, the Grand Tasting was a wonderful end to the day. WInemakers from around the globe were on hand to present their wines to thirsty guests. An impressive spread of food was provided by the HRAD students and staff, as well as many Oklahoma chefs who volunteered their time to help.

The Grand Tasting, hosted in the new Human Sciences building at Oklahoma State University

The Grand Tasting, hosted in the new Human Sciences building at Oklahoma State University

A Fond Farewell

This year's Wine Forum, as always included a special patron dinner on Friday night. Alumni, and generous contributors to the program gathered for what is always an enjoyable evening, but this year's was bittersweet. The featured chef for the evening was to join us from Paris, in keeping with this year's French theme. A few weeks before the event, he became unavailable, so the school's own, chef Phillippe Garmy stepped in. Chef Garmy has been a part of Wine Forum since its inception, and at the end of the school year, he will begin his retirement. He and his wife will be beginning their next adventure, when they move to France. It seemed the perfect farewell to such a valuable member of the HRAD family.

 

For announcements on the next Wine Forum of Oklahoma in 2019, you can follow their Facebook page. Up next however, will be the long-awaited inaugural Craft Beer Forum of Oklahoma, on April 7, 2018. I hope to see you there!

 

Dining Out

The Reserve at Grogg's Green Barn: A Preview

Delicious things are blooming

Sometimes being a Cheese Wench has its perks. Getting to check out new restaurants before they open is one of them. On a lovely spring evening, a group of food junkies and media types gathered to get a sneak peek at the new garden-to-table dining room at Grogg's Green Barn. Called "The Reserve," it isn't a typical "restaurant," but the pre-ticketed series of dinners that I wrote about last week.

As I predicted, chef Matt Owen's first seasonal menu did not disappoint. The Reserve opens to the public for its first dinner event on Friday, April 7th.

Grogg's Green Barn, located at  10105 E 61st , Tulsa, OK 74133

Grogg's Green Barn, located at 10105 E 61st , Tulsa, OK 74133

We took a pre-dinner garden tour, and enjoyed a beer from Cascade Brewing Barrel House in the Grogg's Green Barn garden. Noyeaux is a Northwest-style sour beer, aged with raspberries and apricot kernels.

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The evening's menu featured local honey and produce, as well as chicken from 413 Farm, and local beer from Prairie Ales.
 

Spring lettuces and herbs from the Grogg's garden, with walnut oil, elderflower vinegar, garden blossoms, radishes, and seeds

Smoked cream of asparagus soup with tarragon, sorrel, and browned butter

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Herbed dumplings with a ragout of 413 Farm chicken leg, with wild onions and crispy chicken skin.

Lermon verbena cake with honeycomb candy and strawberry semifreddo. Just sweet enough for the end of the meal, but not too sweet for a girl who eats cheese for dessert!

 

This kitchen is a 2-man operation, and is open to the 40-seat dining room. Custom, locally made farmhouse tables allow diners to enjoy family-style seating.

This kitchen is a 2-man operation, and is open to the 40-seat dining room. Custom, locally made farmhouse tables allow diners to enjoy family-style seating.

Hungry yet?

Check out the schedule of upcoming dinners, and purchase your tickets before they sell out. I have a feeling they will.

Dining Out

Coming Soon, Garden-to-table Dining in Tulsa

Fresh, seasonal, and truly local.

Chef Matt Owen checks on his growing crop of ingredients.   

Chef Matt Owen checks on his growing crop of ingredients.

 

For those unfamiliar (as I was) with a garden supply store called Grogg's Green Barn on 61st Street, just East of Mingo, you also may not have heard about Oklahoma's newest farm-to-table concept, set to open next month. The Reserve at Grogg's Green Barn will debut their Friday and Saturday night dinners on April 7th. Executive chef Matthew Owen, formerly of Yokozuna, The Canebrake, and Torero Bar and Kitchen; gave me a tour of the gardens, as well as the soon-to-be dining room and open kitchen.

Finishing touches going into the dining room.

 

"This will be the first true farm-to-table dinner in Tulsa" says Owen. There have been many restaurants focused on serving a menu created largely from locally-grown ingredients, but none within the city who are growing many those ingredients themselves. For that kind of experience, you had to know where to look, and be willing to make the drive to Depew, OK. Many people enjoy the Farm-to-table dinners that chef Lisa Becklund and Linda Ford have been serving at The Living Kitchen Farm and Dairy for the past 11 seasons, so much so that they'll drive from Tulsa or Oklahoma City to attend. That is of course, if they get tickets, which generally sell out within hours of being posted online. The Reserve promises to provide an option a little closer to home. Ticketing is handled in a similar fashion, with 3 months of dinners posted online at once. They outline the different themes the chef will use to create the menu, based on what is currently in season. Each dinner will host 40 guests. Tickets ($75 per guest) are purchased in advance, and include dinner, tax, and gratuity. Owen is working with local brokers to create a beer & wine package option for an additional charge.

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The Reserve at Grogg's Green Barn hosts dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the growing season.

 

"It's pretty much every chef's dream job" Owen said of the offer that convinced him to leave his current position at Torero Bar & Kitchen, which was named "Best New Restaurant of 2016" by the Tulsa World. He has full creative freedom over a weekly changing 5-course menu, plenty of garden space to produce the majority of the ingredients, and the knowledgeable team at Grogg's to help make that happen. Grogg's raises hens on the property for fresh eggs, and bees for honey as local as it can get. There are several other Oklahoma farms on board to provide the produce they will not grow themselves, as well as meat and dairy. Dinners will only be served 2 nights per week, leaving the space (and the chef) available for private parties, and eventually quarterly cooking classes and guest chef events. The intent is to offer guests fine dining quality, in an unpretentious atmosphere. Owen also wants to push diners in Tulsa forward in knowing and appreciating the source of the food they eat.

Tickets for the April-June dinners are on sale now.