Monthly Archives: January 2012

Local Foods

Local Foods

2424 Dunstan St.

Houston, TX 77005

713.521.7800

http://www.houstonlocalfoods.com

Rating: 8

Unlike the rest of Houston, I’m not a huge fan of Benjy’s. The food is never particularly interesting or over the top good. It always seems like a place tell people you like because you think you should like it. And because of that, the crowd at Benjy’s ends up being douches who honestly believe they’re not douches.

Or maybe I just like to say douche a lot. Which probably makes me a douche. There I go again!

Anyway, Local Foods is opened by the same people as Benjy’s. Both happen to be across the street from our gym, so I walked in one night after my work out. It was pretty empty and the food in the display case looked like a miniature version of the prepared food section at Whole Foods.

A few weeks later, Aaron requested somewhere new for lunch, and I suggested Local Foods since I left without buying anything last time. We were very pleasantly surprised. The inside had a vintage farm feel, very cozy and clean. If 101cookbooks and theKitchn opened a restaurant, it would be Local Foods.

image

Quinoa, Olive, Carrot, Oregano:

image

He ate: The olive quinoa was savory and worked really well with my sandwich (below), although I could’ve used a little more quinoa because this was pretty heavy on the olives.

She ate: Oh god, I LOVED this salad. I also wish there was more quinoa to olives ratio, but since the olives were not overly salty, I didn’t mind it so much. The crispy carrots and celery bits were a nice contrast to the plump and buttery olives. I could eat this every day.

Tuscan Kale, Golden Raisins, Toasted Pine Nuts:

image

He ate: This was fine and light, but after the sandwich it was tough to switch gears back to the kale since the sandwich and olives were so flavorful. I think this would have been a nice way to start, not finish the meal.

She ate: I can also eat this every day! Aaron still insists kale is a garnish, but I don’t care, I love it. It’s much better than the two kale salads you get at Whole foods. There is a minimal amount of parmesan—just enough for a nice salty flavor, and not too much to make you feel unhealthy. The pine nuts add a nice crunch, and the golden raisins are soft and sweet, a much-needed contrast to the slightly bitter kale.

Truffled egg salad, market greens, pretzel bun with more quinoa and cucumber hummus:

He ate: This sandwich was so DAMN GOOD. Very, very truffly, just the way I like it. It was just reaaaally, really super good. It falls on my very short list of things I would order a second one immediately as I’m eating my first one. The pretzel bun was fine—let me put it this way: the egg salad was so good I didn’t care what it was on. Well, let me take that back. I think it was a good choice of bread. Rye bread would have been weird, wheat wouldn’t work well, so yeah, I think it was a good choice. The hummus was also made well, although who only uses TWO CHIPS for an entire bowl of hummus?

She ate: I’m somewhat obsessed with pretzel buns, so that was actually more exciting to me than the truffled egg salad. But, when I took a bite of Aaron’s sandwich, I forgot all about the pretzel bun. The egg salad was SO truffly and delicious! I wanted to steal the whole sandwich from him but it was a weekday so I had to behave and continue to graze on my salads.

Arugula, Shrimp, Dried Cranberries, Texas Honey Pecans, Pecorino Cheese, Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette (not pictured):

She ate: Aaron didn’t want to try any of my salad so you’re stuck with just me. The dressing was very light, you almost couldn’t taste it, which was just fine with me because I hate it when dressings are too oily or sweet. The shrimp was fresh but a little over cooked, not as good as the shrimp at Revival Market. It was a big portion, and I had to take half of it home. A nice mix of flavors, although nothing as creative as their sides or sandwiches.

Awesome crushed, not cubed ice, always a bonus.

image

He ate: I definitely want to come back to Local Foods. There are so many other things I want to try, like the duck confit with brie sandwich and some of the other sides. Even if everything was close to how good my sandwich stuff, it would still be pretty darn solid. The prices are a bit steep for lunch but I guess I’ll deal with it since the portions are not too small. I like Local Foods a lot better than Revival Market or Relish, both of which are in the same vein of restaurant/market and opened in the last year.

She ate: Yeah, the prices are kind of high but compared to Revival Market, you get a lot more food. I’m so glad there’s finally a place where you can get interesting and delicious healthy foods. I almost always have salads for lunch during the week, and it’s great to finally have a place other than whole foods that deviate from standard leafy salads.

*update: we went back two weeks later, got the same sandwich, and it wasn’t nearly as truffly. Pout. We also got the cauliflower and barley in ginger vinaigrette (very flavorful, would get again) and the butternut squash, pepita, cilantro, red chili, thai basil (very bland, would not order again).

tl; dr: obviously we love this place and would return, as we’ve already returned once! Skip the entree salads and get the sandwiches (especially the truffle egg salad sandwich) and sides.

