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From the monthly archives: April 2017

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Thanks David for this recipe.

I love David Lebovitz blog Living The Sweet Life In Paris. We were in Paris and southern France back in 2012. Paris was kind of a blur with two bad knees that didn’t know then that in 3 months they would be replaced. So many restaurants, good food, stops in the afternoon for frites and wine or macarons that it’s hard to remember that trip unless I go back and read my journal about all the great food we had and all the interesting things we saw.

Through David’s blog I can see Paris […]

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A number of Austin based restaurants have made a beachhead in the Houston area, and are gradually adding to the Houston restaurant tapestry.  This is great news for recent UT Austin grads who have moved to Houston for work.  Now some of those wonderful Austin Eateries are here in Houston, hopefully offering similar if not superior quality to what you remember during your salad days back in the 512.  That being said, there have been mixed reviews coming from folks in Houston–some have done quite well, made a great impression, while a few others have had some consistency issues.  Back in February, one of the better Austin based eateries, Ramen Tatsu-ya, opened its doors right in the heart of the Montrose area to much fanfare and a very long line of hungry ramen fans.  The Giant version of the Lucky cat we are so used to seeing outside many Asian restaurants was there waving its paw to the line-up as folks took selfies, snap-chatted and went live to talk about what was coming.  And yes, I was among that crew.  But first a little background:

Ramen Tatsu-ya is the long-awaited collaboration between local chefs/DJs, Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto. The two of them first met as they were busy making their marks on the Austin scene as hip-hop DJs. After following an eerily parallel timeline, honing their crafts at notable Austin establishments such as Musashino and Second Bar + Kitchen, Tatsu took a leap and moved to Los Angeles. There, he worked in one of the nation’s most respected Kaiseki/Sushi bars, the two Michelin star restaurant Urasawa. On his return, he began working with Takuya on birthing Tatsu-ya. “I was craving good ramen after having lived in Japan and LA. I wanted to provide that same quality and authenticity in Austin, the city I call home.” says Tatsu. “We want to educate people on what ramen truly is. It’s the soul food of Japan. The process of broth-making can take an extremely long time in order to draw out the flavors from each ingredient.” A far cry from the 10-cent package ramen most of us know all too well.

Well, with that all out of the way, I found myself waiting in line for a bit–something that happens at  Killen’s BBQ all the time, but is worth it nonetheless!  While I was waiting in the line-up, I decided to avail myself of one of their cocktails called the SUGRDOG:  Sake, Fresh grapefruit juice, seasalt rim and a mint garnish (though they added a pickled white Ginger garnish instead).  This was a sour, sweet, salty, herbal treat to say the least.  Usually I take warm sake in the more usual way.  However, some sake cocktails can be quite tasty and the SUGRDOG definitely filled the bill.  It also improved my mood as I finally made my way to the counter to place my order.  And even though a couple of their popular small bites were not available (Dang it, I wanted to try the Munchie Katsu slider!!!), they had plenty of other fare to enjoy.  Grade: A for the SUGRDOG 


At this point, I had quite an appetite and ordered a nice plate of Gyoza–pork dumplings served with soy Vinegar, and Tsukemen Ramen, which is a little different than the usual Ramen in that the noodles/add-ins are served separate from the condensed pork bone broth and are dipped in the broth instead. I added Naruto Maki (the infamous fishcakes that the Anime character is named after) and kikuragi mushroom.  ; and to wash it all down, a Sapporo Ale.  The gyoza were nicely fried, crunchy outside, full of delicious pork and seasoning inside.  But the Tsukemen Ramen was over the top awesome.  This was a rich, semi-spicy broth that gave those noodles pop when you dipped them in it.  The Tsukemen usually just comes with the chasu pork belly, ajitama (flavoured soft boiled egg), lime and nori (seaweed).  You can add flavour bombs to the broth if you wish, but this broth needed no extra flavour it was packed full with it.  Spicy, salty, herbal, umami goodness that worked so well with the mushroom, egg, kikuragi, Naruto and chusashi pork belly.  My apologies to the Bad Piggies like Mr. Moustache and Uncle Tex, but this was a pork eater’s dream come true!  Grades: A- for the gyoza, A+ for the Tsukemen Remen.  


