Pot Luck

The Capital Bar & Grill’s Arturo Solis is a classically French-trained chef with Spanish roots who was born and raised in Miami—but the man can cook some greens. When we asked him to dream up a black-eyed pea recipe to help us usher in 2016, he offered up a Spanish take on a Southern tradition:…

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Good Tasting

Gluten-free Christmas Cookies Dempsey Bakery, Little Rock Cute as all get out, delicious enough for Saint Nick and … gluten-free? You bet, because everything at Dempsey Bakery in Little Rock is baked with love and without wheat. Or soy. Or nuts. (Just try to make sure you leave enough for the old man.) (323 S.…

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Cold Season

The winter after I moved to Chicago, my parents visited exactly once. They came for a weekend in December 2010, and my mother still swears her eyeballs froze in the wind on a walk to get coffee. She didn’t come back until summer. And who could blame her? The cold in Chicago is a special kind…

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The Lay of the Land

“BRING A PAIR OF BOOTS—AND MAYBE A PISTOL.” That’s how Charles Gairhan ends our first phone call. We’re meeting up out in the Delta at his hunting club, Cocoa Slough, and I spend the whole drive along Interstate 40 to Palestine wondering if he was kidding. I am, after all, only writing a story about wetland…

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Cutie Pies

YOU COULD LOOK AT IT TWO WAYS, REALLY. If it’s the best pie you’ve ever eaten—and chances are, if it’s a Gooseberry Handmade Pies creation, it might just be—having eight slices of pumpkiny heaven in front of you is probably not the worst thing in the world. Especially if you don’t need to share. But…

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Fair Game

According to family lore, my great-grandmother Ward won so many first-prize ribbons at the Cleburne County Fair that fair officials finally gave her a lifetime achievement award so she would stop entering and let someone else have a chance, for crying out loud.This did not go over well. My mother says she remembers clearly the day…

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Raising the Curtain

[maxgallery name=”nutcracker”] “Are you beautiful?” asks Laura Hood Babcock, her voice muffled by the food she’s chewing. She has just entered the Ballet Arkansas costume room, clad in black yoga pants and top, her blonde hair pulled back in a tight bun, a couple of wisps escaping around her ears. Laura, the company’s ballet mistress and…

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Ciao Baci

Little Rock is not a town of tasting menus. Maybe it’s a control thing. With a penchant for big portions and, let’s face it, a collective palate that can lean toward one-note Southern flavors, it’s hard for an average diner to put his dinner fate in the hands of the chef behind the curtain. But you…

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Here comes Santa … Pete?

“GOD GAVE ME THIS,” says Stacy Peters, aka Santa Pete, cupping his bushy white beard with his hand. “And these,” he says, pinching his ruddy cheeks and shuffling in his leather rocking chair. “Those things are kinda Santa-like.” Even now, clad in just a bright red sweater and black trousers, a pair of gold wire-rimmed glasses…

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Arkansas Sketchbook

THERE ARE A GREAT MANY THINGS COME TOGETHER, and it’s all about balance. Panning from one image to the next on her computer while sitting outside a Starbucks in Little Rock’s the Heights, there are what seem to be hundreds and thousands of files of fragmented images—some whole, others deconstructed and broken down into their…

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TOMMY NORMAN NORTH LITTLE ROCK POLICE OFFICER It’s 9 a.m. on a scheduled day off for Tommy Norman, and he’s rummaging through his work mailbox. The envelope on top has a postmark from Kentucky. And although it says “Officer Norman” on the address line, by feel, he can tell it’s not meant for him. “It’s…

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