Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Event Recap: Thrillist Houston Launch Party at Hughes Hangar along Washington Ave

Thrillist Houston has been creating a great buzz about different mixology, entertainment and food events happening in the Houston area.  I went to a preview a little while back at Little Woodrow's in Midtown that turned out to be QUITE AN EXPERIENCE, including some acrobatics and knife throwing, among other things.  On Thursday, Sept. 4th, Thrillist held a HUGE launch party at Hughes Hangar on Washington Avenue which featured some great sights and was a place for folks to see and be seen last week.  This event featured great cocktails made with Tito's Handmade Vodka (one of the MANY great TEXAS premium vodkas on the market now) and for the grunt level Texan in all of us, Lone Star Beer.  There were several food stations serving up all kinds of food surprises and plenty of folks wanting to check out what Thrillist Houston has to offer its readers.

Photo by Jay Tovar 
First of all, the Launch party featured some totally EPIC eats including hot and spicy buffalo wings, pork sandwiches with bacon 'buns' (Don't tell Mr. Moustache or the Bad Piggies), hamburger sausage pizza, ice cream sandwiches with a full doughnut base, and one of the most tricked out Bloody Marys I've ever seen.  Spinning live music was DJ Sea Bass and some totally wild photo-booth fun.  As you can see from the pic on the right, What-the-WHAAAAT?!?!  Who makes a Bloody Mary with onion rings and a slider on it?  Apparently some of our VERY SKILLED mixologists in Houston that's who.  Throw in a nice rimmer of seasoning and a few dashes of hot sauce and A LOT of Tito's Vodka, and you've got a Caesar that'll make you scream yee-haw!!!

Photo by Jay Tovar
As for the ice cream sandwich, look at that beauty held in that lovely young woman's hand!  Talk about something that'll make you drool and send you into a diabetic fit.  I'm talking about the ice cream sandwich made using a couple of Mmmmm  DOUGHNUTS (Homer Simpson Voice) and layered with delicious chocolate sauce and other sweet dustings.  (Get your head out of the gutter, I'm talking about food here, folks!)  Suffice it to say, that ice cream sandwich on acid was hugely popular at the event and plenty of folks were noshing them down as fast as they could make them.  And that wasn't even all that was going on there.  Many local folks from all stripes of Houston--professionals, service industry folks, PR experts, Weblebrities, Food and Cocktail Writers, and rank and file Houstonians were all there rubbing elbows and enjoying the beats that DJ Seabass had programmed for the evening.

Photo by Jay Tovar
All of this was to help introduce Thrillist to Houston--another great source of information on food, events, mixology, nightlife and entertainment for the Greater Houston Area.  And what better way to introduce yourself to the city than throw a party with great food, great cocktails and a Stuff Your Face Contest?   One of the better dishes to stuff your face with at the vent were the pork sandwiches with bacon "buns."  As you can see in the photo on the left, that was something awesome to behold and better to taste.  Bacon always makes things better, I just hope the Bad Piggies forgive me for this one.  #Wink

Contest Winner/Mystery Man --Photo by Jay Tovar
Overall the event was a huge success as things go, a lot of fun was had and the winner of the Stuff your Face contest gained 7 pounds as a result of his gastronomic gorging!  And somehow this fella slipped away BEFORE anyone could get his name.  If any of you recognize this man, please post in the Comments--I wanted to shake his hand on that awesome achievement! Can you believe that?  I'm hoping that Thrillist continues to set a good standard for Houston area information and entertainment websites, and continues to put together marvelous events like these!  My gut instinct says this is only the beginning--stay tuned, Dear Readers for more upcoming Thrillist Houston action to be mentioned here!

Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Review: Tradiçao Brazillian Steakhouse in The Meadows

South American Steakhouses, sometimes called Rodizios or Churrascarias, in the US very often are set up to where the diner gets an unlimited selection of rotating meets that are served on skewers that more resemble swords.  Much of this is from the Traditions of how those meats are prepared and served in those nations, and Tradiçao is Portugese for Tradition, so it's no mystery as to how or where they stand in that regard, and that suits me just fine!  I was very hungry on a Sunday while the rest of my family was in Florida and my appetite kept on telling me "HANK!  YOU WANT DELICIOUS MEAT!  GET THAT SPICY JUICY SOUTH AMERICAN MEAT!!!"   And before I knew it, I was heading down 59 into the Meadows to enjoy exactly that.

