Noun 1. gastronome - a person devoted to refined sensuous enjoyment (especially good food and drink)bon vivant, epicure, epicurean, foodie, gourmetsensualist - a person who enjoys sensuality. Follow me on Twitter: @Aghastronome

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reminder: Taco Tuesday at Taco Cabana

Just a friendly reminder, the Fajita Taco dinner is $4.95 on Tuesdays at Taco Cabana.  That's a savings of almost two clams!  If only they had the WiFi......*sigh*.

Photo from , surely you check them out!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

What I Did for Summer Vacation, or Nerd's Day Off

I took a day of vaction Monday, because I could really, and I like to take a day off work near my birthday.  I had grand designs for my day that involved cloud cover, lower humidity and the Houston Zoo.  There are baby flamingo's right now, plus, the ducks on the pond at Hermann Park have ducklings.  Not to mention, I have not been to the zoo in years.  This is pathetic on my part, really.  The "feels like" (which annoys the crap out of me, tell me the temperature and relative humidty, period) for the day was allegedly 105-ish.  Pardon me while I ramble off a little, but, if you don't live with the air conditioner on 70, but rather 78, it may "feel like" 100, or less, to you - don't tell me how hot I feel, weatherperson.  I changed my plans to better fit a day of blazing sunshine and amazing heat.  I did some indoor stuff and will plan to "Talk Dirty to the Animals" another day.

I kicked off my morning with a lovely breakfast at the New York Coffee Shop, located at 9720 Hillcroft Avenue.  For the unitiated, it's one of the very best diner breakfasts in the Bellaire/Meyerland area.  If you go on a weekend you will be waiting for a long time to grab a table.  But, on a weekday - walk in, sit down, get coffee, no problem.  I have a very good friend who's working midnights and I convinced him to go with me.  I ordered my usual order, a pastrami and swiss omelete with home fries and an everything bagel, toasted.  I always take the bagel home for an afternoon snack.  He had the EggMitBagel sandwich, and it looked pretty delicious.  I may "leave home" and try that next time.  My omelete may sound odd, but once you've tried it you will never be the same.  The home fries are ripple cut and orange with spice and grease.  I have no idea what they use, all I need to know is where to get them.  If you go, don't bring a picture taking device - on account of I have it on good authority he might flip out a little.  Also, don't take notes - that's discouraged as well. He being the owner, that's whom I am referencing.

Holy spices, Batman!
Since I was relegated to indoor activities, I decided to reorganize my spice cabinet.  An unfortunate "molasses" incident left the shelf-liner sticky and that needed to be remedied - plus, I have had to do some serious rummaging to locate spices.  I put the cover down on "Minnie", my 1940's Chambers Model B (when I grow up, I hope to restore her) and unloaded the cabinet.
Once the two small, double-decker lazy susans from Bed, Bath and BringACoupon were unloaded and cleaned, I cleaned the liner (from the same store, it's a heavy-grade plastic with ridges) and set about restoring a sense of order.  I installed four vinyl-coated pockets on the door, and put baking spices in one, common spices and larger containers in the other.  I discovered that I have two bottles of powdered ginger and a plethora of nutmeg (whole for grating and powder - crazy talk).  Looks like everyone's getting Sticky Black Gingerbread for Christmas this year.

The last bit of excitement on my day off?  I cut more okra from the garden, blanched it and vacuum-sealed it for the freezer.  I planted about 18 okra plants and its gone crazy, I cut almost a pint a day.  One of the ironies of life is that I find it a tad too hot to be making a big pot of gumbo.  The other?  My tomatoes are long gone, so I can't rightly stew the two together, either.  I have three new 'mater plants ready to install for a fall crop.  Wish me luck!  The fall tomatoes will "make" after the okra has "quit making"....right?

And that's how a self-described "nerd" or "dork" spends a day of vacation!  Well, and I went to belly dancing class, a subject of which I shall not really speak.

Terribly Tasty Tacos: Taco Cabana?? Hmmm

I received an update from Taco Cabana announcing their new breakfast taco, "Two Texas Originals in one taco" it says.  They are pimping a breakfast taco with polish link sausage.  I am not sure I feel really good about putting polish salchichas in a breakfast taco.  Where I grew up, you could buy "German Tacos" at most football games, local dances, county fairs and the like, basically sausag wrapped in a flour tortilla with mustard availabe to smear on it.  I thought then, and still think, that these are pretty good.  Makes a great snack, for sure. I like chorizo, myself.  In fact, odds are that I will make Robb Walsh's chorizo recipe this weekend.  His recipe can be found here.

