ludivine

I got to sample the new brunch menu at Ludivine. All of it. At a table of food writers and Instagrammers, people who use words like “offal” and don’t flinch when a Bloody Mary (or Russ, in this case) has a tentacle sticking out of it. Dream Sunday.

I wasn’t on an official assignment; in fact, most of the publications I freelance for were well-represented at the table. I, on the other hand, was just there to eat, squeal with delight, and formulate opinions. A few of my notes:

The Bloody Russ: The octopus braising liquid is in the tomato cocktail. Some bitters, Worcestershire…very traditional except for the pleasant seafood aftertaste. Totally into it.
Lobster and Grits: It is what it says it is. The grits were excellent; flavorful, with separate grains instead of just the mushy pile of cheese grits usually are. Pleasant and light.
Lox Bagel Benny: A freaking EVERYTHING BAGEL-FLAVORED bread pudding with a sweet, smooth corn cake texture, house-smoked lox (very high in salt; I’m into it), and poached eggs with a cream cheese fondue. Beautiful presentation, and very rich.
Huevos con Tamales: I know this is sacrilege, but these are the best tamales I’ve had at any restaurant anywhere. Super crisp masa, and a rich porky filling made of offal—hog’s head. Great balance in the salsa verde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those four items make this absolutely worth the trip during the brunch’s six-week trial run. Other highlights: Pain Perdue using Esca Vitae’s perfect brioche (skip the foie gras, totally unnecessary), goat bacon, and the waffle is…the best waffle I’ve ever had. Perfectly crispy, Belgian-style, with an ultra-sweet Madeira syrup. The kind of waffle that makes your kids want to eat sweetbreads. The Croque Tartine was excellent but fairly standard, and the steak and eggs were surprisingly anti-climactic compared to the boldness of the other dishes.

Here’s their shot of the menu:

Wondering what we have lined up for our Summer Brunch? Check out today's menu!

A post shared by Ludivine (@ludivineokc) on

 

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wirwar

Brussels spouts
for The Tulsa Voice

By Greg Bollinger

Dim lighting, antiqued damask wallpaper, ragged frames housing paintings of cowboys on the range. In the air, the din of conversation, clinking glass, classic country, and the aroma of … fries?

The Dutch word wirwar means “hodgepodge.” It’s a fitting name for Wirwar Tulsa, a Belgian honky-tonk, where Belgian beers and street food and American hillbilly music collide.

Broken Arrow native J.D. McPherson, a partner in Wirwar Tulsa, tours Belgium often and frequents Wirwar Turnhout, the concept borrowed for the Tulsa edition.

“I always go in there and hear old American country music; that’s a pretty common thing to run into,” McPherson said. “That’s a neat thing when you’re far from home. It helps you feel grounded.”

McPherson accidentally pitched the concept to partners Mike McLaughlin and Alex Desai, who were already in talks to bring a restaurant to The Boxyard.

“I mentioned in passing to Mike that I had a dream of someday opening a Belgian steakhouse,” McPherson said. “They called me back and said, ‘We want to do that.’”

Wirwar boasts a wide selection of Belgian and Belgian-style beers, many sourced from monastic breweries in Belgium.

“Belgium has the oldest, greatest beer culture. Every type of beer has its own glass—the ephemera is a big deal,” McPherson said. “They use wild yeast. It’s never the same and infinitely more exciting than any beer on the planet.”

The complexity and wildness of the Wirwar’s beer menu touches both sides of the price—from $2 to $20 or a little more—and flavor spectrums. There’s something for everyone here.

“If someone doesn’t know about beer, but they want to try a Belgian, I’d go with Achel,” a Belgian Trappist blond, said General Manager Chase Cline. “If they’ve tried everything, I might go with [Ommegang’s] Rosetta. It’s a sweet, interesting style that isn’t carried everywhere. Kind of a dessert beer.”

But you have to have a meal before you have dessert, and Wirwar offers an array of Belgian-style street foods, like a rich beef carbonnade (eat this with a strong, dark quad beer), liege waffles topped with speculoos, Burn Co. sausages, and the quintessential Belgian street eat, frites (which, McPherson implores, are to be eaten with mayonnaise and not ketchup).

