Monday, December 29, 2008

A True Michelin Man

What are your New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps you’re like a jabillion percent of the population that resolves to eat healthier and lose weight. *Yawn* Or perhaps you’re more like this guy, who took 2008 to eat at every single Michelin three-starred restaurant in the world...

Friday, December 26, 2008

La Guadalupana

The old pastry chef from Houston Country Club welcomes every newcomer to his tiny restaurant and bakery with sincere appreciation, and I marvel at the satisfied expression of a man contented. La Guadalupana is his baby, molded after his own vision into a bright, welcoming space that serves the freshest Mexican breakfast, lunch, and dinner around.


Breakfast egg dishes -- like chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, and tacos -- shine with flavor and freshness. The tortas at lunchtime are wonderful, served on soft buns with flavorful meats and fresh lettuce, tomato, and avocado. The spinach and cheese enchiladas, though a little too creamy, had a marvelous taste to them. My favorite, though, were the chicken enchiladas verdes, which came topped with shredded lettuce and queso fresco alongside rice and beans.


But wait, there’s more! Beyond the meals, La Guadalupana does the “extras” right. Don’t leave without trying the cinnamon-y Mexican coffee or the fabulous pastries; the almond croissant is downright awesome -- not pasty as many others are. And the tres leches is the best in town: loads of vanilla and the perfect consistency.


Ingredients are fresh and clean. The food is prompt and delicious. And no fewer than four servers, each as cheerful and unassuming as the last, will stop by to check in. It is family-owned, and family-run, and that’s what makes it golden.

La Guadalupana – 2109 Dunleavy

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Cocktails 'R Us

In the mood for a Winter beverage? Me too!

Run by Kraftsmen Baking morning, noon, or night for a dynamite peppermint latte. Perhaps you’re catching a show in the theater district? McCormick and Schmick’s has added a Nutty Nutcracker (Irish Whisky, coffee, and nutmeg, topped with whipped cream) and a White Christmas Martini (Stoli Vanilla and Godiva White Chocolate) to tickle your fancy. Or stop by Armando’s for a festive green and red Christmas margarita (Hmmm... something tells me this is just a Mexican Flag in disguise).

Among the hordes of holiday beers at The Gingerman are the Sam Adams Winter Lager, the tasty Belgian Barbar Winter Bock, and the ever popular (and local!) St. Arnold’s Christmas Ale. Benjy’s features a fantastically decadent eggnog martini (eggnog, Kahlua, Frangelico, Godiva, and vanilla vodka), though I preferred the tang-a-licious orange/ginger/apple martini. T’afia has added a champagne cocktail with a delicious Meyer lemon syrup. And speaking of bubbly, The Tasting Room is hosting a Champagne Campaign -- Through the new year, they’ll sell all of their champagne at cost to customers. Sounds like a great deal to me...

Staying in? Try the Chronicle’s “Best Eggnog” Recipe. Then, use it to make a Frosty Noggin or a Ginger Snap. Yowza!

Not thirsty? Maybe you’re hungry [sigh]. Head over to Crave for the eggnog cupcake. It will make you a season believer. And I don’t even like eggnog!

Now. What did I miss?! Help me out -- ’Tis the season!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Max's Wine Dive

There was some speculation after Jonathan Jones left Max’s Wine Dive for Beaver’s last year that Max’s was done. The venerable restaurant shot out of the gate as the front runner for fun when it first opened and won rave reviews for its large portions of updated comfort food. Could it maintain its flava’?

I was pleased to discover last night that Max’s is still going strong under chef Michael dei Maggi. The new-look menu features several of the old favorites: gator bites, braised short ribs, kobe beef burger, truffled “max and cheese,” and the ever-famous haute dog. It is the additions, though, that speak volumes. While the escargot seems out of place, the remaining items flow smoothly into the Max’s niche: kicked-up comfort.

We started with the warm spinach salad, served with a smooth balsamic vinaigrette and loaded with autumn fruits like prunes, raisins, and huckleberries. That’s right, huckleberries. Afterwards, the fried egg sandwich arrived perfectly cooked, lidded with bacon, and topped with bibb lettuce and fresh tomatoes. The sandwich comes with mind-bendingly thin potato chips sprinkled with Parmesan and the slightest bit of truffle oil.


