Photo by Kevin Hernandez on Unsplash

A new media platform from CultureMap's parent company officially has gone live: EnergyCapitalHTX.com, announced in March, is now up and running. Houston-based Gow Media, a multi-platform media company that owns CultureMap, InnovationMap, SportsMap, and Houston's ESPN Radio 97.5FM and 92.5FM, launched the site June 1 at an event at Gow Media's office.

“We are excited to roll out our new outlet, EnergyCapitalHTX.com. We have been very impressed by Houston’s efforts to lead the global transition of energy and to address the 'dual challenge' of meeting the world’s growing demand for energy while at the same time reducing carbon emissions,” says David Gow, CEO of Gow Media.

“On our new site, we plan to provide informative, unbiased coverage of the Houston-based initiatives, spanning big corporations and startups," he continues. "We hope that a site dedicated to the transition will bring visibility to the city’s substantive progress and to the path forward.”

The site will cover Houston's energy transition ecosystem — the people, companies, capital sources, and numerous initiatives in Houston. Lindsey Ferrell serves as the inaugural editor of the site.

The site’s first sponsor is HETI, which launched in 2021. Led by Executive Director Jane Stricker, HETI was founded to drive economic growth in the Houston area within the energy transition toward a lower carbon future.

“We are excited to support Gow Media with the launch of EnergyCapitalHTX.com,” Stricker says in an earlier news release. "There is so much innovative and exciting activity in our ecosystem. Houston is the Energy Capital of the World, and this platform will amplify the energy leadership that is already happening here.”

Courtesy National Geographic

Texas Top Chef winner stars in new National Geographic restaurant-travel series

Culinary explorations

Austin claims chef Kristen Kish as its own, but the Top Chef winner has always had a global mindset. She first earned her chops in French and Italian cuisine at Boston's acclaimed Menton restaurant, infusing those influences into the menu at Arlo Grey with a pioneering curiosity and adventurous spirit. Now, she's bringing that explorer's mindset to a new National Geographic series, debuting Tuesday, March 21.

Available on Disney+, Restaurants at the End of the World is a docuseries in which Kish travels to off-the-beaten-path pockets of the planet. The four-part series follows Kish as she searches for the secret ingredients – people, places, culture and traditions – within the world’s most remote restaurants in Boquete, Panama; Svalbard, Norway; North Haven Island, Maine; and Paraty, Brazil.

A lucky selection of South by Southwest (SXSW) attendees got a sneak peek of the series on March 14. The event took place inside Arlo Grey at the Line Hotel, where Kish mingled with guests and introduced clips from the series.

"This series is all about shared experiences and trading stories," Kish said, introducing the evening's menu. "So, when putting this menu together, I realized there are a lot of similarities. When I think back to all the places I went and new things I learned, there are so many familiar flavors to every bite that can bring you right back home into your own story."

The menu celebrated each location in the upcoming series, often in the same course: Parker House Rolls (with delicious whipped brown butter) were a nod to her New England episode ("Maine Island Barn Supper,"), paired with a scallop crudo commemoration of her time in Brazil ("Brazil’s Floating Feast,"). Meanwhile, the main course gave guests a glimpse of the great lengths Norwegian fishermen go to when harvesting Arctic char, accompanied by a clip of Kish's adventures with local purveyors in Svalbard, Norway.

The aim of both the dinner and the upcoming series is to showcase the tenacity it takes to run restaurants in such remote places. Each episode follows Kish behind the scenes with local purveyors, farmers, herders, kitchen crew, managers, and head chefs to hear their stories. She invites viewers along with her in the hunt for the best and freshest ingredients, unearthing the culture and heart behind global cuisine and showcasing the balancing act required to bring unique food to the table around the world.

