La Griglia

Friday, January 31, 2014
It's been a very dramatic week.

I finally watched the "Downton Abbey" season 3 finale. I won't give any spoilers away to anyone else who is also over a year behind on their PBS shows (uhh, just me?), but WHAT IN GOD'S NAME HAPPENED?! I mean, what they did in the finale was just plain RUDE. And it all happened to my favorite character - The adorable, perfect, British, Future Mr. Kim Ogonosky.

Life is very hard sometimes.


A few weeks ago when we had family in town for the marathon, we went to dinner at La Griglia in the River Oaks Shopping Center. I had actually been to La Griglia once before, but someone (Hint: It was me.) accidentally deleted all of my photos while uploading a newer version of iTunes onto my phone.

But it was a blessing in disguise because I got to go back to this amazing place and try a whole bunch of new delicious things!

La Griglia is super cool and swanky inside, with fun glass lighting fixtures suspending from the ceilings and bright murals adorning the walls. In all of the two times I've been there, La Griglia has always been completely packed. It's just SO GOOD.

Now, I love a good bread basket as much as the next British 1920s TV Drama lover, but you know what's better than having a bread basket brought to your table when you're seated?


p i z z a  b a s k e t . So now I know what Belinda Carlisle was belting about back in 1987.

Anyone? Eh?

Obscure 80s pop references aside, the La Griglia pizza basket is a force to be reckoned with. The pizza strips are slightly tart and delicious, and quite frankly I feel sorry for the bread sticks in there because they never really stood a chance.

And you know what else I love? I'll say it, anchovies on my Caesar salads. Listen, don't knock it 'til you've tried it. Especially when put on the delicious La Griglia Caesar Salad. This salad is pretty huge, and has homemade croutons and crostini chips (I'm guessing that's what they were), which were out of this world. It was a really excellent Caesar.

But are you ready for this?

Duck Ravioli, my friends.

This. Was. EXQUISITE. The ravioli was filled with duck confit and topped with shallots, chianti, sage, and apples. It is everything you've dreamed of and more - Sweet, savory, rich, and DIVINE. Wow.

After you've finished eating your entree, they bring out a COMPLIMENTARY DESSERT PLATE.

I apologize for the excessive use of caps in this post, but GOOD LORD. Little heavenly Italian cookies and biscotti. And sprinkles! These adorable treats are light and tasty.

But sometimes you just need to order second dessert.

Like the White Chocolate Cake.

Not only was the cake arguably a piece of artwork, it was moist, rich, and SINFUL.

Everything I've ever had at La Griglia (all of the above, plus the Beef Carpaccio, Tomato Caprese Salad, Shortribs, and Cheesecake) has been beyond exceptional. La Griglia is a favorite of my family's, and I anticipate many more visits there in the future.

Ooooooh, baby, do you know what that's worth? Oooooooh heaven is a place on earth....

Little Woodrow's on Shepherd

Monday, January 27, 2014
Now that the marathon is over I can eat things like this:

And drink things like this:

And design things like this:

That's a lie. There's no way I could create something so majestic.

But Little Woodrow's can!

Last week I  met up with my two running buddies Suzanne and Jenny for Happy Hour at the Little Woodrow's on Shepherd, which opened back in May 2013. And we may or may not have worn our marathon finisher medals.

(We did).

I only snapped one lousy picture of the inside, but believe me when I say, the place is HUGE. The massive bar has about 700 beers on tap (okay 50, but that's a lot!), and there's a pool table, Foosball table, arcade games, and virtually limitless seating.

As I waited for my girlfriends I sat at the bar and asked for a good lager. Full disclosure: I'm terrible with beer. I like beer. I know that I like lagers. But I never really know what brands I like, and I always forget what I ordered on previous occasions. This occasion was no exception. The bartender gave me a stinkin' good lager in a 20 ounce mug (20 ounces for the price of a pint on Tuesdays!), and I fell in love with it.

As far as the food goes, even though LW claims their food is "pretty darn good" I was honestly just expecting standard bar fare.

Well, I am happy to report that Little Woodrow's was not lying!

First up, we ordered the Chips and "Sparky's" Queso.

Y'all. This was AWESOME. I seriously was blown away by the richness and amount of flavor in the queso. It really was absolutely perfect.

And yes, I just "Y'all"'ed y'all.

Then we ordered the previously pictured Fried Pickles, which were also pretty darn extraordinary.  The pickles were still incredibly juicy, even though the breading was crispy and not at all soggy. I'm pretty sure I ate all of them before Suzanne and Jenny had a chance to blink.

Next up, I had to order a Basket of Fries, obviously.