Taco Cabana's Sausage & Egg Breakfast Taco Combo, $4.29 and includes two tacos with coffee, juice or a 20 oz drink.  Single tacos are $1.69.  Served during regular breakfast hours and for a limited time.

Not so terribly tasty in my book so I won't be buying them, however, you might.  Ya been informed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Meatasaurus: Samba Grille Soft Opening Adventure

Last night, I was priviledged to hit the soft opening of Samba Grille, located at 530 Texas Ave, which is also known as Bayou Place, to give them a free test run prior to the grand opening slated for September 7th, or so I hear tommorow, per @SambaGrille.  First, I have to say thanks much to Christy for allowing me to tag along.  Second, I will give you my take on the food, wine and service without any photographic evidence.  As I stated in my earlier post, I didn't even wave the magic crackberry over any of my food, which allowed me to be an incognito diner.  Something about looking like a dressed up NatGeo insect photographer that tips them off (and I am just kidding here, put your hackles back down - I actually suffer from "big girl camera" envy and hope that's not terminal).  Samba is a South American/Brazilian restaurant that serves full-on churrasceria as an option at night.  We both chose the festival of many meats, or, churrasceria option, which is a nice deal at a suggested $40 per person and includes a starter and choice of side, plus a nice array of grilled vegetables.  Now, let's have the rubber "meat" the road, so to speak.

The atmosphere is wonderful, clean lines, very sleek and modern - the beaded chain hanging around the support posts is a wonderful look.  The drawback to the chains?  Children cannot help themselves, it's like a built-in toy as it is shiny and not tied down.  Our evening began with prompt seating and rather prompt offer of wine, a nice smooth Malbec.  It took a few minutes for someone to take our actual order, but, this is not a complaint in my world - we were able to peruse and discuss the menu.  I find this enjoyable, as long as I know that you know that I am in the building, and I have been offered a choice of beverage.  For a starter, I had the Jade Soup and Christy went for the wedge with a manchego cheese dressing.  I tried a bite of salad, delicious.  The wedge was more a butter lettuce and not a hard, cold hunk of iceberg and the dressing was perfect.  The wedge came with two tomato wedges that appeared oven-dried.  The Jade Soup, and I think I'm capitalizing it subconsciously, was verdant magic.  A broccoli and spinach cream soup with plentiful jumbo lump crab.  Verdant is what comes to mind as the broccoli has been cooked and creamed but the spinach bite shone through the earthier broccoli and gave the soup an elevated "freshness".  I can only surmise that the spinach is blended in fresh and uncooked.  They should offer it up by the quart, to go. 

I should really offer up a fair warning to all future patrons.  The warm cheese bread that they will bring you, until you burst - it's like crack.  Unless you hate cheese or suffer from serious lactose-intolerance, good luck staying out of the bread.  I am determined to find a recipe and try this.  Who says a girl can't bake and eat an entire batch of these for dinner?  Maybe they should sell these by the dozen too, in a gift box with a nice bow (I would not reject a gift of mini-cheesy bread crack).  So, don't fill up on these because the meats are coming, and coming, and coming until you flip the tab to "Just a Wafer Thin Mint", or "No Thank You".

She and I tried our level best to have a conversation and the skewers of meats floating by kept distracting our attention from the wine and whatever we were pratting on about.  Yep, wave a sword of succulent meat at either of us and we go into a trance...mmmmm, meat. Once our starters were cleared, we received a nice large plate and our sides and veggies.  Our sides were asparagus and coconut rice.  I won't wax poetic about the veggies, they were properly cooked (read: not soggy, with a slight crunch) and very well seasoned.  The coconut rice was not so much.  "This tastes like Hawaiian Tropic", "Seriously, it tastes like tanning lotion smells".  You know, it did.  I am sorry to say that, but, I think it was made with Coco Lopez.  That being said, the management asked about the salt level of the Jade Soup, as it was too salty at lunch - so, I have zero doubt that the coconut rice will be perfected prior to the Grand Opening.  Don't be afraid to order it - really, the managements attention to what customers thought was impressive.