Ramen Tatsuya is located off of Westheimer
in the Montrose area at:
1722 California St
Houston, TX  77006
(512) 893-5561
Hours:
7 Days a Week
11 AM to 10 PM

Eat Happy, Y’all!!!
喜んで食べて!!!
吃得开心!!!
Hank
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Avocado Salmon Stacks

On April 24, 2017 By

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Spring is in full swing in the Houston area and Sud Italia once again has some great seasonal offerings that I want to share with y’all, Dear Readers.  Shanon Scott’s labour of love inspired by his time in the lower coastal area of Italy. Owner Shanon Scott’s 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry at high end Italian eateries enabled him to create a vision that is unique to Houston’s dining scene. The menu true to the regions includes dishes and ingredients from the five main areas of southern Italy as well as select southern Italian vineyards. Olive oil, tomatoes, eggplant, capers, mushrooms, olives, fresh hand-pulled burrata, fresh herbs from their own on-site garden, seasonal vegetables and fresh seafood are staples of the menu; and don’t forget the Meyer Lemon Limoncello (a sweet and sour Lemon Liqueur) made by Scott himself from his own Meyer Lemon tree!

I also learned a couple of other interesting facts about Sud Italia over the last couple of years:  Chef Ale “Sandro” Scarfile is married to a woman who is a Vegetarian.  While he is an omnivore, his wife’s eating habits have helped push him to create create fresh vegetable dishes that fit the Southern Coastal Italian profile but are friendly to her eating choice.  This explains how such great appetizers like the Grigliata di Verdure  come into being.  Here you get fresh seasonal grilled veggies topped with house-made pesto and served with a little more pesto and fresh rosemary to boot!  The selection on this particular evening included red bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, red onions, mushrooms and a cherry tomato to boot.  These veggies tasted like they’d just been picked at the right time from the garden before being washed and grilled.  Saluti Chef Scarafile and Mr. Scott!  Grade: A+

Of course you cannot have Southern Coastal Italian without some fresh seafood pasta in the mix and the seasonal menu has two such choices:  a Spaghetti Neri con Ricci (squid ink infused spaghetti with sea urchin, cherry tomatoes and garlic in a white wine sauce) and Paccheri con Gamberoni e Asparagi (Paccheri pasta–think really thick macaroni that flattens in the middle like a cut inner tube of semolina–shrimp, asparagus and other mixed veggies, seasoned with a lobster based sauce.)  We went with the Paccheri and were quite happy with it!  Now this is some seafood veggie pasta that some of my Pescetarian friends  would embrace wholeheartedly.  Vibrant, colourful, full of zest, a nice amount of shrimp as well.  The veggies have a crisp freshness with strong flavour, whether sweetness from the peppers, a slight bitterness to the asparagus and that wonderful stinking rose essence of Garlic.  Magnificent!  Grade: A+

Of course this Texan is tried and true in his love of beef and thankfully the seasonal menu also includes one of my favourite cuts of meat for a Steak–they call it Bistecca alla Griglia, but to us Texans it’s a bone in rib eye steak served with fresh veggies and fingerling yellow potatoes.  I take my steak medium rare to medium and this steak was grilled to perfection with nice char marks and a good herbal/garlic/salt seasoning rub, but juicy and having a hot reddish pink centre.  The veggies included fresh asparagu and carrots with plenty of flavour and the right amount of snap when you bite into them.  But the steak was the real prize in how juicy and tender it was.  Grade: A+

Of course no meal is complete without having a good wine to enjoy it with and thankfully Sud Italia maintains a good wine list that matches every palate and every budget. With our meal we enjoyed a Primitivo Tormaresca red wine –it was earthy, tart, and notes of black cherries, a perfect complement to the bone-in rib-eye steak to be sure.  And also I must note, Sud Italia does not allow outside wines to be brought in with Corkage.  Shanon Scott has taken great pains to curate a wonderful wine list that would complement all the dishes that Chef Scarafile prepares and it would behoove any Wine lover/Oenaphile to check the wines out when they come to his establishment.  I promise you that you will find a couple you will simply love.  


