Taco Tuesdays: La Grange

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
With the excepetion of this morning, is anyone else so totally drunk on the gorgeous weather we're having?

La Grange restaurant in Houston

(If you're drunk on tequila, that's okay, we won't judge).

Last Friday was such a beautiful Houston spring [January] day, that I had to bask in the sun on a patio with some good food in front of me and a potent drink in my hand, of course! My friend Jessi drove into Houston from Kingwood to meet me for dinner at the restaurant La Grange, located in Montrose. I'd heard awesome things about their food and patio, so I was excited to give it a try!

La Grange restaurant in Houston

And yes, the restaurant's patio 100% lived up to its expectations! It seemed that every other Houstonite was just as excited about the weather, so it was a busy evening. In spite of this, our server was spectacular. She was always there when we needed her, and she spent time going over the menu with us, even though it was clear she had a million other things to do. She was a total rockstar.

I'm not a big margarita fan, but one of my Houston Rodeo Wine Garden Committee friends told me I absolutely have to try the Carlos Danger. I discussed it with our server, telling her about my margarita reservations, and she felt confident I would like it.

The Carlos Danger at La Grange restaurant in Houston

And y'all? I LOVED it. I loved it so much that I ordered two (!!!!!). The Carlos Danger is a concoction of jalapeño and pineapple infused tequila, triple sec, lime, and agave. Not for the faint of heart, this drink packed some serious heat, which I was a major fan of. It lacked the tartness that comes with traditional margaritas, and the sweet/spicy, pineapple/jalapeño combo was right on point!

For our first round of food, we ordered the holy queso, and added guacamole.

the holy queso with guacamole at La Grange restaurant in Houston

This queso was a wonderful, gooey mix of white cheese, green chilies, and pico de gallo. The cheese itself was light and slightly tart, and the green chilies were incredibly spicy. Once stirred together, the chilies were muted to a more comfortable level (though still hot!), set against the backdrop of everything else. It was zippy, spicy, and incredibly indulgent. We were basically licking the bowl clean by the end of it!

For our next round of food, I ordered the restaurant's grilled veggie stacked enchiladas. I don't normally order enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant because they often are just a pool of cheese and gravy (which of course on certain occasions is totally desirable). And while these enchiladas did have a good amount of cheese, they were not soggy by any stretch, and the variety of vegetables (bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash) were given the opportunity to shine through. I do think the enchiladas could have benefited from a topping of salsa or dollop of sour cream, as they did end up coming across as a little dry. Overall though, I did enjoy them.

A nice bonus for me was that the restaurant does not use lard in its refried beans, or any sort of meat in its rice, so I was able to enjoy those as well! The refried black beans were smooth and earthy, and the rice was a good, standard offering of Mexican rice.

La Grange is a lively, fun restaurant in Houston's Montrose area that offers great Mexican food at decent prices. The service we experienced that night was some of the best I've had here in Houston. I definitely recommend paying a visit, especially during these beautiful Houston days, when you can sit on their gorgeous patio and get totally drunk off of this weather!

veggie enchiladas at La Grange restaurant in Houston

And by "weather" I mean "tequila."

La Grange Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Houston Food Blogger Collective: Dish Society

Friday, January 29, 2016
I visited Dish Society with the Houston Food Blogger Collective. All food and drinks were provided to me, free of charge. I was not monetarily compensated for writing this post. All opinions are completely, 100% my own!

Life's about to get cray for me.

dish society, a houston restaurant

Rhetorical question: How old is "too old" to use ridiculous slang words/phrases such as "totes," "gotta check my snaps" and "cray"? Asking for a [30-year-old] friend...

I don't know about you all, but I was feeling very slumpy and "winter, boo you whore," and then this week seemed to kick off the busy-ness that's about to happen - which I'm excited about!