Okay, I like big meat and I cannot lie.  I would never make it as a vegetarian, myself.  I like beef, chicken, lamb, pork, miscellaneous fruits from the sea, offal offerings, you get my point.  Meat. Word.  I have tried armadillo and rattlesnake - I ain't skeered.  I won't eat a conventional pet, I have standards, for the love.  The picanha was the best of the best - it was a soft red in the center, tender and juicy.  My second favorite sword selection? The pork ribs, slightly crispy outside and still juicy inside they were delightful.  My third were the sausages, which were on the salty side, but had great flavor.  The bacon-wrapped filet and chicken were good, but the bacon on the filet is difficult to fully cook without over-cooking the filet.  The shrimp were nicely herbed and properly cooked, juicy and succulent and over-salted.  The lamb chops needed "something", they were muttony and I would suggest some chimichurri to soften the flaver.  I love lamb, I even cook it myself - I just found that the meat needed a kick of seasoning or acidity.  The flank steak was very nice, but the chimichurri filet was not as tender as one might hope.  The parmesan crusted pork loin, in my opinion, needed a nice sear to create a nutty, crunchy parmesan crust.

Lastly, this feastival was capped off with a shared slice of tres leches.  Very moist, and pretty much perfect for a tres leches.  The only thing I wasn't just wild about was the frosting/topping.  I will caveat my opinion with "I don't have a big, fat sweet tooth".  It's worth ordering, I would order it again.

Overall, the value is there, what you pay for and what you get are very nicely aligned.  I feel very confident that the salt and coconut issues will be resolved well before Samba opens.  There are non-meatasaurus choices, don't let my carnivorous ways keep "veggie people" at bay.  Unless the sight of meat in it's cooked form offends, please go and don't make everyone pick someplace else.  You will not starve, eat a cheesy bread, no seriously, they have selections on the menu for you.  There are entree options, in addtion to the rodizio-styled, never-ending meat.  It did take about ten minutes for me to get a second glass of wine - I understand, when it's served free, you don't want to overserve.  Also, the wine changed from Malbec to Pinot, which was almost too light and peppery after the rich, smooth Malbec.  Again, it was free and it was good wine, no complaints.  I am merely stating the facts, man.

What not to say in a churrasceria (or, my filter from thought to out-loud quit working briefly):  "Where is little sausage man?"  I have to say, that question was rephrased and started a vein of digression in conversation.  The sausages were the last of the meat offerings we sampled, so the digression was short-lived once dessert arrived.

Note: Links will be inserted later, my lunch hour is exhausted.  Also, we tipped huge as the meal was free.  I'm sure there will be a tipping tirade in my near future.

Houston's Bryan Caswell to Compete on Iron Chef!

I watch Iron Chef off and on but, I always tune in for our local chefs.  Up this next season, Bryan Caswell - of Reef, Stella Sola and Little Big's.  Thanks for the tweet Houston Foodie!  I am starting to figure out twitter, however my crackberry won't speak to the twitter for some reason.  When possible, I will just have to "suck it up, buttercup" and get myself one of those "I" things.  Besides, I know that they capture superior inferior photos.  Here's a full list of competitors.

Later, I'll scoop you on the soft opening at Samba Grille, which I attended last night.  I did not take any pictures at all, so what you get is the "take" of the average diner.  They don't know I'm going to write about them and I don't therefore receive any special or extraordinary service.  Samba Grille will have their Grand Opening on September 7th.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fajita Tuesday, for a Limited Time @ Taco Cabana

I know, Taco Cabana is not fresh Tex-Mex from the taqueria, or inexpensive deliciousness from the local Taco Truck.  I also know that I have a secret bad food fetish or "taco affair" of sorts with this San Antonio-based chain.  I am addicted to the soft chicken tacos, especially the plate.  I will shamefully make bean/rice/pico tacos to accompany the chicken ones, and put pico de gallo on everything.  The fajita tacos are pretty good (they are not the gloppy ranchero chicken ones of my dreams).  And now that I have beared my taco-afflicted soul, here's the deal.  Beginning today, and happening every Tuesday, for a limited time, you can get a fajita taco plate from TC for $4.25 from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.  Not a bad deal for lunch or even a quick dinner.

I also know that I don't like the Taco Hell, the flour tortillas are never really cooked right.  I found out from GunsandTacos that the refried beans are rehydrated from powder (I'm still getting shudders of grossness out of that tidbit).  And, well, I used to think the hot sauce was pretty good until a: I had the kind from the taqueria and b: those stupid packets went racing at the Juice Box during Astro's opening day this year.  So, let's get kids addicted to the baddest of the bad mexican food?  Really?  If I had a child to corrupt, er, mold - my child would be a barbacoa addict and eat diced onions and cilantro for dessert.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Best News, Ever!

