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My HOUSTON Bender


stellabella
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I admit it: I am prejudiced. I haven't been able to get my mind past Texas as the home of the Shrub family and Huntsville Prison. I've dismissed the country's geographically largest [?] and second most-populated state as a conservative wasteland of beef-headed oil magnates.

But I am wrong, so wrong. And I now love Texas.

I visited last weekend for the third time, to spend a weekend with good friends in Houston. I had two objectives: to eat authentic Tex-Mex food, and to buy top-o-the-line cowboy boots. Missions accomplished, and how.

Friday we ate a late breakfast at La Mexicana on Fairview at Montrose. Loved the decor--high, dark ceilings and stiff, heavy wooden chairs, lots of brightly-colored pottery and middle-aged, gracious servers with waxed handle-bar moustaches. We dined on migas, chilaquiles con crema, and machacado con huevos--scrambled eggs with very spicy sun-dried shredded beef. The tortillas in our dishes were very freshly fried-- crispy around the edges but with enough chewy body to absorb the salsas. There's also a to-go taco bar and bakery at the front entrance--we sampled a chicharrone --a long slab of crackly pork skin and back meat, cripsy outside and tender inside. Mm-hm.

An interlude at Central Market--originally from Austin, this Texas chain has just opened its first store in Houston. A bit over-whelming, and the kind of place that makes me wistful for big-city life--if you want it, they've got it: French breakfast radishes, Russian banana fingerling potatoes, Valrhona baking chocolate, Belgian lambic, chocolate pots du creme in the bakery. Upscale upscale, and then some, very reasonable prices. I'd become an addict.

Friday night we had reservations at Hugo's, the new and noteworthy authentic Mexican upscale dining experience. My husband and I drank Oaxaca Ritas--Cointreau, lime juice and simple syryp with MONTE ALBAN MEZCAL--a smoky margarita, mixed and served from the shaker tableside--what fun. For starters we tried tamales de mariscos served in banana leaves--real masa harina and tender, moist roasted red snapper; the trio de ensalada, julienned roasted poblanos dressed in lime and cilantro, julienned jicama with lime and a touch of salt, and julienned fresh beets with salt and a touch of citrus, orange and lime I'm guessing. My husband had the chiles en nogada--this is a traditional dish served at the onset of the holiday season--ground pork and stewed fruits stuffed inside poblanos, topped with walnut creme and fresh, juicy bursting pomegranate seeds-- in the past I've eaten this dish and wondered why the seeds--and now I know--they have to be fresh and red and burst in your mouth as you chew--a mini-celebration for the palate. I ordered rare grilled beef tenderloin with red mole and pork tamales. I was skeptical at first--red mole can be bitter and overpowering, but it beautifully complemented the sweetness of the meat--outstanding. For dessert we shared the almond-crusted coconut tort with dulche de leche ice cream. By then I was so full I could barely move. Hugo offers an extensive wine list, but I stuck to the Rita--the sweet/salty/smoky complexity was perfect with the flavors in my meal. Hugos is a beautiful place--the beverages, even the water, are served in heavy hand-blown Mexican glassware--it's not expensive, but they have to go to some trouble to keep so much in stock. The servers, also middle-aged handle-bar-moustached-wearing muchachos--wear beautiful smocked blouses. :wub:

Saturday we headed out after coffee in search of boots. Our hosts decided we should hit Stelzigs, The Famous Houston Westernwear Institution, first, to check out their going-out-of-business slae--the city, by right of emminent domain, is reclaiming the land and the building on it TO BIULD MORE ROADS! The Stelzig family, instead of relocating, has decided to move on--to their undoubtedly gigantic mansions. My friend said that if it's boots I want, I have to have Luccheses--they're the best. It should surprise no one that I headed straight for the most beautiful and the most expensive pair in the house, hand-tooled, burnished ostrich and cow-hide. My husband exclaimed, "They're $2000!" The salesman explained, "But they're marked down to $1500!" The women's rodeo attire sp[arked my imagionation as never before. Apparantly no self-respecting Oil Field Cowgirl, while having no aversion to treating her coif with gallons of petro-chemicals, would dare step out to the radio inFAUX fur--only the finest beaver for the Modern Patsy Montana. Seeing the stunned expressions on our maws, a kind salesgirl with very gigantic hair suggested we try Turner's Western Wear down the road. Of course, Turner's caters to the middle-class cowgirl, who doesn't mind polyester blends or pleather chaps. Can't you just hear the hens in the powder-room? "Would you look at that vest? Tsk-tsk. Must've come from Turner's." As if somehow a real fur collar is LESS tacky than fake fur.

But somehow even Turner's was out of my league, and I ended up at Cavendar's Boot City, where I was swarmed by handsome cowboy salesmen who plucked boots from among the thousands on the shelves and responded to ALL my questions [is this practical? Can I really wear these? Does this color go with ANYTHING?] with one response: "Waaaal, why not?" Sold--on a pair of considerably less expensive low-heeled, round-toed retro cowgirl tan Luccese's. But I passed on the gol-screened "rodeo" t-shirt--I'm kicking myself now.

