By Meda Kessler and June Naylor
Ellerbe Fine Foods
Here’s to 10 more years
We opened for business just a few months before Ellerbe Fine Foods uncorked its first glass of wine in June 2009. But a little birdie had tipped us off about the imminent arrival of restaurateur Richard King and chef Molly McCook in what was then a pretty sleepy section of Magnolia Avenue. We managed to get a brief mention of them in our restaurant roundup in the inaugural issue. It’s only fitting that we share more good news as we both celebrate 10 years.
While Molly and Richard remain focused on providing their customers with the best experience possible, they plan to shake things up a bit. Look for changes inside and out. The patio and the dining rooms will get a refresh, and they plan to turn the waiting area into a place where you can enjoy a glass of wine, perhaps a wine cocktail, and small plates of shareable dishes such as pickled icebox shrimp or lamb in a tzatziki sauce.
Instead of closing in the middle of the day, there will be continuous service for those who might want a late lunch or early dinner.
What won’t change? Molly’s collaboration with farmers and growers, some of whom still knock on the kitchen door at Ellerbe to show her organic mushrooms or other produce. The maque choux, the dish that put the place on the national map, will stay. So will the bread from La Brea Bakery.
Molly and Richard both contribute their time and skills to charity, especially the annual March of Dimes Signature Chefs event.
“We are so proud of Fort Worth and our customers for being adventurous when it comes to food,” says Molly. Richard adds: “They also help drive our vision. We think they’ll like what we’re doing next.”
Ellerbe Fine Foods 1501 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth, 817-926-3663, ellerbefinefoods.com
Anne Jones, Latte Da Dairy
Goat farmer, cheesemaker
We met Anne, husband Johnny and seven goats 10 years ago at their home/dairy farm on 5 acres in Flower Mound. Today, much is the same. We hear the bleating of 3-day-old LaManchas and Nubians, the breeds they favor. The big furry dogs that live with the goats to protect them from predators greet us with wagging tails but also keep a close eye on our intentions.
But there definitely is more of everything, from guard dogs to chickens to guinea hens to goats. “We have about 40 goats now,” Anne says as she carefully shaves the hindquarters of a pregnant mama. “More goats mean more milk, which means more cheese.”
And it means more equipment: She has a 60-gallon tank and now can milk multiple goats at a time. Anne has tripled production of her chevre and feta and has added a small selection of hard cheeses, which require eight weeks to age. She uses a walk-in cooler as her cheese cave. “It replaced the hot tub. We never had time for that anyway.”
After opening her business in 2007, she became a Fort Worth and Southlake Central Market vendor soon after. Today, Latte Da products are available in six Central Markets. She supplies more restaurants, mainly in Dallas, along with Jon Bonnell and Café Modern, longtime Fort Worth supporters.
While having a distributor would reduce time spent on deliveries, Anne appreciates the personal relationship she has with cheesemongers and chefs. “They’ll text me and let me know what they want, what’s selling well.” She also credits the popularity of cheese boards for giving her a bump in sales.
Cleanliness and food safety are job one, along with pampering her mama goats. Anne still knows all their names, and retired goats that no longer make milk enjoy a coddled life that includes animal cracker treats.
Some things haven’t changed, however. Anne still struggles to find good help, although she now can count on Sue Hanley to help man the Cowtown Farmers Market for most Saturday mornings. Sue is a retired Grapevine police officer (as is Anne’s husband) who learned how to make cheese. “I have to smile at the number of people who tell me they’ve always wanted to be a goat farmer,” Anne says with a smile.
While cuddling baby goats is a thrill, the work is hard and nonstop. The 61-year-old stays in shape by walking the property and doing regular farm chores. She knows that getting up in the middle of the night when it’s 19 degrees outside is a necessity, not an option, when babies are being born. And she’s still thrilled to win ribbons at livestock shows and talk about her champion goats.
“I’m fortunate that people are still interested in how food is made or why feta tastes different in the summer than the winter. For me, it has never been a hobby. It’s always been a passion.”
Latte Da Dairy Find Latte Da products at Central Market stores or the Cowtown Farmers Market, cowtownmarket.com, in Fort Worth. Events The spring open house is May 12; check LDD’s Facebook page or lattedadairy.com for more information.
Hey, Lou. What’s cooking?
Lou’s achiote-seared chickpeas was the inaugural What A Dish feature in our maiden issue. A vegetarian dish from a guy who grew up on a West Texas ranch? Why not? While he closed Fort Worth’s Lambert’s Steaks Seafood and Whiskey in 2012, the original in Austin is still going strong. And, yes, the chickpeas remain on the menu there.
The question we hear again and again is when will Lou Lambert open another Fort Worth restaurant? Never, he replies. His Dutch’s Hamburgers, opened in 2007 across from TCU, is doing quite nicely, and he’s got a lot on his plate elsewhere. His partnerships with Austin-based Bunkhouse Group — belonging to his sister, hotelier Liz Lambert — and McGuire Moorman Hospitality keep him happily and fully occupied.
“Through Bunkhouse, I’m working on figuring out the right food and beverage concepts for the hotels. I work with architects on kitchen design, do the menu development and work on staffing and uniforms. It’s like I’m opening my own restaurant, but it’s in a hotel, and I don’t run it day to day.” He likes being involved on a corporate level with properties such as the Hotel San Cristóbal in Baja California’s Todos Santos and the forthcoming Magdalena in Austin.
Meanwhile, he’s still a partner at Lamberts Downtown Barbecue in Austin and has recently opened Lou’s Bodega, a former tire store in east Austin made over into a casual eatery. As it’s another MMH entity, he has roles as part owner and operator. “It’s by design that I pick and choose what I’m involved with, and I get to actually bust out pots and pans in catering gigs for the two companies.”
He looks forward to a new project coming up in New Orleans and to creating with his sister a family beach compound near the surf break in the town of El Pescadero, close to Todos Santos. Two properties, renovated with the help of Austin and Cabo San Lucas architects, will sleep 35 and, when the Lamberts are not in residence, be available via airbnb.com.
Too, he’s a hands-on investor in the forthcoming Flores Barbecue set to open next year at the Edwards Ranch Clearfork Trailhead in Fort Worth. Meanwhile, Lou and James Smith continue to enjoy the home they built on the Trinity River in Fort Worth (featured in our September 2017 issue), where he recharges his batteries, entertains family and friends and occasionally does a TV gig, such as a smoked meats special on the Cooking Channel, due out later this year.