Advertisements

Pizaro’s Pizza

Pizaro’s Pizza

14028 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX

(281) 589-7277 ‎
Rating: h8

Pizaro’s Pizza is yet another restaurant the foodiesphere have been buzzing about. Everyone loves it, it’s the new best thing next to wonder bread, blahblahblah.

So of course, Aaron and I have to be sheep and follow the herd.

Baaaaah.

Was it worth it?

He ate: So we walk in, stand in line, order. It was very crowded, but it was a Saturday night so maybe expected. They have a pretty short list of pizzas available, which is kind of a good thing. All the pizzas looked interesting but nothing extravagant which was a little disappointing. It would have been nice to see some creative combinations. Every single table had brought their own wine, so the atmosphere was pretty festive. The service was great—they didn’t have any wait staff and they were not understaffed. But based on the food alone, I don’t think I would recommend it. With pizzas you go two directions. Either you get a style, and it’s AWESOME. Great deep dish, great Napoletana, great New York style—whatever the specific style the pizzerias focuses on, they nail it cold. Or you go with something that’s interesting. Pizaro’s aimed to be of the former category, and it wasn’t awesome.

She ate: So, we came here a couple of hours after I had just finished the Tough Mudder challenge. It was the most traumatic three hours of my life, so I really wanted to treat myself. I had pretty high expectations of this place even though you’d think by now I’d learn to not let myself get so excited over foodie hype. It’s almost always a let down. The service was great. The owner invited us to stay after they closed so we can drink our no-corkage fee BYOB wine. The atmosphere was eh…in a strip mall, typical of Houston, and the inside was pretty bare bone, suburban pizzeria decor. Metal/wood furniture, not very cozy. For self-serve condiments, they had Sriracha (seriously, when will this trend end? It’s not that good, people, and no it does not belong on everything. And putting it on something doesn’t make it cool. It’s just another Asian food staple white people  think did not exist before they discovered it. Therefore it is the shit and you should put it on every single food because oh my god it is SO good and goes with everything and you want to snort it. But I digress.) To Pizaro’s credit, they did have another spicy, red oil which I’ve never had before. The owner warned me that the oil is as spicy as it looks, and he was right.

Cornicione Di Ricotta e Spinaci (Margherita pizza, crust stuffed with spinach and ricotta):

image

He ate: I love stuffed crust pizzas so I was pretty excited about this one. It was only ok. I expected more stuffing to crust ratio, and was disappointed because it was largely crust with a little bit of mild stuffing. Overall the pizza was only ok.

She ate: Ok, this pizza was $17 for a 12″ pizza. With no expensive, rare, interesting ingredient. And three-quarters of the pizza was just crust. The sauce was your run-of-the-mill tomato sauce. It was pretty good, we ate it in about five minutes because it was small, paper-thin crust, and not much substance. While I highly appreciate paper-thin crust with the lightly burned bottom etc etc, there was so little of the actual thin crust part that I wasn’t able to fully enjoy it. The stuffing inside the crust was pretty flavorless. All the ingredients were very fresh, I’ll give them that.

Arugula (Olive oil, garlic, arugula and shaved parmesan with prosciutto):

image

He ate: This pizza was much better than the first one. It tasted more of what I expect a Napoletana pizza should taste like. Prosciutto and arugula is a pretty standard combination, so…there’s really nothing more I can say about this pizza other than it tasted pretty good.

She ate: I agree, this is much better than the first pizza, but again the crust to actual pizza ratio is so high that the middle part was gone in seconds, and we’re left with boring crust with no flavor (albeit good texture). The prosciutto and arugula were both very fresh and tasty but that’s about it.

tl; dr: Great service, free BYOB, but not worth the drive. Piola is better.

Guerilla Style Fish Dumpling Soup

I was in a rush and wanted to make a quick healthy meal, so I made some fish dumpling soup with whatever i had in the fridge, guerilla style! I only had 4 dumpling wrappers left, so I spooned the rest of the filling into the broth and it held together, kind of like the fish balls in hot pot.

Ingredients:

For filling/fishballs

1 filet of tilapia (or whatever fish you have at the moment will do)

1/3 carton of silken tofu

2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp ground ginger

Dumpling wrappers

For broth:

2 cups veggie/chicken broth

1 tsp hondashi (optional)

2 tbsp light soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp dark vinegar

White pepper

Method:

Bring all broth ingredients to a boil on high. Cut the tilapia into chunks and blend/food processor with rest of the filling ingredients until it’s a smooth paste. Fold into dumplings and spoon the rest into the bubbling broth. Cook for 10-15 minutes until everything is floating.

Cafe Pita+

10852 Westheimer Road

Houston, TX 77042

713-953-7237

http://cafepita.weebly.com/

Rating: He h8, She 8. Our first tie!

Imagine my shock when lil ole me got a press invitation to go to the opening of the new location of Cafe Pita+! I’ve always wanted to try it but I never really want to drive to BFE.

Let’s jump straight to the food.

