From the comfort of her state-certified home bake shop, Black Tie Bakery owner Paulette Black uses her 25 years of cake-crafting experience to sculpt custom creations and other tempting treats. Her signature cake truffles––which carry the title of “Best Palette Pleaser” from Taste of Cleburne––are bite-sized orbs of some of her most popular cake flavors, including white chocolate, chocolate, and spice, and customers are welcome to choose up to three different flavors to mix and match into each dozen. Each tooth-teasing treat will be handcrafted, dipped in chocolate, and decorated to suit the needs of any event—be it a bridal shower, baby shower, or bathroom shower—and the dainty desserts can be ready for pick-up or delivery within 48 hours of ordering.
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Gene Estes suspects that growing up in the 'dry' precinct of Abilene, Texas may have inspired his alcohol-based ingenuity; he crafted his first batch of wine from Concord grape juice when he was just 23. Years later, after holding various pharmaceutical jobs and putting to use his Masters in Microbiology, Estes' interest in wine re-emerged with a full and passionate force. Today, as the president and vintner of Lost Oak Winery, Gene works alongside resident winemaker Jim Evans to craft a host of award-winning wines. Among them is the 2012 Viognier, which scored a double gold in the renowned San Francisco Chronicle International Wine competition?meaning all five judges awarded the varietal with top scores before gilding the bottle twice in molten gold.
The winery itself offers both guided and self-guided tours, offering visitors a glimpse into the wine-making process complete with samples straight from oak barrels. Additionally, special events draw guests to the lush grounds for live music, wine club events, and the pre-Christmas holiday open house, where they can place preemptive wine orders with Santa.
Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
For the majority of the '70s, according to local folklore, bassist Ferocious Ambush toured America with his southern rock band, Country Thunder. In 1978, he hung up his bass in pursuit of a more "honest living." He shied away from the public eye until 1980, when he kicked off a North Texan tour with the Ferocious Ambush Chili Cookers. Instead of music, however, the Chili Cookers served up hearty bowls of red during regional and international cook-offs, winning over the crowds as much for their simmering spices as their singing and dancing.
Twenty-four years later, the Chili Cookers found a permanent home for their two loves—music and good food—when they opened Ambush Grill and Bar. Their chefs marry old-fashioned southern eats with southwestern and Mexican flavors, serving up a hearty menu that keeps the Chili Cooker's legendary recipes alive. The famous chili flows into bowls, over burgers, and beneath corn chips in chili pie. A Li'l Pardner's menu is also available to fill kid-sized stomachs and lonesome thimbles with smaller portions of pub fare.