Home is where the 50,000+ Cans of Beer Are: The Beer Can House

Monday, September 30, 2013
When I was little (and by "little" I mean 26), I used to play the "If I could have a house made out of anything it would be made out of _____" game with my friends. A bathtub filled with mashed potatoes! Walls made out of Swedish Fish! Beds made out of cotton candy!

Everyone has played this game, right?

Crazy as my food house dreams may seem, a man by the name of John Milkovisch made his "If I could have a house made out of anything it would be mad out of _____" vision a reality.

In the form of a beer can house.

After our educational, but slightly harrowing experience at the Menil, my friend Meredith and I decided to visit the more light-hearted Beer Can House near Memorial Park last weekend.

As we walked down the street lined with normal, non-beer-can-covered houses, we could hear the calming sound of tin cans rattling in the breeze, beckoning us home.

The house, enveloped in over 50,000 beer cans, is quite a sight to behold. Not only is the house covered in cans, the sidewalk throughout the front and back yards is covered in marbles. Also, there are different pieces of cheeky artwork created by Milkovisch stationed around the grounds.

$2 grants you admission to the grounds and inside the house, which is set up like a museum and tribute to this man's work. There is also a great short video you can watch, featuring interviews with John, his hilarious wife Mary, his son, and his grandson.

Mary's one contribution to the Beer Can House - A "Lemon" Tree
Art can come in many forms, and this man chose to exercise his creativity in a way that says, "Take it easy. Life is good. Laugh often. And drink more beer."

I can definitely appreciate that sentiment!

The Beer Can House is another great Houston landmark you can visit on the cheap, and I definitely recommend doing it. While the Menil expanded my mind by taking me to darker, more challenging places, the Beer Can House hit me over the head by saying "Stop stressing and taking life too seriously!" And I think we all need that reminder every now and then.

Amen, John. Amen.

Sunday Funday: Brunch at Sorrel Urban Bistro

Friday, September 27, 2013
Things I don't miss about NYC: Winter. High rent prices. Constant exposure to the elements. Lack of sunlight. Being far away from my family. The crowded-ness.

Things I do miss about NYC: Fall. The culture. My friends. "Reliable" mass transit. BRUNCH.

Anyone who has ever been to New York City on a weekend knows that brunch is a religion there. The term "unlimited" needs no further explanation (unlimited bloody marys, mimosas, or bellinis), and brunch usually requires a major hardcore commitment. Roll out of bed hungover at 1:00, get to brunch with all of your girlfriends by 2:00, pound your unlimited bevy of choice while eating your "Ugh, I get this every time, but it's so good" meal of eggs benedict (or occasionally eggs florentine), get back home by 5:00, and go to sleep proud, slightly ashamed because you are no longer in college and really shouldn't be drunk for a solid 48 hours anymore, and satisfied.

I don't want to say that only in NYC is this behavior/ritual deemed acceptable, but...only in NYC is this behavior/ritual deemed acceptable. In my limited scope of the world, I have yet to stumble upon another city where brunch is such a to-do.

Well imagine my delight when I came across Sorrel Urban Bistro in Upper Kirby! No, they do not have an "unlimited" option, but mimosas are only 99 cents. Houston just might catch on yet!

Prior to our visit to the Menil, my friend Meredith and I started our Sunday Funday last weekend with brunch at Sorrel. Meredith is well-versed in NYC brunches, as I had forced brought her to the now-defunct Lava Cafe in Astoria when she came to visit me once (where, FYI, you got four drinks with your meal, and had to finish all 4 drinks within 2 hours - Something I'm pretty sure cannot possibly be legal and may explain the defunct-ness...).

We used a half off lunch for two coupon I got from Travelzoo, which was a pretty sweet deal. To start, we got our mimosas (duh), which were delightful and refreshing, as mimosas should be.

And before we even got our appetizer, we were greeted with these little bundles of joy:

Little baby biscuits with lingonberry butter on the side. Adorable AND delicious!

For an appetizer we shared the Baba Ganoush, and it was Baba Ga-good!

I apologize for the "Baba Ga-Good." Unacceptable.

I got the Lobster Benedict for my entree (because as you know I'm no longer allergic to crustaceans and I can do what I want don't tell me how to live my life but God knows I always have my EpiPen on hand just in case because I'm not that brave), and it was Ri.di.cu.lous. Not only did it have what appeared to be four-leaf clovers on top, but it was just utter perfection. The runny-ness of the yolk covering the delicate, soft lobster cake sent me through. the. roof. It's wrong how good that thing was.

