BEST VIRAL 'NEWS' Did you see the one about the Little Rock guy who overdosed on Red Lobster biscuits after eating 400 of them? In attempting to break the record for most Cheddar Bay Biscuits in one sitting, local food writer Kevin Shalin fell to the ground convulsing after eating number 413, according to the Rock City Times. "Doctors believe the butter from the biscuits has blocked signals coming from Shalin's brain. In an early morning update hospital officials state that they have drained approximately 2 gallons of butter already and expect him to make a full recovery once the rest is clear. Shalin is expected to be released in time for his visit to Golden Corral's chocolate wonderfall later next week," the site reported. The story went viral. Semi-reputable British papers like The Daily Mirror picked it up. Folks decried Shalin's gluttony on social media. Of course, those people are morons. Like everything on Rock City Times, which bills itself as "Arkansas' 2nd most unreliable news source," "Local Man in Coma After Eating 413 Red Lobster Biscuits" was a joke. Sample headlines from the site: "Local Woman Dead After Brain Freeze from Area Ice Cream Shop" and "Miss Arkansas' Crown Stolen Following Brutal Attack on Shoes." Props to Rock City Times' founder and head writer Greg Henderson and Shalin, who's got a nice food blog himself at themightyrib.com and comments regularly on the Times Eat Arkansas, for pulling the wool over on the gullible.
BEST COMBINATION OF FASHION AND HISTORY Anita Davis, the patron of SoMa who gave Little Rock the unique Bernice Garden, has opened the Esse museum of women's handbags, a sort of What They Carried look at women's culture in the 20th century as spoken by their handbags. Any fan of fashion will love looking at these purses, artfully displayed along with the small items that would have been in them (mirrors, dance cards, lipstick, prophylactics) in a renovated building next door to The Root Cafe. This sort of iconoclastic collection adds to what Little Rock is sorely lacking in: Personality. The museum shop is terrific as well, filled with vintage bags, new creations, jewelry and more items you won't find anywhere else.
BEST LOCAL POLITICAL TV Roby Brock and Fox 16's David Goins have teamed up for a Sunday morning political talk show on Channel 4 that is worth the buzz it's getting from the Under the Dome crowd. They typically match politically polar opposites for a Q&A, wrapped with some highlights of the week's political news, livened by video clips. It's tightly focused and scripted and now and then produces a few rhetorical fireworks, not to mention the odd scrap of news. Nobody else is doing anything like it.
BEST FARMERS' MARKET TREAT Farmers' market regulars are likely familiar with Farm Girl Natural Foods, which offers up a variety of delicious beef, chicken and pork products (free-range, sustainably grown, etc.). Everything Farm Girl has is good. But let us now praise a new offering they introduced this season, the Hmong sausage, which has put a serious pep in our breakfast step. Modeled after street-vendor sausage in Southeast Asia, the tender little links are packed with ginger, red pepper and two kinds of cilantro. Subtle, complex, nice little kick. You can get as ambitious in the kitchen with them as you like, but part of what we love is that if you're feeling lazy in the morning, you can quickly pan-sear a couple of links and each bite gives you a meal's worth of flavor and texture. According to Farm Girl's website, they respect the "pigness" of their pigs, who "eat a smorgasbord of lush forages and gleanings from the woods, fresh whey from artisan cheese producer Kent Walker, and specially balanced, GMO-free grains." They're doing something right — their pork is a knockout, and their move to add some international flavor was a welcome addition for sausage fans looking for something a little different. You can find Farm Girl at the Argenta and Bernice Garden farmers' markets, and their meats appear on the menus of several of our favorite restaurants, including Hillcrest Artisan Meats, The Root Cafe, Ashley's and the Capital Bar and Grill.
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