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Go Out to Eat…Just for Dessert!

By Jodie Meyer

We’ve all had the conversation — “Where shall we eat?” When talking with family or coworkers, it seems we hardly ever talk about dessert. Dessert often doesn’t get ordered, because we’re either full or counting calories.

With this in mind, I went all over Tyler and even to Chandler to find locally owned eateries — and some super yummy desserts. And I kept in mind those five magic words foodies crave to hear, ‘made from scratch, in-house!’

I started the journey at Jakes in downtown Tyler. Chef Andrew Jennings chose Chocolate Cheesecake for me to try. This was chocolate on steroids, super rich with a cookie crust (not the typical graham cracker crust that is associated with cheesecake). I had a bite to eat beforehand, so I had to have two friends help me eat it. I was impressed with both the taste and the portion size.

I tried a new restaurant Graciella’s (located where Josephs’ Catering used to be). Thomas, an employee there, said I had to have the Strawberries and Cream. It sounds too simple, but as it turns out that’s the beauty of it. It was simple, clean and not heavy at all. We’re talking only five ingredients to create one bowl of yum: strawberries (super juicy ones), three types of cream and sugar.

Next I went to Chandler to try another new restaurant that’s making a name for itself — Wade’s Place. They had two cakes to choose from, both made fresh that day: chocolate and Italian cream, I got the latter, because it wasn’t even 12:30pm on a Saturday and the cake was half gone. It was untouched when I first got there to eat lunch! But as I sat and watched (with increasing nervousness), people started taking slice after slice. Luckily there was some left for me. It was light and airy. As for the heavenly texture, I could feel a slight grit of sugar grain in the frosting (which I love) and the coconut was toasted to perfection.

Back in Tyler, I hit Sonoma Grill for a French classic, creme brulee, a dessert this restaurant should be famous for. The creme is luscious and just the right sweetness with the brilliant taste that is egg yolk (thank you, chickens). On top is the brulee. I have made this and I know this part is tough to execute — but they do it perfectly every time. It is a shell of caramelized sugar and you can hear the ‘crack’ as you break into it with your spoon.

Yamato has one of my favorite things in the world of desserts: fried ice cream! There are a few options, but the one standout is the green tea fried ice cream. It is both hot and cold, plus smooth and crunchy. And the flavor of the green tea to me is unique for ice cream. When it comes to the table, you see green and beige from the ball of ice cream they cut into four wedges. It is garnished with chocolate sauce and grenadine. In one word, beautiful. A really delicious treat.

Another new-to-Tyler eatery is Chris and Sam’s Grill and Tavern. It’s located in The Market shopping center just south of FRESH on Old Jacksonville Highway. They have a chocolate soufflé, and to my knowledge, they’re the only restaurant in Tyler that does. It was warm and satisfying on a rainy cold day — I would go back just for this.

A classic southern dessert I love is bread pudding. At Fat Catz Louisiana Kitchen, you’ll find a Bourbon Street Bread Pudding. It comes with a praline and bourbon sauce. It’s so gooey — in all the right ways! In my opinion, it’s one of (if not the) best bread pudding in Tyler. It makes you want to lick the sauce right off the plate – was anyone watching when I did? A specialty of the house is the Banana Foster which is prepared fresh with each order. Chef Cedric Fletcher promises his is the best around and honestly, I have to agree. Be prepared though, it takes a bit to make, so settle in for a drink or coffee and get ready to savor this caramel and banana heaven on earth

To end the dessert hop of 2014 I went back to where it began — Rick’s on the Square. Rick Elife has a dessert that his place is famous for, the one and only GiGi’s Banana Pudding. Everyone who has had it swears by it, including me. This is their signature dessert — creamy, with the perfect amount of banana. The ‘nilla wafers set it off and gives it great texture. It has been on the menu for years, and it’s still made by GiGi herself.

I highly recommend each of the delicious desserts, as well as the restaurants themselves — the old and the new, the near and the far.

I know dessert is often the forgotten step-child of the meal when dining out. But why should it be? Because we get full? Because we are counting calories? I have a solution. Go out to eat just for dessert! Share with a friend if you’re watching your figure. Why deny yourself, when there’s a foodie paradise out there?

And if you have a dessert that you would like me to try, contact me at I am positive that I could be convinced to dive into your creations and write up some heavenly comments. Its a tough job that I have here!