The restaurant looks half classy American Steakhouse with fine leather furnishings and checkerboard tiled entry way, half South American Largesse with the beautiful mural on the wall depicting elements of Brazilian life as well as other nations of South America.  There is a huge Fresh Food Bar which features a nice selection of salad veggies as well as other appetizers such as different cheeses, fruits, smoked salmon and charcouterie.  They even have sweet, spicy pickled Pepadew fruit, like they have at Peli Peli or like they mix in one of the special Burgers at Jonathan's The Rub.  Pepadew is one of my favourite exotic fruits and it's nice to see other restaurants making use of its sweet, spicy versatility.

The meal starts off with Pão de queijo--a Brazilian cheese puff bread somewhat like French gougères.  The  puffy balls of cheesy bread are simply delightful.  As I perused the Lunch Menu, I debated between going with a single item or just going for the full experience.  $35.00 for a weekend lunch that would leave me so full no need for dinner or just a single item.  I chose the latter and went for the full deal--might as well go full bore than not at all in life, eh?   Each guest is given a coaster with a red side and a green side. Once finished with their salad, diners can start signaling the Gauchos (meat servers) by flipping over the coaster to the green side. This indicates that the guest is ready to enjoy the 13+ succulent meats, which include lamb, beef, chicken, and fish. As an accent to the meat, we provide delicious side dishes. The side dishes are garlic rice, mashed potatoes & caramelized bananas.

While the restaurant has an awesome wine list with a well-stocked bar, I chose to have their fresh made Brazilian limeade instead.  This is made from pureed whole limes and fresh sugar cane juice.  It's extremely refreshing and they are constantly having to make more between guest consumption and the fact that since it is made so fresh without preservatives they can't store any after it's made.  The caramelized bananas are nicely sweet, soft and make a wonderful dessert, and the garlic rice is freshly steamed, aromatic and good for soaking up the meat juices.

When the Gauchos begin circulating, I was more than ready.  They had different cuts of steak cooked from medium rare to medium well.  If they didn't have it to your liking, they'd ask what you wanted and another Gaucho arrived shortly with it prepared as requested.  There was a lovely moist, tender filet that was cooked to a fine juicy medium and some sections of ribeye as well.  Very juicy, very tender, nicely done!  They also had juicy herbed lamb chops that looked like miniature tomahawk ribeyes.  These juicy cuts of lamb were magnificent!  And they also had bacon wrapped chicken filets that were simply heavenly.  I overindulged, I must confess, but this was too good to not allow the overindulgence on this rare occasion!

Between the meats, the Fresh Bar and the sides, they practically had to roll me out the door when I was done.  This is not something I would do every day unless I was training like JJ Watt and was as tall and muscular as my favourite Texans Defense Player is, that's for sure.  However, for the meat lover as well as the Brazilian food lover, Tradiçao more than satisfies on so many levels!

Report Card for Tradiçao Brazilian Steakhouse
Food & Beverage:
    Pão de queijo: A
    Fresh Bar: A+ (plus for having Pepadew!)
    Grilled Meats: A to A+ depending upon the cut
    Brazilian Limeade: A+ (a little Pisco added to the mix would be nice!)
     Speed: A
     Friendliness: A
     Dining Area: A
     Kitchen: Incomplete
     Men's Room: A
Atmosphere (US meets Brazil Steakhouse): A

Overall Grade: A

Tradiçao has two Houston area locations.

I went to the Meadows location at:
12000 SW Freeway
Meadows Place, TX  77477

Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri 11am-2pm Mon-Thurs 5-9:30pm
Sat Closed Fri 5-10pm
Sun 12-3pm Sat 4-10pm
Sun 5-9pm

(FYI: Lunch and dinner include a of the fourteen cuts of beef, lamb, chicken, pork and seafood as well as the salad bar and hot side dishes. Not included are beverages, dessert, tax and gratuity.)

