Monday, August 31, 2015

Oh So Tasty: Paul Martin’s American Grill

My super cute server posing with plates at
Paul Martin’s American Grill
This past July, Paul Martin’s American Grill opened the doors on their first Texas location in Dallas’ Turtle Creek neighborhood, on the corner of Oak Lawn and Blackburn, marking Paul Martin’s ninth location in the country.  I'm sure it was a strategic decision to open mere blocks away from dining juggernaut Al Biernat's, since Paul Martin’s American Grill is perfect for a business lunch or date-night destination.

The restaurant boasts more than 6,000 square feet and features a menu of contemporary American dishes utilizing the finest seasonal produce, seafood from sustainable fisheries, and free-range meats and poultry.

In addition, the space includes a large bar area and outdoor patio (that holds 44 people), perfect for happy hours and seasonal entertaining.  Speaking of Happy Hour, you'll want to take advantage of shared plates that range from $5-$13 and signature cocktails every day from 3-8pm.

"(Some) of the kitchen’s best efforts appear at the bookends of the meal. Cocktails are shaken, stirred and muddled with care. The chocolate ice cream, served as part of a trio of flavors, is sticky and chewy and altogether delicious, the result of employing an egg-rich custard base and deep, dark Colombian chocolate," said Mike Hiller from Escape Hatch in his review,  "I had low expectations for this dark-wood, tall-ceilinged, open-kitchen California interloper. But now that I’ve eaten there, I’m sold. The southern edge of Highland Park is lucky to have this neighborhood gem." I have to agree with him, that ice cream was pretty darn delicious.

Which Fried Foods Are Worth Your Coupons At The State Fair of Texas In 2015?

Christi Erpillo, her Mother Fernie, Johnna McKey 
Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year. I was lucky enough to attend the Big Tex Choice Awards at the State Fair of Texas. Every year, hundreds of State Fair vendors spend months dreaming up crazy recipes, experimenting over and over until they think they have something new and unique, then entering their whackadoodle creations to see if they will make the cut.

This year eight items were selected as finalists to compete in the Big Tex Choice Awards. Making the finals virtually ensures a huge payoff because of the press surrounding this event. Winning the contest can take a vendor into the six figure mark and earn them an annual salary over the 6-week course of the Fair!

This year (according to the judges), the Best Tasting award went to Christi Erpillo for Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly, while Isaac Rousso took the title of Most Creative for his Smoky Bacon Margarita.

Isaac Rousso with his family
Delivering the good news was a surprise celebrity guest who helped announce the winners while making his first-ever public debut – none other than Big Tex…the mascot. That’s right, the State Fair introduced a Big Tex mascot, complete with cowboy gear and that traditional Texas style everyone loves so much.

In addition to their winning titles, both champions received a set of Michelin Defender LTX tires as an added bonus. I arrived hungry and eager to bring you back all the scoop on which foods are worth your coupons at this year's State Fair.

Clearly, the judges had voiced their opinions on the two best dishes, but I wanted to weigh in with my thoughts on which items are worth your hard-earned dollars.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

New App From Neiman Marcus Allows Shoppers To Snap. Find. Shop.

Just in time for the onslaught of fall fashions, retailer Neiman Marcus today announced the expansion of its 3-D visual search and purchase feature named Snap. Find. Shop. The state of the art visual search technology allows the NM app users to simply snap an image of any women’s and men’s fashion and accessories, beauty, children’s and home items and instantly be provided with all close matching products currently available from First to market in the luxury sector, Neiman Marcus offers users visual search from both real-life items and printed images – with no need for cropping, category definition, or search refinement. From “snap” to “shop” these items are then purchasable at the exact moment of capture. "With the expansion of Snap. Find. Shop. to all categories of merchandise, we are able to exceed our customers' expectations and allow them to easily shop with us at any time and from any place." says Wanda Gierhart, CMO, Neiman Marcus Group, "Normally online shopping begins with search - either through key words or navigating filters; visual search removes hurdles, taking the customer directly from inspiration to gratification." This next-generation real-world shopping experience is available on the Neiman Marcus app, and is available for download from iTunes for use on iPhones.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

4 Steps To Achieving a Healthy Work/Life Balance

I belong to a group called the Dallas Blogger Collective. They act as a social networking group for bloggers to discuss ideas, bounce questions off each other and host social events to network with others of our ilk. For August, they challenged members to write about ways we achieve life/work balance.  I thought it was a great topic to think about, read about and write about. Whether you are a working Mom, a stressed out college student, or a young adult working your way up the corporate ladder, everyone has to deal with trying to balance the pressures and responsibilities of a work/life balance. So, how do I manage to run an ad agency, handle a household complete with a husband, a teenager and a neurotic dog, attend a multitude of social events and keep this blog going on a consistent basis without drugs?

Here are a few of my tips:

1) Why wear yourself out running all over town when there are so many services that will bring products to your door? 

