Thursday, April 23, 2015

Topgolf

I love birthdays.

So when my main squeeze Jon turned the big 3-HeyOhhhhh last Friday, we did it up big. We went away for the weekend with some friends to Fredericksburg, aka Wineburg (pictures to come!), which was a total blast. After we got back, we decided to continue celebrations and do a Houston Day his way. This is what our day consisted of:

1) Play a few rounds at Topgolf in Katy.
2) Go shopping.
3) Ride our new bikes around Brays Bayou.
4) Eat dinner at Coltivare, aka Heaven.

At $40/hour, Topgolf can get a bit pricey for a small group, so we got there around 11:30 to nab the half priced pre-noon rate for our first hour there. The three-story facility, complete with ginormous bar and delicious noms, is always buzzing. We went in, nabbed our bay on the second floor, and let the games begin.

For the record, I sent a ball flying 142 yards. No big deal.

(Let's gloss over my many swing-misses and hits that just slowly rolled off the bay and plopped straight down onto the green. Thanks for your cooperation.)

The food at Topgolf is ridiculously good. Because Jon and I go together like vegetable quesadillas with spinach and pepperoni flatbread, I ordered the vegetable quesadilla with spinach, and Jon ordered the pepperoni flatbread.

That's how the phrase goes right?

My quesadilla was amazing. Filled with cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese, and grilled peppers, the inside of the quesadillas were oozing with cheesy goodness and popping with flavor from the grilled peppers, which were not spicy at all. The additional velvety spinach gave the insides even more of a creamy, sensational bonus. Even though the middles were moist and full, the tortillas were not soggy and remained crispy as we ate them.

Jon liked his pepperoni flatbread, but he wasn't over the moon about it.

But THIS.

craft. beer. queso.

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

This "cheesy goodness" is comprised of melted cheeses (duh), BEER, and sweet roasted corn. I could be wrong, but I think there were also some added veggies (maybe peppers?) in there. The bold, tangy cheese was mouth-wateringly sinful. The borderline "nutty" texture of the corn really made eating this queso a unique and enjoyable experience.

For something different, active, and fun, Topgolf is a great way to go. Be sure to get there before noon if you can to lock down the more reasonable hourly rate. The service is great, and the food is superb!

Step aside, Jordan Spieth.

Top Golf on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

On the Road Again: Gennaro's Trattoria in Canyon Lake

Can I just eat Italian food every meal of the day?

Last month Jon and I visited our friends Mark and Kelly who live outside of San Antonio. After spending a few hours tasting wine one day at La Cruz de Comal, we ventured just up the road to Gennaro's Trattoria in Canyon Lake for dinner.

Its Hill Country setting is absolutely gorgeous.

Lush with flowers and beautiful vine-y plants, the outside of the restaurant was the perfect setting on that beautiful day to split a bottle of wine as we waited for our table.

And um, hello delicious bread.

Once seated, we debated between ordering the caprese or bruschetta for an appetizer. We settled on the caprese, and the others in the group also ordered the lamb meatballs.

The caprese was good, but nothing out of the ordinary. At first glace I thought it might be extraordinary since it was drizzled with a little bit of pesto, but the ratio of pesto to mozzarella/tomatoes wasn't high enough to make it stand out. Regardless, the tomatoes were plump and ripe, and the healthy amount of mozzarella made it an enjoyable starter.

After discussing vegetarian options with our server, I ordered the melenzane ana maria (without prosciutto) for my entree.

To be honest, I only had a few bites because at that point I was so bread- and wine-full, I was about to pop. BUT, what I did have I loved, and I devoured my leftovers the next morning for breakfast.

Did I say breakfast?

It was absolutely delicious. The dish was made up of layers of breaded eggplant with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, and spinach, and it was all topped off with a creamy roasted bell pepper sauce. I'm not sure if it usually comes with a side of pasta or if this one did because they turned what is normally an appetizer into an entree for me, but either way I was happy about it. The breaded eggplant was seasoned beautifully with Italian herbs, and the roasted bell pepper sauce tasted like a zippy, unique vodka sauce. And the melty, stringy mozzarella was wonderful and not at all overpowering. It was an incredibly delightful plate!

So to recap:

1) The Texas Hill Country is gorgeous, and makes for a quick, lovely weekend away. Also, WINE.
2) If you're out there enjoying an afternoon of sipping on vino, a trip to the laid back, cozy Italian restaurant Gennaro's is bound to be a fun one!

#PastaBreakfast

Gennaro's Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 17, 2015

Brunchin' at Weights + Measures

I'm guilty of accusing Houston of not having the best brunch game.

BUT.

If I start experiencing more brunches like my recent visit to Weights + Measures, I'm going to be quite literally eating (and umm, drinking) my words.

Last Sunday, Jon and I had brunch there with our friends Dan and Heather. There's been so much buzz surrounding Weights + Measures lately, so I was excited to try it out.