“Food has an unparalleled power to bring us together and teach us about one another and the world around us, and we see that firsthand by going to restaurants in the world’s most remote areas,” says Chef Kish via release. “Filming this series with National Geographic was an adventure of a lifetime that taught me so much about an industry I’ve been steeped in my whole life. I can’t wait for viewers to come along on the journey with us and experience these dishes at restaurants most never even knew existed.”

The first episode of Restaurants around the World will be available on March 21 at 9 pm.

Kristen Kish

Courtesy National Geographic

Top Chef winner Kristen Kish has a new National Geographic show debuting on March 21.

Photo courtesy of VishwaGujarat.com

Dallas Morning News scales down Spanish newspaper and more city news

City News Roundup

This roundup of news around Dallas includes newspaper news, protest news, and St. Patrick's Day news. There's also a new program that helps low-income seniors fix up their house.

Here's what's happening around Dallas this week:

Al Dia disbanding
After 19 years, The Dallas Morning News has disbanded the staff of Al Día, its Spanish-language newspaper, assigning them to other roles at the newspaper effective March 1. According to a post on the Dallas News Guild union website, the team’s five full-time journalists were told they were being reassigned, with the rationale being stats that said the number of people speaking primarily Spanish in Texas is dropping. Moving forward, DMN stories will be translated into Spanish for Al Dia.

Senior home repair
The Dallas City Council approved funding for the Department of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization’s Senior Home Repair Program. The program offers approved applicants up to $10,000 in grant funds aimed at home repairs improving accessibility within the home, increasing safety and efficiency. Residents must be 65 years or older, at or below 80 percent area median income (AMI) and in need of repairs at their primary residence. Residents may apply starting February 1 by downloading an application online or picking one up at the Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization office in City Hall. Residents need to show proof of household income, Identity, age, proof of primary homeowner occupancy, and proof of ownership. The deadline is March 3, and residents may drop off their application at the Housing office in City Hall or any library or recreation center. For assistance, call 214-670-3644 or visit their offices at City Hall.

Shriners protest
On February 9, PETA supporters rallied outside the Shriners International Membership & Marketing Conference and Masters Class, held at Embassy Suites in Grapevine, urging Shriners International to ditch circus cruelty and modernize their shows by making them animal-free. It was risky: Protesters were previously assaulted by Shriners at a similar action in St. Louis in December.

Shrine circuses are among the last remaining shows that still use wild animals, who are confined to small crates, kept in shackles, and deprived of any semblance of a natural or happy life. Shriners routinely do business with cruel exhibitors, including Carson & Barnes Circus, which has been cited for more than 100 violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act and whose head trainer was caught on video attacking elephants with bullhooks.

St Paddy's Day run
The St. Paddy's Day Dash Down Greenville 5K, which has kicked off the St. Paddy's Day Parade festivities for nearly three decades, is introducing a new course. Participants will have a chance to walk, jog, run, and dance on the parade route for the first time ever. Registration is now open for the event, which is a part of the Run Project race series. The St. Paddy's Day Dash Down Greenville 5K is one of nine races held by the Run Project across North Texas.


Behind the wall of greenery and other Dallas restaurant must-haves

Trend News

If you're a Dallas restaurant in 2023, you're nowhere without a wall of greenery.

We're talking an entire wall covered in ivy, or else a wall made up entirely of flowers. Also, throw in a neon sign.

Walls covered with greenery are among the features restaurants are deploying these days to lure in diners. Food is still the official reason people go out to eat, but as Restaurant Dive notes, restaurants these days are more visual — more experience-oriented.

It's almost as if the eating part of dining out is an afterthought, a sideshow to the stylish extras restaurants are adding to lure them in.

Here's a few features being rolled out at restaurants around town:

The wall of greenery
This is the trend where a restaurant dedicates one wall to some kind of greenery, be it ivy or flowers, sometimes real, usually fake.

The greenery wall has a transporting effect — you may not be traveling as frequently as you used to, so you can pretend you're at an exotic locale with your friends.

