Thursday, February 27, 2014
Want to hear a funny story?

(I'm hoping that if I charm you with a funny story, we can all ignore the fact that it's been FOURTEEN DAYS since I've put a post up here. Though I did warn you.)

The other day I was at the Kroger on West Gray, grabbing a few things for my parents. Because I have this disease where I cannot exit a grocery store without a bottle or three of wine in my hand, there was some malbec thrown in there for good measure.

Long story long, the grocer had an oops moment and dropped the bottle of malbec, which shattered in dramatic fashion all over the floor.

In the midst of him apologizing profusely and me telling him over and over again it was totally fine, the sequence of events went something like this:

Cranky Woman: (walks in, looks at the wine, scrunches up her nose) Smells like wine in here.

No kidding.

Non-cranky woman: (walking out, looks at the wine) Oh, that's just unfortunate.
Me: (laughing) Yes it is.

Now before I get to Person #3, you guys know how Américas is my favorite restaurant in Houston? Well, it is without a shadow of a doubt my favorite restaurant in Houston.

So out walks none other than DAVID CORDUA of Américas fame, but before he leaves...

David Cordúa: (stops, looks at the wine) Oh, that is just the saddest sight I've ever seen!
(Painfully long pause as David Cordúa waits for me to laugh or respond or I don't know SOMETHING)
Me: (gapes awkwardly and has seemed to have lost any ability to speak).

So I shared a moment with David Cordúa.

Okay, I almost shared a moment with David Cordúa. It was more he was all awesome and stuff, and I stood there like a noodle. But there it is!

Do you forgive me now for my lack of blog posts in the month of February?

A few weeks ago (okay a month ago, let's be real I'm way behind here), my best friend Courtney came down to visit from NYC. And it very well might have been the best weekend of my life, no lie. While I was sure to take her to a bunch of my faves (El Tiempo, Brasil, Torchy's, Spec's and Underbelly), at the suggestion of my friend Lenny, we had dinner at Beaver's in the Heights one night.

Y'all. Y'ALL. This is a Houston staple, and I cannot believe this was the first time I'd been there.

Beaver's kind of looks like a place that would have just standard pub fare (aside from all of the immature - and by immature I mean HILARIOUS - beaver jokes plastered everywhere). But the food most certainly is not standard pub fare.

To start, we ordered the Tots 'N Shots to split. Green chile pimento cheese risotto tots with BLOODY MARY dipping sauce, are you kidding me with this? They were absolutely magnificent. The cheese oozed out of the tots in perfect harmony with the risotto, and the bloody mary dipping sauce offered a tangier more flavorful alternative to the standard marinara or ketchup.

Because I felt it important that Courtney sample some true Texas staples, she ordered the Smoker Sampler, and I ordered the Chicken Fried (Beaver) Steak.

When I said the words "chicken fried steak," she looked at me like I had three heads. Psh, Northerners.

But she loved the CFBS! And this was a pretty darn good chicken fried steak. Tasty BACON gravy (dear lord) that didn't make the breading soggy (we Texans know what that's like, ammiright?), covering a hearty helping of fried steak. It was absolutely awesome and totally healthy because it came with vegetables!

Let me dream.

Courtney's barbecue Smoker Sampler was pretty good as well. Not the best barbecue I've ever had (though I'm not really sure what the best barbecue I've ever had is), but it definitely had a nice variety of offerings: Pork ribs, beef brisket, Carolina vinegar pulled pork, and half a link of sausage. And let me tell you, the sausage was phenomenal. I think it was some sort of jalapeno sausage. Whatever it was, I could have had 8 links of it as my whole meal.

Apologies for that visual. I just grossed myself out too so you're not alone.

I loved Beaver's so much, and I really am baffled it took me almost a year to finally get there. The environment is quirky, casual, and utterly pleasant, and the food is a surprisingly creative, delicious, and flattering homage to down-home Houston food.

I bet my BFF David Cordúa would totally agree.

A Trip to the Suburbs: The Union Kitchen in Kingwood

Thursday, February 13, 2014
Hey guys, remember me?

My February is a wee bit busy, so full disclosure, my schblog posts are going to be a wee bit limited this month. But I promise they'll become more regular soon old chaps. I also promise to stop talking like I'm stuck in a PBS British period drama.

A few weeks ago, I ventured out to the suburbs to visit my friend Meredith. We decided to get dinner at The Union Kitchen's newest location in Kingwood, where we plotted and planned our upcoming trip to Las Vegas. (Hint: "Take super pretentious artsy photos on top of the Grand Canyon" and "Find Kim a husband sugar daddy who is equal parts John Krasinski and Ryan Gosling" may or may not be on the docket. Will be sure to report back later with the results.)