On Tuesday we had our first Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Wine Garden Committee meeting of 2016, and I'm super pumped, y'all. As of right now, I'll be working in the wine garden on March 2 (Chris Young), March 6 (Shawn Mendes), March 10 (Luke Bryan), Kenny Chesney (March 14), and March 18 (Little Big Town). So if you've bought your tickets yet for any of those dates, I hope you'll stop by and say hello! (and duh, drink wine).

dish society, a houston restaurant

Then on Wednesday, the Houston Food Blogger Collective Executive Board and Advisory Council had its first meeting of 2016 at Dish Society, a restaurant located in Houston's Galleria area. And once again, I'm super excited about what's in store for the year! In a nutshell? Awesome food, more awesome food, and even more awesome food! (and duh, wine).

Things are looking up, Houston snow birds!

dish society, a houston restaurant

I arrived at the farm-to-table restaurant about an hour early since I am exactly the opposite of cool, but was happy to find my fellow blogger friend Jenna (The Starving Foodist) there as well! (So maybe I am cool, right? ...don't answer that.) The counter-service-by-day, table-service-by-night restaurant was open, sleek, and airy. And apparently Foodable TV was filming there that night...

dish society, a houston restaurant

^ (Pictured above is Aaron Lyons, one of the restaurant's super friendly and accommodating co-owners.)

Other awesome Houston Food Blogger Collective board members there included Renia (Gristle & Gossip), Dalida (Brunch and Conversation), Julie (JulieJulez), Erika (Black Girls who Brunch), Stephanie (Copykat Recipes), Claire (The Petite Professional), Erin (Tidbits), Jay (The Fried Chicken Blog), and Morgan (The Foodie Chef). We put our heads together to start planning - and more importantly, start eating!

That night we were sampling bites from the restaurant's winter menu. The appetizer round included pork belly bites and berry bruschetta. I also went rogue and ordered their pretzels and queso. You know, for the sake of research.

pork belly bites at dish society in houston
berry bruschetta at dish society in houston
pretzels and queso at dish society in houston

Since I'm a vegetarian I didn't try the pork belly, but I did try the light and playful berry bruschetta! Toasted bolillo was topped with fresh Texas strawberries, creamy goat cheese, fragrant basil, and a balsamic reduction. The sweet/salty, berry/goat cheese combo was outstanding, but what really sealed the deal on this whole dish was the superfresh basil, which was borderline bitter - but in the absolute right way!

The pretzels and queso dish was a major crowd pleaser, and was my favorite bite of the evening. Firm, salty, slough dough pretzels were served alongside a rich, velvety smoked gouda queso dip. I've had multiple cheese/pretzel appetizers in Houston. I've had multiple good cheese/pretzel appetizers in Houston. And y'all? The one at Dish Society is far and away the best of them all! If you go (and you should!), you've got to order it. You know, for research.

The salad portion of the restaurant's sampling menu included an apple pecan salad and a brussels sprout super salad.

apple pecan salad at dish society in houston
brussels sprout super salad at dish society in houston

The apple pecan salad contained red wine poached apples, mixed organic greens, goat cheese, candied Texas pecans, and a honey mustard seed vinaigrette. If you are a fan of sweet fruity salads, this one is for you. I'm not generally a sweet fruity salad person, but the inclusion of that glorious goat cheese once again really sold me. It muted the sweetness enough for me to really dig in. The salad was given a great added layer of texture from the pecans. Overall, this was a nice, light salad.

The brussels sprout super salad blew my mind. It was composed of shaved brussels, shredded kale (this, coming from a kale hater! Maybe I don't hate kale after all...?), organic quinoa, dried cherries, golden raisins, shaved almonds, parmesan, and honey vinaigrette. The brussels sprouts were cooked so beautifully and had a wonderful smokey taste. The golden raisins were perfect little sweet morsels and complemented the sprouts wonderfully. Everything else in the salad served as a wonderful supporting cast of characters.

