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Peter Green

Travelogue: the Americas (part 1)

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I'll get this started, and then I must dash.

This is the first full day in the United States of America.

I have arrived in Houston with the intent of spending my expense account wisely.

At least that's my intent.

Last night was dinner at Hugo's which I'll post shortly, which I was able to stay awake through. Today has been a variety of tasks - which involved more pictures of food and a brown paper bag of tequila - and now I must away to dinner at Cafe Jadeite (I think that's the name).

More pictures and proper details soon.

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Cafe Le Jadeite probably isn't the best way to spend your expense account, but if you're around that area, you're no more than 10 minutes away from some great restaurants.

Hugo's was a pretty good choice - here's some other ones (if you're really looking to work that account)

Da Marco on Westheimer (not too far from Hugo's)

Dolce Vita on Westheimer (again, not too far)

Mark's on Westheimer (mixed reviews lately, but many seem to enjoy it) The same goes for Tony's in Greenway Plaza.

Nippon on Montrose, as long as you ask for the Japanese menu and/or order the omakase

Brasserie Max and Julie on Montrose and Richmond for quality renditions of classic bistro fare.

For some reason, anytime someone comes to Texas, they always have to have steak. Vic and Anthony's is a good choice. Actually, the best steak I've had in Houston was recently at Del Frisco's double eagle, but the service was atrocious. So if you can bear bad service, the steaks are really good and they're really good about cooking it to temperature.

Farther away there's REEF in midtown, 17 in downtown, and Catalan on Washington Ave. I went to Catalan a few weeks ago, and while there's still nothing Catalonian about it, the kitchen's churning out really, really solid food.

Then of course there's things such as Himalaya for Pakistani food or one of your several taquerias, but that won't exactly dent an expense account.

I look forward to your reviews.

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Hugo's was a pretty good choice - here's some other ones (if you're really looking to work that account)

Da Marco on Westheimer (not too far from Hugo's)

Dolce Vita on Westheimer (again, not too far)

Mark's on Westheimer (mixed reviews lately, but many seem to enjoy it) The same goes for Tony's in Greenway Plaza.

Nippon on Montrose, as long as you ask for the Japanese menu and/or order the omakase

Brasserie Max and Julie on Montrose and Richmond for quality renditions of classic bistro fare.

For some reason, anytime someone comes to Texas, they always have to have steak. Vic and Anthony's is a good choice. Actually, the best steak I've had in Houston was recently at Del Frisco's double eagle, but the service was atrocious. So if you can bear bad service, the steaks are really good and they're really good about cooking it to temperature.

Farther away there's REEF in midtown, 17 in downtown, and Catalan on Washington Ave. I went to Catalan a few weeks ago, and while there's still nothing Catalonian about it, the kitchen's churning out really, really solid food.

Then of course there's things such as Himalaya for Pakistani food or one of your several taquerias, but that won't exactly dent an expense account.

I look forward to your reviews.

Thanks, Tetsu!

DaMarco and Mark's were both pointed out to me by one of my friends here, as was Dolce Vita and Tony's. And while he hadn't done Reef, he said it sounded interesting.

Catalan sounds like something I'll hit up, and I've got my eye on the Belgian place across the street from Hugo's (I'm a sucker for the Belgians).

There are people here with me, so I'll probably end up having to go for a steak, like you say, while I'm in Houston. Del Frisco's is an option there, but I'll try to postpone that.

I'm thinking I should do Beavers, given the coverage given to Pope and to the cocktails at the new place.

What's the take on Cafe Annie nowadays? I'd heard they were redoing it recently?

And, of course, it's not all about the expense account. I know it's a sin, but I can still go for an inexpensive bite or three.

Cheers,

Peter


Edited by Peter Green (log)

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Day 1 (or a portion thereof)

I won’t bore you (too much) with the details of the flight. Plane trips for me are generally about the wines, rather than the food, and I’m parsing this travelogue up with the drinking over on the dipsophilia site (shameless plug taken care of now), and the eating and general discussion over here.

I will say one thing, though, I was surprised to see pheasant on the menu. The fellow next to myself opened his menu just as I did, and both of use were saying “chicken, chicken, and chicken” when we were surprised to find a more noble fowl there before us.

Okay, it was in a fairly thick sauce, and came over a little cloying, but with a Chilean Carmenere it was a meal worth eating in-flight.

But that was the highlight. I hate travel. I love being places, but the act of getting there leaves me dehydrated, sore, and feeling like I’ve been to an all-night party that ended in a fight, and there wasn’t any fun attached.

Customs and Immigration was quite pleasant (I always expect the worse so if I’m surprised it’s never a problem), the rental was at the car place, and I only got slightly lost getting in from IAH to the Galleria.

There were some things that needed to be done right away (I needed a new video camera), so I shot out Richmond to a place I’d been dealing with through email.

As I motored West, I took in the changes since the last time I was here, the openings and closings. There seemed to be a lot more closings than openings.

But, first, a little history. Some of the things that will be discussed later will be easier with a bit of background covered now.

I’ve been to and from Houston a lot over the last 25 years or so. I’d moved here straight from university, excited in part at the idea of working internationally, and in part just eager to get out of Vancouver, where’d I’d spent the last 22 years of my life.

Yes, I was young and stupid. I left Vancouver for Houston. That’s changed, though. Now I’m not young.

The two and a half years I spent here weren’t my best. I was intent upon saving money, and had targeted getting rid of my student loan first, and then saving enough money for marriage. The first target I managed by living on rice and kimchi for three months (luckily, there was a Korean in my apartment building, and so I didn’t take the blame for the smell), The second I managed, sending back over half my money to Yoonhi as a remittance man, by avoiding unnecessary expenses.

One unnecessary expense in Houston was a car.

So, for the years of 1983 through 1985, I did a lot of walking. You can get to now a place fairly well on foot. That place just better not be very large.

So that was the beginning. I would eat out on occasion with friends from work, but not often, and never extravagant.

I left Houston then, in 1985 for marriage and life overseas (rather than just south of the border). When I next returned, it was more than 10 years later in the late 90’s, and the city, like myself and my friends, had matured.

And when I came back, I had a car, and money. Someone else’s money, which is even better.

Seeing Houston now, and I see it fairly often since 1999, I’ve grown fonder of the place. The freedom of a vehicle changes the map in your head, and places that were terra incognito way back when are now open to investigation.

But those years spent on foot have left a mental map in my head that stretches along a corridor with faint roots in downtown, out Richmond, Alabama, and Westheimer, to the Western boundaries of the Sam Houston Beltway (and it gets pretty faint out there, too).

