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

Friday, October 29, 2010

Montrose Beer and Gun Club 10th Annual Cook-off and Music Extravaganza

Last Saturday, I had the most fun you can have with your clothes on - and I was working.    If you weren't in attendance, you missed out on some excellent food, a silent auction full of great stuff, belly dancing, fabulous live music and the awesome t-shirts, koozies and "2nd Coarse, The Texas Food Chain Massacre Second Edition" that were available for sale. The new cookbook contains some revered recipes from the original (like Jalapeno Margaritas from Houston Roller Derby) and also new things from MBGC members, friends and, of course, the cook teams.  There are recipes from soup to nuts, everything from Cold Beer to It's No Joke (which is a potato chip, coke and ice cream concoction).  I have about 4 or 6 recipes in there too, like Chicken & Dumplin's from my Granny Jo, and modified by me.  I'm not "taunting" you with the cookbook.  I understand that a very limited supply of cookbooks "might" still be available for sale, along with koozies at the Antique Warehaus, which is conveniently located at 1714 Westheimer St. @ Park.  The weather is turning spectacular here, so swing by and peruse the store, get a cookbook and maybe something more while you're there.  If they're out of the cookbook, peruse the store anyway - it's cool.

I was fortunate enough to judge some of the categories, specifically chicken, pork and wild game.  I was on the final table, and I have to tell you - it was all good, even the walrus.  Those who placed in the top 5 in their category got the coolest trophy I have ever seen.  I'm rounding up some photos for you of how they were created, and what they looked like.  I will state here that I would have loved to have hauled my weaponry along and participated.  The real deal for me, given that I'm an eater of food that writes about it, is the food.  I love working cook-offs, they're the perfect venue for me - raising monies for charity, eating, drinking and socializing in a relaxed atmosphere with people of all varieties.  Plus, Tejas Barbacoa, the team my friend Christy is on, won three trophys!  Third Place Chicken, Second Place Chili and Second Place Pork - awesome for their first time to compete here!

One of the team captains shared a college paper of his daughters with us this morning.  How food is the key ingredient in bringing people together, specifically to raise money for kids who wish things were better.  Here's a taste of it:

"Every year, the MB&GC uses food to bring people together by hosting a cook-off for kids who wish things were better, benefiting the make a wish foundation. My family are “active” members of the Montrose Beer and Gun Club. My Dad, Uncles and Cousins - we all are card carrying members and are very proud of our status.

October 23 will be the 10th year that this club of misfits, professionals, artists, college kids and everyone else come together around their ice chests and barbecue pits to share their food for a greater cause.

The annual cook-off was created by the founding members of the MB&GC. They decided to host a benefit for its members to raise money for those who are less fortunate.

They organized a cook-off and invited the clubs members to create their individual teams and compete with their recipes in hopes of drawing in a large crowd who would be eager to eat the food and open their wallets.

The first year of the cook-off, the money was donated to the local women’s shelter. They then decided to help children with cancer and the second year the money was donated to MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Center.

The members then realized that in no way would they be able to raise enough money to cure anyone so it was decided to raise money for Make-A-Wish so they could provide a small measure of happiness for children and their families who don’t have much to be happy about.

My dad has a cook-off team that consists of him, my mom and my Uncle Danny."
"The real beauty of the event is the people. There are people from all walks of life at the cook-off. I can tell you all kinds of stories about the biker guys who come with their scraggly beards and rebellious attitudes who are ultimately really nice, and entertaining, guys.

I can tell you about the young families who bring their kids to check out the good food. There is always the roller derby team - who are a little scary. There is a team of women that comes every year from Corpus Christi and they set their tent next to ours and always flirt with my dad while my mom laughs, rolls her eyes and offers him to the highest bidder.

There is the Scottish team who wear their kilts every year and then there is the team of business men who can never quite understand casual dress in their loafers and button up shirts.

The beauty of the cook-off is that all these people are brought together with their shared love of great food and their desire to support the kids.

I know I don’t just have the one story about food. The thing is all the little stories and experiences make up the great story that is the MB&GC Annual Cook-off. It’s an experience I can’t describe in 5 minutes.

It’s an event for everyone who wants to support a cause and doesn’t feel like wearing tuxedos and fancy dresses. All these people who didn’t know each other last year or even yesterday come together and share stories of life over a meal; even if that meal is served in thousands of plastic cups."

