Zach Townsend, master chocolatier, creator of La Bomba in Rose's Heavenly Cakes, and cherished friend had invited me to visit him in Dallas for several years. This past February it finally happened and Zach really went to the 'ends of the town' to make it a 3-1/2 day culinary adventure so packed with amazing details it seemed more like several weeks. By the end of the visit I suspected that Zach knows ever chef in the Dallas area! Zach invited Woody and me to stay in his drop dead gorgeous condo. Not only was it decorated with impeccable taste, it was the sole of comfort. In the living room we admired two incredible model ships built by his Dad, Ray Townsend. The details are amazing, such as the 1000 or more planks were individually hand cut and mounted, on a replica of the French Chebec, and the rigging was hand knotted, and all connected with turnbuckles. Zach told us that it took his Dad as long as three years to contruct each ship and that he is now doing a huge replica of San Felipe that Zach has his eye on. Zach's kitchen was beautifully designed and I could tell it would be great in which to bake and cook. The night of my arrival Zach took me for dinner at FT33 owned by his friend chef Matt McCallister. As typical food enthusiasts, we tasted all of each other's dishes.
At the end of a fabulous dinner, pastry chef Sabrina Hunt came out to meet me and then offered us an array of her specialties. Our top favorite was a peanut butter rif on sm'ores, using smoked chocolate. The following night, Zach took Woody and me to Stephan Pyles hot new restaurant--Stampede 66. It had been many years since I visited Dallas with "The Pastry Bible" and chef Pyles had done a terrific book event at his restaurant. So not only did we have a fun and delicious meal, we also had the joy of seeing chef Pyles again. We loved the decor and ambiance of the restaurant. Zach ordered the house margarita made from the juice of prickly pear and frozen very dramatically with the aid of nitrogen. One of the highlights of the visit was our baking class that Zach arranged at the famed Central Market--Plano--one of the enormous high-end Texas grocery stores chains known for its excellent cooking school.
Woody had spent a whole day with chef Dean Liesenfelt and his staff, prepping for the class, so that when we arrived the next morning everything was in chocolate cake order, including samples for more than 40 attendees. The demo lasted two hours, during which I fielded questions and I also demo'd some of the cookware from my new product line which, I'm delighted to report, soon will be in the Central Market stores. Yes--this was the Valentine's Day presentation so everything was chocolate, incorporated into the batters. We also presented adornments, including the chocolate lacquer glaze that we had developed with Zach and his recipe for Carmelized Chocolate Nibs, folded into chocolate ingots (financiers) that was first published in Rose's Heavenly Cakes. The demo was followed by a one-hour book signing where Woody and I both signed the book and got to talk to many of the delightful attendees and staff. And that evening, Zach took exhausted us to one of his favorite down home restaurants which is now ours as well. Tune in next week for the rest of our Dallas eating adventures.