Eat Happy, Y'all!!!
Coma Felizmente todos vocês!!!
吃得开心!!! Hank

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Brewmasters Galveston: Brewlicious Beer and Food Pairings Event

August 29 to 31 in Galveston, the Moody Gardens Resort, Hotel & Conference Center hosted the Brewmasters Craft Beer Festsival over the Labor day weekend, as a perfect punctuation to end the summer.    I was fortunate enough to go there on Friday night, August 29th for a Special Event known as Brewlicious: Brews and Food Pairing event, which had professional chefs and featured Greater Houston area restaurants pairing specialty beers to compliment the delicious food. This spectacular evening for the serious beer and culinary enthusiast was very well executed and included several great pairings, including Chef Ryan Savoie's St. Arnold Lawnmower Kim Chi Pulled Pork sandwich. Many high-end, premium, unique beers were paired with food that is the perfect culinary accompaniment.  There is no other apt word than "Brewlicious" to describe this event, and I was quite fortunate to be part of the crowd that evening.

This event was SPEC-TAC-U-LAR.  Saint Arnold, No Label and Karbach were there representing, along with a couple of local brewers I had not heard of before (Cycler's Brewing in Montgomery and Beerfoot Brewing in Galveston) , but need to visit for sure now!  Spec's Liquor and Finer Foods was in the middle with all kinds of craft beer from other regions (and some wines) paired with all kinds of great cheese, sausages, charcouterie and other appetizers as well.  And plenty of Great Galveston Restaurants like Yaga, Shearns & The Pelican Club were present as well!  I was there as Media/Diner circulating, getting some nice samples of great beer and great food, simply having a ball of a time!!!

Say Cheese Folks!  Yep, the folks from Specs went way over the top with their selections of quality cheeses and finer foods.  I'm talking smoked Gouda and Cheddar, pungent Brie and Bleu Cheeses, all kinds of distinctive crackers and plenty of great beer to pair them with.  Wine and Cheese? Pish-posh!  Serve up a gorganzola with an IPA or smokey cheddar with a Milk Stout.  Don't like those combos?  Fear not!  Your friendly neighborhood specs has the staff in the Beer and Cheese departments to make your football party or small gathering special with well paired beer and cheese.  As their section was central to all, there was no way to not stop by and partake of these wonderful samples.  A real smorgasbord!!!

One of the many out of town breweries that showed up to grace the event was Firestone Walker, sporting their Wookey Jack, a special Cascadian Dark Reserve (which is hoppier than some IPAs) that was paired with Mojo's sports grille (from Humble) Spicy Shredded Chicken Tacos!  There's something about hoppy beers like IPAs when paired with Spicy food makes the spice and heat intensify as you enjoy them.   And this pairing did exactly that--you got juicy, spicy chicken served in folded corn tortillas, giving a nice kick as is, and then taking a nice pull of that dark, hoppy concoction known as Wookey Jack and WHOO HOO!!! You have a spicy, hoppy party for your taste buds!  I really appreciate how enthusiastic the rep from Firestone Walker was.... for some reason he reminded me of Marshall from "How I Met Your Mother"...  Things that make you go Hmmmm.... eh?

Back to our great local institutions, I hit up Killen's Steakhouse and Karbach's pairing.  Who doesn't love a great, well prepared meat from Da Man, Da Legend, Da Best man for smoked meat in Southeast Texas, Ronnie Killen!  While I'm usually all about Killen's BBQ, I haven't forgotten Killen's Steakhouse that has put Pearland on the Culinary Map as well.  Karbach paired their Hopadillo IPA (a bold, citrusy, hoppy IPA) with Killen's Sweet, juicy, smoked pork belly.  Now THIS was simply THE BEST.  I'd eat Ronnie Killen's Pork belly in the place of bacon every breakfast I could, but I'd likely go bankrupt.  Plus folks are rather want to frown on consuming a potent, hoppy IPA (or any beer) before Noon.  The contrast of the sweet juiciness and bitter hoppiness makes for a wonderful balanced feel in one's palate.  Great pairing from a great pair of local food and beverage suppliers!

There were so many more restaurants and beers that trying to chronicle them all would be a challenge for the most sober individual among us.  I will say that between the local breweries and the visitors from elsewhere, the Brewlicious pairing event, combined with the Brewmaster's festival and how well the whole event was attended, I have to say this was an overwhelming success which was fun for the beer and food lover in the Houston/Galveston area and one that most certainly should not be missed.  This one was the third annual, and there will be another the next year, and the next year and.... well I think you get the general idea!  I for one am glad I came to the event as it gave me a chance to see some of the staff from my favourite local breweries, as well as learn about newer local breweries that I'd not known of before the event.

Eat Happy and Drink Craft Beer, Y'all!!!