For the entree portion of the menu, they brought out coffee-crusted pork loin and brisket-stuffed sweet potato. For obvious reasons, I went rogue again (you can't take me anywhere) and ordered the half portion of the quinoa-stuffed avocado, one of the restaurant's most popular food items.

coffee crusted pork loin at dish society in houston
brisket stuffed sweet potato at dish society in houston
quinoa stuffed avocado at dish society in houston

I took some of the pork home to Jon, and he was a big fan. Also, everyone at the table appeared to fall in love with that brisket stuffed sweet potato (well, who wouldn't?). It did smell incredible.

While the avocado stuffed with quinoa wasn't my favorite dish of the evening, it was certainly a good one. The quinoa had a light citrusy taste, with some crunchy veggies thrown in (onions?), and the avocado was full and ripe. It was a very simple, healthy, and satisfying dish.

For dessert, we were presented with the berry shortcake.

berry shortcake at dish society in houston

This was one helluva knockout dessert! A flaky, sturdy, house sugar biscuit was topped off with fresh strawberries, house whipped cream, and Amy's Mexican vanilla ice cream. Julie claimed that this might be the best strawberry shortcake she's ever had, and I completely agree! The buttery biscuit balanced wonderfully with the other components of the dish. The end result was a light, flirty, and ethereal strawberry shortcake that I adored!

The food at Dish Society is local and fresh, and that is certainly apparent in every bite. The restaurant's dishes are simple, yet manage to sit on a level above other similar food in Houston. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, and I cannot wait to go back, whenever that might be!

dish society, a restaurant in houston

(Sunday. Sunday I'm going back.)

Foreign Correspondents

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
How has everyone's January been faring?

Foreign Correspondants, a Thai restaurant in Houston, Texas

I have to admit that although it's been unseasonably warm in Houston this winter (THANK YOU HOUSTON WEATHER GODS), I still for some reason find myself trying to "muscle through" the months of January/February. I attribute this to lack of sunlight, lack of holidays, inability to jump in the pool (even though it is admittedly warmer than normal), and having lived a life of 30 years filled with plain old winter-hating patterns.

Fortunately I have the cure for the winter blues: Good friends and good food! (...and good drinks). A night or two (or eight) of these elements combined at a stellar Houston restaurant will make any winter-hater turn that frown upside down!

On one such night last week, I went to dinner with my #yogidinnerclub friends Kate, Danielle, Frances, Val, and Jill at Foreign Correspondents, the new(ish) Thai restaurant in Houston's Heights neighborhood (last month our dinner club enjoyed SaltAir Seafood). Before diving into the food menu, we started off with some cocktails. Several of us (myself included) opted for the restaurant's namesake, the Foreign Correspondent. 

The "Foreign Correspondent" drink at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston
The "Foreign Correspondent" drink at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston

The concoction of Ford's gin, Thai chili green chartreuse, cucumber, and bitter lemon tonic was light, tangy, incredibly refreshing, and had a little kick to it. This drink would be perfect served poolside! (SOON.)

To start, we ordered the restaurant's much-raved about crispy fried herbs with special sauce.

Fried Herbs at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston

Instead of tossing the herbs in its usual pork and shrimp sauce, our server offered to bring it to us with the sauce on the side to make it vegetarian. The fragrant herbs were absolutely outstanding. They were lightly battered, super crunchy, and bursting with various lively, earthy flavors. In addition to the pork and shrimp sauce, they were served with a creamy "special sauce," which cut through some of the strong flavors a bit and offered a very nice balance. This was an awesome appetizer and definitely one of my favorite dishes of the evening. I certainly see what all the fuss is about!

In addition to individual portions of food, the restaurant offers different sized prix fixe family style options, should you decide to go that route. We opted to order the dinner for four, as well as add on a few items from the vegetarian menu, which they provided me with when I told them I didn't eat meat or fish.

First off was the roasted tomato chili dip, which came with the dinner for four.

Tomato Chili Dip at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston

Our server explained that this was a newer item on the menu, and that people often compare it to salsa. And we all agreed! The acidic, chunky, tart dip was delicious and INCREDIBLY spicy. Definitely cleared everyone's nostrils right up! The root and winter vegetables served alongside the dip were steamed al dente and served as great vessels for this sassy dip.