Last night, over a glass of wine, I found out that my birthday had migrated to September.  HA!  Seriously, I love my friends and just knowing that my date of first shriek, er, breath made someone's calendar makes me happy!  It validates me, somehow.  At any rate, we did HRW for dinner to celebrate last year, and well, HRW ends Saturday, or not.  I received a glorious message this morning from Christy (she whom I text when I see unusual people in very fine dining establishments) that HRW has been such a rollicking success - it gets to continue on through Labor Day!  Oh, happy day!  

This bit of news is the icing on the cake that is my Friday!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Things From Today!

Wow!  Steven Tyler is going to be an American Idol judge - I may have to watch an episode.  Normally, I'm only good for the tryouts and only because they crack me up.  This is just something that kinda caught my eye this morning.  The real news, the big excitement I learned from the interwebs today?  It is Hatch Chile time!  H.E.B.'s Central Market stores are on the receiving end of 13,000 cases of these lovelies!  The Houston Chronicle had a write-up, complete with recipes.  One was for queso with hatch chile and oh queso, I don't feel good about that.  Queso is a canned, diced tomato and chile product with some processed american cheese food and maybe some milk to keep it from being all clumpy and thick.  Hatch chile deserve roasting and adding to say, crab cakes - which recipe looks lovely.  I would scrap the panko and just pan fry the cakes, myself.  This is exciting news, as real Hatch's are so vastly different and much more delicious than the canned chiles.  I plan on "making my groceries" at the H.E.B. this weekend, "Hatch Chiles" is at the top of my list!  They can be roasted and frozen for future use, just saying. 

H.E.B. is also hosting a 4th Annual Hatch Chile Recipe Contest!  Give that your best shot! Entries should be submitted online by the 29th, so you have some time. If you're a better eater than cooker, you can enter to be one of the judges for the contest.

No Fail Queso

1 can of diced tomatos and green chilis, with the juice
1 lb of processed american cheese food, roughly diced

Pour the can of tomato stuff in a Pyrex or heat-proof measuring cup and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes, or until it's hot enough to boil.  Place diced cheese food in a glass or microwavable bowl, or into a medium-sized crock pot.  Pour boiling tomato stuff on cheese and stir.  For whatever reason, and I am no chemical engineer, this keeps the dip from going clumpy on you.  Serve warm with good tortilla chips.

Note:  My Kroger ad from today shows hatch chiles for $0.99/lb with the Kroger card.  Sounds like a good price, Htown.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Eco-Eating: The New Compostable SunChips Bag!!!

YES! YES! YES!  Now, I can feel good about being bad.  Not that being bad, from a food perspective has ever really weighed heavily on my conscience.  Well, not true - the time I had 5 pieces of "Love That Chicken", Spicy (is there really a need to ask if anyone wants Mild, if you don't see small children) when no one was watching me, with a small red beans and rice, I did feel rather guilty.  Hell, I even went for a walk that evening after I futzed around in the yarden.  Anyhoo, the slighly better for you than regular chips chip is now packaged in a compostable bag!  I do know that fruit or raw vegetable sticks are better for me.  I also know that sometimes I need salty carbs to make me happy, or happier, or haul me out of some doldrums or a good "mad". 

I am pleased that I can now purchase what I term "crap with a conscience"!

Don't get accustomed to these types of flurries of blogging activity, okay?

Joe Apa Beer Tasting - Rudyard's, Tomorrow

Rudyard's Pub hosts a monthly beer tasting by Joe Apa the third Thursday of the month.  Tomorrow is said day, and the cost is $50/per person.  I have it on pretty good authority that the food is fantabulous.  Seating is limited to 40 people, and the tasting is typically 5-6 beers with an accompanying food course.  For additional information (the scoop wasn't posted on their site) please phone Rudz at 713.521.0521.  You can pay them over the phone with a credit card to secure your seat.  Unfortunately, my Thursdays are spoken for, ugh.  One day, I'll play hookey from other obligations and go.

If you do plan to head to Rudz, consider going early to check to see if they received a keg of Weedwhacker from St. Arnold, first release in the Moveable Yeast series.  It's out, and likely going fast.