Around East Texas

Festival of Fruit: 34th Annual Tomato Fest Saturday, June 9th

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34th Annual Tomato Fest Saturday, June 9th

Welcome to Jacksonville – home of the best tasting fruit – tomatoes!

Local farmers are busy getting ready for the upcoming 34th Annual Tomato Fest in Jacksonville, Texas by planting acres of the best tastin’ tomatoes. Join the celebration Saturday, June 9th in downtown Jacksonville for a BIG day of activities that will be happening all day long. Over 200+ vendors and all kinds of festival food, including the famous fried green tomatoes, Farmers Market, $500 Got Talent Contest, Car Show, Motorcycle Show, Tennis Tournament, Soccer Tournament, Softball Tournament, Entertainment, Kidz Zone, and so much more will cover 5 blocks downtown. Tomato events include Salsa Contest, Tomato Eating and Peeling Contest, Tomato Archery, Tomato Shoot, Best Home Grown Tomato Contest, Tomato Packing Contest and tour the Tomato Shed. Saturday evening, Chili’s Street Dance will take place featuring Brian Chance Band and Lady Chazz and the Tramps. 

Activities kick off on Saturday, June 2nd with a 5k run sponsored by All Smiles. Monday, June 4th and Tuesday, June 5th is Family First Clinic’s corporate challenge Dodgeball Tournament. On Wednesday, June 6th, a Gospel Concert sponsored by Whataburger featuring, The Group, will perform at Central Baptist Church. New this year on Thursday, June 8th  is the Farm to Table dinner event that will take place at Castle on the Lake on beautiful Lake Jacksonville and will be catered by Rob Gowin, Sadler’s Kitchen & Catering. A 4 Man Scramble takes place at the Cherokee Ranch Golf Club on Friday, June 8th. The final Tomato Fest week celebration ends at Lake Jacksonville with a Ski Show on Sunday, June 10th.

Taste for yourself the best tomatoes and fun festival packed with lots to do for everyone.  For additional information, contact Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce at (903)586-2217, or go to or


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East Texans Learn to “Live Healthy”


This Month at Integrative Health Matters:

Integrative Health Matters offers a healthy alternative to losing weight.

“Food is the real medicine. Through our innovative, hands-on programs, we aim to inspire healthy change through education. Diseases, chronic conditions, inflammation, and immune system disorders are often attributed to diet. Food is the medicine that can fix the problem. Integrative Health Matters is lifestyle medicine. It’s not about drugs and doctor’s appointments. It’s about how to eat right, how to think right, and to understand all the things we have to do to stay healthy,” said neurosurgeon Guy Danielson, medical director and founder of Integrative Health Matters. “This is root cause (medicine), not covering up symptoms with something from the pharmacy. The pharmacy is out in the garden.”

The public has opportunities to visit Integrative Health Matters at any of these classes:

  • Every Wednesday (12:15-1:15pm) – Mindful Movements ; (5:15-6:15pm) – “Just Breathe” Meditation
  • May 4th (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Detoxing
  • May 8th (6-7:30pm) – Kitchen Talk: Tabbouleh with Karol
  • May 11th (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Eating Seasonally
  • May 21st (6-7:30pm) – The Good News About Type 2 Diabetes
  • May 22nd (6-7:30pm) – Kitchen Talk: Raising Healthy Eaters
  • May 25th (10-11am) – Functional Food Friday: Eating Healthy on a Budget

Cooking classes offered twice monthly are in-depth health and cooking presentations. These “Kitchen Talks” invite the public into the IHM instructional kitchen to learn to cook tasty and nutritious meals and create a healthy home environment.

Integrative Health Matters is located at 419 WSW Loop 323 #400 in Tyler, next to La Madeleine. For information about Integrative Health Matters, contact (903)595-8077 or visit

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Around East Texas

Pure Bliss at M6 Winery


M6 Winery:

Celebrating Life & Good Things

Written and Photographed by Barbara Greenbauer

Take some time to wind down, breathe, and enjoy a superb glass of wine at M6 Winery & Tasting Room and Gift Shop in downtown Bullard. Owners Joe and Anne Moody set the pace as the charming and affable owners who greet you at the door and welcome you inside.

The atmosphere is palatable the minute you arrive, inside the front door is a Texas trove of hand-made one of a kind wood pieces that can either house your own wine collection or accent it. Move along into the inner room and you will feel right at home as you order wine, food, and listen to live music.