That is all to set the stage, now let’s return to our regular programming.

When I took that last u-turn to the past, I was heading West on Houston. There were more than a few closings. Billy Blue’s, with the giant saxaphone, seemed to be up for lease. A shame, as it provided a conveniently close spot for music. And there was the Seafood Market all boarded up. I’d been there on occasion for the all-you-can-eat lobster nights. At $39.95, and given the price of lobster and their weights, we’d figured at the time that you really needed to eat at least five or six to get ahead. So we did.

But the Richmond Arms was still there – as incongruous as ever - and Sam’s Boat, which does a fair deal on crawfish, although I have my preferences on where to go for crawfish. There were a few new taquerias along the road, and more and more Mexican Cafes in strip malls. And Joe’s Crab Shack. Yeah, it’s a chain, but their décor always gets a smile out of me.

Westheimer’s got more on it, I know, but there’d always been something fun about Richmond and its sheer garishness. It was the place to go for the all-you-can-eat deals when I was young, cadging out my protein needs with tidbits of grilled chicken and beef, or steamed prawns at the free happy hour buffets while nursing a beer or two that I’d splurged on.

Isn’t it great how the past always looks better when you’re not there anymore?

I came back down Westheimer, and didn’t notice too many changes in the last two years. Truluck’s had moved, their old location taken over by something else. But I gather they’re down by the Galleria now, closer to where I’m staying. Mama’s Café, where I had my first chicken fried steak, is still there, and the rather desultory sushi places are still dotting the strip malls.

Besides memories, Houston is still home to several of my old friends. Common suffering tends to bind people together firmer than good times, and I’ve a few people I still call on regularly.

One of these is Dan. Dan is particularly good for me as he’s (a) very well read, (b) he knows the clubs and restaurants around Houston very well, © he likes to eat and drink well, and (d) he’s willing to drive so that I can pass out at random moments from jet lag.

Dan picked me up around 7, and we headed East down Westheimer for a drive by fooding. This gave us the opportunity to check out the openings and closings along the restaurant row area of lower Westheimer while we tried to decide on a place to eat.

We drove out down Richmond to get inside the Loop, past Luling City BBQ and my old favourite, The Ragin’ Cajun, and saw Tony’s (relatively) new location at Greenway Plaza, close to my old digs. The Velvet Lounge was still in business, but it felt like some other old-timers had passed on.

We headed North up Kirby, and then right on Westheimer. Beso, Sadler’s Latino place, was gone from its location and replaced by an Italian restaurant of some sort (but it looks like they may not be down and out, but just moved, north of I10 near Freed Park, if it’s the same place). I’d liked Beso last time I was here, and remember the head waiter, Diego, who had a sideline selling tropical fish from South America (Diego has moved to Sadler’s other place, Arturo’s – I wasn’t as thrilled with Arturo’s).

We drove by a number of the places Tetsu was recommending (above). Mark’s and Marco’s, both nearby at Dunlavy. We also came across Hugo’s, which Dan recommended as Mexican, rather than Tex-Mex. I don’t mind Tex-Mex, but I’m a lot fonder of good Mexican food, so this was one I noted down. And there was a sign for La Dolca Vita, but we were past it fairly quickly.

And across the street in the ubiquitous Houston strip mall, was a Belgian café. I’m a sucker for Belgian food, so this also was entered as a possible for me.

Indika had been on our list. In a custom built facility past Montrose, it’s trying to bring Indian into the upscale market (in the old days I remember once going with the office crowd to Bombay Palace for the buffet, and everyone passing out asleep in the afternoon later on. Something about the spices…..), but it was a Monday, and Indika was closed, their parking lot gated up.

We looped into downtown, through the Vietnamese sector. Dong Ting (Chinese, though, not Vietnamese) was around here somewhere, and I recall they had a very good clay-pot pork.

And then we were past Sambucca. Which always looks pretty in the evening, but I’ve never been, and from there we were looping around and heading back to Westheimer.

While driving around in a comfortable beemer and talking about food with a friend is a luxury I enjoy, it was getting late, and we really did need to make a decision. My initial reaction had been to go Latino (with Beso in the back of my mind), and Hugo’s reputation with Dan had sealed the matter.

Hugo’s

We handed the keys off to the valet, and went through the drizzle into the restaurant. The setting is beautiful. An old restored home, with tall ceilings, and windows to go with them, giving us a few from the table of the sheen on Westheimer under the streetlights.

For a Monday there was a respectable crowd. They were running around 80% full, with a comfortable buzz to the place. The staff were just busy enough to be in motion all the time, but still could take the moment to answer questions on the menu.

If I had a complaint, it would be that the ambient light, while appropriate for dining, was way to dark to pick out the tiny fonts on the menu. But our waiter spotted my concern before I could even raise the question, and graciously offered me a pen light.

I was in love (with the menu, that is).

As expected, they had a great selection of tequilas and mescals, and I’ve written more about that on the other site. The appetizers and mains had taken me firmly in hand, and I knew this would be a good meal. There were scallops, and lamb, and goat in banana leaf, and moles and octopus…..

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I ordered a pomegranate marguerita, as it was going off the menu that evening, and Dan had the blueberry mojito, as it was just coming on.

My life is deprived, you know. I’ve never really been to Mexico (I don’t count Tiajuana). Yoonhi, however, spent several months there with the family of a good friend back in the 80’s, and she’s always talked of the meals she had in Mexico City. This menu covered a good selection of the things she’s tormented me with.

The only problem was that our appetites were lagging (as were my eyelids). Still, we could manage to split an appetizer before settling into mains.

And it was the perfect appetizer. Grasshoppers. I enjoy a good bug, and I hadn’t had grasshoppers since Laos. These came out slightly caramelized, rather than deep fried crispy, and were served with tortillas, sour cream, and guacamole. A slather of guacamole to hold the bugs in place, and then some hot sauce to perk things up.

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It’s a good match, as the grasshoppers come across slightly caramelized, with that broken glass texture. The tortilla and the gauc take the edge off of that. As another note on this dish, the antennae and short legs had come away in the cooking, so you don’t have to worry about that common South East Asian indiscretion of being caught with legs stuck between your teeth.

I was torn between their lamb – a barbacao, marinated then slow roasted in banana leaves - and the scallops. I finally went with the scallops, as I can’t get these back home, whereas I can always experiment with lamb.