I got a little fruit salad as my side, and it was fresh and delicious.

Also, if anyone can tell me what that baby pomegranate-looking fruit up at the top is, I will give you $5. Okay, I won't give you $5 because I never carry cash on me, but I'd be forever grateful! It sort of tasted like a white peach. But it was smaller than a peach. And pomegranate-looking on the outside. MYSTERY FRUIT, WHAT ARE YOU?!

We went splitsville, so Meredith ordered the other things I had been eyeballing - the soft shell crab benedict with a side of the pomme frites (That's "French Fries" for us lay folk). Her benny was also very good, but completely different. Whereas the lobster benedict is a poached egg over a light lobster cake, the soft shell crab benedict is a poached egg over a fried soft shell crab. Not as rich, but a little heartier, this dish definitely offered different, but delicious sensations to my palate.

And those fries, GOOD GOD. There were WHOLE CLOVES OF GARLIC in them for crying out loud! Just. If you go, get them. Just do it please.

Sorrel Urban Bistro is not the cheapest place in the world, but given the awesome service, trendy vibe inside, and the PHENOMENAL food, you definitely get your money's worth.

Thank you Houston, for giving me a brunch experience that can run with the big dogs of NYC.*

*(Except for the part where I would have been hungover and still drunk and had 6 mimosas which I didn't do this time because I'm almost 30 now and feel like death for an entire week if I do that so I only had one 99 cent mimosa which means I'm completely proud/ashamed of what I've become).

Feeling Artsy (And Afraid...) At the Menil!

Thursday, September 26, 2013
I love art: I love Renaissance paintings, impressionism, performance art, sculptures, even contemporary art.

I learned this weekend at the Menil Collection, however, that I am not the biggest fan of Surrealism.

I also love meditation: I love yoga, spas, nature, quiet, peace.

I learned this weekend at the Rothko Chapel that I am not the biggest fan of windowless, octagon-shaped rooms.

On Sunday, my dear friend Meredith and I had a wonderful brunch at Sorrel Urban Bistro (blog post to come!). Afterwards, we ventured over to the Rothko Chapel and Menil Art Collection.

Both are Houston must-sees, I will say. Not only are they free to visit, but everyone should experience something completely unique and step out of their comfort zones every now and then (and this trip was definitely out of our comfort zones). I had no idea that in going to these I'd be yanked out of my categorical, butterflies and rainbows, 4-walled world, but I am glad that I did.

First of all, the lawn outside of the Menil and Rothko Chapel is gorgeous. If you are a fan of picnicking (guilty as charged!), this is a great spot to do it.

The fountain outside of the Rothko Chapel
What I really like about the Rothko Chapel is that it offers a sanctuary for those seeking meditative refuge and also supports human rights initiatives. I just personally did not feel an urge to meditate upon entering, but of course others might feel differently. If anything, it definitely was one of the quietest places I've ever been, which may have attributed to my discomfort. Food for thought!

When we had finished visiting the chapel, we strolled across the street to the beautiful Menil building. After getting a map, I said to Meredith, "What should we look at first?" "Surrealist art!" she exclaimed, and I know we were both having visions of our exciting college studies of surrealist theatre.

Guess what? They're different.

Sure, surrealist theatre is dark, but I view surrealist theatre from a former actor's perspective, and actors eat that stuff up. And it's performance. Surrealist visual art - at least the pieces we were viewing - is dark and often disturbing in a very different way from performance art. You can tell that these artists were suffering from more than "How I Met Your Mother Summer Withdrawal Syndrome" (though admittedly, that is a tough thing to endure) and pouring tortured hearts and souls into these pieces of art.

And if not, they definitely had me fooled!

One room in the Surrealist section is called "Witnesses." There probably were dozens of pieces of artwork in this room, but I can't be too sure because all we were able to see was a piece in the center called 'Wildman' Costume, which is a life-size figure of a man covered in wooden spikes protruding from all over his body.

"'Wildman' Costume"
Needless to say, these two fully grown, rapidly-approaching-30-year-olds hauled tail out of there.

We ended our visit at the Menil in the Contemporary Art gallery, which I did really enjoy. While I can appreciate being challenged and slightly scared, I was comforted by being back in my 4-walled universe, staring calmly at a picture of a can of soup.