It was six days ago, and I am already looking forward to next year. I did have a jalapeno margarita last saturday, it was delightful - slighly sweet, tart, hot and iced.  Perfection with a touch of burn.  Good thing I have both of the cookbooks, I can make some of my own!  Since I have yet to provide anyone with a single recipe, here's one from the cookbook for you:

Chicken & Dumplin's (Thanks, Granny)

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or a pkg of mixed pieces or 4-6 bone-in, skin-on breasts
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2-3 carrots, scraped and cut into 1" pieces
2-3 ribs of celery, cut into 1" pieces
1-2 teaspoons minced garlic (or 2-3 cloves - to taste)
1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning (or 1 teaspoon each, minced fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano - if you have fresh tarragon, it's a nice addition)
1 bag frozen green peas (optional)
3-4 quarts water
salt/pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven, bring all ingredients to a boil. Lower to a gentle boil and skim the surface until the water no longer "foams". Continue to simmer until the chicken is tender - remove, cool and de-bone meat, cutting into bite-sized pieces. If desired, you can strain the broth to remove the cooked vegetables, we like to leave them in. Return stock to a slow boil, keep an eye on it. While the chicken is cooling, make the dumplings, as follows:

2 cups flour (do not use self-rising)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons shortening
2/3 cup milk

Combine flour, salt and shortening, cutting the shortening in so that the mixture looks like it has small peas in it. Add milk, mixing with a fork or spoon, until you have a stiff dough, that is not sticky (you'll need to get your hands in it at the end - add a little flour if needed).  If the dough is too thick, add a splash of milk.  Try not to overwork the dough, you'll have tough dumplings. 

Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is a quarter-inch thick. Flour the top and rolling pin, it helps. Cut dough in to half-inch squares (we put the squares back in the dough bowl, for convenience).

Bring broth to a rolling boil and drop the dumplings in a few at a time. Reduce to a simmer and add chicken. At this point, you have options! 1). Dig in. 2). Add green peas if you like them and want more veggies in the mix. We recommend, 3). Add a cup of water you have whisked almost a half cup of flour into, until smooth. Then stir gently, but kinda like crazy, to incorporate the flour/water, and simmer until thickened - this will make the final outcome creamier and less like chicken soup. Re-tests for seasonings.

If you choose to use boneless/skinless chicken, add two tablespoons of Knorr's Caldo de Pollo to increase the flavor of your broth. There is some scuttlebutt that you can just use cut flour tortillas - don't subscribe to that theory, or the one about cutting up whomp biscuits (the kind where all you do is whomp the can open and cook). Love the heat? Add a minced habanero or other hot pepper.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Montrose Beer & Gun Club 10th Annual Cook-off and Music Extravaganza

Well kids, it's time for the 10th Annual MBGC Cook-Off and Music Extravaganza! This is a wonderful event that raises monies for "Kids Who Wish Things Were Better", or the Make-A-Wish Foundation.   The event is held at the West Alabama Ice House and kicks off tomorrow, promptly at high noon, with belly dancing and a slew of smoking pits, as the teams continue cooking for the public and the contest.  Admission is a ridiculously low $5, or however much you would like to donate (don't be shy, feel free to give more) and there will be awesome t-shirts (mens and womens cut), a brand-new cookbook and koozies to keep your beer cold for sale in our merchandise area.  As if that weren't enough, there will be a silent auction with some sweet items for you to bid on.  You may purchase the beverage of your choice from the ice house, as you wander the scores of cooks and enjoy an afternoon of live music, beginning at 1:00 p.m. - after a fine belly dancing display, performed by Tribal Lillies.  Here's where I make a wee confession, I have been taking lessons in belly dancing.  I won't be performing, so your retinas are safe this time.  At the present, my efforts resemble wounded waterfowl, an epileptic egret, a herky heron - you get my point, it's kinda uncoordinated looking, to say the least.  I'm no quitter, I hope to master this belly thing.  I shall instead be working the event, as a volunteer.