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The scallops (Callo de Acha) were a good size, and the sear had penetrated far enough that the meat was just right at the centre. This came on a bed of cornbread (with some good kernels still in there), with a solid sauce of roasted chilis and cream.

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Dan had got my goat (the cabrito), so I was covered on that front (I am notorious for stealing from other’s plates – call me crass, I’ve been called worse).

This was very, very soft when we opened the banana wrapper, and carried a great, not-quite-gamey flavour. It also came with marinated cactus, which had a great texture, a crispier step up from roasted capsicums, and almost Korean in the taste.

And, heck, I even liked their refried beans, worked down into a very dark, chocolate coloured mashy paste.

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I’d finished the pomegranate marguerita, so I took a Paloma on the waiter’s recommendation. Grapefruit soda and tequila, a good palate cleanser.

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When the mains were over, Dan went for the chocolate and date cake. A flourless approach, and rich and solid enough the my dramatic companion was whacking his hand on the table in approval.

Yes, he did like it.

I’m not a dessert guy, per se. I was enjoying an anejo – an Herraduro. I’m fond of aged tequilas, ever since my first Tres Generaciones back in the mid-80’s (Yoonhi’s gift to me from her Mexican sojourn). But I did try a bite of the cake, and it was good, I must admit. And the Mexican vanilla ice cream that came with it had me yearning for my own ice cream maker back home so I could give this a try.

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And on that happy note, it was time to head home.


Edited by Peter Green (log)

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You dodged a bullet with the lamb barbacoa. At least the last time I ate there, it was the first dish in the many times I've been to Hugo's that left me underwhelmed.

But good call going there, anyways. It's certainly a very unique place and not the kind of food you can get everywhere.

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Thanks for sharing with us. I hope you have a good trip.

Also, the mussells and frites at the belgian place rock.

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Thanks for sharing with us. I hope you have a good trip.

Also, the mussells and frites at the belgian place rock.

Alright! I'm heading down Westheimer. If nothing shiny distracts me, I'm doing the Belgian.

(beware, I distract easily)

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I'm doing horribly at keeping this up to date.

And I don't even have the family around to blame.

So, I'll provide a synopsis of events so far (dispelling, I know, the frisson of anticipation of where I'll be next).

However, to keep some fun to it, I'll just stick to dinners.

Tuesday - Cafe Le Jadeite

Wednesday - Oceanaire

Thursday - Cafe Montrose (the Belgian French place)

Friday (tonight) - Tony's

Now, if I can manage to not pass out from jet lag, I'll try to catch up.

Only two more Houston dining nights, but I'll be back here on Feb 1 through 3, so I'm looking for strong recommendations!

Right now, my short list looks like:

- Mark's

- Da Marco

- Sunday Brunch at Hugo's (a chance to do more regional Mexican dishes)

- Truluck's for the crab

- Beavers (I have to try this)

- Reef

- The Breakfast Klub

- Bistro Moderne

- Tony's (there's more to eat there)

I'm notably ignoring

- Japanese (for reasons apparent in two months)

- Thai (nothing comes close to dining in Bangkok, so why bother)

- Chinese (can you buy a good Sichuan peppercorn here?)

- Middle Eastern/Mediterranean (I can eat this everyday)

- Albanian (someone has to start ignoring them!)

Cheers,

Peter

note - edited for dyslexia


Edited by Peter Green (log)

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There is no Sunday brunch like Kinney & Ziggys on Post Oak near Galleria--get the chicken soup--so clear--any sandwich that appeals--potato latke and a pickle with cole slaw--I'd have a dark beer (Becks or Shiner).


Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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I'm doing horribly at keeping this up to date.

And I don't even have the family around to blame.

So, I'll provide a synopsis of events so far (dispelling, I know, the frisson of anticipation of where I'll be next).

However, to keep some fun to it, I'll just stick to dinners.

Tuesday - Cafe Le Jadeite

Wednesday - Oceanaire

Thursday - Cafe Montrose (the Belgian French place)

Friday (tonight) - Tony's

Now, if I can manage to not pass out from jet lag, I'll try to catch up.

Only two more Houston dining nights, but I'll be back here on Feb 1 through 3, so I'm looking for strong recommendations!

Right now, my short list looks like:

- Mark's

- Da Marco

- Sunday Brunch at Hugo's (a chance to do more regional Mexican dishes)

- Truluck's for the crab

- Beavers (I have to try this)

- Reef

- The Breakfast Klub

- Bistro Moderne

- Tony's (there's more to eat there)

I'm notably ignoring

- Japanese (for reasons apparent in two months)

- Thai (nothing comes close to dining in Bangkok, so why bother)

- Chinese (can you buy a good Sichuan peppercorn here?)

- Middle Eastern/Mediterranean (I can eat this everyday)

- Albanian (someone has to start ignoring them!)

Cheers,

Peter

note - edited for dyslexia

Of the places you listed i would go to De Marco or Reef.

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Sichuan was just legalized in the states a couple of years ago. I don't know if Hong Kong Mrkt out on Bellaire has them but I would they do. In the food court at the mall there you can try some boiled crawfish vietnamese style. That is you get the boiled crawfish and make up a spicey concoction with chili sauces and mayo at the condiment area.

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Darn. Reef is booked out tonight (at least until 9:30). Da Marco, too.

I think it'll be Beaver's Ice House.

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I haven't been to Houston in 20 years and didn't much care for it back then, so its great to see the diversity of restaurants.  Looking forward to seeing what you eat next.

Rob,

In terms of time frame, we're very much on the same beat.

The 80's were a horrible wasteland.

But I'm really enjoying how the town's grown up. Heck, I hardly got two feet out of the front door of Beaver's tonight before I got into a discussion of restaurants and where to eat with several people.

People like to eat, and they're having a lot more fun with it now.

I really have to get some posts up. Maybe if I snap awake at 4 a.m. again......

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January 22

There are things I like to wake up to. Things that make me happy.

One of these things is biscuits and gravy.

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Give me a simple plate with a biscuit buried under a good glop of white gravy. This was not the best I’ve ever had (by far), but with this dish it doesn’t have to be. Heck, it’s just flour and milk with some ground sausage in it (if you’re lucky), but it has a stick-to-it feel that’s best described as something you’d normally try to clear out of your lungs.

This was one of my luxuries when I first lived here. I’d stop in at the diner across from work once a month and splurge on a breakfast of biscuit, bacon, toast, and huevos. Even if I don’t normally eat first thing in the morning(drink is another matter) I had to change my schedule for this, my first breakfast.

I was ready for the day.

Plus ca change

Like the biscuits, there were things that just needed to be done.