I also happen to love soup, but that's beside the point.

So do I recommend the Rothko Chapel and Menil Art Collection? Absolutely. But if you're a ninny like me, be prepared: These aren't for the faint of heart. Visiting these spots is a great way to expand your horizons, go outside of your comfort zone, learn a little more about the world, and form a trauma bond with the friend you went with (I'm totally kidding).

Fun Fact: My 89 year old Grandpa Walt loves the Menil Collection. And he's a standup guy.

Taco Tuesdays: El Real

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Now I know what you all are thinking:

The last time Kim did a Taco Tuesday, the downtown Macy's building was still intact!

The last time Kim did a Taco Tuesday, the fall TV lineup had not yet begun!

The last time Kim did a Taco Tuesday, we had not yet been subjected to Miley Cyrus' and Robin Thicke's VMA performance!

Yes, I realize it's been that long. But, as I demonstrated before in the eloquent words of my dear friend, I'm never gonna give you up.

Oh! I've got another good one for you:

The last time Kim did a Taco Tuesday, she was still under the false impression that she was allergic to shellfish!

It's true! I ate crab the other day on accident at the Blue Fish with my friend Carla and did not die! I didn't even get puffy! It's a new day Houston!

I'm still staying away from mollusks though..."Never trust a mollusk," I always say...

Delayed Taco Tuesdays and shellfish aside, Jason and I went to El Real for dinner last Friday night. Might I mention, this was after we circled the parking lot at the Upper Kirby Chuy's three times and finally gave up, but we were determined to get our Mexican on!

El Real is really something inside. Set inside a restored old movie theater, it always has old films projected onto one of the large interior walls. Super cool.

I decided not to act a snob about margaritas and ordered their "special" peach marg. It was delightful, though I would have liked it a *tad* sweeter. But I drank the whole thing and definitely enjoyed it, that's for sure!

To start, we shared a small chile con queso with ground beef. It was pretty standard (Read: Awesome) and did not disappoint.

For my main course I got the Fajita Beef Quesadilla, and it was decent. The cheese sort of reminded me of ballpark nacho cheese, which of course is appropriate in certain situations (for example, in a ballpark). I did like everything else about my 'dilla though and was completely blown away by all of the accoutrements that came with it - lettuce, tomato, guacamole, jalapenos, and sour cream. A+ for that side stuff!

Jason got one of the enchilada combos, which was pretty good. Again, the cheese wasn't my favorite.

"But Kim! You swear you've never met a cheese you didn't like!" And this is still true, my little porcupines. But when the cheese in question is decorating a dish, it should be evenly matched.

Now. In all fairness, if El Real was in New York, it would blow everyone's socks off. I'm being hyper-critical now that I'm living in The Land of Awesome Tex-Mex. Will I go back? Of course. Our server was beyond nice and the atmosphere is freaking awesome. Does it rank up there with the gods of El Tiempo or El Gallo? No, but again, we're in the big leagues of Mexican restaurants here. Also, I need to give some other dishes there a try!

And guess what? I've got more blog posts coming your way this week! I KNOW I CAN'T BELIEVE IT EITHER. Here's a preview: Awesome brunch at Sorrel Urban Bistro, disturbing nightmares at The Menil, and drunken revelry at the Beer Can House are all coming to a blog near you!

I Love You Bowl Cafe

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Before I get into my new found love for Bowl Cafe, I have to tell you that despite the fact that I've been incredibly busy, and my blog posts have been coming a little slower than usual, I'm not giving up on this blog. The only way I can truly express to you my feelings need to be told in the eloquent words of this guy.

Why, you're welcome!

So I got takeout last weekend from Bowl Cafe in Montrose for my mom and me.

And FYI - It was love at first sight.

I mean, you all know my L'OBSESSION with exposed brick, right? No? Well, I'm L'OBSESSED. I mean, Bowl Cafe could have been a two hour drive from my apartment, located in a tent, and had completely run out of food by time I got there, but if there was a brick wall inside of that tent (just go with me here)? I'd probably love it regardless.

Yeah, it's that real.

Thankfully, Bowl Cafe was just a short jaunt from my apartment, was NOT located in a tent, and had plenty of food to spare.

And booze! Yes!

However, since I was getting takeout, there was no booze to be had. Uhh, I mean since I was eating lunch, there was no booze to be had because I would never drink alcohol before 5:00 pm.

Okay, you got me, my mom had a bottle of wine ready for us by time I got there. The apple does not fall far.

