Sweet Gourmet

My go-to place to shop when I want to find a unique gift for a colleague or friend is Sweet Gourmet. They carry the best specialty food items around, have excellent customer service, and in many instances have made my job much, much easier.

When I needed to provide 10 gift baskets for the Saudi royal family Sweet Gourmet pulled out all the stops and arranged 10 of the most impressive spreads I’ve ever laid eyes on. When President Bush came to town it was a no-brainer to have Sweet Gourmet fix him up with an assortment of Tyler’s finest snacks which I later saw his staff carry to his car. I imagine he enjoyed some Firecrackers on his way to the Cowan Center where he was delivering his speech.

My favorites items to get at Sweet Gourmet are Lammes Longhorns, Texas Firecrackers, D.L. Jardine’s Salsas, and anything Godiva. I would recommend Sweet Gourmet to anyone and will continue to utilize their services as often as I possibly can.

hours: Mon – Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12:30pm-5pm

Sweet Gourmet
4554 South Broadway Avenue
Tyler, TX 75703-1305
(903) 534-0840

32nd Annual Mistletoe & Magic

mistletoeandmagicUnwrap the Magic

The Junior League of Tyler’s annual Mistletoe & Magic holiday fundraiser brings holiday cheer, unique shopping, and the spirit of community service to Tyler each November, and this year’s event was no exception.

The event takes place at Harvey Hall which completely transforms into a holiday themed shopping wonderland.   Anyone familiar with Harvey Hall knows what a challenge it can be to make the venue look decent, much less good, but during Mistletoe & Magic the event is undeniably and unexpectedly beautiful.   Obviously, this is no easy task and the credit goes to the many Junior League members who donate their time and money to the cause, putting hundreds of hours into the half-week long event, making sure no detail is overlooked.

Mistletoe & MagicEach year Mistletoe & Magic begins with the Preview Party, where admission gets you access to view the vendors’ merchandise before doors open to the public, along with unlimited food, drinks, and front row seats to some of the best people watching Tyler has to offer.  After the Preview Party, it’s open range and every man (or woman) for himself as people scramble to purchase everything from jewelry to toffee to home decor to childrens’ toys.   I like to think of Mistletoe & Magic as high-end Canton.  Amidst all the shopping, there was a fashion show, pajama party breakfast, and a raffle drawing for a Rolex watch and a Volkswagen Bug.

Mistletoe & MagicMistletoe & Magic 2010 is over and done, but I am already looking forward to next year.  The event truly is one of Tyler’s finest, put on by amazing people for a wonderful cause.  I better see everyone there come M&M 2011!

Harvey Convention Center
2000 West Front Street
Tyler, TX 75702-6854
(903) 531-1349

Windhorse Yoga Studio

Windhorse Yoga StudioMy friend, Emily Mariani, fitness guru, personal trainer, unrelenting boot camp drill sergeant, and on top of all the she’s even a yoga instructor, recently turned me on to the wonderful world of yoga and the improvements in my mind, body, and entire outlook have been dramatic. Since she began teaching me yoga I have hardly missed a class, and have found the practice to be a perfect compliment to my fitness routine.

The yoga studio Emily teaches at is Windhorse which is located on 9th St. behind Steinmart. It is the quintessential yoga studio, complete with zen, soothing colors, flowing curtains, statues of figurines in yoga poses I will likely never achieve, and yoga mood lighting including recessed, track, candles, and a few cute, quirky lamps.

Windhorse offers a full schedule of classes for all different levels, from beginners to hard core yogis. I attend the sunrise yoga which I have found to be the perfect way to start my day. However there are afternoon, evening, and weekend classes available. The full schedule is available on their website at www.windhorseyogastudio.com. Anyone considering getting into yoga or any experienced yogis out there looking for a new class or change of venue, I urge you too try out Windhorse. You will not regret it!

Windhorse Yoga Studio
208 West 9th Street
Tyler, TX 75701-4100
(903) 592-9642

TCBY The Country’s Best Yogurt

Smashburger’s newest location on South Broadway in Tyler next to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel has confirmed an opening date of December 15th!   The new restaurant will be the first in it’s building to open, soon to be followed by a new Wingstop and Subway.

The most recently confirmed tenant is TCBY Yogurt shop which is expected to open it’s doors early 2011.  The TCBY brand has been working hard to revamp their image, and my understanding is that we can expect a cool, modern, self-serve, atmosphere with the same great tasting, high quality frozen yogurt TCBY is known for, but hopefully with more flavor and topping options.   I can’t wait to see how this exciting new project unfolds!