Next up with our food, we tried the stuffed sticky rice from the vegetarian menu.

Stuffed Sticky Rice at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston

I LOVED this dish. Coconut sticky rice was mixed with mashed sweet potato, then grilled in some sort of leaf (banana leaf? corn husk? palm? why do I have a food blog again?). The dish was so simple, yet SO good. It was sweet, soft, absolutely delightful, and hands down my favorite dish of the evening!

We also were presented with individual servings of sticky rice in adorable basket containers (because "basket containers" isn't redundant) to have with some of of our entrees. Our server advised us to eat it with our fingers, and we happily obliged!

Sticky Rice at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston
Sticky Rice at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston

Next up from the restaurant's vegetarian food menu we tried the vegetarian chiang mia curry (gaeng hung lay).

Chiang Mia Curry at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston
This briny stew was earthy and soul-warming. Sweet potatoes, turnips, and butternut squash were swimming in a hearty broth and sprinkled with peanuts. I was a huge fan of yet another very fragrant, and very colorful dish!

After that, we tried the khao soi from the vegetarian menu.

Khao Soi at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston

This was probably my least favorite food item of the evening, and not because it was bad. Thick and creamy with dry-fried vegetables, crispy noodles, and a hard-boiled egg, the dish was aromatic, sweet, and filled with tropical flavors. It was almost too tropical for my tastes though, and bore a strong resemblance to a drink I often order from the zany tiki bar Lei Low (also located in the Houston Heights area). So basically, I'd rather drink this dish than eat this dish (and maybe light a sugar cube on fire and throw a little rum in there? #help).

The dinner for four contained various other non-veg items that my friends enjoyed, including this whole fried Texas tilapia:

Fried Texas Tilapia at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Doesn't it sort of look like that one cashew on top is an earring? Very fancy, Mr. Fish.)

For a unique take on Thai food in Houston, look no further than Foreign Correspondents. Each dish was vibrant, fragrant, and bursting with a multitude of flavors that differ from the norm. The service that night was great, and the prices were very reasonable, given the amount and high quality of food we received. This great Houston restaurant is definitely worth a visit!

drinks at Foreign Correspondents, a Thai restaurant in Houston

Take THAT, January.


Foreign Correspondents Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vacation Days: Pennsylvania, January 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016
^ You guys know how much I love cold weather!

January in Scranton, Pennsylvania

Jk, lolz, I the opposite of love cold weather. Though that snow sure is pretty to look at!

(...from the inside...while wrapped in three 100 year-old antique alpaca fur-lined quilts...also I'm downing multiple shots of whiskey.) <~~ Man, I'm a whimp.

But what I actually really do love is my family! And beyond my little unit of Mom+Dad+sis+me, the majority of my extended family lives in Pennsylvania. I used to get to see my Pennsylvania relatives quite a bit when I lived in NYC, but it's been a few years since my last visit. So what better reason to go up than to attend the wedding of my awesome cousin Annie last weekend!

On Friday morning, my parents and I arrived at Hobby super early, and I grabbed food for breakfast and lunch from a little-known restaurant called "Subway" (can't go wrong). Then we flew to Dallas, where we met up with my sister Emily, and hopped a second flight to Philadelphia.

Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas
Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas
Airplane food and drinks
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

That night we spent time with a large chunk of family at my Aunt Judy's house in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which is about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia. We are a loud and lively bunch, and it was a loud, lively, and fun night (a precursor of what was to come)!

On Saturday morning, my mom and I went down to the hotel gym for a little bit, then had a delicious breakfast at our hotel's restaurant, aka: continental breakfast by the lobby (Raise your hand if you love a good continental breakfast - I know I sure do).