When you first enter the massive modern space shared with the Houston MET rehearsal studios, you are slapped in the face with the most amazing smelling slow dough bake shop you've ever encountered. I did not buy any of the fresh bread or pastries, but darn it if I didn't want to instantly dive bomb into 7 different wonderfully aromatic baguettes.

Since they don't take reservations, we arrived 30 minutes before our intended brunching time, anticipating a wait. While we waited on our table (for about 30 minutes, NAILED IT), we sidled up to the bar and ordered some of the prettiest drinks I've ever seen.

The men were feeling mojitos that day, while I had a super fresh and unique bellini (bottom left), and Heather had a mimosa (top right). All of the drinks were so unbelievably f r e s h . Making them took a little while, but the friendly bartender concocted these freshly muddled drinks with such care and effort, we were more mesmerized than anything.

Weights + Measures' brunch drink game is strong.

After we had been seated, and after we had finished our first round, I decided I'd had enough liquid sweetness. I then ordered what turned out to be one of the top 5 best bloody marys I've ever had. Again, it was so fresh I was convinced that they had walked out into a hidden garden somewhere 10 minutes prior, plucked a few tomatoes off of a vine, processed them on the spot, and stirred in some freshly brewed (brewed? distilled? do I even have a food blog?) vodka and spices. It was spicy, textured, layered, and lovely.

And the garnishes came on golf tees! On the same day that Jordan Spieth won the Master's!

Coincidence? I think not.

Okay check out this beauty that was my meal:

The avocado toast with fried eggs and green harissa (sans bacon, don't hate me) on ciabatta was even more amazing than you could possibly imagine. The perfectly runny eggs paired with the zippy, kicky harissa knocked me sideways. The freshly (seriously how many times is this girl going to say a variation of the word "fresh" during this post?) toasted ciabatta provided a stable base for the magic happening on top. Oh, and slap some velvety avocado on there, SURE  Weights + Measures, I LOVE YOU.

Ugh, for real the best.

It came with some potatoes which were fine, but nothing extraordinary (unlike the main event). BUT, I did order a side of sauteed spinach, and that was extraordinary. The spinach had a very nice seasoning, and it was not overly-wilted, as sauteed spinach often can be.

Heather ordered the peanut butter sandwich, which consisted of  peanut butter, nutella, bananas, bacon, fried eggs, and brioche toast. She was spinning out of orbit over it. I tried a piece (sans bacon, please don't hate me), and it was dessert -- Fantastic, lovely, interesting, complex, brunch-y dessert at its best.

Dan ordered the cake donuts with fried chicken, topped with hazelnut vanilla syrup, and he absolutely loved it. I tried a piece (sans fried chicken, okay you can hate me), and the donut was crumbly, fresh, decadent, and hearty.

Jon ordered the hardwood smoked bacon sandwich on salinger rye, which was topped with fried eggs, redneck cheddar, and harissa ketchup. He liked it, but wasn't overly impressed with it. But he also ordered the pepperoni pizza, which he definitely enjoyed more. I tried a piece (sans pepperoni, I KNOW), and the gooey mozzarella and super stale (Ha, GOTCHA) fresshhhh basil were dizzyingly good. The crust however was a tad soggy under all of that magic.

I LOVED brunch at Weights + Measures. Loved it. Houston really needs to take a page out of their book and spread the brunch love around. Then I will definitely put my foot in my mouth for the mean thing I said about Houston's brunch game. So if you love all things brunch, get to W+M ASAP. The drinks are works of art, the food is outstanding, the environment is vibrant and fun, and everything is just so. darn. FRESH.

Eleven. Eleven times.

Weights + Measures on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

On the Road Again: Cured in San Antonio

The Pearl District in San Antonio is my new favorite thing in the world.

They (whoever "they" may be) came in, saw all these old, run-down Pearl breweries and factories, had a vision, and turned this abandoned area into a gorgeous, trendy, fun section of San Antonio. A culinary institute (which I may or may not have thought was the Alamo...okay, I did), beautiful lofts, and chic restaurants with industrial interiors make up this hip area. So when Jon and I visited our friends Mark and Kelly out in Cibolo a few weekends ago, they took us to the Pearl District for dinner.

We walked around for a bit, me in my ultimate exposed brick glory, and settled on Cured for dinner.

Located in what used to be Pearl's administrative offices, this stunning restaurant is teeming with history. From a huge wine-filled vault in the back, to original free-standing basins dating back to the early 1900s, the host or hostess (or in our case, our super friendly server) will gladly give you an informative tour of everything.

It was an exceptionally beautiful night, so we opted to sit outside on the back patio.

To start, we split a wonderfully presented charcuterie plate. I did not eat any of the meat, but I thoroughly enjoyed their crackers, pickled vegetables, and spicy, sinus-clearing mustard. Jon, Kelly, and Mark all seemed to have a different favorite of the three cured meats they chose.

Beyond the charcuterie, the rest of the menu is split up into different categories (vegetable, seafood, fowl, etc.), with 3-4 options underneath each one. The "twist" on this is that the food options get larger in size in ascending order of being listed under each category.