Julian’s Asian Diner

Julian'sStepping in to Julian’s in the Time Square shopping center is like stepping out of Tyler and into a hip, big-city bistro. The eatery’s new owners pulled out the big guns to maximize not only the limited square footage, but they infinitely up’d the cool factor by utilizing cutting edge, modern furniture, eye catching art, and anything but traditional LCD projected wall displays.

The cocktail menu offers a great selection of specialty cocktails, wine, and beer, and the dinner menu features Julian’s favorites like the Spicy Chicken and the Cune Special. One thing I would love to see at Julian’s is more seafood! Some rotating dinner specials featuring fresh seafood would push Julian’s up to one of my top-Tyler restaurant picks instead of top pick for pre or post dinner drinks like it is now.
If for no other reason than to ogle the fantastic decor, Julian’s is a must for anyone in the mood for good food, great drinks, and awesome atmosphere.

Julian's Asian DinerJulian’s Asian Diner
5201 S Broadway Ave # 122
Tyler, TX 75703-3769
(903) 509-8833


Kung Pao Asian Diner

Kung Pao Asian DinerWhen I heard the announcement on the radio that the Kung Pao Asian Bistro restaurant on Old Jacksonville was open for business I didn’t hesitate to try it and ate lunch there that day. I pulled up to the restaurant just after noon and was a bit surprised to see there was no crowd to speak of despite Tyler’s love affair with new restaurants. Chalking it up to a lackluster advertising effort, I proceeded inside to see the goods.

The dining room is spacious and modern. You order in the back, take a seat, then the waitstaff delivers your food when it’s ready. Kung Pao serves a variety of Asian dishes from Thai noodle bowls to Korean spare ribs. I ordered the Basa bowl with steamed rice and my sister ordered the Kung Pao fried rice with chicken. I visited in the middle of a work day, but I mentally noted the stocked beer refrigerators for next time.

Our food arrived quickly and was steaming hot as the server set it on the table. My fish was good though much heavier than I expected as it was fried. I would have known this though had a read the menu instead of just glancing over the order board which lists titles only, no descriptions. The fried rice was a good, safe choice, nothing out of the ordinary, but good nonetheless.

The best thing about Kung Pao is the delivery service. Tyler restauranteurs… Follow their lead!  Tylerites like delivery!  Overall, Kung Pao is a good choice for a quick, hot lunch. Want it ever more quickly? Have it delivered!

Kung Pao Asian Diner
6163 Old Jacksonville Hwy
Tyler, TX 75703

Kung Pao menu

Mix 93.1 KTYL

Five for FightingWhat a week I’ve had!  Shaping up at Emily’s Baby Bootcamp, winding down with some amazing yoga at Windhorse, a fantastic dinner of fresh off the hook seared tuna at Bernard’s, spending time with Saudi Arabian royalty, meeting PRESIDENT BUSH (very nice guy!), and last but not least, attending an intimate, VIP acoustic performance by John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting hosted by the wonderful people at Townsquare media and Mix 93.1, my favorite radio station.   The people who say there’s nothing to do in Tyler need to hang out with me for a few days!

Mix 93.1 KTYL
3810 Brookside Dr.
Tyler, TX, 75701
(903) 581-0606

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches

Jimmy John'sJimmy John’s sandwich shop opened for business!   Jimmy John’s serves a variety of traditional and specialty sandwiches on deliciously soft, chewy, crave-worthy homemade French bread or thick sliced 7 grain wheat.  My favorite (well, and the only one of their sandwiches I have ever actually had) is the veggie sandwich which they load with provolone cheese, avocado spread, sprouts, tomato, cucumber and mayo.   I am not a vegetarian, but this sandwich leaves nothing to be desired in the protein department.

Despite my love for the Vegetarian sub, I think next time I visit I am going to try something different.  The Jimmy John’s B.L.T. sounds pretty good as does the Beach Club which appears to be about the same as the Vegetarian only with turkey.

Perhaps the best thing about Jimmy John’s is their delivery policy…  whether you order one sandwich or one dozen, they will deliver!   Tyler desperately needs more restaurants with such liberal delivery policies as this, so thank you Jimmy John’s for helping to fill that void.

Jimmy John’s is located on Troup Hwy, right next to Smoothie King in the Green Acres shopping center.