They were good. Nothing completely extraordinary like the queso or fried pickles, but still tasty. The fries were nice and salty and served super hot, which I'm a fan of. But I probably would have preferred them a tad crispier, and maybe with some additional seasonings. Regardless, it was a pretty solid offering of fries.

I'm very happy to have paid a visit to the Little Woodrow's on Shepherd. It's so full of character, and the food is really darn good. It was the perfect spot to catch up with my running gals and recount the joys and miseries of the marathon. I can't wait to go back and sit on the patio with a pint once the weather gets nice again!

Speaking of weather, I'm pretending that's claim of FLURRIES in Houston tomorrow is just some sort of a sick joke.

French Gourmet Bakery

Thursday, January 23, 2014
This is the opposite of awesome:

Houston, is that a snowflake I see on the forecast?! "Wintry Mess in Heart of Texas"?! GIANT ASTEROID HEADED OUR WAY?!

I thought we had a deal, Houston.

Well, if my beautiful, perfect weather is going to be rudely yanked away from me, the LEAST I can do is eat my feelings in the form of perfect fluffy baked goods!

I'm really not a sweet tooth person, so I wasn't expecting to be blown away when I ordered some treats for the office from French Gourmet Bakery.

But boy/girl, was I WRONG.

French Gourmet Bakery is a cute little shop located on Westheimer's busy, perpetually construction-ridden strip between Shepherd and Kirby. To step inside is to find a quiet, calm oasis from another time in the middle of the loud, modern, concrete jungle at its finest.

Question: How long can I use the excuse "Oh, I just ran a marathon" as my reasoning for being able to stuff my face with whatever I want? A week? A month? Until that giant asteroid hits earth? I'll take the latter.

First up was the red velvet cupcake whose size I was quite pleased with. I'm used to the Magnolias and the Crumbs of NYC, which have wonderful - but GARGANTUAN - cupcakes that serve as an entire second lunch...I mean only lunch. FGB's cupcakes were smaller and could justifiably (in my mind) serve as a delightful afternoon snack.

And then maybe have two of them. For the calcium!

This cupcake was like eating clouds. It was incredibly light, fluffy, moist, and absolutely transcendent. No lie. And that frosting? I can't. I CAN'T.

But I did.

It was by far the best red velvet cupcake I've ever had. Seriously delicious.

Next up were the cookies.

First of all, what an adorable box. I mean, really.

Second of all:

Clockwise from left: Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Thumbprint Cookies
 Is this real life? I most certainly hope so!

These were gobbled up in no time flat by my co-workers, but I managed to smuggle a chocolate chip and thumbprint cookie. The chocolate chip cookie was PHENOMENAL. Again, super fluffy (Seriously, what's the secret ingredient? A bit of HEAVEN?), not too sweet, and absolutely perfect. The thumbprint cookie, which has a coconut cookie base, was also really good. Although it was much richer than the cupcake and the chocolate chipper, it was quite the delectable little treat.

So if you're like me and you need to cry over some baked goods about the impending SNOW (when I first typed that I wrote "SNOT." Just making sure everyone's on the same page here), or if you've run a marathon sometime in the last century, OR if you just really want some awesome baked treats, I cannot recommend this wonderful little place enough!

And I dare you to take a glance at FGB's beautiful pastry-lined displays and not eat all of it.

Bring it snow/asteroid/mystery uncovered in the Italian alps.

The 2014 Houston Chevron Marathon

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
For the past six months I'd been going on and on about how I was training for the Houston Marathon, and that the training was like having a second full-time job, and how this was going to be my first and last marathon, and, and, and...

I'm a liar.

I ran in the Chevron Houston Marathon this weekend along with my mom, Uncle Andy, cousin Kyle, and amazing running group, the Runner's High Club, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Needless to say, I can't wait until the next one!

Life is just full of fun little surprises, isn't it?

If you've never experienced a marathon, whether it be as a runner, volunteer, or spectator, I definitely recommend checking out the Houston Marathon next year. It really is quite the event. 

So I want to share with all of you our weekend of fun, food, laughter, tears (I obviously wept like a baby for approximately 26.2 miles), nerves, and joy through photos!

To everyone who generously donated to my charity fundraiser the Snowdrop Foundation, thank you (Donations still accepted until February 21!). To everyone who stood and cheered throughout the race, thank you. To everyone who has put up with my *occasional* crankiness, sent words of encouragement, and given lots and lots of love, thank you so so much.

You all mean the world to me!

#HeyDad #FannyPack
Also, I can't feel my legs.

*All photos were taken on my iPhone, my sister Emily's iPhone, and my friend Suzanne's iPhone. They were edited in Pixlr, Instagram, and PhotoShop.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014
I've refreshed about 47 times on my computer today.

