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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship...

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 10:49 AM

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There have been some truly brilliant partnerships throughout history…Lennon and McCartney, Batman and Robin, Ben and Jerry. For me, it’s always pleasing to see chefs, bakers, and culinary craftsmen partnering up to produce beautiful products. It’s this sense of camaraderie and cooperation that fosters progress in our local culinary scene. It always excites me to see young, creative minds finding new ways to support local food by sharing ideas and products with each other. Recently, we reported the new goings on at the lovely kitchen at White Water Tavern. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in this town not enthusiastic and entirely pleased about what’s coming out of Jonathan Wilkins’ kitchen. Previously, we mentioned the mild-melting collaboration between White Water and the fabulous Loblolly Creamy, which in my opinion happens to serve the finest ice cream in Little Rock, and perhaps in the known universe. This was a partnership destined for greatness from the moment of its inception. This past weekend, Loblolly began serving up paninis prepared in conjunction with the kitchen at White Water. Like a moth to bright lights, it was too tantalizing an offer for me to stay away.

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The creamery will be getting in a handful of sandwiches multiple times throughout the week, assembled with love by the folks at White Water, incorporating breads baked up by Rachel Boswell, the pastry/baking guru at Loblolly. This weekend’s offering was a spin on White Water’s beloved “matteo blanco.” The sandwich starts with Loblolly’s thick-cut cornbread which forms the foundation for all internal components. The cornbread lends itself well to the panini press; after a six minute stay between the hot iron, the exterior becomes browned and crispy, while the interior of the thick cornbread slice is smooth and soft, almost creamy. The cornbread first gets slathered in roasted garlic mayo, a delicious rich, herbaceous spread that really deserves to be bottled and sold in stores. Next, a trio of cheeses provide a wealth of contrasting flavors and textures—raw milk yellow cheddar, raw milk jalapeño white cheddar, and herbed cream cheese are generously stuffed between the thick slices of cornbread. Luckily, they are generous with the cheeses, else the heavy breading would overwhelm the sandwich—as it is, you get large gobs of stringy, fatty cheese with each bite. It’s a sophisticated grilled cheese…a far cry from the Wonderbread/Kraft singles creations you may have grown up with.

What a joy to be able to begin your lunch at Loblolly with a savory sandwich before pounding three scoops of exquisite ice cream. Paninis will change weekly, so you’re not likely to get bored with frequent visits. It’s nice to see Loblolly spreading its good name throughout Little Rock by teaming up with these businesses. Where else will you find them? They’re also providing ice cream to the dessert menu at Trio’s, they’re periodically bringing their goods to White Water to help produce the big kid’s “boozy milkshakes,” and you’ll find them in the freezer cases of Argenta Market and Boulevard Bread. Am I fine with Loblolly gradually taking over this city? Oh yes, I wholeheartedly support it.

(You'll find Loblolly inside the Green Corner Store at 1423 Main St., Little Rock. Mon-Sat 11am-5pm)

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