I know a thing or two about transitions. When the editor of the Arkansas Times first asked if I wanted to contribute to Eat Arkansas, it was only a few months after the departure of Kat Robinson, a writer who has eaten at and written about more places across this state than almost anyone. After my first few posts here, I recall getting an e-mail from Pat Lynch asking if I was the "new Kat," to which I replied that while I could never hope to replace her, I hoped I could do the blog justice. Things really started clicking a few months later when Dan joined the blog, and it's been relatively smooth sailing ever since.
And now, once again, I find myself in a place of transition, and once again I'm nervous and excited. Many of you are familiar with Arkansas Cooks, the local interview show hosted by Mary Twedt that airs every Saturday at noon on KUAR FM 89.1. Mary's been doing the show for ten years, and I've been an avid listener for many of those ten. A couple of months ago, Mary approached me and asked if I'd be interested in doing some episodes of Arkansas Cooks, as she was looking to transition into a less active role but wanted to keep the show going. Now, I'm not a radio guy, but I jumped at the chance to work on such a long-time favorite, especially with good folks like Mary and producer Travis Hill. Now for those of you who might be worried, let me say: Mary isn't leaving the show, she's just turning over some of the work to myself and the excellent Neal Moore. But I'll be on the air this Saturday with my first show, an interview with the ladies of Loblolly Creamery.
I know most of you regular Eat Arkansas readers need no introduction to Rachel Moore and Sally Mengel, who along with Dan Moore form the backbone of Little Rock's best ice cream company, but anybody who has ever talked to the ladies of Loblolly knows that Sally and Rachel are smart, funny, and happy to share their ice cream secrets (which turn out to be witchcraft) with anyone who is interested. I sat down with both of them at the Green Corner Store right before a private "Sundae Tasting" event, that saw everything from non-dairy ice cream made from coconut milk to custard flavored with saffron, to a candied rose petal that tasted like pure sugared spring time. I learned how long it took for Rachel to perfect their basic vanilla recipe (months) and the origins of the name "Loblolly." In addition to all that, the ladies talked about their future plans — including the eventual re-purposing of Jeffrey Palsa's food truck Preston into a new kind of ice cream wagon.
The care and love that Rachel, Sally, and Dan all put into their business is obvious with every bite of Loblolly ice cream (or every drink of house-made kombucha). I hope you'll all tune in to hear what this fantastic local business is up to — or at least tune in so you can come back here and make fun of my radio skills. I'll be keeping you all up to date with what's going on with the show; and of course stick around Eat Arkansas for the latest in blogtastic food news.