Lunch on Saturday at Taqueria Goode Company: each of us ate a 1/3 lb. mesquite burger with any or all of the following: fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, thick vidalia onion slices, and on the side fries and onion rings, and a trayful of tortilla chips with hot queso ["We no use no can cheese"], more guacamole, and hot chipotle salsa. I drank the weekend special bloody mary-- thick with cracked pepper and hot sauce. What a place--I was sad to miss the barbecued bob white and cinnamon chocolate shake, but that's for next time.

After Goode Co. we ate some Malox and rested.

Sunday we had dim-sum at Ocean Palace [capacity :1000] on Bellaire Blvd.-- and walked through the Hong Kong City Mall and giant market afterwards. Our last stop before leaving for the airport was TeaHouse, in the Market food court--where we tried flavored teas and tapioca shakes: the bottom of the cup is layered with gelatinous tapioca balls, and then the shake [Honeydew Tapioca Cream Tea, for example] is poured on top. The cup is sealed and then punctured with a 15mm straw for "sucking" up the "goo"--all and all a unique, refreshing, if disturbing, experience. Houston's Asian population is considerable--and the tea house/tapioca bar is supposedly the newest rage, though probably not-so-new in other large cities--but it was a first for me. And maybe a last.

So we're home again, until our next trip--we go every other fall. And my wannabe-cowgirl imagination is sparked like never before: promises of Pappasito's barbecue, grilled quail, and fringed leather vests.

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Thanks, stellabella, for a rich, evocative report. I offer you the highest compliment: it made me hungry.

I have relatives in Dallas. They crave the Gotham Bar and Grill here in NY; I crave the Mexican family there that sets up card tables in their driveway and serves one outstanding, nameless dish after another out of their garage.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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GREAT post!

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Stellabella that was wonderful. the food sounds absolutely stupendous, as per your descriptions!

(I bought cowboy boots in Denver CO once, on a different but not-entirely-unrelated sort of quest. Mine were no way no Lucchese's but served me well.)

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Nice post. Sounds like you stayed just long enough to like the state and not so long that it wore on you. Good thing you went when you did. The humidity in Houston is unbearable in summer. BTW, Alaska claims to be geographically larger than Texas, resulting in "Texas Our Texas" (the state song) being changed from saying "largest and grandest" to "greatest and grandest." As for Huntsville, good point although it does have an excellent prison rodeo. Some might say, to die for.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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STELLAAAAAAAAA! :laugh:

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Beautiful Star: I have similar prejudices about the Lone Star State, and I know now that I could be easily disabused of my stupid northern ways.

Thanks to your terrific post.

"Thank you for sharing!" :biggrin:

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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very kind, all. it was fun.

i can't stop thinking about the rodeo. i really want to go.

and this recent trip brought back memories of my first trip through Texas in 1982, when my family pulled our holiday rambler trailer on a 3-week exploration of the desert Southwest. the first time the van broke down in Hueco, about 30 miles east of El Paso. We parked the trailer in the lot in front of Fay and Fran's diner. nothing would do but this kind couple had us join their family for the three days it took to get the van running. Fay served gigantic burgers with hand cut fries--different from any i'd ever tasted. i asked her to show me how she made them [i was 16]--she was so proud. later we got together with a bunch of young kids [in their 20s] who lived nearby at the ranch [8 miles up the dirt road] and ate stewed antelope and swam in their unchlorinated pool with their giant black lab. Fay had a really dirty mouth. it was so wild and free.

texas.

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very kind, all.  it was fun. 

i can't stop thinking about the rodeo.  i really want to go.

and  this recent trip brought back memories of my first trip through Texas in 1982, when my family pulled our holiday rambler trailer on a 3-week exploration of the desert Southwest.  the first time the van broke down in Hueco, about 30 miles east of El Paso.  We parked the trailer in the lot in front of Fay and Fran's diner.  nothing would do but this kind couple had us join their family for the three days it took to get the van running.  Fay served gigantic burgers with hand cut fries--different from any i'd ever tasted.  i asked her to show me how she made them [i was 16]--she was so proud.  later we got together with a bunch of young kids [in their 20s] who lived nearby at the ranch [8 miles up the dirt road] and ate stewed antelope and swam in their unchlorinated pool with their giant black lab.  Fay had a really dirty mouth.  it was so wild and free.

texas.

Damn! Looks like the rodeo got shut down in 1986. Now, if we only had $750,000....

http://www.texasoutlawmusicfestival.com/in...information.htm

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Yes, they shut down the rodeo, but there is alot of inconsequential memorabelia in the museum on the downtown square (including Old Sparky). We did, however, play coutless matches of soccer and rugby in the abandoned stadium/arena in college...dodging rusty nails and all. The stadium itself is in a great state of disrepair and should never be enjoyed by anyone :hmmm:

Rice pie is nice.

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