Joe Moody is in his element and passionate about his foray into the wine business. Relying on his business background and his interest in the wine-making industry, he has developed an inventory of his own, a grand selection of whites and reds that will be taste bud treats to either the wine connoisseur or novice.

“Wine is about celebrating life and the good things,” explains Moody. “Anne and I have traveled from California to Italy and experienced multitudes of vineyards and tasting rooms.  We were ready to bring all of our experiences to East Texas.” M6 derives its name from the Moody’s family of six, including the four grown children who were a piece of the business from its infancy. M6 Winery & Tasting Room is nestled on a corner of downtown Bullard, a piece of property Joe Moody has owned for over 20 years that has served as his office for both an oil/gas and real estate business over the years.

“Creating a good wine is an act of love and patience,” explains Moody. “Grapes cannot be rushed and in the process, you have to be aware of what you are looking for in a flavor profile. It takes a lot of planning and preparation; blending is like art with different aromas, colors, and flavors.”

The tasting room is an experience in itself, from the beautiful front and center bar fashioned from the ribs of wine barrels to the tin roof and rough cedar ceiling accents. Choose your wine and sit back while local musicians entertain.

There’s another great space outside that the Moody’s affectionately call The Vinery, a vine-covered patio with plenty of room and great furniture to sit on while you  enjoy the Texas weather.

Your palette will applaud you when you sample an M6 original wine. White wines include the Blue Norther, an aromatic semi-sweet Riesling with hints of apples and stone fruit. The Bluebonnet is an off-dry white blend, perfect for poultry, fish, and pasta dishes. Or try the Sweet TexAnne, named for Mrs. Moody, with sweet honeysuckle and strawberry overtones. This wine is perfect for summer salads and cheeses and is sweet enough to serve as a light dessert wine.

The Texas Viognier is an unoaked, medium to full-bodied dry wine, with notes of pears, honeysuckle, and tangerine. It pairs well with roasted poultry, orange chicken, seafood, apricots, fennel, capers, or pumpkin.

M6’s Rosé wines include the Blushing Texan, a semi-sweet Rosé wine blend with a light pink color. The appropriately monikered Tyler Rosé is a dry blend with a touch of High Plains Zinfandel. This blend was created especially for our local Tyler market and its famous association with roses.

If red is more your thing, there are lots to choose from. Friendship Red is made with the hearty Ruby Cabernet grape. It is a great compliment to all things pasta, as it goes great with all sauces, from marinara to Alfredo.

The Moodys very first Signature Blend is Vintner’s Touch, a bold red blend that pairs well with roasted meats. This blend is made from grapes grown both in Texas and California.

Red Texana is great with Texas BBQ or Tex-Mex dishes. It is full-bodied and made from the Ruby Cabernet grape. It has a spicy finish.

Feel free to pair your wine with meat, cheese, or combo plates, olive oil with bread and spices, or a slider plate. Paired flights include a chocolate or cheese, and of course, you can do a Tasting Flight of five different wines and keep the signature M6 tasting glass. M6 wines range from an affordable $18 to $28 a bottle.

Be part of the family and join the M6 Wine Club to experience the best of their offerings with five special wine shipments annually. When it’s time to get your selections, M6 offers a complimentary glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres to members at pickup parties.

M6 can host your private party and create personalized wine labels to commemorate any event from birthdays to anniversaries.

Joe has nothing but compliments for the wine-growing community in East Texas, saying “We are all very supportive of each other and share resources and information.”

Mark your calendars for the Piney Woods Wine Festival, running May 11th-12th and join M6 and the other 18 wineries on the trail for a spectacular weekend of music, art, and of course, lots of wine to taste.

Lauren and Bobby Grounds from Tyler wanted a new destination and searched the internet for wine and live music and found M6. “We love this venue,” said Lauren. “It’s very different and fun, and the wine is fantastic.” They were trying the Blue Norther and the Blushing Texan with a cheese plate and Billy said “We will definitely be back. We like the atmosphere here.  It’s very welcoming.”

Joe is thrilled that M6 wines are featured at favorite Tyler restaurants, including Rotolo’s, Dakotas, and the Grove. “Mention that you would like to try an M6 wine and you won’t be disappointed,” he said.

The Moodys welcome you to experience M6 Winery & Tasting Room. “We want everyone who visits us to feel like they are our honored guest,” said Joe Moody.

M6 is open Saturdays from 1-6:30pm and is located at 201 W. Main St., Bullard. They can be reached at (903)360-0369, by email at, or on Facebook at M6Winery.

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