Food Buzz

Because maybe you do care what I had for lunch...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eating my way through Houston

I will start by saying that of course Houston isn't all barbeque and Tex Mex. There are plenty of other options. However, we were traveling, and in a not-so-health-conscious enviornment. I felt like I was going from one calorie-rich meal to another with no physical activity inbetween. Does riding in a car actually make you gain weight? I swear, I could feel the fat cells growing the longer I sat in one.

OK, enough grousing from the city mouse. At least I enjoyed all of these calorie-rich meals.

We started out Friday night at T'Afia, restaurant of Houston's own locavore hero, Monica Pope. It was good; not extraordinary but near par with our favorite places in Brooklyn. I started with a tasty salad of endive, pecans, and locally-made blue cheese with a lemony dressing. (I'm going to attempt to duplicate it at home.) My sister ordered a local cheese plate, and I especially liked the tangy chevre. I had Texas squab with a berre blanc and Lane had Gulf shrimp with sausage. I kept wondering how Ms. Pope found clean Gulf shrimp -- the Gulf of Mexico has some of the most polluted waters in the nation. I keep meaning to call the restaurant and ask. He also had a sweet potato gratin, mmmmm, very good idea. For dessert we shared some luscious caramel semifreddo and a rich, gooey bread pudding.

On Saturday we took Jasper to the Space Center. The cafeteria there is not too bad -- they actually seem to be trying to be healthy and claim not to serve any trans fats. You can have veggies in a stir fry, over pasta, or in a salad. However, the kid's menu is the usual starchy crap and since a certain soft drink company provides sponsorship, your drink options are limited. I got Jasper a slice of pizza (pretty good, actually, and not remotely greasy), some steamed veggies from the stirfry counter, and a cup of milk from the Starbucks kiosk. Lane and I weren't hungry yet, so we just nibbled what Jasper didn't finish.

Next stop was the Spring Creek Barbecue in Humble for Grandma's birthday party. Here they yell and toss food behind the counter just like at Pike's Place fish market. It was the fastest I saw anyone move the entire time we were in Texas. I'm not a barbecue expert, but it was tasted like classic Texas barbecue to me. I had part of Lane's barbecue beef sandwich and one rib -- it was incredibly rich. They also served hot, crispy okra. I tried one, and while I loved the crispy exterior the interior was still okra, alas. I wish I could be more mature about okra but I just don't get it.

That night we went to a "Mix Mex" place downtown called Baja Sam's. It was a lot less Baja, though, than Cajun Mexican, a novelty to me though I'm not sure it works. My tortilla soup was actually shrimp-less rice gumbo with shredded tortillas on top, no lime or avacado. Lane had some sort of shrimp po' boy with poblano.

Sunday we drove back out to Humble for lunch with Grandma at Tamales Atascosita, run by a family friend. The tamales were prefect and her guacamole exemplary (see top photo). Seriously, I would love to take some of her guacamole back to Baja Sam's and say "see, THIS is what it's supposed to taste like." She made cute little tortilla chip bowls for guacamole hors'd'oeuvres.

That was the zenith. That night, with my sister's family and Lane already on their way home (he teaches on Mondays) and the rest of my family in the suburbs Jasper and I were on our own. We'd already used up our energy trying to ice skate at the Galleria so we ordered a room service hamburger. It was far above average, with bacon, caramelizeed onions and a side of fresh, hot fries. But I'm glad I ordered it well done and didn't yet know about that huge beef recall. Sheesh.

I wanted to try out Picnic after the zoo, but I decided our time would be better spent taking a paddle boat ride around the pond and touring the Japanese garden (we made do with park hot dogs). Jasper talked me into buying him some cotton candy. Oh diabolical concoction. As if it's not bad enough that that it's nothing but sugar and cancer-inducing dye it also gets all over everything and makes a big, sticky mess.

Anyway, we have to go back because I still have a long list of restaurants to try in Houston, not to mention all the museums (which we missed out on because we missed our morning flight and had to take a later flight into Houston). Oh yeah, and we'd love to see more of our extended family as well!


Swizzies said...

Mexican food makes me weep. And I know you didn't mean to devastate me, but tamales and guacamole are my two favorite items EVER. I could die just looking at your pictures.

Sounds like a great trip.

Adriana Velez said...

Next time we're in Swizzyland (fingers crossed) I'll bring guacamole and tamale supplies!