By the way, I full acknowledge my horrible photo taking skills. I’ve now made it to the next step of actually bringing my real camera. Next step is to remember to use my camera instead of my phone.

Ajvar Dip (Hummus with roasted pepper and eggplant):

He ate: I thought this was more like a red pepper dip, and didn’t realize it was hummus. When I think hummus, I think beans. This was a very dip-like consistency. It was creamy, and I liked it. Fun stuff!

She ate: even though hummus ranks as one of the top items that make me fart, I love all hummus and will risk having wind beneath my wind for it. This hummus was no different. I enjoyed the slightly spicy kick the red bell peppers added.

Meza (soujuk, pastrami, feta, jack, olives, stuffed peppers, lepinja bread):

He ate: Love this appetizer plate! You get to try a little bit of everything. We get a lot of cured meats when we eat out, so I have a large range of what I’m looking for in a charcuterie plate. Most of the time I want some sort of prosciutto-esque fatty meat. I hold all meat up against prosciutto (maybe not the best idea but that’s just me). I liked the thinly sliced cured beef that was drizzled with oil on the right (Chef Omer explained that this was the most common pastrami in Bosnia). It was unique, and I’ve never had it anywhere else. It was tough without being jerky. The only thing off about this plate was the smoked gouda. It tastes like something you just buy at the grocery store. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have it in my fridge right now.  Feta for me always blends into the background so that’s nothing special.

She ate: The pastrami was most excellent. It was drizzled with a little bit of spicy oil, and just fatty enough for me to not hate it (I hate it when it’s TOO LEAN!). The gouda, as Aaron said, was boring. Aaron doesn’t eat peppers, so I ate the stuffed pepper and it was ok, nothing too special. I actually thought the Bulgarian feta was excellent! My friend’s husband is from Bulgaria, and he is always talking about how the feta there is so much better. I now have an inkling of what he’s talking about. It had a richer, more savory taste.

Salad Trio (Mediterranean salad, Cafe Pita salad, Cabbage salad):

He ate: I did not like the salad. I didn’t even realize it was a trio, I just thought it was one big boring salad. It was fine, but I don’t understand how you would recommend this salad to anybody.

She ate: I’m always excited when there’s a salad because it’s something I can eat a lot of without feeling healthy. The Mediterranean and Cafe Pita can suck my dick, they were pretty boring albeit fresh. The cabbage salad was not anything extraordinary, but at least it was something a little different. It had a healthy dose of black pepper to help the flavor train along.

Burek (Variety of puff pastry with beef, potato, spinach, or cheese)

He ate: These were delicious. They make the puff pastry in-house, and you can definitely tell. The skins were soft and fluffy, and the fillings were perfect compliments. My favorite was the beef, which tasted fresh and had a nice seasoning to it. I also loved the “butter” (cottage cheese + cream cheese) that was served with it. The cheese burek I thought were too rich and a bit of an overkill, but still more than edible.

She ate: Finally, here comes the good stuff Diners Drive-Ins and Dives was talking about! I prefer my puff pastry to be more crispy and buttery, but I definitely appreciate the made-in-house taste of these babies. I did not think the cheese bureks were overkill. In fact, I added more of the cheese butter ON to the cheese bureks. Mmmmmm heart attacks!! I highly recommend these.

Cevap (Ground beef and lamb sausage links with lepinja bread), kebabs (chicken and beef)

He ate: I really liked the sausages! They had some sort of spice in it that I can’t identify, very unique I think to Bosnian cuisine. The skewers were just ok, pretty boring. These were served on a huge bed of rice that was…nondescript. Meh. Chef Omer went into great detail explaining how the lepinja bread was made in-house, then cooked on top of the sausages so it has a meaty flavor…personally if he had not told me the cooking method, I never would have thought this bread was anything special.

She ate: I saw these sausages made on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and was VERY excited about them…they were ok. The flavor was very unique but…they just weren’t all that great. The skewers were a bit bland and nothing special…but more cheese butter!! Cheese butter makes everything better. I LOVED the lepinja bread and disagree with Aaron! I can definitely taste the meat flavor (Let’s not forget Aaron was also the one who thought cauliflower fritters were CALAMARI). The bread was so soft, pillowy, but still had a nice chew to it. I can eat these but the truckload!

Bosnian Pizza (homemade dough with mozzarella, soujuk, pastrami, mushrooms, and onions)

He ate: I wish this dish did not exist. Not that it wasn’t perfectly above average, but just that…well, it didn’t seem unique or Bosnian at all. The dough tasted just like any other pizza dough, and…I don’t even know what else to say about it.

She ate: I was too excited about more pastrami on the pizza to notice anything else. I love pizza so I was happy to eat this, but Aaron’s right, nothing about this says Bosnian aside from the pastrami. I wish they used some sort of more unique sauce instead of plain ole marinara.  I think this was a real missed opportunity to do something very creative.