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I’ve made a point over the years, each time I get back to Houston, to get into the Ragin Cajun at least once (and more if I can arrange it). I was taken here back in ’83, and was immediately charmed by the stylish décor, thoughtful service, and innovative cuisine.

Okay, okay. It was a canteen with Louisiana memorabilia stapled and blue-tacked to the walls, and wooden picnic tables out front and in the dining area. You had to order your food at the counter, and they’d yell out when it was ready for you.

But they were serving stuff I’d never eaten before, and it wasn’t expensive.

That’s always a good combination for me.

This place goes back a ways, back to the early 70’s, which is nigh primordial in this town. It started off as Ray Hay’s, and was owned by the Mandola brothers and Ray Hay. Luke Mandola bought his partners out, renamed the joint the Ragin’ Cajun, and picked up another partner along the way. At some point they nailed a wooden lean-to onto the cinder block sides and provided full service at the tables. Later on they added three other locations, around town, but I can’t say much about them, as I stick with the original.

Last November, Luke and his two sons (Luke and Dominic) bought out the partner, and have been making a few changes.

I hate it when people make changes.

But, I must admit, I was hard pressed to see them. The old place still looked good, the main room still the cafeteria style I was used to, and the oyster bar/full service areas just as plush as I remembered. They may have given the place a face-lift, but not such a drastic one that it would get old people like me riled up.

Now, as much as I like trying the new, I am a creature of habit. Going on the assumption that a meteor may fall from the sky and render me incapable of further dining, there are certain things I need to eat.

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One of these things is boudin, the Cajun version of the French sausage (more properly known as boudin blanc). A good stretch of intestine stuffed with a mix of rice (as opposed to milk), pig parts (it’s not all meat), and whatever seasonings the chef feels like throwing in there. The rice is in there to stretch the meat, so the texture can feel more like a Korean soondae. There’s no blood, though, (alas) so it stands in contrast to the boudin noir.

It was hot on the table, with some fine pickles and some raw onion to help freshen my breath. The intestine put up a bit of a fight as I cut through it, but the stuffing squeezed out obligingly under the pressure.

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Given that I can’t get fresh oysters back home, a dozen raw seemed like a good idea. I wouldn’t say these are my favourites, as they’re lack the delicate meatiness I prefer. These are a bit larger, flabbier, sort of the trailer park equivalent, but they were nice and salty, and went well with a bit of horseradish. I won’t complain.

And they went well with the beer, a Blue Moon Belgian style white that was on the menu. The bar is one place where there’s been some revamping, with a few tastier brews finding their way in there along with the Buds and Michelobs.

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Now, you don’t come here and not have crawfish. I know my limits, so I ordered a small bucket, which comes with one piece of corn and one potato. The corn in particular is something I love. It picks up all the flavours from the boil. The potato is a sideline, as I never feel it does a very good job of picking up the tastes.

I still ate it, of course.

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There are a number of reasons to eat crawfish.

1. They taste good

2. They come in impressively large containers (buckets are good) and give you the impression that you’re accomplishing something in your life as you work through the volume and leave a considerable pile of the dead on the newspaper.

3. The act of eating a crawfish is specifically designed to slow you down, and let you savour what you’re eating.

4. The spice slowly builds up over this extended eating time, and gives you a very good burn by the time you’re reaching the end.

5. The slow rate of consumption allows your body’s appetite to adjust, and so you’ll eat appropriate amounts, rather than gorging. This will lead to a sleaker, slimmer profile. Just look at me!

Okay, scratch number 5 but I still think there’s something in that argument.

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The drinks menu was big on varieties of martinis, hurricanes, and marguerites. But they listed just one bloody mary – the Cajun. This intrigued me. I called the waitress over (who, along with Tomas, also ran the bar), and asked her what made a Cajun bloody mary.

The Mandolas are infusing their vodkas now. Peppers, capsicum, onions, most of the Cajun spices you’d expect. This is a short 24 hour job, but the taste gets into the mix quite welll. The drink itsel has the usuals, but is also complimented by some olive juice.

I take the view that fire is fought by counter fire, so I had one of these to battle the burn from the crawfish that had taken over my mouth in the last forty minutes or so. That worked.

As I ate and drank I enjoyed the ambience. Plates of red beans and rice going by, business men with their ties tossed back over their shoulders taking their gumbo and cracking through crawfish. And there’s the loudspeaker calling the faithful to their food out in the main room.

I was extremely tempted to try their infused vodka in a martini, but, given that I still had some driving to be done, I held at my limit.

I dropped in next door. The liquor store is also owned by the Mandolas. I’m not sure how many things they have their hands on now. It’s a big family.

Anyways, I picked up a bottle of Tres Generacianes anejo. I still had the taste for tequila from the night before, and this is going to be a long trip, so I should be able to do justice to the bottle.

But, there was still stuff to get done before dinner.

Next: After getting stuff done

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Café Le Jadeite

We weren’t going here for the food. Dan had talked this place up as being perhaps one of the more over-the-top establishments in town.

Every now and then you have to do things like this.

It’s a fusion attempt, trying to meld Chinese and French cooking methods. The place was set up, as I understand it, by a Taiwanese businessman with way too much money. Ostentatiously enough, it was in River Oaks on West Gray, holding the corner position on its block.

It is striking, a fascinating study in schizophrenia. The room’s structural lay-out is very 1950’s, with the double layer wave running down one wall and framing in the piano player. In the back there’s a brick fireplace, which was quite welcome with the frigid weather here. The lines are very slick, and, as I said, very 1950’s.

Now, imagine if you had a huge wallet, and you were in Xi’an at one of the factories on the way to the tombs that proudly advertised themselves as “counterfeiters of terra cotta warrior statues”. Then imagine that you could magically transport the contents of that factory to Houston (okay, it’s not magic, we call it shipping).

I won’t bother with photos. Their website has “décor” proudly in place beside “menu”, so you can check out the shots there. They do much better justice than anything I would do with my Nokia (Yoonhi’s got the Canon with her in Paris right now, so I’m making do with the phone).

You pass under a twice-life-sized statue of the Buddha in order to enter, and then you move back a dynasty and a couple of hundred years to the Qin Terra Cotta warriors, a rather disorienting shift in timelines.

Where we sat we were overseen by a life-sized battle chariot with horses that was raised up towards the ceiling. It was only one umbrella, so it wasn’t that big, but it was still slightly unnerving.

Juxtaposed with this were a couple of realistic Bactrian camels that kept me nervous, looking over my shoulder from behind (at least they weren’t life sized).