And the crazy part about it? I don't even like In fact, I loathe I loathe because inevitably I'll be sitting at my dining room table in the morning, eating my Count Chocula -- err, Kashi Go Lean, I'll think to myself, "I should check out the weather," go to, and get greeted by the most disgusting photos imaginable of rotting feet and maggots on top of cupcakes, and and and...I'll stop there, but just know there are always a million photos of gross NOT WEATHER things that no sane person would want to see while they're eating their Fruity Pebbles. I mean, Grape Nuts.

Why do I keep doing that?

Anyway, even though I loathe, I've been refreshing it repeatedly because HOUSTON YOU PLAYED A NASTY TRICK ON ME THIS PAST WEEKEND. See, my Happy Place involves a world that only has cold weather from Thanksgiving through New Years. After that, I firmly believe the summer should instantly begin. However, I know that's not entirely realistic (even down here), so I never actually thought it was a possibility.

But then last weekend happened.

It was sunny! Blue skies! 75 degrees! My dream was really coming true!

I think you all know what happened next. Yes, the perfect weather has gone away. It isn't cold, per se, but it isn't warm either. So I keep hitting that "refresh" button on my dear old frenemy, hoping for some sign of warmth, and keeping my fingers crossed that those temps raise a liiiittle bit more. Now that I have had a glimpse of heaven, I never want to look back. Don't let me down Houston.

Obviously, when I met up with my mom and our friend Christy last Sunday for lunch at Pondicheri, we didn't even have to debate if we wanted to sit inside or outside on that beautiful sunny day.

Sandals, Maxi Dresses, and T-Shirts, oh my!

During breakfast and lunch, Pondicheri is a counter service restaurant. It's super light and colorful inside. And if you go, do yourself a favor and pay a visit to the restroom hallway to look at the long adorable wall painted with inspiring, sweet quotations.

To start, I ordered the Shandy, which is a lager mixed with the Indian version of Sprite. This drink was so refreshing and absolutely perfect for sitting outside on a beautiful summer (or...January?) day. I can't wait to drink another one while laying out by the pool tomorrow!

I'm really doing some hardcore "Secret"-ing here,

And yes, I absolutely read that book. My future marriage to John Krasinski depended on it.

Now I've had a good amount of Indian food in the past, but it's mostly been curries and naan, so I wanted to venture outside my comfort zone a little. Christy has been to Pondicheri roughly 742 times (No seriously. She's had reviews for every single item on the menu.), so she was the perfect person to consult. After much debate, I settled on the Keema Frankie (beef keema slow cooked with caramelized onions, tomato, yogurt and warm spices), which is essentially, as Christy put it, "an Indian burrito." Sign me up!

I ordered it with the Pondicheri salad on the side, and it was all really great. The egg wrap that housed the beef keema was super fluffy, and the meat was juicy and seasoned beautifully.

Man, I really want one right now but since I'm currently living in a House of Lame while preparing for Sunday's marathon (10% chance of rain! Sounds good to me,!), I'll have to refrain.

My mother ordered the Rancher platter, which was my second choice, so I sampled its offerings of butter chicken, sayel lamb, smoked eggplant, kachumber, quinoa khichri, and naan. Sweet Mother of Pearl, that butter chicken was DIVINE. The other standout in the crowd was the smoked eggplant, which had a sneaky spicy kick a few seconds after ingestion. Again, I really want all of it RIGHT now.

Located in the beautiful West Ave apartment complex in Upper Kirby, Pondicheri is an exceptionally good, very decently priced Indian restaurant. My overall review of Pondicheri? It's AWESOME.

I'll see all of you there the day after the marathon when it's sunny and 80 degrees!!

Come on

Beck's Prime in Memorial Park

Monday, January 13, 2014
There are three very important things I need to discuss:

1) THIS WEATHER WE'RE HAVING. Oh. my. gorsh. THIS is why I moved back to Houston - forget the fact that I'm now close to my family that I love so much and have an amazing job that I love so much. The beautiful spring weekend we just had in, oh, JANUARY? Made me fall in love with Houston hard. I mean, we'll revisit this topic again in August when my hair has become roughly the size of Nebraska due to 175% humidity, but for now? I'm totally going steady with H-Tizzle.

2) The Bachelor is on again tonight!!! That is all.

3) I'm running in the Houston marathon this coming Sunday (Eek! What have I done?!), and I'm super excited, and super nervous, and stupidly emotional about it, BUT I CAN'T EAT ANYTHING LIKE THIS FOR THE NEXT 6 DAYS:

#RealLifeProblems, guys.

