Houston Food, Wine, Pub Crawl : Fall 2011

Hello darling readers, much apologized for my noticeable absence — I am busy writing a new book and building a consulting firm; way to finish the year off in a big way!

I am settling in well and finding many interesting places along the way; of course I thought I’d share just in case you find yourself with a free Tuesday night all dressed down and nowhere to go….

A friend and I had the awesome pleasure of dining at The Vineyard Wine Bar & Bistro  City Walk, Sugarland; where we were treated by Executive Chef David Denis, and a heavy French influence, to a sumptuous meal of Baked Red Snapper Filet served on a bed of braised sweet fennel, juicy roasted tomatoes and basil confit; finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar so deep and delicious at first taste could pass for a pomegranate liqueur. The sides were equally well executed, crisp grilled asparagus, rich and creamy broiled scalloped potatoes. Honestly, it was absolutely divine. Sorry for the grainy shot; the lighting was low and I was ill prepared;

The wine list is impressive, and the service impeccable; it added a lovely touch that my friend and I were the only guests in the bistro for dinner. Pre-Thanksgiving day Tuesday, when everyone else is traveling and planning for the week, we were the solo pampered guests – just the way I like it.

Next stop was Dharma Jazz Cafe, The Heights; Tuesday night Jazz Jam; an electric atmosphere and a decadent showcase of talented jazz artists around the Houston area (this was my favorite part of the evening) I could feel the seductive saxophone wafting its tempting notes through the air for my own personal pleasure. The throbbing drum beats dancing a rhythmic pace in my chest. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to go back.

Last, but certainly not least was Downing Street Pub: Cigars and Spirits; located in the Upper Kirby District of Houston proper this little haunt packs a Churchill-sized punch. Live music, a walk-in humidor fully stocked with the finest selection of cigars and more than 150 hand selected single malt scotch to accompany; the folks at Downing Street leave no detail to chance. “With the state-of-the-art filtration system, smokers and non-smokers alike enjoy all that Downing Street has to offer in relaxed comfort.”

Friend and I enjoyed a glass of Malbec from their extensive and well-stocked wine cellar, I indulged in a petit Dunhill that proved just right for my mild tastes;

Captivating conversation, good food, fine music, wine and cigars – oh what a night!

If you have the occasion, stop by Downing Street. Enjoy yourself. Stay for a while. As they say “No, you’re not in heaven. But you are very, very close.”

Next post: Hughes Hangar, WHIR Networking Events: Houston

Hope you enjoyed my recommendations and if you head out to any of these spots, drop a line and let me know how your experience was!



Home Cooked Take Out. Shrimp Fried Rice.

Last day of class for the Summer semester means two papers still due and an early morning final exam. By 6 o’clock the kids are starving, I am pressed for time; what to do? Shrimp fried rice of course. A Chinese comfort food if there ever was one. Rasa Malaysia is my go-to Asian recipe base; of course I tweak, but Rasa delivers consistently good direction, always gorgeous photography and her recipes make even the most complicated dishes look easy. Fresh, quick and little to no fuss was just what the Professor ordered for dinner. Delicious results. Recipe after the jump.



3 cups pre-cooked rice
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon white pepper powder
1 Tablespoon fresh powdered ginger
1 large scallion, sliced 
1 lb. fresh peeled shrimp
1/2 cup frozen green peas (fresh vegetables optional: broccoli crowns, carrot strips, white onion, red pepper strips)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cloves garlic (diced)
1 knob of ginger julienned
2 eggs, beaten and set aside

In a small bowl combine soy sauce with granulated sugar and fish sauce, set aside. Heat up a sautee pan with two tablespoons of oil. Add ginger strips and garlic, saute until aromatic taking care not to burn the garlic and ginger. Add the shrimp and fry until they just start to turn pink. Season with salt, pepper and powdered ginger. Continue to fry for 1-2 minutes. Add your peas and vegetables, and just a splash of oil to make sure the vegetables don’t stick. Add in the rice and mix well until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Add in soy/fish sauce mixture and continue to mix and fry the rice until coated well. Salt to taste.

Make a “well” in the middle of the pan, pushing the rice to the sides and pour the beaten eggs in the well. Leave the eggs for about 30 seconds then mix the eggs into the fried rice. Add sliced scallion, mix briefly just until the scallions wilt a bit. Remove the pan from the heat and serve.

For a vegetarian version you could always substitue tofu for shrimp; I would marinate the tofu overnight in the soy/fish sauce, slice and broil it before using it in the rice.

Serves 6

Eggplant Bolognese (Vegan)

This makes divine leftovers…

1 large Eggplant, peeled and cubed if using large eggplant, cover cubes in few tbsp. of salt for 30 min and then strain under water. This removes the bitterness

1 large onion red, white or yellow

2 stems of Rosemary

2 stems of Thyme

5 Medjool dates

1 handful of Red Currants

4 cloves of fresh garlic

extra virgin olive oil

2 boxes of Pomi diced tomatoes use fresh tomatoes if you can’t find Pomi

3 c. of water use as needed to achieve desired consistency

  • 3 Tbsp each oregano and basil, dried
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes
  • 1 Tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper

Whiz all the ingredients EXCEPT for the Pomi (or fresh) tomatoes in a food processor until the mixture has a finely diced consistency.

Cook the eggplant mixture over medium high heat in extra virgin olive oil until it is soft and golden brown. Add the tomatoes to the eggplant mixture and continue to cook until the oil separates from the tomatoes, season to taste. 

If the sauce is too thick for you, add water in 1/2 c increments until you achieve the desired consistency.

Serve with whole wheat pasta or whole grain rice. Serves 6

Dinner with my family…retrospective

This is a filmstrip of what dinner with family looks like, have I told you how much I love my people? You can look at our faces and see how much fun we have together – and what an amazing light we share. Food, for us, has always carried a more sacred meaning – that goes beyond simple sustenance.

also evidenced in our upcoming feature length film: Thanksgiving 2010

miss you mom! dad, brunch soon? nel and ray – dinner tonight.  sibling sanctum.

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REAL Easy Teriyaki Marinade

Dinner Teriyaki


2 parts tamari
1 part agave syrup (or other sweetener)
1 part rice vinegar
1 part dark sesame oil
2 TBsp ginger, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 scallion, sliced
juice  OR zest of 1 lime (zest packs more punch)

Use as a marinade for seitan, tofu, chicken, beef, pork or veggies.

Grill on a hot surface for 10 – 15 mins per side.

Try to pause between bites, it’s soo darn good.

Teriyaki Marinade


Swedish Mustard Meatballs

I left the recipe for these at home, I will post as soon as I get a minute in front of the computer.


1 lb ground turkey OR ground seitan
1 can evaporated milk or 1/2 c. soy, almond or rice milk
1 medium onion, diced finely
2 TBsp Spice Blend:
dill, powdered mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, cracked black pepper, dark sesame oil, tamari (soy sauce)
1 egg OR 2 TBsp ground flaxseed mixed with water
1 c. breadcrumbs OR 2 slices of bread

Swedish Mustard Meatballs