And then there was the blood red bubble display, looking sort of like some odd hemoglobin model. It was striking, I’ll say that.

There’s nothing wrong with the menu, other than that it carries with it the issues of multiple personality syndrome that the room also expresses. Listening to the specials of the evening (of which there were far too many), I take the impression not of fusion, of the melding of techniques and flavours, but rather of the classic “Western and Chinese dishes available here”. There are a number of dishes that just appear to be straight outtakes from a French cookbook. This is a problem for a restaurant like this, not providing enough information on what they’re trying to do. Perhaps its more appropriate to leave it fully to the diner, but I can find meals like are like very good Asian movies – most of us need the subtitles to appreciate anything beyond the pretty pictures (and big explosions).

Still, let’s put all that aside for the moment, and just consider the meal on its own merits.

The three of us debated just doing a meal of appetizers, as the Chinese choices did look quite good. And if you’re going to experiment, it’s safer to do so in smaller portions. Dan and his wife had had the oysters before, and they had thought well of them. There was a flambéed quail, which sounded interesting; and the Dan’s wife was interested in the seared tuna rolled in sesame.

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I can’t say that I was thrilled with the tuna. The piece they had worked up was off the size of a maki, done up as a tataki, and suffered from the surface to volume ratio in the searing, cooking just a bit too much. Perhaps, though, this is just a reflection of the local taste. The sauce that it came with was a little heavy, more of the French study, for this dish, and the sesame crust left you with a rather ambiguous feel. Compared, for example, with T8’s seared tuna that we’d had in Xin Tian Di, and it doesn’t do very well. (However, I’ll take the service here over T8’s waitstaff any day).

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The quail, however, I did enjoy. Perhaps it’s just my inner pyro, but I found the sauce reduced well, and the meat of the quail, with its slight gaminess, picked up the citrus and remnant liqueur in the sauce very well. Obviously, with three of us, one quail did not go too far. When I cook quail at home (marinated then crisp fried, finished with chili oil) we’ll serve up a dozen or more.

But, I’m not at home.

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But, just as the quail was better than the tuna, the oysters were better than the quail.

There was nothing wrong with this dish. The oysters had been “flat grilled” as with a Thai omelette, and came with a reduced sauce of soy with ginger and green onions. A good dose of cilantro gave a pleasing smell, and in this case the mix of flavours worked quite well, evoking the feel of eating sweetmeats, but with that slight sense of the sea from the oysters. This was good enough to justify ordering another plate.

I wonder if there’s a place in town to get sweet meats and other offal prepared well?

Frangelica scallops sounded good, and, as this was only my second dinner on this trip, I was quite content to try a counter to the very nicely seared scallops I’d had the night before.

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The scallops had been grilled in this instance, and came with lung crab meat. The Frangelica liqueur found its place in the cream sauce, along with some hints of apricot. A balsamic was used in the drizzle, and the rice was a slightly dry risotto-like approach that had been molded and wrapped with eggplant (I believe).

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The final dish was the duck. A half a duck slow roasted with 5 spices, and served on a bed of green beans crisp cooked in the Sichuan style. A couple of pieces of Beijing style steamed bread were on the side, and there was a reduced sauce from the duck scrapings. Topped off with coriander and you had a presentable dish.

The duck was good enough to satisfy even me. I came away with no complaints.

We departed without dessert. It’s not a place know for its after dinners, and I was already on the verge of unconsciousness.

I’ve read that people have complained of the cost and sizings of the dishes here. While not cheap (by any means) the cost wasn’t extravagant, at least not when compared to some of the other places that are trying this sort of thing.

But was the dinner a success? As I said, I would have appreciated a bit more description of the intent of each of the dishes. One of my favourite meals in this vein was at Paul Pairet’s excellent Jade On 36in Pudong. There they had taken the time to explain the cross-overs in methodology that they had taken, and instantly the meal was accessible. I believe their intentions here are good, and there may be other items on the menu that I would want to try out, but with the guidance we had, I could not call the meal memorable. Pity. It would be interesting to see what they could do here with a tasting menu.

We took a short stroll down West Gray to settle our digestion, and considered our options for the remainder of the evening.

Marfreles was still there, hidden, and we considered dropping in for martinis, but it’s changed so much in the last decade, adding lights and changing out the couches (I wonder how they disposed of them? There’d be a horror movie in the making there). I made do with a brief look at the River Oaks Theater – rumoured to be on its final notice (alas). The Alabama went the way of a book store ages ago, and now the RO may pass, too. I think only the beer license has kept it going this far.

We made do with pressing our faces up against the glass windows of Sur La Table and gawking at the cookware (I’m sad, I know). SLT is rumoured to have table top MI units, so I may well be back here to pick up souvenir to impress the wife.

And the omnipresent Manola family is here on the block, with Tony Manola’s Gulf Coast Kitchen. This looks good, too, and may draw me back.

We drove back to Dan’s place to help wheel the garbage cans out to the street, and then remembered that it was MLK day coming up, and the City would be on holiday, so we wheeled them back up across the lawn.

And somehow I found myself back in my hotel room and waking up at 4 a.m.

Life is grand.


Edited by Peter Green (log)

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January 23

Lunch was, well, unfortunate.

As we were working (yes, I actually do have a day job), we made do with the company cafeteria.

Actually, this was quite good, and only shows me that I have been gone to long from the world. There was a salad bar, a grill section, sandwiches fresh made to order, and fried chicken, stews, and meats that you’d also expect from a café.

And they had a Tex-Mex station, specializing in quesadillas today.

So, being me, I had to have a quesadilla.

It wasn’t bad. I was entranced with the grill plates they were using, and I like the idea that you could pick out your own ingredients.

But, after eating (having dutifully put as much food into my beard as I could) I felt very much like someone had poured cement into my gullet and left it there to harden.

It wasn’t pretty.

And, with our schedule, there wasn’t much of a chance for me to work this off.

So, given this, when Dan offered to pick me up at the hotel, I declined, and took the opportunity to walk over to the Galleria and do a stroll through there.

I wasn’t certain about getting into the mall. It says something that the hotel staff had to ask me if I was walking there or driving. It’s only across the street, for Pete’s sake!

Dinner tonight was the Oceanaire, tucked into the side of the Galleria. You have to exit the mall to get into the place, but that’s okay. A nice young lady, giving away free samples of something, insisted on giving me directions.

I must just look befuddled in my old age.

