Foodie News

Teresa Gubbins' top 5 CultureMap Dallas foodie picks from 2020

Teresa Gubbins' top 5 CultureMap Dallas foodie picks from 2020

M&M white choc peanuts
M&M White chocolate peanuts. Junk Banter

For starters, the headline is ironic. There's very little that's "foodie" about this list.

A real Dallas foodie list from the year 2020 would have an elaborate-yet-simple pasta from Homewood Dallas, like this bucatini dusted with sourdough bread crumbs; chef Matt M. is into crumbs these days.

It should have a foodie find from one of the many obscure pop-ups that have proliferated during the coronavirus, possibly culled from the Instagram page of "Bata Eats." And definitely something ultra-authentic Asian, maybe a discovery from the "Asian Grub in DFDUB" Facebook page.

No legit Dallas foodie list would be complete without a slice of Detroit-style pizza and/or takeout from one of the Nashville-style hot chicken places.

But this list has none of those.

To its credit, there is an item from Eataly, which brought Dallas into the foodie elite. Otherwise, these are just five things I liked enough to share.

Vegan Reuben sandwich at Mendocino Farms
Mendocino Farms is the California-based gourmet sandwich shop chain that made its Dallas debut in March 2020, and is opening a second location in Addison in early 2021.

They have a convenient to-go model and great sandwiches that include the "vegan" Reuben, featuring vegan corned beef from Mrs. Goldfarb's Unreal Deli, a company in which Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has invested.

The corned beef is an amazing fake with the tangy flavor and loose texture of the real thing. The sandwich also has apple-celery root slaw, pickles, and smoky Thousand Island dressing on rye bread, which has caraway seeds, very authentic.

White Chocolate M&M Peanuts
M&M's has been issuing flavor variations like coffee (also good), honey nut, and chili nut for more than a decade. Their white chocolate action began with a white-chocolate M&M in 2017, followed by white chocolate M&M peanuts in September 2018.

For 2020, they debuted a holiday-edition Sugar Cookie M&M's, featuring a white chocolate, sugar cookie-flavored shell with a crispy center. It came out in November and is now mostly off the shelves - but you can still find the M&M white chocolate peanuts at some stores including Walmart (and online for a pretty penny).

They're a godsend for fans of white chocolate, which has become more popular in recent years — less sweet than milk chocolate and not so oppressive as dark chocolate, with the peanut making them seem "healthy."

Integrale bread at Eataly
Truthfully, the best "bready" thing at Eataly, the Italian market at NorthPark Center, is the Roman-style pizza by the slice. The dough is made with a combination of three flours: type 00 flour, buratto flour, and whole wheat. It creates a crust that's thick yet light, crunchy yet airy, and comes with yummy toppings like mushrooms and butternut squash.

But sometimes you want bread, and among Eataly's breads, the Integrale is my favorite.

If you ask Eataly, their best bread is The Rustic, a sourdough that's their best seller. You can get it plain, or in varieties such as olive, walnuts & raisin, and chocolate chip.

"Integrale" is Italy's version of whole wheat bread, though not as heavy or dense as whole wheat bread can be. Many versions of Integrale, including Eataly's, have a bit of sweetness. Eataly's also has a seed-herb mix on top of the loaf that gives the crust an irresistible charred-toasty flavor.

Red Bull cola
This cola is part of a non-energy-drink line of sodas that Red Bull introduced in mid-2019. Called Organics by Red Bull, it has four flavors: cola, bitter lemon soda, tonic water, and ginger ale.

It's really my perfect idea of what soda should be, with artisanal-type ingredients and in a smaller size (8.4-ounce can, same as regular Red Bull) than the usual 12-ounce soda.

Sometimes you just want a shot of something carbonated and sweet, but not a whole 12 ounces, and not loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and a bunch of other garbage.

Red Bull Cola contains carbonated water, sugar, flavor, and a bunch of plant extracts that include lemon, ginger, lime, vanilla, licorice, cinnamon, kola nut, cocoa, orange, cardamom, mint, pine, mace, and clove. It's spicy, like a foodie version of soda.

This isn't the first time Red Bull has introduced a cola: They debuted a similar one in 2008, but discontinued it in 2011. Ahead of their time. Pepsi put out a similar product with its 1893 line but discontinued it in 2018.

Beet greens at Dallas Farmers Market
On a December 5 trip to the Dallas Farmers Market, I got two large bunches of absolutely perfect beet greens from Gerald Pruitt of Pruitt Farms in Mexia, Texas.

Pruitt tried to give them to me for free because the beets were small. But I buy beets for the greens. I love beet greens.

Some Dallas old-timers still moan about the "old" farmers market and how convenient it was to drive up and shop for produce — despite the fact that the majority of the stands in the old days were not manned by farmers but were instead vendors selling the same not-grown-in-Texas fruits and vegetables they could buy at any supermarket.

The current farmers market features actual farmers. Exclusively. It's not as convenient as pulling in and getting pineapples from Hawaii and strawberries from California, but it's not a fraud.

The Dallas Farmers Market will never be like markets on the West Coast where so much of our food is grown. But with its cute collection of shops selling Texas-raised meat, Texas-brewed wine and beer, popcorn, tamales, coffee, cheese, T-shirts, and gifts, some indoors, some outside, it is a nice way to spend a weekend day, a place to take guests, just like the markets on the West Coast - and you go home with local produce.