Teams will be competing for trophies (the best we've ever had, guns were really involved) in the categories of:  Beans, Chicken, Chili, Pork and Wild Game.  No Road Kill Allowed.  Donations to the silent auction will be accepted on the day of the event.  So, if Aunt Ethel gave you a nice wine set and you're an avowed non-wine drinker, or some other gift you shan't use is lying about - bring it on to raise more money for the kids!  Your musical entertainment will be provided by Bob Chadwick Jazz Ensemble, Third Ear Caravan, The Leo Trio and Richard Cagle and the VooDoo Choir.  This is a lot of entertainment *bang*, plus there's all the free people watching and such.  Please bring cash, your checkbook or credit card (note, Antiques Warhaus generously donates credit card processing and that will be the name appearing on your bill).  Lastly, parking is somewhat limited throughout the surrounding neighborhood, so, you and all of your friends that will fit into your car safely, should contemplate car pooling.  Taking a taxi is another fairly good idea, provided you don't live in the hinter lands.

Montrose Beer and Gun Club
10th Annual Cook-off and Music Extravaganza
West Alabama Ice House
1919 W Alabama St
Noon - 7:00 p.m. - $5 Admission

Rare photo of the original members of the Montrose Beer and Gun Club courtesy of MBGC.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Laned and Out Done by Caroline (Not a Surprise, Really)

All last week I toyed with the idea of posting about the ridiculousness that is "sexting".  Especially since Brett Favre, who has temporarily retired from professional football more times some bands have gone on "farewell tours", did "it".  Allegedly, that is.  He has been accused of taking a photograph of his groceries and sending said pixels to a female sports reporter he had his eye on.  At least use the "good" camera.  Another demerit for a quarterback.  The quarterback is supposed to be the wholesome guy.  He doesn't get popped for juicing, never gets caught with illegal substances, refuses to fight dogs, wouldn't think of beating on his lovely bride, and never does the "hokey pokey" in public.  These things just... don't..., um, so yeah, nevermind. This is not basketball, kids.  At any rate, I was going to write up what I hoped to be an inciteful, witty-like ramble as to how women are not nearly as impressed by your dangling participle as you would like for them to be.  How you may not get the intended outcome from your action.  Caroline beat me to it, and in good fashion.  She out-funnies me regularly, and you should read her business, regularly.  I nearly spit coffee on my monitor and keyboard this morning.  It's funny as all get out, and it's true boys, it's really true.  Read it and take note, and quit that business.  Seriously.  It's awful, not amorous or amusing - and if someone sends their sympathies back, just remember, you started it.  So, don't getcha feelings all hurt.

Caroline attended the Texans game with us yesterday, five girls - one great football game.  Sparsely populated parking lot, same gripe about tailgating and paying for passes for friends, on top of parking and paying for the season tickets.  We won't discuss the $7.50 beer, oops.  I am playing my own version of "Where's Waldo?", where is Texan Elvis?  He's been absent the past two games.

The boudin we grill at our tailgate is from D.J.'s Boudain over in Beaumont.  It's fantastic stuff, buy yourself some and ask your grocer why he's not carrying it, unless he is.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This Weekend: Festa Italiana, A Grand Opening & Tailgating

Festa Italiana, which is presented by The Italian Cultural & Community Center begins today and runs through Sunday at 6:00 p.m. on campus at the University of St. Thomas (why did they NOT do this when I was there?).  This year makes 32 years of fun and festivities!  If you sneak out early, admission is FREE until four pm today, the rest of the time you pay $6 for adults and kids under 12 are FREE.  Entertainment includes a grape stomp, a pasta eating contest (I was so hoping it would be meatballs, instead.  Antacids, don't leave home without them), an Italian-American Idol contest (Mambo Italiano), chalk art and bunches of activities for children.  Check out their website here.

Festa Italiana
University of St. Thomas
Corner of W. Alabama & Montrose
Friday and Saturday 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Parking is available in the Moran Center Parking Garage for $2 per day.  Directions to UST.

The Great Gulf Dinner, presented by Eating Our Words, the Houston Press food blog is tomorrow, from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.  If you have not purchased your ticket at this time, please click here to see do they still gots 'em available.

Great Gulf Dinner
The Usual 5519 Allen (near TC Jester)
2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
$15 per plate, Gaido's is cooking (it'll be deliciousness) includes one drink ticket and Paige Lewis will be performing!  This sounds like a deal, to me.