Jimmy John’s
1647 Troup Hwy Suite 100
Tyler, TX 75701
(903) 617-6878

Brookshire’s Firefighter Combat Challenge

Scott Firefighter Combat ChallengeLadies and gentlemen (but especially ladies), get ready to witness greatness at the Brookshire’s Firefighter Combat Challenge beginning next Friday, September 24th! The activities begin at 5:00PM and last throughout the weekend as firefighters compete to win one of three coveted spots per category. The first category is made of first time challenge competitors and the second category consists of volunteer firefighters only. The challenge travels around the country each year. For 2010, the event has already made stops in Charleston, Tuscon, and Vail.

The Brookshire’s Firefighter Combat Challenge, also known as the SCOTT Firefighter Combat Challenge, has been around for years, the last twelve of which have been televised on ESPN then Versus. Hundreds of fire departments from all over the United States and Canada compete each year at the events’ 25 nation-wide stops. The event continues to generate more and more international attention, and recently has announced plans to add several Challenge tour stops around the globe, including stops in Germany, Chile, and New Zealand.

The purpose of the Firefighters Combat Challenge, aside from the fun of a good physical competition, is to raise public awareness of the physical demands firefighters must be prepared to handle as a part of their day-to-day job duties. The challenge courses are to be completed wearing full fire-fighting gear, including a SCOTT Air-Pak breathing apparatus, which I assume has something to do with SCOTT being the main national sponsor for the event, not to mention its namesake. Wearing the full gear and SCOTT masks, the competitors race through an obstackle course which includes chopping, pulling hoses, climbing a five story wall, and even rescuing a 175 pound dummy victim.

This year, the Brookshire’s Firefighter Combat Challenge course will be set up on the south side of the Broadway Square Mall parking lot. There will be fun for the whole family, so come on out and support these competitors. At the Challenge they’ll be racing against the clock to win the competition, but you never know if one day they’ll be racing against the clock to save your life.

IN Magazine

IN MagazineSubscribers of the Tyler Morning Telegraph received the new issue of IN Magazine Saturday morning. IN Magazine, a bimonthly lifestyle publication, focuses on the people and events going on all around Tyler.

The magazine has featured articles on style, healthy living, home building and decorating, food, and more.  Their latest issue, which hit stands on Saturday, has a piece on the upcoming Tyler Rose marathon and the Rose Festival.

Operating under the same roof as the Tyler Morning Telegraph, IN Magazine has access to the city’s most talented writers and photographers.  Think of it as a newspaper but cooler.  Maybe the news isn’t quite as relevant as the news reported in the traditional paper, but the traditional paper doesn’t have the big, pretty, glossy photos that IN Magazine has.

You should definitely read IN Magazine if you do not already.  It can be found at racks all over Tyler. I hear the new issue  features a blurb on food bloggers…  I am definitely looking forward to reading that!

Unk’s Shrimp Shack

Unk's Shrimp ShackIt’s not unusual for us to make a last minute trip down the road to Unk’s Shrimp Shack when nobody feels like cooking.

Unk’s Shrimp Shack is, obviously, a seafood restaurant.  Family owned and operated, the restaurant has been serving area residents and guests at The Villages resort for years.  Though the grilled shrimp and steamed broccoli is good, nobody should ever go to Unk’s and not order the Seafood Platter which, even in the Seafood Platter for One size, is enough fried food to feed a family of six.  Piled high with french fries, fried clam strips, fried catfish filet, fried oysters, stuffed crab, hush puppies, and boiled shrimp, the Seafood Platter is unbeatable when you’ve got a craving for anything fried.  I also love the condiment station stocked with homemade green tomato relish, cocktail, remoulade, and tarter sauces, and there’s even a tub of pure, nose burning horseradish which I love to eat on saltine crackers with a bit of the tomato relish.

The one downside of Unk’s, is the price.   Me and my husband always get the Seafood Platter for One and an order of grilled shrimp, and it really adds up quick.  However, the food is delicious, and you couldn’t ask for nicer people than the folks over at Unk’s to buy dinner from.  Also, they do serve beer at Unk’s, which is a plus in my book,  but also usually ends up being another wallet drainer if we are dining in.

Unk’s Shrimp Shack is located on the corner of Big Eddy Road and 2661 in Noonday, just outside of the Villages Resort on Lake Palestine.  They have seasonal hours and are not open every day, so I strongly suggest calling first before heading out that way to ensure they’re going to be open.  Also, another word of advice… the guys in the kitchen might throw some extras on your Seafood Platter if you buy them a beer, so be sure to keep that in mind!

Unk’s Shrimp Shack
16760 County Road 1261
Flint, TX 75762-9182
(903) 939-2323