I want to thank Shanon Scott, Chef Scarafile and all the staff at Sud Italia for a wonderful dinner.  I want to urge all of you Dear Readers to head to Rice Village and give Sud Italia a try.  You will very much enjoy the homey hospitality of this converted house and the staff will make you feel right at home.

Sud Italia is located at: 2347 University Blvd. Houston, TX 77005. Ph: 713-664-7571.  Hours of operation are:  Mon-Fri Lunch: 11-3 Mon-Wed; Dinner: 5-9:30. Thurs-Sat Dinner: 5-10.  Sat Brunch: 11-3.  Sud Italia is closed on Sundays.  



Eat Happy, Y’all!!!
吃得开心!!!
Hank

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The Woodlands has grown from a fairly Moderate Houston Exurb into a City in its own right with a great variety of Culinary choices that suit all taste profiles and varieties of cuisine.  Thanks to great local food writers like Albert Nurick who lives in the Woodlands and the attention shone on this area by others in the Food Media, The Woodlands as become one of multiple culinary Nexuses in the Greater Houston area.  And the opening of Broken Barrel on Restaurant Row by Hughes Landing and adjacent to  Lake Woodlands is just one more affirmation of this.


Broken Barrel is the brainchild of Chef Hilda Ysusi. Born in Mexico City, Ysusi pursued her culinary passions early, traveling to Switzerland in 2005 to study in a le Cordon Bleu sanctioned culinary and pastry program while still a teenager. Ysusi staged at Jean Georges and DB Bistro Modern in 2009 and received two degrees from the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, in Baking and Pastry Arts and Culinary Arts in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Wanting to expand her repertoire, Ysusi externed at series of diverse concepts: Bourbon Steakhouse, Nestle Professional and finally Sushi Maki, where she was hired on as a Corporate Chef in 2014. 

Now Chef Hilda brings her experience and passion to bear with her own concept, Broken Barrel based in The Woodlands, Texas at Hughes Landing. This restaurant and bar features shareable plates infused with global influences; a varied and extensive wine list; beers on tap; and a full bar with a gin-focused cocktail menu. Chef Ysusi invited a whole crew of Food Media folks to a preview meal that included a plethoria of dishes from their brunch and dinner menus, along with more than few of those Gin-based cocktails, and it was quite the experience.


We started with a group of cocktails (see previous paragraph photo) which included a Hendricks Gin & Tonic with Rose Petal Garnish, a Prickly Pear Moscow Mule, and a margarita that included grapefruit juice, jalapeno and lime with a fresh dusting of coarse black pepper.  A nice mix of Juniper twang, sour, sweeet, quinine in the two Gin Cocktails and a sour tequila treat with some spice in the margarita.  My favourite of the Gin cocktails was the Brooklyn Gin & roasted anchjo chile garnished with clover.  This was a smoky, herbal, twangy, quinine refresher that fit the lovely setting by the lake nicely.  Grades: A, A+, A and A+ respectively.




On to a selection of appetizers that came with Mediterranean and Japanese influences, and we enjoyed them with those wonderful cocktails.  From Japan, we were served Karaage–a Japanese type of fried chicken, served with Kewpie mayo, chives and a nice ponzu sauce.  Karaage is crispy, tasty, flavourful and I’ve had some good tastes of it at a couple of the newer Ramen Bistros.  Chef Ysusi’s version holds up well with them.  Additionally, we had tempura battered crispy olives, served with garlic lemon aioli.  I like salty, tangy, sour olives, and found the fried version did indeed work quite well. Addictive to be sure!  And the Paella Arancini–imagine Pi Pizza’s Mac n Cheese balls, but with authentic Spanish Paella inside, served with a creamy spicy dipping sauce.  Everything to love here.  Grades: A+, A and A+ respectively.