The coolest city block in the entire 600 square miles that is Houston, Texas has a new neighbor which should prove to be equally as cool.  The block opens, grandly this Saturday at 6:00 p.m.  Yes, Houston's beloved and most fabulous Continental Club, Tacos A Go-Go and T'afia (stellar peach cobbler), the Breakfast Klub, and more, or "3700 Main" as I call it has a "sister block" of food and coolness, 3622 Main Street.  Why what ever is located there?  Sig's Lagoon, home of cool music and interesting items has moved over there, My Flaming Heart (eclectic collection of handmade and estate clothing, jewelry and accessories), Shop-o-Rama (the name seriously says it all, it says "come see what I got", it's a coolass re-sale coop, people) and Natachee's Supper and Punch (brand new restaurant that I hear has a delectable peach cobbler, too).  The shops are open all day, but the celebration commences at 6:00 p.m. and include various snacks, beverages and music by DJ Psychedelic Sex Panther (how can you miss this?  YOU CAN'T, unless, well, you're not cool.)

Tailgating.  I was at the ill-fated Giants game last Sunday.  I have held a PSL/Tickets since forever, I was one of the first fifteen hundred football lunatics on board the "Train of Pain".  I do not like the new "policy" regarding tailgating and I think that changing horses midstream is retarded.  I was not aware that there were people who were not invited guests of legit tailgates just showing up with a rolling cooler of beer to hang out.  That's a bag of crap.  I think that free guest passes, limit four per season ticket holder is a good idea.  You shouldn't be on the grounds causing a damn ruckus, otherwise.  I think all parking passes should be SCANNED and not just taken with a half-hearted "thanks and enjoy the game".  I believe pretty firmly that the parking people need to "event park" the cars and not just wave you in.  How many parking passes?  Three?  You, open, open.....Next vehicle, rightcheer.  There are still "missing teeth" parking spaces all over the place.  I'll be out there Sunday, we've got a boudin supplier that makes the best I have ever had.  I'm going to find out the name of the small, family-owned company and share.  You need some, I just know it and I'm going to provide you the scoop.  Lastly, I hope Texan Elvis shows up this week.  He has had the seats behind me since the second season and he's a hoot. (I'll add his photo later, my iPhone is misbehaving right now).

The McRib - Live and Nationwide in November

A couple days ago, an article in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye.  The McRib and what people will do to get one.  Like, drive 10 hours across state lines with a cooler?  Seriously?  Personally, myself, I don't care for the McRib.  In fact, it's a cold day in hell before I stop at McDonald's period.  Unless I'm on a long road trip and then I just avail myself of their tidy facilities.  Once they took the lard out of the french fryer...I was McDone.  I'll just take a side trip here - McDonald's sued for not serving vegetarian french fries?  That defies my sense of logic and reason.  It's as crassly ridiculous to hit a fast food burger joint that doesn't serve veggie burgers and expect a vegetarian meal, in my book, as wanting vegan Tex-Mex?  What is that?  Chayote and chile powder in a gluten-free tortilla with soy cheese?  Sorry.....I love veggies and persons who only eat what grows from the dirt - but, let's be a touch on the rational side.  If it was just a french fry snack for ya, don't get all mad at me.  Opinions, I have them. Okay, back to the real subject:  The McRib and it's devoted legion of followers (groupies). 

The McRib, introduced in 1981, is a sandwich on an oblong bun constructed of a boneless rib-shaped patty, pickles, onions and barbecue sauce.  My issues are: the meat is processed seven ways to Sunday and molded into an unnatural shape; and I despise all bottled barbecue sauce, for the most part.  I grew up with Daddy making barbecue all the time, and his own sauce.  I am a true barbecue snob and wholly obnoxious as to what and whose barbecue I will actually eat (caveat this statement with, if I am living off my own body fat, I will eat pretty much anything that won't bite me first).  There are over 300 groups on "The Social Network", that are dedicated to the McRib and there's even a McRib Locator.  The McRib, there's an app for that.  McCrazytalk.

At any rate, those of you who worship the McRib and will do anything to get one (legal or not) are going to be in hog heaven soon.  On November 2nd, the damn sandwich goes live and nationwide for the first time in 16 years.  Yup, you should be able to hit any franchise and get yourself one for six whole weeks!  All persons suffering in silent agony of unrequited McRib love, you will be sated, even if only briefly.  Buy a bunch and freeze them for later?  I won't be purchasing any, so there's more for the true fans.

Pork clarification:  I love pork and everything it stands for.  I positively adore "pig chips",  I will eat vienna sausages on occassion, consume hot dogs with gusto (I was gonna say relish, but, I can't bring myself to) but something about the McRib just McCreeps me out.  I know, it's irrational.  It just is what it is, man.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's Going On in H-Town?