The half-order of chicken and dumplings was plenty for two of us. The dish had all of the traditional creamy goodness, but adds green beans, turnips, and wild mushrooms to give it a bit more texture. Delicious.


I don’t know what has kept me away from Max’s, but I’m glad I’ve rediscovered. It’s a down-to-Earth spot with a snappy atmosphere. Plus, hearty food seems like a necessity, given the frigid temps. Better get there before it soars back up to 80 next week. [sigh]

Max’s Wine Dive – 4720 Washington (at Shepherd)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dolce Vita

I hadn’t been to Dolce Vita in about a year before last night -- a sin I shall not repeat.

Quite simply, this is the best pizza in town, thin and crispy with unique spices and ingredients. The classic margherita is as authentic as it gets in the You-Knighted States, or try the lover with sheets of prosciutto atop arugula and smoked mozzarella. My heart often steers me toward the pizza of the day, and yesterday’s featured spinach, shrimp, and mozzarella... Magnifico.


But pizza’s not all they do well. Before our meal, the famous egg toast appetizer filled the table with the glorious scent of truffle oil. The bread’s outer layer is crispy and drizzled with oil, but crack it open to find a warm center perfectly suited to mop up any errant drops. The green bean salad generously topped with freshly shaved Parmesan is another do-not-miss. (This is cleverly disguised as fagiolini on the menu -- seek it out.)


Dolce Vita was incredibly accommodating for our large group, and despite the fact that they feverishly tried to push a rosé that lacked substance, the experience was fantastic.

Ahhhh, the good life.

Dolce Vita - 500 Westheimer

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bedford

I sat down at the bar for a glass of wine at the brand new Bedford in the Heights when I was struck by the beauty of the bar, itself. “This is gorgeous,” I mention to the bartender. “Isn’t it?” she replies. “It’s actually 1.5 million carats of uncut emeralds.” Um, wow.

The bar certainly mirrors the upscale feel of the place, a long, dim space with an open kitchen and staff a plenty. The menu pays tribute to chef Robert Gadsby’s own unique background: his parents are from Bermuda and Jamaica, he grew up in Britain, and he learned to cook in Japan, Italy, France, Singapore, and Thailand before moving to California and then Houston. He is the perfect subject for an AMEX commercial (Welcome to Berbrijaporeifornialand!), and his menu combines Asian elements with Indian spices, French techniques, Italian pastas, and local heat.


Yes, Bedford is truly a cultural Cuisinart. The scallops arrived with a sweet crust and a light cream sauce, skillfully balanced with jalapeno peppers and greens. And just like that, I’m in love. A second favorite was the oyster appetizer, served on a timbale of sinfully fresh salmon and avocado. Oh la la.


Onward! The duck ravioli was rich, if not a bit overwhelmingly so, but the swordfish was light-flaky-nice, and the grilled salmon arrived perfectly cooked on a fabulous blend of potato and mushroom.


Save room for dessert! While all of ours were wonderful, we especially adored the Indian doughnuts, chunky balls of sweet dough, filled with a savory cheese, and soaked in a syrup I wish I could bottle. Each is topped with a gold leaf... a little decadence in the midst of recession.


Bedford’s three-course meal will set you back a reasonable $42, and the a la carte pricing is just as appropriate. While it’s still working out the kinks of a place that’s been open just two weeks -- servers unfamiliar with the menu, for one -- Bedford is an outstanding experience... One that I hope to replicate soon.

Bedford - 1001 Studewood (at 10th)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brunch at Dharma

Looking for a new Sunday brunch spot? Try Dharma Café, which translates its “Food for Life” philosophy into a unique all-you-can-eat cornucopia of flavors every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Houston Avenue lies dormant on Sunday, but the restaurant contains just the right amount of bustle -- the perfect spot for coffee and newspaper, a mimosa with friends, or an afternoon meal. Light pours in through the well-windowed space, washing this friendly little place in a natural radiance.

Fill your fancy with traditional breakfast items (like waffles, banana pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and made-to-order eggs) -- or branch out with more progressive fare (like delicious homemade fettuccine in a roasted red pepper sauce, fabulous Cuban black bean soup with pork, and grilled eggplant with peas and chickpeas). The buffet is $17, which also earns you a mimosa, champagne, or orange juice.

