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, September 28, 2010

Terribly Tasty Tacos: Free Taco on National Taco Day

National Taco Day?  Apparently, it is October 4th, which is this coming Monday. I don't like Mondays, typically.  However, to celebrate this occasion, Taco Cabana is offering up another free taco deal.  Go by any location between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and get one free kiolbassa (somehow I think their marketing group needs a visit from the spelling fairy?) and egg breakfast taco per person.  I know, I told you about these when they first came out - and I mentioned my skepticism.  I am a barbacoa or al pastor kind of girl.  I do have a penchant for the huevos con tocino at my local taqueria, they come with refried beans and lovely chunks of potato and your choice of tortilla.  I am a corn tortilla girl, unless fajitas are involved.

If you are somewhat skeptical of putting polish sausage in a taco, at least you can try one for free.  I plan to celebrate National Taco Day by hitting the little taqueria.  Not because I'm adverse to free breakfast by any means, really on account of I am sitting at my desk, at work, at 7:00 a.m..  Somehow, I doubt that my boss would like, "Sorry I'm late, but, it is National Taco Day and I had to score a free breakfast" as an excuse.

Friday, September 17, 2010

AbsinthArt: Art Show and Charity Drive

Nine local artists will be exhibiting works in oil, acrylic, photography and sculpture beginning at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night through 6:00 p.m. Sunday, the 19th.  All of the artists works on display are, of course, available for sale.  There will also be a charity drive benefitting the National Wildlife Refuge and specifically the Gulf Coast area.

Location:  PJ's Sports Bar (Upstairs)
                514 W. Gray @ Stanford

Begins:     Saturday, September 18th 8:00 p.m.

Closes:     Sunday, September 19th 6:00 p.m.

I'll be there - this should be extremely cool!

Help! BARC Is Completely Full - Pets Must Find Homes!

Houston's city animal shelter, the BARC shelter located at 3200 Carr Street, is completely and totally full.  If you have been thinking about adding a pet to your life, now would be a great time to do so.  This weekend, adoptions, which are normally $55 and includes the cost of sterilization and shots, are half price ($27.50, so you don't have to bust out your abacus) .  If you don't want to permanently adopt, but can foster a pet in your home until it finds a happy forever home, that would be super, too.

Photos of available animals can be found HERE.  Adoption hours are 12:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Normal business hours for adoption during the week are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 12:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and Thursday from 12:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.  Just like the beauty shop, BARC is closed on Mondays.

So, don't forget to donate some pet food to aniMeals on Wheels today.  Then, tomorrow, after breakfast (which, I hope, involves some frijoles refritos y barbacoa), head over to BARC and pick out the newest member of your family.

Chinese Buffet - Or, How I Play Gastronomic Russian Roulette

Last night, after bowling badly and having a few cold beers (I was hoping they would improve my game, and they did) I decided that I just had to go to the Silver Palace Chinese Buffet on Holcomb.  My sister and her boyfriend were going as well - bonus!  I had great company over dinner.  When it comes to buffets, I tend to eat things some people might shy from, especially in a buffett setting.  I really have to quit that.  Mussels?  Clams in Black Bean Sauce?  It is just before closing time, so, apparently - I asked for this.  My sister informs me that she's just fine today.  I am not.  She had cold boiled shrimp, I had the aforementioned mollusks, and a bunch of fried stuff (I can't help it - if it's fried I'm on it like a duck on a june bug).

Word to the wise (or wiser than myself) avoid items on a buffet which might have a propensity to go south.  Like shellfish.  Unless you are prepping for a colonoscopy, or trying to lose five pounds, the hard way.  Maybe now that cute little black dress will fit?  There's a silver lining in this cloud of burpy nauseousness. 

Actually, I know that Palace Lanes makes one hell of a burger.  It's the old school, griddled thin patty and they make better tots than Sonic.  As I sit here, greener than Kermit - I'm sticking to that burger option.  Silver Palace, nevermore.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What's For Lunch? Frozen Ravioli Florentine Smackdown

I am trying to be a little bit healthy and I haven't been cooking very much, bad me.  I have been in a self-inflicted food pox, of sorts.  In alignment with my frugal side, I have been buying various and sundry frozen, low calorie, low fat meals to keep at work for lunchtime.  They must be on sale and I try to use coupons, too.  Unless a JCI special or a particular craving draws me out from under the flourescents.  This week, I had to make a run to the discount store with the red logo for some iPhone accessories, so I purchased a new load of freezer fodder that was on sale.  They have a selection of Lean Cuisine®  items for $1.70 each and the Healthy Choice® Cafe Steamers ™  are 4 for $10 - not too shabby.  Last week, I finished my frozen stash with a Weight Watchers® Smart Ones® (known hereafter as "WW") ravioli florentine, which is pretty good.  I buy whatever ravioli is on special - I like the ravioli.  This week, I had the Lean Cuisine®  (now referenced as "LC") version and I have this to say about the two different brands.  LC roundhouse kicks WW in the face on this one.  This weeks LC ravioli was stuffed with spinach and the sauce was slightly spicy - good stuff.  The WW version is a ricotta cheese ravioli in spinach marinara, the sauce is tasty, but both the ravioli and the sauce fall rather flat in the spice department, when compared to LC. My gripe with both, which is ridiculous, I might add - they don't put very much cheese on top.  I know, that's where the fat lives and the calories come from, I know.  I said it was ridiculous and it is.  Cheese is my favorite food group, chicken fried is my second favorite and gravy is a given, please.  Yes, ricotta is a cheese, but it falls under just dairy, along with cottage cheese and sour cream.