Cyndi Lauper and Houston Restaurant Week Reviews

Last Thursday was a major Houston Restaurant Week day for me.  I had lunch at Haven, and dinner at Adalucia before seeing Cyndi Lauper.  Great day and a great evening.  Haven is located in a typically ill-fated for eateries area, on Algerian Way, behind the fish/aquarium store that used to be Gator's, Pico's and heaven only knows how many other places - I have certainly forgotten them all.  If yesterday's visit is any indication, Haven is here to stay, or at least remain in profitable business as long as the economy supports dining out.  Whilst rambling about what a foodie is or isn't and what I think I think I am doing here - I mentioned making choices, rather careful ones, when deciding how to price out the new additions to my fat cells.  I had never been to Haven, but an occasional dining companion of mine mentioned how great the place is.  Raved, really.  Well, that sparks me to visit and I carefully chose a business lunch there.  My customer, also a friend and I each ordered from the HRW menu, which was conveniently attached to the front of the menu so as to encourage patrons to participate.  As an aside, this is refreshing and impressive - you'll see why later.  I had shrimp corn dogs with a shot of lemonade and the crab cake while my friend chose to have the salad and beef tenderloin.

The shrimp corn dogs were fresh, hot and the batter was a light, fluffy "cornbread" that was perfectly crisp outside and pillowy inside, there were three to an order over a drizzle of tabasco remoulade.  The shot of lemonade was perfect, ice cold and tartly refreshing.  The salad was made with baby arugula, fresh peach, candied pecans and had a goat cheese crostini on the side.  The description I got was, "That was absolutely delicious and the peach was perfect".  My "crab cake" was not really a cake, not like you would think.  This creation has no breading or filler, that I could discern. It was something a few levels above a crab cake that you might find on a typical seafood menu.  The squash blossom puree underneath and charred corn relish on top were perfect sweet/crunchy compliments to the delicate jumbo lump crab which was bound by a light remoulade-type sauce.  My friend had the beef tenderloin in a red wine glace with summer squash gratin.  I tried a bite of each, the beef was ordered medium rare and was perfectly cooked and fork tender, the glace was not overbearing and took the flaver of the meat up a notch.  The summer squash gratin came out crispy on the edges, slightly buttery and I will dream of it (and try to copy it at home).  We each ordered a peach tart and shared some ambrosia for dessert.  The tarts were lovely with a crisp, slighly sugared crust filled with warm but not overcooked peaches.  The ambrosia had figs!  I love fresh figs, and they mingled very well with an assortment of fresh fruits that were lightly bound with a lemon curd.  The curd offered a touch of brightness and silk to the overall affect.  I highly recommend you make it a point to dine at Haven, it was delightful and the HRW menu was a great bargain, my meal was $6 less than it would have been straight off the menu and they donated $3 to the Houston Food Bank!  Plus, they are very green and the ambrosia dish sat on a recycled piece of menu!  I bet they do not have a single polystyrene clam shell in the kitchen, either.  Just saying.

My Thursday evening consisted of dinner at Andalucia prior to the Cyndi Lauper concert.  Andalucia was quite good, notably the Moroccan Meatballs and the Oxtails were excellent.  The HRW dinner menu?  Had I ordered the most expensive items, they totalled $21 on the menu, plus dessert (I guess +/- $6) which brought the total to approximately $27 while paying $35 for HRW, which leaves $3 unaccounted for.  Not such a great deal, but, the food was very good.  Our wine bottle sat empty for some time on the table, but, in all fairness, the place was packed with Cyndi fans and seensters.  Which brings up an annoyance, only one toilet in the ladie's was working - not a good thing, nor was the suggestion that we go next door to use thier sister restaurants facilities. 

Cyndi Lauper was as great as ever in concert and I purchased a signed copy of her new blues cd for ten bucks!  Bargain!  However, I read the HoustonPress review, which was fantastic by the by, and learned that no matter how "cool" I think I am on occasion, we were just four more women in an open casting call for Cougar Town.  Dang, I'm old...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's in a name? Or, moniker?

