All Hail the Barbecue

Sunday, June 30, 2013
WOMAN: What do you want to do for dinner tonight?
MAN: Want to just throw a couple burgers on the grill out back?
WOMAN: Sounds great!

- Said no one in New York City, ever.*

Since I've moved back to Houston I have been able to rediscover the art of grilling. I recognize that this is not unique to Houston, and that most people in America have experienced a backyard barbecue at some point. However, New York City generally does not lend itself to barbecuing due to lack of space and fire bans in the parks. Everyone has that one friend that hits the New York lottery with the elusive backyard space (I'm looking at you Cat), so you take it where you can get it.

But here? Magic.

You can grill burgers! You can grill steaks! You can grill fish! You can grill vegetables! You can even grill potatoes (pictured above)! For 11 months out of the year! It's the most incredible thing ever!

You can even Fry stuff!

(Frying courtesy of Jeremy, Becca, Sergio, and Big Serg.)

What you see pictured above is the frying of homemade tortilla chips and flautas, respectively. Homemade tortilla chips and flautas! And you bet we ate all of this with authentic homemade guacamole and salsa that burned like fire the whole way down and made you regret nothing and everything all at the same time. 

(Don't even get me started on the majesty that is Mexican food down here. That's for a later date.)

Maybe the wonder of it will wear off. Maybe the 4th of July barbecues in Cat's awesome backyard on the Upper East Side made me appreciate more what I didn't readily have. Maybe only being able to grill 3 months of the year due to seasonality made me see how special the act really is.

So I would like to propose a toast: Houstonians alike, let's raise a St. Arnold, Shiner, or Tony's margarita to the barbecue. We salute you.

*I do realize that some people in NYC have backyards with barbecue pits, but not having any raw data at my fingertips I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's about .79% of the Manhattan population. 

"Why Would You Move to Houston??"

Friday, June 28, 2013
Um, because it's where I was born and raised? Because it's where my family is? Because economically it's doing phenomenally (intentional rhyme)? Because I can get a burger for under $25? Because for every 60 jobs I applied to in New York City, I got one interview, where as for every FOUR I applied to in Houston I got one? BECAUSE THERE'S NO WINTER?!?!

I could continue, but I won't.

After having spent the past 5 1/2 years in New York and the previous 4 years in Miami, people were (unapologetically) perplexed at my decision to move home. I felt like screaming out "It's my home, LAY OFF!!!!" but normally I would mumble something to the tune of "It's just time for me to go."

A few weeks after I first moved down here my super cool friend Amanda came down for a wedding in Galveston. Now, Super Cool Amanda is super cool. She's from L.A., she lives in Brooklyn, she has fiery red hair and cool tattoos, her dad's a conductor, her mom's an opera singer who lives in Mexico, and she's is currently working for a music studio/record label (just coming off having taught at a university on Long Island). I mean, seriously cool. And funny as hell. So I made it my mission to show this ridiculously cool person how great Houston can be.

The first day we met up closer to where she was staying, in Kemah. I love Kemah. I have fond memories of going to Kemah growing up. The food was delicious. The boardwalk was pretty. The overpriced rides were a decent attempt at filling up the hole in my heart left by Astroworld (Rest in Peace Greezed Lightnin'). But it probably wasn't the best choice for the first spot to take Super Cool Amanda.

Greezed Lightnin' you will always be missed.
Photo Credit

So I trudged along.

The second day we met up, I had her come out closer to my turf. First we started in Montrose, walking up and down the streets, going into kitschy little stores (we spent an obscene amount of time in a Magic/voodoo type shop*), and looking at all of the adorable bungalows. We'd yell for joy when we saw a gay pride sign. We'd stop and take pictures with adorable dogs on their lawns (and somehow didn't get arrested). And we even stumbled upon a hipster little coffee shop that would definitely receive a stamp of approval from the Big Apple.

After that we drove all through downtown, the theatre district, the Galleria area, River Oaks, and ended with a beautiful dinner in the courtyard at Backstreet Cafe.

"You know," Super Cool Amanda said as we sipped our pinot noir, "Houston's a really cool city."

No amount of accolades or accomplishments could ever make me as proud as I felt in that moment.

And that's where the idea for this blog stemmed from. I want to prove that Houston is more than a hot, sticky town with terrible mass transit. I want to re-discover the city of my childhood. I want to explore all that it has to offer. I want to find out what makes it "cool." 

In essence, I want to find the New York City in Houston. 

So whether you're from Houston, currently living here, deciding if you want to move here (you should!), or just happened to stumble upon this little blog, welcome!

Let's show those New Yorkers we have what it takes to compete with the big guns.

Photo Credit

*Obviously. I was with Super Cool Amanda.
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