Last week I met up with my Dad, my sister Emily, and my friend Lenny for lunch at Beck's Prime in Memorial Park. This counter service spot is a tad more expensive than other burger joints (but let's be honest I still see the world through New York City Goggles, so it seemed normal to me), but the quality of food totally justifies the price.

I decided to stray from my typical burger of the bacon cheddar variety, and boy was I glad that I did. My Blue Cheeseburger was absolutely perfect. Not only did they cook it perfectly to my medium rare order, but the quality of it was downright amazing. Not a greasy spoon burger, the Beck's burger takes it a step up in terms of fresh, prime (ha, get it? "prime"?...sorry) ingredients. Also, the combination of blue cheese, mayo, and veggie toppings was so simple, yet so delectable. I seriously want to marry this burger. Is that legal yet?

And the fries! Phenomenal! I know it doesn't take a lot for me to love a fry, but it does take a lot for me to be impressed by a fry, and these fries delivered. They were perfectly cooked (not soggy, but not too crunchy), and beautifully seasoned. They were no-ketchup-needed fries. Maybe I could just try to sneak in one before the marathon....

Oh, and of course we had to share a Chocolate Shake!

Now I'm a bit of a milkshake snob, having grown accustomed to NYC's Shake Shack, but this shake was pretty solid. Or liquid.

And the bad joke award goes to....!

Anyway, the milkshake tasted like a more legitimate Wendy's Frosty. Which, I mean, who doesn't love a Wendy's Frosty, let alone a more legitimate one? It was smooth, thick, and super indulgent. Quite the chocolatey delight!

What's that famous saying? "A week straight of eating only burgers and fries and shakes, a healthy marathoner it makes?"

Yeah, that's definitely it.

Hunan Village

Friday, January 10, 2014
Something very important happened this week.

That's right - This year's season of The Bachelor started!!!!!!! Oh, the tears! Oh, the deception! Oh, the over-the-top plans of trying to make a man fall in love with you by pretending you're pregnant! If you missed it, never fear because I live-tweeted the whole thing!

I should be completely embarrassed by this, correct?

And what could be more perfect than watching the creme de la creme of trashy TV with wine, Chinese takeout, your sister, and your sister's best friend Paige who she's been inseparable with since they were basically fetuses?

Wow, I promise never to use the word "fetus" in a post about food ever again.

...Okay, that's a promise I probably can't keep.

But hey, even my Fortune Cookie knew what was up: "You should enhance your feminine side at this time." Fortune Cookie, you have got my number.

(The only more perfect fortune I've ever received was one time when I was trying to open a cookie, dropped it on the floor, it broke, and I opened it to read: "You are very good with your hands." True story.)

On this monumental night, we discovered my new favorite neighborhood Chinese Takeout joint - Hunan Village!

Or as we endearingly referred to it, "An Vi." Sounds kind of French. I dig it.

Hunan Village's prices are INSANE. That was the initial attraction. $10 dinner specials that include an egg roll, fried rice, AND your choice of egg drop, wonton, or hot and sour soup.

We did a smorgasbord family-style set up (like you do), and I was pleasantly surprised at the overall great quality of the food.

The Egg Roll (not pictured. I ate it too fast.) was ra-healllly good. It was super flavorful, and generously stuffed. A very upstanding egg roll, if I do say so myself!

We also ordered Crab Puffs to share, and OH. MY. They were perfectly fluffy and delicious on the inside, and beautifully crispy on the outside. These were some awesome puffs.

Next up were the Barbecue Spare Ribs, which I'll be honest, were not my favorite. I think they needed a little more sauce. They were still good, but not nearly as bomb-diggity as everything else.

When I first bit into the Pork Lo Mein, I thought, "This is very good, standard lo mein." Nothing exceptional, but solid. A few more bites in I realized it actually was, in fact, exceptional. You know how sometimes pork can seem a little, I don't know...questionable? Well this pork was, without question, the best pork I've ever had in lo mein. Really good stuff.

Because my sister is literally incapable of eating any meal that does not include shrimp, she ordered the Shrimp with Garlic Sauce dinner. This was AWESOME. It was so juicy and flavorful, and packed a nice little spicy punch at the end.

Hunan Village is the real deal. I am so happy to have learned about this super cheap, super unassuming, super AWESOME Chinese food joint.

[I was not nearly as happy to have learned this week that if your dishwasher is broken, and you know nothing about dishwashers, but decide to try to "fix it yourself" (DON'T DO IT), do not EVER touch the round bar thing at the bottom because it is hotter than the sun. Just looking out for you guys, have a great weekend!]
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