Baklave and Crepes:

He ate: The crepe, like the majority of the meal, was meh. It was kind of weird but boring at the same time. The baklava was very weird to me. The ratio of nuts to pastry was 99 to 1, and it wasn’t very sweet. I wouldn’t get this again.

She ate: I thought the crepes were perfectly fine but nothing unique. It was filled with a chocolate pudding, which I thought was less than stellar. The chocolate tasted a bit dull and the pudding texture threw me. The scary red sauce was not good. Way too sweet and artificial tasting. I like that the baklava was not cloyingly sweet as most baklavas are, but I need my puff pastry, dammit!

tl, dr: too fucking far to go back, but might be worth it for the lepinja bread and cheese burek.

Triniti

Triniti Restaurant

2815 South Shepherd Dr.

Houston, TX 77098

http://www.trinitirestaurant.com/

Rating: 8

Like Underbelly or Uchi, Triniti is one of those restaurants that the entire Houston foodiesphere (shut up) has been buzzing about for way too long. Restaurant anticipation is kind of like the five stages of grief, but instead of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, we have excitement, desire, impatience, apathy, and satisfaction (or not). First you excitedly hear rumors of a restaurant opened by a chef who previously worked at a famous restaurant (excitement), then you can’t wait for the restaurant to open (desire), the opening date keeps getting delayed (impatience), you proclaim to everyone that you’re “so over waiting for _________ restaurant to open” (apathy), and finally when it does open, you’re the first one in line and you order every single thing on the menu you’ve been reading about.

Okay, maybe that analogy was a stretch, but this was exactly how Triniti came to be, at least for me. Led by Ryan Hildebrand (formerly of Textile), the Triniti’s dream team did not disappoint our many months of anticipation.  Typical of Houston, Triniti is in between a strip mall and Starbucks. However, when you step inside, you’re instantly transported into one of the hottest restaurants in New York, from the crowd of beautiful people at the bar to the glitzy but chic interior. It reminds me of a dressed up version of Canopy on Montrose—soft wood, sculptural lighting, chic atmosphere. Similarly, the food was well thought out, not simplistic, but not fussy.

McCallan 12:

She ate: Triniti had a very impressive and creative cocktail list, but I wasn’t in a cocktail mood so I had my default drink.  While I wasn’t terribly impressed by their scotch or bourbon list, I was happy to sip on my McCallan in such a beautiful glass.

Winter Flip (Buffalo Trace bourbon, butterscotch schnappe, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla infused cream, egg yolk, nutmeg):

He ate: The Winter Flip reminds me of a Toasted Almond cocktail (amaretto, Kahlua, cream). It’s good, like a port flip but with whiskey. The whiskey is definitely there. It’s a drink where the cocktail takes precedence over all other ingredients. You take a sip and you immediately recognize that it’s a whiskey cocktail. I love cocktails with egg yolks or egg whites, so this was a hit for me.

She ate: I have a much higher tolerance for strong whiskey, and for me this drink, while delicious, was overwhelmed by butterscotch. If you want a butterscotch dessert cocktail, this is for you.

Derby (bourbon, benedictine, angustura bitters):

He ate: Super citrusy, super whiskey-y, I don’t particular love this cocktail, but it works well because the citrus and whiskey don’t get in the way of each other. You’re able to enjoy each element separately.

She ate: I didn’t try this, sorry!

Celery Root (apple textures, cinnamon cream):

He ate: I loved this soup. It’s like no other soup I’ve ever had. It’s light but creamy at the same time, which is an interesting combination. The apple on the side was a great touch to the hint of cinnamon in the soup.

She ate: When Aaron suggested getting this soup, I was very meh on it. I’m not a huge fan of bisques unless it has lobster in it. I don’t really like pureed soups in general—I like clear broth with chunks of ingredients in it, mostly of the wonton variety. I guess it’s the Asian in me (cue dirty joke). Although I don’t know if I would get this soup again other than to satisfy my “did I really like it last time?” curiosity, I have to say this is one of the best bisques I’ve ever had. In addition to being creamy and light at the same time, it was savory with a bit of sweet…a perfect dichotomy.

Foie gras ‘breakfast’ (brioche toast, bacon, quail egg, fig syrup):

He ate: I thought this was really well prepared and cooked. I’ve had a lot of foei gras, so this didn’t blow me away, but the combination of bacon, foie gras, and quail egg was unique.

She ate: I thought this dish was too easy, although delicious. Maybe there’s something to be said about keeping things simple…but Triniti managed to make something simple complicated, but then brought it back to simple again. The foie gras was well cooked and seasoned and the bacon was perfectly crispy (I’ve had some unfortunate bacon experiences lately—too crispy, not fatty enough, tastes like fish(?!?)). This dish was a success, but not as creative as other dishes on their menu. Part of what sets Triniti apart is their ability to successfully pair unexpected ingredients, and well, egg+bacon+foie gras+toast? Not so unexpected.