It was a Saturday night, and the place was SLAMMERS. We had to wait for about 20 minutes for a table, and we ended up at a high table in the bar area. I was actually glad to be seated in the more casual section, as the main dining hall looked a wee bit (sorry) fancier, with white table cloths abounding.

And we all know I'm no Fancy Nancy!


I'm always trying to get Meredith to eat more of her veggies (From my lips to God's ears, she still hides her broccoli in her napkin), so when our incredibly sweet server recommended the Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Spears to start, I knew that they would be an excellent way to trick Mere into getting her daily dose of vitamin...whatever vitamin comes in asparagus.

And it worked!

The spears were wrapped with herbed goat cheese and the proscuitto, and it was all topped up with a thick, balsamic reduction. They were absolutely delicious. The spears were a fantastic combination of savory (prosciutto, goat cheese) and sweet (balsamic reduction), with just a hint of vegetables.

Creatine? Is that the thing that's good for you in vegetables? No, there's no way that's correct.

For my main course I ordered the Wild Mushroom Pizza. I can't even tell you how incredible this pizza was. Let's break it down here:
  • caramelized onions
  • oyster mushrooms
  • portabella mushrooms
  • mozzarella cheese
This pizza oozed Delicious. The caramelized onions and the brie cheese made it otherworldly. More a fancy pizza than one of the greasy spoon variety, the only other pizza I have found on this level of refined awesomeness is the Talleggio Florentine Pizza I had at CRISP. It was the type of pizza you have for dinner, then have for breakfast (who said that?), then daydream about for weeks afterward. And I'll say it:

The pizza was equal parts John Krasinski and Ryan Gosling.

After having gone through the emotional journey of loving life through that beautiful brick oven pizza, Meredith and I split some sort of Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich dessert explosion. It was obviously quite decadent, but it was reeeeally rich, so I couldn't quite demolish my half of it (and where's the fun in that?). Overall, a great dessert though.

So if you're out in the Kingwood area and are looking for an excellent place for dinner, look no further than The Union Kitchen.


Pizza, will you be my Valentine?


Tuesday, February 4, 2014
It's February! Get excited!

In truth, February might historically be my least favorite month. As a cynical teenager/early twentysomething, my February Hatred was about the anxiety of being single on Valentine's Day. Then when I was in relationships it was about the anxiety of having The Perfect Valentine's Day. Then when I was living in New York it was about February being the bitterest, coldest, longest month, despite it only being made up of 28/29 days.

Welp, now I'm single and living in Houston, and February doesn't seem so bad anymore for the following reasons:

1) It's not cold. I mean, sure, it's cold, but it's not Northeast Winter cold. No snow or single digit temps here! *knocks on wood*

2) Summer is coming. Every month down brings us a month closer to laying on the beach!

3) I can sit at home, have Scandal marathons with my dog Newton, and eat all of the candy hearts. Okay, I guess that's just business as usual.

Yes, temperatures have been on the cold end of the Houston spectrum lately. However, last month when my family was in town for the Chevron Houston Marathon we had lunch on the patio at the Berryhill in Montrose on a particularly lovely, warm afternoon.

See, Houston keeps occasionally throwing us these gorgeous days, and it makes the colder days more bearable!

Berryhill is a relatively cheap chain located throughout Houston. I'd had my first experience with Berryhill when I was younger at one out in Kingwood. At first I was incredibly apprehensive of the concept (Let's be honest, it was probably February of 1997, and I was probably bitter that JTT had yet to respond to my fan mail), but after one bite I quickly converted.

And this time was no exception!

When you go to Berryhill, first thing's first: Grab yourself some complimentary chips and salsa from under the heating lamps.

I'm going to level with you - They're not the most amazing combo of chips and salsa I've ever had by any stretch. But they're free. And they're not bad. So no complaints here!

But the Fish Tacos, ay dios mio!

I seriously don't remember them being this amazing the last time I had them (But let's be honest, it was probably February of 2013, and I was probably bitter that JTT had still yet to respond to my fan mail).

I ordered the Pick Two combo with the "Award Winning" Original Fish Taco, the Grilled Taco, and the Charro Beans. The Original (fried) Fish Taco was incredible. It was light, super flavorful, and  topped off with fresh, crunchy, purple cabbage. I didn't think anything could beat it until...The Grilled Taco.

The sweet chipotle marinade combined with the savory Dijon sauce sent me through. the. roof. It really is spectacular. This unassuming little taco is a force to be reckoned with. Next time I'm ordering five.

I've tried many a fish taco at other places, and none have even scratched the surface of coming close to matching the flavorful complexity of those at Berryhill. If you haven't had a Berryhill Fish Taco, it really should be on your list of things to eat in Houston. My Yankee family members were all very impressed.

So how exactly would I go about mailing a fish taco to a nineties teen heartthrob? Asking for a friend...
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