The Oceanaire….their intention is to recreate the feel of a 1930’s luxury liner, and they, for the best part, succeeded. Great lines, the cursive script for the signage, waiters in white aprons, crisp linen, and a view of the poor people outside (people like me who actually walk places).

I was early, so I ordered up a gin martini (Hendrik’s) with a couple of olives, and an assortment of a half dozen oysters from the nine freshly flown in they had on offer.

That’s their other plan here. The group leverages their chain status by contracting with buyers around the world to air express them good fish as they find it. That was why Dan was excited about the place, as he’d had a number of fish here that he hadn’t seen elsewhere.

Now, like many of us, I’ve been raised to disdain “chain” of any type (well, not the Rotisseurs). I’m changing my mind with this regards, however. The Ragin’ Cajun has franchised, but has kept things under fairly good control. And in this case the Oceanaire group is using their size and buying power to get their customers things they wouldn’t see otherwise. It’s not like there’s one of these on every block.

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From the top and then clockwise, I had a Summerside and then a Conway Cup, both from Prince Edward Island. Then the big boys are a Marionport form Massachusetts, and a Blue Point from New York state. Then I was back in Canada with a Malpeque from PEI (must’ve been a full plane), and finally, under the lemon, a Wellfleet, again from Massachusetts.

If you’re curious, I missed out on the Bristol Bay from Rhode Island, the Chesapeake, and Taylor Bay and Martha’s Vineyard, which takes us back to Mass.

These were more what I was looking for in oysters. The Ragin’ is good for an afternoon, but when I have a good gin buzz going, I want something that I can work my teeth over and taste against the juniper berries.

Dan and his wife arrived in good order, and joined me in cocktails, holding to their current favourite, vodka with a splash of Grand Marnier. These were shaken tableside and served in frosted martini glasses.

The fish selection was very good, although Dan was saddened that there are no surprises for him this evening. (You can check ahead on their web page, and find out what fish are going to be available, for the really compulsive eaters). I was pleased to see wild catch BC King Salmon on the list, but I’ve got five Spring in my freezer back home, so I passed on that (but, it was tempting).

Dan went for the haddock, as we were curious. Outside of Tintin, I can’t say that I’ve actually come across it in a restaurant. His wife chose the grouper (hamour to me), and I went for the Monkfish, primarily because I’ve watched way too much of the Food Channel.

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We started off with crawfish hushpuppies. These were really, really, really good.

If you didn’t catch that, we liked them.

Crispy, hot, and the flavour of the lumps of crawfish meat came through against the fried exterior.

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I was still on a shellfish binge. I think I’ve been on it for the last twenty or thirty years. They had mussels from PEI, so I had to order these. Small, tasty little bits of meat, wrestled out by the fork.

Dan’s wife had the chowder. With an invite, I dug deep and had to force my spoon through the mass of clams in there. This was a very good soup, with the rich, milky broth and the taste of the sea.

The fish were, likewise, satisfying.

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Dan’s haddock was probably the least of them, but not bad, as was. Basically fish and chips, but they’d recommended this as the fish quite gentle, and needs something in term of texure and flavour to set it off properly. The batter had been done up with a Shiner Bock, and was, really, quite perfect.

If only they’d served vingegar with it.

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My monkfish was quite fine. The fish had the thickness and consistency that has been much touted on the food programmes. This had been oven-roasted, and served with a sauce neuberg to highlight the lobster tones in this bottom feeder of a fish. A couple of chanterelles and some watercress for looks, and you had a very competent product.

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But Dan’s wife’s grouper was the highlight. Black & Blue – Cajun style blackening, worked perfectly with the firm meat that we get out of this fish. Not only well spice, but moist, giving up juices with every bite (of which I took several). I’d have order this except that I eat grouper all the time. This has given me ideas about what to do when I get back to my own kitchen.

We’d all started with martinis (they just fit with the décor), but I’d switched over to a MacRostic 2006 Chardonnay for my fish. Very acceptable, with enough fruit and character to set it apart from the industrial sameness of many of today’s chardonnays.

The wine list was proudly domestic, strong on the Californians. But there was a good presence of Italians, and a Cerutti that I wouldn’t mind taking in at some point in the future (they’d done a very good job of presenting their wines a few years back in Bangkok).

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There’d been one mistake in getting the orders translated, and rather than getting the mashed potatoes, we received the hashed brown potatoes. This, however, was no hardship. They were crisp, browned, and buttered through and through. I would put these up against the Marge Simpson Hair-Do Potatoes I”d had at Dark & Duck in Beijing.

Dessert was the prime draw for Dan. The Oceanaire is one of the few places where you can find a Baked Alaska in this day and age.

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Not quite traditional, it was still very good. The burning sauce played like fairy lights down the soft peaks of the Alasks, shimmering as the alcohol spent its spirit. The one was more than adequate for the four of us, and it was with some guilt that I, the non-dessert person, went back in for the last quarter (but I do like ice cream).

And how would you top off a fine meal like this? Well, of course you would go back to your friends’ house to wheel the garbage cans back out across the lawn.

I’m growing much more comfortable with this town.

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Hi Peter!

As with all of your travelogues, I'm loving this one!  I'm just two states to the north of Texas so it's nice to have you here!

I had no idea that Houston had such nice places.

I'm having oyster and crawdad envy  :hmmm:

Thanks, Shelby!

I've got to get on a plane tomorrow, and I'm trying to figure a way to get one last meal in at the Cajun before I get out to IAH.

Crabs tonight at Truluck's (they had some of the collosals in). Plus, I snuck in another half dozen on the half shell.

And I did the brunch at Hugo's (pictures later). Excellent, excellent meats. I was just disappointed that there were no bugs out there. I think I still have some of Jiminy Cricket to floss out.

Cheers,

peter

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Oh, well. The Cajun doesn't open early enough, and I know this is going to take me some time to get this place policed up.

I did the Breakfast Klub instead. Excellent pork chops.

Now I just need the grits to settle a bit....

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January 24

Dinner on Thursday was a rare treat.

It had been another full day at work with us getting away after 6. Jet lag still creeping around my eyeballs, I was only looking for a good meal and some rest.

I found it.

On jscarbor’s recommendation I’d decided to go with the French-Belgian place across the steet from Hugo’s.

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Perfect.

I hadn’t realized what it was, but after 15 minutes in the Café Montrose, I could feel the load lifting off of me. There were no big screens, no wall of sound, no clattering of dishes off of tiled floors. The pressure of the Western audio world was off of me. Everything was hushed. The waitress, a most charming Francophone, spoke in a subdued voice, almost a whisper, as did the more mature lady who was managing the room.

