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, June 24, 2011

What Price Food Blogging? Jail?

A Taiwanese food blogger was ordered to 30 days in the ole pokey, fined $6,900 to compensate the restaurant, and two years of probation.  All for saying a restaurants noodles were too salty and complaining about the presence of cockroaches and how overbearing ("bully") the owner was.  A court said she exceeded reasonable bounds? 

Let's remember kids, our reviews should be fair and balanced (okay, honest) and we should post pictures.  I normally don't, but, that's mainly so I am not picked out as one of those "crazy foodies".  I'd prefer to dine anonymously, on my own dime (you can assist with that, it won't hurt my feelings), and post a write up that should mirror the service and quality of  product that "everyman" can expect.  Please do not put me in the clink, if your food sucks, I am going to let you know.  Crappy service, yes, I'll say something for the world to read (or about 11 readers). I'll find something nice to say to offset my not nice thing(s) to say....."sweet glass tiles", or "nice paper lamp thingies". Or, killer crudite.....(how do you eff that up? srsly?).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Home Cookin': Avocado Bacon Potato Salad

This recipe is probably the last one you'll ever need, and the one you only make a couple of times a year.  You know, for special occasions when the entire family gets together.  This is retarded delicious and rather, um, not low calorie.  I just made a batch last night (I'll finish it off with the avocado tonight, before I tote it to a fish fry) and plan to bamboozle my friends with it.  The only thing I can think of that may improve your results would be homemade mayonnaise, with a touch of lime juice rather than lemon and a healthy shake of cayenne powder.  This is not the easiest on your wallet, either, however, if you play your cards right, it's not too expensive (like, eschew the $3 per each organic, hand-coddled avocados and get the $0.99 each ones).

I received the recipe from one of my older brothers, in advance of our Easter family barbecue and ham feast.  I volunteered to make the potato salad, to which I was emailed, "You need to make THIS one".  None of us had ever tried it, now my entire (large) family possesses the recipe.  Well, except my sister who's always on some carcass reducing food plan of sorts.  Me, I am fat and sassy - all systems normal.  I like eating, I don't like eating rice cakes.  I'll buy the bigger pants, whatevs.  At any rate, you simply must, must attempt this at home, I promise that you will make your "O" face.  It is carbohydrate crack.....for real.

Avocado Bacon Potato Salad

5 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
12 strips of thick-sliced pepper bacon (I just used the whole 1 lb pkg, what the hell)
1 bunch of cilantro, stemmed and chopped
2 cups mayonnaise, plus more if needed
1 Tbsp Tabasco course ground mustard (or dijon plus hot sauce)
5 - 6 medium avocados
1 head of garlic, roasted - you can use 2 Tbsp of jarred roasted garlic, if you're a cheater
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1/3 red onion, diced
2-3 jalapenos or serranos, seeded, deveined and finely diced
2-3 limes
salt & pepper to taste

Put the garlic in the oven to roast.  Prep potatoes and place in a stock pot with about 2 Tbsp salt and water to cover, begin boiling.  Note:  I use a "pasta insert" to make draining much simpler.  Just raise the insert and perch inside the pot to drain.  Cook bacon until crisp and drain. Crumble bacon when cooled. Dice the avocado and squirt with lime juice, sprinkle with 1/4 of the cilantro and season with some salt.  Gently fold, cover and refrigerate.

Keep an eye on the potatoes, they should only take 15 minutes or so.  Taste one for doneness, if they are tender-ish, drain, they will cook a bit more.  Don't let them go to mush on you.  Cool potatoes.  A great idea is to cook the potatoes the day before, and refrigerate them until you're ready, if you have time.

Dressing:  combine roasted garlic (squeeze out of skins), mayonnaise and mustard.  Stir well and store in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl, place the cooled potatoes, crumbled bacon, onions (both kinds), cilantro and peppers.  Add the dressing and fold gently until all of the potatoes are well-coated.  Gently stir in avocado.

Test for seasoning and serve.  I like to make the whole shebang a day ahead and let it marry in the refrigerator, prepping and adding the avocaco right before serving so it's not brown and nastified.

This would be fantastic with your Independence Day feast.  It goes well with burgers, hot dogs, barbecue, grilled chicken.  Really...anything you want to serve it with.  Just not "these", for the love of Mike.

P.S.  My Doll Hairs for Dining button works now, just saying.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Opens and Shuts: June 15, 2011

Yeah, I know, I am busy at work....like a three-legged cat with a weak constitution, busy.   Writing breaks are necessary, now that I'm getting a routine, or have honed my juggling act to optimize my time and not bust my company dreadlines.  So, now I hope to be more regular at posting, hope.  I make no promises.  Here's who's out and who's on the horizon in the world of Houston food:

The Joe's Crab Shack at Pier 19, which Hurricane Ike had his way with, has reopened as of Monday.  News? Yes. Exciting? No.  I call this chain, "Joe's Crap Shack", not worth the time, nor the money.  I think I'd hit Red Lobster first, if I just couldn't find a local seafood slinging joint, to save my soul.