Of late, I have been too busy to blog (I hate when that happens), however, neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor a bad internet connection can keep me from reading about things, mostly food things and how to quit your job in grand style.  Monday, I got a good giggle out of Katharine's article in the HoustonPress about "Foodie" backlash - and all of the comments associated thereto.  Then, there was yesterday's "destructions" on spotting a "Foodie" by John Seaborn Gray.  Again, great comments, I took both articles as rather "tongue-in-cheek", you know, since I am a foodie, foodblogger, gastronome who happens to play with words.  I really identify with food nerd best, or rather, food dork.  What you will "catch" me doing, if you catch me out at all, is waving my magic crackberry over my plate.  I do have a twitter account, I am not all "tweetalicious".  If I'm doing anything with my crackberry at dinner, it's texting Christy that I am seated in the same dining room as a man that looks like Fabio, is wearing Nichole Richie's sunglasses, snakeskin pants and, AND (kid you not) open-toed, black patent platform Ho-Letto's.  I had to retext about the "Hope Amethyst" on his pinkie.  I know I was in the presence of someone important, and - I was entertained.  I stated in an earlier post that food, like art, is subjective - it is, you just cannot argue with me.  I like reuben sandwiches the very best, when they are crispy-toasty and oozy with cheese and good sauerkraut.  Some people, some, think fried bologna on white with "that salad dressing" that makes a mockery of mayonnaise is the crown jewel of the sandwich family. To each their own...Love, Peace and Chicken Grease, ya'll.

Somehow, we "like writers" occasionally, well, know one another.  You know, like we might hang out over pints and "pickles frites" and have a chat.  Why, just to the northwest of us, KS's friend at Austin360 picked up on the "foodie debate" and had this to say.  So, I'll weigh in, because I can't really help myself, I felt a compulsion and my willpower is a wisp of a thing anyway.  What in the wide world of sports is a "foodie"? Why all the fracas?  The term was "coined" in 1981 by Paul Levy and Ann Barr and further used to title their book "The Official Foodie Handbook", published in 1984 - when Twitter was not even a glimmer in a code writer's eye, and blogs contained peat.  Oh, wait, that's "bogs", oops.  My social networking in the mid-to-late eighties involved "city shorts" and "cauliflower bangs", mosty at The Volcano and mostly involving frozen screwdrivers.  I'm not proud.  It is what it is.  So, what exactly is a "foodie", per se? Following are some of the definitions from Urban Dictionary:

1. foodie

A person that spends a keen amount of attention and energy on knowing the ingredients of food, the proper preparation of food, and finds great enjoyment in top-notch ingredients and exemplary preparation. A foodie is not necessarily a food snob, only enjoying delicacies and/or food items difficult to obtain and/or expensive foods; though, that is a variety of foodie.

Because he was a foodie, he liked to collect menus from restaurants which prepared food he enjoyed.

2. foodie
A dumbed-down term used by corporate marketing forces to infantilize and increase consumerism in an increasingly simple-minded American magazine reading audience. The addition of the long "e" sound on the end of a common word is used to create the sensation of being part of a group in isolationist urban society, while also feminizing the term to subconsciously foster submission to ever-present market sources.

Though the terms "gastronome" and "epicure" define the same thing, i.e. a person who enjoys food for pleasure, these words are perceived by the modern American consumer as elitist due to their latin root forms and polysyllabic pronunciations.

Also spelled "foody"

3. foodie 

Either a 27 year old woman with a boob job, or a gay man with a great job. Both claim to have many friends that are also foodies. They see Rachael Ray have foodgasms and expect the same from Burger King.

They spend too much money trying to emulate food celebrities they see on Bravo, and do ridiculous activities like going out in a party of 10 to a Kobe beef tasting.

Essentially, if you call yourself a "foodie", you aren't one; or you aren't what you think it means. A firefighter would not walk up to a burning building, criticize the flames, and proclaim that he and his coworkers are firefighters.

"This restaurant sucked, me and all my friends are foodies, and my steak wasn't hot enough, and there were some sea salt crystals on my bread."

I've also heard the argument made that a "foodie" is one who totes a big camera and has stunted tastebuds ...whatever, haters.  Here's what I am, and some of what you can expect from this little dusty nook of the interwebs.  I like to eat...hell, don't we all?  I don't seek out the newest trends on purpose.  I will, however, put pretty much anything in my pie hole, at least once.  I tried sea urchin....I will never, ever, upon pain of death try it again.  Disgusting. Nastified, even.  You like it?  Great!!  You can have mine, really.  What, you hate liver?  Are you crazy?  I love it.....some fava beans, a nice Chianti - lusciousness. I'll take your share of liver, gladly and with gusto.  I will even do the "happy dance" in my chair. Seriously, I've had both the guinea fowl and duck hearts and livers over toast points at Feast and I declare them magically delicious.  I like pig chips, or chicharrones - a lot.  I do not like grease biscuits, at all (read: donuts).  I do like comfy eateries, and the pleasantries of dining.  Rush me and your tip might suck. 

