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, March 25, 2011

PSA: Softies Are IN @ Pico's Mex-Mex

I rave incessantly that these are the best soft shelled crabs in the Universe.  Pico's Mex-Mex has received their second shipment, and they will continue to receive these succulent beauties throughout the season.  They are "al mojo de ajo", that's in garlic and olive oil, ya'll.  They are worth any drive, flight or short trip on a riding mower required to get at them.  They are market priced.  Pico's will sell out of them, before you can bat an eye.  Call first, but, whatever you do - go there at LEAST once this softie season and get the crabs!!

Pico's Mex-Mex
5941 Bellaire Blvd (near Hillcroft)

Houston, TX 77081
713.662.8383

Really, shoe horn your pennies if you have to, they are so worth it.  Bring enough coconuts to have a couple margaritas, they are the bestest, too.

This food PSA was not paid for or suspected of existing by Pico's Mex-Mex, or it's affiliates, if it has any.  Just saying.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let's Do Lunch: Prince's Hamburgers

I know, back to back burgers.  One is love at first bite, one is a love/WTH relationship, at best.  Bernie's Burger Bus and The Burger Guys (my two most recents, this is not a slam, spike or unintentional oversight of some of the other top-notch burgers in town, I'm looking at you, Hubcap Grill - you're my next victim) those are the burgers dreams are made of, sweet and greasy burger dreams.  And then there's that Prince's on Briar Forest right by my place of employment.  Thrice I have been recently, and, other than the fried chicken salad, I've gotten a freshly-made burger that was cold inside and incapable of melting the cheese.  I hope this is something they resolve.  I like to frequent Houston's long time legendary food spots (like, oh...Spanish Village), but, I am struggling here.  So, please to fix the cold pink burger patty and the un-melty cheese for the fat girl.  While you're engaged in burger basket restoration, please to serve piping hot crispety, crunchety fries.  Burger girls don't like the limp ones, just saying.  Especially when they are cold and stuff.

I know you will get back to a good place, Prince's.  Back to where you used to be, crispy griddled on the outside and warm and pinky on the inside.  I have faith.  I hope it's neither misplaced, nor misguided.  I'd like to see you bring your "A" game to my burger bracket.  Your veggies were fresh and crisp.  You got that going for you.

P.S.  The bacon was fresh, crisp and thick cut - you got that going for you too.  However, I did not find my "thrill", just saying.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Burger Love: Gettin' Some at Bernie's Burger Bus

A few weeks ago, I met a dear friend and customer for lunch in the parking lot.  The Inversion Coffee House parking lot, in which a "short bus" was parked for the duration of lunch period.  Uhuh, Bernie's Burger Bus - a converted school bus that turns out burgers and fries that will blow your mind.  The day we went, my companion had sent me an instant message declaring his order would be the Kindergartener, two mini burgers.  Well, the bakery had crafted buns that were a touch too large, so, no little burgers.  I arrived very early and had a quick chat with Bernie himself (Justin, actually).  The website says "you're sure to fall in love", and I did. I mean, he did call out my name, and all.  Okay, it was so I knew the order was ready...but still, a burger girl can dream. I think that makes me a "Burger Cougar", with a carcass one would expect of  such beast as that.  I am in shape, damnit!  Round, as I learned at kindergarten, is a shape.

Our order consisted of The Principal for me, add cheddar and bacon, The Substitute and one Extra Curricular Activity, the Trufflelaced, hand-cut french fries with parmesan and green onions and two containers of homemade ketchup.  The bun was light and slightly chewy, the burger patty a perfect pink in the center and warm and all of my vegetables and bacon were crisp, throw in the gently melted cheese and... one moment, I think I drooled on my keyboard.  The fries were outrageous, skin on crispy and loaded with parmesan and green onion.  I tried the ketchup, because my last experience with "homemade" was sweet-ish, and it was spot on.  Tangy, with a burst of ripe tomato on the front, followed by deeply subtle warmth from the spices and not too salty.  For three dollars an order, we had more than the two of us could eat - even after forcing down a couple "grabfuls" because they are too good to waste.  We wasted perhaps a dozen, even after I suggested that, if no one was looking, one could dump the remnants in the wax paper holder in one's mouth.  If no one was looking, or one had enough barley pop to not particularly care.  The burgers run $7 each, plus Electives.   Total food bill for two, including one water (my friend brought his own water), $23.  Great deal for a stupid good burger (here is where I give you the "evil ojo", Beck's Prime).  Next time, I may try grappling with Detention, but, I'll probably have to beat erasers during recess for not finishing it all.  The Dentention is a double cheese burger with tipsy onions and all the fixings delicately clothed in two (TWO) applewood bacon grilled cheese sandwiches made with locally baked sourdough bread.  Love hurts (but it hurts so good).

Bottom Line:  One of the best burgers I have had, ever.  The price is excellent for what you get.  I am not responsible for the distraction you suffer while pining for the next opportunity to indulge your inner burger fiend.  Click the link above (or here) to follow Bernie's Burger Bus on Twitter and on Facebook. Currently, Bernie's can be found at Inversion Mondays and Wednesdays between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and at Lizzard's Pub every Wednesday - Friday from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.  Please note, when they run out, they out.  If you go late, you are rolling the burger dice on availabiltiy.  Click on this link to be taunted by the menu. 