A full belly and a soothed soul. What a nice way to welcome in the week ahead.

Dharma Café - 1718 Houston Avenue (at Crocket)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Royer’s Round Top Cafe

Best known for its twice-a-year antiques fairs, Round Top is a tiny pinhead on the Texas map, a laid-back country town with a picturesque town square and sweet-as-pie towns people. There’s even a sign posted that says “If you’re in a hurry, go to Houston.” That sign, of course, is at the famous Royer’s Round Top Café.


Royer’s is the heart-and-soul of Round Top, serving “contemporary comfort food” in a cozy, be-signed space. Bud Royer lives by the saying “Life is too short” and plans his menu accordingly. The jalapeno cheese soup was a fiery hit, as was the chicken corn chowder with cilantro. I had the grilled shrimp BLT, with spicy grilled shrimp sitting atop a soft roll with thick, sweet bacon. The sandwich was chock-full and tasty, though the fries were unimpressive.


Royer’s is firstly famous for its pies, and FYI, you’ll pay 50 cents more if you want your slice without ice cream. Why? Because pie is supposed to be eaten with ice cream, that’s why. So after lunch we split the sampler plate, our choice of four slices, generously topped with Amy’s vanilla ice cream.


We chose the Butterscotch, Tollhouse Chocolate Chip, Apple, and Strawberry Rhubarb… and I liked them in that order. With flaky crusts filled with rich flavors and a slick sweetness, the pie alone makes this place worth the trip. Antiques weekend or not.

Royer’s Round Top Café - 105 Main Street, Round Top, Texas

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kraftsmen Baking

Kraftsmen has quietly become the go-to place for artisan bread in Houston, supplying an astounding number of restaurants with their fresh baked goodness daily. Whether you know it or not, you’ve had their bread, and if you haven’t been to the retail space, well, you’re missing out on a local treat.


Nestled in an ivy-covered storefront on Montrose (next door to the Black Lab), Kraftsmen offers sandwiches on their own fresh bread, plus unique salads, fabulous soups, homemade pastries, and fair trade coffee. Breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. Seven days a week.

Sound ordinary? It’s not. My turkey and brie sandwich also featured avocado and bacon. Amanda’s turkey sandwich was filled with provolone, alfalfa sprouts, green apple slices, and apple butter. The tomato-basil soup was divine, smooth with and extra bit of basil and just the right amount of cream. In fact, everything on the menu seems to have a touch of flair.


Kraftsmen uses local ingredients when possible, and everything is natural. It’s cozy and cute, and it has free Internet. Don’t forget to pick up a loaf of bread, a peppermint latte, or a gigantic peanut butter cookie on your way out. You’ll be glad ya did.

Kraftsmen Baking – 4100 Montrose at West Main

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kim Tai

Jessica and I ventured over to Kim Tai the other night in search of the highly touted duck noodle soup. But the sign that greeted us at 2602 Fannin didn’t say KIM TAI. It said:


Huh. We scratched our heads and looked around, but there is -- literally -- nothing else around. So we did what any normal Chowhound would do, and went inside... where we saw this:


Turns out Luong Ky Mi was the original name of the restaurant. While it has been known as Kim Tai for 26 years, the business permit still boasts its original name, so the sign, too, must bear it. There was an additional sign, one for Kim Tai, but chalk that up to Hurricane Ike. Oh well.

Now satisfied with our explanation, we turned to food. Jessica and I split the fried rice cake appetizer, and then each had the duck noodle soup as mains.

The fried rice cake was unlike anything I’ve had... I assumed that the dish would be individual rice grains, fried in the style of the Chinese classic, but it turned out to be rice flour, cooked in a dumpling-like form, scrambled with egg and scallions. It looks like a Vietna-mess, but it’s satisfyingly slippery and delightfully delicious. Mmmm!


The duck noodle soup arrived with half a duck atop a savory broth. While the broth, itself, was waaaaay too salty for me, the duck melted off the bone, moist and rich. It was at this point we learned that Kim, the proprietress, makes everything in house daily. She is hostess, cook, and server simultaneously, but she is also highly efficient and sweetly outgoing.