Dining out has always been a social experience, but the social aspect has become a much bigger part. For a lot of people, dining out is what they do for entertainment. Where people in the '90s might have gone to a rock club to see a band, now they go out to a restaurant and make a night of it.

One of the original green walls in Dallas was at Vidorra, the upscale Mexican restaurant in Deep Ellum.

vidorra green wallGreen wall at Vidorra.Vidorra

"We put the wall up in 2018," says co-owner Imran Sheikh. "What sparked it for us was a trip we made to Guadalajara to source some authentic fixtures from Mexico. We came back with the idea of an oasis of nature in the middle of urban Deep Ellum, to create the illusion that you were in another place."

And just as people like to take photos in scenic vacation spots, they took photos of themselves against the green wall. But the social media aspect was a byproduct, not the origin.

Mexico was also the source of inspiration for Alexa Rodarte, co-founder of Lexy's in Trinity Groves, which boasts fabric and silk flowers on the walls, the ceiling, flowers everywhere. The prime photo-op spot is in front of a unique Champagne vending machine that's stocked with Moet & Chandon splits, set against a wall of flowers.

"I wanted to make Lexy's pretty, and I loved the flower walls at places in Mexico City, like Azul Historico, Ling Ling, Beluga, Artemisia Flower Bar," Rodarte says. "My goal was to create a space that was feminine, to attract women, and they make up 90 percent of our clientele."

The Glen flower wallFlower wall + neon sign + swing at The Glen in Frisco.The Glen

The ironic neon sign
A cousin to the wall of greenery is the custom-made neon sign, positioned prominently on a photo-ready wall. The sign could be the name of the restaurant, or a clever slogan like "Feed me tacos."

Neon signs have always beguiled, and in the social media world, they're a magnet for photos — especially when the neon sign is elusive. It becomes a secret code where the only people who recognize it have been there and are therefore in the know.

For example, at Zoli's Pizza in Addison, one of the first restaurants in Dallas to install such a neon vignette, their sign is a tongue-in-cheek "Y U No Eat Gluten?"

Restaurants such as Ebb & Flow in Plano double down by combining a wall of greenery with a neon sign ("Don't worry about a thing"). La Comida, the new Mexican restaurant in Oak Cliff, has a wall of green with a neon sign that says "Flock Yeah."

For The Glen in Frisco and XOXO Dining Room & Garden near downtown Dallas, the wall of greenery + a neon sign are not enough. They've added a swing. Boom.

Robots that deliver your order to your table is a trend that first surfaced in DFW at Asian restaurants like Kura Sushi in Plano and Frisco, but has crossed over to non-Asian restaurants like Green Papaya Plant Based vegan restaurant on Oak Lawn, and La Pesca, a seafood restaurant in Oak Cliff.

They look like little roving shelving units. The kitchen stacks your order on the shelves, and the robot moseys over to your table.

Manufacturers like Bear Robotics, who make the most common Servi model, pitch them as a help to restaurants grappling with staff shortages after the pandemic.

The jury is out on whether they pan out as an actual solution, but Robert Sullivan, a Dallas food & beverage veteran who worked for Bear Robotics, says that they still hold an inexorable appeal.

"India Bistro 14 in Arlington had one and got a lot of mileage out of it," he says. "They put an apron on it, and they'd run it to the host stand with to-go orders. You can upload audio so that when the robot gets to the table, it'll say, 'Here's your order.' They're hokey, and their shelf life may be short — but diners, especially those with kids, love them."

On the bright side, the robot won't get your order wrong (that is, unless the staff loads them incorrectly). But robots can't refill your drink. For that, you still need a human.


TV documentary dives into Dallas-Fort Worth connection to the Amber Alert

Reality TV

The national Amber Alert system, which highlights when children go missing, is the subject of a new original documentary airing on Peacock TV.