I like children, especially the ones that have babysitters.  I have had a grubby little hand snake across my table for the chip basket and try, try to dip in my queso.  Did I just whack your ill-behaved offspring on his precious little hand?  Hell yes, I did.  Try duct tape...he belongs at your table, not at mine. your home, the cat can be a centerpiece on your table while the dog counter surfs, unless I am a dinner guest.  Out of your home, I don't want a friendly lick hello while I eat, my empty plate licked or doggie prints on my clothes.  If your little darlings behave, really behave and not just in your eyes, I got no bitch with that.  I really think we need a new trend toward civilized dining, where adults control conversation and children know how to behave, use table manners...etc. I mean, is the owner of that child paying for MY meal?  I don't think so.

Into every life some junk food must fall, as must the occasional chain-meal.  For the most part, I want a nice meal from a local establishment.  I dine out rather selectively and not rather often, it can be costly so I don't go out for "Applebee's Garden" and whatnot - why bother, I can best that in my own kitchen.  I like organic and locally grown - it's not a trend, I was raised on a farm.  Today, I pet the goat, tomorrow he is the cabrito on the pit, one makes you wash your hands, the other makes you lick your fingers.  What can I say?  I picked the garden, I cleaned the vegetables and I ate them.  I helped can or freeze the extra and I had no idea what a pickle from the store tasted like for years.  My Mama did not cook out of a box.  We ate instant nothing, unless "instant fresh fruit", you simply peel and eat, counts.  Don't tell anyone, especially not the anti-foodie-frogs-not-trendy people, but I have *gasp* gigged a frog.  I also know where venison comes from...sssshhhhhhhhhh.  Basically, I am not on a "trend wagon", I'm just me, eating what I like, hoping for great service and having a beverage or two along the way.  I like live music, I'll mutter about it on occasion.  I am eco-friendly, but I am not militant about it. This is just my extention of my corner of Houstonist, with less content.

At any rate, foodie, food nerd, "eating person who talks about it", or not - I'll tell you what I like, where it is located, what I don't like and various other things I feel like sharing.  Read and enjoy!!  It's a rather contentious topic, please feel free to leave your thoughts.

I will be adding links and such time allows, so check back.

The HoustonPress Music Awards are at Warehouse Live, Tonight.

I'm learning this "Twitter" thing and "public'd" my following thing, so, you can follow me!  I don't tweet bunches, but, I am out there. Alone, with one follower.

Friday, August 6, 2010

This Weekend: Tody, White Linen Nights

Ah, Friday!  Finally.  Here's a few options for the weekend that caught my eye.  First, Houston's own Tody Castillo plays Rudyard's tonight.  Should be an awesome show, at a very cool venue.  Further, I think they turn out a great burger, if you want to go early and have dinner first.  The black bean nachos are nothing to sneeze at, either.  Also, Rudyard's has a fabulous Monthly Beer Tasting with Joe Apa- the next is on August 26th, make plans now.

Rudyard's British Pub
2010 Waugh Drive

Tomorrow, The Leo Trio are playing a free show at Cactus Music & Video from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m.  I saw/heard them at the 2009 Irish Stew Cook-off, they are quite good.  Typically the show and the St. Arnold's are free.  To sign up on Google calendar, or see who's playing and when, click the name below.

Cactus Music & Video
2110 Portsmouth

This weekend is "White Linen Night in the Heights", a wonderful opportunity to explore Heights Area food, drinks, art, music.  Wear white, preferably but not necessarily linen and go meander around.  If you hit Buchanan's Native Plants (which I just love, by the way) that's where you'll definitely find some St. Arnold's.

HERE is where you can find all the offerings and participants.

My only food note for the day:  I had lunch from Quizno's and they have "gone green", and I like that.  Almost all of their packaging is compostable or recycles easily.  Plus, they have a "2 for $5" menu that keeps lunch costs down.  I know, they would be lower if I set foot in a grocery store, or cooked, or made my own damn sandwich.  I'm working toward that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Free Food Today: Your PSA

Whataburger is 60 years old.  Wear screaming orange, get a free burger.

Taco Cabana is just giving away tacos.  One free chicken fajita taco between 4 pm and 9 pm at participating locations.

Breaking Brews News: St. Arnold Tour Discount

Today only, if you hit the 3:00 p.m. tour and say aloud "Hey Gonzo, how much for the ape?" you get two bucks off admission.  They may still be serving some Oktoberfest, too.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled work regimen.