Beyond Wirwar’s June 24 grand opening, there are special events in the works in partnership with the Belgian-owned New York brewery Ommegang, including a “Game of Thrones” tap takeover and a music video series.

A hodgepodge it might be, but other than the fry mayonnaise, “nothing we’re offering is unfamiliar to the Oklahoman palate,” McPherson said. “It’s steak, potatoes, waffles. It makes a whole lot of sense to dress this up as an Okie-friendly environment. Belgian beer, all the food that goes with it, and country music … it’s kind of a perfect little scene.”

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farmer’s daughter market

Market Squared
for Oklahoma Today

A few months back, a man pulled up to The Farmer’s Daughter Market in Tecumseh after it had closed and found owner Linda Praytor sitting on the porch, talking with a friend.

“I forgot my wife won’t be home tonight, Linda,” the man said. “I don’t have anything to eat!” Praytor sent him inside, and he soon returned with a bake-at-home pot pie.

“The registers are already closed for the day,” Praytor said. “Just come back and pay tomorrow.”

And he did.

That’s the sort of place Praytor has worked so hard to build. Before opening her shop in October 2014, Praytor grew up on a dairy farm southwest of Tecumseh. That lifestyle saw her up at dawn to work, off to school, and back to farm chores in the evening. This sense of responsibility helped her have a successful five-decade career as a registered nurse. It also instilled in her an admiration for the often-overlooked details of life.

“I learned to appreciate little things like the sunset and sunrise, the grass, the smells of the farm,” Praytor says. “We live such busy lives today; some of us don’t appreciate just waking up in the morning.”

It’s those small details that have made the market a success. The main building houses distinct mini-shops, all decorated in farmhouse chic with Mason jars, raw wood, and farm antiques. Old painted doors cover the walls, and a bathtub taken from Praytor’s grandmother’s home sits in the foyer. Farmer’s Daughter is expansive for an idea with such humble origins.

“I retired in 2013, and this was a dream I had,” Praytor says. “It was supposed to be a little sandwich shop to try to give my town a boost, and it became an adventure.”

The sandwich shop still is there: The Tomato Patch Café features items like strawberry salad with pecans, bacon, and homemade strawberry poppyseed dressing, and one of the market’s bestsellers is the decadent, gooey tomato cheese pie. The Dinner Bell Takery sells cook-at-home versions of some of the café’s recipes, bottled salad dressings and jams, and local milk, sorghum, and honey.

Pickles & Pigs BBQ, open on Fridays and Saturdays, features the handiwork of pitmaster Jeff Sigman. The smoked turkey is peppery and smooth, and the crowd favorite nachos include dripping white queso and spicy Sriracha sauce with a choice of brisket or pulled pork.

The Kalico Bakery offers dozens of cakes and pies, but the star is the Cloud 9: two chewy pecan cookies sandwiching fluffy cream.

In the spring, Farmer’s Daughter also hosts an outdoor flower market, and truck farmers sell their goods next to the restaurant’s thriving herb garden. The Farmhouse Home Décor store stocks candles, gifts, and home accents, and The Homestead, a refurbished house next door, was converted in 2016 and sells antiques like vintage Pyrex bakeware and quilts. If all this seems like a lot for a retiree hoping for a little sandwich shop, that’s because it is.

“Very few of us get to live our dream, and the people I have here are fulfilling mine,” Praytor says. “They are so dedicated to making this business thrive and making it good for this community. It’s a little town, but we love it to death.”

Get There: The Farmer’s Daughter Market, 302 North Broadway Avenue in Tecumseh, (405) 598-2683 or farmersdaughtermarket.com.

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bacon jam

Bacon Jam
Written for and published in McSweeney’s Reviews of New Food.

Did you know that they make tiny slow cookers? I found this out because I am 29 and live by myself still, and I was waiting for a wedding registry to come into my life so I could get all new kitchen appliances, but then I got tired of waiting because I found out bacon jam was a thing that could exist.

It is basically like if you were going to make barbecue sauce, but then you replaced the ketchup in the recipe with bacon, and then you took out a bunch of the spices and put in more bacon. I made it today, in my tiny slow cooker, and I do not care anymore about wedding registries or family-sized kitchen appliances or finding love, because I cannot eat bacon jam on any of those things.