Called Amber: The Girl Behind the Alert, the show recounts the history of the Amber Alert and its origins in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The Amber Alert broadcasts across 50 states when a child goes missing, with details that include the child's appearance and possible abductors. The system has led to the recovery of more than 1,000 missing children.

The show delves into the case that inspired its creation: the 1996 abduction of Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old who was kidnapped on January 13 while riding her bike in Arlington.

She was reportedly taken by a man driving a black pickup truck, but there was little for police to do but search the surrounding area.

Her remains were found four days later by a man walking his dog, in a stream of water that was eight miles away from where she was abducted. An autopsy determined she died of stab wounds to the neck. The case remains unsolved to this day.

The documentary includes never-before-seen footage of Amber's family leading up to and after her disappearance, as well as an interview with Amber's mother.

It also interviews Fort Worth resident Diana Simone, a massage therapist who saw the story on the news and called a local radio station, urging them to air details about the child's disappearance and the suspect’s vehicle, so that those driving could take part in the search, too.

Eventually, this idea became the Amber Alert (which stands for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response).

The alert was used for the first time in 1998, when eight-year-old Rae-Leigh Bradbury of Arlington was abducted by her babysitter. She was missing for 13 hours.

The documentary interviews Bradbury's mother, Patricia Sokolowski, who recalls when the alert was sent out that evening and a driver called in to report that he had seen the babysitter on a local highway.

"That’s her!" the driver says in 911 audio, played in the documentary. "I can't believe it."

The next day, Patricia and baby Rae-Leigh were reunited.

There's a trailer on Oxygen.com.

Dallas classical music radio station WRR releases new program lineup

Radio News

A new, permanent schedule for WRR 101.1 FM, Dallas' classical music station, has been released, with what a release claims will be less interruptions and more classical music.

The schedule comes in the wake of a new management arrangement for WRR, which was previously run by the city and will now function as an all-classical, noncommercial format under the management of KERA, effective January 3, 2023.

This gives WRR revenue opportunities such as donations, grants, membership programs, and sponsorships. Expect "sponsorship messages" similar to those heard on KERA — like ads, but executed in a calm, low-key speaking voice.

Longtime WRR advertisers who have become sponsors include Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, The Trusted Lab, the City of Dallas Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability, Steinway Hall of Dallas, and more, as well as one of KERA's sponsors, William Sheahan Designs and Fine Jewelry.

The new lineup includes:

  • Morning Classical with Kurt, featuring Kurt Rongey, who has returned to WRR as Assistant Program Director
  • At Work With Amy, a regular weekday show with Amy Bishop
  • The Homestretch, hosted by Nikki Velonis
  • The Dinner Concert, every weeknight with Matt Rogers
  • The Evening Concert, presenting a wide spectrum of classical music, old and new

Returning programs include Sunday Baroque, From the Top, Pipedreams, The March of the Day,Road Rage Remedy, and WRR Concert Hall (formerly known as Monday Night at the Symphony and featuring classical performances from local venues across North Texas).

New programs include With Heart and Voice, Performance Today, the bilingual English/Spanish program Concierto, and The Arts Calendar with KERA’s Nilufer Arsala, delivering an overview of upcoming arts events across the region.

The full weekly schedule can be found at wrr101.com/programs.

Founded in 1921, WRR was the state’s first licensed radio station, first as a public service for police and fire on the AM band, until it became a commercial classical music station on the FM band at 101.1 in 1964.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

44 new Dallas debutantes star in this week's most popular stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. 44 new Dallas debutantes begin Presentation Ball prep with glam parties and glorious gowns. With the start of summer vacation came the beginning of the 2023-2024 Dallas Symphony Orchestra League debutante season - even though it seems like just yesterday that the 2023 debs were Texas-dipping into society. The DSOL introduced 44 new debs during Announcement Weekend festivities, May 18-20. Their parties, philanthropy, and training will culminate with the 38th Presentation Ball.