I was too full to even consider dessert, but you *know* next time I’m getting one of these. Who’s with me?!


Kim Tai - 2602 Fannin (at McGowin)

Friday, November 14, 2008

They’re here! They’re here!

Satsuma mandarins are finally here! Satsumas are sweet, delicate, seedless little yummies, akin to the clementine, and they are the fruit highlight of my year. I like fruit, but I looooove Satsuma mandarins. In addition to a dynamite flavor, their loose skin makes them easy to peel, and they have *much* less pith than other citrus fruits.

Satsumas are typically only available in November and December, which quickly become the two months I am least likely to catch scurvy.

Hooray!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

100% Taquito

I resisted 100% Taquito for ages, purely based on the fact that I thought it had a lame name (Right??). But after hearing rave after rave, I finally succumbed, and glad I did. For a kitschy little place in a strip mall on 59, this place has damn good tacos.

Authentic tacos, too – soft, achingly warm tortillas, filled with meat and topped with nothing but onion and cilantro. I *love* the grilled shrimp tacos, but my favorite has to be the tacos al pastor. The pork spends hours marinating in ancho chile, guajillo chile, and sour orange, and they add grilled pineapple just before serving.

This is pure Mex -- not Tex-Mex -- which helps justify the “100%” in the name, I suppose. Regardless, 100% Taquito is cheap, easy, and good. Arriba!

100% Taquito - 3245 Southwest Fwy (near Buffalo Speedway)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Polonia

Admittedly I had no idea what to expect when I walked into Polonia on Tuesday with a few of the Houston Chowhounds. Polish food? Alls I knew was sausage and sauerkraut.


But there I was. In a strip mall on the west side of town. The run-down exterior gives little indication of the coziness inside. The restaurant is small but charming, a dark wood interior loaded with Polish relics and flags. We chose a table in the center and inquired about beer. Oh, only one? Great – Pilsner it is!

Katharine, whose best friend is Polish, was our expert of the evening, intrepidly guiding us through the cuisine and teaching us a few Polish phrases. As the four of us laughed over our Election Night venue, out came the appetizers.

Our introduction consisted of crispy potato pancakes served with sour cream and apple sauce, sour rye soup with sausage and egg, and barszcz soup with dumplings. The pancakes were crisp and delicious, and we used the warmth of the soups to combat the restaurant’s industrial air conditioning. Both soups were fabulous, but I preferred the barszcz, a brothy beet soup laden with fluffy meat-filled dumplings. Mmmm... liquid health!


For the mains we split the combination plate for two (bigos -- aka: hunters' stew -- pierogi, kielbasa, cabbage rolls, meatloaf, duck legs, and cold carrot and beet salads), golonka (pork shank), and veal schnitzel, both accompanied by sauerkraut and mashed potatoes.


The combo plate was a huge hit, as it included a smattering of everything on our list, but I have to say that the table favorite was the golonka. Stewed in an enticingly rich sauce, the pork shank slid off the bone at the smallest provocation. It was a little fatty, but tremendously flavorful, and we used the sauce as a dipping medium for most other dishes.


Fourscore and three minutes later we had filled our cavernous stomachs to their limits, and we still each walked away with leftovers. Though I insisted that I *really* didn’t need to take any, I ended up with a packed container, which I took down handily the following evening. It all tasted just as good reheated.

Polonia was a warmly welcome surprise. Fabulous food at a reasonable price. My only regret is not saving room for a blintz...

Polonia – 1900 Blalock (at Campbell)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Textile

I didn’t want to walk into Textile with sky high expectations, but this proved to be a difficult task. The much anticipated new offering from rock star chef Scott Tycer has set tongues on fire, and I couldn’t wait to park myself in front of an intense and truly progressive kitchen.

Oh no. There they are. Stupid, stupid high expectations.

Well. No matter. The entire experience proved exceptional. The space, a 30-seat venue in an old textile mill in the Heights, redefines unique. The service is sensational without an ounce of stuffy. Even the bread, which comes straight from the oven in Tycer’s adjoining Kraftsman Bakery, is plentiful and fresh. And the 5-course tasting menu (with a remarkably reasonable $85 price tag) outperforms any meal in the city.