Chain, Chain, Chain: Smashburger

Before I tell you about my smashsperience, I must point out something rather cool - I think.  My work is busiest first thing in the morning, and I like to follow that flurry of activity with about five or ten minutes of foodie news and information. Typically, I read Eating Our Words first - I know, Robb Walsh has gone on, still a good read, funny, insightful and the comments bust me up.  Plus, I know the new food editor.  Today, my spidey senses were all a-tingle for some reason, and I'm feeling a touch feisty.  What before my wondering eyes did appear?  A list of food blogs in Houston, including this one here.   I'm now less feisty and almost feeling "special" - in a good way, not an UberDork way.   The article in full - which is a great food blog resource.

About me?  Here's my fifteen minutes of interwebs fame:
Aghastronome: The brand-new blog of former Houstonist food writer Mary Jane Poorman covers mostly restaurants and can best be described with this attitude: It's just food. Enjoy yourselves, people.
I'm not sure on the "it's just food." part....but, food, like art is subjective - that's a whole different post rattling in my head, though. That's on account of this being new, and me not launching on some rant about to-go boxes and how polystyrene has a 500 year half-life.....yet.  I do plan to write an answer to the comment my Houstonist article on said doggie bags received.  It sat with me about as well as a serving of potato salad that's been sunning itself for half the day.

Right.  Smashburger!  I happened to overhear a co-worker say it, out loud and I invited myself into the food run.  Hey, I was hungry and food is just about the only thing I am downright unabashed about.  For a chain, Smashburger is a very serviceable burger that won't totally break your bank.  I am half-addicted to smashfries, at least the regular potato ones.  I ordered the new sweet potato smashfries last week - they were limp and soggy and I was completely unimpressed.  I'll try them again, in case it was merely a "bad fry day".  Typically, I order the American with bacon - it's a well known fact that I am a fool for bacon cheeseburgers.  I "left home" last week and tried the mushroom and swiss - cremini mushrooms add a lovely flavor.  However, the addition of processed sliced swiss, like faster food chains use, brought the overall experience down a couple of notches (the "aghast" part).

Today, I had the Buffalo Smashchicken Crispy and plain fries.  I like the smashfries best, I think I was punished for inviting my way in on the order.  I was, um, being eco-friendly and not driving a second car to the same place, yes, that's it.  This was a wonderful sandwich, even after being toted back to me at the office.  Even after I had a nice "water cooler chat" with a co-worker while my smashgrubs sat on my smashpod work surface.  The chicken was still hot and very crispy, there was a nice amount of bleu cheese, lettuce, tomato and buffalo sauce.  The honking blob of mayo?  I scraped off some, it was freaking me out - because it's fattening.  This is all ensconced in a tender egg bun.  I am impressed with what you get for ten bucks here.  Next trip, I may get my processed pig product on and order a hot dog.

Bottom Line:  If you're out driving around and spy a Smashburger and your belly is empty, don't be hating on the chain - it's a tasty burger. Try one, you'll like it.  I'll get back to you on the sweet potato issue, once I've done more field research.

Props to Smashburger for using recyclable paper packaging. 

My co-workers look at me like I have lost my last good marble when I point my crackberry at food on my desk.  No photo for you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Soft Shell Crab Alert: Pico's Mex-Mex - One More Time!!

Call first, to ensure that they have not run out - but, Pico's received a second "load" of soft shelled lovelies.  I cannot tell you enough that these are the best softies I have ever had.  I've eaten plenty of soft shelled crabs, I love them in principle - trust me on this one.   Go, and HURRY.

Pico's Mex-Mex

5941 Bellaire Blvd.


Breaking Brews News: St. Arnold Releasing Oktoberfest Today

It's hotter than a two dollah, um, pistol today - but, you can feel cool or cooler with visions of October weather dancing in your head.  Plus, all of the fabulous beer festivals, just saying.  You can be one of the first to sample the lastest brew to be released, Oktoberfest, today.  Just hit the 3:00 p.m. tour and tasting at the brewery.  Unfortunately, I am unable to attend, seein's how I have not hit the lotto, found a Sugar Daddy or had to resign myself to midnight shift.

Oktoberfest, one might reasonably infer, will be headed to a grocery or liquor store near you, soon.  This is good news.  So, bets on Christmas Beer by Halloween?  Just kidding, as long as St. Arnold's is bringing the beer to the market, I am a happy girl.

Speaking of...

Dear Santa,

I would like to hit the lotto, not the MegaBall, just a plain ole lotto jackpot.


(Hey, it can't hurt and might help)