First and foremost, I must mention the passing of a Houston radio icon, Mark Stevens of Stevens & Pruett.  He passed yesterday of Alzheimer's-related complications.  I best remember him as the voice of Uncle Waldo.  Pause for a second today in remembrance of a local radio legend, please.

Next up, Spanish Village.  This joint is old, kitchy and has been family operated and serving up some rockin' Tex-Mex food since the 1940's,  Last night, I tried the Special Enchiladas-a-la-Taylor for the first time, as did Meg.  Wow, an enchilada smothered in a special spicy sauce (plus Chile Con Carne) and then, blanketed in oozy melted American cheese.  Refried beans, rice and the "starter" guacamole salad and it's all yours for $11.50 (now) plus tax and grat. I've had the fried spring chicken about, well, most times I've been there.  The Sun Belt dinner is a great smattering of T-M (that's Tex-Mex) faves, the Chile Rellenos are the best in town and I'm resolved to now eat my way around their entire menu.  Everything on the menu is reasonably priced for what you get and I've never had a "bad" meal.  Truth be told, I kinda crave the place.  I met a couple of friends for dinner (the illustrious Christy and Meg) and had a wonderful dinner, ate entirely too much and had a couple of their frozen margaritas.  I surrendered to the plate with most of the beans and rice left, and my spidey senses alerted me to an upcoming food coma.  Our experience started with a small queso, with a dish of jalapenos on the side and chips.  I like this presentation, as everyone can control the heat to their taste.  On the next trip, I know that two of us are going to share the chicken and the enchiladas.  The margaritas look expensive at a glance, but, a $6.50 frozen that is made with lime juice and liquor and none of that "sweet and sour" junk is well worth the money!  If you have not had a meal here, you need to.  Yeah, it's not in a "trendy" part of town, and the ambiance is not "sleek and modern", it's Polariod and Christmas lights.  PLUS, there are no Ed Hardy-wearing seensters to contend with, either.  Plus, the food is spot on, trust me.  Be advised, you must order an entree to consume the booze, period, end of paragraph.  They are not open on Sunday or Monday, por favor, see hours below.

Spanish Village
4720 Almeda

Hours:  Tues - Thurs 11:00 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
            Fri - Sat        11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Menu Here

Upcoming Music and General FUN tomorrow!  The final FREE Discovery Green Concert in the Fall Entertainment Series will bring Two Tons of Steel to the stage, and the normal St. Arnold beverages (double recycle points for six-pack containers!!).  Here's a link to the location and general visitation information.

Best quote this week (ish, I'm pulling it out of my grey matter):  "Tom Brady insulting Randy Moss hair is like Creed calling Nickelback lame".   Brady has insisted that the follicular fracas is faux.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trending: Tacos That Are Made Properly? What is a "Street Taco, Alex?"

I have long believed that heading out for "really fast" tacos, like from Taco Bell ® should only occur if one is either terribly desperate and far, far away from anything else (like Jack in the Box and their 2 for $0.99 tacos) and/or in some state of intoxication.  Otherwise, gastronomic "jeopardy", or total aghastness, and some rank burpage, perhaps.  Neither of these is a "real" taco in my book, I just find one more palatable than the other.  Real tacos are not made with boxed crispy shells, or yellow cheese - this is a bastardized American concoction.  Should I find some cheddar or american cheese on my order of tacos, I will not turn my nose up at it.  Cheese remains one of my favorite food groups, after all. 

I have a soft spot for Taco Cabana, and I have their soft chicken tacos at least bi-weekly because I can't help myself.  I only have my car washed at the place by my house that has a taqueria on premise (this is sheer genius).  I found a couple of groceries and "meaterias" that have in-house food counters that serve some mean al pastor tacos that I now make groceries at.  Apparently, there's a trend toward authentic tacos in the fast food world.  Taco Cabana has introduced the "Street Taco" for a limited time, it's comprised of two corn tortillas, grilled marinated steak, chopped onion and cilantro.   I will have to try one and report back, perhaps a "Taco Smackdown" is in order.  The hangup I have is the name "Street Taco" which just sounds, wrong.

