Sunday, June 7, 2015

DALLAS, TX - Day Two

Dallas delights even more...

What’s for breakfast day two of our Dallas adventure?  More baked goods, of course.  In this case head for:

Stein’s Bakery
12829 Preston Rd, Ste 417
Dallas, TX 75230
(972) 385-9911

Dallas’ oldest bakery, Stein’s boasts D Magazine’s rating for “best chocolate cake.”  And their chocolate mousse cake certainly looks like it deserves the accolades.  Today, however, we’re here for another of their specialties—the petit fours.  You just don’t see these around much anymore.  They remind me of elegant, vintage tea parties, things Jane Austin would admire.  Really when was the last time you even had a petit fours, much less a splendid one like these from Stein’s?  There’s just something…dare I say…dainty about them that makes you feel refined, even if you are stuffing one in your mouth for breakfast.  Or six. Yes, gov’nor, I believe I’ll take six for breakfast.  I’ll eat them in the carriage as we go. (They do make excellent car noshing!)

Make sure you lick all that frosting off your fingers before you go touching yarns at our next stop:

Yarn & Stitches
You know a store literally rescued by loyalty will be a special place.  Current Owner Hope Logan came to Yarn & Stitches as a beginner student, just casting on a love of the craft.  When after fifteen years the store found itself in need of a new owner five years ago, Hope stepped up to the plate.   “It’s a lot of work, but we have the best customer base.  The people here are so nice.”

“Nice” is usually that word one saves up for mediocre dates, but in this case “nice” really applies.  There’s a friendly, homey vibe that makes you comfortable from the moment you walk in the door.  I was pleased to see so many young people (I’ve sworn to get a t-shirt made that reads “I was knitting before it was cool”) shopping and sharing during my visit.  

Some of the classes—which are structured in open and ongoing groups—have been meeting together for fifteen years!  I’m finding more and more shops who are transforming their class offerings from the project-focused model to open, all-level, all-project pay-as-you-go “help desk” models.  It makes sense for those of us with hectic lifestyles.  Still, if you’ve an itch to up your sock game, Yarn & Stitches boasts one of the best sock-knitting teachers in the area.  Not to mention all the inter-student help that happens in classes like this.  Friends and fiber all in one shot—brilliant.

Hope stocks the store by instinct, “I buy what catches my eye.”  And she’s got a good one.  The store has the basics we all need, plus some inventive new fibers.  What I liked most was the “Project of the Month—check the website to see recent offerings.  It’s no surprise it’s been one of the store’s most successful efforts in recent years.  I’m always admiring stores that have embraced the new possibilities the digital age has brought to knitting.

There were lots of projects to choose from, but here are a few I’d recommend:

EZ Poncha
Some projects are all about the yarn.  Take a simple stitch, rock it, and let the fiber and color do the rest.  This is the perfect project for “spring sports season,” that time of year when moms seem to spend every waking moment watching their offspring compete. Or practice.  For hours.  With a piece like this, you can keep your eye on your boy keeping his eye on the ball while you churn out row upon row of lovely undulating stockinette color waves.  Any long-striping yarn will do, but two skeins of Vice’s lovely “Blurred Lines” fits the bill perfectly here.  Easy, peasy, stylish.

Color Block Bias Wrap
Drama always has its place in knitting.  I love bold, dramatic projects.  This shawl takes two skeins each of three different colors of Crystal Palace Chalet (for a total of six skeins).  Possessing enough drape to keep it elegant, but with enough loft to keep it cozy, this piece could go from dress pants to jeans with ease.  A smart travel piece, and a statement shawl when you need one (and I always need one).

Atlanta Mesh Top
Another offering from Tahki’s latest city-named selection of patterns, this top uses 8 50g skeins of Tahki Tandem for a bold and clever garment.  Just the thing to dress up a cami and jeans.  Any teenager or young adult I know would love getting one of these.  It packs great, too—so it’s a good beach vacation piece.

Girasole Shawl
Talk about your show-stoppers—this pattern is a stunner.  If you make it in a worsted weight yarn, this is actually more of an afghan.  Do it in a laceweight—even a long stripe or tweed—and this is a spectacular shawl.  It’ll take at least a 40 inch circular, but isn’t it worth it?  I’d need to throw a party when I bound off the last stitch of this masterpiece!