No sooner had we arrived at our table before a tasty veal amuse bouche arrived. Afterwards, the four of us had two orders of the tasting menu, plus several a la carte items.

Textile Tasting Menu:
- Hydroponic bibb lettuce, formage d’Ambert, and an onion strudel
- Bacon tart with quail egg, wilted bitter greens, and aged balsamic
- Kona kampachi on roasted Maitake mushrooms
- Elysian Field Farms lamb, cooked sous vide
- Liquid pumpkin pie in shortcrust with brown butter ice cream
- Assorted bon bons

Every dish was beautifully prepared and presented. Tycer uses only the freshest ingredients available, paying exceptionally close attention to creating a balance in flavor and texture. Portion sizes were ideal; we left fully satisfied, but not overly stuffed. And while Textile may not be a weekly stop on my regular route, I’m going to see that it becomes a quarterly one.

Expectation overdrive? Take a cold shower and make a reservation. Textile can keep up.

Textile - 611 West 22nd (between Shepherd and Lawrence)

The bacon tart with quail egg is every bit as fabulous as it sounds.

The tender, rich, and rare lamb was a definite favorite.

Pastry chef Plinio Sandalio's liquid pumpkin pie (in a shortcrust) made a perfect match for the meal, but is truly perfect in its own right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Soup Dumplings a Go Go

Jenny Never Full organized a kickin’ cookin’ class for we wee chefs to learn the fine art of Chinese soup dumplings. Soup dumplings are delicate and delicious steamed pockets of meat and soup... and I always wondered how they get the soup inside the dumpling. Now I know, thanks to world-renowned Chef Sonny.

Start with medium- to high-gluten flour, available at Asian markets. Mix slowly with water to form a tacky dough. Knead the dough well and form into a log, then slice into coin-shaped bits. Sprinkle with flour, then roll each bit into a circle that’s thin around the edges and slightly thicker in the center.

Top each round with a mixture of lean pork, spring onion, and aspic. Pinch the ends, steam for ten minutes, and voila! Warm, doughy, soupy perfection.

So how does the soup get in there? The soup is created by the aspic -- or meat gelatin -- inside the dumpling. The heat from the steam melts the gelatin into soup. Mmmmm!

Want the recipe?

Great Food Houston Goes to Pittsburgh

A short visit to the Steel City last weekend taught me that Pittsburgh pride runs deep -- from Steelers to sandwich. And the most talked about sandwich, of course, is the tall stack at Primanti Brothers. We sought out the sandwich joint early Saturday afternoon, looking for a taste of the local.

While the menu is large, your only real choice is the meat. Everything beyond that is pretty much the same: soft Italian bread needlessly drowning in meat, French fries, tomato, and coleslaw. Yup, all right there on one sandwich. It’s a three-hander. Seriously.

I went with the cheesesteak. Bad idea. Mushy and flavorless. The hot pastrami was tasty, as was the corned beef... but methinks I prefer a simpler sammich and cleaner arteries. So I did what any respectable Texan would do: drowned my sandwich sorrows in a 23-ounce Iron City beer. Or four. And continued on my merry way.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cupcakes from a Tea House?

The Chronicle claims that the best cupcake in Houston comes from a tiny tea house called The Path of Tea in a strip center on W. Alabama.

Cupcakes. From a tea house. Oh, come on. Cupcakes are loud!! Energetic!! And colorful!!! Tea houses are calm. Zen. And serene. The two just don’t mix.

Perplexed, I stopped by the Path of Tea on my way home tonight. The place itself is cozy and crowded, yet calm. Your basic tea house. The cupcake collection is modest, located by the front register and encased entirely on a single cake plate. Would I like a chocolate chai cupcake with chai tea icing, a lemon cupcake filled with fresh lemon curd, or a spice cupcake with buttercream and pecans?

I went with the chocolate chai… and thank goodness, for I was hooked with one bite. The cake is moist and spongy, and the icing was rich with just a slight hint of chai. Sweet, but not sugary. True love. At $2.50 per, these puppies are better and cheaper than those of the big name bakeries.

Zen cupcakes? I’m in.

Path of Tea - 2340 West Alabama

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Porkfest at Feast

I don’t know how you celebrate your birthday, but if you’re a Houston Chowhound, you call up the best new restaurant in the city and ask if they’d mind roasting a whole pig for you and your buddies. No joke.