2. 21 North Texas museums offer free admission to military families this summer. Nearly two dozen Dallas-Fort Worth museums are honoring active duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20-September 4, 2023.

3. 11 Dallas icons star in new book of most influential Texans from last 50 years. To commemorate Texas Monthly's 50th anniversary, the publication has collected the stories and photographs of 50 iconic Texans who have shaped the state and the country over the past 50 years for a book called Lone Stars Rising. Eleven Dallas megastars have made the roster.

4. These are the 7 best most intriguing hot dogs in Dallas right now. Hot dogs are the quintessential summer food and an item that nearly everyone loves. They're simple, flavorful, easy to make at home, and affordable if you dine out. Here are the seven most interesting hot dogs you can find in Dallas-Fort Worth.

5. Mississippi sisters debut perky Southern-chic boutique on Dallas' Greenville Avenue. When Allison and Anna Williams graduated from University of Mississippi in 2021, they didn't picture themselves owning a boutique on Lower Greenville in Dallas. But the Williamses' new women's clothing boutique, Five 54, opened this spring at 1906 Greenville Ave., next to Clark's Barbershop, in the buzziest neighborhood in town.

Dallas-Fort Worth arrives at surprising spot among top summer travel destinations


Dallas-Fort Worth recently racked up more than a dozen accolades at the 2023 Texas Travel Awards. But a new survey reveals it's not necessarily such a hot travel destination this summer.

DFW comes in at a middle-of-the-road No. 45 in WalletHub's recent 2023 Best Summer Travel Destinations report.

The report compared 100 of the largest metro areas in America across 41 metrics, including number of attractions.

DFW scored an overall rating of 52.56 out of 100. Broken down by category, the Metroplex ranked 86th in "Travel Costs & Hassles;" 32nd in "Local Costs;" 20th in "Attractions;" 41st in "Weather;" 27th in "Activities;" and 50th in "Safety."

Taking the top spot in Texas was San Antonio, at No. 11, with Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown at No. 14. Behind Austin and San Antonio in the 2023 rankings is El Paso (No. 18), then Houston (No. 38). After 45th ranked DFW came Corpus Christi (No. 62), and McAllen (No. 86).

Dr. Susan Weidmann, assistant professor in the department of recreational management and physical education at Appalachian State University, said in the report that summer 2023 is going to be a “good season for travel” despite recent economic downturns that have many worried about a recession.

“Coming out of Covid, I think many people have taken these last few years to really evaluate what they want out of life, and for those that love travel, I think they have probably put it at the top of their list of things to do,” she said. “As far as economics are concerned, many may have saved their traveling money from the last multiple years, so will have money to spend. That being said, after the airline chaos of last year, many people may be thinking about domestic travel over the long-haul, just to alleviate many of the concerns that airlines, especially in Europe, are still grappling with, such as reduced staffing leading to flight cancellations.”

Weidmann predicts the time period between July and early August will be the most popular season for National Parks, like Texas’ Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains.

Despite none of them being in Texas, the top 10 destinations in WalletHub’s report are all popular cities worth a glance in sun-friendly states like Hawaii, New York, and Florida.

The top 10 best summer destinations are:

  • No. 1 – Atlanta
  • No. 2 – Honolulu, Hawaii
  • No. 3 – Washington, D.C.
  • No. 4 – Wichita, Kansas
  • No. 5 – New York City
  • No. 6 – Chicago
  • No. 7 – Tampa, Florida
  • No. 8 – Orlando, Florida
  • No. 9 – Richmond, Virginia
  • No. 10 – Springfield, Missouri

Score a hole in one at these 10 top public golf courses in Dallas-Fort Worth

Tee Time

North Texas recently popped the cork for the new $520 million Omni PGA Frisco Resort, which opened in May and features its own entertainment district, full-service spa and salon, four swimming pools, 500 guest rooms and suites, 10 private ranch houses, and 13 unique dining options.