A great example of this is artizone Express. The only online shop for farm-raised meat, local produce and small batch artisan products in Dallas just launched a new express delivery service. artizone Express orders placed by 1 p.m. are guaranteed for same-day service throughout artizone’s extensive delivery area covering 100 zip codes across North Texas.

artizone Express currently offers over 1,000 products, ranging from local meal-time favorites like Kuby’s Sausage House, Hirsh’s Specialty Meats, Rex’s Seafood, The Tamale Company, and Holy Ravioli, to artisan foods like Bisous Bisous patisserie, and everyday grocery staples such as fresh hand-selected Texas produce, milk, bread, frozen foods and paper towels. Shoppers can also access artizone’s full selection from Dallas Fine Wine & Spirits Shoppe to make any evening a celebration.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities Donate 1,600 Uniforms for Kids In Need

Lindsey Overby, Fossil; Pat Smith; Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson; Salem Boohaker, Belk Galleria Dallas;
Carol Roberts, Albertsons/Tom Thumb and Emmitt Smith accept thank you plaques from students at
Roger Q. Mills Elementary School

It's easy to look at Pat and Emmitt Smith and only see the glitz and glamour. From the NFL Hall of Fame to celebrity golf tournaments to red carpet galas, the Smiths embody Dallas beauty and success. Much like Texas itself, everything about them is bigger and better. What a lot of people don't always see is that this "bigness" also includes their generosity to kids in need through their work at Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities.

Emmitt Smith speaks to students at
Earl Dade Middle School
A perfect example is the back-to-school uniform drive they hosted on August 13th with several corporate partners to benefit two under-served Dallas ISD schools. Each year, thousands of North Texas families in need struggle to pay for school uniforms. As more schools require uniforms, some families have difficulty in providing adequate clothing for their children.

Belk created pop-up shops in the gymnasiums at Roger Q. Mills Elementary School and Billy Earl Dade Middle School to make new uniforms available to all current students. The donation of new, high-quality clothing from PESC and Belk will help to level the playing field for these families as they gear up for back-to-school. As their publicist, I had a front row seat to the excitement of the day.

“Education is the cornerstone to achieve what you want in life,” said Emmitt Smith. “Pat and I are honored that Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities has been able to help students in the North Texas community obtain the uniforms they need, while instilling confidence and enthusiasm to attend school.” This was the second year Belk has supported the initiative, doubling its donations to over 1,600 uniforms this year. To date, Belk has donated more than 2,400 uniforms, a value of more than $94,000, for Dallas ISD students.

Fireside Pies: The Good, The Bad, and The Sangria

According to their website, Fireside Pies is "a neighborhood gathering place with its own destination appeal." I have visited a couple of their locations in years past when they first opened but it had been AGES since I'd sampled their pies, so when their PR firm recently invited me in to revisit the concept, I was eager to get reintroduced to their cuisine. Launched in 2004, Fireside Pies is now a collection of intimate neighborhood restaurants dedicated to serving outstanding artisan pizzas made in hot wood-fired ovens, as well as items that naturally compliment pizza such as market fresh salads, craveable appetizers, housemade desserts, fine wines, craft beers and scratch cocktails. Each Fireside Pies restaurant reflects the character of its neighborhood so no two are the same. Last night I paid a visit to the Inwood Road location in Park Cities and our visit was a mixed bag of tricks. Monday was the first day of school for Highland Park, so I took my husband and son to dinner so we could get the low-down from my son about his day. Plus, what kid doesn't like pizza!? This month, Fireside Pies is on the Hatch Chili bandwagon featuring an array of Hatch Chili-themed specials. We decide to go with the Hatch Crostini. We all thought it would be a hot appetizer but it came out cold. Cold goat cheese on cold bread smeared with a cold tapenade. Not good. Not good at all. But the next appetizer we got totally made up for the first #FAIL. I am giving two thumbs way up for the Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppadew Peppers. They were packed with flavor and were hot, delicious little flavor bombs in your mouth.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lafayette 148 NY Gives A Nod To The 70s With Their Fall 2015 Collection

Some days my job has some major perks. Wednesday was one of them. Pat & Emmitt Smith Charities was entertaining clients and partners at the Lafayette 148 NY fashion show at Neiman Marcus and as their publicist, I was asked to attend. Um, gee. I mean I guess if I have to...

Edward Wilkerson sketches stylist Dawn Mellon
We were granted a private reception with Lafayette 148 NY's Creative Director, Edward Wilkerson. Charming and personable, Wilkerson regaled our group with stories about how he "failed" as an architect and was then asked to leave fashion school because "it wasn't for him" - even though he already had a job at Anne Klien.

Donna Karan, who was the lead designer at Anne Klein at the time told him, "What do you care what they tell you? You are already working in the fashion industry. You are a success!" And it's that mindset that has carried him through his career.