A few weeks ago, Peggy Chowhound dialed Feast -- the acclaimed “rustic European fare” restaurant in the lower Westheimer hotbed -- and requested an all-pork-all-the-time birthday fiesta. The *lovely* restauranteurs were more than happy to oblige, and last night they prepared a banquet fit for a queen and her army.


We started with canapés: pate with cornichons on toast, grilled sweetbreads, welsh rarebit, and pork backfat. The pate, served cold, had an excellent flavor, and the sweetbreads were the best I’ve had. I had never tried Welsh rarebit (a savory cheese mixture topped with Worcestershire and served warm on toast). Owner/chef/butcher James Silk and his fabulous British accent did the serving, and several of us stupid Americans (said with love) kept thinking he was saying “Welsh rabbit.” No sir. Anyway, the RAREBIT was creamy and salty, all at once. I loved. And despite my affection for pork belly, the backfat, served cold, was not for me.


And then? Baked scallops topped with a mushroom-brandy-cream sauce. Per chef Silk, look out for the mace and Jack Daniels in there as well. Simply smashing -- Such an interesting combination of flavors. Mace is so popular in European cooking, yet rarely used here.


Next came the salads: a standard house salad, plus the real winner: Dandelion greens with pork cheek. In true British style, there was little to no dressing, but the bitterness of the greens complimented the pork cheek perfectly.


The big hizzah: Enter the pigs. There is something about pulling meat directly from an entirely roasted pig, rather than cooking smaller, individual pieces. This was, hands down, the best pork I have ever had. The meat was tender and flavorful, melting right off the bones, well complimented by the mounds of stuffing, carrots, Brussels sprouts, kale with anchovies, and mashed potatoes on the side.


Misha grabbed a head and sawed into it to hand out tasty bits of pork cheek and chin. The chin was too fatty for me, but that piece of cheek was my favorite bite of the evening.


All in all, a brilliant birthday evening. If you haven’t been to Feast, go. Interesting combinations, unique flavors, and *very* reasonable prices make this one a keeper.

Feast – 219 Westheimer

Friday, October 17, 2008

Five-Star Koonce Benefit

You’ve all heard by now of the fire that ravaged Brennan’s during Hurricane Ike. Brennan’s, of course, was the Paul Newman of Houston eateries, and while the loss of this institution was tragic enough, Brennan's sommelier James Koonce and his 4-year-old daughter were also critically injured.

Next week the Houston food scene comes together to support the Koonce family with a benefit on Thursday, October 23, from 4:30 ~ 7:30 p.m. at the Beacon (1212 Prairie Street). For a suggested donation of $100 per person (pay at the door), you can enjoy wines and tasty treats from:

- Bagher: 360
- Jeff Boudreaux: Brasserie Max & Julie
- Brian Caswell: Reef
- James Cole: Fleming’s
- Mark Cox: Mark’s
- Levi Goode: Goode Company Seafood
- Jeffrey Everts: Olivette @ Houstonian
- Mark Holley: Pesce
- Jonathan Jones: Beavers
- David Lunas: Shade
- Hugo Ortega: Hugo’s
- Wes Morton: 17 @ the Alden
- Ryan Pera: The Grove
- Monica Pope: T’afia
- Chris Shepherd: Catalan

If you’ve been wanting to hit up that new hot spot, but 1) can’t decide where to start, 2) don’t want to pony up the cash, 3) don’t have time, or 4) would rather put your hard-earned cash to support a good cause, this is the event for you! Sample the goods from 15 acclaimed places at once and help a neighbor while you’re at it. See you there!

Learn more here: www.brennanshouston.com/koonce

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pink’s Pizza

When it comes to pizza, I tend to bounce around from joint to joint –- Collina’s, Candelari’s, Carrabba’s, Star -– enjoying it all and never offering my loyalty to any one place in particular. That has changed since I met Pink’s Pizza in the Heights.

Pink’s is not your typical factory pizza joint. Ingredients are picked up and prepared fresh daily. The pizza is thin-ish, yet sturdy, and exudes freshness. Favorites include the Santa Monica (gorgonzola, mozzarella, prosciutto, artichoke, sundried tomato, and cranberry) and the Bada Bing (prosciutto, bacon, pepperoni, mozzarella, Roma tomato, spinach, and mushroom), but I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of the 20 specialty pies.

