Rumbles: HAM Open Next Week, Food Hall of Fame Nominations, Cheese Dip Championship

Opening day has been pushed back slightly for the revamped Hillcrest Area Market, or HAM as we’re all going to call it. Originally set for Oct. 1, the market is now looking at opening next Tuesday or Wednesday. HAM is opening in conjunction with the upcoming Hill Station restaurant across the street in Hillcreset. HAM will function as a marketplace, with double the meat counter space and a wide range of grocery items, like breads, cheeses and specialty products. It will no longer sell sandwiches; all made-to-order food is heading to Hill Station. Brandon and Tara Brown are still helming the business, which means customers are in very good hands. Keep an eye on HAM’s Facebook page for the official opening notice. Hill Station, by the way, could be open by the end of the month.

Nominations are now open for the fourth class of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, presented by the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Every year, the hall of fame inducts three local restaurants that have been continuously open for at least 25 years. Nine restaurants are in the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame thus far, with Craig Brothers Café in Devall’s Bluff, Keeney’s Food Market in Malvern, and Burge’s Hickory Smoked Turkeys and Hams in Lewisville joining the Hall last year. After nominations are in, a panel of Arkansas historians and food writers select the finalists. To nominate your favorite restaurant, head to the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s website and fill out the form. Nominations will be accepted during the month of October. The winners will be announced in February.

October is here, and that means the start of fall events season. It kicks off this Saturday at the 2019 World Cheese Dip Championship at the Clinton Presidential Center from noon until 4 p.m. For the ninth year, amateurs and professionals alike will serve up their spin on cheese dip for fans and judges. There will be at least two dozen competitors on hand, so come hungry. Our own Greg Henderson heads up a panel of experienced judges that will crown the eventual champion. Of course, you’ll be able to cast your vote in the People’s Choice Awards as well. Tickets to the event are on sale for $10 right now; that price goes up to $15 if you wait to order until you’re at the gate. Proceeds from the World Cheese Dip Championship go to support Harmony Health Clinic, a free or low-cost clinic that provides vital health services to those who could not otherwise afford it.

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And if you can’t wait to get your fall festival season started, be sure to head to Dickey-Stephens park tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. for the Festival of Wines. Guests will get to sample hundreds of wines from the United States and around the world, as well as enjoy food from 17 local restaurants. This is one of the largest wine events held in Arkansas every year. Tickets are on sale now for $60, and you’ll want to get them now; the price goes up to $75 if you get them at the door. The Festival of Wines is the annual fundraiser for the Arkansas chapter of the American Heart Association, which works to prevent and treat heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.

Hillcrest Little Bakery says it is now targeting the end of October to open up shop. The new bakery on Van Buren is currently in the hiring and menu development phase. When it opens, HLB will feature doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, pastries, and biscuit and gravy platters among other items. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more information on HLB’s grand opening.

There are very few bar programs quite as consistently good as the one at Petit and Keet. We took a taste of the restaurant’s new cocktail menu and found sophisticated drinks that are still delightfully approachable.

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Rumbles: HAM Open Next Week, Food Hall of Fame Nominations, Cheese Dip Championship