Houstonians seeking some authentic and delicious tacos should patronize just about any taco truck parked and cooking (don't be scared, if it sucks, it's not going to be a high dollar screw-up).  To find out where the best taco trucks are, bow to the "men" - Guns & Tacos and Robb Walsh.  In Southwest Houston, hit up El Rancherito on Chetwood (behind Holy Ghost Catholic Church), the El Ahorro, Bellaire Car Wash and Auto Salon, on Bellaire Blvd, or the La Michoacana @ Bissonnet and Bonhome (7501 Bissonnet).  On a side note, if you venture to La Michoacana,  duck across Bonhome to Caribbean Cuisine and get some meat patties to go.

Me?  I'ma hit Spanish Village and try to order something other than the fried chicken (which is fab) or the chile rellenos......maybe some of the Special Enchiladas-a-la-Taylor.

If you do hit the El Ahorro, the red carts are for "in the store, only" and the ricketyass rusted ones, you may use to haul your groceries to the car.  After you squeeze the damn cart through the pylons.  This explains why I saw a bunch of people with those tiny hand baskets and very few carts, or buggies.  Bonus, nobody hollered "Gringa on Aisle Four"!  I like that place for tacos and staple groceries, a lot.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's Up Tonight?: Blaggards and Half-Price Burgers @ Brian O'Neill's

Houston's only Stout Irish Rock Band, Blaggards plays a free show tonight at Brian O'Neill's in the Rice Village.  It's Big Arse Beer Night and burgers are half-price (to soak up some of that big beer, right?).  The music starts at 9:30 p.m., so you can go early to make sure you're properly fed and watered before the dancing starts!  Burgers are 1/2 pounders, normally $8.95 and include either chips, a cup of soup or coleslaw, that's a big bunch of delicious burger for $4.475, plus tax and grat (black and bleu with bacon, just saying).  Here's a link to their menu, the better to make you hungry with.

Brian O'Neill's
5555 Morningside Dr.

Antiques 101 History Camp at Bayou Bend: Adult Evening Seminars, presented by Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens and MFAH the series begins tonight and occurs every Wednesday evening through October 27th.  This first series covers Paint, guest speaker Patrick Palmer of the Glassell School of Art will lead a tour of Bayou Bend that is focused on the portraits and paintings in the collection.  Tickets to the entire series are $175 per person ($150 for MFAH members), individual sessions are $60 per person ($50 for MFAH members).  Reservations are required, please contact Lavinia Ignat, Visitor Services Manager at 713.639.7758.  Sessions begin at 6:00 p.m. and last until 9:00 p.m., please arrive early to check-in.

Antiques 101
Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center (for check-in)
6003 Memorial Drive

If you have not had the opportunity to introduce the whole family to Blaggards music (ie. you haven't attended the Irish Stew Cook-Off, or other charitable venue they've played) you have a grand opportunity to do so, this weekend.  Blaggards Free All Ages Show at Cactus Music and Record Ranch, begins at 3:00 p.m. and will feature spectacular beverages from St. Arnold Brewing (they make a mean root beer for the under 21 crowd).  They will be selling CD's for $9.99 at the venue, get yours now!  Both of them, "Standards" and "Live in Texas". 

Cactus Music & Record Ranch
2111 Portsmouth

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Weirdness: Pumpkin Fire at Whole Foods Kirby

A fire broke out, the pumpkins at Whole Foods Kirby went up in flames.  I find this odd, I had no idea that they would burn, unless all dried out and stuff.  You know, the Halloween one that you spray-painted gold and used as a Christmas decoration.....that bad boy may be flammable.  I hope there's no gourd-hating arsonist roaming the streets.

Need a pumpkin?  Rumor has it they are buy one-get one at the Houston Garden Center.  Don't quote me on that, though.

Ramble On: Miscellaneous Stuff for the Week

First, I went out for lunch today (I needed some home improvement supplies) and there was a Popeye's nearby.  Tuesdays, you can get a leg and thigh (mild or spicy - is there really a valid question here? Spicy, hello) for $0.99, or for $3.47 you get the chicken with a side and biscuit.  I'm on a very strict diet, so I had one straight chicken order and one "combo" with red beans and rice.  A girl's gotta keep her energy up, and all.  This special runs all day, so, ya still have time to take advantage of it, provided there's a Popeye's near you (if not, I'd move, just saying).  Anyone got a purple pill or some antacids I can borrow?