Knit A Long:  Blurred Lines Shawlette
Hope makes excellent use of Vice’s Blurred Lines super-long striped yarn (truly, only a few color swaps per skein) for this exclusive free-with-yarn-purchase pattern.  Shawlettes are handy pieces—just enough to throw over your shoulders or wrap like a bandana, but not so big and drapey you feel overdressed for the farmer’s market.  Nice and portable, too—Hope was kind enough to throw in a Walker mesh holder for my knitting adventure.

Once you’ve stocked up on yarn goodies, grab an authentic Mexican lunch at:

5000 Beltline Rd Ste 850
Dallas, TX 75254
(972) 866-8900

Tacos are the way to go here, although there is a wide menu.  My sources suggested the pork tacos, but after a friendly conversation, my server steered me toward the steak tacos—I’d never had one before.  Not being a spicy food fan, I’m always adventure-shy in Mexican cuisine, but in this case my bravery was well rewarded.  The food was perfectly done, in reasonable portions (not always easy to find these days) and with delicious sides.  I came away filled but not stuffed—something I truly appreciate.

Now we head down through the city to the fun and funky neighborhood known as the Bishop Arts District. This small, highly walkable set of streets has become my favorite part of the city so far. Here are a few of the reasons why:

Wild Detectives
314 W 8th St
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 942-0108

First, it’s a bookstore and a bar and a coffeebar and a recordstore and a giftshop - what an awesome combination!  Second, the vibe is fun and friendly, not artsy and exclusive.  I walked in to a cry of “Hey, you made it for happy hour!” and wanted to stay for hours. Open most evenings, Monday afternoon, and Sunday brunch, I could easily spend a whole day in this place.  Their mission is to “curate experiences for you”—which could sound artsy and inaccessible, but trust me, the place is quirky and welcoming.  This is the perfect, focused opposite of a big-box book store; thoughtfully stocked to explore, not overwhelm.  Even their blog makes for great reading.  Booksignings, backyard film screenings, music, the events here sound like they could introduce you to your newest favorite anything.  Isn’t that what we all want in a place like this?

Dude, Sweet Chocolate
408 W 8th St  Suite 102
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 943-5943
Yesterday’s chocolate spot was pretty and artful.  Today’s spot is quirky and inventive.  Come in here and leave your preconceptions behind—wild flavor adventures await you.  And they let you taste just about everything.  That’s smart, because how else would I have known how delicious “Albatross" blue cheese and sea salt chocolate is?  Head-spinning and unlikely flavor combinations make this place just plain fun. 

The whole neighborhood is filled with unique, artful shops you can wander for several hours. will show you them all, but I liked:

Society Home Decor
403 N Bishop Ave
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 942-4600

Bishop Street Market
419 N Bishop Ave
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 941-0907

Lockhart Smokehouse
400 W Davis St
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 944-5521
My teenage son might argue barbecue is why God gave us Texas.  This place comes close to proving the theory.  If the scent alone doesn’t draw you in, the huge line out front should clue you in as to the loyal customers.  

It can be daunting to know what to order in a place like this, so I chatted up the guy in line next to us, who offered great advice.  “Go all out for the fatty brisket, and ribs.  And the slaw—you gotta have the slaw.”  There’s something so primally appealing about a get-it-under-your-fingernails kind of BBQ joint.  Really good stuff.  Leave your sense of nutrition in the car and just go for it—you’ll be glad.

Emporium Pies
314 N Bishop Ave
Dallas, TX 75208
(469) 206-6126

Nearly every person—and both yarn shops—told me to go here.  You know me and pie; I was excited.  So excited, in fact, that I went back THREE more times.  Truly wonderful.  
One night I simply had the massive “Lord of the Pies” apple slice as my dinner.   With ice cream and coffee, of course--a balanced meal.  Then I had the heavenly, caramelly Cloud Nine on another visit, and the splendid Limelight key lime another day for breakfast (their take-out presentation is simply adorable).  

We brought the exquisite Smooth Operator—a french silk chocolate pie with a pretzel crust—to a dinner at a friend’s house and became instant heroes.  Go.  More than once.  Eat them all.

There you have it.  A fun fest of fiber and food over two days exploring Dallas.  This is by no means all there is to do or knit—I’ll definitely have to come back and see more—but a great pair of days to make any DestiKNITter delighted with Dallas!

No comments: