Vacation Days: Fredericksburg, Texas

Thursday, April 30, 2015
A little birdy may have told you there was a pretty important birthday recently.

Yep, Jon turned the big 30 this month, and to celebrate we went away for the weekend to Fredericksburg with our friends Mark, Kelly, Blake, and Katie. We ate, we drank, we got caught in apocalyptic downpours, and we had a lovely time in one of the most charming places I've ever been. So here's a look at the weekend through photos!

I put together little goody bags for everyone, which included these fun wine glasses! If you are not a glass-etching aficionado and in general basically suck at crafts (like *ahem* me), I recommend using the Tipsy Grape for fun, unique party favors!

But even more exciting than the wine glasses was the adorable miniature pinata Kelly brought!

Our intention was to grill out in the beautiful backyard of the house we stayed at during our first night there, but see above (re: "apocalyptic downpours"). Instead, we had a DIY pizza party!

The next morning we walked to our shuttle pickup location to spend a day at the wineries! For $20, the 290 Wine Shuttle takes its passengers along a wine route that stops at nine different places throughout the day.

Don't worry, we didn't go to all nine, we only went to two.

Our first stop was Grape Creek Vineyards. Out of all the places we visited, I probably enjoyed the wine at this one the most. However, it was the least laid back, having strange rules about what you're allowed to do as a non-wine club member and where food is allowed on the property (everywhere else we visited did not care about people bringing food in). Luckily, we were still able to have a picnic on the pretty patio. But take note: This won't always be an available option for Grape Creek patrons, as they are opening a bistro there soon. They were adamant about telling us that picnicking days are limited, folks!

Photo Credit: Katie
Our second stop ended up being my favorite, and ironically enough, we almost didn't go there! Becker Vineyards is absolutely  s  t  u  n  n  i  n  g .

Lush with beautiful flower fields and rustic buildings, the property is intoxicatingly gorgeous. They also grow lavender, so the gift shop was filled with delightful, aromatic lavender products, and I may or may not have spent the equivalent to a downpayment on a house in there (#helpme).

Did I say we went to two wineries?

I lied, we went to three.

4.0 Cellars offers a much more modern setting than the first two stops, and it was exceptionally busy. We split a couple bottles of wine and enjoyed more of our picnic fare as we listened to some live Texas country music on the relaxed patio.

Did I say we went to three wineries?

Okay, OKAY.

... we went to four.

Our FINAL stop on the tour was at Fiesta Winery. The beautifully vibrant tasting room was equipped with the sweetest wines we had tasted that day. I don't typically favor sweet wines, but I *somehow* ended up buying three bottles because, welp I'm pretty sure the results of having made FOUR winery stops were starting to take effect. Also, the people there were incredibly friendly and engaging.

We sat on the porch after our tasting, splitting another bottle of wine (this is a safe space, people), and then had to make a mad dash to our shuttle because, see above, times two (re: "apocalyptic downpours")

As I'm sure you can imagine, when we hopped on one of the last shuttles of the day, we quickly discovered that it was filled with a bunch of pumped up, satisfied, friendly Wine People who all became instant best friends. This shuttle in particular had a bunch of hilarious women with a selfie stick, so we took this picture, where I sat up front looking like a horrifyingly pale ghost version of myself. Also our driver Tom is the World's Greatest Human.

After we returned to our house, the six of us rallied like I've never rallied before, and walked into town for some dinner/Rockets-watching. Through a string of dramatic events (APOCALYPTIC DOWNPOUR), we made it safely to our destination, Silver Creek. The jalapeno poppers and veggie quesadilla I had there were incredible.

And fun story- earlier that day I received a text from one of my high school besties Melinda, asking if I was in Fredericksburg. You know how she knew? She saw Jon at the Grape Creek gift shop. This story isn't weird until you know that she had never met Jon, but had only ever seen pictures of him. So she and her husband Justin also joined us that night!

Photo Credit: Melinda
The next day brought us clear, sunny skies for a beautiful ride home! Before leaving, Jon and I had brunch at Hill Top Cafe, but more on that in another post.

Fredericksburg is such a charming little town and makes for a lovely weekend away! We didn't get to do everything we would have liked to do, so we are definitely planning a return trip. So get out there, bop around town, bask in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country, and hit up a winery!

(or four).

Taco Tuesdays: Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen

Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Is it really almost May?

April was a buzzy blur, and I can't believe how fast it all went! Exciting highlights include seeing the Astros opener, getting a new bike, having my cousin Annie and her fiance Kevin down from Pennsylvania for a week, going to jury duty (okay... that's the opposite of exciting), filming out on the water for work, celebrating Jon's 30th birthday, seeing my good friends Lenny and Christy from out of town last weekend, and reconnecting with my dear friend Jessie.

Jessie and I became instant friends at our local community theater during elementary school and were inseparable for the following decade. After living away for many years and having our lives go in different directions, we started spending time together again this month, and picked up right where we left off!

(minus the scrunchies and Backstreet Boys t-shirts.)

(just kidding we still have those.)

Last Friday we met up for dinner at Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen on Woodway and Voss. The brightly colored restaurant was packed and full of energy. We sat at a high, corner table in the bar area where it seemed like most of the action was. Our lively server Jorge was friendly and incredibly attentive.

Since I don't like margaritas (WHO EVEN AM I.) I ordered their "Mexican martini". It was ri-darn-delicious, and so smooth it was dangerous. Made with tequila, it had a slight hint of the tartness that comes with a margarita, but not so much that I was turned off by it. I was a definite fan. Jessie ordered a mojito, and she was also singing its praises.

To start, we ordered a side of chile con queso to accompany our chips and salsa. The salsa came out tongue-burningly piping hot. Conversely, the queso fell on the barely warm side of the temperature spectrum. Taste-wise, the salsa was unlike any salsa I had ever had. Jessie and I agreed that the pureed, tomato-heavy sauce tasted more like a marinara than a salsa. It was not bad, just different.

And the despite the temperature, the queso was delicious. It was gooey, creamy, salty, and what you would hope for in the flavor of a queso. But the barely warm temperature was a bit of a turnoff.

Sylvia's serves non-enchilada main courses, but given that "Enchilada Kitchen" is in the name, I felt it was my duty to order enchiladas for my entree. Each enchilada on the menu is named after a different city in Mexico or Texas. At Jorge's recommendation, I ordered the Crystal City Enchiladas, which are stuffed with fresh sauteed spinach and covered with a tomatillo sauce.

I had never had enchiladas filled with spinach before, and I was a big fan of its inclusion. The tomatillo sauce was tart and fresh, but I think I would have preferred a slightly more muted red sauce. It was almost a little too tangy with the spinach. Overall though, I did enjoy them. But I would probably try different enchiladas next time so I could sample some other creative concoctions.

As a general rule, I love rice and beans, and the rice and beans that came with my enchiladas were no exception. I combined the black beans with the rice, and the result was hearty, flavorful, and satisfying.

Jessie ordered the "Mexico City" chicken enchiladas, topped with goat cheese, and she was completely floored by how awesome they were. Based on her reaction, I would definitely add goat cheese next time!

Sylvia's provides a fun environment, and their menu offerings are a unique departure from the standard Mexican fare. While the food wasn't consistent across the board, I would be willing to go back to try some more of their interesting fare.

 And to use Jessie's selfie stick in the parking lot.

Sylvia's on Urbanspoon


Thursday, April 23, 2015
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.


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

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
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!


Gennaro's Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Brunchin' at Weights + Measures

Friday, April 17, 2015
I'm guilty of accusing Houston of not having the best brunch game.


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
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