Next, The Houston Zoo has a brand new resident!  Tupelo the asian elephant, weighing 273 lbs was born on Sunday.  She'll (oops, girl elephant - my bad, thanks for the quick correction "Anon") be closely monitored and the elephant barn will be "shut" for awhile, but, this is wonderful news.  She is joining her 5 month old half-brother Baylor, we'll see how the siblings get along!

For those of you who participated in Houston Restaurant Month Week, to you (and myself) I say "Holy Crap, Batman!!", a huge accomplishment people.  Together with participating restaurants, the collective "we" raised a total of $585,000 for the Houston Food Bank.  Dude, that's a ton of food for those in need.  Pat your own self on the back!  Perhaps next year we can raise the proverbial bar and hit the million dollar mark.  We are the fourth largest city and all, it can happen!

Upcoming Events: 

  • St. Arnold Ale Dinner at Canopy:  Tuesday, October 12th; 7:00 p.m.; $65 per person PLUS tax and gratuity.  Seating is LIMITED to 32 people, buy now, hurry.  Canopy is located at 3939 Montrose Blvd.  Call or email to reserve:  713.528.6848, or
  • Discovery Green's final outdoor concert - Thursday 10/14.  Come on out and see Two Tons of Steel
  • "The Great Gulf Dinner" at The Usual, presented by Houston Press, courtesy of Gaido's in Galveston (who fed the Hurricane Ike volunteers):  October 16th; 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.; $15 per plate (boiled shrimp and fried fish, from the Gulf).  The Usual is located at 5519 Allen.  Bonus, you get a drink ticket with the purchase of a plate and, and Paige Lewis will be performing throughout the afternoon.  A raffle will also be held, all proceeds benefit Boat People SOS, which aids Vietnamese and Vietnamese-American fisherpersons.  Clicky for ticky!  This thang's gonna sell out, so buy yours now, y'hear!
Okay, that's all for now folks, more later - I swear.  I am trying to fit writing time in with working time and home destruction and general ridding of stuff.  I've been watching those reality hoarding shows and they make me have nervous tics every time I venture out to the garage for an implement of destruction, er, hand or power tool.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ramble On: Reliant Punishes Tailgating Fans for Shoddy Parkmanship

I read the news today. Oh. Boy.  Last night while I was stinking it up at Palace Lanes (no, I have not been on some bean binge, I just cannot seem to bowl well, at all), I received an e-mail from KatieBelle.  No wonder I couldn't bowl for crap, I was highly disgruntled.  The Texans announced an immediate change to their tailgating policy on account of the Cowboys game was crowded and parking was scarce. I find this change to be completely ridiculous, my comments will follow.   Here is the change:

New Policy: The Houston Texans announced a new revision to their gameday ticket policy. Effective immediately the Houston Texans will require all fans who wish to enter Reliant Stadium or its parking lots to possess a gameday ticket. (Note to Reliant and the Houston Texans: You have not been checking tailgaters for adequate parking passes since 2002.  Perhaps you should be enforcing your own damn rules.  Maybe then, the issue would not be so great.  After all, you don't over sell parking passes? Right?).
Who’s affected: Non-ticketed guests, season ticket holders that bring guests to tailgate, season ticket holders that sell or give away their tickets and still plan to come to the game to tailgate.  (Note: if you have someone stoking the pit and cooking up some fresh boudin and chicken wings for after the game, that's kinda all over with)

Why the New Policy: Our tailgating environment is intended for the enjoyment of our game attendees and we invest significant time, money and other resources to make this experience exceptional. Non-ticketed visitors that tailgate on the Reliant Park campus put a significant strain on facility resources intended for use by game attendees, create increased traffic congestion for game attendees, setup tailgates in parking spaces without parking passes thereby displacing game attendees with valid parking passes and require the services of EMT, Police, and Parking Staff that should be focused on serving our game attendees.  (Note: The new policy is really going into effect because - and I've been a PSL holder since they were "NFL 2002" and had no name - the parking lot has not been properly "parked" in several years.  Why just this preseason Cowboys game, the attendants were not effeciently parking cars.  No one ensures that all spaces are filled and many were totally empty in the Orange Lot for the Cowboys game 09/26 when I arrived at 10:00 a.m.  No vehicle, no tailgate, no lawn chair - just wide open spaces.  While the parking attendants half-heartedly wave orange flags and play "kick the dirt")

When it’s effective: The new policy is effective immediately and will begin to be enforced starting with the October 10th Home game against the New York Giants.  (Hey, again, thank you for killing tailgating!!!  You took my joy.   I want it back.)