Kale (farm egg, pancetta, lemon, olive, white anchovy, pecorino romano):

He ate: When the waiter explained that this was a deconstructed caesar salad concept, I almost slow clapped him. Really, deconstructed? So 2005. But when I tasted it, I really liked it. I loved the rolled up white anchovies, and I usually hate anchovies. The pancetta was fried perfectly, and the cheese and the bread gave it a very distinct flavor.

She ate: I really loved this dish. I read about it in two other blogs/articles, and was trying to not get too excited over it, as hype often leaves me disappointed (Joyful Noise much? Kidding…) The barely poached egg made for a nice dressing over the crisp, blanched-for-30-seconds kale leaves, which were crisp without being raw.) The bread was nice and buttery, but nothing special. The pancetta was a nice savory  touch, in addition to the anchovies and olives thoughtfully placed on the corners.

Pheasant (bacon, smoked fingerlings, confit, stone fruit mostarda)

He ate: The pheasant tasted like fatty pork, crispy on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside. Like the rest of our dishes, this was very well cooked. I ate everything too fast to notice the accoutrements, sorry!

She ate: I’ve been obsessed with trying pheasant ever since I saw Some Like it Hot ten years ago. I was so excited to order this dish and talked Aaron out of getting the sirloin steak (in hindsight, a mistake). It was sort of a cross between pork and chicken. I disagree with Aaron and thought the pheasant was a bit dry, but the sour cherries paired well with it. Not worth the $29 price tag.

Tortellini (sweetbreads, tofu, parsley root puree, sweet scallion broth)

He ate: This was like a tortellini city, everything was scattered on the plate with strategic places for living and meeting. It was really good. It was the least expensive entree, and because of that it had the least amount of food (I’m guessing). The circular gelatin things, I don’t know what they were, were delicious and buttery. I could’ve used more of it. Whenever I order pasta, there’s never enough of it, which is the opposite of what the pasta experience should be. When you order pasta, you should always get way more pasta than you want, I feel. You should always have leftover pasta.

She ate: I liked the texture of the tortellini skin, but I was unable to taste sweetbreads, which usually has a distinct taste and texture. I’m not sure how this happened. It kind of tasted like a non-creamy cheese filling. I appreciate the creativity of serving the tortellinis with tofu, although I’m not sure what the point was because neither the sweet breads or tofu had any flavor, since tofu is by nature bland.

Root beer creme brulee (poached figs, rye ice cream)

He ate: I don’t know what the fuck they’re thinking. When you get a creme brulee, you expect boiled cream. That’s literally what it translates to. What I got was a deconstracted fucktard. I don’t know what the heck this is. I had to ask our waiter twice if this was in fact their creme brulee, because this was not what I was expecting. It looks like two soft serve ice cream with some figs. I was very befuddled.

She ate: This dessert reminds me of Chris Leung’s desserts back when Bootsie’s was still open. I was never a huge fan of Yu’s desserts, but Aaron was so I’m surprised he didn’t like this. The gelatin poo thing didn’t have any flavor or richness, the crispy sugar was not burned so just tasted like…well, sugar. The ice cream was ok (I couldn’t taste the rye flavor), although honestly they could have gone with Blue Bell and I would have been happier. The crumb dust was boring, and the pickled figs did nothing to enhance the dessert.

Chocolate tart (brown butter ice cream, sea salt):

He ate: This was better than the root beer fucktard, but could have used more sea salt to balance the sweetness. Overall I thought the desserts were misses. I had high expectations for dessert after the excellent dinner, but they were crushed after we were served.

She ate: This dessert was much better, but it’s a traditional chocolate pastry, so not much you can do to mess it up. In my mind, a tart has a crust with a soft filling. This was more like a thin brownie, which is fine, just not what I expected. Once again, I couldn’t taste the flavor in the ice cream (it’s supposed to be brown butter). It tasted just like vanilla ice cream to me.

Mango balls with chocolate truffles:

He ate: This was the complimentary end of the meal dessert. I would have gladly paid for this instead of the above two desserts. You pop the mango balls in your mouth and it kind of explodes with juice. The truffles were rich and rounded out the meal nicely.

She ate: I wasn’t as big of a fan as Aaron about the mango…it reminded me of a nicer version of canned peaches. The truffles were good, but after the two disaster fails, I think I was too jaded to appreciate anymore sweets from Triniti.

tl; dr: Go to Triniti for an interesting and well-made meal, but skip the desserts.

Golden Dumplings

With leftover dumpling wrappers from lunar new year in hand, I was excited to finally have an excuse to make this recipe. I’ve never eaten or even heard of dumplings filled with beans. It’s a weird concept to me—mung beans are usually used to fill pastries (especially during moon holiday) or served as dessert in Taiwanese culture. I ended up really enjoying these dumplings. They were savory, a little spicy, and the shallot really up the flavor factor.