After the appetizers on the deck overlooking Lake Woodlands, we then headed inside to enjoy more of the menu in the casual yet elegant ambiance of the dining area.  This included items from the Brunch, Dinner and Dessert Menu.  From the brunch menu we enjoyed a Stuffed French Toast with cinnamon cream cheese, coated with corn flakes, served with a spiced syrup .  This was a slightly sweet, cinnamon cream delight.  And a Duck Quesadillia which was so unique in that no tortillas were used–instead Mozzarella cheese was fried and made into the tortilla which was then filled with pulled duck, pickled onion and carrots!  So creative and tasty!  From the dinner menu we tasted side plates of Patatas Bravas: potatoes with Spanish Chorizo, roasted pepper sauce & aioli that were slightly spicy, semi-crunchy and were gobbled up with alacrity by all.  And Not your Ham and Cheese: a Skinny Baguette filled prosciuotto, goat cheese, red wine jelly & arugla.  It was like a Spanish charcouterie version of a Cuban stogie roll with a hint of sweetness.  Grades: A, A+, A+ and A respectively.  



Moving on to the main dishes from the dinner menu which were served Tapas or Family style like you see in some Spanish or Asian restaurants where everyone could share bites.  At this round we had Shrimp fried rice with peanut sauce amd red cabbage slaw–very fresh, a little tart and saltier version of the usual Asian staple; Roasted Baby beets over orange yogurt with roast pork dust–normally I do not like Beets, but between the mandarins, the yogurt and the pork dust I was able to eat plenty with no complaints at all; Cochinita Piblil Tostones–Mexican style adobo pork, on fried green plantains which seemed like a nice variation on a pulled pork toast; and Market Fish–red fish, on quinoa, with local greens–fresh, not oily, nicely seasoned full of flavour and texture thanks to the quinoa.  Grades: A-, A+, A and A respectively.  


The Final pair of mains were a zuchini salad with squash, feta cheese, peanuts, pickled onions and cilantro which provided a cool, refreshing, sweet and sour veggie interlude prior to the final main dish; and a roast skin-on chicken breast, stuffed with goat cheese, spinach, portobello mushrooms, and served on sundried tomato couscous.  Normally chicken breast gets a bad rap, and many times it makes folks think of a catered event that has some chicken breast where it has a rubbery texture.  NOT THIS DISH!!!  This dish was smokey, herbal, juicy, full of umami from the mushrooms and goat cheese, and was so satisfying, and the couscous gave some nutty texture for the palate as well.  Very nice, and my compliments to the chef.  Grades: A and A+ respectively.



A little reminder:  we were all sharing a few bites of each dish, none of us was eating a full serving or we would have to be rolled out of there.  All that was left were a couple of great exemplars from the dessert menu: Donut Ice Cream Sandwich dusted With  Cap’N Crunch  cereal.  This wondeful dessert would make the King Pig cry in delight.  It seems like a dessert from the mind of Lee Ellis (and those of you that know Lee know this is high praise).  This dessert is one I would reach for without hesitation and was enjoyed by all.  And as if that was not enough, there was a S’more’s casserole, made with a base of   graham cracker, chocolate ganache, and toasted marshmallows. This was not as sweet as it looked, but still hit all the flavour points you’d want from S’mores.  A perfect end to an excellent tasting menu.  Grades: A+ and A.  

Whew!  Just remembering all those dishes is making me feel full and happy all over again.  I want to thank Chef Hilda Ysusi and the staff at Broken Barrel for their magnificent hospitality and wonderful cocktails, appetizers, dishes and desserts.  There were quite a few that I knew would be a quick favorite of a few friends and family members, as well as more than a few of you, Dear Readers.  For those of you who live or work  in the Woodlands, get to Restaurant Row at Hughes Landing and give them a try.  For those of you who do not, I still recommend making the trip up or giving them a try if you happen to find yourself up in the Woodlands on business or personal errands.  Trust me, your tastebuds will thank you for it!

Broken Barrel is located at:
1950 Hughes Landing Blvd, Suite 1900
The Woodlands, TX
(281) 719-8542

Hours of Operation
Lunch: 11am – 3pm
Dinner: 5pm – 10pm (Sunday – Thursday)
5pm – 1am (Friday – Saturday)
Private dining and parties with custom menus are available.