For my entree, I ordered the last/largest of the vegetable options, the Pearl Farmers' Market vegetarian selection. On that particular night, the offering was an herbed gnocchi with roasted carrots. And y'all?

it. was. so. good.

I seriously LOVED this dish. The masterfully herbed gnocchi was fragrant, silky, and mouthwatering. I generally prefer carrots in their raw form, but these roasted ones were buttery and sweet, and they paired wonderfully with the gnocchi. The *only* gripe I have is that for it being the largest of the vegetarian offerings, it still wasn't that big. For the amount of carrots included, I would have liked to see more gnocchi. I can't imagine what the first vegetable option (the beet, avocado, & citrus salad) would have looked like, portion-wise.

Kelly ordered the spicy lamb meatballs (pictured above, top left), and while she enjoyed them, being second on the list under "goat and lamb" it was a pretty small portion size. Conversely, Jon ordered the seared redfish with squid ink risotto, brussels sprouts, and shrimp (top right), which was the second item out of four under "seafood," and his was a much more generous sized, filling portion (he also really enjoyed it). Mark ordered the pork cheeks poutine, the last item under "pork," and it was a ginormous serving. He couldn't finish it.

Even after he and Jon went splitsies on it.

(I mean, how adorable are they).

The food was incredible, but the portion sizes were a bit confusing. That said, I still had room for dessert, which was exciting!

For dessert I ordered the golden beet cake, served with homemade pistachio marshmallows and hibiscus red beet ice cream. The cake was hearty and earthy, and it paired exceptionally well with the marshmallows. The marshmallows were out of this world. Subtly sweet and fluffy with a slightly crispy exterior, they may have been the best 'mallows I've ever had. The ice cream though was not my favorite. I love beets, so I wanted to love it, but it really left a "green" aftertaste in my mouth. I appreciate the creativity, but I think the dish as a whole was better off without the ice cream.

Overall, we had a great time at Cured. I do like the unique idea of increasing portion sizes for each menu section, but the plates did not seem consistent in size across the board. More consistency and clearer descriptors would have probably prepared us a little better. Regardless, the food was absolutely incredible and inventive, and the restaurant itself was gorgeous and rich with fascinating history, located smack dab in the beautiful, non-touristy (yet!) historic Pearl District. I definitely recommend it!

Riverwalk, who?

Cured on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Vacation Days: San Antonio

The subject line really should read, "Vacation Days: San Antonio, Cibolo, Marion, Canyon Lake, and Beyond-Oh My!" but I'm trying to up my cool factor here.

(no I'm not.)

But before I get into the vacay, I know everyone's been anxiously awaiting the news of my March Madness results (no?). I am happy to report that yours truly - who knows absolutely nothing about basketball - had drawn Duke from the beginning in one of my spreads and went on to win the whole thing! It boded well for me that the spread required absolutely zero skill or knowledge of the sport.

So, vacation! Jon and I recently went away for the weekend to visit Mark - one of his besties from high school (Jon really loves that I just referred to his buddy as his "bestie", sidenote) - and Mark's awesome fiance Kelly, who live in Cibolo. Cibolo is a cute, small 'burb of San Antonio, with plenty to do nearby. Notable restaurants we ate at that weekend were Cured in San Antonio and Gennaro's in Canyon Lake, but I'll do separate posts on those soon. Otherwise, I'd love to share the rest of my photos from the weekend with you all!

This is Wilson. He was really excited about us coming.

One afternoon, we had lunch at a cute little country restaurant called GG's Corner Cafe, located in the itsy bitsy cutesy little town of Marion. They didn't have much in the way of vegetarian offerings, but I did a number on some majorly tasty fried okra, a ginormous "side" salad, and a heaping baked potato. The yin to my yang had some sort of meat lover's extreme deli sandwich.

There's this thing called the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch where you can drive your car through what's basically a Texan African safari and feed some crazy animals like zebras and llamas. So we went!

(At 2:00 in the afternoon.)

(In the dead heat of the day.)

(After all of the animals had already eaten.)

Here's what we saw:

A nice sign.

(Also we saw a truck completely roll backwards and slam into another truck as we waited on the steep hill to get in. Neither driver seemed phased or concerned. Neither got out of their car. Everyone moved on... as one does while on a safari?)

A longhorn.

Three giraffes and a pickup truck.

And there you have it! If you go, take my advice: Go in the morning right when the park opens. Mark and Kelly had done that before, and you should have heard the amazing stories about all of the incredible wildlife they saw!

We enjoyed those stories and carried them near and dear to our hearts.

And of course we had to pay a visit to our favorite winery, La Cruz de Comal!

(Photo Credit: Kelly)


Um, and in my next life I'd like to be a winery dog, please.

It was a brief, but fun weekend! Like I said, I'll be reporting soon on a couple of the restaurants we visited, so stay tuned. San Antonio and the surrounding areas have a lot to offer for a weekend away, and you don't even have to go to the River Walk! (But if you do, I won't blame you because - guilty as charged - I love the River Walk).

And you might even have a super enthusiastic host!