For those of you unfamiliar with hulled mung beans, this is what they look like:

(Image courtesy of Dr. Ben Kim. Incidentally this link leads to a delicious Korean pancake recipe that I want to try later!)

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients:

Makes 12 dumplings

1/2 cup shelled mung beans (or 1 cup cooked canned chick peas, etc, just pan fry then mash coarsly)

1 cup water

1 small shallot, minced

Splash of olive oil

Splash of sesame oil

Kosher salt and fine white pepper

12 dumpling wrappers

Method

Bring the mung beans and water to a boil in a small pot, then simmer  on medium low heat for 30 minutes or until beans are thoroughly cooked. Remove the beans from the pot, turn the heat to high, and add in both the olive and sesame oil. When oil is heated (about 1-2 minutes), add in the shallot and cook until soft and fragrant. Add the beans back and and flavor with salt and white pepper to taste.

Stick the bean mixture in the freezer for 10 minutes to cool down. Put something good on TV (My choice was The Bachelor!) and get ready to make the dumplings. Have a small bowl of water by you. Put a wrapper on your right palm, dip a finger from your left hand in the bowl of water and wet the entire rim of the wrapper. Place a tbsp or two of the filling on the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over in half, and crimp the edges together so everything is sealed up tightly.

Boil a large pot of water (filled 3/4 of the way). Put in the dumplings and cook for about ten minutes or until all the dumplings are plump and floating at the top.

I drizzled soy sauce, dark vinegar, and sriracha sauce on top of my dumplings.

Jealous?

Tahini Fudge

This recipe is a perfect combination of Aaron’s love for fudge and mine of tahini…also it took all of ten minutes to make.

I’m sorry this looks like poo. And I’m sorry I cut out a piece before I remembered to take a picture. But it’s still really good and not HORRIBLY unhealthy. Make it!

Adapted from (never home) maker

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats, uncooked

1/2 cup walnuts

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1-1/2 cups chocolate chips

2 tablespoons tahini (or peanut butter)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon sugar-free maple syrup

Method:

In a food processor, pulse together the rolled oats, walnuts, and coconut flakes. You want to form a fine meal. Combine the chocolate chips, tahini, and oil and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until melted together (mine took a minute and a half). Stir in the  vanilla extract and maple syrup, the add the oat mixture. It should be a thick dough. Press the dough down in an 8 by 8 pan until it is even and smooth. Cover and let set in the refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes.

Salted Cornmeal Sugar Cookies

Usually healthy desserts are trying to be something they’re not. Healthy chocolate chip cookies. Whole grain pumpkin pie. They’re never quite what you know they should be. That’s why I like this recipe. I’ve never had a cornmeal sugar cookie before, so I thought this recipe is creative, healthy, and actually tastes good! Give it a try.

Adapted from (never home)maker

Makes 6-8 cookies

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Earth Balance Spread with Olive Oil

2 tbsp Splenda brown sugar blend

1/4 cup Eggbeater / 1 egg white

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

sprinkle of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. Separately, cream the Earth Balance and sugar for about 5 minutes either in a magic bullet, by hand, or kitchenaid. Beat in vanilla and Eggbeater. Combine the butter mixture to the dry mixture, the scoop out tablespoons of the cookie dough on to the cookie sheet and pat down with fingers (these cookies don’t spread very much). Sprinkle sea salt on top of cookies. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden.

95 calories/cookie

Nabi Again!

Nabi Neighborhood Restaurant

1517 Westheimer Rd Houston

(713) 526-8866

www.nabihouston.com

Rating: 8

Telling everyone about how awesome Nabi is only made us crave for more. Just like crack heads or sharks (or crackhead sharks) once we’ve had a taste, we want more!

I’m still obsessed with the space, which looked even better in daylight:


sweet texas corn + lobster chowder (seasonal mushrooms/fresh turmeric/roasted squash):

He ate: I loved the soup! It’s easily hands down the best lobster bisque/chowder I’ve ever had. It was creamy but still had a bit of kick to it.

She ate: I also LOVED this dish the most out of everything we ordered today. What a vast improvement to the lobster bisque we had at Capitol at Saint Germain.  I know this is a chowder, not a bisque, but it was just better in every way. Huge chunks of lobster swimming in a creamy but not too rich broth. The chives give it a nice texture and is not too onion-y tasting. The mushrooms and squash were cooked perfectly and gave the chowder a nice balance of vegetables and lobster. I’m not sure what the red oil is on top since the soup didn’t seem spicy to me, but whatever it was, it worked.

Tuna Pizza (crispy rice/spicy tuna/white tuna/jalapeno/gold tobiko):

He ate: Another solid dish, albeit strange presentation. It was as if they wanted it make a roll, somehow ended up with a pizza, then did their best with it.