Wilkerson is currently taking art classes in NYC so that he "can sketch better" and to show us his technique, he whipped out his pad and paints and did a personalized sketch of all 8 of our guests. It was a lovely surprise and I can't wait to frame my work of art and display it in my office! After sipping champs and chatting with Edward, we took our seats and Edward joined Neiman Marcus' Fashion Director and Senior Vice President, Ken Downing on the runway to show his Fall 2015 collection.

NorthPark Center Celebrates Their 50th Anniversary With 50 Days of Giving

Representatives from the 50 organizations chosen to benefit from the NorthPark50: Fifty Years of Giving initiative

Yesterday I attended a birthday party. NorthPark Center is officially 50 years old and owner, Nancy Nasher Haemisegger was in attendance to welcome media, retail and charitable partners to the party. To celebrate 50 years, NorthPark Center is pleased to announce NorthPark50: Fifty Years of Giving, an initiative that will give back to 50 organizations for 50 days through October 28, 2015. The organizations selected for the giving campaign are NorthPark’s long-standing community partners in the areas of arts, health, education, social work and community service, as well as a few additional groups identified as new partners in giving.

In the early 1960s, Dallas developer Raymond D. Nasher leased a 97-acre cotton field on the edge of town to build what would become the largest climate-controlled retail center in the world. This was a radical and very modern idea in its day. While cows grazed across the street, NorthPark Center took shape as a work of art with clean, modern lines and open space to display the developer's fine art collection incorporated into the design.

On July 22, 1965, NorthPark Center officially opened with four anchors - Neiman Marcus, Woolworths, Titche-Goettinger and the largest JCPenney store in the Southwest. Since that day, NorthPark Center has defined retail in the Southwest. Today NorthPark is consistently ranked among the top five shopping destinations in the country and, with more than 26 million visitors annually, has been named the top attraction in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex by the Dallas Business Journal and as one of the "7 Retail Wonders of the Modern World" by Shopping Centers Today. NorthPark's present anchors - Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy's and Dillard's - consistently perform at the top of their respective brands in sales volume.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Haute Happenings Are Anticipated at Fashion X Dallas 2015

Many have tried to create a Fashion Week in Dallas and all have failed. Until last year, that is, when Austin Fashion Week creator, Matt Swinney, swooped into town with a mini-version of this big dream. Fashion X Dallas was a smash and I am thrilled to once again be on the Host Committee for this year's haute happenings! From Thursday, September 10th to Saturday, September 12th, Fashion X Dallas will showcase collections from independent and emerging designers and nationally recognized contemporary brands at FIG (1807 Ross Ave.) in Downtown Dallas. “Fashion X Dallas 2014 was such a resounding success and we are incredibly excited to bring it back in 2015,” says Matt Swinney, Founder of Fashion X Dallas. “Dallas, as a mecca for style and fashion, is the perfect city for established and emerging designers to showcase their collections. With quality production, we hope to give Dallas a 'fashion week' it has always deserved." One of the main goals of Fashion X Dallas is to support emerging and local talent through a program dubbed the Dallas Fashion Fund. Partnering with BERNINA of America, Dallas Fashion Fund will provide one local designer with grants in products and services to help expand their careers and strengthen the Dallas fashion industry. For tickets please visit:

Thursday, September 10th 
Doors Open 6:00 pm, Runway Shows STARS 8:00 pm

Presented by Bernina returns to Fashion X Dallas with eight standout designers you know and love from Lifetime’s hit television series Project Runway. Take advantage of a rare opportunity to meet and greet your favorite designers after the show with your VIP ticket! Arrive at 6:00pm to walk the red carpet, browse twenty stunning jewelry and accessories lines in The Gallery, shop Vintage Martini’s “Formals and Furs” Pop Up, and sip cocktails while mingling with DFW’s most fashionable. Runway shows begin at 8:00pm. Upgrade your ticket to VIP for access to the swank VIP Lounge with complimentary cocktails and a gift from the VIP Gift Wall. Meet and greet with STARS designers after the show.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The State Fair of Texas Announces Finalists for the 2015 Big Tex Choice Awards

Cynthia Smoot judging the 2014 Big Tex Choice Awards
Gators and lobsters and buffalos, oh my! A press release this morning from The State Fair of Texas announced this year’s finalists for the Big Tex Choice Awards, who will compete for the titles of Best Tasting and Most Creative, as well as a set of Michelin Defender LTX tires for both winners.

YOU can be one of the first people to taste the food made by the finalists at the 11th Annual Big Tex Choice Awards on Sunday, August 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the historic Tower Building.

Tickets are available online for $100, with a limited amount of seats available.

The dishes that will be battling it out for this year's award include:

Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy by Abel Gonzales
For the first time in Big Tex Choice Awards history, lobster has made its way on the menu. Adding a flair of fair to a traditionally sophisticated dish, this seafood spread includes an entire lobster tail, breaded and deep fried to perfection. Served with a rich sauce combining lemon butter and champagne gravy, the Chicken Fried Lobster is not your typical carnival concoction. With the lavishness of a lobster dinner and the fried factor of a traditional fair food, this dish will satisfy both a fondness for fanciness and a craving for the classics.