Gym time with Mom near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
continental breakfast near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

After tooling around town for a bit, I had the incredible good fortune of being able to meet one of my best friends from New York, Alice Ann, and her family for lunch! She also happened to be in Philadelphia that weekend, checking out venues for her upcoming wedding. We had a delicious and lovely lunch at Glenmorgan Bar & Grill, a restaurant located inside the beautiful Radnor Hotel.

lunch near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
lunch near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
lunch bread basket near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
lunch chili near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
lunch sandwich near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The food was really great. I ordered the restaurant's west coast grilled cheese, which was filled with monterey jack cheese, spinach, tomato, and avocado, and was absolutely delicious! I also took a bite of Alice Ann's hearty, outstanding vegetarian chili.

After our satisfying lunch of unbelievably tasty food, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding! Both the ceremony and reception were held at a charming venue called The Presidential, located in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. Our large family (we have something like 21 cousins, just on my mom's side) had a sweet and memory-filled reunion of epic proportions. The space was lovely, my cousin Annie looked gorgeous, her now-husband Kevin made us all cry with his sincere and heartfelt vow, the food was fantastic, and we danced the night away!

wedding near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(Snapchat: newishcityHOU)
wedding near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
wedding near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photo Credit: My Dad
^ As my sister so adequately put it: "That's not even a fraction of us!"

wedding near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
wedding food near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
wedding food near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
wedding near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photo credit: my Dad
After that, there was an after-party at the hotel, and here's a picture of me with my stunning cousin Colleen, who is also one of my best friends in the whole wide world:

wedding after-party near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photo Credit: Colleen
On Sunday, I hitched a ride up to Scranton, Pennsylvania (yes, like in The Office) with my Uncle Andy, Aunt Terry, and Great Aunt Pauline. I ran out to get food in the form of hoagies (that's Yankeespeak for "subs") at Roseanna's, a little dine-out restaurant located in Dickson City, Pennsylvania. Even though mine was a veggie hoagie, it was divine.

hoagies near Scranton, Pennsylvania

^ (Coincidentally, the natural afternoon lighting in my grandma's kitchen? Also divine.)

That night, I went over to see my grandparents on my dad's side of the family, along with my cioce (that's Polish for "aunts"!), uncles, and cousin Amanda. As per my fervent requests, we had to get pizza from Old Forge, which - little known fact - is THE WORLD'S GREATEST PIZZA. Y'all, I'm not making this statement lightly. I've had some phenomenal  slices in New York, some stellar pies in Italy, and some fantastic pizza down here in Houston. But nothing - NOTHING - matches the awesomeness of what you get in Old Forge, Pennsylvania. That night we ordered from a restaurant called Revello's, and it far exceeded all of my hopes and dreams and pizza-oozed memories.

pizza near Scranton, Pennsylvania
pizza near Scranton, Pennsylvania
pizza near Scranton, Pennsylvania

Up until this point it had certainly been cold(ish)(er) outside, at least moreso than I'd been used to here in Houston. But it still was manageable and nothing too biting. Well, on Monday morning I woke up to this:

Dickson City, Pennsylvania

It was 16 degrees out. SIX. TEEN. DEGREES. And that's Fahrenheit! (no clue why I might all of a sudden start to speak metric). I hadn't looked out a window, so when I stepped outside, I was shocked by: a) the pure white beauty surrounding me, and b) the sudden loss of feeling in my gangly appendages. This was always my perpetual paradox with northern winters: So gorgeous, yet so COLD. But you know what? Even a ninny like me can appreciate a singular picturesque day of weather in the teens!

coffee near Scranton, Pennsylvania
breakfast near Scranton, Pennsylvania

After walking in a winter wonderland, I dined on some yummy breakfast food with my Aunt Michele and grandma at a popular northeastern chain restaurant called Perkins, before heading to the airport. I ordered the Mediterranean omelet, which was tangy, cloudlike, and dripping with hollandaise. This A+ diner food was a great way to top off the trip!

It was a crazy weekend, and I still need to catch up on about 37 hours of sleep, but I am so glad I was able to attend Annie's beautiful wedding and spend quality time with family and friends. Lots of wonderful memories were made!

Dickson City, Pennsylvania

If only that white stuff was about 70 degrees warmer...
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