But as the name hints, the resort is very much about the golf. With Father's Day around the corner, we're revisiting Dallas-Fort Worth's best public courses, including the two newest ones found in Frisco and their alternative ways to play.

Load up the clubs and hit the green with this list:

Fields Ranch
Omni PGA Frisco Resort boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses, collectively known as Fields Ranch. Fields Ranch East was designed by Gil Hanse, and Fields Ranch West by Beau Welling.

Registered hotel guests can book tee times 120 days in advance of their stay to play Fields Ranch, which will be home to 26 major championships starting in May and continuing through 2034.

Not ready for the full 18-hole experience? Take a few practice swings at the Fields Ranch Practice Facility, then head to The Swing, a lighted 10-hole, par-3 short course, or The Dance Floor, a two-acre putting course and entertainment area.

This will also be the site of Frisco's first Lounge by Topgolf and PGA of America's new headquarters.

Take advantage of all that expertise at the PGA Coaching Center, which offers a high-tech, data-driven club-fitting and instruction experience.

Cowboys Golf Club
If you're a die-hard fan of both the 'Boys and the links, here's where your passions combine. The par-72, 6,553-yard course is as swanky as you'd expect from Jerry Jones, with years of Cowboys history scattered throughout. Of course, with all this top-of-the-line design comes a rather hefty price tag for the green fees, but you do definitely get your money's worth.

Meadowbrook Golf Course
Fort Worth
The 18-hole regulation facility is considered one of the top in Texas, with a par 71 that covers the most rolling terrain in the city. It's also a popular course, with a golf association of more than 200 members who play regularly.

Stevens Park Golf Course
Oak Cliff
All 18 holes of this par-70 course were completely redesigned in 2011, including new tee boxes, fairways, greens, and bunkers. Even the carts boast newly installed TekGPS units that track yardages to the front, middle, and back of the green (and help keep play moving). Appreciate mature oaks, dramatic elevation changes, and great views of downtown Dallas while you traverse the course, which is also affectionately known as "Little Augusta."

Pecan Valley
Fort Worth
Originally designed by golf course architect Ralph Plummer in 1963, Pecan Valley is actually two 18-hole golf courses separated by the Clear Fork of the Trinity River. The "River" course is considered one of the top municipal courses in Texas, while the "Hills" course is approximately 150 yards shorter. Several hundred trees were semi-recently planted and are just beginning to mature, which only bodes well for playing conditions in the years to come.

Texas Star Golf Course
The accolades come rolling in for this course, which has been recognized for its beauty and serene atmosphere by Golf Digest and Golf Weekly, among others. Unlike most public courses, which back up to private homes or run along busy streets, this par-71, 6,529-yard course is truly secluded, surrounded only by ponds, waterfalls, woodlands, and fairways. Reasonable green fees are a bonus, with residents of Euless receiving a 15 percent discount with proof of residence.

Tierra Verde Golf Club
As the first municipal course in the world to be certified as an Audubon Signature Sanctuary, Tierra Verde offers breathtaking natural scenery to go along with its challenging holes. The par-72 6,085-yard layout boasts some of the most uniquely designed holes in DFW, and was named the top course in DFW in 2012 by Avid Golfer.

The Tribute Golf Club
The Colony
Not had the chance to play Hogan's Alley at Carnoustie, Nos. 1 and 18 from St. Andrews, or the fifth from Royal Troon? Then you can experience the next best thing here in Texas, without having to fly across the pond. This par-72, 7,000-yard course is brilliantly designed while replicating the best links-style courses from the United Kingdom.

Waterchase Golf Club
Fort Worth
Like its name implies, Waterchase does indeed boast a cascading waterfall, found between the ninth and eighteenth greens. From tree-lined doglegs to split fairways, the risk and reward opportunities are abundant for the six sets of tees on the par-72 course. The club even received a nomination to Golf Digest's best new courses and promises to be "a round you'll remember."