Tag Archives: fresh ingredients

Savory Fare at the Superior Bathhouse

by Julia Milano

All aficionados of a good cold beer welcomed the news that a craft beer tasting room and microbrewery would open in Hot Springs on Historic Bathhouse Row. Who knew that along with refreshing and thoughtful libations, Chef Angela Nardi would also put together unique seasonal offerings that incorporate food grown and produced by local farmers and artisans.

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Want a place to stop before dinner for a flight of interesting brews and some delicious appetizers? The Superior Bathhouse offers delightful meat and cheese plates for $10 and $15 with tasty little food enhancers on the side for a mere quarter. On a recent evening, I took advantage of their happy hour half price special and got a platter composed of cheese, JV Farms’ salami and cold smoked pork shoulder for $5. Deciding to splurge, for a single dollar, I ordered house-made garlic paste, pesto, marinated yellow tomatoes and artichoke hearts to accompany the meat and cheese. I layered these delightful treats on slices of baguette and whole grain crackers washing them down with a Whittington Park Wheat, one of the nine beers that are brewed in-house. The cheese, meat, and other goodies could have easily sufficed as a whole meal at the whopping price of $6. Now that is farm to table goodness at a fair price. Not a drinker? Enjoy a glass of homemade draft root beer and compose an appetizer plate suited to your own taste, but do try the 26-month aged Beemster Cheese.

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On another evening, we again focused on appetizers and could easily have made a meal on the Boursin Tomato and Pesto Stack, Savory Mushroom Strudel and Southern Black-Eyed Pea Hummus shared by our table of three. These diverse dishes were topped with organic micro-greens from Arkansas Natural Produce.

 

IMG_7890In addition to this excellent array of starters, the menu offers flavorful sandwiches and numerous salads. One dining companion heartily enjoyed her Reuben and I can vouch for the delicate citrus quinoa salad. At the dinner hour, three diverse entrees are offered two of which feature JV Farms pork ribs and bratwurst. The third, chicken breasts with basil and lemon is not a dish I would usually order. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chicken dish but often “restaurant” chicken, especially breast meat is dried out and tired tasting. Get ready for two juicy pieces of chicken redolent with the taste of herbs and tart citrus.

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I could write an entire page about the gelato bar. The gelatos and sorbets are all locally made by Marque Haupert who studied gelato-making in Italy. If you’re in Hot Springs and need a quick, refreshing pick-me-up, grab a parking place and run into the Superior Brewery for a cup or cone from the tempting board of flavors. Or, cleanse your palate with one of the lighter sorbets. It’s the perfect end to a locally sourced meal at the Superior Bathhouse, a very welcome addition to the Hot Springs’ eating scene.

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The Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery is located at 329 Central Avenue in Hot Springs and opens daily at 11 am.
501-624-2337

superiorbathhouse.com
Facebook: Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery

That’s Amore!  Divinity at DeLuca’s Pizzeria

by Julia Milano

Pizza, that delectable combination of tomatoes, crispy yet soft crust, melted cheese, savory meats and roasted vegetables.

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Combined correctly, these ingredients can produce the most luscious of taste sensations. Theoretically, good pizza should be a umami experience whereby a fifth taste joins the expected flavors of bitter, salty, sweet and sour. Natural umami represents the taste of the amino acid L-glutamate which is naturally occurring in foods like mushrooms, vegetables, ripe tomatoes and aged products involving yeast or certain cheeses. Lifting another drippy bite to my mouth I reflect that without a doubt, this is the most umami pizza I have ever tasted, a true synergy of the five basic tastes.

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Momentarily lifting eyes from my plate, I see Chef Anthony Valinoti, owner of DeLuca’s Pizzeria in Hot Springs and the creator of this ultimate gustatory experience, striding across the dining room. In his arms are two huge tubs of Pink Flamingo and Black Oyster mushrooms grown in nearby Benton. I motion Chef Valinoti over to thank him for his culinary genius and inquire how he achieves such an amazing synthesis of flavors.

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“I deal with as many local farmers as possible and also import the highest quality of ingredients I can from Italy.”

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The vegetarian pizza I am eagerly consuming contains locally grown heirloom tomatoes, arugula, onions, garlic and black oyster mushrooms. No flavor overwhelms the other and the crust made from King Arthur’s artisan flour, water and yeast has an ethereal yet solid delicacy which has been browned to perfection in Chef Valinoti’s brick oven. The whole milk mozzarella isn’t the least bit greasy and based on availability, DeLuca’s also offers fresh buffalo mozzarella. Hand-crafted from Italian tomatoes, and other seasonings, the pizza sauce is robust but not acidic. For those who like a protein packed pizza, there are an unusual array of high-quality meats to add-on including JV Farms’ homemade Italian fennel sausage, Pancetta from Butcher & Public in Little Rock and smoked beef from McClards.

In addition, Chef Valinoti uses Peppadew Peppers from South Africa, these piquant, sweet beauties don’t give me the slightest bit of indigestion. In fact, usually after consuming pizza, I feel sluggish and bloated. But DeLucca’s Pizza is so purely sourced and perfectly balanced that I don’t have my customary pizza hangover.

The menu also features an antipasto platter with homemade lemon or tomato vinaigrette and Arkansas spring mix salads. The simple one-page menu is a refreshing experience offering excellence and food made with love to discerning patrons.

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Before energetically moving off to craft more of his magical pies, Chef Valinoti leaves me with these words, “Most people make you the kind of pizza you’re used to; I make you the kind of pizza I dream about.”

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DeLuca’s Pizzeria is located at 407 Park Avenue, Hot Springs and is open Thursday through Sunday. Call 501-609-9002 as hours are variable.
delucaspizzeria.com
Facebook: Deluca’s Pizzeria Napoletana