I dunno why, but I have selective hearing. Sometimes I’ll crank the sound up and deafen myself in the car, but at other times the din of a poorly controlled restaurant (or swim meet) will drive me nuts.

I’m just fussy.

This place was close to heaven. No overt pretensions, other than the honest act of trying to throw a Belgian feel onto an old strip mall diner. Jacques Brel, or some sound-alike, on the music system, and the patons and staff keeping thei noise down to the near mortician levels.

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Their beer selection was perfectly acceptable. Four Belgians on tap (I had the Maredsous), and 8 in the bottle, with an additional 5 Trappists and 4 Lambics.

Along with beer, the other thing you expect in a Belgian restaurant is a selection of moules. They had many, including mariniere, curried, in tomato, and other selections.

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Moules escargot, the mussels prepared and presented in a garlic butter sauce. I demolished the bivalves, and then made happy use of the baguette to sop up the remnant jus.

Following this, it was simplicity itself. Steak frites. I’d considered the rabbit, and was interested in their beer-based stew, but I felt the moment needed no real clutter.

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The filet I ordered was so good that the waitress came back to check if it was okay, as “many of the Americans don’t like steak rare like this”. It had been seared, then pan roasted with butter. The middle was just seeping blood, and the exterior perfectly crusted, parsley giving off its signature scent.

The Roquefort sauce was a pleasant addition. I’m a heathen, I admit, and I freely dipped my meat into the sauce, rather than pouring ot over. This way the sauce stays hotter, and I can have more control on its distribution. However, I’d switched over to a Cotes du Rhone Shiraz, and found it not quite aggressive enough to stand up to the sauce. It was fine with the meat on its own, but lost itself when faced with the strength of the cheese.

The fries were a slight disappointment, not quite as spot on as what I’ve had in Brussels But they were kind enough to bring mayonnaise without any prompting, so that cheered me back up.

I was tempted to do dessert, but, I figured, why bother? I was full, I was happy, there wasn’t much reason to push beyond the comfort zone (although I suspect their crepes would be some of the best).

It was still early, and I was conscious and in a blissful mood. I was looking for the right experience to make the evening perfect. That sort of close, personal encounter that can punctuate your life.

I found it.

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The Central Market.

Dan had spoken well of this place, and once I’d entered, I understood why. The bakery smell took me on entry, and I spent ages staring at the cheeses.

I finally couldn’t hold back anymore, and bought a small tub of extremely runny, smelly French cheese, a loaf of dark Russian bread, a six pack of St. Arnold’s Elissa, and a Small 417 Batch Extra Hopped IPA. So what if I didn’t have a fridge in the room. This wasn’t going to take long to finish.

I wandered the wine and beer selection for quite some time, and then lusted after the different mushrooms that were on sale. Finally I checked out and headed for home, feeling much better about things than I had when I’d left work.

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Peter Green, you have completely changed my opinion of Texas (and Houston in particular). Thanks for the enlightenment.

I'm notably ignoring

- Japanese (for reasons apparent in two months)

- Thai (nothing comes close to dining in Bangkok, so why bother)

- Chinese (can you buy a good Sichuan peppercorn here?)

- Middle Eastern/Mediterranean (I can eat this everyday)

- Albanian (someone has to start ignoring them!)

Cheers,

Peter

I hope that this means we can look forward to a travelogue from JP in two months. :wub:

As we were working (yes, I actually do have a day job), we made do with the company cafeteria.

Am I the only one who remains skeptical? :laugh:

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January 25

It was a long day of work, and a sad lunch indeed. It had started off well, with us taking a break and hitting up the office canteen. Like a fool, I made for the Tex-Mex corner again, thinking I’d have a quesadilla.

Butt today they had tamales. Tamales sounded good. I have fond memories of those canned tamales from days gone by, unctuous beyond belief, we’d microwave them and dump the oil and goo out on top of some rice.

Okay, I have odd memories. But still, the tamales looked good. Then I did the Canadian thing. When someone says something you don’t understand - and I can’t figure out what people are saying down here around 25% of the time – I tend to smile and just say, “yes, please” and hope for the best.

What “Yes, please” got me this time was a bunch of chili (with beans) dumped over the tamales, and then what looked like Velveeta (but greasier) ladled out and dumped in.

This one I balied on. I managed about three bites, and figured I’d just hold my appetite for better things.

Those better things turned out to be quite a bit later. I was hungry when I got back at 6:30, and figured it was time for some big.

Tony’s

I hadn’t been to the new place yet, and was interested in seeing the newer, shinier Tony’s. I changed, put on the big coat and the slick black tie on the black shirt and black suit, and headed over in the Mustang, Dengue Fever’s Escape From The Dragon House blasting on the stereo, Chhom Nimol wailing out Sni Bong. ( check out http://www.myspace.com/denguefevermusic )

Yoonhi won’t let me play this kind of stuff in the car when she’s driving with me.

Out of the car, keys with the valet, and I entered.

Big room. Lots of art. Big art. The tall standing type of pieces that fill out space. Earth tones to give the place a bit of warmth, and to take away the cavernous feeling. The kitchen is on view, behind a 20 foot (or more) stretch of glass. Lots of copper, in addition to the stainless I’d expect.

Now, here’s some really good news. I talked to Josh, the assistant manager, about taking photos, and he said they were happy for people to do so. They considered it a compliment.

Here’s the really bad news. I forgot the ^*! camera. I’d left it plugged in when I was downloading and charging.

Tough. We’ll soldier on.

They had a good selection of gins, including several Dutch, which is nice to see. I ordered my standard. Hendrik’s martini, hint of vermouth, two olives, shaken, straight up. No fuss. This would give me time to contemplate the menu once I had one. In the meantime, I took in the room, still only sparsely occupied at 7:30, but there was a regular stream of people coming in. From the greetings, it sounded like a number of them were regular patrons.

There was a cheese tray parked over to one side. It’s good to see a relatively well-loaded board. I was squinting to make out the mix, when they brought the shaker to the table and poured my drink for me.

I started by looking at the specials, on a small metallic board. Interesting selection, and I was getting into the mood. They had scallops on, seared and served on French lentils, which I can always make room for. But I appreciate that I was lingering a bit on certain items, so I set that aside.

They had a noisette trio, a selection of different meats that would have settled the carnivore in me, so I made a note of that.

For braises there was an osso bucco style for the short ribs. But we eat that at home all the time. Likewise there was a lamb shank, but I’d just had that the week before.