Where it is effective: All of Reliant Park property, including but not limited to all parking lots and the stadium.

What will happen to non-ticket fans: Any fan that does not have a gameday ticket will not be permitted to enter Reliant Park Property.  (Because they are selling limited edition guest passes, like we don't pay enough money, like the tickets for disappointing, winless seasons are not punishment enough. Note by "winless" I mean no wildcard, no remote shot at playoffs.)

How will we enforce this policy: Fans who try to enter Reliant Park grounds on Houston Texans gamedays will be required to present a ticket upon request. (So, the traffic that is usually backed up and snarled will be less like the 610 Loop at Westheimer around 5pm and more like an L.A. freeway at rush hour - hope nobody's car overheats and dies in the process)

To Summarize, you must have either a game ticket or a tailgate guest ticket to enter and remain on Reliant Park grounds on gamedays.

What if a Season Ticket Holder would like to bring a guest to tailgate for a game? We will make available a tailgate guest ticket to season ticket holders for $10 per ticket per game, via their online season ticket account manager. There will be up to 2000 of these passes available for each game. Each season ticket holder will only be able to acquire up to 4 for any given game until the limit is reached.  (Again, sucking even more money out of the fans who support the team? Seriously folks, that is not even one guest pass per season ticket holder? Really?  Nice reward for the proverbial best fans in the NFL.  Thanks.  'Preciatcha)

Can a tailgate guest ticket be forwarded or reprinted? No. These tailgate guest tickets cannot be forwarded or reprinted. They must be treated like cash and will not be replaced for any reason.  (Hell, these things must be "Golden Tickets", doopity do. Do you have another oompah for me too?)

Will the Season Ticket Holder be responsible for the actions of their tailgate guest ticket holder? Yes. The Season Ticket Holder who purchased the tailgate guest ticket will be held responsible for the actions of their guest. If a disturbance occurs the Season Ticket Holder will be subject to removal from the property, revocation of their season ticket and/or parking pass.  (Are we not all adults here?  In my world we are each responsible for our own actions and their consequences.)

Does this tailgate guest ticket entitle me to setup a tailgate in a parking space? No. The tailgate guest ticket only allows you to remain on property without an accompanying game ticket. You will not be allowed to setup any materials or equipment in a parking space unless you have a parking pass.  (This is not "new" it is a policy that has not been enforced or checked, even randomly, since the first year.)

What Reliant and the Houston Texans are telling fans, in summary and my opinion:

 "Thank you for supporting us.  We regret to inform you that we do not have parking staff that have actually been guiding vehicles with proper parking passes into the spaces in order to ensure that all of our paying customers have a place to park.  We had no idea that some fans buy parking passes in order to tailgate, though they don't hold season tickets.  To these fans we say, buy a ticket loser...this is not "your" gameday experience.  We have reacted in knee jerk fashion to the one busiest game day of the 2010 football season.  Although we knew fake tickets were even being sold to the game, we did not adequately prepare for the sheer fervor and popularity of this once every couple years event.  We were not staffed to handle a Texas Superbowl.  We had no idea there were so damn many people in Houston who were either Cowboy or Texan fans.  And we made no effort to park all of these fans properly. In the spirit of making more money off of our fans, who would rather tailgate and have affordable food and drink, we are supplementing our concession losses with guest pass gains.  Thank you for your support, we look forward to dotting your financial eye on October 10th."

Ask yourself this question people.  If there were no parking spaces available for people with valid parking passes, who screwed that pooch?  Just curious.

Now, as highly disgruntled as I am, I will continue to buy the dang tickets and the dratted parking pass.  But, you be forewarned.  That Tailgater of the Year contest is gonna consist of a bunch of table hibachis and hot dogs.

Ed. Note:  I have read a bunch of comments on the Houston Chronicle website.  Many address, drunken and disorderly.  Now, rather than sell guest passes and punishing those of us who just wanna have fun (yeah, I am a girl, btw), how about parking one of those HPD Paddy Wagons at the 'Dome and generating some county monies off these derelicts, instead?  It's like hearing people are gathering to protest, the likes of which are rather law-breaking, and not being there to haul them all to the clink.  Or, is that just too easy?