Justin, you get an A+++++++++.  From a newly minted "Burger Cougar".

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pico's Mex-Mex 27th Anniversary TONIGHT!

Tonight is Pico's Mex-Mex Anniversary and margaritas are on "special" tonight only.  So if you don't have big Fat Tuesday plans, head on over and take advantage of this special.  Here are the details:

Shaker Margaritas

Original and Blue
Only $3.50
(regular $8.65)

Pico's World-Famous

Silver & Gold PicoRitas
Frozen or "On the Rocks"
Regular (12 oz.) — $2.95 (regular $5.95)
Grande (27 oz.) — $5.00 (regular $9.75)
Mucho Grande (48 oz.) — $8.95 (regular $15.00)

While you're there, enjoy some of their fantabulous food!

5941 Bellaire Blvd (near Hillcroft)

Houston, TX 77081
713.662.8383

Monday, March 7, 2011

Meatasaurus: Saldivia's South American Grill

I am one carnivorous woman.  Oh sure, I like the vegetables and fruits too, but, a meal without meat leaves me somewhat incomplete.  Well, unless it's a hearty root vegetable stewed concoction, sometimes.  Some of the best chimichurri sauce (and skirt steak) I have ever had went AWOL years ago.  This fabulous divey place called Chimi Churri's on Bellaire Blvd. just vanished when the old location was razed to make room for a new and improved strip center (is there such animal?).  I mourned the loss like a loved one.   You cannot know the joy the My Table news of Saldivia's South American Grill brought to my crusty little heart.  It's them!  It's the Chimi Churri's family, reborn as Saldivia's!  Yes, they have been open since 2009, but, I had not formally connected any dots, until My Table pointed this critical fact out.  We have been trying to put a plan to go since prior to the Christmas Holidays, but, a group of 9 - 12 people, with one in Boerne, TX makes coordination sorta tricksy.  It happened this past Saturday.  It was glorious.

The old location was divey and I loved it.  The new location is modern and sleeky and I love it.  The space is very clean, uncluttered and warm feeling.  Crusty bread is brought out to accompany the chimichurri on the table and it's difficult to resist.  Their chimichurri is slightly tangy, not all herb and oil and somewhat loose in texture, perfect for dipping.  I ordered the Ensalada Mixta, while two of my friends mixed it up by ordering the Ensalada de Palmitos (hearts of palm).  The salads were nice and crisp with a perfect amount of vinaigrette that kept them from being weighty or soggy.  The hearts of palm was raved over (I behaved and didn't badger anyone for a bite).  I ordered the Entrana, which is served with Spanish rice, grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes for $18.95.  Other entrees ordered at our table included the Milanesa Napolitano (beef cutlet) which has a tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese on top, the Pechuga A Las Brazas and boneless beef short ribs (whose name I cannot recall - I'm fired from food blogging, I know).  The short ribs were $12.95 and the deal of the night.  The "short rib" is a bonless strip of beef that was about an inch thick and served with grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes.  It's grilled to perfection (as were all of the beef orders) and the plate is large enough for two, with a salad to start. 

All dinner entrees are larger than a body can consume, but, that's not a complaint from me.  To clarify, I will grouse to high heaven about over-sized portions of fish or seafood, they don't reheat well.  Trust me, you will only stick fish in a microwave one time, unless your olfactory senses are on the fritz.  Reheating beef, chicken or pork?  Put that mess in a box, preferably eco-friendly and non-polystyrene and I will gladly tote it to home.  Diced entrana, veggies and potatoes, when added to slightly carmelized diced onion and then scrambled in egg makes a stupendous breakfast.  Tonight, I make a fritatta out of the last remains, or a tortilla (Spanish version). 

My skirt steak was perfectly medium rare, as ordered and had the perfect smattering of sauce on top.  The tangy chimichurri is a perfect complement to the buttery richness of the beef.  The grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes were also perfect.  Soft potatoes with a slight crunch on the outside and al dente, well-seasoned vegetables in thick slices.  I did not have dessert, in fact, I brought slightly over half of my entree home with me.  The Milanesa filled the entire plate with potatos carefully perched around the edges.  Again, I wasn't badgering for bites and nibbles, however, my friends raved.  The tweenager we had with us said the chicken was the best, ever (he cleaned his plate completely). Now that I have found them, I'll be lunching there as well, as my office is close.

Saldivia's South American Grill
10234 Westheimer (just inside the Beltway @ Seagler Rd.)
713.782.9494
Open for lunch until 3:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.
Open for dinner Tues - Sunday until 9:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday

Bottom line:  The pricing is moderate, portions are large enough to share and the wine list boasts reasonably priced wines of good quality, primarily sourced from Chile and Argentina.  The House Red is a perfect compliment for the beef and is sold by the glass. They are tucked back in a strip center, so you need to watch for the typical Houston signage, large and lit-up.  The space is inviting and the waitstaff were friendly and very accomodating.  The owner was making rounds in the dining room to ensure that everyone was well taken cared of, which is a nice touch.  The only drawback was slight understaffing, which caused some wait on our part.  However, it was not enough of a wait for anyone to get grumbly.  I will absolutely be back for more.  I may have to see if they still sell the Chimi Churri to go, it's that delicious.