Live caught Maine Cod sounded good, but it had been seafood last night, and I wanted to give some more thought to this. The reggiano puff sounded good, though.

The Rabbit Calabrese and the Crisp Roast Duckling looked more up my alley, the duck in particular, but it would only be served for 2. I figured I could argue them on that one, though, as I was pretty certain I was hungry enough to do the whole thing.

I switched from the specials to the regular menu. The tuna Ribbons and Squares, a mix of marinated tunas, sounded good, and would make a light opener. Likewise the scallop emince would give me a different take on the seafood side of things.

For simplicity, I was considering the Reggiano Risotto. I was just slightly wary about filling up, though. Still, it came with a well-aged balsamic, which would have made a thick treat for me.

But the foie gras banished all other thoughts. As soon as I saw it, I remembered that one of my friends had been ranting about it here. We’ve been out of foie gras at home for months now, and I was feeling the need, so the matter of an appetizer was settled.

They had Kurobota Boar Chops. This was another meat I’d read about, and I was giving this some serious thought, but only thought. My eyes had been caught by something I’d been looking for for a couple of years now.

Ever since Singapore in 2006.

Wagyu.

They carried a sirloin of Akaushi, as well as a filet. I chose the sirloin as I find the filet doesn’t stand out as well as the lesser cut.

This just had to be done.

Talking with the Josh and my waiter, Adrian, they said that the decision to carry the Akaushi, a decision only made a few months ago, had been a tough go. Would people pay that sort of money for a steak?

The jury was still out on this. There is a certain demand, not just for the taste, but also for the health benefits, which allows them to market to the health conscious.

Me, I just care about the taste.

Talking things through with Joe, their sommelier, we decided to go with a late harvest 2002 Lillypilly Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon. The foie gras they do is a Hudson Valley, oven roasted (something Michael Ginor has taught me to love). The sweetness of this would go with the foie on the caramelized pineapple. This is a fairly straightforward approach, and one you know will work. We’d done much the same with a sauterne pairing at the Square a couple of years back. Plus, I could push the wine back when the foie was done, and come back to it at the end of the meal.

For the meat, we went with another Australian – Henry’s Drive Pillar Box Red, a blend of cab, shiraz, and merlot. This is one of Chris Ringland’s creations, and it’s been getting a very fond following. The 2005 had a good rep, and this should also be quite drinkable.

The chef sent out a scallop ceviche as an amuse, so my scallop fix was, indeed, taken care of. I am a fond believer in synchronicity. The ceviche is very light, obviously just done a few moments ago, not allowing the scallops to “cook” too much. The tang of the lime is there, but there’s no bite to distract from the basic goodness of the scallop. The coriander (I must learn to call it cilantro over here) was chopped fine and there in the nose, where it should be.

I enjoyed this with my martini, which I’d been slowly working at. I was saving the olives up for a special moment.

The wines were poured, the semillon ready for the foie that was en route, and the Pillar Box Red (with its label in imitation of a mail box) was allowed to open up.

The foie came out atop a splayed pineapple, with cherry sauce and chopped cherry bits about the periphery. It looked like some marvelously corrupt flower, with a diseased organ waiting to start pounding as the pineapple petals anguish their lives away……

Okay, I’ll stop writing such flowery prose.

Very good. Quite rare, with the warmth from the roast. After I finish off the pineapple and foie, I use some of the bread (excellent on its own) to sop up the fat from the liver. I’m not one to worry about couth.

I’d been allowing my nose to wander into the red from time to time. It did have a great smell, and I was content enough to just rest there.

But, as I was doing this, they tried to steal away my martini. I had to explain that no one, no one touched my martini until after the olives were gone. A man has to draw the line somewhere.

Adrian made amends right away, though, by offering to bring out some cheese-stuffed olives for me later.

They brought me a proper knife in anticipation of the steak. One you could get into a serious fight with down at the Ship Channel on a Saturday night. I thought of palming it, and then thought better. I might want to come back here.

The steak arrived. A simple affair, Spartanly presented, with no frivolous distractions. As a side, I had ordered the truffled mac and cheese, on Adrian’s recommendation.

The meat gave way wonderfully as I cut through. I had ordered it rate, and it was slightly blue in the middle. It was just like the one I’d had on the WGS safari in Singapore. A beautiful bit of flesh, and one that I was content to eat little by little, a splash of wine, and a taste of the mac.

And something wonderful was happening. With every sip of Henry’s Drive, the truffles were coming up in the palate in a big, big way.

I was very happy.

The restaurant had filled out well by this time. At the table next to me an older couple were taking the duck service. It, too, looked like something I should be eating. Considering that, for two, it was half the price of the steak, perhaps I might consider ordering it for myself next time.

I finished my olives and let my martini go. The meat, mac, and red I allowed to linger, and took my enjoyment over considerable time. The staff were happy to chat, and seemed to have no problems with staying on top of what was now a very full restaurant. You have to appreciate that. It takes a lot of work for things to be effortless.

The olives came as promised, two large ones stuffed with blue cheese and lanced to hold position atop a glass of ice. This was a nice contrast, wreaking havoc with my gums as the flavours did their business about my mouth.

For dessert (I still had 1/3 of a glass of the semillon) I decided to try the tiramisu. Yoonhi always considers it the test of a restaurant. There’s came with an espresso flavouring, the smell of which captured me from the moment it hit the table.

This came with an impalement of berries – black and straw – that looked like some tortuous candelabra, each spike holding a perfect berry for me to snatch and devour.

A fine meal, one I would not fault.

Now, will I have enough time to return?

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Alright, they're boarding soon.

I'll disconnect, and open the next stage of this travelogue of America once I get back online. It won't be Texas, so I can't really follow it here.

Mind you, I still have Saturday, Sunday, and this morning to catch up on, so I'll keep this going, too.

One comment, I am shocked to be charged for wine in a business class lounge. Shocked, I say.

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Alright, they're boarding soon.

I'll disconnect, and open the next stage of this travelogue of America once I get back online.  It won't be Texas, so I can't really follow it here.

Mind you, I still have Saturday, Sunday, and this morning to catch up on, so I'll keep this going, too.

One comment, I am shocked to be charged for wine in a business class lounge.  Shocked, I say.

Thank you so much for coming to Houston--thanks for the reviews-I haven't been to Oceanaire and I'm certainly going! Please come back--I want to hear more of your excellent opinions and prose. Like you I loved Montrose. Don't forget Kinney & Ziggys. Be well and continue to enjoy life and share your experiences.


Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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