Yes, it *kills* me that a 16-inch pizza from the specialty menu costs $20.99, but pizza is not a weekly thing for me. When I want pizza, I want it good, and I’m willing to splurge. Pink’s is gourmet without pretention, a locally-owned place where the customer still comes first.

You can eat there, or they’ll deliver if you’re not too far. And “not too far” will get a little bit closer in November, when Pink’s opens its 2nd location on West Gray in Montrose/Midtown. Hooray!

Pink’s Pizza – 1403 Heights Blvd (at 14th)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Omnivore’s Hundred

Thanks Cleverley Stone for getting the word out about British food blogger and author, Andrew Wheeler’s list of 100 foods you should try at least once...

“Here’s a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in his or her life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food—but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don't recognize everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers if you need them.”

Here’s what Wheeler suggests:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk.

Confused? Check out the FAQ:
http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/uncategorised/hundred-reasons/

The Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects

43. Phaal
44. Goat's milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe

74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill [COUNT ME OUT]
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef

86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse [COUNT ME OUT]
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake [COUNT ME OUT]

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Christian's Tailgate

I had heard much about the burger at Christian’s Tailgate, so when I found myself in Midtown last night, I jumped at the chance to pop in for a taste.

Christian’s Tailgate is a bar by trade, and in that sense alone, it’s nothing to write home about. It’s full of frat boys and TVs, and while I do enjoy both frat boys and TVs [sigh], there are better options, especially in midtown.

But the burger is something special. Anchored by a juicy patty on a toasted bun, the burger itself is sturdy – not too big, but not a skinny mess either. Veggies were fresh and plentiful, but the real gold star was the cheese: mild, melty, and magnificent. Unlike many burger joints, Christian’s doesn’t skimp. I didn’t find myself with too much bun and not enough burger, I didn’t have to pull out the magnifying glass to locate the tomatoes, and I didn’t have to scream about paying extra for a mere half-ounce of cheese.

Nope, I give it the Goldilocks stamp of “just right.”

Christian’s Tailgate - 2000 Bagby (in Midtown)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cupcakes for a Cure

Thanks go to Katharine of She Eats for alerting us to this:

Crave Cupcakes is donating 100% of proceeds from sales of their limited edition “CRAVE-ing a Cure” gift box to the Breast Center. The box features two strawberry, two dark chocolate, and two vanilla cupcakes (all adorned with sweet pink ribbons) and is available October 1-11. The box is ONLY available by placing orders – via phone or in person. Cupcakes are $19.50 per box.

What an amazing way to feed your sugar fix while supporting a *fabulous* cause. If you haven’t been to Crave (in Uptown Park), it’s well worth your time. Cupcakes are baked fresh daily, and leftovers are given to charity. And the taste? Decadently delicious.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Catalina Coffee

Looking for a *fabulous* place to caffeinate, lounge, and work? I ventured over to the new-ish Catalina Coffee on the Washington Corridor last week and was much impressed. The cortado (espresso with warm milk) brought me right back to my days in Argentina, and the apple pastry finds a regular spot in my dreams. Coffee options are varied and plentiful. Food options are limited, but the small selection certainly does the trick if you’re looking for a sweet snack. Service was fun and friendly. Gold star!

Catalina Coffee – 2201 Washington Avenue

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sawdust Pie

Greetings from Brenham, Texas! I’m currently seeking refuge (read: power) from the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. Historic downtown Brenham is super cute and fun to explore, and yesterday we had lunch at a gem of a place called Must Be Heaven. The sandwiches there were great, but what *really* caught my eye was this sign:


Hmmm… Sawdust Pie, you say? I couldn’t resist. Originally from Kentucky, Sawdust pie is named for its ingredients (graham crackers, pecans, and coconut), which resemble gritty shavings pre-baking. Add sliced bananas and whipped topping, and the result is a light-rock symphony for your mouth. Not overly sweet; just smooth goodness.

They’re not too common ‘round these parts, but if ya happen to see one, I wouldn’t pass it up.