Eat Happy, Y’all!!!
吃得开心!!
Hank

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Good Friday to all!  About a week ago, I posted a nice run-down on some local area Easter Brunches.  I will add to it later this evening so be sure to check back.  One of my favourite local restaurants, Harold’s in the Heights, has brought back some faves from last year that continue on the Easter Brunch Menu such as the Big Nasty Biscuit, and Beignets.  And at $45 per person for 4 courses, plus tax and gratuity, with a Kid’s Menu available, it’s a good deal!  This year they have a few newer items featured in their cocktail menu and brunch menu that I would love to submit for your consideration:

New Beverage Director Chris Rose brought out 3 Cocktails that are Houston Takes on Classics:  First up is the Boomtown Punch–a variation on a New Orleans Milk Punch. Jack Daniels single barrel whiskey infused with Boomtown Coffee beans, Becherovka liqueur, heavy cream, sugar and poured over ice; and will be served in miniature milk jars on Easter!  A Milk Punch is a Louisiana classic, but when you infuse the Houston roasted beans that makes it a twist.  I call it a Bourbony Twist on my fave White Russian.  Two other great cocktails are the Brandy Crusta–brandy, Orange Juice, marachino liqueuer, orange zest, Simple syrup, and is a not too sweet citrus variation on a NOLA classic.  And last but not least, Harold’s Poloma: Houston variation on a Poloma: Jarritos Grapefruit soda Tequila, Lime Juice, & tajin seasoning.  This is a sour, spicy taste that refreshes on a hot day.  Grades: A+, A and A respectively.  

Now some of the newer brunch options, we have a wonderful Blue Crab croquette served in a leek creme sauce and garanished with corn salad.  This is like a crunchy, spicy variation on a crab cake that truly satisfies a seafood lover with it’s spicy Louisiana seasong and plenty of crabmeat!  Grade: A++

Next new option is the Creole Benedict.  This is a true Louisana/Southern version of the Classic Eggs Benedict.  Architecture is a biscuit on the bottom, pork debris above, poached egg on top, and finish with Creole hollandaise sauce. Magnificent! Grade: A++

As if those two items aren’t enough for you to want to make a reservation, the Shrimp Creole Omelette will seal the deal for y’all.  Scrambled eggs, boiled Gulf shrimp floating on a layer spicy creole sauce! Mmmm!!! Spicy seafood eggy goodness!  Grade: A+

Not yet tried, but given Antoine Ware’s gift for food, I will still heartily endorse his Barry Farm Lamb Pastrami sandwich–served on Slow Dough sour dough bread with hand-cut fries and Crawfish Crepes stuffed with goat cheese and topped with fresh boiled crawfish.  I hope to try them soon and will update this article if I do!  And if you have not yet enjoyed a meal in the fresh air on Harold’s Terrace, you need to do so before it gets too hot, and Easter Sunday is a good time to start!

I want to thank Chef Antoine Ware, Chris Rose and the rest of the crew at Harold’s for a chance to preview these great items and share them with you, Dear Readers.  Harold’s is one of my local establishments that has earned my trust and endorsement time and time again due to their great food, community spirt and commitment to the people of Houston.  

Harold’s Restaurant Bar & Terrace is located in the Heights at: 350 W. 19th St. Houston, TX 77008.  Phone number is 713 360 6204.  

Eat Happy, Y’all!!!
吃得开心!!!

Hank

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Full Disclosure: I went to Lake Charles for a press trip with Austin Food Magazine and the Visit Lake Charles . What I loved about staying at L’Auberge Casino and… [Continue Reading]

The post Ember Grille & Wine Bar Offers Winning Fine Dining Experience at L’Auberge Casino and Resort appeared first on Girl Eats World.

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Edamame with Garlic and Soy

On April 12, 2017 By

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Garlic Edamame, yum!

What a simple recipe I’m giving you today; so simple I’m doing it for myself tonight when my husband goes out with the guys.

How about some edamame to go with the Asian inspired dinner you are having or for the sushi you are making (or buying). Don’t just eat salted Edamame, you have to try the recipe I was first ate at Ozumo restaurant in San Francisco

So, read my “true confession – Edamame” here. and fine out more about the edamame saga. The restaurant that I went to and took my own garlic and […]

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Tortilla chips and salsa, chili con carne, and fajitas are now typical European bar food. Rare is the English pub that doesn’t serve “nachos.” The influence of Tex-Mex on world cuisine fascinates us here at Texas Eats. So when our correspondent, Julia Walsh, moved to Manchester, England in January 2017, we asked her to chronicle […]

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