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let’s go outback tonight

Let’s Go Outback Tonight
Written after a particularly traumatic restaurant outing.

I like to tell people the truth—that I was born in South Korea, to a military man and a farmer’s daughter. The exoticism of that intentionally-partial reality tends to cloud certain details: that I have spent most of my life in the U.S., that I wear my shoes in the house, that I don’t speak a lick of Korean, that I am 5’ 8”.

My mom and I visited her side of the family in Songtan and Seoul in the fall of 2006, for the first time in 18 years. For me, the experience was largely exciting, disconcerting in an entirely different way than for my mom, whose relatively-new American way of life had weaned her from all Korean familiarity. That is to say, what was once her everyday way of life had been nudged into history by AMERICA!, so she had to battle with the loss of her history versus the comforts of her new life versus the way her family lives, blah blah.

But this isn’t a story about loss. It is a story about cultural confusion and, more than that, embarrassment.

On the maternal side, I have one uncle who speaks English. I gather he is some sort of international businessman; I have no evidence of this save for a business card that says “Johnny Lee”; it is common for Korean people with difficult-to- pronounce Korean names to adopt typical American names to make life easier for everyone. Uncle “Johnny” (known to me as Samchoon my entire life) really wanted me to feel at home, offering me assorted alcoholic beverages and offering to buy everything I glanced at sidelong. Samchoon decided to take us out for dinner, and in a fairly questionable fit of hospitality, suggested Outback Steakhouse in Seoul.

I’d already No Reservations-ed a few times, ducking into back alley restaurants, sitting on upside-down buckets and eating spicy soups of God-knows- what, and that’s fine, because it’s all part of the experience and a facet I genuinely enjoyed. But it had been about ten days at this point, and even if only for one meal, I was ready to eat with a goddamned fork.

Samchoon triple-parked (something he did with alarming frequency) and ran in, only to find the wait was unbearably long. Naturally, we parked the car and walked two doors down, in the same building, to another Outback, this time only to be seated immediately. The menu was basic, with new names for the same items I imagine are on the menu stateside. I decided on a pasta dish, and my mom ordered something similar.

While stirring my Coke (which came half-full with no ice and was refilled at no point during the meal), I tuned out the Korean conversation happening next to me and people watched. Even at home, I’m a little obsessed with hip-looking, young, Asian couples, and at the booth next to us, one such pair was sharing a huge salad and plate of ribs. Adorable.

The waitress brought our food, and I immediately began inhaling my Queensland shrimp and noodles, or whatever it was called, and my mom did the same. Several minutes and half a plate of pasta later, I looked up from my gluttony long enough to realize that my extended family was dishing out a little of this, a little of that from everyone’s entrées. I glanced, panicking internally, at every other table in the restaurant. Sure enough, those humongous American-Australian portions make sense to Korean people only in the context of sharing. That is to say,

IF YOU ARE GOING TO ORDER A THREE-POUND ENTRÉE, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO SHARE IT.

…COW.

I could feel my cheeks burning, and my mom had come to the same realization at roughly the same time I had. Heads bowed in shame, we finished our meals in mutual embarrassment, silently begging for forgiveness from our tiny Korean dining partners.

After the meal, my aunt, mom and I stopped at the restrooms, where I was confronted with my ultimate Asian vacation nightmare: the bidet. The idea of the thing has always given me the heebie jeebies. I am by no means electronically-inept, but this thing has so many buttons. So many. And not a single letter of English to be found. I did what any tourist lacking in confidence would do and held it until I was sure I knew how to flush. I pressed a button that, to me, looked like water going down the drain, and threw myself flat against the stall partition when a surprisingly powerful stream of water shot out of the bowl. Ducking, I inched out of the stall and slammed the door shut, only to see the water pooling on the floor.

Seconds later, I heard my mom yell, “Becky! What’s ‘BEE-DAY?’, followed by a blood-curdling scream and then my mom, shirt soaked through, emerged from her stall. She had to borrow my aunt’s jacket to leave the restaurant.

Let this be a hard lesson for Americans about exploring new cultures. To paraphrase, ‘tis a far better thing to justifiably embarrass yourself in an unfamiliar place than to accidentally bidet your shirt in an Outback.

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