She ate: I quite liked the presentation of this dish, actually! I was intrigued by the “crispy rice” which in my head was a sushi version of Mos Burger. If you’ve never been to Mos Burger, you’re missing out (and you’ve probably never been to Taiwan, Singapore, or Hong Kong). They make these delicious burgers with crispy rice patties, filled with juicy, saucy beef, shrimp, calamari, etc.

Mmmm. Come to mama.

(Image courtesy of Mos Burger)

I wish the tuna pizza had been a small circle cut into slices to resemble a real pizza. Instead it came in small wedges, but big enough so you can still pick it up. It made me feel like I was a giant, eating a tiny slice of pizza. The bottom part was a layer of seaweed, then a layer of rice, lightly battered and fried, then topped with very fresh tuna mixture, micro greens, jalapeno, tobiko, then drizzled with that good japanese creamy dressing. Overall I liked this dish for the interesting texture, but it could use a bit more on the flavor front.

Nabi Ramen (bacon broth/pork shoulder+belly/poached egg/scallion):

He ate: Not the best ramen I’ve ever had, but it was still tasty and a nice way to end the meal. It was a bit bland in the beginning, but great quality pork belly made up for it.

She ate: Wow, ramen. Talk about a food trend. The fact that the entire inaugural issue of Lucky Peach Magazine was dedicated solely to ramen should give you a hint that it is one of the latest and greatest food obsessions. I’ve read a couple ramen crawls in Houston, and it sounds like it’s a tie among Kubo Cafe, Soma, and Kata Robata. I’ve tried Kata Robata’s and while I don’t think Nabi’s ramen is necessarily better, it certainly ranks up there. The broth was very flavorful, but a little too salty. It had a great barbecue pork grill taste to it. The pork belly was nicely grilled, although once again the fat to eat ratio is 1:2, and I prefer 2: 1 or 3:1 or just 1. The pork shoulder was actually better than the pork belly. It was in shreds and very soft. The egg was poached a little too long, and the fish cakes were nothing to speak of, just your run of the mill supermarket pink fish cake, (which is just fine with me). The noodles had a nice bite and stayed al dente (or as we say in Chinese, “Q!”) until we finished the meal. However, it was not hand-made noodles, which is a point off. There was not enough broth for all the ingredients, but that was quickly amended as our waitress brought us extra broth upon request.

Short rib home fries (marinated short rib/yukon potato/cheese/caramelized kimchi) (We topped this with an egg, of course.):

He ate: I thought the home fries were only ok. I would’ve liked larger fries. I’m beginning to think that smothered fries are either not my thing or are much harder to do than well than people realize.
She ate: I thought the fries were pretty darn good, but I didn’t see or taste any kimchi, which was a big disappointment to me. I’m a kimchi fanatic and have actually NEVER HAD kimchi fries before! Can you believe it? The egg was good: crispy around the edges, raw yolk, just the way mom makes it. I appreciated the fact that the home fries were in mini wedges instead of either big wedges (not enough flavor!) or chopped into squares (soaks up too much oil). The short ribs had a nice texture but were cut into too small of pieces to fully enjoy. The cheese was a nice creamy touch but I think it needs to be a more flavorful cheese, maybe a smoked gruyer. I think a smoked cheese would have complimented a very spicy, plentiful kimchi. Even with these flaws, the dish was still pretty darn satisfying.

Crispy veal tongue (honey onions/pickled celery/spiced yogurt/parsley chip):

He ate: The tongue was bland…and not tongue-y, which is sort of the reason why one would order tongue. I’m not sure why people would order this, and I normally love tongue. It was sort of like veal jerky.
She ate: This was a miss, for sure. I think the dish had a lot of promise. I love tongue. I love fried shit. combine the two, add yogurt sauce, how can you go wrong? The tongue was not flavorful at all, and the rock sea salt bits on top didn’t help matters much. It was not tough or dry as it looks to be, but at the same time it was not juicy. You really had to drown it in sauce and honey onions (which were sweet and valiantly attempted to save the dish) in order for it to be worth any substance. In this case, maybe sticking with traditional Asian cooking method (stewing and serving it in paper-thin slices) is wiser.
Dishes I still want to try:
breakfast 12
pork belly/fried egg/avocado/pickled radish/katsu
bbq shrimp + short rib fried rice 11
head on shrimp/snow peas/cilantro/sesame oil
springer mountain roasted chicken 12
pickled cucumbers/daikon kimchi/chinese sausage/steamed rice
ginger duck + noodles 11
confit duck/scallions/shiitake/shishito peppers/hazelnuts
charbroiled bbq ribeye 13
roasted vegetables/soy glaze/steamed rice/kochujang
lobster + shrimp dumplings 15
xo sauce/zucchini/crispy shallots
mini lamb “corn dogs” 10
cilantro/fennel chutney/green mustard
tl; dr: Still love this place! More hits than misses, with the hits better than most other dishes in town.