So the food!

I got the Pistachio Chicken Salad Sandwich, and I'm going to be straight with you - It wasn't my favorite. I was a big fan of the pistachio chicken salad mixture, but the sandwich itself was too dry. It definitely could have used more mayo (which I added) and maybe some cheese (duh, always). But once I added the mayo the taste was much better.

What's that you say? How could I boldly declare my love for a place with mediocre food? Is it just because of the exposed brick?

I mean, I see how you would think that, but no.

Because I should have known that with a name like "Bowl Cafe," the salads would be where it's at. Or bowling lanes, but there didn't seem to be any of those in sight.

My mom got the Montrose Salad, and WAH-OW, was it GOOD. And I generally don't gravitate to the sweet, fruit-infused salads, but this was glorious. Crunchy, sweet, savory. And the salad dressing? Mah. Lawd.

Another reason I loved this little order-at-the-counter spot? The woman taking orders was the bubbliest, sweetest gal ever. God, I love a nice person.

Overall it reminded me of a less well-known Cafe Brasil. Which is right up my alley!

Will I go back? Abso-frickin-lutely. But I'll probably go with a salad next time. Because that one I had was deliriously good.

And with that I say.....

We're no strangers to love
You know the rules and so do I
A full commitment's what I'm thinking of
You wouldn't get this from any other guy
I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling
Gotta make you understand

Never gonna give you up,
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry,
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt youuuuuu........

Restaurant Weeks Review: Amazing Américas

Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Hey, my name is Kim - Remember me? It's been a while.

Okay, it's only been six days, but it seems like forrrr.eeeev.errrr (Sandlot style). Gah, Kim, why did you abandon the blogosphere for six days?!?!

I've just been super duper busy with work and marathon training and all of that fun stuff!

But enough of that. Onto the H-Town eats!

As some of you may or may not recall, I'd rolled the proverbial Houston Restaurant Weeks die recently and had two lackluster experiences at Hearsay Gastro Lounge and Brennan's. Needless to say, I was very hesitant upon going to my final HRW stop last weekend, Américas in River Oaks.

But boy, was I in for a treat.

First of all, I loved the inside of Américas. My first thought when we walked in was, "This restaurant looks like it came straight from Las Vegas." Not because it has magicians, slot machines, and guys in every corner handing you disturbing postcards. But because it's super funky, colorful, and seriously cool. You know, like Vegas.

So we got to our table, and our waiter was beyond pleasant, attentive, laid back, and did not rush - or, conversely, neglect - us at all. Very refreshing!

So before we got our courses, we were given a delicious starter of fried plantains with three different sauces - A buttery sauce, a pesto-y sauce, and a spicy sauce. And man, was it all good. The plantains were not too crispy, not at all soggy, and did not have an overwhelming banana taste (Yes, I realize plantains are different from bananas, I did live in Miami for four years). They were awesome.

For my appetizer I got the Angel Wings, which might have been the cutest little suckers I've ever seen. On top of that, they were juicy and light, and they tasted heavenly (I guess that's why they call 'em "Angel Wings") dipped in the blue cheese that came on the side.

My boyfriend Jason and I both got the Churrasco Steak, which has been rated by Esquire Magazine as one of the Top 20 Steaks in America. And I have to say, were they right. The steak was so tender it could be cut with a butter knife. A butter knife! Eating that steak was seriously an otherworldly experience. And the Yukon Cake (aka big fancy tater tot) and mixed veggies that came with it were equally as wonderful and complimented the steak perfectly.

For our desserts, Jason and I split the Tres Leches and Delirio De Chocolate. We couldn't finish either one of them because they were both so huge, but they were utterly delectable. The Tres Leches won the popular vote - It was moist, silky, light, and simply breathtaking. The Delirio De Chocolate (big chocolate cake) was also very good, but it was SUPER chocolate-y and super rich. It is one of those decadent desserts that deserves three solid, drawn out savoring bites.

My overall review? América's completely knocked my socks off. It may actually - Dare I say it? - take over the title of Kim's New Favorite Houston Restaurant. (Sorry Underbelly!!!!)

I definitely recommend going there to celebrate a special occasion, to sit outside on the deck during Happy Hour, to take in the scene of well-dressed swanky patrons, or to just have a wonderful night out.

Also, get the mojito. #YOLO (Yes, I absolutely just hashtag/yolo'ed).
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