King Biscuit, the Heights icon on White Oak @ Beauchamp was rumoured to be a new venture for Ms. Fitzgerald, prior owner of Fitzgerald's.  Now, Swamplot says it's listed as "For Sale or Lease".

The 11th Street Cafe (which I found mediocre, homestyle, but, mediocre) has shut and will re-open on Saturday as Ruggles 11th Street Cafe.  Ruggles.  Now that is some exciting news.  I have loved Ruggles and everything they stand for, since, forever.  I also love that the new locations are not just a rote reiteration of an existing location - they are a new food concept or have a "twist".

Hogg's n' Chicks now has two locations in Missouri City.  They serve up fare that's "Southern Fried with a French Twist".  Folks, this is a serious restaurant, even if the name almost implies "titties", perhaps that's just what sprang to my mind.  I have an aversion to bad food that draws a crowd solely for the half nekkid women.  Hell, I have an aversion to bad food, period.

Headed to San Leon?  The waterfront spot that was Judges Bar & Grill is, as of last Friday, Bubba's Shrimp Palace.  I have no opinion, I normally make that drive to hit Topwater Grill or Gilhooley's.  I smell road trip.

The Heights has a flurry of activity going on - Christian's Tailgate opened last weekend and is pitching a Grand Opening this Friday.  New location location is found at 2820 White Oak.  I seem to recall they are in the same spot as a very sorely missed barbecue joint.  I could be incorrect.

Casa Dominguez, one of my regular Sunday Tex-Mex haunts should be open or opening soon in the old Tio Pepe on Cedar.  I miss Tio Pepe, best lamb shank and sangria anywhere.  I am looking forward to CD opening, I really like their queso and that you can substitute white cheese for american cheese.  The Rollitos are delicious too.

You have some food news I missed?  Hit me up in the comments or fire off an e-mail.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Burger Love: Hubcap Grill (Finally)

Things in my world went from busy to holy shat approximately 6 weeks ago.  Now, I'm an office of one, with a supervisor and there's no slow time or vacation in my line of sight.  Why the supervisory person - I require adult supervision, as anyone who knows me, knows.  At any rate, I found myself with a summons for noon jury doody, on Congress, awhile back.  Holy hamburgers, fatgirl, that's right proximate to Hubcap Grill!  Bonus.  So, I in my frumpalicious business attire, waddled a few blocks over and anxiously awaited the unlocking of the door.  Here's what I make of the Hubcap Grill's Bacon Cheeseburger.  Note: I always get a bacon cheese concoction when opining about burgers, or the closest proximity thereto.  How the hell do you compare otherwise?  Really?  Same basic premise, different basic joint = fair assessment of who's got the better product.

The inside of the place is very small, and just reeks of burgers (one deep breath and the diet is all the way off).  With such limited seating, one really should not be a jackass and sit at a table that can accomodate more people, than, say oneself.  Which I did...One girl, one two-top; in my defense, I was early and did not dillydally.  Here's how the burger and fries break down:  The burger is served on a fresh ciabatta bun, with all of the standard ingredients.  The bacon is thick-sliced and crisp, the meat was properly cooked to order.  The veggies were fresh and crisp.  Overall, the burger was delicious, hot fresh, with gently melted cheese and a fabulous amount of ooze/drippage.  And that's what caused me pause.  The bun.  The overall juiciness.  They scrap with one another about 2/3 of the way through the burger.  The last few bites, my soft, perfect ciabatta morphed into a soggy and disintigrating thing.  Caveat that:  I was not leisurely gnoshing, I consumed it - doody of the jury variety and my need for timeliness resulted in fast mastication.  The fries were extremely good, crispy, nicely seasoned and really, unless you just like to slurp up the ketchup, it's not necessary.

One word of caution, for the unititiated - bring either cash or a debit card.  They do not accept plastic monies, but, do provide a cash machine for your use.  Oh, and make sure you are hungry, and not feeling all "dainty", it's big, juicy meat.  As we all know, you cannot have your pudding, if you don't eat your meat. (ouch).

Bottom Line:  Good value for the money, excellent burger and fries.  The bun was the issue for me.  That being said, it may have been an isolated instance.  I will definitely go back, when I am in the area.  Further, I would suggest you hit their food truck (buscept, I hear that it is no mas - apparently, some food trucks offer more trouble than they are worth).  SO, drive your arse downtown and try one on.  Hopefully, the Heights location, is still forthcoming. If you haven't tried Hubcap Grill, you should.  Now that I've done my standard, I'll be venturing to the Philly Steak burger (what a delicious hot mess that looks like).