Texans Grill

Houston Texans Grille
12848 Queensbury Lane
Suite 208
Houston, TX 77024
Phone: 713-461-2002
http://texansgrille.g3restaurants.com/

Rating: h8

In our continual search for cool sports bars, Aaron and I went to Houston Texans Grille in City Centre. I have been obsessing over their deep-fried cheeseburger, deep-fried Italian hoagie, and deep-fried rib eye on their menu. I love anything prefaced by the word “fried” (although the fried butter video was pretty disturbing. Look at that butter dribbling down that kid’s chin…it looks porn-ish. I can’t help it. My mind went there. To Catch a Predator style. Kiddie sex. Ew. SICKKKKKKKKKKKK). I mean, I still want to try it, don’t get me wrong, let’s not be crazy here.

Oh god. I just almost vomited looking for that video for you guys. I hope you appreciate it.

And now I want fried butter. And I’m kind of horny. Great.

ANYway, the vibe at Texans Grille was only ok. Not very cozy or fun. And we had to watch this couple PDA for two hours. Ugh, old people sex:

She ate: I think the owners were going for a modern, clean edge vibe when they designed the space…but it kind of came off looking like an office building. There are two parts of the bar: the front with a large oval bar, and the back where it’s more of a restaurant atmosphere with tables (no booths) and big tv screens everywhere. We were seated in the back, but we asked to be moved to the bar when we saw how empty and boring the back portion was. I mean, who wants to sit at an office table to watch the playoffs? Come on.

We both got the No Label El Jefe hefeweizen:

He ate: I was disappointed by their lame beer selection. The No Label el jefe was good, but there were so few to choose from. It was weird to drink a hefeweizen in the winter, but it was good nonetheless. My second beer was a Shiner. It tasted fine but it came in a plastic cup, I assume because they ran out of glasses but this is yet another point taken away from them.

She ate: I didn’t like the beer. Too sour.

Deep fried pretzel sticks with mustard sauce. Phallic much?

He ate: Whoever put the menu together obviously knows nothing about fonts. They used Arial for goodness sakes. I mean, why not just use comic sans at that point? Weird parts of it were boxed off. I never notice menus, and I noticed this one.

The food came out all at once, which was nice because that was what we asked for. The service was fast for being packed since it was the playoffs, so that is a plus.

The pretzels with the honey mustard was quite good.  They were hot, and when you broke them in half, steam came out (cue Cleveland steamer joke). That was clutch. They were deep fried but tasted like baked, not too greasy.

She ate: The pretzels were by far the best part of the meal…although the fried part was misleading. I expected a sort of batter, and these could have tasted easily just as good baked. The mustard sauce was ok, I prefer cheese with my pretzels, but that’s just me.

He ate: The presentation of the burger was nice, although in retrospect I have no idea how you would put the lettuce and tomato inside the burger. I guess you can slice the fried burger open and reassemble it? It seemed odd to me. I think it was mainly there for garnish, which, if you’re going to go that way, kudos, restaurant. I thought it was more of a novelty food than anything else, and the fact that it’s named “our soon-to-be-famous deep fried cheeseburger” is premature. The bread tasted stale and the whole thing was a total let down.

She ate: The cheeseburger was a big let down. It was served on some wilted, not crunchy cafeteria fries. The burger itself was not very good, and believe me I was HUNGRY. That’s saying a lot. It was too greasy, even for something deep fried, and not juicy. It made me sad. If I’m going to eat 1000 calories, it better be worth it. I had a couple bites and gave up.

Wings with pomegranate bbq sauce and ranch:

He ate: I ate the crap out of the wings, but they were expensive for wings ($9 for 8 wings) and you can get better, cheaper wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. There was no bulk discount. It’s actually one cent cheaper to buy two sets of eight than one set of sixteen. That bothers me for some reason, I’m not sure why.

She ate: The wings were ok. You can get better ones at the Kroger hot foods section.

And an Asian salad (salad of my people) with ahi tuna:

He ate: Amy’s salad was ok. It was super spicy and not very interesting.

She ate: I got a salad to round off the meal. The girl at the next table got it and I had immediate food jealousy. The vegetables were nice and fresh, and I didn’t mind the spiciness like Aaron did, but the tuna was weird. It was oddly overcooked on the outside, and completely raw on the inside. I don’t mind the rawness because that’s what I expected, but the charred, stringy meat on the outside was startling.

Overall it was ok. We’ve been to a bunch of sports bars recently, and the fact that it’s far from our house (incidentally it’s on the none-busy, far even from the parking garage side of City Centre) doesn’t help it. The atmosphere was very sterile, the furniture was all wood and metal. Yard House, another sports bar in the same center, offers better food and is cozier.

tl; dr: if I’m going to a mediocre bar, the servers better be showing some boob/penis/pecs. That’s all I’m saying.