Banned forever and never to be spoken of again?  Lean Cuisine® lobster and cheese ravioli (now spelled out to hit search engines, as ain't nobody reviewed it and it's gross).  Fishy and honestly nastified.  I can't believe I ate the whole thing, but, there's that frugal, Puritan, waste not, want not I grew up with.  Hint: That explains why I likes the offal, liver in particular.  Next time, I am doing some online review research, on account of I do not want to suffer a blunder like that, again.  Ever. Seriously.  I had to wash it down with my afternoon snack. I'm fixing to brush my teeth.  That bad.  I hope the purple pill prevents a burp.  Are you picking up what I'm putting down?  I hope so.  Save yourselves frozen food entree peeps.  Learn from my epic fail, I am aghast.  Total food mortification.  Okay, no more ranting.  On to the little gories, or nutritional facts.

WW has 241 calories, 5 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 30 miligrams of cholesterol, 720 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of total carbohydrates and 11 grams of protein.  The serving size is 241 grams.

LC has 220 calories (no ricotta pays off here), 5 grams of fat (2 of them saturated, a stat WW didn't offer), 20 miligrams of cholesterol (again the ricotta), 510 milligrams of sodium,  9 grams of protein and 34 grams of total carbohydrates.  The serving size is 241 grams.  LC gets a TKO in the Nutrition Facts ring.

Bottom Line:  While I will not shun the WW version by any means, I do prefer the LC version for putting the "florentine" in ravioli florentine and kicking the spice.  Both are excellent choices and price at or around two bucks works for me.  Don't shake your head at my frugal nature, this gig does not pay.  What you get is what I am living and eating.

Since the weather is cooling, there will be a squash ravioli smackdown in the future.  Same bat channel, maybe not the same bat time - who knows?

P.S. I looked for a review of the nastioli and found a glowing one??  WTH? The comments, mine now included, back up my humble opinion.  This is the right food for hazing freshmen (with a nice, hot Strawberry Hill) or a triple dog dare.

Yeah, I know, the only review I found was for Healthy Choice® there's not a single one for LC, so it must be new.  Question, who works in THAT test kitchen?  And lastly if it's Stouffer's, it's got to be.....oh nevermind.

Hot Dog! That's a deal! Today Only

There are two schools of thought regarding James Coney Island, established in 1923.  One is that the coneys are delicious and one is that they are not.  Myself?  I count them among one of my dirty little food fetishes.  If you're going to be bad, go big or go home.  I like the Combo #1, two coneys and fries and while you're at it, just put chili, cheese and onions on everything.  Sometimes, I get all wild and get the tater tots and I have to have an iced tea (no calories or sugar, you know, on account of how I'm always on a health kick).  Well, JCI lovers, every dog has his/her day and today is THAT day. Chili dogs are $0.87/each all day take out or dine in, no limit - but the cheese is extra.  If you see a girl toting a mess of them in a box out the door, with a suspiscious, "If you don't see me do it, the calories and fat don't really count" look - well, could be me, just saying.

They are also advertising a limited time only item that piques my interest (diet, you know)  It's a doggie wrap containing a beef sausage, Frito's corn chips, chili, cheese, onions, mustard all ensconced in a warm flour tortilla.  I can't help but wonder if Ken Hoffman has ingested one.  Other specials?  Limited time chili deal!  Add a 4 oz serving of their famous chili to any combo for a scant $0.99.  The Sunday special is back for a limited time, you can get original coneys for $0.99, again, cheese is extra.  Kids eat free on Wednesdays from 4:00 p.m. until closing.

When I moved to this great city to attend college, my first ever date involved dinner at JCI and a movie.  The date and the movie were not very memorable.  The JCI experience changed me and was likely the beginning of my "freshman forty".  Well, the old "Gold C coupon books" with "BOGO" offers for JCI and Frenchy's didn't help much, either.  I was broke and I had a very used little dorm fridge that always had the "free one" in it for my next meal.

Click here for a James Coney Island location near you.  Or not.

Hot Diggety Dog, Houston!  Dig on in.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sharing to Stop Local Hunger: Pets Included

I got all tied up with work and have not posted in, well, two weeks.  Shameful, I know - but, life happens and it's far better with a paycheck, or a slug of cash to keep you fed, watered and out of the elements.  One of Houston's local charities that works to "feed and water" our senior citizens who may otherwise be purchasing large quantities of pet food, for their own consumption, is hosting a food drive (I've seen it happen, I was not in a position to buy them real food.  I cried.).  Not for food for seniors, for their companions.  Meals on Wheels started an animal program three years ago, so that local seniors would not share their meals to feed their pet(s).  The program, aniMeals on Wheels needs our help.  Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, the organization behind both of these wonderful programs is holding a pet food drive this Thursday and Friday.

Please donate unopened packages of cat and dog food, either wet or dry at the following locations:

Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston
3217 Montrose Boulevard
Hours:  7:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

No Paws Left Behind
16225 Park Ten Place
Hours:  8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

6204 Saxon
Hours:  8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

These programs, again all staffed with volunteers, provide meals for 300 seniors and 750 pets each month.  My personal belief is that we have enough food resources that no one and no animals should be hungry.  I plan to share, after all twenty bucks can go a long way to feed some pets, and I'm not even involving Ol'Roy here.