Whole Foods Market
Other than during the "Tour Olive," when they give 'em away, this well-established market asks $6.99 a pound for any of its 24 or so varieties, mixed as you like. A few favorites: Alphono marinated in wine; Catalan with fennel and lime; pitted Nicoise, and pitted Greek kalamatas.

Why do we drive two hours round-trip to Prosper, Texas, to buy a couple of dozen eggs every month? Because we have too much time on our hands, frankly. But also because we like our eggs fresh. Know the following: Mahard is family-owned and the 10th-largest egg producer in the country, with something like 3 million white leghorn hens busily cranking out the stuff for our omelettes and soufflés. We do not have to deal with the unpleasant smell of 3 million white leghorn hens when we visit the tiny outlet in Prosper. The hens proper are located elsewhere. We can buy Mahard eggs in the grocery store down the street, but those eggs might be three weeks old. As of press time, we could get a dozen extra large at the outlet in Prosper for 70 cents. And those eggs would have been inside a hen fewer than 24 hours prior.

For those of you who don't know how to cook, we understand why getting invited to a potluck dinner couldn't be more of a pain. Oftentimes, dessert seems like the best course to bring: After all, you can only bring chips and dip so many times, and there's no way Ramen noodles are going to make the cut as an entrée. But bringing dessert is no picnic, either. Baking is hard and hot, which leaves buying a dessert as your only option. And then what? You go to Albertson's or Tom Thumb where you are limited to bag candy, gooey day-old cookies or some Bert and Ernie cake that tastes as synthetic as it looks. Here's your solution: Call Dallas Affaires Cake Co. and order up one of their cakes. They're great. Actually, they're beyond great. They are sinful. Our favorites include the orange cake, the white chocolate cake and the standard white cake with Italian icing. But there are plenty of options to choose from. Of course, Dallas Affaires is also the best option for birthdays, anniversaries, retirements and other standard affairs.

Jack Moore doesn't care whether you call him "chef" or "cook," so long as you use the word "tasty" when describing the pies he's been cooking for 35 years. He does them all--chocolate, apple, pecan, coconut and a variety of cobblers--but his specialty is his sweet potato pie. "Been cooking 'em for a long time," he says, "and have never had a complaint." And what's to complain about? They're sweet, smooth and made from scratch. You can order a piece from the menu. Or, better yet, fork over $12 and take a whole pie home with you. And, yes, the Old Mill Inn is open daily.

Virgin Megastore
A friend dragged us to the new Virgin Megastore, which opened in September. In the parking lot, we boldly declared to everyone within earshot that we'd never buy a CD in that unholy place. No, sir. We were far too cool to shop for our Sleater-Kinney in a theme park. Down with The Man. And so on. Then we stepped through the glass doors and beheld the promised land. The Virgin store consists of 25,000 square feet of aisle upon aisle overflowing with reasonably priced digital milk and honey. CDs and DVDs and video games as far as the eye can see (not really, but we're on a roll). On a busy weekend, perhaps 20 Virgin helpers are at your disposal. Yes, they wear too-baggy pants. But they will find what you're looking for and do it with good cheer. And you can try it before you buy it. There are so many listening stations at Virgin that when asked, employees underestimated the number by half. While an exact figure was difficult to determine even after a phone call to a manager, we can safely say there are more than 100 listening stations, some of them called Megaplay Stations, which allow you to grab most any CD or DVD off the shelf, scan its bar code and listen to or view it. Does our purple prose make us uncool? No matter. We will gladly forfeit our coolness for such hyperstupendous megaselection.

If there is any truth in advertising, it certainly would apply to Darrell's Sensational Pies!, a wholesale pie company that distributes 32 flavors of these single-serving treats through 18 Dallas locations including Two Sisters Catering, Snappy's Catfish and Burger House. From the traditional apple and cherry to the more exotic pumpkin pecan and chunky peanut butter chocolate, these tidy four-and-a-half-inch minis cater to the gluttonous among us who believe that fat can be fun when delivered in small portions. Yet Darrell, a third-generation baker, tips his crust to the health-conscious, damning all use of additives or preservatives. For the small-waisted or the calorie-unconscious, a 9-incher can be ordered on demand through these retail outlets. Call Darrell direct to find the pie nearest you. Or wait six weeks until he opens his own retail store in North Dallas. Then try the blueberry and chocolate chip brownie. They're sensational!

Sigel's Fine Wines and Great Spirits
Smaller specialty stores have better and more thorough wine selections, and froufrou grocery stores have more eclectic stocks of microbrews, but two things count in a good liquor store: convenience and sauce. That's why you can't go wrong with this Sigel's location across from Old Town. An empty bottle's throw from Central Expressway, this ample store thankfully arranges its stock according to alcohol's two primary colors--clear and amber--making it easy to find what you're looking for. Should you require, there's plenty of mixers to be had, and for those big, bad, cherry-popping voodoo daddies who like to party like it's 1995, you can stock up on cigars as well. And perhaps best of all, it's only a short stroll from the Lovers Lane DART station, for those out there who need a designated driver during the day.

Best Place to Buy Kitchen Gadgets as Seen on TV

Sur La Table

Sur La Table
There's more than one way to juice a lemon. And watching the plethora of culinary programs on KERA and Food Network, you can glimpse them all: the old-fashioned glass citrus juicer, Martha Stewart's wooden reamer, Stephan Pyles' aluminum Mexican lemon juicer. All are available at Sur La Table, as are tons of other gadgets used daily by the celebrity chefs on the tube (and, maybe, monthly in noncommercial kitchens). The large brick store on Travis Street just off Knox houses tiny ginger graters, olive forks, steel cocktail whisks, sheets of bamboo for rolling sushi, butter warmers, pie dough weights, zesters, ice crushers, cookie presses, mandolins, mortars and pestles, dozens of sizes of pastry brushes, sake sets and even wine glass charms so drinkers can find their own glass even if they've already indulged a little. Sur La Table also has a huge selection of cookbooks and a popular culinary arts program, so you can learn to use these little gadgets you'll no longer be able to live without.

Want a stove with enough oomph to melt your pots and pans? One with a door so stout you can stand on it? Industrial-weight kitchen stuff is, er, hot, and great for reheating leftover takeout food. These guys have it in spades--refrigerators that look like they've been yanked out of catering services, dishwashers so quiet you have to put your ear up to them to make sure they're running, vent hoods that will muss your hair and suck up that two-alarm fire in your omelette pan. In short, manly machines.

Dinner parties are stressful enough without worrying whether some bozo is going to break one of the Depression glass goblets you inherited from Great-Aunt Nona. Save the worry for the menu and restock your pantry with discontinued and overstocked glassware from Crate & Barrel. The prices are minuscule compared to the chain's regular merchandise (we recently picked up some classic martini glasses for a buck apiece). We're not promising you won't be upset if one ends up broken and ground into the dining room rug, but at least you won't have to explain to Mom about the now incomplete set of family heirlooms. That is, unless the rug was part of your inheritance. In that case, Crate & Barrel carries cheap, yet chic rugs as well.

Best Of Dallas®

Best Of